Last Days at Cochise Stronghold – March 2019

Friday March 15: Lots of people are leaving Cochise Stronghold today, as the creek is down enough to be safe. The van ladies and the musician neighbors are among those who are leaving. I will miss them.

Clifford and I work on some CI projects, taking care of email and writing a fund-raising campaign for the book project — the story behind Carnicom Institute. Tacos for dinner again and lose at cribbage again and do dishes again. After running the generator awhile, my laptop can be used and I edit photos for the next blog, a good ending for the day.

Saturday March 16: After breakfast, Rollie and I take our trash up to the campground and visit my camp host friend, Jimi.

Cochise Stronghold is at the base of that mountain

When Rollie and I get back to our camping area, Clifford and I run into the little town of Sunsites, only to discover that the post office and the little market are closed. We are able to take care of a couple things, but mostly it was a waste of time going in. The fun part of the outing was going to Marcia’s Garden again to buy a couple more items. It is a tiny, but delightful shop and I enjoy spending a few minutes there.

Marcia’s Garden

Nachos for dinner tonight and my turn to win at cribbage. After dishes, I post a blog of our camping in Capitol Reef in October.

Sunday March 17: I am up in time to take photos of the golden light and then walk down in the ravine to see if the water is still flowing… and it is.

Golden first light
Water still flowing in the ravine

After breakfast I drive up to the campground to talk to Jimi, as we had tentatively planned on a hike today. However, Clifford and I have to pack, as today is our last day at Cochise Stronghold and hiking isn’t fitting in well. In the afternoon, Rollie and I play music and have a campfire. Dinner is a little of this and that, as left-overs need to be used up before we leave. Cochise Stronghold has been a great stay, but it is time for us to move on.

Cochise Stronghold Days – March 2019

Friday March 8: After breakfast we go to Pearce/Sunsites, the nearest town to Cochise Stronghold where Clifford and I are camped in the dispersed area. Several errands: post office to pick up mail, the Farmer’s Market, the little grocery store for local honey, and Marcia’s Garden where I buy lotions made from goats’ milk and essential oils. A shopping trip to Marcia’s Garden is on my priority list when we are in this area and I buy enough for the coming year.

Marcia’s Garden

Back at camp, we take care of calls, emails, texts, and editing, some of which are related to Carnicom Institute business. I finally start a new Facebook account, as FB has not responded to any of my attempts to access the account I’ve had for years, which was messed up when my phone “died” last month. I’m not too pleased about the situation, but I still want to share photos and blogs of our travels, as well as stay in touch with family, real friends, and photo group friends. In the meantime, I’ve gotten further behind with posting blogs, and now I’m starting over without recovering many of my previous friends and followers.

Saturday March 9: Beautiful light on the mountain, but frozen fingers at 27 degrees this morning.

Rock cliff face beautiful golden from the early morning light

We sort the mail that we picked up yesterday, I send texts to family and friends, and take care of other domestic chores. My brother Rollie and I walk down the other branch of the dispersed area. The road is really bad, but high clearance vehicles are able to get in and there are a couple of people camped in that area. Nice walk, as it has warmed up to mid-60’s.

Creek crossing on the walk

Back at camp, Rollie and I play bluegrass music, inviting the neighbor with the banjo to join us. Also invite some folks walking down the road to join us – just to listen. Clifford is always an appreciative audience, but it is fun to have others play and listen, also. The muffins that are baking turn out great, so we share fresh hot muffins with the neighbors, along with the music.

Chicken for dinner, but no cribbage tonight, as Rollie is figuring out his travel plans for visiting our cousins who have moved to Dallas.

Sunday March 10: This morning I start a campfire and Rollie joints me. When it gets warm enough, he gets out the mandolin and plays while I write in my journal. Later I meet the van neighbor and we visit with the neighbors that Clifford and I met the first day. Kind of interesting that we are all from or have lived in Montana and are familiar with the same places.

Campfire in the morning

After lunch Clifford and I take care of CI email and I post a blog from September travels. We have breakfast burritos for dinner, and Rollie and I play a game of cribbage before I get the dishes done.

Monday March 11: Mostly sunny this morning, and Rollie and I go for a walk down the road through the dispersed camping area and up a bit of a trail.

Back at camp it is warm enough to play music outside in the shade of the trees at our campsite. We meet the ladies, Beth and Sally, camped in vans near Rollie’s rig when they come over to listen. They are not planning on staying long, but fun to meet them.

Sunshine and shade before clouds move in

By afternoon it has clouded up considerably; by time dinner and cribbage are over, it is raining. After dinner I send the blog of September travels to “new friends” on FB to get former friends to recognize the “new” me. I do hope taking the time to post blogs on FB adds something interesting to someone’s day.

Rain moving in

Hiking Cochise Trail – March 2019

Wednesday March 7: It is windy and overcast at Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains where we are camped in the dispersed area. After breakfast I send texts with photos to family, review a memoir that I’m editing, and fix snacks for our hike. About noon, Clifford, my brother Rollie, and I head to the campground to meet up with our friend Jimi, the campground host.

Today we are hiking the Cochise Trail to the Half-Moon Tank, about two miles up the trail. There are lots of stops as we hike, catching our breath and me taking photos. Except for the white murk in the sky, it is a beautiful day for hike.

First Creek Crossing

As we begin the upward climb, we notice the rock formations beside the trail as well as those on the slope across the creek from us. We can see many places where caves could provide homes or hiding places for people or wildlife.

We spot an interesting formation and a cave on the opposite slope
Another crossing of the creek

We stop at the spring, about a mile in, taking a moment to enjoy the lovely creek. As we head onward, Clifford goes ahead of the rest of us. Unfortunately, he has my water bottle. Luckily, Rollie was carrying a spare, so I was able to keep hydrated on the uphill climb.

The creek at the spring

Beyond the spring, the trail winds around the mountain, revealing the fantastic boulder formations.

Near the tank, Clifford waits for us so we all arrive at the tank together. There is no doubt some history as to why a tank was built here, but we can only guess at what that would be. We find a spot on the nearby sliprock hillside where we can have our picnic. It is a pleasant time of relaxing before we head back down the trail.

Half Moon Tank

At the spring, we stop again, giving ourselves a little more time to be here in this magical place.

Back at camp, it is already time for dinner, so I make nachos – quick and easy. Other than washing the bean pan, I let the rest of the dishes go for tonight. Rollie is too tired for cribbage, so I go back to editing until my laptop battery is used up. Clifford and I are both kind of tired out from the hike, so early to bed for us. Hardly anything on the to-do list got done today, and that is okay, as what we did was much more fun.

Cochise Stronghold – Arizona – March 2019

Sunday March 3: Packing up is easy this morning, as we didn’t unpack much while here at the SKP RV Park in Benson, Arizona. Our destination today is Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains of southeast Arizona.

Approaching Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains

We are surprised when we get there to find that the dispersed camping area is full. Since we know the area, we are able to find a rather hidden spot to back into, once a road along the ravine, now mostly overgrown. It takes considerable wrangling to get in fairly level with room for the antenna and the slide out. Once we are in place, with the awning out, the table and chairs in a sandy area behind, lanterns hung up, and some of the tall dead grass cut back with scissors, the place looks quite homey and comfortable.

I go say “Hi” to the neighbors, as they were kind enough to offer to share their large space, which we declined. They are musicians, so maybe we will get together for a jam session one of these days.

In the evening I play viola while Clifford has a call with his brothers. Dinner is late, just soup and sandwiches, as I don’t feel much like cooking and cleaning this late in the day. I write in the journal while he plays dulcimer, a nice way to end the day.

Monday March 4: I am delighted to see the gold morning light, which only lasts a few minutes, on the Dragoon Mountains. This rocky section of the mountains is known as Cochise Stronghold, as it is here that the Chiricahua Apache chief, Cochise, managed to evade US soldiers for a number of years.

Morning light turns the rocky mountainside golden
Our tucked in spot in the morning light

This morning I walk the length of the dispersed camping area, both for exercise and to see what’s available for my brother Rollie when he gets here. There isn’t much available this morning, so we’ll see how it looks later. Back at camp, after breakfast, I make coffee and sit outside with Clifford while he plays his dulcimer.

In the afternoon I drive to the regular campground a couple miles up the road to visit my camp host friend, Jimi. We have a nice visit and plan for a hike later in the week. During the afternoon, a large party leaves the dispersed area, so there is a good big spot for Rollie when he gets here.

Rollie and his rig

Once he is set up, I invite him over for dinner. After dinner, I barely win a game of cribbage and then play viola before tackling the dishes. Too late to write in journal tonight.

Tuesday March 5: Down to 34 degrees this morning, a bit on the cool side, but not nearly as cold as the -16 degrees that our siblings are experiencing in Montana.

Today is a camp day, building a fire pit, playing bluegrass music with Rollie and the neighbors, sending texts with photos to family and friends, domestic chores, and in general enjoying being retired.

Making kombucha tea

Wednesday March 6: As soon as I get up, I go walking, taking photos of the great morning light on the stone mountain behind us.

Cougar at Cochise Stronghold

Today is a day of taking care of email, texts, phone calls, and trying to get a response from FB to reestablish my connection to my account. Clifford has a couple of business calls and works with his radios. Getting antennas just right seems to be an ongoing issue. It has gotten warm, 78 degrees, so we are able to do many of our activities outside. In the afternoon Rollie and I play music with our neighbors.

Our backyard – artistic rendition

Dinner, cribbage, dishes, and journal wrap up the day for me. Clifford, as usual, stays up later listening to his ham radio.

More Cacti Forest – February 2019

Thursday February 14: I am up too late for sunrise color, but make coffee and get ready to go walking. Since I am walking in a place that I am not familiar with, I take a radio for communication and the knife my son Tye made for me. First I walk north, keeping an eye on the tallest saguaros. The thick growth of cacti is very disorienting and within minutes I could have been totally lost. It is certainly much different than walking in La Posa South where I walked in the desert every day, never losing my sense of direction. I continue walking, keeping a close watch on the tall saguaros, until I arrive at a large wash with lots of animal tracks in the sand.

Walking north

I have no desire to attempt to cross the wash, so make my way back to camp and then, crossing the road, I walk south, a gradual downhill with fewer saguaros to use as landmarks and more cholla… and javelina tracks…. so I don’t go all the way to the thicket ahead.

Walking south
Cholla in the forest

Back on the road and walking west, I go beyond the point where Clifford and I had walked together when first looking for a spot to camp. The cattle tank and the highway are to the east, so I skip that for now.

Walking west

Back at camp, we open our mutual Valentine Day card and then I make smoothies for breakfast. I stay busy with email, writing blogs, editing, and playing viola while Clifford works on his projects.

Afternoon in the Forest with clouds moving in

In the evening it starts to rain and we have a chance to try out our collapsible water-collection buckets, filling them all with rain water.

Friday February 15: The morning is overcast with mist and drizzle; temperatures are in the 50’s all day.

Morning mist in the desert

In connection with his research, Clifford is making contact with a lab in Phoenix today. The drive with all the traffic and the rain is stressful and I have to remind myself to breathe easy. Once we arrive at the lab on the far side of Phoenix, Clifford talks to a lab technician there and comes away with an idea for the next step of this aspect of the research.

Heading back to our campsite, we decide to stop at Cracker Barrel in Casa Grande, south of Phoenix, and after lunch we take my defunct cell phone to a Verizon store. It is verified that it did not get wet, but just died, and a replacement will be sent to me. That is good news!

Back at camp, we sit out in our little “patio” area and relax before I make nachos for dinner. The day was a bit stressful, so having this quiet forest is especially appreciated.

Relaxing on the “patio”
Quiet evening in Cacti Forest

Back to Bass Creek – September 2018

The week of September 12 through September 18: We move from our great spot at Seeley Lake, returning to Bass Creek in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana.

Cougar and Clifford back at Bass Creek
Living in a forest

We make a couple of trips to Missoula for errands and shopping, including picking up the new cell phone that I ordered. I am hoping that photos taken with the Moto Z2Play will make it easier to share photos via the net and cell service, since that is the primary way of sharing nowadays. I will be comparing photos taken with the cell and photos take with the little Canon. I see that many really outstanding photos are now being taken with cell phones, even by professional photographers. I have been reluctant to make a cell phone my primary means of taking photos, but it is certainly easier to carry a cell phone on a hike, which was a determining factor in putting my money toward a new cell phone (which I needed anyway) rather than a new camera.

Walkabout to try out the new cell phone camera
Hillside behind our campground
Morning light on wildfowers

Another highlight of the week is a “sleepover” with my daughter Ang, with steaks cooked over a big bonfire, and then spending the night in Terry, our old camper that we gave to Ang when we got Cougar in August. Morning coffee, time spent in the greenhouse, and working on editing issues fill the next day before I return to our campground at Bass Creek.

Sleepover with a bonfire

This particular week culminates in another sibling/spouses gathering, this time at brother Rollie’s campsite, also at Bass Creek, with everyone bringing food for a potluck and a big campfire. Rollie and I play a few bluegrass tunes, but mostly it is fun to be part of the conversation and laughter as we listen to tales and almost tall-tales of our growing up years. I sure do love this group of humans and am so glad we had time together again before we go our separate ways. Rollie will be leaving Montana in a couple of days; Clifford and I will be leaving before the end of the month.

Good-bye Cabin City-Hello Seeley Lake – August 2018

Saturday August 25: Mostly sunny this morning and I sit outside for my quiet time. Have a good chat with my son Matt when I call to wish him happy birthday.

My daughter Merri comes out to have lunch with us. She brings some fresh produce and we make a good tasty lunch, eating out in the screen house.

Merri comes to Cabin City

After Merri heads home, I play viola and read. Nice day except for the mouse we found bumbling about near the steps. Mice are bad enough, but have to wonder if this one has rabies or is somehow demented. Creepy.

Sunday August 26: Today Clifford and I go to Wallace again, as we have to get more stuff out of my daughter Katie’s basement.

Light rain as we head to Wallace

We visit with her a bit and great to see the grandkids for a minute. Then Clifford and I load my car as full as we can get it. We are back at camp in time for a late lunch. The evening is dinner, dishes, and reading for me, while Clifford works on his projects. We run out of propane in the night, which is inconvenient, and catch four more mice, which is totally creepy.

Cougar window adornments

Monday August 27: We start packing as soon as we are up, as we are leaving today. No showers or breakfast or hot tea, since we are out of propane. We are on our way about 11:00 a.m. and once we arrive in Missoula, we go to Cracker Barrel for lunch, Bretz RV for propane, Barnes&Noble for the bookstore fix and a latte, and on to the Walmart parking lot where we replenish supplies and spend the night.

New tea kettle for Cougar

Tuesday August 28: Since we have two vehicles – my car and Suburban towing Cougar – we leave Suburban and Cougar at Walmart and take my car to a music store in Missoula. I want to get a shoulder rest, but when we get there, the fellow working there doesn’t know how shoulder rests work, so he is no help to me. Instead, I end up with a shaped sponge, which I hope will help with holding the viola properly. It beats me how a city the size of Missoula, a university town with a good music department, does not have a properly stocked music store with knowledgeable clerks.

Back at Walmart, we finish our shopping and then head out of Missoula, stopping at Bonner for gas. Heading north on highway 200 to the Clearwater junction, we then wind our way up the Swan Valley to the Seeley Lake Campground. We find a roomy spot near where we were last year, but with more of a view of the lake.

View from our campsite at Seeley Lake Campground
Seeley Lake

After we get set up, I walk down to the lake, taking photos to share with family, while Clifford gets his ham radio antennas up. It is so great to be here! After a simple dinner, Clifford continues adjusting his radio gear and I read until heading to bed.

Cabin City – August 2018

Tuesday August 14: Today is moving day. Although we like where we are at Bass Creek Recreation Area in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana, we are heading to Cabin City, a campground on the Montana side of Lookout Pass. This will allow visiting with my daughter Katie and her family in Wallace, Idaho, without pulling Cougar over the pass.

Forest fire smoke as we drive from the Bitterroot Valley to Cabin City

When we arrive at Cabin City, there is almost no one there, but the spot we would have chosen is already taken. Oh well, that is the way it goes sometimes. We pick another nearby spot that will allow both shade for the RV and access to the sunshine for the solar panels, a bit of a challenge in this forested campground.

Forest setting for Cougar

After we get set up, we have tuna sandwiches for lunch and proceed with our usual activities. In the evening, the hosts, Susi and Tom, come around and we chat with them for awhile. We met them here a couple of years ago and discovered at that time that Susi is the youngest sister of a really good friend of mine from high school days. “Small world….”

Wednesday August 15: Pretty light on the forest this morning, in spite of the forest fire smoke.

Morning light at Cabin City

Today we are going to Wallace to visit Katie and her family; my son Saul is there, also, doing some work for Katie. My wellness visit is in Kellogg, just 12 miles down the road. The doctor at the clinic there was my doctor when we lived in Wallace and I still want to see her, but it will be the last time, as she is moving to Texas and I am one of her last patients in Idaho.

Forest fire smoke extends into Idaho
Saul house painting in Wallace

After the doctor visit, Clifford and I go to dinner with Katie and her friends. There are several conversations going on at once, so it is hard to talk to Katie to see how she and her family are doing. We’ll be back next week, so will visit more with her then. It is late by time we get back to Cabin City, but I read until midnight before heading to bed. Clifford, as usual, stays up with his projects until the wee hours.

Thursday August 16: Today we take care of the mail that we picked up in Wallace yesterday, having forwarded it there. Later, we make a trip to post office in St. Regis, the nearest town with a post office, and then dinner at the famous $50,000 Bar & Grill at the nearby Haugan exit. The food is plentiful and the gift shop has lots of fun stuff. I buy a top for myself and a T-shirt for Clifford, kind of a splurge, but worth it.

Driving by the “Moose Pond”

Back at camp, I walk about taking photos and then read most of the afternoon. While it might not be the most productive way to spend time, it good that I have the option to do just that.