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Monday, March 31, 2014

Day 74 - 3/31/14 Colossal Cave / Another Laundry Card

There is another cave in the area called Colossal Cave and it was my destination for the day.

Having been to Kartchner Cave I thought this would be good to see as well.  I got on the 10:45 tour just before the 2 small bus loads of school children got their tour.

The visitors building was nicely built and fit well in the surrounding environment.

We learned from our guide that the grounds were developed by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) during the 1930's when the buildings were built and the cave walkways and stairs were made.

There are some big differences between this cave system and the Kartchner.  The Kartchner was discovered relatively recently and preserved from vandals.  This cave was discovered in the 1800's, but was found to have been used by the  
Hohocam people that vanished over 1000 years ago after flourishing in AZ for hundreds of years.

After it's discovery it was used by outlaws and specifically a group that robbed the trains that traveled in the area.

One specific event that occurred after a series of train robberies the pose trapped the bandits in the cave.  They set up outside the entrance and waited for a week for then to give up, only to be told that the bandits were in another town.  They had excsped from another entrance that was not known by other than the bandits.  

The pose eventually caught up with the bandits and a gun fighht killed one and they caught another and he went to jail, but the money was never found.  Our guide who gives the climbing & crawling tour said he has search the cave and has yet to find anything.

Stories like this one makes the image of this cave more exciting, but the cave formations are currently dead as no water enters the cave anymore, where the Kartchner is still forming and they are sensitive to any toning fingers where here  it is touch all you want.

So the Kartchner is more for adults and the Colossal are more for kids, but both are interesting in their own way.  The Colossal also gives climbing tours to parts of the cave the standard tour doesn't go.  

The standard tour is $13.00 and the special tour is $25.00 and you need to crawl through openings and you are required to have gloves.  So bring them so you don't ave to buy them.

The Colossal not bring active forming has dust on the formations so the color of the formations are dull.  Also, many formations were broken off by people until the 1920's when a private investor bought the land and made a tour out of it.  For many years people came and went taking what they wanted.  Kartchner on the other hand is preserved.

I was about to ask a question about the possibility of other caves in the area and our guide stated that there is another cave in the area that was found but it's location stays unpublicized as they found a hole that lead to a cavern where they found some artifacts and animal remains that are no longer found in this area, so the area is under study.

I was going to ask the question as the geological formations for how this and the Kartchner Caves were formed are common for the area, so it would be logical that others exist.

Our tour was 45 minutes but the one you climb down and through is about 3 hours.

The park has a camping and picnic grounds and a ranch.  I drove to the ranch to see what it is all about.  The main attraction is for kids to take horse rides and pan for gold.  There is a nice museum and gift shop as well.

CCC Museum

Horse riding area.

Blooming Barrel Cactus 

This was an interesting artifact.  It was a phone booth that used to be on the rail line every 7 miles that contained a phone and batteries to relay the phone calls and signals.

I have to do laundry every week or so and this afternoon I had time to do it.

The landronat I picked used the RFID chip card like the one near Phoenix.  I brought my card in and the machine, although identical to the other one would not take the other card.  

So I needed to but yet another RFID card and put money on it to use the machines.  This is getting to be a racket having to buy cards each time for $2.00 that can only be used at one laundromat. 

I brought a lot of quarters with me and have only used them a few times.

Here is the sunset for the night.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Day 73 - 3/30/14 - Tubac Visit

Today I decided to go to visit the self proclaimed artist community of Tubsc, AZ.

Situated about half way between Tucson and Nogales.  About 40 miles drive to the south.  

The stop was recommended to by me by Dan, the man who has a camper van like mine, at the casino where we have been staying.  Or as he put it,  "It is just south of where the Boarder Patrol has it's checkpoint on I19."

I arrived about 9:30 am to find a quaint western town with single story buildings with two main streets with lovely shops on either side of the streets for about 1/8 mile, many run but artists.

My goal to start was to drive the short distance through town to the Tubac Presidio State Park where I will find out all about the town before walking around.

The town's Catholic Church is next to the State Park.

The visitor building is relatively nondescript  but when you open the door you are treated with history of the area all around you and a lovely man and woman greeters who volunteer at the site.

I checked in with them and paid the $5.00 entrance fee and I was asked if I was there for the "Spanish-Barb" horse display.  I said no but I would like to find out about it. 

I watched an 8 minute video that was professionally done and provided just the right amount of background to get started on my self guided tour of the grounds and buildings.

One of my first stops was the town's original school house.

Then there was a view of the ruins from the original Spanish Fort.

There was also a display about the archeological dig they did and some of the things they found.  It was underground so you needed to take the stairs and the dig was behind glass.

Then I was on to outdoor displays about domestic life when the town was first settled.

The tour brought me to this well appointed museum with many artifacts and displays. 

One of their museum's pride possessions is this printing press.  This is the original press that was used to publish the first newspaper in AZ, that was in Tubac.

After leaving the museum, There was a meeting building that was adorned with murals of western life by William Ahrendt along all the walls.

There was a large veriety of elaborately drawn paintings such as this one.

Here is the write up about the artist and his wife.

After completing the guided tour I ended up at the "Spanish-Barb" horse activities in a small corral that was set up in the property.

I initially was thinking that ok "I've seen horses before.", but I stopped to smell the roses, so to speak and the experience was well worth the moment in time.

The "Spanish-Barb" horses are the horses that are descendants of the horses that the Spanish brought over with them to the Americas.  I learned that these horses have a mild temperament and they are keen to one person.  The horses seem to always know where their human mate is.  This does not mean they can't be handled by others.  They just relate to one person more.

As you may imagine they are endangered.  I am a bit wary of horses but they are not hyper like other breeds and  they were very friendly.  They are also not as large as other horses I have been around.

For more information about these horses go to 

There were a number of vendors set up at the event and as I walked throug them one caught my eye as there was a man and woman selling children's books.

Having 3 granddaughters now that like books, I decided to stop and meet the author Albert Monreal Quihuis, who's family has strong roots in the area.

I bought all three of his books.

His theme in writing is to educate young children about their Mexican heritage.  If Denise was with me she would love the books, as one of the books is titled Sofia's Awesom Tamale Day.  

It's about how the family gets together to make Tamales.  Denise's mom is of Mexican Heratige and Denise would often say she wanted to learn how to make Tamale's from her mother.  As Albert told me his book doesn't contain the rescipe the book is about the process of the family making tamales.

There other books are:


I will give Denise all three books for her to divvy up to the three granddaughters.

After my nice conversation with Albert and the woman with him, I checked out the food booths and one was put in by a restaurant and they were selling burritos. 

bought a shredded beef burrito that was made much different than what we get at home.  It was good and filling and I was glad to have tried the local cuisine. 

After eating I moved on to walking downtown Tubac and checking out many of the shops.

I had to get a picture of this Hudson sitting outside this shop.

A man sitting on a bench outside of an ice cream shop with a small dog on his lap started up a conversation with me that must have lasted at least a half an hour if not more.

I guess he was in his later 70's and asked where I was from and when I said Westminster, MA, he replayed he knew of it because of someone that he knows in the area.

He was career Navy and retired many years ago.  He now lives with his wife in Marana, AZ, where I play disc golf.  I fact, he knew of the course because he lives in the development next to it.

He was a pilot in the Navy and after he retired many years ago now, they traveled the country in an RV.  He later have this up and boughtvs plane as he had his license to fly from the Millitary.

He now grows fruit trees in his yard.  He commented on the home owners association he has and the strict rules for doing such things.

We shared lots of information until it was time for both of us move on. 

Although not alive I thought these yard art flowers were colorful.

Then back to Tucson for the night.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Day 72 - 3/29/14 Wasson Peak Climb

It was time for another hike as it has been a few days since the last time I climbed South Mountain in Phoenix.

There are a lot of places around Tucson to hike, mountains are on all sides.  The goal was to find a place relatively close and challenging enough.  The word challenge to me means that the verticicsl elevation change of about 1000 ft or more.  I am just not challenged by less.  

My choice for the day was the Wasson Peak Loop Hike in the National Park Saguaro Lamd. 

The trail head was a bit difficult to find.  I used AllTrails and it gets me to the neighborhood. I was about there on the software and there was a dirt parking lot with no sign and I pulled in and it was the trail head. 

The map above is about 500 ft up the trail away from the road.  This trail is a loop but you can walk it up and back but I will do the loop of 7.7 miles and over 1500 ft vertical elevation to the top of the mountain for the trail head.  AllTrails allows me to track my progress on the trail if it is loaded in the software.  This is a nice feature when you want to know where you are especially when there are trails that intersect.

Wasson Peak is the peak to the left.  The trail head parking was nearly full upon my arrival just before 8:30.

Of the two ways up the mountain the one I chose to hike up was gradual for the first half.  The second half was steep requiring switchbacks to make the steep grade.

I was treated by some of the best desert flowers throughout the the saguaro filled landscape.

On the dryest soil floweres grow.

I met a man that was about 70 years old coming down just below the halfway point.  He was a bit frail and was wearing a sweatshirt and sweatpants and swetting a lot.  He only had a small bottle of water that was 3/4 consumed.

I stopped him and we briefly spoke.  He said he was with a group and the group leader sent him back for not having filing poles.  That may have been what was said but I would have sent him back for lack of water and wearing inappropriate clothing.

This is looking at the trail I came up with the Desert Museum complex below.

The peak is over there and you can see the trail circumventing the tip to get to the top.

I made it to the top in 2 hours.

Ok here is a selfie done at arms length.

I looked up into the sky and looking south I saw this contrail with a bend in it.  I am guessing that wind currents did this but there is an airbase in town and I guess it could have been one of there planes that did this.  Anyway, it looked great with the neighboring mountains lower in the distance.

The mountains way off in the distance are next to the Mexican boarder near Nogalas.

The return loop trail brought me to the north face of the mountain.  With less harsh sun and retained posture floweres were more plentiful.

Then out of the corner of my eye I see something moving and it was my first large reptile.  I see all kinds of small lizards scurrying around but this guy was much larger.

Back to more flowers.

The trip down took 2 hours also as it was a little longer.  With a 1/2 hour at the top the round trip was 4.5 hours.

It was an excellent hike and when I was at the top I saw a mountain that is north of Tucson and it was taller than this one.  That is some ting I will have to see if I can find a trail to hike this before I leave the area.

Right now I am thinking on staying in this area for up to a week as I have a number of things I found that I would like to see.

After stopping at a park and making dinner I tmreturned to the Casino and I got to talk to Dan, the man with the van like mine.

Last night there was yet another van like ours that stayed overnight.  I asked him about it and he said he believes that a woman is traveling by herself.  Her door was not open to introduce myself.  Possibly another day as I would like to learn her story.