Joe and Nancy

Joe and Nancy
Our Home on Wheels (Click on image above for our web albums.)

Monday, January 31, 2011

Cochise Stronghold

Cochise Stronghold (Rockfellow Dome)

Cochise Stronghold Canyon lies in the heart of the Dragoon Mountains about 30 miles southwest of Willcox, AZ. This is a beautiful woodland area lying in a protective rampart of granite domes and sheer cliffs which were once the refuge of the great Apache Chief, Cochise, and his people.

Marker near the "room" where Cochise resided when at this stronghold.

Nancy and I traveled here right after we had brunch with our friends from the Bayfield Bunch Saturday.  We drove into the Stronghold about 1:00 PM and stayed for about two hours, walking a trail that gave an account of the Stronghold and how it was used by Cochise and his many warriors and their families. 

The western mountain wall of the Stronghold

The surrounding landscapes and rocky encirclements were used to the Apache's advantage when they were pursued by enemies.  Cochise's burial site has never been found and has been kept a secret all these years.  There are stories and legends that have been around for many decades, but supposedly, only one man outside the Apache circle closest to Cochise, Thomas Jeffords, his blood-brother and special Indian agent for the US, know where his specifically buried.  This Stronghld was the one place most locals feel is the likliest. 

Current picnic/campground area in the flats of the Stronghold, next to a very large creek.

The campground/picnic area is approximately 20 acres and it is crowded with many oak and cottonwood trees as well as a variety os many bush/shrub/flora & fauna.  It is such a peaceful environment and it becomes clear to any visitor why this place was Cochise's favorite. 

More of the western mountain wall of the Stronghold

I closed my eyes and just tried to bring a vision to my mind with sound and presence.  I heard many children running through the many trees and bushes, playing, laughing and doing things that made their Mothers smile and make conversation with each other.  I smelled the smoke of many fires in the Stronghold, Mesquite coals cooking the fresh game, clothes being washed along the creekside against the large stones, young warriors chipping away at the stones bringing them to sharp edges and points, the shafts being honed straight and strong, maize being ground into the rock-pocks.  Oh my, I almost felt a part of the community.

Richard J. Shaw, wanted to befriend Cochise and the Apache Nation.

The Shaw Family home still stands near the open fields of the Stronghold.

Shaw Family home

I'm not sure if anyone lives here now, but the property is maintained and used for local research studies by academia. 

The front yard of the Shaw Family home

The area just north of the campground area, and basically the front yard of the Shaw House, is approximately 50 acres of grassland.  If we put our imagination towork once again, imagine this area as the maize fields, nut trees, grape vines growing up a variety of stakes and small poles, squash and other veggies growing in various places all around.  And, just down there by the creek, a large corral of Paint ponies.  Just imagine!  The Sulpher Springs Valley sprawls to the east from this Stronghold approximately 25 miles to the Chiricahua Mountains, and North to South from at least Willcox to the Mexican border and probably beyond.  Just awesome! 
Our next blog will be about our visit on Sunday to the Saguaro National Park in Tucson.  Until then, Joe & Nancy

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona

Chiricahua National Monument Park (CNMP)

We were up early Saturday morning and drove the 30 miles into the morning sun straight towards the Ciricahua Mountains.  We could only spend about an hour in the Park as we had a brunch engagement with our friends, The Bayfield Bunch at 10:00 back at Sandy's Restaurant.

Two mighty warriors standing the test of time

It was unfortunate that we only had an hour to spend here this crisp (30) cool moring in the CNMP.  It is simply amazing.  There is a Kodak moment just about every step is one direction or another.


I have a lot of photos to share, so I'll limit my text this blog and just put up the pics.

Wherever one looks, it just takes your breath away.

Snow on the north facing sides

Pipe Organ Mountain just as you come into the grandeur of the park

A little smokey as a lot of folks have fireplaces and wood stoves.  It gets cold at night.

The Bayfield Bunch and The RVing Beach Bums at Sandy's. Joe, Al, Kelly and Nancy

Well, we had to leave the beauty of the CNMP and head for Sandy's and a bite to eat.  One can't help to feel the presence of many a warrior spirit in this, the home of the mighty Chiricahua Apaches.  I certainly am not proud of the way the Apache Nation was treated during the late 1800's.  In fact, I am ashamed at the way our Government doled out the prison-like environment on such a proud and self-sustaining nation of people.  So sad. 
We had a wonderful time at breakfast with Al & Kelly of the Bayfiled Bunch.  All I can tell you is that there was a lot of chin-wagging going on and the food was really good.  Perhaps some time in the future we can spend more time with the Bayfield Bunch on our return this part of Arizona.  They are just so easy to talk to and are so down to earth.  I know they are happy to be here, but they also feel very compassionate for their friends and family back in Bayfield, Ontario as they have a winter they would like to soon forget.

Kelly and Al in front of their Jeep. 

Al traded in his Santa Fe this past winter on his Jeep.  And he has been Jeepin' it up over the past couple of months.  There are many a site to behold when you have Jeep to get you there.  To see some of their Jeep journeys, tune in to their blog site:

Sand Hill Cranes

After brunch, we walked outside and was entertained to the high-pitched warble-squawking of several thousand Sand Hill Cranes.  They winter-over here in Southern Arizona every year.

Way off in the distance, about 30 miles is the Cochise Stronghold (small pinnacle in the saddle of the mountain).

Well, I'll close this blog by saying, it has been a wonderful day being in the presence of such two fine Canadians and many a Apache Warrior Spirits.  Our next blog will be about a place directly across from the CNMP, the Cochise Stronghold, about 30 miles across the Sulpher Springs Valley in Cochise County Arizona.  If you're ever in the great southwest, DO make plans to visit this area.  You will truly be rewarde with lasting memories.  Thanks Al & Kelly for opening our eyes and minds.

till the next time, Joe & Nancy, RVing Beach Bums

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pearce, Arizona...A Ghost Town

Pearce, Arizona, named after a Cornishman James Pearce who discovered gold here

After we rambled out of El Paso/Fort Bliss, we managed to make to Sandy's RV Park in Pearce, Arizona.  I can't be sure, but I believe I passed my kidney stone shortly after we left the Fort Bliss RV Park.  How do I know that?  That would be TMI.  Anyway, we pulled into Sandy's and hooked up around 4 so we still had time to do a little exploring.

Old General Store closed long ago

Our first stop in the little ghost town was an old general store closed long ago but opens a couple of times a year for local shindigs.  They celebrate the period days when the town was prosperous and productive from mining gold. 

Old mining shovel/wagon

We had the whole town (it's only a couple of blocks) to ourselves as not many folks make it to this little ghost town.  And that's ok by us.  One can just sense the how the town might have been hopping and busy 18 hours every day when the gold was being mined.  
Mine openings and concrete platforms; not sure what the platforms were used for...

The mines were directly across the road from the main part of town.  From the photo above,  just a short walk to the right about 300 yards was the edge of town.  So the miners had a short walk to work each day/evening.  The town declined in the thirties and the mine closed in the late forties.  The mine produced about $8 million worth of silver and $2.5 million in gold at a time when silver was priced around 50 cents an ounce, and gold was $20 an ounce. 

Sunset over the Dragoon Mountains, home of Cochise's favorite Stronghold

Well, it was getting late and cool, so we left our little ghost town, at least for an hour or so, and headed back to Sandy's and our home away from home.  On the way back we were able view a beautiful sunset, which are nearly every evening here.  Tomorrow morning we'll rise early and go to the Chiricahua National Monument and have a brunch with our friends from Bayfield, Ontario, Al & Kelly Bossence (The Bayfiled Bunch).  So, until then, Joe & Nancy

Thursday, January 27, 2011

El Paso & Franklin Mountains State Park

Looking down in El Paso from atop Franklin Mountains State Park

All the photos today were taken from within Franklin Mountains State Park above El Paso and Fort Bliss RV Park, where we spent two nights.  The RV Park is the nicest we've stayed for any military campgrounds.  My blog has been delayed because I spent several hours yesterday morning in the Sierra Memorial Hospital only to find out my pain in my lower right abdomen was a 2mm kidney stone.  WOW!  What a pain in the belly!  After some TLC and a little morphine, I was sent packing back to the RV Park.  I took a few drugs and drank a gallon of water (really) and felt good enough to go out and take a few photos in the FMSP. 

Nice view inside the FMSP

So, we wound up staying a day longer in El Paso than we had planned, but who'd thought kidney stone?  Certainly not me. 

How many brids can you count?

I have never experienced pain like this before.  I thought I was going to pass out and throw up all at the same time. 

Miss Nancy

But the drugs (Vicodin and Iboprofen saved the day, so we were able to take advantage of a beautiful day.  The doctor said I should pass the stone in a day or two.  I hope so.

The sun washed out some of the real nice color of this mountain.

I just need to keep drinking lots of water till I get rid of this little rock.  Hopefully tomorrow!  We will leave here Friday morning if I feel better and head for Pearce, AZ to meet up with some friends I have never met.  Well, at least not in person.  I have been following The Bayfield Bunch for over a year now, ever since Nancy and me decided to make the plunge and take up motor homing America.  Al Bossence and his wife Kelly are from Bayfield Ontario and have been wintering in Arizona for about six years.  Al has a very nice blog and I encourage you to share their adventures as they travel the great Southwest.

North El Paso

So we'd like to meet up with them for a short visit Saturday morning perhaps over breakfast at Sandy's in Pearce, AZ.  We made Pearce late this afternoon and took some pics and I'll post them tomorrow.  Till then, Joe & Nancy

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fort Stockton, TX

Fort Stockton Roadrunner

Haven't seen too many roadrunners so far.  I understand it took four taxidermists to stuff this big old bird.    We did some moseying around before it got too dark.  We went over to the old Fort about six blocks from the old bird, and looked at a couple of remaining out buildings.

Signboard for the old fort

Old freight wagon

Annie Riggs Hotel/Museum

Over on Main Street, about four blocks from the Fort is the old Annie Riggs Hotel(now a museum).  It dates from 1899 but Mrs. Riggs purchased it in 1904 for $5,000 and operated it till her death in 1931 but remained in operation thru her son till the mid-forties.  In 1955 the family deeded it to the FS Historical Society to be operated as a museum.  If you Google the hotel, you'll learn about her family and a little about the scoundrels in her life.

Nancy up the steps to the museum

We took a little tour through the museum and took a couple photos and bought a book on the history of the areas, title Texas' Last Frontier.

Part of the kitchen

Old stoves and a modern water cooler??

Old rocking horse

One of several arrow head collections

Typical period room of the Annie Riggs Hotel

The Cowboy Room

The hotel veranda

Well, by now it was after five o'clock and the museum curator wanted to go home, so we high-tailed out of the old museum and headed down the road to catch the sunset over one of the many mesas out here in west Texas.  Wish we had more time to take more of the quaint history of Fort Stockton and it's role in keeping peace and settling part of a wild part of Texas over a century ago. 

Sunset over a mesa south of town on route 285

So, till next time, so long from Joe & Nancy

Monday, January 24, 2011

Canyon Lake near San Antonio

Bah, Bah in a field somewhere near Canyon Lake

We spent most of the day driving to, around and back from Canyon Lake.  It's about an hour drive north of the city.  Along the way we drove by this little farm with some sheep and donkeys.  My grandson says my blog needsmore animals, so, Austin, these are for you (and Maxwell too).


Canyon Lake looking south from a boat ramp

 It's a small lake formed by damming the Guadalupe River.  I would guess that the lake is about 2500 acres.  There is a large park near the Jacob's Creek side of the lake and it's run by MWR and it has about 20 mobile homes converted to camping like structures and an RV park as well.  They have a very large beach and hundreds of picnic tables and shelters.  Very nice!  We saw some deer too.

Canyon Lake from the Jacob's Creek MWR Park

If we come back to San Antonio, we'll stay here.  They have a marina with a lot of boats to rent.  Sailboats, party barges, runabouts and paddle boats. 

Nancy on the dock at the ramp

It was about 61 degrees and a little breezy and very bright and sunny.  Nancyeven had to put a light jacket on.  This weather:  Will it ever warm to 70?  Sorry folks, I couldn't resist.  Our daughters Jennifer and Natalie are telling us about the weather back in Virginia Beach.  Spring is just around the corner girls. 

Well, time to crank up the diesel and head for Fort Stockton, halfway to El Paso.  We'll overnight at Wally World in Fort Stockton tonight and at Fort Bliss in El Paso on Wednesday night.  From there we'll head to Tuscon, Scottsdale, Palm Springs and on into Monterey by the end of next week.  Until the next time, Joe & Nancy, the RVing Beach Bums