Friday, March 18, 2011

She-awatha's South West

Quite a few years back, Marilyn and I were visiting at the home of my parents. I recollect that my father was discussing with my mother what he hoped would become a contribution to one of the South West tribes of Native Americans. They had always loved this part of the country, had Arizona Highways magazine on the shelf ever since I was a kid, and had collected "Indian" artifacts for the museum dad was director of at the time. Not to mention that we as a family often went out hunting for arrowheads.

Without batting an eye or skipping a beat, Marilyn said, "Sam, did I ever tell you that my middle name is Hiawatha?"

Dad turned the phrase on her a bit and from that day on she was often referred to, lovingly of course, as "She-awatha."

So these are some of the shots from New Mexico and Arizona that were waiting to be used in She-awatha's pocket camera that sometimes goes on trips that the big camera doesn't make for one reason or another. It's a bit of a hodge podge, but some pretty good shots of things you may not have seen before, and certainly not through the same lens.... Oh, and a few shots from the birthday celebration Tom and I shared yesterday under the guise of St Patrick's Day!

The Best of She-awatha:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March Madness

If you read the title of this post and guessed I was going to write about a basketball tournament- get a grip and guess again. Did you miss me much? Haven't posted since March 1. It seems I have been much too busy "researching" to get any writing done. Inspiration comes in spurts, so that is just the way it is. Truth is we have been just plain BUSY doing everything we do here with our growing network of friends. The Dukes, Linda and Wayne stopped by to hang out for a month or so- the local chapter of The I Love Alaska and Prospecting Club just got bigger by two. We've really enjoyed their company again- spent a couple months parked next to their rig at Chicken Gold Camp back in 09. Riding with them while our fearless leaders give them the tour d' desert is just downright fun.

On one of our rides we stopped by Ojo de Aquila (Eye of the Eagle). The "eye" is actually a quite large hole in the ridge of the mountain, but from way down below it looks like a small opening. Quite the unusual formation I would assume given the makeup of the mountains in this area!

We also made a run through the majestic canyons of KOFA National Wildlife Refuge. The passage through the deepest part of the canyon is amazingly colorful and breath-takingly spectacular.

Then too, there has been a lot of "scouting" for desert blooms. It has been a relatively dry winter, but even the two little days of rain we had a while back have the flower "buds" starting to form on the cactus and I am about ready to start photographing the blooms as they open up- one species at a time (so far anyhow).

Today is St. Patrick's Day. That's what they say, but actually it's my birthday and that carries much more weight with me. Tom, our neighbor in the park, had a birthday yesterday, so we will celebrate together later today with our collective group of friends that don't have other plans for the day- it is a busy time here for sure. We smoked two pork butts again over night. That with whatever other dishes others show up with will comprise the evening meal. And we have a jumbo cake that Michelle rounded up somewhere that looks like a traditional St Paddy's Day cake, but is actually a flat of cupcakes covered in a solid sheet of green and yellow icing- the campers version of grab and go dessert. How perfect!

Marilyn and I went out dry-washing for gold yesterday. First time "skunked" on the dry washer as we came up empty in the gold department. The good news is I suppose that now we don't need to worry any more about getting skunked for the first time. But not to come home totally empty, we found a large (several feet think) vein of white quartz running through a ledge of the claim we were on so we broke it out with mall and chisels and loaded it in the Quig to bring home. Why would we do that? I mean all that heavy rock and all.... It seems we settled on an annual site at this campground and will return for this part of the year in coming seasons. It's a nifty campground, and we get to select our site, landscape it as we see fit, put up a storage shed and collect more "stuff." Oh yeah! Amenities at the campground include a desert golf course of 18 holes, a miniature golf course, a pool, a hot tub, a clubhouse with a gym, a craft room, a community events room, a real post office, unlimited trail rides right from the park- no need to trailer ATVs elsewhere for a ride, weekly special events, concerts, and on and on all included in the incredibly modest annual price of a site. Honestly, if they put in assisted living, I might make some long range plans (just kidding). The site we have selected has awesome views of the mountains and an oversize "corner" space. Right now it has nothing for landscaping, but does back up to a "wash" which makes it perfect for what we want to do with it. The previous tenant is still here a while longer, but when he pulls out we can post our progress on the lot as we develop it. Gotta start slowly though and most of the work can be roughed out next season. Birthday Boy Tom and Michelle will be taking the already nicely planted site next to us, and between the two of us we hope to make it a nifty little corner of the campground. Stay tuned!

Now one of the main reasons for this post was the way cactus are "regarded" here in camp. Saguaro cactus are a specifically protected species everywhere in Arizona. But here in our camp, they actually have the "Right of Way" in the roadways throughout the park. Very cool!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Riding With Miss Katie

We were here before, are here now, and will most probably be here again because good friends were nice enough to invite us in the first place, take us under their wing, and show us the ropes in the desert around Brenda, AZ. Lynn and Jude, and their collective group of friends which we refer to as "The Class of Brenda High" have made our time here exciting, memorable, and just downright fun. The first time we were here two years ago, Linda, wife of the fabulously entertaining Farmer Don made us what we have since referred to as our "yearbook" of our stay here. It came complete with shots of all the individuals in the group, pictures of the places we rode to, parties we held in the campground, candid shots of the more colorful individuals in the group. All this was created "unbeknownst" to us, captions were added, and it was presented to us when we were ready to head out for parts unknown. It was a touching moment that we have relished ever since and we pull the "yearbook" out on a regular basis to enjoy it over and over.

So when Lynn and Jude went to pick up one of Jude's "oldest and bestest friends" (I think that's how she phrased it) for her first visit to Brenda, we knew the process would be repeated for another first timer to the group. And we were delighted to be a tiny part of her visit to Brenda. A ride was planned. That's what they do here; among all the other activities....they ride.

And what a day it was. Beautiful from the outset. We headed out to the backside of the Southern Cross Mine complex and explored there. We rode through scenic mountain passes, across some dusty flatlands (you can't appreciate the desert fully without tasting the dust) and then back into the hills to the Arizona Fish and Game "waterhole"- a man-made water collection and disbursement system to provide much needed water to game in the desert which attracts everything from the smallest bats and lizards to Big Horn Sheep and deer, and, who knows, maybe even a mountain lion on occasion. That was our lunch stop for the day. Circle the chairs instead of the wagons for lunch, munch a bunch, tell some stories, and maybe even laugh at someone whose chair falls over (and doesn't get hurt).

Then off to the next stop. The Bouse Fisherman. Not a petroglyph, but a geoglyph, or Intaglio, a drawing or impression made in the dark gravel of the desert some 400 years ago. It took some looking to be able to make out the entire figure of the fisherman, with his spear, the sun, the waves and the fish,but it's all there if you take the time and find the right angle from which to view it. In the area of the fisherman, we also found, some bird nests in the chollo cactus, a desert rat's nest and some ant nests.

We arrived back at camp after our fifty-some mile trek in time to celebrate the day with a happy hour in the tent. That served as preparation for grabbing a bottle (or a box if you will) of wine and hopping back on the bikes for a jaunt up the hill beside camp for a sunset ceremony. Being responsible adults, we surely didn't want to set off firecrackers in the dry desert, so Lynn came up with an ingenious solution- a bottle rocket made from a 2 liter diet coke and a tube of mentos candy (don't believe it? CLICK HERE). You'll see the dramatic eruption in the slide show if you pay attention.

As is the rule, we pretty much laughed until the sunset quieted things down with its grandeur. A wonderful day. It was great to see Jude and Katie enjoying each others company so thoroughly. And a betting man would guess that somewhere tonight Katie's probably paging through yet another yearbook from the Class of Brenda High.