HEADING FOR THE COCHISE STRONGHOLD
Today’s Thursday blog is about our Wednesday Jeep rumble in the Dragoon Mountains. I will do a quick catch up on today at the end of this post & hopefully be all caught up before tomorrow takes off. Friday is gonna be a busy people day.
OUR FIRST STOP WAS IN THE COCHISE STRONGHOLD
WEDNESDAY………….We were on the road by 10 heading for a rendezvous point up the valley at a little place called, Sunizona. I had just enough time to grab a ‘toasted western’ sandwich at the meeting place diner when the first of our two Jeeping friends rolled in. Rosanna, her Mother, Carol & Rosanna’s daughter Joy all tumbled out of their little red Jeep with big smiles & lots of hugs. Some may remember Rosanna & Carol from my PAWS & HOOVES blog a couple years ago. Jeannie & Ray were the next to arrive. J & R are the folks who own the ranch in McNeal Az where we had been doing our ‘ranch sitting’ for the past couple years. With the Jeep convoy all formed up we headed off for the Dragoon Mountains with Jeanie driving the lead Jeep, Kelly & I (the Jeeping Newbies) in the center & the Paws & Hooves gang bringing up the rear.
After a border patrol check point it didn’t take us long to get the tires dirty on the first on many dusty, gravely & rock infested roads. Hey, that’s precisely why we got ourselves a Jeep:)) Jeanie led our little 3 Jeep convoy right into the rugged Cochise Stronghold & our first stop was at a place referred to as the Grand Canyon of the Stronghold. As we bumpily rolled to a stop shaking the Arizona road dust out of our teeth, everybody came bubbling out of their Jeeps marveling at our gorgeous surroundings. Again, as always, I am so overwhelmed by the beauty of the mountains & the huge rock formations in the Cochise Stronghold. This morning brought back memories of the day Kelly & I hiked the COCHISE STRONGHOLD TRAIL back on February 24th, 2009.
FIND THE WINDMILL
Twenty minutes later we had the Jeeps rolling on the foot hills trail again moving north alongside the looming Dragoon mountains to the west. Through dry creek bed washes, over rocks & small boulders we plodded our bouncing way along following the rocking & rolling little green Jeep ahead of us. Some of the jarring bumps tossed us around inside the Jeep like a couple of ping pong balls.
RAY HAD TO OPEN & CLOSE A FEW GATES ALONG THE WAY
Our dusty little convoy came to a lunch break stop under the shade of a large Mesquite tree. The town of Wilcox on I-10 was visible to the northeast about 30 miles. We could also look to the east where I recognized the mountain top that towered over Fort Bowie. That brought back memories of our drive through Apache Pass & our long hike into FORT BOWIE back on March 10th of 09.
CAROL, JEANIE, ROSANNA, JOY & RAY
With our peanut butter sandwiches under our belts we were soon jostling along with a dozen 4 wheeling Jeep tires frantically gripping & grabbing at whatever they could find to keep themselves rolling. Never once did we bottom out but we did plow a little creek bottom gravel with the front end tow bar coming down off a couple creek banks. Oh, & did I mention the desert pin striping….yep we got lots of new designs all along the sides of the Jeep now. Jeanie assures us ‘rubbing compound’ will take care of that. But, what ‘s a Jeep if it doesn’t look like it’s been ripped by the talons of an attacking band of bald headed Eagles. I think we’ll just leave the dust & the pin striping on the Jeep until we get back to Canada someday.
Our rocky Dragoon trail ended at a highway stop sign east of the town of Dragoon. It was decided then to head west through the town of Dragoon to a spot where Jeannie & Ray new the ruins of an old Butterfield Overland Stage Station lay. Four Confederate Soldiers killed by Apache Indians on May 5th 1862 were also buried there. It was on this final section of off-roading that we got into our toughest & roughest road of the day & this one was a bit of doozy for a Newby. A mile south of the Overland Stage Station lay the Dragoon Springs where water was hauled to the Stage Station a hundred & fifty years ago. There’s a rough road leading to that spring & that is where our 3 Jeep convoy headed. Being as inexperienced as Kelly & I are at Jeeping I’m sure we would have turned back at some point along this trail. But ,being behind experienced Jeepsters like Jeanie & Ray I trusted in their knowledge & expertise & followed right along behind paying close attention to how they were doing things despite the steep rocky hills & gullies. It was this last stretch of road that cinched my trust in our Jeep. It never faltered, wavered, balked, or refused to do anything it was asked to do. This whole day was a great learning experience for me & we did reach a dead end at the spring.
HEADING FOR DRAGOON SPRINGS
“I CAN’T BELIEVE WE JUST DID THAT”
It was while we were all out of our Jeeps standing in the dry creek bed marveling at the fact we had all made it that the sun suddenly disappeared leaving us all in a cooling shadow. The sun had dropped behind a nearby rocky ridge & it was our first indication it was getting late in the day. It was time to go. With a bit of scrambling we were able to get our Jeeps turned around & we were lead Jeep heading back out of the little Dragoon Springs Canyon. Once again I was amazed at how easily we were able to climb the craggy steep angled hill up into the day’s sunlight. Far ahead in the valley I could make out the little town of Dragoon & beyond lay Mount Graham on the horizon.
We retraced our steps back to a point where the road divides, parked our Jeeps & made the short walk to the the ruins of the Butterfield Overland Stage Station. As with all buildings from the mid 1800’s, only the old stone foundation remain along with maybe the ghosts of those who have passed this way on their long overland journeys to the west.
JEANIE & RAY HEAD FOR HOME
The four Confederate Soldiers who unfortunately lost their lives nearby are buried about a hundred yards north of the Stage Station. As I was photographing the graves, Kelly was reading the on site plaque about the men, who they were & how they died. I always find cemeteries like this very special places.
THE STONE FOUNDATION IS ALL THAT’S LEFT OF THIS STAGECOACH STOP
THE DRAGOON SPRINGS WE DROVE TO IS IN THAT FAR VALLEY AT THE CENTER OF THE PICTURE
Jeanie & Ray had headed for home earlier followed by Rosanna, Carol & Joy, so Kelly & I were the only ones left as we turned & walked from the small cemetery, past the Overland Stage ruins & down the dusty path to the Jeep, casting long quiet shadows behind us in the setting sun. Forty minutes later we were home.
ALL & ALL IT WAS ANOTHER FINE DAY IN THE GREAT AMERICAN SOUTHWEST
We were surprised to see a truck camper parked in the laneway when we got back to the rig about 5 this afternoon. A fellow was out alongside walking a couple of nice looking dogs. With the words, “Hi there, I hope you are the Bayfield Bunch because I’ve been reading your blog for 3 years now & we’ve been waiting to meet you.” And, with those words, we met two lovely people by the names of Bob & Cathy from near Phoenix, Arizona. Bob did quite a sleuthing job in tracking us down but coming from a law enforcement background it was all kind of old hat for him. He actually used Google Maps & Google Earth to pinpoint our location. Bob & Cathy are down to earth folks just like us so we got along well & had ourselves quite a chin wag in the Motor Home Thursday night. We invited them to pull into the fenced in area & spend the night. Thursday they plan on heading for the campground in the Cochise Stronghold. Following our blog the past few years Bob & Cathy have traveled to many of the places in the Southwest we have gone. Just a few days ago they were at RUSTY'S RV RANCH in New Mexico.
BOB, CATHY, RUDY & BO
Now, to sum up today really fast for those of you patient souls who have made it this far in what is probably my longest blog of ever. Sorry about that but some days just require more words than others to get through them. We spent most of the day in the company of our new friends Cathy & Bob & their two dogs Rudy & Bo before they headed off mid afternoon up the valley for the Cochise Stronghold Campground. They are our kind of folks & hopefully our paths will cross again…..I will blog about tomorrow’s happenings when tomorrow’s happenings…..happen:))
GROANER’S CORNER:(( And remember, a successful diet is the triumph of mind over platter.
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