May 2005               

               

            May began with a day of being lazy.  We got the rig all straightened and things put in their places.   Millie put a roast on to cook in the crock pot and made a pitcher of iced tea.  Then we sat outside enjoying the beautiful weather and reading the paper. 

            After dinner, we watched TV and Millie talked to her mother.  Ann and Mary are leaving on Tuesday to go to White Sulphur Springs, WV for Annís 65th High School Reunion.  They are both excited about their trip.  The reunion takes place at The Greenbrier, a famous upscale resort and this will be the second time the Charleston High School class of 1940 has held their reunion there. 

            On Monday we walked down to the office and registered.  The park personnel here are friendly and we enjoyed the visit in the office.  We have already determined that this park would not work for us in the winter season.  The spaces are long enough for our trailer, but not long enough to park both the trailer and truck.  It works OK now as there are only 4 rigs in the area where we are parked and we can put the truck in the space next to us.  

            The Yuma Territorial Prison was built in 1876 on a bluff overlooking the conflux of the Colorado and Gila rivers.  It was built by prisoner labor and operated for 33 years.  26 successful escapes took place but only 2 were from inside the walls.  It earned a reputation for being a tough place to do time. 

            After being used for the Yuma Union High School for 4 years the prison fell into disrepair. It is now a State Park and self guided tours are offered.  A small museum about the prison and its inmates are on the grounds and very interesting film is offered.

            We drove into downtown one day to check out the Old Town section.  We found it very disappointing, most shops were closed and it was not the historical area we were anticipating. 

            After a week in Yuma, we proceeded east on I-10 to Benson, AZ.  We checked in at Saguaro SKP Park, one of the parks in the Escapees system.  The spaces in this park are spacious and the park is very clean.  It really makes a difference when folks own their own spaces; they take much better care of things.     

            Dick found a Best Buy ad in the Sunday paper and discovered that they had the Pioneer Navigation System that he was wanting on special.  We had to drive into to Tucson to the nearest Best Buy and when we got there, they didnít have any of the units in stock.  It would take a week or so to get one and we would be back on our way to Texas by then.  They finally offered us the floor sample at a discount and an appointment was made for Monday to have it installed.

            As it was Motherís Day, we went out to dinner while in Tucson.  Millie wanted Red Lobster, which was just down the street from the Best Buy.  However, it required quite a long wait for a table, but Millie really enjoyed her dinner.

            On Monday Dick headed to the Best Buy to have his Pioneer system installed and Millie did some house keeping and laundry.  Dick was gone most of the day; it took a while for the technicians to get the unit installed.

            On Tuesday we drove south from the park to Tombstone.  Tombstone is known as the town too tough to die. It was founded in 1877 by prospector Ed Schieffelin.  He would wander from Camp Huachuca to looking for rocks and was told by the soldiers that all he was going to find out there was his tombstone.  He discovered silver and named the mine The Tombstone. 

            A town site was laid out in 1879and named for Edís mining claim. It grew to about 15000 by the mid 1880ís and was the fastest growing city between St. Louis and San Francisco. It contained one of the first public swimming pools in Arizona.

            Large portions of the downtown area were destroyed by fires in 1881 and 1882, but the town rebuilt. Many silver mines contributed to the economy of the town until they reached the water table which resulted in flooding of the mines.  When the mines shut down, people left and in the late 1920ís the population was down to about 150.

            Today the downtown area is closed to vehicles and we enjoyed walking along the board sidewalks and browsing the many shops along the main street. 

            Our first stop was the Visitorís center.  Then we walked over a couple of blocks to the Cochise Country Courthouse which was built in 1882 and is now a State Park.  Both floors of the building contain exhibits relating to the history of Tombstone.

            Our next visit was to the Rose Tree Museum.  This museum contains the Worldís Largest Rosebush.  The root of this Lady Banksia Rose came from Scotland.  It now covers over 8000 square feet.  It was amazing to see this rose.  It usually blooms in the spring but a few blooms were still on it when we were there.  The rose has only one trunk and it is supposed that perhaps the roots have located a source of underground water.  The former home of the family who planted the rose has been converted into a small museum of life in the 1880í in Tombstone.

            Tombstoneís largest claim to fame is the ďGunfight at the OK CorralĒ.  It took place on October 26, 1881 between Police chief Virgil Earp, his brothers Wyatt and Morgan and Doc Holiday, who had been deputized by Virgil. In 30 seconds over 30 shots were fired and 3 cowboys, Tom McLaury, Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton were killed. Doc Holiday, Morgan and Virgil Earp were all wounded, though not seriously.

            The actual site of the gunfight is now a tourist attraction with a show re-enacting the gunfight, also containing an exhibit area and a Historama. 

            On the way out of town we visited the Boothill Grave Yard.  This cemetery was used from 1871 to 1884.  It was neglected for many years until a group of interested citizens worked to preserve the main part of the cemetery. A guide book contains a list of the grave locations as can best be determined.  The three victims of the OK Corral shootout are buried here, as well as other outlaws, victims and citizens of the town.  It is very interesting to walk thru the area.

            Fort Huachuca (Wa-chew-ka) is located in Sierra Vista, AZ.  This fort is still an active military post so it requires a security check to go to the museum at the old Fort. 

            The fort was established in 1877 as a temporary camp in a shaded canyon.  It was made a permanent post in 1882 due to its location along Chiricahua Apache escape routes into Mexico. .  It was the headquarters of the 4th Calvary who was instrumental in affecting the surrender of Geronimo.  It was also the staging ground the 10th Calvaryís march into Mexico in 1916.  The 92nd and 93rd infantry divisions trained here during World War II.  These were African American divisions who fought in the Pacific and northern Italy. In modern times it has become the center for all military intelligence training.

            The Fort Huachuca museum is housed in two buildings on the post.  Interesting exhibits on the history of the fort from its establishment until the present are presented.  The fort also has a museum of U. S. Army Intelligence.  If you are in the area, these museums are worth the effort to see.

            Bisbee, AZ was founded in 1880 when silver was discovered.  This was quickly followed by the discovery of large deposits of copper.  Bisbee is one of the best preserved turn-of Ėthe-century towns in AZ.  We parked on Main Street and walked to the Visitorís Center where we obtained information and maps on the town site.   We did a walking tour of the historic area.  The canyon where the town is located is very narrow and the homes and other buildings climb the steep sides of the mountains.  In the early days, water, fuel and foot had to be carried by hand up many steep stairs to these homes.  The Pythian Castle was the home of the Knights of Pythias, a fraternal order and is an outstanding landmark.  The city park was first a cemetery in the 1890ís.  The graves were moved in 1914 and the city established a park in the area with a band shell.

            After a delicious lunch at the Bisbee Grill, we crossed the street to the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum.  This museum is housed in the former general office building of the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Co and was donated to the city in 1971. 

            After visiting the museum, we walked back up Main Street and visited some of the antique shops along the way. 

            We had called earlier for reservations to tour the Copper Queen Mine and were able to get on the last tour of the day.  When we finished visiting the museum, we still had quite a bit of time before our tour so we drove out in search of ice cream.  We passed the Lavender Mine, an open pit copper mine.  As you drive along the highway, you are in the middle of a large area that has been mined for copper. 

            After enjoying our ice cream, we went back into town and found the parking area for the Copper Queen Mine Tours.  This is an underground tour into one of the most productive copper mines of the 20th century.  We were outfitted with slickers, hats and mining lanterns for our trip into the mine.  We the boarded the mine train and were taken deep into the mountain.  Our guide was a miner for over 30 years and gave us a good personal view of what mining was like.  It was a very interesting and informative tour.                                          (more AZ photo's)

            We left Benson and again headed east through El Paso.  We had decided that we wanted to visit Fort Davis, in the Davis Mountains of west Texas.  This is a National Historic Site.  Fort Davis was established in 1854 and until 1801 was a key post in the defense of the San Antonio-El Paso Road.  It is one of the best remaining examples of a frontier military post. 

            The first post was erected on the eastern side of the Davis Mountains in a box canyon near Limpia Creek.  It is located behind the present day fort area and only foundations of some of the buildings can be seen. It was named for Jefferson Davis who was Secretary of War at the time.  At the beginning of the Civil War, the troops abandoned the fort and it was occupied by Confederate troops for a year, and then was deserted for 5 years.

            Ft. Davis was reoccupied in 1867 and a new post was built east of the original fort.  Construction continued until the 1880ís and contained more than 100 building with over 400 soldiers.  The troops were instrumental in keeping the Apaches in check and in 1880 forced their leader Victorio into Mexico where he and his followers were killed by Mexican troops.

            Fort Davis was finally abandoned in 1891 having been deemed no longer useful to the military.

            Fort Davis was notable for being the home of Buffalo Soldiers (African American troops) from 1867 to 1885. 

            We visited the Visitorís Center where we viewed a film on the fort and toured the museum.  We then walked the fort, which contains many restored buildings.  Some of these buildings are furnished.

            We spent two nights in Davis Mountains State Park.  The campgrounds in this park contain large sites and some even have full hook-ups with 50 amp service and cable TV.  As we were setting up, we were visited by a herd of about 10 deer.  They were very unafraid and as Millie sat outside at the picnic table, a doe and youngster came up very near to her.  We saw these deer both evenings we were in the park.

            When we left the park, we drove south to Alpine, then east on US 90, spending the night in Uvalde before arriving back at Richmond. 

            On the 24th we again were on the road, this time to Corpus Christi, with Ann going along.  We arrived in the early afternoon and got set up on our site at Puerto Del Sol RV Park.  This small park is right on the bay and we had a waterfront site.  During our stay we enjoyed watching large ships and fishing vessels passing by.

            The USS Lexington, an Essex class Aircraft Carrier, was commissioned in 1943 and served for 48 years.  It is now berthed in Corpus Christi and serves as a museum.  It contains over 100,000 square feet on 11 decks.  We viewed an excellent film on the Lewis and Clark Expedition in its large screen theater, contained in the forward aircraft elevator shaft.  The size of this icon of American history is just awesome.  Dick and Millie toured some of the upper decks and the flight deck, while Ann watched a film and viewed the exhibits on the hanger deck.  We also toured the bridge, captainís quarters, sick bay and ready rooms.  On the flight deck, different aircrafts were on exhibit. 

            On Thursday we drove to Padre Island National Seashore.  It was a beautiful day for the beach.  Unfortunately the area was experiencing an unusually heavy seaweed season and the sand was covered in it.  The water was also heavy with the seaweed so we walked along the edge for a short while before heading back to the Visitorís Center.  We did enjoy the ranger talk and we had a picnic at the park before heading back to the campground. 

            Friday we visited the Texas State Aquarium.  This is a nice facility, although we did feel it was somewhat overpriced.  Ann especially enjoyed seeing the exhibits of saltwater fish and jellyfish.  She and Millie visited the touch tank where Sting Rays and small Sharks are available to be felt.  A program featuring 2 Dolphins is held several times during the day and we enjoyed it.  Ann was especially thrilled at seeing live Dolphins perform for the first time.

            Friday evening was the big event we had come for.  Our Granddaughter, Amanda Rae Paxton, graduated from Richard Milburn Academy.  We arrived at Parkdale Baptist Church and met Robert and Lacey.  Amandaís mom had saved seats for us down front so we had a good view of the ceremony.  We were all proud to see her receive her diploma. 

            After the graduation Robert hosted us for dinner at Fuddruckerís (Amandaís choice).  We had a good time visiting.  It was the first time we had seen Amanda since Thanksgiving of 2003.  We also met her boyfriend, Ira.   There was 4 generations of us at the graduation!

            Saturday morning it was time to head back to Richmond.  We arrived at Shiloh around 2 and while Dick set up, Millie took Ann home.  We rested a while, and then changed and after picking up Ann we drove to Katy to attend the graduation of our grandson, Chad Steele Petee.  Chad had 11 family members in attendance at the Leonard E. Merrell Center.   Again we felt great pride in having a graduate in the class.  

            Sunday we slept in a little, then read the paper and cleaned house.  Robert and Lacy came to visit later in the afternoon.  We had an enjoyable evening catching up. 

            Tuesday evening we had dinner with Jack and Ruth Diamond, our neighbors at Shiloh last December.  They are staying in a nearby park, spoiling their first granddaughter, Miya, who was born the middle of the month.  We had a good time visiting and talking about adventures we had all had since last seeing each other.          (more TX photos's)

            Next monthís travel plans include Chattanooga, TN; Boone, NC; Corbin and Lexington, KY.  See you then!

(Lots of new photos in the gallery, take a look.  We couldn't link to all of them.)