We tried to visit these two places back in October while Rey & Loretta Armstrong were in Benson, but I wasn’t able to reach either of them by phone and we didn’t catch them open when we drove out there. This time, I made sure to get return phone calls and confirmed that they would be open and ready for tours. Pat Livingston joined us for the outing, and it was fun spending more time with her as well.
Gammons Gulch is a movie set created by Jay Gammons in the high desert north of Benson. Jay himself was our tour guide. He said he wanted to buy a ghost town but just couldn’t find the right one, so he bought some land and built this town over 30 years ago.
The buildings are representative of a typical western town dating back to the 1800’s. It’s a perfect setting for western movies, and much less expensive for movie producers than anything in California. Jay and his wife Joanne live on the premises in this building that looks like a hotel. But it’s full of modern conveniences, including electricity that comes in from out of sight in the rear, and satellite TV (dish is visible on the balcony).
The number of details about the buildings and their contents that Jay remembers is amazing, especially considering that he’s only a few months younger than I. He remembers each item, when and how he obtained them, how much he paid or who gave it as a gift. Here are a few of the 65 pictures I took.
Not only can Jay play the old-time piano, but he’s teaching himself to play the banjo and doing a good job of it!
This 1931 Buick still runs, and Jay’s the only person who drives it.
Our next stop was several miles further north, at the Oasis Bird Sanctuary, a life-care facility for exotic birds that have been abandoned or need medical care.
Here are a few of the more than 70 pictures I took there, starting with Janet, our tour guide, receiving a kiss from one of the friendliest birds.
Don got kisses, too.
And Pat was visited by a threesome, with the one on the left kissing her ear repeatedly!
One of the staff delivered lunch to birds in the infirmary, while guard dogs watched patiently.
The Rainbow Bridge is the final resting place for animals that have been especially close to someone at the sanctuary.
The sanctuary is non-profit and is currently participating in an animal rescue challenge for extra funds to support their important work. If you’d like to vote, follow this link to the Animal Rescue Site, search for Oasis in Benson, AZ, and click Vote.