AZ Caverns and Wild Wild West!

Real quick before I get into AZ – I found a couple pics on Bills phone of our drive across Rt 82.  Remember I told you?  It had steep grades and great vistas, but my pics all had glare?   These 2 were taken on Bills phone while mine was charging and I forgot about them – here you go:

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Even after a year and a half on the road, this still looks like it might not be high enough (to ME – Bill says “it’s fine”) which of course it was

Ok – now we can move on!

I was feeling a bit like a kid going to the candy store when we pulled out of the Deming NM Walmart.  We were on our way to see friends Tracy & Lee and Cori & Greg.  It had been a long time since we had seen them, especially Tracy & Lee.

It was a very easy ride to Kartchner Caverns Star Park and we had to wait for our site to become available since we got there so early.  Thankfully the wait wasn’t long and we were parked and set-up in no time at all.   I actually attempted to park, which didn’t go so well.  I really need to work on that.   No – I REALLY do!  I should be able to park – and not just in a pull-through!

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our first spot
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our second spot, we had to move mid-week b/c when we extended our stay, the site we were on initially was already reserved.

Tracy & Lee had arrived the day before, Cori & Greg arrived shortly after us.  There were hugs all around and Tracy brought over some pizza and beer.   That evening, while enjoying a very yummy Hawaiin chicken dinner (thanks Cori and Tracy!) we talked about the different things we wanted to do this upcoming week.  The only thing already on the calendar was touring the actual caves of Kartchner Caverns State Park, which was scheduled for the following day.  Lee made an awesome fire, which allowed us to all stay outside together longer, as there was a serious chill in the air.

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kinda looks like Bill is on fire, but I promise he wasn’t!

We walked over to the Discovery Center at the appointed time (an HOUR early!) checked it out before the tour started.   It was very nicely done and the gift shop had some nice items, but they were mostly over-priced and I didn’t buy anything.  They had prickly pear jelly I wanted to get for the kids, but seriously? $6.00 for a jar so small – it was literally enough for 2 pieces of toast.  I passed.

There were HUGE differences between the way they do the tour here than at Carlsbad Caverns.  At Kartchner, they ONLY offer guided tours and you cannot bring ANYTHING into the cave, not even water.  No cameras (or phones) a so no photography at all.  So the pics I have below have been snatched off the internet.  After being able to snap away freely at Carlsbad, I was very disappointed about this.

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I got all the above pics of the inside of the cave off Google Images.  You might notice, this cave does have quite a bit more color than Carlsbad.  It was very cool and caused mostly by iron in the water in this area.

On the upside, our tour guide was awesome!  She had Workamped at Kartchner for several years and her love of the caves was obvious.  She told us all about how the formations were created and how the cave was discovered.  It’s a great story of 2 guys, back in 1974, who were on the hunt to find a new cave.   They knew there was a good chance there would be one in the area because the hills are all limestone, and most caves are in limestone hills.  So, these young men see and climb into this hole in the ground and crawl in for quite awhile and eventually come across the beginning of the cavern.  I say beginning b/c it took several visits to fully realize what they found.  Longer story short, they were determined to keep the cave in pristine condition, as many that were discovered a long time ago, before they understood the negative impact of touching everything, were ruined.  They learned the land was not state land as they thought, but was actually owned by the Kartchner family.  After attempting to purchase the land (without disclosing what they had found), and being told the land was not for sale, they finally had to tell the owners what was beneath the surface of their land.  They were pleased when the family agreed the cave needed to be protected and it took years and a lot of red tape before it finally became Kartchner Caverns State Park.

They protect the cave in several ways.  Since there wasn’t a huge natural opening to the cave (remember the pic of the natural opening of Carlsbad?) they had to build one, so they use air locks to keep the humid air of the cave in.  Also, remember the pic at Carlsbad of the people cleaning lint?  Well, at Kartchner, we got misted with water to help prevent lint from coming off us in the cave.  They also only allow a small amount of people down there at once so they can more easily monitor and make sure no one touched the formations.  They also close the cave to visitors when the bats that go there to give birth return from Mexico.  They have basically tried to learn from the mistakes that were made in other caves, which is evident and very cool.

The following day, we all went to Tombstone, home of the OK Corral, where the famous shoot-out happened.  What a cool little town!  Tombstone is a real town where people live and go to work, raise kids, etc.  but they also have a few blocks that are closed off to cars and has been kept (sort of) like it was “back then”.   They have actual stage coaches riding up and down the street, the buildings have authentic looking fronts, it is just a cool fun place to visit.

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We got tickets for the OK Corral Shoot-Out.  I fully expected it to be completely goofy, but it was actually pretty good.  The guys playing the parts were very serious about showing us what happened.   After the show, we got some pics with Wyatt Earp and his brothers and also the Cowboys.

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the scene of the crime
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“Wyatt Earp”
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“Doc Holliday”
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“The Cowboys” – ready for a confrontation
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“Doc Holliday”, “Wyatt Earp” and (I think) “Morgan Ear” (Wyatt’s brother)

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We were starving after that, so we walked back up the street to the Crystal Palace.  The service getting our food was a bit slow (somewhat understandable since a whole bunch of people went in at once after the show), but the food and atmosphere was great!

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When we finished our lunch, Tracy and I (Cori stayed home – had some work to do) went and checked out the gift shops.  There was a variety of items to choose from, but nothing reached out and said “buy me” so I went home empty handed.

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I am generally not a huge fan of quilts, in the sense that I would probably not buy one, however I totally appreciate the work that goes into them. This one in particular caught my eye.
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I loved this hat on Tracy, but she wasn’t feeling it

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a pic of the real Wyatt Earp, our friends Great, Great, Great Nephew
a pic of the real Wyatt Earp, our friends Great, Great, Great Uncle

On the way out of town, we stopped at Boothill Graveyard.  There were a lot of graves, and it made me sad how many were marked “unknown”.  The views from the graveyard were very nice, mountians all around.

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sometimes the markers even told you how they died
the Jewish section - was off all my itself
the Jewish section – was off all my itself
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There were probably as many that said “unknown” as there were ones with names

Cori and I took a walk around the CG with Hobie one day.   Bill was helping Greg with an install (Greg & Cori own RV Solar Solutions) and Tracy & Lee went out for the day on their own.

the men up on the roof
the men up on the roof
Hobie!
Hobie!
prickley pear cactus
prickley pear cactus
beautiful vistas!
beautiful vistas!

 

Later that evening, Bill & I went with Greg & Cori into Tuscon, as Cori had a surprise evening planned.  Where she brought us was to the Hotel Congress for their Retro Game Show Night.  What a hoot!  The game show was hosted by a Professor from the local college.  He teaches students in the costume design graduate program, which I didn’t even know was a thing.  Anyway, while I don’t know his real name, he is also known as Tempest DuJour – and is a very tall drag queen diva!  The show was pretty raunchy, but no too bad, a lot of fun.  Cori had tried to get tickets online, but there were only walk-up seats still available, so we got there early and were first in line.   We had a blast!  On the way home, everybody was hungry so we stopped for In N Out Burgers.  Thanks guys for a great evening!

Tempest DuJour - "Delicate Flower of the Desert" - the hostess for the evening
Tempest DuJour – “Delicate Flower of the Desert” – the hostess for the evening

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while out on a break - don't know why my shoulders are so scrunched up
while out on a break – don’t know why my shoulders are so scrunched up
hope you know who these people are!
hope you know who these people are!
great pic of Cori and Greg
great pic of Cori and Greg

The 3 of us girls went into Sierra Vista one day and took care of laundry.  The usually very boring chore is not quite so bad when done with friends!  The laundromat was clean and they had a variety of machines to choose from.  Tracy and Cori both have on-board machines, but we do not have sewer hook-ups, and doing laundry would fill their tanks very quickly.   After the excitement of doing laundry, we dropped it off at home and then – wait for it – went Benson to the Walmart!  Some days being a full-time RVer is just so exciting!  Ha!  We piled all our bags into the truck and took them home.  As I said before – boring chores are so much better with friends!

We all piled in our trucks and headed out to this place Cori found on the internet called Gammons Gulch Movie Set and Museum.  It is a “Western Town” built by the owner, Jay Gammon.  He also has a huge collection of stuff that is very old.  He leases the “town” out to movie producers or anyone else looking for a western town for their wedding or other event.  Jay gave us the tour, and he was quite funny.  After the tour, he let us roam around and take pics and look at all the stuff as much as we wanted.  The only negative is Lee asked permission to take drone pics and was rudely told NO! by Jay’s wife.  Even though he offered them a free copy of any footage he took, to use on their website or whatever.

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he also had quite a few very old cars, some were in good condition, some, not so much
he also had quite a few very old cars, some were in good condition, some, not so much
the gallows
the gallows

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this is where the owners live
this is where the owners live
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Jay telling us another story – he had a bunch of them!
our tour ended in the saloon
our tour ended in the saloon
Who knew? Jay can sing and play piano!
Who knew? Jay can sing and play piano!
He also recently took up the banjo!
He also recently took up the banjo!
Bill petting one of the 6 cats that live on the property
Bill petting one of the 6 cats that live on the property
after the official tour was over, we found this old engine up on a hill
after the official tour was over, we found this old engine up on a hill
this was taken from near where we found the engine shown above, it's the town
this was taken from near where we found the engine shown above, it’s the town
couldn't resist taking his one of Bill behind bars!
couldn’t resist taking his one of Bill behind bars!

Another, the guys went to visit Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson.  Bill took some pics and I asked him to send me his fav’s for the blog.  This is the ones he chose:

this is the plane James Bond flew in Octopussy - he and Lee both are HUGE fans!
this is the plane James Bond flew in Octopussy – he and Lee both are HUGE fans!
this is a personal helicopter, a military prototype that never made it to production
this is a personal helicopter, a military prototype that never made it to production
this is a VIP jet for Presidential use. It could have been used as Air Force One if needed, but only called that if the President is aboard
this is a VIP jet for Presidential use. It could have been used as Air Force One if needed, but only called that if the President is aboard
this is a transport plane, possibly a fuel tanker
this is a transport plane, possibly a fuel tanker
this is an air crane
this is an air crane

The day the guys went to Pima, Tracy, Cori and I went on the hunt for some SandHill Cranes (birds).  Cori had heard of this place not too far away where we might have been able to see them.  Turned out to be a bit of a wild goose chase, as we didn’t see a one, but the day was not a total loss.  Tracy bought a delish Apple Crumb pie for our dessert that night, I got the kids some of that Prickly Pear Jelly and Tracy and I both bought some local beans.  Tracy and Cori took some great pics of the area, mostly while I drove.  It was a fun day, even though we didn’t see any Sand Hill Cranes.  Maybe next time!  The following pic was taken at the farm stand place where Tracy bought the pie, since I don’t want to buy everything I see that I like, a lot of times I will just take it’s pic.

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Our last night in Kartchner Caverns State Park, we all went to visit Butterfield RV Resort to see their observatory.  It is right in the CG and, luckily for us, is open to visitors not staying in the park.  It was a very small observatory, but we enjoyed it.  We got to see (through the telescope itself, not on a screen) several stars, including the Dog Star, Sirius, which looked like a diamond in the scope; the seven sisters stars, Pleiades; and the Orion Nebula.  We also got to see Jupiter and 4 of its moons.  The biggest treat was our very own moon, one night after the full moon – which was awesome!  Downside of being one night past full was it was so bright, we could not see the Andromeda Galaxy.  The workamper that did the “show” was an amateur astronomy geek (his description, not mine) and was very funny and knowledgeable.   Lee said it was the coolest thing he had done since leaving New Hampshire – how cool is that?

the telescope
the telescope
Cori and Greg
Cori and Greg
Tracy and Lee
Tracy and Lee

Here are a few misc. pics that I want to share.

Bill - finishing the baby back ribs on the grill while frying the chicken wings at the same time - multi-talented man I have!
Bill – finishing the baby back ribs on the grill while frying the chicken wings at the same time – multi-talented man I have!
we saw some amazing sunsets!
we saw some amazing sunsets!
love this one!
love this one!
looks almost like snow in front of the moon
looks almost like snow in front of the moon

That’s all for today, folks!  Next up – Quartzite!

5 thoughts on “AZ Caverns and Wild Wild West!

  1. I would love to see that air museum, Kelly! I looked up the transport…it is one of four Super Guppies that NASA used to transport large cargo of Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and the ISS. Very cool!

    1. Bill and Lee very much enjoyed Pima. I wouldn’t have minded seeing it but my pace would have been a lot faster and then I would have been bored – LOL!

    1. You and Barb would LOVE the caverns! It is so cool to see how the water created such amazing spaces under the ground! You don’t want to miss them!

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