Sunday, December 28, 2014

Tombstone Territories R.V. Resort

We left Camp Verde on December 5th after a couple days delay due to heavy overcast, rain, and fog. We were only 30-40 miles outside of Camp Verde when the landscape turned to Saguaro Cacti everywhere!  Wow! We arrived at Tombstone Territories R.V. Resort on December 6th.  It is located 8 miles east on Highway 82 out in the desert!  This area is different for sightseeing than other areas we've been in, as the tourist attractions are spread out several miles in every direction. Note on the map the outlying communities.  Using Sierra Vista as a central hub, Benson is 35 miles north, Tucson is 75 miles northwest, Nogales is 63 miles southwest, Bisbee is 24 miles southeast,  Douglas is 50 miles southeast and Tombstone is about 10 miles east! It's taking a bit more planning to tour economically here!
This is our little homestead at the corner of Wyatt Way and Holliday Street!
This is the view out our door. The lot to the right side of the picture with the red chair is ours. So much for the myth that you need reservations to get into an Arizona r.v. park during the peak Winter months. This wonderful park is nearly empty! We personally love not having neighbors nearby!
This is the view in back of the camper. The building is the rec. hall. It has every amenity you could want! There are several activities, but my favorite is the Friday, Saturday, Sunday homemade sweets made available for ones munching pleasure!  We had an excellent potluck brunch and dinner Christmas day! A New Years sock hop is planned!
This is the view out the side picture window.
The view out the front window is of the laundry building.  I chose our location in part due to its close proximity.  I love that the park provides a clothes line, too!
Here is our lot.  It is almost like we have our own little island!
To the front of the rec. hall is a wonderfully large play yard for the dogs. It's a comfortable distance from our location.
To the back of the r.v. park are some ATV trails. The dogs love them for a straight out fast run!
This is another trail coming off the same back corner. I'm told that these trails create a square of trails approximately 3 miles in length. We plan to stay in this park at least until January 6th, but possibly another month.  We are researching parks closer to Sierra Vista, Benson, and Tucson with the idea of relocating closer to places and things we'd like to visit.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Tuzigoot National Monument

Here is a fantastic picture I found on the Internet of the Tuzigoot (Two-zi-goo-t) pueblo! When you are at the pueblo you can only capture parts of it in photos. You walk up to the pueblo from the right side of the picture.
This is the stairway to the tower at the top of the mass of pueblos.
Roy must have a connection with lizards as they always seem to come out to greet him!
This is the inside of the tower pueblo.
This is the view from the top of the tower pueblo looking back towards the visitor's center.
This is the view looking down from the opposite side of the tower pueblo.  Amazing, isn't it!
This is looking back up towards the top from the pueblos in the prior picture.
This is the view from the top of the pueblo tower looking west toward Clarkdale. You may remember that Clarkdale, founded in 1912, was established as a company town to house the workers for the Clarkdale Copper Smelter that you can see in the distance on the right side of the picture. The Clarkdale Smelter operated from around 1912-1953. The field in the picture and surrounding Tuzigoot was the tailings pond for the former United Verde Copper Mine located in Jerome. If you enlarge the picture, you can get an idea of how close the mining community of Jerome is. Jerome was established around 1883. It is located in the hills near the left side of the picture just below the highest pointed peak. The Sinagua Indians occupied Tuzigoot between 1125-1425AD. They would have abandoned Tuzigoot long before the mining began.
Many artifacts were found in Tuzigoot. The visitors center has many nice displays!
This interactive screen at the visitor's center is fascinating. Look at all the known pueblos in the Verde Valley!!!
Take one more look at the magnificent structure known as Tuzigoot! It is the largest and best preserved of the many Sinagua pueblo ruins in the Verde Valley. It is reported to have 110 rooms!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Geology and Ancient Ruins

This post makes me wish I had a better camera, so that you could see the details.  I left the picture properties larger, in hopes that you will be able to enlarge the pictures to a size to see more. I'm finding by studying pictures I've taken, that I discover things I didn't notice when in the location looking right at them! 
In traveling a back road near Montezuma's Well we have noticed mesas with what appears to be rectangular cut rocks spiraling around them like ancient walkways to the top! The rocks look so symmetrical in shape and alignment that we can't imagine them to be anything, but cut and placed there by humans! We have heard of Hopi mesas near Tuba City, Arizona. It apparently is a Hopi custom to build their communities on mesas.
We decided we had to take a hike up the mesa to explore a little closer! I was amazed at how easy the walk was, as there seemed to be natural trails that increased in elevation quite gently!
Here is a closer look at the rocks that make up the edging of each level. What do you think? Are they natural, man made, an integration of  both? Blows my mind! They are so large you have to wonder how ancient natives would have transported them there. I read about a geological phenomena call cliff and bench topography where through erosion a rock cliff is created and then a flat level called a bench. That could be part of it, but some of these rocks seem to be placed on top the ground and I can't get over the rectangular shape!
Here's the top! It's so flat that one could easily put a house here today!
Roy and I are practicing taking selfies, so that you can see our smiling faces together once in awhile.
Looking down the mesa you can see rock edged levels that may have held pueblos or crops.
They had great views!
This is looking from the top of the mesa down to the road we walked up from and across the road to another mesa. At first it just looks like a bunch of rocks scattered around, but still with most having that strange man made looking rectangular shape. It wasn't until I enlarged this picture and studied the pattern of rocks that I began to see what appears to be rock lined walkways, rectangular foundations, and even a round foundation that may have been a community ceremonial area like we've seen at other native community ruins. I hope the blog will allow you to enlarge the picture enough to study the rock patterns. If not, possibly downloading the picture will make it viewable in a larger size. Keep in mind that some pueblos are huge rectangular structures that are then divided into individual apartments. Roy and I intended to get back out to this location and explore a little closer, but unfortunately didn't. It will definitely be on our list of explorations for when we are back in the Camp Verde area! I have since read that the Verde valley is full of ancient ruins! These ruins are somewhat unsettling in that it feels like discovering something as foreign to us as signs of alien life! 
This is the view from another side of the mesa! The large rocks I'm standing on seem to be natural to the cliff and bench topography. Check out the distant mesa with an interesting rock formation on top and the rock lined levels leading to the top!
Check out the details in this picture by enlarging it or downloading it to get more details! The rock lined pathways are amazing and we had to get a closer look! We hiked though this valley and up to the mesa in the picture. We couldn't believe the ease of the walk and on a day that we weren't feeling our most fit!
This is on the mesa pathway heading to the top! You can see to the left of the picture the raised area that curves toward the peak! It all feels so intended and natural, but there's that haunting question of could it really be!
This is the top of a rock lined ridge. As rocky as it appears it was so easy to traverse and guided us along as if walking the path of the ancients to the peak!
This was an interesting plant along the trail. It looks a bit like a plant that has lost its leaves along the many stems, but in fact all those barren looking stems are long pointed spikes!
This is the view right below the top and look how invitingly easy it looks. As we climbed upwards the climb was made easier by finding what seemed to be narrow, but natural pathways and even tiny step-like toe holds for the climb! It was at this point that Roy was wishing he had brought his mini-backpack, but we had no idea we would have the stamina and interest to walk and climb this far! Our new rule is that the backpack goes with us on every hike!
I call these toe cactuses as they are just at the right height for stabbing toes through the shoes of unobservant hikers!
Oh, I wanted to go further and make it to the top, but the rocks were getting loose, and hiking further around the mesa to get around this barrier was more than we wanted to take on!
Check out this rock formation. It was just below the cliff face. At first glance it just appears to be some rocks that have fallen, but I noticed the triangular opening to be like the entrance into a tent. On the left side of the picture is a flat rock wedged and plastered in some fashion to create what appears to be a small table. I've often felt I have an eye for things that aren't quite in keeping with nature. Upon closer inspection of the triangular opening I noticed that it had been wallowed down quite a ways making for a nice habitat. It did cross my mind that I might meet a cougar, but I didn't see any tracks around. Note the loose dirt at the entrance like any den. In the bottom of the wallow were a couple of thick fairly modern front car side windows. Of course I was repulsed to see this junk in there, but later had to ponder at length why it was there and how it came to be there! This isn't a location where trash would be dumped and it wouldn't have found its way into the little den in such good shape had it been thrown off the top! Did someone live there at one time and utilized the glass in some way? I didn't notice the triangular mudded enclosure on the right side of the picture while I was there as it blended in so naturally. Now that I look at it in the picture I wonder how I could not have noticed it, as it is so obviously rocked and mudded in!!! Wow! What's in dubloons...a body? Our minds were racing from wondering, but this is why there are laws about not removing artifacts and the destruction of ancient ruins. If you look at the curve of the ground under the rocks, it appears that there could be the wallow on the right through the opening and then possibly access to the other side of the center rock. By mudding closed the outside opening on the left, a second room is added to the living space.  As to what is inside, I've concluded that given the car windows being present that someone in fairly recent times has used the rock cover as a shelter and would have discovered what is behind the mysterious mudded wall.     
 Wow! What an adventure! 
This is the community of Waalpi. It is one of the communities on the three mesas that make up the Hopi Indian Reservation near Tuba City, AZ. I include this picture to show you an example of the cliff and bench topography and although you probably can't see the details, there are large rectangular cut stones lining a portion of the road into the community! The Hopi communities have some original pueblos from ancient times that are still occupied today! The people choose to live by their tribal traditions and without electricity and running water like their ancestors! Tours of the communities can be arranged through native guides and there are websites online to do so.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Farewell Gonzo

For those of you who follow our blog, you may recall that we picked up a little hitchhiker in Texas that we named Gonzo.  He is a trap and release cat that showed up at our doorstep extremely ill around September 2013.  We took him into our home, worked on restoring his health, and loved him dearly.  When we left Texas in September 2014 Gonzo joined us in our r.v. travels.  November 20th, 2014 while in Camp Verde, Arizona Gonzo's health took a turn for the worse from which there was no coming back from.  Montezuma Veterinary Services diagnosed Gonzo with advanced kidney/liver failure and helped ease his passing.  As full time RVers and this being our first encounter with the clinic staff, we can't say enough about the compassionate care they showed towards us and Gonzo. 

Here is a look at the love bug that was Gonzo!  Given the heartbreak we feel, Roy and I have said that we won't take in another stray, but looking at this video, we know we'd do it all again even knowing how it would all turn out.  You'll be in our hearts forever Gonzo!     

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Historic Camp Verde Salt Mine

I was flipping through a brochure about the Camp Verde area when I came across a mention of the historic Camp Verde Salt Mine. It is not a tourist attraction and doesn't even have a sign marking it. It is located about 2 miles west of Camp Verde on Salt Mine Road.  To locate it just watch for the salt mounds and a small dirt lot for parking.  If you have GPS, here are some coordinates I came across: 34.5833N, 111.8944W.  The area appears to be fenced off, but there is a gap left in the fence for people to enter on foot.  Along Salt Mine Road there is this large mine area and a smaller mine area. We didn't find the smaller one. On Google's satellite map it appears to be down a dirt road farther back off of the paved Salt Mine Road.
The Camp Verde Salt Mine is one of the oldest known mines in the United States! Anthropologists have determined that the mine has been worked for nearly 2,000 years!  The Spanish first recorded its discovery between 1583 and 1598 AD. The establishment of Fort Verde in 1871 brought attention to the salt deposit. Some of the salt was used for human consumption, but the majority was used as stock salt. In the 1920's the Western Chemical Company operated an open pit on the property.     
In the early 1930's the Arizona Chemical Company employed underground mining techniques. Fourteen tunnels were driven in horizontal strata for several hundred feet following rich layers of salt. At that time about 75 men were employed. The mine produced nearly 100 tons of "salt cake" daily, making the Camp Verde Salt Mine the most productive in the country. This success was short-lived as duty-free purer German ore entered the market in 1933 and brought about the closure of the mine.
Attempts were made as late as the 1960s to market salt from the Camp Verde mine, but the market demanded 99% purity and the Camp Verde salt deposit is limited to 92% purity. Additionally, much larger deposits in the US and Canada exist and the mine has been dormant ever since.
The underground mine tunnels have been imploded for public safety. You can see remnants of the old wood structures piled up around the site. Even though the mines have been collapsed the crevices that can be seen make it appear best not to be hiking too close to them!
The incline to the front of the picture that looks like a hill of sand is really pure white salt covered by a thin layer of sand that has blown onto it.
I don't know if the stakes in the ground were supports for an underground mine or possibly an above ground transport system.
Check out the salt in the hillside!
This is interesting! If you enlarge this picture you can see where the salt mound in the center of the circular area seems to have been dug from the ground around it. This whole pit seems to have been dug down. Hopefully there was excavating equipment beyond men with shovels! This large pit seems to represent a whole lot of work! 
The salt in this ravine is an interesting sight! There appears to be a wood structure of a mine or building down in the ravine. Curiosity makes one want to explore, but common sense says it's best to stay clear of it!
Here are some salt crystals protruding from the ground!
While hiking around you'll come across places like this where there are noticeable crevices, soft dirt, and pieces of wood indicating there may have been a mine there. Notice the small stream bed where it appears water may flow from the hillside at times. I got a good scare when hiking up a hill and came within a few feet of this spot accidentally. The ground went from hard pack to soft and I had visions of disappearing underground! In hindsight it probably wasn't a good idea for Roy and I to go exploring separately. My advice when hiking this mining site is to stay with your group and hike in the open hard pack areas. Don't get too curious or close to questionable things!
Here is some old equipment.  This was my exploration off the main ridge that ended up giving me a scare on my walk back to the top!
One more look! Roy and I found it interesting that in hiking around for less than an hour we could taste the salt on our lips and feel the sting of of it in on our skin. We both felt the need to get the salt dust rinsed off right away! The funny part of taking a shower was the water softening effect the salt had! It was almost as though our skin and hair had a spa treatment! As anxious as we were to get the salt dust off us after just a short exposure from what blew in the wind, we can't imagine how unpleasant it must have been to work in the mines!  The Historic Camp Verde Salt Mine is fascinating and well worth seeking out.  If you follow Salt Mine Road to its end you will wind-up in Beasley Flats along the Verde River where you can see numerous ancient cliff dwellings.