Three days in the Tucson area is just not enough to see everything we wanted to see in the area. The Desert Museum, Saguaro National Park, Old Tucson, Pima Air Museum…….not to mention other local attractions such as Tombstone and a mine tour in the quaint little town of Bisbee Arizona. As our friends and family up north are huddled in front of their heaters enduring temperatures in the negative teens and twenties, Barb and I deliberated which sites to see while suffering through temps that reached over 80. Oh, the sacrifices we make in the name of adventure!
In the end, we decided on the national park, the desert museum, Tombstone and the mine tour. Decisions we would not regret.
Our first few days in the area were spent at Snyder Hills BLM area. This area is located off of Hwy 86 just south of Tucson and is a great spot for a couple days of free camping.
|Snyder Hills site|
|Sunsets from our site|
|We could hear these guys around the trailer at night so we kept Daisy on a short leash!|
The Saguaro National Park is only about 10 minutes from Snyder Hills. Although it may not have some of the prominent geological features found in other national parks it was still very interesting. Although much of the area has been protected since the early 1930’s it did not become a national park until 1994. Cattle grazing and human encroachment has severely diminished the Saguaro in the area, thankfully within the park boundaries they are virtually untouched. The Saguaro, called the Monarch of the Desert, starts out its life with a seed the size of a pinhead. At the end if it’s first year the Saguaro is ¼” tall, at 15 years, 12” tall, 50 years, 7’ tall. They start growing “arms” at about 75 years old and a 25’er can be as old as 200 years old! Given this it is understandable why they need an area of protection.
|A few of these "monarchs" were well 100 years old!|
|I see 4 varieties right next to each other|
|A fallen soldier|
In addition to the Saguaro, there is a huge number of other plants, animals and birds that we have not seen before. Although considered a desert, there is as much life out there as you would see in a Wisconsin forest. Truly amazing.
|Barb hiding behind an Ocotillo cactus|
|Pencil Cholla Cactus|
|Prickly Pear Cactus|
|Fish Hook Barrel Cactus|
|Teddy Bear Cholla|
Our next adventure was the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. The cost was $20.00/person to get in and is a combination museum/zoo along with a botanical garden, art gallery and aquarium with lots of historical artifacts from the prehistoric era to Native American. The most interesting part for us was seeing all the different types of plants and cactus in the area. While walking the desert earlier we saw all sorts of interesting plants but had no idea what they were. Now, we at least know the names of a couple, useful information as everything here is new to us.
The next day we traveled an hour to Tombstone Territorial RV Park. With our Passport America discount the park was less than $19.00 for the night. Tombstone is a typical tourist town full of shops trying to lure you in to buy their wares. We spent the day in the town of Tombstone walking the streets going in and out of each of the shops. If you are able to look beyond these and let your mind wander and look at the architecture of the buildings and imagine what this town was like back in the late 1800's it is quite interesting. The highlight of our trip there was attending a reenactment of the gunfight at the OK Corral as well as viewing the shops, wagons, pictures and articles from back then. We were hesitant to pay the $10/person to attend the reenactment thinking it was going to be a corny skit with bad acting but we had come this far so why not? What actually occurred was quite the opposite, we were entertained and educated for 30 minutes by some pretty good actors who got the crowd involved throughout. We walked away feeling the $20 was well worth it and it made our trip.
|30 shots were fired in 30 seconds|
|Wyatt standing over Billy Clanton while the McLaury brothers lie nearby|
|Doc Holliday and one of the McLaury brothers|
|Spoiler Alert!.........The Earp Brothers survived|
Leaving Tombstone we headed back towards our campsite and stopped at a the ghost town of Fairbank where we walked among some of the old buildings and cemetery. Here is so much history in this area that it is hard not to get caught up in it and imagine what life must have been like in the 1880's. The town was the railroad hub for Tombstone and surrounding towns but slowly died over the next few decades.
|Most of the grave sites were broken crosses and piles of rocks|
|Mati Nelson......a relative?|
|Feb 25, 1899|
Donned with hardhat, rain suit and flashlights we headed to the mouth of the mine where a motorized mine car and trolley carts awaited us to take us into the mine.
The bicycle type thing below was how the mine boss traveled throughout the mine checking on his workers. Legend goes that the workers would steal the bike and hide it from the mine boss so he had to walk if he wanted to check on them! The cart behind the bike was the typical cart used to take the ore out of the mine. The shoots above the cart was one of the methods they used to fill the carts. In the early days the young strong men of the mine would be assigned to move these carts which would weigh 3/4 of a ton. Later, they used mules which could move 4 carts at a time. The mules were later replaced by the motorized carts.
|Another method used to filled the carts were these loaders.|
|And no mine is complete without the crapper cart!|
Thanks for stopping by......Go Packers!