Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Wild Wild West

The sunset lighting up the mountains in the East.
Rick & Terry Traver
Stagecoach on the main street in Tombstone.
Gun fight in the street.
A desperado goes down.
Poor Les
Victims of the gunfight at the OK Corral.
Young saguaro and its nurse tree.
Old saguaro and a dead nurse tree.
A couple old species
Saguaro Forest

We spent four days at the SKP Saguaro RV Park in Benson, AZ where we got together with Rick and Terry Traver and John Kayartz who are class of 2007 members. We first met Rick & Terry at RV Bootcamp in September of 07 and we met John at the 07 reunion in Texas this spring. It is always great to see familiar faces when you visit a new place. From the campground we were able to see the most spectacular sunset we have ever seen. The sun setting in the west lights up the mountains to the east like someone had lit millions of candles.

We drove to Tombstone one afternoon and enjoyed this old Western town that looks very similar to the way it was in the 1880's. The big difference is that many of the old bars and brothels now sell t-shirts and entertain the tourists. There are several places that offer reenactments of the large number of shootouts that occurred here. We chose the Six Gun City show and it was well worth the price of admission. After getting a short history on some of the more famous characters in town, we got to witness a few of them in action including Lester Moore whose demise is illustrated in the epithet above. Of course, the most famous gunfight here was at the OK Corral where Wyatt Earp, his brothers, the Clantons, the McLaurys and Doc Holiday went head to head. No visit to Tombstone would be complete without stopping at Boot Hill to see the graves of the famous and not so famous residents of this wild west town. Unfortunately, none of the original tombstones remain but it was still an interesting stop.

Another day we visited Saguaro National Park near Tucson to see the cacti that grows only in the Sonoran Desert and have come to symbolize the Southwest. As the park service brochure states, the saguaros are plants with personalities because of the almost human like shapes they assume. As we drove and walked through the park we stopped many times and took pictures of these wonderful giants of the desert. The saguaros dominate the landscape using the shade of shrubs and trees as nurse plants when they are young, then spreading out a large shallow root system as wide as the plant is tall. These roots absorb so much water that the saguaro kills the nurse plant as the it grows. A mature plant can soak up as much as 200 gallons of water, a year's supply, in one rain. They don't really know their exact age but they are between 60 and 75 years old before they begin to grow arms and may live for 150 to 200 years. The cacti are the homes for several species of birds who use the holes made by woodpeckers as homes that are cooled by the plant in the summer and warmed in the winter. Like each park we have visited, this one is unique with the large saguaros dominating the surrounding desert and mountains and is a worthwhile stop.

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