Cochise Stronghold to Rock Hound – March 2019

Monday March 18: Beautiful blue sky this morning in southeast Arizona. Kind of sad that we are leaving Cochise Stronghold where we have had a couple weeks of camping in the dispersed area, enjoying the great rocky landscape, the hiking, and playing bluegrass with neighbors who left yesterday.

Blue sky morning at Cochise Stronghold

My brother Rollie is also leaving, and I drive his S10 out of the canyon so he doesn’t have to hook it up to his motor home until we reach the straight and dry road past the creek crossings… much easier for his rig. Rollie is heading to Dallas to visit cousins; Clifford and I are heading to state parks in New Mexico.

Leaving Cochise Stronghold – looking back
Rollie hooking up S10 to Motor Home

Heading east, as we cross the deserts of Arizona and into New Mexico, there are numerous signs warning of sand storms in the area. Not too encouraging, especially since New Mexico has had severe winds recently, even blowing a train off a trestle. We are being quite cautious, watching the weather forecasts, and know today is our best chance to get across this section with only moderate winds.

One thing we are seeing as we drive are expanses of California poppies in bloom. There are not so many in New Mexico and I wasn’t able to get any good shots of the poppies from the suburban at highway speed. Oh well….

Poppies in southeast Arizona – seen from I-10
New Mexico landscape from I-10

At Deming, we go to the Dream Catcher Escapee RV Park. Dry camping is $8.50 per night and we find a spot along the outer edge by some little trees. We run errands in Deming, and then decide to forego the laundromat in favor of having a cup of tea and going to bed early.

Tuesday March 19: We don’t have much to pack up, so are on our way to Rock Hound New Mexico State Park by 10:00. There are only three electric sites left, so we take the one the host recommends, even though I would have preferred a spot on the outer loop. As it turns out, most of the spots are reservation only and within 15 minutes of our arrival, there are no spots left. We are surrounded by RV’s, but at least we have a spot. We need the electricity in order to take care of accounting, taxes, and preparations for the talk that Clifford will be giving in Santa Fe in April.

Lucky to have a spot at Rock Hound State Park

It is a beautiful blue sky day with only a light wind and, happily, I spot poppies here and there all about the campground. Hard to take photos, however, as the bright light reflects off the petals and they wave about in even the slightest breeze. I walk on the Botanical Trail, a pathway out into the desert with only a few signs to identify native vegetation, but a great view of the desert.

The desert landscape at Rock Hound State Park

I send texts and photos to my kids and siblings and hear back from several: Becka is considering a career change and Ang sends photos of the snow nearly obscuring the greenhouse, but veggies growing happily inside. At sunset, I take photos of the light reflecting off the west-facing mesa behind the campground.

Catching the sunset glow on the mesa

We have chicken, rice, quinoa, and spinach for dinner. Since we have electricity for the first time on this trip, we can charge laptops and really get some work done.

Marooned at Cochise Stronghold – March 2019

Wednesday March 13: Very windy and overcast this morning in the Dragoon Mountains of southeast Arizona.

View to the east from Cochise Stronghold dispersed camping area

I feel bad for the folks in tents with all the rain, and especially the family who packed up their tent last night, but couldn’t get out as the creek crossing was impassible, and spent the night in their car. They did make it out this morning, but an RVer who watched them said that it was real iffy. The young fellow in the maroon van parked near the van ladies leaves but comes back shortly. Rollie goes out to get propane and he makes it through the crossing with his little 4-wheel drive S10, but on his way back, the fellows from Santa Fe with their big Ford F350 are stuck in the crossing. Luckily, he is able to pull them out. We later heard that the Forest Service guys coming out to check on things got stuck there also. Our musician neighbors, Jerry and Sonja, stay inside their little camper much of the day. Later, Rollie and I walk down to the creek crossing closest to the dispersed camping area, usually a mere inch or less across the road, but we can’t even get across without getting quite wet – and this is not even the main creek crossing.

The creek below the usually shallow crossing

Other than the disruption caused by the high water, our day proceeds with the usual activities of study, editing, blog writing, email, and so on. Rollie comes over for dinner – chicken and rice – and I win a game of cribbage before doing dishes.

Staying cozy in Cougar: basil, sprouts, kombucha, and tea in the corner

Thursday March 14: I go out first thing this morning to get photos of the light on the mountain moments before the sun rises and the color fades.

Golden light before it begins to fade

Rollie drives himself and me to the main crossing to see how high the water is. It is quite high, though not quite as high as when the Santa Fe guys got stuck. We meet more of the neighbors throughout the dispersed area who are walking or driving out to check on the crossing, including the fellow in the maroon van. We chat with him a bit and after awhile he decides to see if he can make it out. We wish him good luck and off he goes. The van ladies, Beth and Sally, had planned to leave today, but when I show them photos of the crossing, they decide to stay another day. I also show the photos to Jerry and Sonja, and they also decide to stay. Crossing with so much water could cause damage to rigs or vans, so almost everyone in the dispersed stays put and we don’t see any traffic to or from the campground further up the road.

Creek crossing – not as high as yesterday
Barricades moved aside by brave or foolish travelers

In the afternoon, it is warm enough that Rollie and I play music outside with our neighbors, Jerry and Sonja. The van ladies come over, as does a friendly guy camped in a van and a guy on a bicycle. Clifford is outside playing his dulcimer, but puts it aside to be a part of the blue-grass audience. We really have quite a good time, having more musicians and an audience. Being marooned and getting to know people has been interesting.

Later, Rollie fixes Beth’s Mr. Buddy heater. Rollie is really a great camping companion, having saved our hide a time or two. Editing, journal, and posting a blog fill in the rest of the day. I fix tacos for dinner and lose the cribbage game. It was a fun day getting to know people a bit more and playing music with the neighbors. Who knows, maybe we’ll meet up with them again sometime.

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.

Waterfalls in Cochise Stronghold – March 2019

Tuesday March 12: The rain that started yesterday evening here in the Dragoon Mountains of southeast Arizona continued throughout the night and into this morning. From where we are camped in the Cochise Stronghold dispersed area, I can hear the waterfalls roaring off the mountainside. I run outside first thing to take photos of this phenomenon. While I am taking photos, I see Sally, one of the van lady neighbors, also taking photos and I show her a different vantage point. While we both take photos of the amazing waterfalls, we strike up a conversation. She is about my age and has recently begun the nomad life in her van, but she has had great independence of thought and action as a sailing captain.

The waterfall phenomenon
Waterfall – a closer view

After coffee, journal writing, breakfast, and new kombucha tea, I go out to take photos of the creek, which before the rain was a dry wash, but I can’t find a spot that I like. As I’m poking around for a better view of the creek, I end up near the “gnome home” spot and find the water running off and through the boulders to be quite interesting.

Going on, I slowly make my way up the mountain until I am right at the largest waterfall. Some young guy is there, also, and as I’m heading up and he’s heading down, he offers to take my photo by the waterfall. Okay, good – proof that I actually made it this far up the mountain. I find a different route down to avoid wet sliprock faces.

Back at camp, I tend to the usual business of posting a blog, checking email, doing some agent research, and other such stuff. Later, Rollie and I go for a wet walk through the campground and talk to the group of guys from Santa Fe who are camped not far away. They tell us that the water is high at the creek crossing between us and the outside world. Camp host friend, Jimi, was going to come visit us today, but the creek crossing between us and the campground further up the road is also high. We are all sort of marooned at our various locations.

Cochise Stronghold dispersed area

In the afternoon, Rollie and I play bluegrass in his rig – a nice-size motorhome with room to invite the van ladies, Sally and Beth, over to listen. Later we have nachos for dinner, I lose a game of cribbage, and finish out the day writing in the journal.

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.

Cacti Forest to Tombstone – February into March 2019

Wednesday February 27: What a switch from Atlanta back to Cacti Forest, from millions of people to a mere handful within walking distance of our campsite at Cacti Forest, where Clifford has been camped this past week while I was in Atlanta visiting my daughter Becka. It is good to be back “home,” but I do miss the fun and comradery I had with Becka.

Back to Cacti Forest
Artistic rendition of Cacti Forest

We make a trip out to get a few supplies and when we get back to camp, we begin packing up, as we will be leaving tomorrow. In the evening we sit out and watch the sunset. This has been a good place for us and maybe one day we will return.

Watching the sunset at Cacti Forest

Thursday February 28: We finish packing and leave Cacti Forest, heading to Benson, east of Tucson, where we will stay at SKP Saguaro RV Park. Dry camping is limited to three days, but only $5 a night. We are lucky to get a campsite at the back of the lot with the desert behind us and a small cacti garden beside us. While Clifford naps, I walk through the grounds of this place, mostly comprised of streets of tiny homes and RV’s, with beautiful desert landscaping. Very civilized.

SKP Saguaro RV Park
Carol, Clifford, and Cougar at SKP Saguaro RV Park.
Metal javelinas look almost real in the small cacti garden

In the evening we go to the laundromat, which is in the centrally located Community Center. It is necessary to get the laundry caught up before our next destination, and I also make good use of free wifi while I am there.

Sunset color on Dragoon Mountains

Friday March 1: Today is our Tucson day – taking care of errands in the big city. I am still trying to figure out the FB issue, as, at this point, I no longer have access to my FB account, my Quiet Walk Photography page, or any of the groups that I was admin for, on either the phone or laptop. It appears that the problem is not related to the phone per se, even though that is where the problem started. Nothing is resolved at the Verizon store. Other errands include Bookman’s, Trader Joe’s, and Southwest Strings. Then back to our campsite at the RV park in time for the Mardi Gras parade, a big community affair with much honking of horns, and candy and colorful strands of beads flung about.

Bookman’s in Tucson

Texts with my siblings include plans for a July sledding party, since they still have lots of snow and more on the way. They figure there will be enough left in July to go sledding. Haha.

Saturday March 2: Today is Tombstone Day, as it is much easier to get there from Benson than from Cochise Stronghold, which is what we have done in the past. This time we go to Boothill Cemetery, which reveals a way of life with many violent deaths.

Then on to the old town, parking in our usual spot. We browse our favorite clothing store awhile before I buy a skirt and Clifford buys a top for me.

We have lunch at the Longhorn Saloon, a great burger and sweet potato fries.

Lunch at the Longhorn Restaurant; stage coaches wait for passengers

At the honey store we learn more about the history of the area from the old-timer there, and a lot about killer bees. Killer bees are aggressive, but they are also resistant to the toxins and disease that are killing regular honey bees… and they produce honey. I buy a pint of killer bee honey. We walk to the courthouse, but decided to skip going in this time and go instead to the Rose Museum. This museum boasts the largest rose plant in the world. The trunk is huge and gnarly, the branches supported on a trellis covering 8,000 square feet. It is not in bloom now, of course, but a post card shows off this incredible rose bush when it is covered in blossoms.

The huge gnarly trunk of the largest rosebush in the world at the Rose Museum

Clifford is engaged in an extended conversation with the owner, whose grandfather was a settler here. The museum owner has written numerous books about the area, so is a source of information – the “inside scoop,” so to speak.

Rose Museum rooms

Then a trolley ride around town, always learning something new, but I prefer the horse and stagecoach version. We finish out Tombstone Day with homemade ice cream and then head back to the RV park. I make notes of highlights of the day and will write in the journal later. It was a fun day, but long, and soon time to head to bed.

Stone Mountain – Atlanta – February 2019

Sunday February 24: Visiting my daughter Becka, a teacher in Atlanta, has been so much fun. This morning she makes us a great scrambled egg, steak, and potato breakfast before she goes off to school to get her classroom ready for the coming week. When she returns, she and her friend Jason take me to Stone Mountain. This unusual “mountain” is a big stone hill surrounded by Atlanta and its suburbs. It is a popular recreation area and there are hundreds of other people here to hike Stone Mountain, just as we are. Luckily we find a place to park and with water bottles and cell phones for taking photos, up we go. It is quite pretty and interesting, the stone path also being a natural course for the stream that runs down the hill.

Stone pathway is also streambed

At the top it is very windy and chilly, but luckily sunny, and we have a great time hiking.

Ridgeline of Stone Hill

After stopping at Golden Corral for dinner, back at Becka’s place we watch a recommended movie, “Zookeeper’s Wife,” only to find that it is quite a grim depressing movie about war and not very fun to watch. Oh well. Becka goes to bed early, as she has school tomorrow. I stay up a bit longer to text Clifford about the day and then read before going to bed.

Watching a movie with Becka and Jason

Monday February 25: Becka leaves early for her teaching day and I have the place pretty much to myself except for Kufu, her shy cat, and a short visit with Jason before he goes about his business. It is a day of blog writing, photo editing, editing a book proposal for an author I know, a call with Clifford, and reading the book I picked up at the neighborhood library. I also start packing a couple boxes to mail stuff back to myself since I have acquired too much to fit in the backpack for the flight back Tucson. I have dinner nearly ready when Becka get home from school and after we eat, we go for a short neighborhood walk. Back at her place, while she does lesson plans, I correct papers for her. What a big job! She could use a couple of really good assistants to do this chore. Then off to bed after sending texts to Clifford and reading awhile.

Tuesday February 26: Today is my last day here in Atlanta visiting Becka. She gets off school a bit earlier today so we have time to hang out on her deck in the sunshine before she gives me a ride to the airport.

Becka, I’m going to miss you!

She buys us a snack and we visit until time for me to go through security. I had such a great time with her and I know I will miss her. I am already looking forward to our next opportunity to spend time together.

More Cacti Forest – February 2019

Sunday February 17: It is a very cool but clear morning at Cacti Forest, the dispersed camping area we found northwest of Tucson, Arizona. I am up early enough to get a few photos at sunrise, then make coffee and write in the journals.

Sunrise at Cacti Forest

However, there are increasing clouds throughout the day, so charging the batteries is limited. Projects by necessity include activities that don’t require use of the cell phone (which I don’t have) or laptop once the battery is dead. Viola, journal writing, reading, writing postcards, and taking photos are some of today’s projects.

Sunset at Cacti Forest

Monday February 18: Another cool and cloudy day in the Cacti Forest.

Today I pack and repack and repack my backpack for the trip to Atlanta to see my daughter, Becka. We are both very excited. Even though I work on some of my editing and writing projects, today’s focus is mostly on preparing for the trip. Clifford learns how to water the herbs, leftovers are used up, and the backpack repacked once again. I go to bed late, but don’t sleep very well.

Evening light at Cacti Forest