Friday, February 5, 2010

Benson Area Adventures

As we enjoy our visits with friends ZoAnn and John this week, I’m tempted to just point you to their blog, Check it out, and you can learn about some of our outings.

However, to live up to my own commitment to blogging, I’ll give you a briefing on our adventures.

First, we had John and Zoe over for dinner Saturday night. They are delightful people, also former Solo RVers like us, and we’re happy they found each other and have become a couple!ZoAnn


ZoAnn is a wonderful photographer, but I tried to outdo her by getting a wonderful sunset photo. I did okay, but I didn’t see hers, which I’m sure is better. I love Arizona sunsets!

Sunset 30Jan10

On Monday, we took a ride south to the Coronado National Monument. It was a long drive for a brief visit, but we can now say we’ve been there and learned more about the Coronado Expedition, 1540-42. Coronado Natl Monument

They got their National Park Passports stamped, but I forgot my passport book. I should have stamped a blank piece of paper, but for some reason I didn’t even do that.

After lunch we visited the Fort Huachuca Museum, on the Army base in Sierra Vista. Ft Huachuca Museum

The museum is in what was originally housing for soldiers.  It was quite extensive, with interesting displays in most of the rooms on both levels. A huge stone fireplace dominated the main room on the first floor.Ft Huachuca Museum bldg

We also visited the Museum Annex, where life-size models depicted the lives of soldiers.Ft Huachuca soldiers

Our next outing was to Kartchner Caverns on Tuesday. Because no cameras were allowed, I’ll just refer you to their excellent web site:

Don and I had previously taken the Throne Room tour, so this time we took the Big Room tour. What an amazing place! ZoAnn and John were so impressed, they decided to apply for a workamping position. I hope they get it, because we’ll enjoy having them close by in the neighborhood. Good luck!

On Thursday, we intended to visit the Chiricahua National Monument and Fort Bowie. We stopped in Willcox for lunch at Big Tex Bar-B-Que. The main dining room is an old railroad boxcar. You can see the BBQ/smoker in the foreground, left side of this photo, and a huge pile of wood to fuel the fire.Big Tex BBQ 2 It turned out to be the most popular place in town, even with the locals. The food was worth the wait, great pork and beef brisket, old fashioned pinto beans, and fairly good service considering the large number of diners.

Then we headed toward Ft. Bowie, planning to visit the monument on our way back. It’s a good thing John has had lots of experience driving in snow, as his skills were required to keep the car from sliding off the road in the slick muddy remains of all the recent rains. He handled the fishtailing very well. We came upon a motorhome whose driver hadn’t been quite as skillful.

MH mudThis photo was taken after it had been towed out of the muddy mess you see on the shoulder. A friendly park ranger had performed the service.

MH followWe followed the motorhome through more mud, with more slipping and sliding, and we all managed to make it to hard ground and pavement safely. Thanks for the skillful maneuvering, John! Sorry Mr. Toad got so dirty.  Mr Toad mud

Upon reaching the parking area, we learned that the visitor center was still a 1.5 mile hike away! None of us felt like walking that far, so the friendly ranger told us how to drive around to parking about 500 feet away from the visitor center. We then discovered all those 500 feet were uphill! Against the chilly wind!Ft Bowie VC

It was worth the effort, though, to see this historic place. All that’s left of the fort now is ruins, but there’s an interesting story of how the stronghold was built and run. Ft ruins

Again, I forgot to bring my National Park Passport, even though I’d set it out on the table (where it remained), but I *did* remember to get a stamp on a blank piece of paper (with Don’s help)! Now I can paste it into the book.

To avoid driving back over the soft muddy road, we headed north to the town of Bowie. The Chiricahua National Monument will have to wait for another day.

We visited the local winery in Bowie, tasting their offerings and selecting a few bottles to take with us, and then stopped at Stout’s Apple Pies in Willcox for more treats. Two fresh Dutch Apple Pies smelled wonderful on our drive back to Benson, and it was hard to keep our fingers out of the boxes! It was a long day, so Don and I just had a snack and a piece of pie for dinner. We then shared the remainder with our neighbors.Apple pies

Today’s adventure will have to wait to be written tomorrow, as this blog entry is already too long! So, stay tuned…