Saturday, October 31, 2009

OCT 31 - HALLOWE'EN IN YUMA

Missing being with the kids on Hallowe'en as we usually carve pumpkins but was able to reach Kathleen, Aaron and Veronica by skype and saw them doing the pumpkins. Also got to speak to Steve and he and Cheryl had taken the kids trick or treating. Glad everyone is fine.

Hallowe'en in 85F weather is pretty nice. The RV resort had a luncheon at noon where we enjoyed a pasta lunch. We then attended a party at 7 pm (you know us old folk, we like to go to bed early!). It was a lot of fun and everyone dressed up for it.

Mike throwing horseshoes at one of the 6 games we had to play in order to earn tickets to "buy" desserts that everyone had brought to enjoy.

Our neighbours, Tom and Shelley, won best costume as the priest and nun. Shelley had a cabbage patch doll in a backpack on her back and one in the oven. They were very funny together.

Marshall Mike and me as a Rhinestone Cowgirl.
Barry as a biker (not sure he was really in costume or his true self) and Lana as "the old crow" (her words, not mine).
More costumes and a lot of fun.

Barry enjoying a jello shooter. It was a great time and we are definitely thinking we would enjoy staying here for a month .

Friday, October 30, 2009

OCT 29 - LOS ALGODONES, MEXICO

Mike and I went to check out the Mexican border town of Los Algodones. It is only 12 miles from here but we crossed into California and then parked our truck by the border and walked across into Mexico (2 states and 2 countries in 1 day!).

It is a typical mexican border town except that it also has a multitude of optical, dental and pharmacy stores which are in huge demand by the tourists. People come here to get dental work done at a fraction of the cost and the work is excellent. I was skeptical but we have spoken to too many people who are using these services and happy to save substantial amounts.

As you can see from the signs, these services are everywhere. When we walked over the border with another couple who were heading to get glasses, we joined them and Mike got an eye exam and a new pair of glasses with all the bells and whistles for a third of the cost back home, and they were ready for pick up in 3 hours!

While we waited for the glasses (they said it was a slow day for the lab as usually they would be ready in 1-2 hours), we checked out the shops. I got some jewlery at very reasonable prices, then stopped for some delicious shrimp tacos. Mike was skeptical to eat them, but I had spoken to some other tourists who came there often and had never had a problem.

We stopped for coffee at this square and I noticed a beauty/spa salon at the end. A pedicure for $13 was a great treat to sit back and enjoy. I was told by another customer that the place was usually packed once the snowbirds arrive in November and all the services were excellent.

We picked up the glasses and Mike is thrilled with them. We are very impressed and were lucky that we were able to walk right through the customs as sometimes there is a 2 hour wait. It was a perfect day to visit the town as it was a Thursday and a bit cooler today. The weather will warm up to 85F by Hallowe'en.

OCT 27/28 - YUMA, ARIZONA

Just a couple of pictures of the Desert Holiday RV Park we are staying at. It is a very friendly place and most of the people are Canadian snowbirds who stay here 6 months. A very friendly couple next to us, Tom and Shelley Brazier from Ontario, were heading to Florida for the winter but decided that they would stay here instead and have even been looking to buy a house. Prices are very low ($120,000 to $150,000).

The first two days we had very high winds which was part of a big storm hitting the central states. We were thankful we did not experience this while driving across the desert as we had seen many wind-warning signs and our vehicles would have been sand-blown down to the metal. We have enjoyed the hot tub at night and have had it all to ourselves. During the day, we can see planes overhead from the Yuma Marine Corps Airforce base. This training facility sends their pilots and aircraft to Iraq and Afghanistan and are continually practising and we saw two planes doing a fuel transfer.
We finally got to see a Roadrunner, they are such cute little birds, although they are flightless and will take a flying leap but mostly just run around. Kind of the size of a skinny chicken.
We have decided to stay here for at least a week and possibly will stay for a month as it is so friendly and has many activities, even a room with several pool tables for Mike.


OCT 26 - YUMA, ARIZONA

Leaving Benson this morning we soon drove through Tucson which, although it is a big city, is very spread out and as we approached we could see a brown haze over it. Glad we are not staying there with such poor air quality.
Just outside Tucson in the Sonora Desert is the famed Airplane Graveyard-Bone Yard at Davis Monthan Airforce Base. This is where the U.S. Air Force mothballs planes until they either need them again or it's time to salvage them for parts. They are all capable of being returned to service if the need ever arises. It's difficult to comprehend the size of the 'Bone yard' and the number of aircraft stored there.
Remember - Each one of these babies had a multimillion dollar price.


Crossed a section of desert with a 'forest' of Saguaro Cacti. We also saw some cotton fields when getting close to Yuma - I didn't know that they grew cotton in Arizona. I was also told that Yuma and Florida supply almost all the produce for the states. We saw huge produce farms on the way in to Yuma - it's amazing what they can grow once they add water to this desert area.

We arrived at Yuma and with 85F, it was time to sit back and relax. Notice Barry ended up with 2 rum and coke and Lana is singing "2 pina colatas, one for each hand" (ok I guess she was holding mine while I took the picture).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

OCT 25 - THE BIRD CAGE THEATRE, TOMBSTONE

The Bird Cage Theatre was the most famous honky-tonk in America between 1881 and 1889 and was open 24 hours a day during this time. It was the scene of 16 gunfights and there are 140 bullett holes that riddle the walls and ceiling. No wonder the New York Times referred to it in 1882 as the wildest, wickedest night spot in the west. No respectable lady would have ever entered the Bird Cage or even walk down the same side of the street. The Bird Cage was sealed and boarded up for 50 years with all its fixtures and furnishings intact and is in its original state.

This painting is of Fatima, one of the entertainers at the Bird Cage who later went to Europe as her performances were considered too provocative. She changed her name to "Little Eygpt" and became very famous. This painting has was a gift from Fatima and has hung in the same location since 1882. The painting is 9 ft in height and has the scars of 6 bullet holes and a knife cut.
This custom-made cherrywood bar is flanked by a dumb waiter on the right that sent drinks upstairs to the ladies of the night and their customers. This bar and mirror were shipped around the Horn of South America to San Fransico by boat and carried to Tombstone by muletrain. Amazing that the mirror was intact and that this mirror returned the reflections of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson and Johnny Ringo.
The Bird Cage was named for the 14 bird cage crib compartments that are suspended from the ceiling, overhanging the gambling casino and dance hall, where ladies of the night plied their trade. $25 dollars a night would buy a gentleman a bottle of whiskey and a lady for the night.
The refrain "she's only a bird in a gilded cage" became a popular song. These bird cages remain today with their original red velvet drapes and trimmings.
This table is where Doc Holliday played and dealt Faro over 118 years ago.
Basket used by the saloon girls to carry up bottles to customers.


The large hand-carved grand piano of solid rosewood is still in the orchestra pit where it played music with a 5 piece band. Doc Holliday and Johnny Ringo had their famous duel nearby.
The handpainted stage with its original stage curtain retains its faded luster of nightly performances of CanCan dancers, risque perormances and national headliners such as Eddie Foy and opera tenor Caruso.
This box was occupied by "Russian Bill" every evening for 2 years at a cost of $25/night. He was not an outlaw but wanted to appear tough so he stole a horse for which he was hanged.

The "Black Moriah" is the original Boothill hearse, trimmed in 24K gold and sterling silver, it took all but six bodies to Boot Hill. The original coffin
to the right of the hearse was used in the Tombstone movie.
This bordello room was used by Sarah Josephine Marcus "Sadie Joe" where she had many romantic liaisons with her future husband Wyatt Earp while she was engaged to the Sheriff who frowned upon her working as a prostitute. Wyatt was living nearby in a covered wagon with his common-law wife Mattie. When Wyatt left her for Sadie Jo, Mattie ended up being a prostitute in Prescott Az and commiting suicide.
This is Sadie Jo's business license for "House of Ill Fame" which was signed by Wyatt Earp who was Deputy Marshall at the time.
The longest single poker game in history was played in the basement gaming area. Eight years and four months of one continuous poker game! It was someone's job to go and get the next person on the list to play when someone left the game. This poker table still stands as it was left, with its chairs on the dirt floor.
We really enjoyed seeing this authentic building and all of its original features.
Tombstone was definite a highlight of our trip and Mike bought a replica gun and holster which will hang in our pool table room as a great momento of our visit.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

OCT 24 - TOMBSTONE, ARIZONA

Left Las Cruces and crossed large desert area surrounded by mountains. I love the wide-openess of the desert, especially when it has mountains in the distance.We stopped for gas at the Akela Flats Trading Post which had a large selection of items. Really like these two critters - the one on the left is named "Marshall 'Dillo" and the right is "Lush Adillo". I bought a basket and a piece of pottery.
We drove through Cochise country where the Apache used the bluffs as lookouts and lived in the canyons of the scenic Dragoon Mountains. Cochise is rumoured to be buried somewhere nearby in the Stronghold area.
We were surprised by an area where large boulders suddenly appeared and looked like they had just dropped out of the sky. Arrived in Benson before noon and headed to Tombstone which is only 25 miles away.
Tombstone sprang up around the silver mines discovered by Ed Schieffelin in 1877 and was dubbed "The Town Too Tough To Die". Ed had previously been told the only thing he would find in that area would be his own tombstone and that is how the town was named.
Tombstone is truly an authentic 1800's western town and many people are dressed in the complete western attire (right down to spurs!). When I asked about this, I was told that people are completely accepted here living as cowboys of the bygone era of the Old West. We passed the famous OK Corral where actors reenact the famous gunfight of Oct 26/81 where Marshall Wyatt Earp, his 2 brothers and friend Doc Holliday shot it out with the "Cowboys" a ruffian group of the Clantons and McLaurys. At about 3 pm the gunfight began. About 30 seconds and 30 gunshots later, it was over. There is dispute about who fired the first shot but in the end, 3 of the 5 cowboys lay dead and all but Wyatt was injured. There was a trial for the Earps but they were found not guilty with the judge saying they were “fully justified in committing these homicides.”
We had a great time at "Big Nose Kate's Saloon". This 1880 building was originally the Grand Hotel and during its first few years often housed some of Tombstone's most famous residents including Wyatt and Virgil Earp, Doc Holliday and the Clanton gang when they came into town. In fact, Ike Clanton and the two McLaury brothers were registered guests the night before the famous gunfight at the OK Corral. Big Nose Kate is believed to have been the first prostitute in Tombstone. However, her biggest claim to fame was the fact that she was also Doc Holliday's girlfriend. We had a great time having a cold beer and listening to the honkytonk singer who was a lot of fun. Posting these videos as it was such a good time. Just click on them to listen. video video

The Sherriff seemed to think I was ok; must have been my cowgirl hat.
Boothill Cemetery is very close to the town and was named so because of the many violent deaths of the early days as often they "died with their boots on". Buried here are outlaws and their victims, suicides and hangings (legal and otherwise) along with early citizens of the town.
Graves of Billy Clanton, Tom and Frank McLaury shot Oct 26/81 at the OK Corral. I asked if the graves, with the rocks on top, were what they would have been originally and was told yes, as graves could only be dug 3-4 ft deep as it was clay, so rocks covered the grave so critters didn't get in. There are only 3 graves that were 6 ft deep, one due to small pox and two due to leprosy.


"3-Fingered Jack" Dunlap shot by Jeff Milton. Jack had been part of a band robbing a train when he was shot by the express car guard. He was left by his friends to die but was found and brought to Tombstone where he lived long enough to inform on his friends.
"Here lies George Johnson - Hanged by mistake 1882 - He was right, we was wrong, but we strung him up and now he's gone". I like the way they are "straight shooters" about the facts. This guy had innocently bought a stolen horse and suffered the consequences.
Made it back to the campground just as sun was setting.








Different cacti in the campground.











One of the other campers pointed out this tarantula hole in the dirt and said that it comes out at night. Unfortunately, he was very shy and this is the only photo I could get of the spider even though Lana tried to coax it with a bug.
A beautiful sunset ended another great day.