Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Benson AZ - Our First "Real" Stop for 2013

Roger here....  Here we are nestled in a beautiful site at the Saguaro Escapee Park just outside of Benson, Arizona.  We have finally escaped from Texas.  We have already been here for two nights, and will be spending two more nights before moving on.  How did we get here?  What have we been doing?  Read on.

Before leaving Fort Stockton, TX, we read about some possible windy travel days.  We intended to spend a couple of nights in Las Cruces, NM and visit the White Sands National Monument; however, due to the potential winds and possible dust storms, we decided to drive a little further on a calm day and postpone White Sands for another time.  We forged on to Deming NM, making the last day of driving to Benson a short one.  We stayed at the Escapee Dreamcatcher Park in Deming, an easy overnight stop and just off the interstate.  There are three intriguing state parks in the Deming area:  Rockhound, City of Rocks, and Pancho Villa.  The small town of Palomas, Mexico with its famous Pink Store is also nearby.  It was tempting to stay a few nights, but we wanted to have more time in the Benson area and we needed to get there before the winds.  Another time.

We left Deming just before 9:00 a.m. (early for us).  We knew that the worst of the winds were not due until afternoon, and hoped to arrive around noon.  Strong winds are a big deal when driving a high-profile vehicle, and more than a little scary.  Last year, a gust of wind blew us completely into another lane on the highway.  Not fun.  Another issue is the havoc that a sandstorm would wreak with the paint job of our motor home --- a major expense.  Below is a sampling of the signage that we passed on I-10 throughout most of the morning.  

By the time we arrived, the winds were in the 20 mph range and did push us around a little bit, but not too bad.  Glad we left early.  Now we could enjoy our time in this beautiful place.  

After setting up, we had time to take the dogs on a hike.  We discovered that there are trails through the desert area adjacent to the RV park.  We have actually gone hiking in that area for the last three days.  The first day we just scoped out the area.  Yesterday, we hiked for three miles.  Today's hike was just shy of six miles.  Here are some of the highlights.

The first leg of our walks involves an uphill trudge to the water tank.  

The view back from the water tank is dominated by the Saguaro RV Park with the distant mountains in the background.

The trail behind the water tank is actually well maintained.  The entire trail exists at the top of a rise, dropping off to the arroyos below on both sides.

Beautiful, stark desert and mountain views in all directions.

Even though the trail was obvious, there were numerous cairns to mark the way.  The creators of this one spent some time turning it into an arch.

Except for the initial trip up to the water tank, these were not strenuous hikes --- relatively flat.

Me and my gal...(D.)
We really did not even work up a sweat.  The morning temperatures in the upper 60s, the breeze, and the near complete absence of humidity helped to make our morning exercise in the intense sunlight an extremely pleasant experience.

Cactus Flower
Dianne, of course, stopped several times to take some close up photos.

This one of the yellow flowers is a little nondescript; however......................

Cows in the desert?????
This one of a splatter of unidentified poop is striking, don't you think?

Yesterday, after hiking, we closed the motor home shades, turned on the air conditioning, bribed the dogs (who remained behind) with treats, hopped in the car and headed to the nearby 
town of Bisbee.  What a cool town this place is!

Street View from Coffee  Shop
Bisbee is located in the mountains not too far from the Mexican border.  It was originally developed as a copper mining town.  When the mining operations shut down, it became a tourist mecca --- lots of places to eat, drink, stroll, shop and even take a ride into the old mine.  I love places like this because the old town still exists. The photo above was taken from the Bisbee Coffee Company where Dianne and I relaxed over a couple of mochas.   (Dianne here:  my mocha was a Mexican spiced Mocha and boy, was it good!)

The buildings are all original --- no facades here.  The decorated alleyway below goes up, up, up to the next street.  Lots of steps in this hilly town

I am pretty sure that the "Royale", which seems to be an old opera house, is blue.

We worked up an appetite, what with all the wandering around.  BUT, before heading to the lunch spot that we scoped out, we stopped at the Old Bisbee Brewing Company for a glass of red beer --- very tasty.

The view from the outdoor terrace was also a treat.

Lunchtime!  Dianne scoped out the various places to eat on Yelp during the drive.  She picked the Cafe Cornucopia, known for its homemade bread, quiche and soups.

Dianne had an egg salad sandwich on sourdough and a fresh-squeezed, frothy tangerine lemonade.  I had green chili quiche (I know.  quiche is not for men, but because it is green chili, it is acceptable) and made-from-scratch soup.  Very tasty.

We intended to visit the local mining museum that is operated by the Smithsonian, but we ran out of time.  Another time....

At 2:00 p.m. we had reservations to ride a mine train into the copper Queen Mine, to see how copper was mined in the past.  We took a mining tour in Creede, CO last year, but this one was different.  We got to dress up!

After being outfitted in slickers, hard hats and miner's lamps, we straddled the train car and headed into the mine.

The train stopped in three different locations where we disembarked and walked through the shafts.  At the farthest point, we were 1500 feet into the mine.  The mine itself goes to a depth of 900 feet.  The constant temperature underground was 47 degrees, no matter how hot or cold it might be on the surface.

Our guide, Joe, who is a retired miner, demonstrated how the machinery worked ... back in the day.

He also showed how dynamite and fuses were tamped into the seven-foot holes that the miners drilled, and how they staggered the lengths of the fuses so that the dynamite would go off in a series of blasts.

The highlight of the underground excursion was the honey wagon.  This contraption was fitted onto rail tracks and moved to the surface by one of the unfortunate miners.  It was said to be a crappy job.  (groan)  Our guide, Joe, did not demonstrate this piece of equipment, but he did ask for volunteers.

On to the surface....

Dianne does not typically enjoy shopping.  She is strictly an Amazon girl.  However, she did do some damage in Bisbee.

Let's see --- a calcite tea candle sconce (we have been finding calcite on our walks in the desert), a splash of copper from the Queen Mine, two bottles of flavored olive oil, and a pair of labradorite earrings (a VERY rare jewelry purchase for Dianne).

The pet pictures of the day were taken during our daily walks in the desert.

Bandido is checking out the next leg of the trail.

Tequila is critiquing my pathetic effort at desert rock art.  I kept telling her, "It is a spiral, and very cool."  She was not convinced.


Bill and Nancy said...

Wow what a fun filled day!

We hope you had your pink shirt on to go with the quiche;o)

Glad you didn't have any trouble with the winds!!!

Lori Moore said...

I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy following your travels ! I have referred to past blogs to plan several of our RV trips. Safe and fun travels to you ! Thank you for sharing your adventures !

Kathy Detweiler said...

Love all the pictures but especially the one of the town! Love Diane's purchases also.

dimitribanks said...

Hmm, good job! This is really something!