Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tombstone, Casa Grande and, John Wayne?

In the morning, at Willcox, we found the thermometer had dipped to -12, slightly lower than predicted. We went for our helping of free waffles and pancakes and then for a brief walk, but the wind and cold drove us back after only half a mile or so.

The drive to Benson, and the Cochise Terrace RV Resort, took just a half hour. The elevation there is lower than Willcox but, disappointingly, it didn’t prove to be any warmer.

Pictured are the views from Chochise Terrace RV Resort.

We drove to Sierra Vista and the Best Buy to get a battery for my camera and then to Tombstone where we walked the old western town and the cemetery and stuck our heads in a few shops. A lot of the buildings there are much the same as they were in the late 1800,s, when much of the action we're familiar with took place. Coincidence would have it that the movie Tombstone was on TV the night before we visited the town. Val Kilmer, as Doc Holliday, is still one of my favourite roles by any actor. The whole loop back to Benson was just fifty miles.

Pictured are a couple of shots from Tombstone.

Seeing it was so cold and there was little else to do, we rented a couple of movies from the park office - I picked another old Val Kilmer movie that we hadn’t seen, Saint, while Janice picked Bewitched - she likes them light and entertaining. Argh!

I participated at the jam that they have every Wednesday night at the Cochise RV park. There are roughly twelve musicians that show regularly. Some are park regulars while others drive from as far as forty-five miles away. The more serious players go four nights a week; at this park, another RV park, a bar nearby and a bar in Tombstone. The music was mostly country, with a little Everly Brothers and Righteous Brothers thrown in. There was also a talented couple from Oklahoma that did gospel, him on guitar, backing her up on vocals.

Pictured is Tim jamming at the RV park. There was a woman keyboard player, out of the picture, to the left, who was both friendly and talented. She liked my playing and invited me to play with her regular four-piece in Tombstone, including a sax player. While it would have been kind of cool to say that I’d jammed in Tombstone, it happens on Tuesday nights and I didn’t think we’d be around by then.

After the jam we watched Bewitched. I only remember watching the TV show a couple of times as a kid, not exactly what I’d call a riveting movie.

When we went to brush our teeth, we discovered that the pipes had frozen. By morning the rest of the park was in the same boat. Because there were more record setting cold temperatures on the way, there was really nowhere to run, so we went to the hardware store and bought a heat lamp and one of those reflective windshield shades to use as a windbreak. We got the wind mostly blocked and the heat lamp positioned under the problem area, we hoped. Nothing worse than being without water.

In the evening we went for a dinner at a little cafĂ© near us - we didn’t want to dirty more dishes because of the water situation.

Pictured is a frozen elephant fountain outside the cafe where we had burgers.

After dinner we watched Saint. Val Kilmer was great playing Simon Templar in a variety of disguises, seamlessly infusing different accents.

By morning the heat lamp had done it’s job - water was flowing again. We hit the road for Tucson, where it was supposed to be a few degrees warmer. When we got there however, the only park with availability was not to our liking, so we kept driving, stopping for a roadside lunch at Picacho Peak, pictured below.

We drove on to the John Wayne RV Park, part of what remains of John Wayne’s 60,000 acre ranch, about twenty miles from Casa Grande, and took a good walk in the desert. The area there is some sort of ‘highway’ that the Mexicans use to sneak in to the States, so it is littered, here and there, with discarded backpacks, blankets, tins and water bottles.

Pictured is a weird old Saguaro Cactus in the desert behind the John Wayne RV Park.

The next day it had warmed up considerably so we decided to back track a little to Coolidge, nearer Tucson, so that we could explore that area a little further. We settled in at the Indian Skies RV Resort in Coolidge. After washing all the grime from the Texas/New Mexico storms off of the truck and trailer, we went went to visit the Casa Grande National Monument, pictured below. In the 13th century the Hohokam Indians built North America's first highrises.

Back at the park we went for a swim in the eighty-six degree pool. The air temperature was only in the mid-sixties so the pool felt pretty warm.

We might stay here for a few days because the park has lots of amenities and it’s close to some more ruins, and just a half hour from Tucson. We'd also like to return to Picacho Peak, pictured earlier, because we've learned that there is a trail to the peak.


  1. I love the area you are now enjoying. Do stay and enjoy some warmth. Earlier this winter, I too had to thaw a tap with my heating pad! It worked very well. Thanks for the update, I love travelling with you. hugs, cuz ljc.

  2. Aloha,
    Did you hear we broke a record for HIGH TEMP. the other day?
    It got to 16 deg. at the airport. today is 7 deg. and wet.
    Love the adobe style buildings. Booked for AR. end of Feb.