Friday, December 7, 2012

Gammons Gulch and Oasis Bird Sanctuary

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!






IMG_1397Some of the birds aren’t quite as exotic.


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.

Monday, December 3, 2012

We’re in the Path Westward

(First paragraph removed, thanks to Barb Westerfield for solving the problem of getting rid of an unwanted Tab. Why didn’t I remember that from my editing days?)

As the title suggests, our winter home in Benson, AZ is just a mile south of Interstate 10, a favorite route of many RVers heading southwest toward warmer climates for the colder months. One of our neighbors lets us use their RV lot for visitors passing through. So far we’ve enjoyed visits from the Kings, Armstrongs, Andersons, Yusts, Maylebens and Sheppards. We expect our next visitors to be the Hills toward the end of the month. But you never know who might pop up!

While Dan & Jenny Sheppard were here, Don grilled a tri-tip roast, Santa Maria style. The trick to making this roast flavorful is to buy it untrimmed, and literally burn the fat side.


The final result is juicy and yummy!


Nobody went away hungry.



We also saw the movie “Lincoln” in Sierra Vista. It started out a little slow, but got very interesting. It was a great history lesson with wonderful actors, especially Daniel Day Lewis and Sally Field. If you haven’t yet seen it, we highly recommend it. Don and I had previously seen “Skyfall” and also recommend it to anyone who’s a 007 fan.

Dan, Jenny and I went to happy hour at the Escapees Saguaro Park in Benson while Don was cooking the tri-tip. I stopped by Pat Livingston’s motorhome where she’s spending a couple of months in the SKP park, and convinced her to go with us. Here’s Pat in front of the Sheppards’ motorhome.


Part of the happy hour group – such a big turnout we had to keep adding tables so everyone would have a place to sit. Bruce Ratcliff, standing, practiced making Polar Bears (an adult beverage made with Kahlua, Vodka and ice cream) and shared them with everyone. There will be a Polar Bear party at the park on January 7, and I know Bruce will have his mixing techniques perfected by then.


Don and I strung Christmas lights around our fence, and Don hung the icicle twinkle lights on our awning, with Dan and me helping by holding and moving the ladder.


Inside, I put our little tree on the dash and added ornaments we’ve collected in our travels, along with our Christmas stockings. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!


Finally, we welcomed our newest neighbors who moved in next door to us. That’s a BIG 40-ft. triple-axle 5th wheel! And a BIG truck to match. It was a little tricky to get the trailer backed in, but the driver (former owner of the rig) was skilled and had plenty of help from neighbors. Winking smile


Eric & Jane will need to modify the free-standing awning so they can open the bedroom slide fully. But they did manage to place the awning post between the rear slide and the door of the 5th wheel once the trailer was in its final position.


Welcome to the neighborhood, folks!