Sat. Dec. 9
We arrived at Valley Vista Resort in Benson Arizona shortly afternoon temp 78 f and sunny. Nice pool (86 F) and hotub(103F). Amazing area lotsa dirt and cactus very dry, only 1/2 inch rain since Oct 1. Once set up we spotted a couple from St. Catherines that we knew quite well, nice surprise. We enjoyed happy hour in the sun and got caught up on each other's travels.
Sun. Dec 10.
Took a drive to Tombstone Arizona, about 20 miles, what an amazing town to visit! Right back to the 1800's with the old buildings, dirt streets, wooden boardwalks, stage coaches, cowboys, ladies and horses wandering the streets, gunfights, and saloons. Everyone playing their part dressed in authentique period costume. We stopped by Big Nose Kate's Saloon for refreshment and were captured by a gunfighter there, I was then shot, hung and buried, we really had quite a few laughs. It was awesome. Music, atmosphere and all. Fun wow ! and free unless you took in some shows or shopped in the many shops, a must do.
Wed. Dec. 13
We took a drive north of Benson some 12 miles to Gammons Gulch. Real desert country. What a beautiful drive with scenery just like in the movies, dry river beds, cactus, sage brush, and cattle just roaming the range. There were signs warning you of animals on the road, some wire fences in the desert and cattle guards on the road that cattle will not cross but cars can. We arrived at Gammons Gulch and were met by Jay Gammons, he and his wife Joanne live right there in the Grand Hotel. This a real ghost town, western town and movie set, (six western movies filmed there last year). He has been building this town (his dream) for some 37 years. Autnentique wood buildings and artifacts, also some reproductions all add to the atmosphere of a real western town. We had a completely narrated guided tour by Jay, with stories about almost every piece there, how they were aquired or built, pictures of him and his father with certain actors, his father was John Wayne's Bodyguard, and pictures of Jay in a Film as an extra for 3 days. The collection of old cars, most running and some restored, a collection of John Dillinger articles and guns. The old mine shaft and all. We wandered by ourselves later just to enjoy the quiet and the sun. Another worthwhile visit. Not comercialized too! You can check out his website by clicking HERE
Gammons Gulch pictures
Thurs, Dec. 14
Nice drive to Bisbee AZ. a beautiful scenic town, buried in the Mule Mountains elavation 5200 ft. Winding thru the desert and mountains for 48 miles to this copper mining town settled in 1880. Lovely narrow streets downtown built right into the hillside. We took a tour of the Queen Mine that ceased operations in 1951. Our tour guide was retired miner having worked in other area mines for 20 years. Interesting facts and stories were relayed to us during our 1- 1/2 hour tour in the 47 degree F mine, Really quite impressive and makes you wonder how these men could work down there all those years. We did not get a chance to view the Lavender Pit. A huge open pit copper mine that operated until 1974. Amazing.
On our return home to Benson we drove thru Tombstone again and stopped at Boothill Cemetery where people were actually buried in the 1880's, with true history on most headstones, interesting.
Pictures of Bisbee
Fri. Dec. 15th
We arrived Picacho Peak Resort about noon and set up , The weather was great and our friends were there. Nice to catch up. We are right behind Picacho Peak nice view. And finally seeing some HUGE cactus everywhere. We went to the clubhouse after supper and played darts meeting many people in the process. What a great bunch of people.
Sat. Dec. 16th
Sat. morning we travelled to Nogales Mexico with Steve and Barb. Upon arriving on the US side we parked in a parking lot and walked the150 feet or so to cross border and shop and sightsee. It was really interesting to tour the markets, and stores and barter with the mexicans. Can usually negotiate 1/2 to 2/3 of their asking price. We stopped for refreshment and were greeted by Johnny who remembered our friends from last year and were entertained by him. We had a great time. A bit more shopping then back home to Picacho. We participated in the brown bag auction, where we put any articles in a brown bag to be auctioned during the evening and were supplied a free mexican buffet, yummy food.
Sun. Dec. 17th
Nice day, went early to the Tucson flea market (to avoid the crowds) with friends and enjoyed the atmosphere there and good deals too. We bought a custom made dash cover for car only $25.00, Protects the dash and keeps vehicle much cooler.
I did a bit of Research on the HUGE Saguaro Cactus and was amazed at how long it takes for them to grow and develop. Most around here are 100 years or more old.
Facts about Saguaro Cactus:
1. It takes 9 or 10 years to reach a height of just 6 inches.
2. After 25 years it may stand only 3 to 4 ft.
3. The branches or arms don't develop until the plant reaches 10 ft or more at about 75 years of age.
4. These arms serve as balancers when a stalk begins to lean one way an arm develops on the other side for balance. And when that arm becomes too much and the centre leans that way another arm grows on the other side etc..
5. Most don't reach a height of 35 feet until after 150 years.
Tues. Dec. 19
Relaxing day , then the Welcome Home Hoe Down Dinner/Dance at the clubhouse, (only $10.00 each) BBQ pork, baked beans, potato salad , and desert. With a live country band, and lotsa line dancing, cowboy hats and the Texas 2 step. Good time had by all.
Thurs. Dec 21.
Another nice suny day, but the coldest weather they have had in years! Go figure eh? Was 24 f overnight and about 65 f during the day, They keep saying it will warm up soon. Sure beats cold all day and no snow. Drove to Casa Grande for groceries and sightsee, Amazing to see the dry desert countryside up close and the cotton fields, would have been very labour intensive! Upon returning home we were invited to neigbours for a campfire in their firepit, more new friends. All ready for Christmas, Tree and all.
Sat. Dec. 23.
Christmas party at Clubhouse. Was a Chinese gift exchange, really good time and lots of fun and food. We relaxed through the next week enjoying the sunshine when we could and oudoors. Playing cards, dominoes and dice with the neighbours. An sharing homemade soups.
Sat. Dec. 30
Went for a drive to Phoenix AZ. along the back roads. We passed many cotton fields, desert, awesome mountain views etc. There was many area where people had their ATV's (all terrain vehicles) out scooting through the desert. This is the perfect spot for them as there is thousand of acres of desrt land to use.
While in the Phoenix Area we went to the huge Mesa Fleamarket (swap meet as they call them here). We enjoyed a few hours of browsing , including a snack for lunch and some live entertainment. From there to the Ghost Town/Gold Mining town for an enjoyable afternoon strolling the town. There were gold mine tours, wagon rides, train rides, gold panning, jeep tours and horseback riding, saloons and music. There was even a gunfight on the mainstreet, a fun time.
On the way home we stopped at Eloy, AZ. airport to witness some skydivers in action. This is the place where our friend Steve (70 yrs old) went skydiving last year. There was a few hundred sky divers there and it was quite interesting to watch them load up the planes and see them sailing through the sky to the ground. Also a couple of hot air ballons getting ready to go up.
Pics from Mesa
New Year's Eve 2006
Sun. Dec. 31
Another warm sunny day, relaxing for the New Year's Eve party at the Clubhouse. It was a good time with lots of food, music, dancing and fellowship. Welcoming in the new year.
New Years's Pics.