Thursday, December 30, 2010

Yes, Tumbleweeds Blow In Snow

Huachuca City, Arizona is a tiny town nearer to Mexico than to Tuscon but in that general area.  The nearest landmarks are Nogales, AZ and MX, Tombstone, Bisbee and Fort Huachuca, where much of the US Army Intelligence is based.  Copper was mined nearby and there are museum and tours of the Bisbee Urban Outpost. The nearby Cochise and Chiricahua Apache Stronghold is a natural granite fortress used as a haven from the U.S. Cavalry. This and the Dragoon Mountain Range are easily viewed from our campsite. Near here, Fort Huachuca was built to fend off American Indian attacks. I don't even see any American Indians here now.  Pity.

While in Willcox, Arizona, last week, we saw and drove along Rex Allen Parkway, but didn't think much about it, except that the name was familiar.  We've since had our memories jogged to recall that Rex Allen was a western cowboy movie star from the 1940-50's.  Rex Allen was a native of Willcox, Arizona.

We only drove about 45 miles from Willcox to Tombstone Territories RV Park in Huachuca City.  This campground is better than any we've seen lately.  There are about 100 sites, each is level and clean, flat and has a concrete patio and picnic table. The terrain is typical for this area, no real trees as we know them, just scrub and desert bushes and no grass in sight anywhere.

Entry into the campground.
Rustic but comfortable.

Main building of the campground

Our campsite looks north into the beautiful Dragoon Mountain Range and the Cochise Stronghold area.
The first afternoon here was cool but sunny.  Temperatures were in the 60's that day and went downhill steadily each of the next three days ending with blizzard warnings and high wind advisories. The wind has been at 50 mph at least. The winds subside the next day, but the sun is scarce and the temperatures are unbelieveably cold. We must unhook our waterline at night to keep it from freezing.  New Years Eve day brought intermittent blowing snow and ice. Freezing by nightfall. New Years morning, we're at a horribly cold 20 degrees with a wind chill factor that feels like 10. Uck.

Lexie's short walks have been sheer torture her and me both.  She can hardly stand up and the rain blows into her face. She could use a good face washing but it's so cold, I wouldn't dare get her wet.  She must go around with a dirty face though I do try to keep her brushed.

Lexie is feeling pretty good about living with us.
We're in our fourth week together.

Words are NOT needed here.
The next few days are expected to be no warmer than 40's and nighttime temperatures will be as low as 20's.  Bummer. We've got to find warmer weather as soon as this terrible wind subsides. Then these tumbleweeds are blowing outta here.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A "Lifestyle" Resort in Willcox, Arizona

Our overnight stopover at Lifestyle RV Resort in Willcox, Arizona turned into a unplanned medical recovery and Christmas point. 

I didn't take any pictures of this desert treasure park but wish now that I had.  It was basically a defunct hotel / restaurant with a large gravel lot in the rear that had been converted to a campground.  The restaurant was out of business and most all the equipment was behind the building, in plain view of the campsites.  The indoor pool and hot tub were in an old part of this building and at least one window was broken out.  Don't think we'll be going for a swim or "hot tubbing" here. A "work out" room contained some equipment, but I didn't give a close examination.  The front office was a large, open room with a variety of western stuff that was for sale.

Very tall Italian Cypress trees, which I find to be the most common of all yard landscape plants, were strategically place between each of the campsites (and I use the term "campsites" loosely here).  Italian Cypress are the very tall slender evergreen shrub-like trees that many homeowners plant at the corners of their house. On the other hand, we did have water, 50 amp service and a sewer for a reasonable price.

The afternoon we arrived, I began working on our laundry, which I do only every two-three weeks now. It turned into a huge project as there were three washers and three dryers, but one washer didn't spin the clothes enough and one dryer didn't dry adequately.  I didn't know all this until I was on the second round of washing.... oh well.

Our camping neighbors were mostly middle-aged men and a few women who lived in a variety of old dilapidated campers.  Most did not speak or look directly at us and I felt uneasy making my way to and from the laundry (which was called a "laundromat" and certainly was not). Walking Lexie before sunrise and after sundown was not something I enjoyed.  The only good thing was that the rocks were an improvement over the dust and the "stick-tights" we've had at other campgrounds.

Of course, it turned out that we'd be at Lifestyle RV Resort in Willcox, Arizona for some 5 nights with Wayne's sciatica and two trips to the Cochise County Hospital emergency room.

Finally on Monday morning, Wayne felt well enough to move on toward Tuscon. We don't intend to get to that destination, but anyplace other than this one will be a welcome destination.

Monday, December 27, 2010

When a Resort Isn't

As is common with hotels, RV parks are notorious for adding "Resort" to their name to attract business and charge a few extra dollars.  We've seen our share of "resorts" that are nothing more than sand lots, gravel pits and open fields with water and electricity. A good example is the Big Bend RV Park that touts itself as a "resort" when, in fact, this dusty campground had nothing more than just those services and sewer, one small tree and a $2 fee to use the campground shower.

El Paso, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona

Our original plan to stay over in an El Paso "Resort" campground was dashed when we manuvered the 60' rig through the narrow streets of  the city to find Mission Campground and Resort to be in the worst part of old El Paso.  The full-page, color Woodall's ad boasting all the features, recreation and "Privacy Gate" surely was a bad joke to alot of folks who arrived here tired at the end of a long day.  We didn't stop but made our way back to I-10 and ultimately arriving at the "Mom and Pop" owned El Paso West Campground in Anthony, New Mexico.  It was just about 10 miles west of El Paso and proved to be a pretty good decision.  At least until the bad smell from the many, many dairy cow pens blew our way.  Horror! What an odor! 

The woman here takes in stray cats and there are surely no less than 50 of them on the premises. They roam everywhere. One large cat, called Boots, tries to attack Lexie during our walks and I'm forced to throw rocks at him.  I also fear Lexie will find "kittie cookies" buried in the dust. I've read about a condition... Uck. I can't bear to think about it. Surely she wouldn't... would she?

We stayed on for two nights and drove back into the nicer, newer, western part of El Paso for supplies and a stop at the Petsmart the second day.
Traffic in El Paso

It's just a few miles down the road to the New Mexico state line.

Maybe we can get to Tuscon in time to settle in for Christmas. At least that's the plan.  From our two night stay in Anthony, NM we make short work of the ride into Arizona. The rugged mountains continue along our route, but we're driving on flat terrain.

We've passed many of these signs.
Can you imagine driving through a dust storm?

Long stretches of highway without places to stop.
We keep a close watch on the fuel gauge.

Add caption

An Arizona Rest Stop.
At Willcox, Arizona we stop for the evening. We've selected Lifestyle RV Resort for the night.  We certainly don't expect a "resort" but maybe the hot tub they've advertised will be helpful for Wayne's sciatica.

Sufferin' Sciatica!

During the half-day ride last week from Del Rio to Terlinqua, Texas, Wayne began feeling some pain in his right hip and leg, down to his knee. Turns out he's suffering with his first 'bout with Sciaticia.

December 22 Update.  The sciatica is worse, moving down his right thigh into his knee.  He's in intense pain and we make a trip to the Cochise County Community Hospital E.R. in Willcox, Arizona.

December 26 Update.  The Rx Motrin and muscle relaxer the ER doc prescribed Wednesday afternoon did nothing to relieve Wayne's pain. He can't sleep, stand or walk. Early on this morning, we return to the ER which is just about 2 miles from the campground.  Three injections, a CT Scan and more Rx. This relieved the pain for the remainder of the day.  Hope it's gone for good, but we're sure some of the pain will return.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Road to Presidio

A short car trip through the desert along Texas FM (stands for Farm Market) 170 last Sunday took us almost to Presido right along the border of Mexico, so close, in fact, that we could have thrown a stone into it.  The purpose of the drive was to see if this "scenic route" would accommodate the whole rig so we wouldn't have to backtrack 80 miles along Texas Highway 118 to Alpine on our way west to El Paso. But it wouldn't. The road proved to be too hazardous for Mona: curves, hills and lots of falling rocks -- not to mention the "Loose Livestock" warning signs along the way. 

The scenery was absolutely magnificent though and I took another hundred pictures.  Here are a very few of them.

The first part of the route took us through the Chihuahuan Desert

There are many such adobe and stone buildings whose roofs, doors and windows have long since fallen away.
The soil is a sandy dust.

Some of the most beautiful plants.

Simply georgeous terrain.
Pictures just don't do it justice.

Entry into Big Bend Ranch Texas State Park

We were driving along the road that parallels the Rio Grande right along the edge of Texas.
At the bottom of this map.

Along Texas FM#170 where the Rio Grande comes very near the road.
And on the other side of the river is Mexico.

The Rio Grande
We passed a site where several western movies had been filmed. Originally, the village in these photographs was built, not to be inhabited, but strictly for the making of the western comedy, Uphill All the Way starring Mel Tillis, Roy Clark and Burl Ives.  It has been modified and reused for other westerns since that time. Some of the other movies filmed on this location are: Rio Diablo ('93), Gambler V: Playing for Keeps ('94), Streets of Laredo ('95), My Maria ('95 - with 1996 Music Video of the Year), Dead Man's Walk ('96) and The Journeyman (2000).

The setting of this little artificial town was just beautiful and I walked right down to the Rio Grande River.  The clay along parts of the river bed was dry and cracked. The large chunks of broken earth looked like giant pieces of thick broken pottery.  

None of these buildings have every been inhabited.
All were built for the movie shootings.

My very favorite Rio Grande place. 

I took this photo to give a view of the dry, broken clay.
Some of the pieces were 3-4" thick.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Big Bend National Park

The name Big Bend refers to the great U-turn the Rio Grande River makes. It is the Big Bend National Park southern boundary for some 118 miles.  The park encompasses more than 800,000 acres. It turned 75 years old this year and is another of our country's 390 magnificent national parks. We're seeing as many as possible and this one surely didn't disappoint.

Called the "Last Frontier of Texas" Big Bend National Park is made of three natural divisions: (1) The Rio Grande with lush green floodplain, (2) the sprawling Chihuahuan Desert and (3) the majestic Chisos Mountain Range. 

Our day trip included a drive to Santa Elena Canyon and Castolon in the desert region then to Croton Springs and the mountains of Chisos Basin.  We didn't get to the Rio Grande Region or Persimmon Gap.

I took nearly a hundred pictures and love nearly all of them.  Here are just a few of them. This area is so impressive it brings to mind all the adjectives I would consider only for the most moving of experiences.  I am so glad we came here.

Lexie loves riding so we took her along too.

This photo gives a good perspective of the sizes of the lands and mountains.
The small structure is one of the few ranch houses in the park.

I love these pink cactus. 

The Rio Grande is below.

The road to Santa Elena Canyon

Santa Elena Canyon

Approaching the Chisos Mountain area

There are narrow blackish rocks that stand erect in a row up and down the mountains -- in a line.
They are called "fins" for the obvious reason.  Some of them can be seen in the middle of this photo.

This sign is on the approach road to Chisos Basin Mountain area.
Oh yeah

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Big Bend RV Resort - Terlingua, Texas and Little Dust Cloud

Terlinqua is the southernmost town to the entry into Big Bend National Park and we're here for a couple of nights, making day trips into the park.  The campground is unlike any we've ever visited, but it is about what you would expect for a desert campground -- all dirt and virtually no shade.  Because it's so dry here, the dirt is powdery dust and blows easily.  The dry air has eliminated almost all of our allergic and sinus problems, but it has also made our skin and lips feel very dry.  We're both virtually bathing in lotion every day. 

Everything here is covered in dust.  There are very few tourists. The scenery here is nice -- beautiful sunsets and very quiet.  Walking Lexie early this morning, I couldn't help but notice how quiet and bright it is out here. The stars are really bright.  I could hear a rooster crowing in the distance. This evening at sunset, I could fainly hear live Mexican music from a nearby restaurant. The sky was blue with pink stripes.

We've given Lexie a new Indian name: Little Dust Cloud.  She shakes herself and because she is so lightweight, her little hind legs leave the ground causing the dust to boil up around her. 

The daytime temperatures are in the mid 70's, nights in the 40's.  I know we'll be tired of the dust within a day or two, but it is nice for a short time.
Our campsite. Christmas mountain in the background.
Our view.

Southerly view

Late afternoon - sunset.

Greasewood Grocery Store

Little Dust Cloud (Lexie)