Thursday March 1: March comes in as a lamb with a beautiful blue sky and it is relatively calm most of the day.
When the sun warms things up, I play viola outside for the first time.
In the afternoon as Rollie and I play music outside together, the neighbor, Toby, comes over with a banjo and joins us in a few bluegrass pieces. Although he is not primarily a bluegrass musician, he is very talented and has a good voice, and sings/plays a few old blues pieces for us. It certainly is fun to have him play with us. Instead of running into Sunsites to the post office as planned, I make another campfire so music outdoors can continue.
Friday March 2: Another beautiful blue-sky morning.
It seems a shame to have to run to Sunsites/Pearce for errands, but we have things to take care of – like post office and getting a few groceries.
Later, back at camp, Rollie and I walk down the road so I can show him a century plant. Lots of yucca and sotol around, fewer century plants close by. While we are out walking, we see a pickup/camper rig that is attempting to turn around on the other branch of road into the dispersed area, one that is not suitable for trailers. As we watch, the driver makes some very radical moves that no doubt left some scratches and dents. A bit scary seeing how some people drive their rigs – they really don’t know what they are doing!
Saturday March 3: A gorgeous morning, but windy in the afternoon. Today I am doing a photo shoot with Jimi, the host at Cochise Campground. Her uniform has arrived, so she is able to look official for the photos.
We take the trail up to the pictographs for some of the photos and hike the loop around the Nature Trail, as well as going a ways up the Cochise Trail.
Between cell and camera, I have an assortment of photos of her daily activities as camp host. Back at camp, I edit the photos and put the best on a flash drive for her. These will be used for brochures and such as she sees fit.
After preparing the photo files for Jimi, I play cribbage with Rollie before making breakfast burritos for dinner for all of us. It is too windy to make a campfire or play music outside, so just do the evening routine after dinner cleanup and head to bed a bit earlier.
Monday March 4: This morning Clifford and I walk through the campground and follow a trail out to another road that heads up to the foothills of the mountain.
We also do a short hike up my favorite trail. I’m glad Clifford gets to see some of the places I have enjoyed during our stay here.
Later, Rollie and I drive up to the campground so I can give Jimi the flash drive with the photos from yesterday.
While we are there, we look at the photo books she has made of her first and second years of hosting here and at Sunny Flats in the Chiricahua Mountains to the west. Her photo books are interesting and an inspiration to me to try one of my own.
After we get back to camp, Rollie and I join Toby for music, and since it is windy, we go down into the arroyo where it is calm, but shady and cool.
We play until we get too cold, and then head back to the campers to make dinner.
Tuesday February 27: I have tea with Rollie while Clifford does the Early Bird ham radio net. Later Rollie and I go for a walk through the campground and down the road. Becka calls – not a good day for her, as her school had a 3-hour lock-down today because of a shooting threat, not to be taken lightly after the recent school shooting in nearby Florida. After we get back from our walk, Rollie and I do music together with Clifford as our audience.
Katie calls: big hassle with my car – it is buried in snow, but needs to be moved, and there is a mix up with the registration – a DMV error that happened when we registered the Suburban last spring. It gets straightened out, but only with time (Katie’s) and expense (mine). I wanted my car to be in Montana/Idaho for my use when I am there, but it seems to be an inconvenience for whoever is babysitting it. But at least her calling about it gives us time to chat about other things and catch up on the news.
Wednesday February 28: The rain in the very early morning hours turns to snow; it is blustery and wintry when I get up.
I dig out my long wool coat, which I haven’t had to use in a very long time, and go for a walkabout to take photos of the snow.
Now, for most of the country, having snow in February is no big deal and everyone is tired of winter. However, this is the first snow I’ve seen in almost a year and I’m very excited about it.
So, bundled up, I walk through the campground and revel in the beauty of falling and newly fallen snow.
After brunch with Clifford, I go about again, as the sky has opened up; a blue sky and sunshine on the snow are in complete contrast to the blustery morning.
Back at the camper, I play viola and write in the journal until Clifford starts a podcast with our webmaster. Since he needs quiet, I go play cribbage with Rollie at his camper and later we do music. The snow has melted away, but I’m happy to have been here to see it, to walk in it, to take photos of it.
Saturday February 24: 27 degrees, calm and beautiful this morning in the Dragoon Mountains of southeast Arizona.
Checking the weather, I see that Wallace, Idaho, (where we lived before moving to Utah last fall) has lots of snow and more forecast. I kind of miss seeing that snow.
I go for a hike this morning, enjoying the quiet and the solitude.
Back at camp, I take care of a few domestic chores, then go over to Rollie’s camper to play cribbage using the board that I picked up at the thrift shop yesterday. My siblings and I all learned to play cribbage as kids and continue to enjoy the game.
Clifford is on the phone with Straight Talk, trying to figure out why our hotspots are getting used up so quickly. We monitor our usage carefully, so it is not making sense. In the end he cancels service with them… we go from very poor internet service to no internet service.
I play viola awhile, talk to my daughter Merri about a writing project she is working on, then make breakfast burritos for all of us for dinner. Later, when I try to send pics to my daughter Becka, cell phone does not work. Hmmm….. Good thing I have several non-net projects I can work on. Otherwise a person could get frustrated!
Sunday February 25: Another beautiful morning. I have tea with Rollie and then we get ready for our hike on the Cochise Trail.
Clifford and I have hiked this exceptionally scenic trail before, but it will be new for Rollie. We head on up to Cochise Stronghold Campground, say Hi to our camphost friend, Jimi, – too bad she can’t hike with us today – and then head on up the trail.
It is a great hike on a beautiful day. We only go as far as the 1-mile point where there is a pretty spot by the creek, a perfect place to have our picnic.
We relax by the flowing stream as it cascades over rocks, but eventually it is time to head back down the trail.
Back at camp, I clean and organize the Suburban while I chat with Becka. Since cell is working again, I send a few pics of the hike to family/friends and post one on FB. Even with the hike, I have time to do some editing for daughter Ang and download my camera. It always fun to look at the photos after a day’s outing.
By time we have dinner, it is too late for music together, but other than that, it was a good full happy day.
Thursday February 22: Today is “stink repair” day, which includes drying out every damp corner, removing any affected window moulding, and cleaning the fridge. Many things got damp during these last rainy days.
Then Rollie, Ninja, and I go for a hike, finding a place to sit in the sun out of the wind.
Back at camp, I do some editing, write in the journal, and send a few texts before going over to Rollie’s camper to play music. I play guitar to his mandolin until my fingers get tired, then switch to viola and he plays guitar.
Chicken dinner at our place. Both campers are small, but it is fun to do stuff together.
Friday February 23: The mountainside is golden in the first rays of the sun. Great blue sky, calm but chilly this morning.
I go for a hike up the mountain by myself, as it is a bit too chilly for Rollie and Clifford is focused on his ham radio.
Today is errand day, but we also do some exploring with Rollie, going to nearby Pearce, almost a ghost town. It was an active gold mining town founded in 1895. It grew to a population of 2,000, but several disasters including a cave-in, flooding, and faulty wiring caused havoc, resulting in the mine being closed in 1942, although the town was largely abandoned before then.
We also go to the cemetery, a bit neglected, but a part of the history of this once lively place. We wander around looking at headstones, noting how many children died. It was a harsh life, especially for women and children.
Clifford and I go on to Sunizona for propane and the laundromat. Browsing the thrift store right next door to the laundromat is a fun way to spend the time while clothes wash and dry. We both get a few things here, including a cribbage board. Back at camp, we put stuff away and have a late dinner. No music today, but all-in-all, it was a productive day.
Monday February 19: Very windy all day with hard gusts that shake our little home.
I start the morning with a walkabout n the misty rain to see how much water is flowing in the wash.
With the rain last night, the waterfalls on the rock face of the mountain have been reinvigorated and I estimate from the water in a free-standing pan that the Dragoon Mountains have received about 3″ of rain in the last several days.
In the afternoon there is enough sunshine to charge my laptop for a few minutes so I can do some editing, but most activities during the day are non-electronic related. Dinner is simply soup and salad, since I am not crazy about cooking and cleaning by lantern light. Living in a cute homey but small camper can be stressful when the weather is not conducive for spending time outdoors.
Tuesday February 20: High today is only 53 and the wind is chilly, so no morning walk. But later, as some blue sky appears, I do a good walkabout up the mountain and then out to the road and back to the campsite via a long loop. It is good to spend time outside.
Back at camp, I make a list of things that can be done that do not involve power: Hike, take photos, write in journal, read a book or magazine, play viola, play guitar, color, sing, clean a cabinet, clean the floor, meditate, go visit someone, dance, write postcards, write a letter, gather wood for a campfire, build and sit by a campfire (if it’s not too windy), mindmap a project, cook something, gather rocks, knit, tidy camper, tidy campsite, add to planner, study up on essential oils, make coffee and take time to enjoy it. If the cell is charged, then I can add texts to family/friends, practice Morse code, and peruse cell pics.
Since cell is charged a bit, I check FB, post a pic, and text with Rollie – he is on the east side of Tucson tonight, having left Parker, Arizona, this morning, and he will be here sometime tomorrow. Big smile! Now I can add play cribbage and music with Rollie to the non-power list.
Wednesday February 21: Breezy and cool with a mix of blue sky and clouds throughout the day.
When Rollie and Ninja arrive, I show him around so he can pick a campsite that will work for him; he decides to share our site with us, as that will make it easier to visit back and forth for music and meals.
After he is set up, we drive through the entire loop to look for firewood that has been left behind by other campers. Then we head on up to the Cochise Stronghold campground so Rollie can meet the camp host, our friend, Jimi, and we make plans for a hike on the Cochise Trail later in the week.
In the evening, we play music at Rollie’s camper; fun to play viola with his guitar, now that I can play a few more tunes, and of course, the mandolin and guitar as we were doing earlier in the winter.
I make a big pot of chili for dinner at our place – too cool and windy to eat by a campfire, but fun to share the meal in the comfort of our little home and catch up with the events of the last couple weeks.
Saturday February 17: I go for a walkabout first thing to check on the water in the wash. It is far from flooding, but fun to see a stream where a few days it was dry sand.
As fog rolls in, I go out again to take photos.
A text from our Cochise Stronghold Campground host friend, Jimi, suggests a hike this afternoon, so I go on up to the campground.
We hike up the trail to the pictographs, an interesting trail, not really for the casual hiker, but not too strenuous, either.
Instead of hiking back down the trail, we hike down into the ravine, which now because of the rain holds a flowing stream, and make our way down around boulders, dead fall, and shin dagger yucca – wicked little desert plant best seen at a distance.
I learn that the bubbly scum I’ve seen on pooling water is from the abundant yucca, since the rain has saturated the soil enough to get the roots. The soaptree yucca derives its name from the soapy material in its roots and trunks which made this plant a popular substitute for soap. (www.desertusa.com).
Sunday February 18: Still cool and mostly cloudy this morning, but enough sun to hang out everything that is wet from the rain that leaked in a couple of the camper windows.
In the afternoon, beautiful cumulus clouds form over the mountain with the sky a gorgeous blue backdrop… quite wonderful to see.
Message and pic from Ang showing two feet of new snow. Guess the high of 66 here today would seem like a heat wave to my kids and siblings in Montana. I miss seeing my kids and siblings and feel a little sad that we are so far apart.
Big wind and more rain in the evening and during the night.
Thursday February 15: Rain and wind all night here in the dispersed area outside Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains. A couple windows are now leaking, so we redo the tarp to cover both the vent and the windows. Looks like we have a project to take care of when the weather is warm and dry.
I walk down the road, rather enjoying the rain, and down to the wash at the base of the mountain to a cool little spot that I call the Gnome Home.
Or perhaps it is a portal to another universe! Later in the afternoon, another walk on a trail through a narrow meadow-like area takes me to a natural enclave, a grotto of sorts.
These hidden places are quite a delight to me.
Clifford prefers to stay in the camper working on his ham radio projects.
Cell service is weak here, but we do get messages and calls in and out. The evening is the usual routine, using only lanterns as there is not much solar power happening these days.
Friday February 16: Low and high temperatures: 50/56 degrees… hardly any variation all day long. There is fog in the morning and rain off and on all day.
This morning is different, however, as we hear a sound we’ve not heard before and looking to the mountainside, we see numerous waterfalls, some of considerable size, dropping hundreds of feet down the rock face. So many waterfalls in the desert is quite an exciting event to see!
Walkabouts in the morning and afternoon provide ample opportunities for photos, especially the waterfalls and little rivulets everywhere.
Even the trail up the mountain where I walked yesterday is a running stream.
I am more limited in my usual activities, other than the walkabouts, as there will be little laptop usage today. I write a couple short blogs, read a Dr. Oz magazine, play the viola, and practice Morse code.
We use only lanterns to light the camper for dinner, as well as the other evening activities.
Friday January 13th, since we are not going backpacking, we decide to go to Tombstone today. Right after breakfast, we leave our campground at Cochise Stronghold and head south. Tombstone is a lot of fun as we browse the shops and learn more of the history of the Old West. I bought a couple of skirts in one of the shops, a real splurge for me, but clothing that I will enjoy wearing. We had lunch at the Longhorn Saloon, as well as spending time in the Tombstone Epitaph, the local newspaper, and Clifford talked to the owner of the bookstore, a scholarly gentleman in his 80’s, the historian of Tombstone, who is largely responsible for its comeback as a viable town.
We arrive back at camp at dusk. While Clifford naps, I edit for Ang (Novels of Shannon by Angela MacDonald, a really exciting epic fantasy/adventure series) and pick photos for the next blog.
Saturday January 14th is day 100 of our trip.
I make a cup of tea in the to-go cup and hike the interpretive trail, a short trail with many interpretive signs regarding the history of the area – the Native Americans who had lived here for centuries before the coming of the white man, and the ensuing hardships for those cultures when miners, hunters, settlers, and soldiers moved into the region. After breakfast, I make a thermos of coffee, pack up my laptop and the hotspot, and head up the nature trail, as at the high point, facing the open desert plain far below and away, I can get on the internet. I download files from Ang and take care of emails and texts. I sit on the bench, enjoying the view, while I talk to my daughter Becka. She is familiar with Joshua Tree, which is a destination we are considering.
In the afternoon Clifford goes over to the next drainage to set up his night-vision camera in a different spot and from there he looks down on a 15+ herd of javelinas. In doing some research on them, we learn they can be quite nasty and dangerous, and I think the Middle March Trail where we had considered backpacking is part of the same drainage where Clifford saw these beasts. Probably a good thing the backpacking was postponed.
I make potato salad for our friends who will be coming to visit tomorrow. I had planned on a campfire this afternoon, but it has gotten too gusty and is starting to rain. I cover my wood pile, which is a good thing, because later a heavy rain moves in. I continue to edit until the laptop battery is dead. Between the shade and the clouds, I am not getting my laptop charged enough to keep up with things, let alone the awkwardness of having to go up the trail to get on the internet. Head to bed a bit earlier tonight, as my usual evening activity is photo editing and blog writing, which I can’t do tonight since the laptop still needs charging.
Sunday January 15th, the rain continues during the night and when I get up this morning, I go for a walk in the rain.
No wood-gathering today, as everything is wet, but it is so refreshing to be outside. Get hold of our friends to see if they want to postpone our get-together on account of the rain, but no, they are all coming: Jimi, our camp host friend from last year is coming with her husband, Daniel, and another camper we met while we were here last here, Dan, is on his way. Dan is one of the most colorful and interesting fellows we have ever met.
The rain lets up in the afternoon and I get a campfire going. Luckily, when Dan arrives with Alice, his ridgeback/red heeler, he has brought a good amount of dry wood with him. He also brought several buckets of KFC! Jimi and Daniel arrive with more food. Due to impending more rain, we leave the food inside Terry, but after filling up our plates, we all sit around the campfire, eating and enjoying great conversation.
The rain begins again, but by now the campfire is quite a warm blaze and we are quite comfortable as we sit around.
Before everyone leaves, Jimi and I go for a short hike on the nature trail to take photos of the manzanita whose reddish bark is even more striking when wet with rain.
What a fun day! What a great place. Too bad we have to leave tomorrow.
Monday January 9th, I am up before Clifford, but have no time to walk in the rocks.
Once Clifford is up, I finish packing the inside while he does the outside. We discover, unfortunately, that our rear-view camera is no longer working. That is a real drag, as it is an important safely feature. Someone looking for a space pulls into ours as we are pulling out. Popular place!
Smooth travel most of the way, but the wind picks up from Wilcox, Arizona, on. Sure glad to get off the interstate onto highway 191 south, which takes us to the small community of Sunsites, where we stop at the post office to pick up a package waiting for us – a research instrument that Clifford had ordered. From there we drive on out to Cochise Stronghold. It is late afternoon by time we get to the Stronghold and we are fortunate to find an available spot in this very small campground. We get set up, happy to be here. This place has a very special ambiance.
Cochise Stronghold is a small canyon within the Dragoon Mountains with a creek flowing through it, partially underground, and a thick stand of oak trees providing a home for many birds and wild animals.
In the very rugged mountains surrounding this natural sanctuary, the Apache chief, Cochise, kept his people hidden from soldiers who pursued them for several years.
Tuesday January 10th, I walk the nature trail twice this morning, once for photos and again to collect firewood and to use the cell phone to contact my girls. Cell phones don’t work well at the campsite, but are better up on the trail.
Jimi, the campground host whom we met here last year, comes out today to visit (she is not hosting here currently), as she and I became friends when we were before. We catch up on what’s new and have lunch at a campfire. So fun to see her again.