Thursday, January 29, 2015

Bisbee, AZ

We took a drive down to the historic mining community of Bisbee. It is 23 miles south of Tombstone and sits at an elevation of 5,538 feet. Bisbee is the county seat for Cochise County. According to the 2010 census, the population of Bisbee is 5,575. In 1910 when the mines were booming, the population reached 9,019!
To enter the magical community of Bisbee via Highway 80 you have to go through the Bisbee tunnel!
The view is spectacular throughout the community! There is the historic downtown, homes built up the hillsides, deep open pit mines that are a brilliant copper color, and mountain peaks all around!
This is the downtown and nearby homes. 
This is the Copper Queen Mine, as seen from the highway going past the downtown. If you continue on Highway 80 past the copper colored mound in the center of the picture, you will enter a residential area. The homes are from the early mining days.  It is pleasant just to drive through the community experiencing the feel of days gone by! 
There is a parking lot off the highway where you can stop to peer deep into this mining pit. Bisbee was founded as a copper, gold, and silver mining town in 1880 and was named after Judge DeWitt Bisbee, one of the financial backers of the Copper Queen Mine. Turquoise was also found in this area with a special quality that's become known as Bisbee Turquoise. 
Today Bisbee is known for its artist community. The only large attraction besides the community itself is the Copper Queen Mine tour.
This is a picture we took outside the edge of town. Check out the long mound of slag to the forefront of the mountains. Homes throughout the community are built right up against these slag piles. The yellow home with the red roof that you see off in the distance at the end of this road is the historic home of an early 1900s copper baron.
This is Loma Linda mansion built in 1907 for Walter Douglas, who was known as "The Copper King". In the 1970s this mansion became the Loma Linda Lodge Health Retreat and was a party spot for rock stars! The eleven bedroom mansion is currently on the market for $1,200,000! Roy and I had to wonder if all those mounds of copper ore around town help people's arthritis like some people feel copper bracelets do! We could feel dust on our lips and taste the metallic flavor just from driving through town!  
This is the town hub in the old downtown. There are some small markets in the area, but it seems for most shopping, residents would have to go to Sierra Vista 24 miles away.
The downtown streets are narrow, but we comfortably toured Bisbee in our truck. There are chauffeured golf cart tours of various durations that provide narration on the history of Bisbee. We heard from friends that they enjoyed the golf cart tour they took and would enjoy going back for the longer tour.
Here is one more look at the interesting historical community of Bisbee!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Javelinas: You Decide!

After writing the post “Be Aware And Be Safe” I came across a poignant article telling about several javalenas attacking a woman walking her three Chihuahuas in Tucson, AZ. I felt the incident told a lot about the good and bad of javalena behavior. I’ll do a recap of the incident and then you can decide whether walking your dogs in the desert is worth the risk of an encounter.  As for our two dogs, I’ve decided they can enjoy their runs in the fenced-in play yard provided by the r.v. park and save their wilderness romps to states without javalenas!
At 7:15 a.m. on a December day Gordon and her three Chihuahuas took what was to be a 15 minute walk down their road, but quickly turned into a daylong nightmare when she and her dogs were attacked by a pack of javelenas! It started with one javelina sighting.  The javelina charged across the street, but it didn't seem as though it was going to attack. Gordon had encountered javlenas on her daily walks before and it had always been uneventful. Upon seeing the javalena, Gordon’s dogs puffed up into a confrontational stance with hackles raised.  Maybe they sensed something she didn't.  
Seconds after she picked up her dogs to calm and protect them, eleven more javelinas seemed to appear out of thin air and surrounded Gordon, age 34.
The attack was a blur, as one javelina bit her leg causing her to fall and drop the dogs. The javelinas trampled on her, but only to go after the threatening dogs and not to maul her, which they could have easily done. One of her dogs, Peatree, became a main target and was thrown about like a rag doll. Despite Gordon’s leg wound, she was able to run to a neighbor’s home to call her husband for help. The javelinas did not pursue her. Her dog, Tino,  suffered a large bite on the neck, but no further damage. Her dog Bebe was not injured, as it froze and did not engage in the fight. After the attack, which lasted only minutes, Peatree was taken to a vet where she received surgery for a broken pelvis and damaged organs. While this small dog sustained critical injuries during an attack by a dozen javelinas, it’s quite surprising she wasn’t killed on the spot or totally ripped into pieces given the vicious reputation that javalenas have! Peatree did, however, later die from the serious injuries to her small body. Tino received stitches to her neck, but again I’m surprised that given the size difference between one Chihuahua and a dozen javelina that a wound to the neck is all the damage she sustained. Gordon’s leg was treated and she underwent a preventative treatment for possible rabies. Gordon said she didn’t notice any baby javalinas in the group, which would have caused the pack to be particularly defensive. The Arizona Department of Game and Fish felt the attack may have been instigated by a young inexperienced javalena that overreacted to the threat it felt from the dogs. When envisioning the possibility of a similar encounter between javelinas and our two dogs, I know Sugar, our gold shepherd would fight to end, and therefore, sustain serious injuries.  Prin, our Malamute mix who knows nothing of fighting, would probably run in her playful loops when snapped at thinking it was game. Both Prin and Sugar are extremely fast runners that I know could outrun javelina, if only they would run and keep going.  I had taken false comfort in the image of them running to safety.  Based on Gordon’s reported encounter, I’ve decided a javelina pack encounter isn’t worth the gamble, as it’s one of those situations that’s okay until the time that it isn’t! I don’t want to experience the desert walk that doesn’t turn out okay! How about you?          

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Be Aware And Be Safe!

When we first relocated to the southwestern desert states, we were on high alert for encountering rattlesnakes. With time it became a natural routine to scan ahead of our footsteps. We were advised not to step over logs or large rocks when hiking, but to step up on them to see the other side before stepping down.  If you encounter a snake, stand still and then slowly back away. If bitten, I've read that the only thing you should do is stay as calm as possible and wrap the injured limb with a bandage to reduce the swelling. You have 14 hours to get to a medical facility for anti-venom.
It's advised when hiking with dogs to keep them on a leash, so that whatever they kick-up doesn't come running after them, as they run back to you!!! We don't keep our dogs on a leash for a hike, as that seems to defeat the fun, but I do try to keep them on the path. With smaller dogs I would be more likely to keep them on a leash and close to me for fear of them being grabbed by a predator.
One of the large threats in the southwest desert are javalina. We have been repeatedly warned as to their ill tempers and viciousness! They roam in packs with as many as 20! The Arizona Game and Fish Department describes them as being active from dusk to dawn and on cooler days. During the heat of the day they bed down in the shade. They tend to travel up washes. They are nearsighted which accounts in part for their willingness to attack first. If you spot them ahead of your walk, slowly back away. If they charge, you are to stomp your feet and made as much noise as possible. No problem, as jumping about screaming would come naturally to me! I'm considering getting an air horn to carry on desert walks. I considered carrying pepper spray. The Arizona Game and Fish Department website recommends carrying a spray bottle with vinegar or a weakened amonina solution for spritzing in the air as a deterrent to an approaching javalina, but not to spray them in the face! It sounds like they will run if not cornered.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department website reports that most incidents where a bite from a javalena is sustained by a human is the result of people feeding them. It is recommended that food and water not be placed out for them, as mountain lions are their natural predators and you will be attracting them as well! Although I have no doubt that javalena can be as vicious as any wild animal with big teeth when threatened, I do believe their reputation is exaggerated. Here are two incidents we know of since being in Arizona. A woman at our r.v. park had her Golden Retriever tied outside her camper. When she stepped out to get her dog she noticed a javalena under the camper.  Neither her or the dog were attacked. When in Tombstone around 4:00 p.m. and planning to walk about 3 blocks to a restaurant on the edge of town, we were seriously warned by a local that we should not walk the distance, but get in our car and drive it, because of the vicious javalena! Given the time of day and being on a city street we felt assured that a javalena attack was not likely and made our walk! When joking with the restaurant staff about the warning, we were told that that javalena sometimes are on the street at night and that at most we might get a scare as one runs by! I think the time of day of one's walk in the desert might be the biggest safety factor in not having an encounter. As a precaution against encounters in the r.v. park, we upgraded our camper's outside light to be bright enough to light up the yard area. We wouldn't want to let the dogs out in the evening or early morning hours right into a group of javalena!  
Mountain lions are said to be elusive by those that hunt them and that without a hunting dog to let you know where they are hidden you would walk right by one. If a mountain lion does decide to consider you as dinner, you only have one option and that is to fight for your life! The Arizona Game and Fish Department website advises that you make yourself as big as you can and to make lots of noise. Do not crouch down and do not run! Running can excite a cat into the predator and prey mode, when it might have let you escape otherwise. Mountain lions can not back up, so you must give them a chance to come forward enough to turn around. I saw on a nature show where a small built older woman saved her husband from a Mountain lion by attacking as fiercely and relentlessly as she could with big stick. I think encounters with them like most predators are going to fall within the dusk to dawn range.
We have had some warnings about coyotes, but I guess I personally don't feel that they are a threat unless you have a small child or pet that's unattended or the coyotes are starving. One r.v. park we were at was surrounded by desert, had a dry creek bed that followed the side of the park where the dumpster was located, and coyotes could be heard very close to the park. I was wary of the dusk to dawn hours for trips to the dumpster, and was watchful of the dogs when being let out during the dim light hours.
This is the San Pedro River in southern Arizona. Are you confident enough in your knowledge of alligators and crocodiles to allow your dogs to play in or near the water down south?
We all know there are alligators in Florida and Louisiana, but did you realize that they are said to be in all the southern states clear to the southern tip of Texas! Alligators are found in fresh water, but also brackish water such as where rivers meet the ocean. Here are their locations according to Wikipedia:  All of Florida and Louisiana. Southern Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.  Coastal South and North Carolina. The southeast corner of Oklahoma. Southern tip of Arkansas.  East Texas to the southern tip.   There are always the exceptions to the general rule, though, in that a few alligators have been found in the Rio Grande River almost as far north as El Paso. Crocodiles are in Mexico starting about 60 miles south of the U.S. border!  They also share habitat with alligators in southern Florida. Now we know!    

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Tombstone, AZ

Tombstone, Arizona is an interesting mix of history and tourism. It has earned a reputation as "the town to tough to die", as it has gone from booming mining economies to almost a ghost town and back to a thriving community more than once! Tombstone traces its beginnings to 1877 when prospector Ed Schieffelin undaunted by fierce Apaches found a rich silver strike just outside the current city limits. Prior to his find the soldiers at nearby Camp Huachuca had jokingly stated that the only thing he would find would be his tombstone, so upon staking his claim he named it "The Tombstone"! He named another claim "The Graveyard". Ed and his brother would have the last laugh when in 1880 they received $6,000,000 for their claims!   
In 1878, the year after his first claim (The Tombstone), the Good Enough Mine was established by Ed Schieffelin. It produced some of the purest silver ore ever discovered! It wasn't long before Ed had filed 19 claims nearby and formed the Tombstone Consolidated Mines Company. It is said that 300 miles of mine tunnels run under and around the city of Tombstone! One even leads to the basement of Big Nose Kate's Saloon and can still be seen today! A variety of tours are offered of the Good Enough mine. The basic tour is $15.00, and reviews say it's well worth it!
In 1881 Schieffelin Hall was built as a venue for theatrical and musical performances. It is where the respectable folks went.
By 1881 Tombstone's population had reached 10,000 and rivaled both Tucson (the Pima County seat and Prescott (the territorial capital)! The residents voted to separate from Pima County and the territorial legislature subsequently formed what is now Cochise County. The Cochise County courthouse was built in 1882. Tombstone was the Cochise County seat until 1929 when it moved to Bisbee. Today the courthouse is a museum managed as a state park. Admission is $5.00.
The main street of historic Tombstone is blocked off from vehicle traffic except for a tour trolley. There are stagecoach and carriage tours, as well as, walking tours providing narratives as to the history of the community. These tours are approximately $10.00 each. I found the shops and restaurants in this tourist area to pleasantly intermingle tourism with history. The restaurants seem reasonably priced, but it becomes quickly obvious that a lot could be spent quickly on tourist attractions! Here are a few things to see while in town with the 2015 prices. I found while researching attractions online that admission prices seemed only scarcely available! Here are a few things to do that we discovered:  a. The O.K. Corral at the Historama - $10.00 gets a 45 minute film viewing of Tombstone's history and an O.K. Corral shootout re-enactment. b. Tour Big Nose Kate's Saloon/gift shop/mine entrance - free! c. Step into the Crystal Palace restaurant to see the ornate 1800s wood/mirror bar replica. d. Walk through the rebuilt Oriental casino (now a clothing/gift shop) to see an ornate 1800s wood/mirror bar - free! d. Tour the historic Epitaph Newspaper building - The museum of period printing equipment and a video of the process of printing an 1800s newspaper is free! e. See a bar room cowboy gunfight set-up in the historic Watt and Tarbell Undertakers building - $8.00. f. Tour the original Bird Cage Theater - The lobby is free and the self guided tour of the theater is $10.00. g. See the world's largest rose tree - Even without blooming the price was $5.00.  It blooms around March or April. h. Boot Hill Cemetary.  It is said to be certified as the original.  It is now a tourist attraction with a gift shop. - free! There are other museums and ghost tours of which fees are unknown. You get the idea, though. Choose your tourist attractions wisely!        
In 1883 Tombstone was on the fast track from being a mining camp to being a municipality! It boasted a large red-light district and more gambling houses and saloons than any town in the Southwest! During this period, some 110 saloons were constructed, among them being the elegant Crystal Palace. There was the Bird Cage Theater and Schieffelin Hall for theatrical and musical performances. There were multiple newspapers, four churches, a public library, and a swimming pool!
Over the years two devastating fires swept through Tombstone. The businesses were rebuilt with different appearances, but in their original locations and often bearing the original names. Those with name changes bear plaques as to the businesses they were in the 1800s. This view is down Allen Street. The red building on the right is the Crystal Palace. The building to the forefront of the picture on the right is The Oriental, where the Earps had a partial share in the gambling house profits.  The building on the left side of the street is now the Longhorn Restaurant, but has been occupied by several businesses.  It was under construction while the Earps were in town and is said to be the location of the building that Virgil Earp was shot from. The intersection in front of the Crystal Palace appears to be where scenes from the move Tombstone were filmed. In researching the filming location for the mission and train station scenes, I'm fairly sure they were filmed in an old movie studio called Old Tucson. Old Tucson is open for public tours and is located in the city of Tucson.
Big Nose Kate's Saloon was the original Grand Hotel where many famous people including the Earps and Doc Holiday stayed! The town fire destroyed the ornate bar that was originally on the first floor, but the downstairs bar survived the fire and was moved upstairs. This is the building that has a mine entrance right into the basement gift shop! The saloon owners encourage people to walk through and just browse!  
This is the original and notorious Bird Cage Theatre building!  The theater opened on December 25th, 1881 and by 1882 the New York Times was quoted as calling it "The wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast." The theater was a gambling parlor and brothel that operated from 1881 to 1889. During its 8 years of operation it was the location of 26 deaths! There are a reported 125 bullet holes still in the building!           
The Watt and Tarbell Undertakers building is an original. It is located close to the Birdcage Theater which sounds like a good location given the reputation of the Birdcage! I was told the building front is where the movie, Wyatt Earp, showed the wooden caskets leaning against it.  The building now has gunfight re-enactments held in it.
Here are some shady looking characters looking for a fight on the main street of Tombstone! The wide open spaces of southern Arizona and New Mexico provided a vast un-policed area in which stage robbers and cattle rustlers could operate unchecked. Ranchers on both sides of the United States and Mexican border were being targeted. In what appeared to be an organized effort, stolen beef would be sold and then find its way into Fort Huachuca and Tombstone butcher shops at greatly reduced prices. This method was used by the cowboys as a means of funding their wild and reckless lifestyles. Several crooked government officials appeared to be in cahoots with the lawless elements around Tombstone!
Here are the graves of the Clantons and McLaurys, who died in the O.K. Corral shootout. The graves are located in the Boothill Cemetary on the edge of Tombstone.
Here is a modern day Tombstone Marshal vehicle for going through desert terrain. The marshal told us that military vehicles that are no longer in use by the military are loaned to police departments, but must be returned to the military source once they are no longer in use by the police department. He stated that prior to getting this Humvee 3 regular trucks were broken from constant use in rough terrain. The Humvee's 4 wheels operate separately from one another and it's said that you can drive 100 miles on a flat tire! It looks like it could stand up to some gunfire in its border patrol duties, as well as, handle the rugged environment!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Tombstone Historic Home Tour

We arrived in Tombstone at 11:00 a.m. December 6th the day of Tombstone's First Annual Historic Home Tour. Having researched the area ahead of time I knew the event was taking place, but due to weather delaying our travels I thought we might miss attending. We pulled into Tombstone Territories R.V. Park, did a quick tour of the park facilities, set-up the camper, and were touring homes by 1:00! I'm so glad we made it! Roy and I have enjoyed Christmas home tours almost yearly for several years and I must say this one was the very best! If you are anywhere in the vicinity when it is scheduled, I highly recommend going out of your way to attend. The home pictured on the event booklet is called the Rose Cottage (c.1879). It is so named for the 70 rose plants in the gardens! It alone was worth the price of the tour! It is absolutely gorgeous inside and out! The Rose Cottage is known to be the oldest adobe residence in Tombstone! It was originally only two room house consisting of a bedroom and parlor.  The rooms were adjoined, but had their own exterior doorways. They did not share an interior door! It was said to be bad etiquette for visitors to be able to see into the bedroom!  
This woman and her husband are the owners of the Rose Cottage. Each room of the homes had people in period dress telling the history of the room! Pictures were allowed outside, but not inside. There was a professional photographer on the tour at the same time we were and I was later able to get pictures from the Internet! This is the parlor. I love pink and burgundy together!!!
The bedroom now has an interior door connecting it to the parlor!
This is the dining room off the kitchen. The home appeared to have 6 rooms now with one of the rooms being a masculine den.
This is the greeter for a home being referred to as the "Little Old New House"!
The Little Old New House was built in 1998 to replicate an 1898 home. The owners had collected antiques for over 40 years and the Little Old New House was the culmination of their dream! That's Roy and me on the porch! I got a surprise when searching for pictures of the tour and found we made it onto the Tombstone Times Facebook page! The spire in the background is the historic Cochise County Courthouse!
This is the owner of the Little Old New House.
Here is a more expansive view of the Little Old New Home's parlor. The home appeared to be 4-5 rooms.  
This is the 1882 home of the famous Cochise County sheriff, John Slaughter. who lived from 1841-1922. John Slaughter is credited with cleaning up the lawlessness in the Arizona Territory and thereby encouraging apprehensive Congressmen to vote for its admission into the Union. It was originally a 4 room home, but now has 6 with the addition of modern plumbing. The young owner of the home has had it for just over a year, but has dreamed of owning it for 20 years! She now dreams of detailing it with historic accuracy!
This is the parlor of the John Slaughter residence. The carpet will be stripped away and the wood floors restored once the owner finds rugs appropriate to the history of the home.
For many years this house has had the reputation of being Wyatt Earp's house.  It was reported in the newspaper, The Tombstone Epitaph on October 23, 1880:  "The Messr. Earp are erecting on their property at the foot of Fremont Street a number of frame dwelling houses.  Four have been completed and a fifth is under way."  The Tombstone lots are 30'x120'.  The houses were 15'x30' and only had two rooms.  There were no kitchens, bathrooms, or built-in closets. It was stated on the tour that houses tended not to have built-in closets, as they were considered additional rooms for tax purposes! According to Allie Earp's recollection, "Our house was on the Southwest corner of First and Fremont. Wyatt and Mattie lived on the Northeast corner."
This is the bedroom in the Wyatt Earp house. 
This home is called the My Darling Clementine House.  It wasn't stated why it was given this name, but I later read where the movie "My Darling Clementine" was filmed in Tombstone in 1946.  I wonder if this house was a filming location?  The house was built in the 1880s and is said to be the first place Wyatt, James, Virgil Earp and their wives lived upon arriving in Tombstone. James Earp gave the house to his step daughter Hattie and her new husband, Thaddeus Harris upon their wedding.
This is the dining room in the Clementine home.
This bedroom in the Clementine home is referred to as Doc Holliday's room.
This home is referred to as North Pole South, as it is Christmas at this residence 365 days a year! The interior of the home carries the Christmas theme throughout. The interior of the home had a rustic, but elegant charm that made the home feel to me like a log cabin lodge! The owners truly captured the feel of a home you would expect Santa Clause to live in while at North Pole South!  
This is Tibbs Manor. It is a late territorial adobe built around 1897. The most famous occupant was James Giacoma who lived in this home from 1913 to 1968. He was the owner of the Crystal Theater and he co-owned the Defiance Mine in Gleeson. The wall surrounding the property was built from turquoise and quartz stones James Giacoma brought from the Defiance Mine 16 miles away.
This is the current owner of the home along with her husband shown on the porch in the previous picture.
Here is a glimpse down the main hallway of Tibbs Manor.
Here is another look into Tibbs Manor and some of the participants in the First Annual Tombstone Historic Homes Tour! We'll definitely try to catch it every year that we can!  The homes and presentations were magnificent!  Kudo's to the Tombstone Cameo Ladies who hosted the event!