Sunday, January 9, 2011

Saguaro NP & A Town To Tough To Die


Friday we got up to full sunshine with a cool temperature of about 36 degrees. Our plan for the day was to visit the Saguaro National Park.

We decided to go to the east section of the park which is located on the east side of Tucson. The ride to the park would only take about 45 minutes. By the time we arrived at the visitor center the temps were well up into the 50’s.

The saguaro cactus is the state symbol of Arizona, appearing on all car license plates, and provides a universally recognized image of the Southwest. It is the largest and one of the slowest growing of all cactus (or is it cacti) reaching up to 15 meters high and living for several centuries. Plants can weigh up to 8 tons, partly because of the large amount of water the stems can hold. After rainfall the cactus can absorb hundreds of gallons in a short time. The saguaro may be only 6 inches high after 10 years, and the characteristic branched appearance is reached only after around 80 years


The east section has an 8 mile paved one way route with multiple stops along the way. There is also a picnic area with a few hiking trails.  We decided to stop at the picnic area to have lunch and hike the 2 mile loop.


Sitting in the picnic area surrounded by beautiful mountains and desert scenery we ate our lunch and told ourselves that this is why we are living the way we do. It was so quiet we could have sat there the rest of the afternoon. After lunch we started out on the 2 mile hike. Here are a few pictures along our path.



Notice the two Saguaro’s next to and inside the Pale Verde tree. The Saguaro will usually start out using a “Nurse Tree”. The young plant will utilize the shade eventually take up the water and killing the Nurse Tree in the process.




See how this Barrel Cactus is leaning?  It will not be two long before it falls over. The roots do not go very deep.


Here is one that recently fell


This is what the inside of a Saguaro looks like. The skeleton feels kind of like Balsa Wood.


And here is what is left of one skeleton


A very peaceful walk


We finished up our walk in the desert and was ready to finish the 8 mile loop on the motorcycle. Here are some shots from various stopping points.

Through my windshield








The park was very nice, but I guess that I expected more and larger Saguaro’s.  There are more and larger ones back up one of the hiking trails but we were not prepared to go that far into the mountains. It was still a very nice secluded day.

We made it back home in time to eat dinner and then go and play cards again for the evening.

Saturday we took the 22 mile ride south to Tombstone.

Tombstone has such a historic past and although it is a bit touristy and sometimes a little cheesy, the little boy in me had to go.

When Ed Schieffelin came to Fort Huachuca (about 15 miles north of the boarder) with a party of soldiers and left the fort to prospect, his comrades told him that he'd find his tombstone rather than silver. Thus, in 1877 Schieffelin named his first claim the Tombstone, and rumors of rich strikes made a boomtown of the settlement that adopted this name.

Days of lawlessness and violence, which nearly had then-President Chester A. Arthur declaring martial law in Tombstone and sending in military troops to restore order, climaxed with the infamous Earp-Clanton battle, fought near the rear entrance of the O.K. Corral, on October 26, 1881.

Over the course of 7 years the mines produced millions of dollars in silver and gold before rising underground waters forced suspension of operations.

During World War I, Tombstone was a major producer of manganese for the government. In World War II, Tombstone was extracting lead for the cause. After both conflicts, Tombstone faded into obscurity, just to be resurrected at a later time. The citizenry of Tombstone decided rather than depending on a vanishing mining industry, they would focus their time and energy on tourism and restoration. Good call!

Max and I arrived at about 11:00 am. There was really not much of a crowd and we were able to park the Goldwing just around the corner from the Okay Coral.  Our first stop.

We bought our tickets for the shootout performance that was going to happen at 2:00pm. This is probably the biggest draw (no pun intended) in Tombstone.

We walked down Allen street and looked at the various shops and saloons. The Crystal Palace Saloon was the popular hangout for the Earp’s. Some how I missed getting a picture of It. We went down each street to get a feel for what we wanted to see and what if any entry fee we wanted to pay to see inside one of the museums.

Here is a few street shots of Allen street.




This corner of Allen and Fifth street was where an assassination attempt was made on Virgil Earp as he was crossing the street shortly after the shootout near the OK Coral.



After walking the streets for awhile we stopped at Big Nose Kate’s for lunch. Big Nose Kate was Doc Holiday’s girl friend and common law wife. This was just a saloon and restaurant with her name and lots of memorabilia.

I did like the sign out front




It was a lot of fun having lunch here. They had a piano player and the atmosphere put you in a good mood. And the waitresses were very …..ummm…ummm…errrr…blessed?

The OK Coral.


The gunfight did not really happen inside of a coral but rather behind it in an alley next to another building. This picture of the statues is in the spot of the shootout. The Earp brothers and Doc Holiday were on the left and the McLaury’s and the Clanton’s were on the right. 031 

Now the town was divided between Earp’s friends and the Cowboy’s friends and some say it was just plain murder because some of the Clanton’s were not armed. But other witnesses say that they were all armed. One thing for sure is it divided the people of Tombstone .

Now the re-enactment of the gunfight is a little cheesy and a whole lot melodramatic. The cast did a good job of presenting both sides of the argument that started the fight to begin with. Here are a few shots of the gunfight.

Doc Holiday


Wyatt and Virgil Earp


The Showdown (insert Wha WHA Wha music here)



Ok that was fun and very entertaining. The players did a great job and it was worth the 20 bucks for this and the museum.

Next we went up to the Birdcage Theater. This building is in it’s original condition with original furnishings.


Legend has it that 26 people were killed in The Bird Cage during it reputed eight years as one of the wildest and meanest places in Tombstone, Arizona. Over a
Hundred and Twenty bullet holes remain in the building

The ladies of the night, plied their trade in cribs suspended from the ceiling in the building. There  are 14 cribs which line the sides of the gambling hall in the Bird Cage Theatre, 7 on each side of the room. The ladies would close the drapes to entertain their clients.



The small stage, if you look closely you can see the four small holes in the very lower left of the picture. These are from a patron that shot at an actor. Luckily he missed.


Down stairs in the basement they had several cribs, a small bar and a few gambling tables. These rooms are authentic.

This Crib belonged to Sarah Josephine Marcus in 1881. She worked under the name of Sadie Jo and Shady Sadie. Also here is a picture of her license of “ill fame”. It was in this room where many romantic liaisons with her future husband Wyatt Earp carried on. Wyatt signed her license. At the time she was engaged to Sheriff John Behan, who frowned on her work as a prostitute. Wyatt lived just 50 feet away in a covered wagon with his common law wife, Mattie. Mattie was later forced into prostitution in Prescott,  Arizona after Wyatt left her for Josephine. Mattie later committed suicide in Prescott by taking an overdose of Laudanum.




Here is a picture that the local photographer, CS Fly took of her in 1881


And who say’s there was no drama back in the day!

Some of the gaming tables down stairs next to the cribs.


This is the hearse that was used and it was used to bury everyone in the Boot Hill cemetery except for six souls. It was decommissioned in 1917


By the time we got done with the Birdcage Theater it was dinner time, so we headed over to the Longhorn Saloon. This was a perfect ending to a great day touring an old town that was “Too Tough To Die”






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