Monthly Archives: December 2015

MORE FAMILY…

December, 2015

We visited Tombstone, Arizona, the town “too tough to die”

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When you arrive at the representative street of “old Tombstone”, you can still see cowboys chatting in the street, and busking on the sidewalks.

Tombstone, although it was  a booming silver mining town, is best remembered  for the Earp family, and as the town where the gunfight broke out at the OK corral.

These are the Earp boys, Wyatt, Morgan, Virgil, Warren, and James.

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But the most famous Earp is Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp, who  was born March 19, 1848, and died January 13, 1929.

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Earp lived a restless life. He was at different times in his life a constable, city policeman, county sheriff, Deputy U.S. Marshal, teamster, buffalo hunter, bouncer, saloon-keeper, gambler, brothel owner, pimp, miner, and boxing referee.  But I suppose he is is best known as the fearless frontier lawman of Wichita and Dodge City, Kansas.  While in Wichita, he met and became lifelong friends with Bat Masterson and Doc Holliday, as well as earning his reputation as a lawman and notable gambler.  Hearing about the silver boom in Tombstone, he convinced several of his brothers, and their wives, to accompany him west.

In Tombstone, though he spent most of his time gambling, he assisted his brother Virgil in keeping the law. A feud developed between the Earp brothers and a gang led by Ike Clanton.  This feud culminated in the best known gun-fight in western folklore Рthe Gunfight at the OK Corral. Three of the Clanton gang were killed, while Ike and another wounded member escaped. The three Earp brothers РVirgil, Wyatt and Morgan Рalong with Doc Holliday- survived. Wyatt is often regarded as the main figure in the shootout in Tombstone, although his brother Virgil was Tombstone city marshal and Deputy U.S. Marshal that day.

Although not a true family member, ¬†“Doc” Holliday and Wyatt Earp were friends, as close as brothers, because “Doc” once saved Wyatt”s life.

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Dr. John Henry Holliday began his career as a Dentist in the 1870’s. After discovering he had tuberculosis, ¬†no one would visit his practice for fear that he might break into a ¬†cough, and contaminate them. “Doc” decided to go west, because. the doctors had told him that the drier air of the west would be good for his disease.

After discovering his natural instincts for the game of poker and gunslinging, he had found a new way to live. ¬†Gambling in the west was nothing to mess with, so Doc carried a six gun on his hip and one on his shoulder along with a knife. He used them all skillfully, and at will. Because of his unusual “lifestyle”, he often found himself in jail. ¬†Doc ran into a Lady friend with whom he had on and off affairs throughout his life, Mary K. Cummings. ¬†On one occasion, “Big Nose” Kate broke him out of jail. He felt he owed her for all of her help. So, he married her. (I had to put that in because I just love her nickname).

Doc often ran into people that wanted to prove themselves by taking him down. The price on his head was large and he carried a big reputation. ¬†Always friends, Doc accompanied Wyatt at the OK Corral shoot-out. ¬†Wyatt said of Doc, “He was the most skillful gambler and the nerviest, fastest, deadliest man with a six-gun I ever saw.”

The famous Earp family has been long gone, but you can still feel them walking down the streets of Tombstone.

About 47 years ago, my cousin Joyce and I drove across country. ¬†(that’s¬†an adventure story for another time). ¬†We did hit Tombstone, and ¬†may I say that it has changed greatly. ¬†I won’t make a judgement, I’ll leave that for you to do when you visit¬† There are several shootout re-enactments every day at specific times, but we made the decision not to attend. ¬†We did have a sarsaparilla at the Crystal Palace – which was delicious, ¬†and checked out the OK corral.

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Thankfully, Tombstone has more to offer than the kitsch of an old mining town, check out the rest of Tombstone…

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Fabulous, right?  Makes it all worthwhile !

NOTE: ¬†If you want more information, Google Tombstone, or watch the movie “Tombstone”, with Kurt Russell as Wyatt, and Sam Elliot as Virgil.

ANOTHER NOTE:  Sam Elliot was born to play a cowboy Рany cowboy.

FINAL NOTE:  If interested, please see review of Tombstone RV Park.

NOT THE EARPS, NOT GAMBLERS OR GUNSLINGERS, BUT STILL FAMILY

While here in Amado, Arizona, we got a chance to meet my daughter-in-law Liz’s Dad, Paul, and his wife, Del, for the first time. ¬†Paul is a retired policeman from California, who gives great “bear hugs”, and loves to golf, ¬†and Del is a well-regarded artist, whose paintings are spectacular.

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They’re really nice people with wonderful senses of humor, and so we met again for dinner at Tubac Jacks. ¬†Hopefully, we’ll see them again before we leave this part of the state.

 

HOLIDAYS

December 24, 2015

Hi Everyone,

This will be our first Christmas alone, without family. ¬†I’m sure it will be strange, but it’s a decision we’ve made. ¬†We’re headed to the desert, and then off to the beaches in Mexico. ¬†If it’s too lonely, we’ll make sure that we’ll be home next year. In the meantime, we hope that your Christmas is wondrous, and your New Year is nothing but joyful and peaceful.

 

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                  MERRY CHRISTMAS

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                       HAPPY NEW YEAR

 

                          LOVE,

                                  Janet and Tim

 

 

DADDY, YOU’VE STILL GOT IT

December 19, 2015

Last night we went to the Desert Diamond Casino to see JOHHNY RIVERS.

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Johnny Rivers

The casino is located near the town of Green Valley, Arizona. ¬†The median age in Green Valley is 70.8, ¬†and I guess that’s why the concert started at 6pm. ¬†Nonetheless, we thoroughly enjoyed it. ¬†For those of you who need a reminder, some of his greatest hits were “Secret Agent Man”, ¬†“The Mountain Of Love”, and my favorite, “Memphis”. ¬†I found a clip of Johnny when he played on Dick Clark’s Bandstand ¬†back in the day.

He’s quite a bit older now (aren’t we all), with gray hair and mustache. ¬†But the audience, who shared with him the color of his hair, were totally appreciative of his musicianship and his unique voice, ¬†still sounding the same. ¬†The¬†Teenyboppers Golden Girls still¬†rushed the stage. ¬†¬†In fact, here’s a picture of a few fans jamming and dancing stage-front. ¬†No security guards required.

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He told the audience that the band ¬†now call themselves “The Rocking Grand Daddies”. Someone in the audience yelled out, “You’ve still got it, Johnny”. ¬†I must say, I agree!

GRRR AND BRRR

December 15, 2015

The title says it all! ¬†Why grrr? ¬†Well, we came to the Arizona desert to be warm. ¬†We knew the temperature dipped at night. That’s ok, because it makes for great sleeping weather, right? ¬†BUT – brrrr – we had no water flow this morning because the water in the hose was frozen – as in solid. ¬†Can you believe it? ¬†Plus, Arizona was on national news this morning. ¬†On average, one of the coldest ¬†states in the nation – except for Alaska of course. ¬†See that 11 degree temp – that’s chilly!

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But we refuse to let a little cold (brrr) weather stop us. ¬†Today, we’re visiting –

SAUGUARO NATIONAL PARK

pronounced:     sa РWHA Рro

This is a beautiful desert park that pays homage to cacti Рspecifically THE SAGUARO.  Whenever you see a picture of the west,  a single cactus with a background of mountains, it is the iconic saguaro Рthe supreme symbol of the American Southwest.  Saguaro Park is actually divided in two, the west and the east,  with the city of Tucson between them.  The east is called the Rincon Mountain District, and the western half is called the Tucson Mountain District.  Essentially they are the same.

Just a few facts that I think are wildly interesting:

  1.  The Saguaro begins life as a shiny black seed the size of a pinhead.  One Saguaro produces tens of thousands of seeds in a year, and as many as 40 million in its 150 to 200 year lifespan.  This is quite a tree.
  2. It may measure 1/4 “ after one year (can you believe it?).
  3. After 15 years, it may be about 12″ tall.
  4. At about 30 years, they flower and produce fruit.
  5. By 50 years, they can be as tall as 7 feet.
  6. At 75 years, it may begin to sprout its first branches or “arms”. ¬†That means no arms, just one long trunk.
  7. By 100 years, they may reach 25 feet.
  8. Those that live 150 years, can go to 50 feet, and weigh 16,000 pounds, according to the National Park Service.
  9. The bloom of the Saguaro is the Arizona state lower.

A cluster of saguaros is called a stand (not a grove or forest).

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This one with four arms has to be about 75 years old (number 6 , above). ¬†The one that is just a trunk (to my left), is not old enough to grow “arms”.

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Another cool fact is that the holes you see in these large cactus are made by birds, pecking at the flesh, looking for a place to make a nest. ¬†Inside, these nests are 20 degrees warmer in the winter, and 20 degrees cooler in the summer. ¬†It is so wondrous to learn about ¬†the adaptations made by plants and animals to survive the extreme temperatures of the desert, ¬†Sorry it’s a bit fuzzy, I blew it way up so you can see the “holes”.

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NOTE:  I have seen only a few national parks, but it dawned on me today that the creation of the National Park System is brilliant.  Each park offers a beauty of its own, a topography and ecosystem particular to it.  They will allow future generations to know, understand and enjoy the diversity of the land that makes up this country, made possible by men and women who fought to preserve them.

It is our great fortune!

FAMILY AND CULTURE

 

December 10, 2015

BENNY

I haven’t seen my cousin Benny for about 47 years – yep – that’s a very very long time. ¬†My Dad and Ben’s Mom are brother and sister. I had sent him a note, asking if he would like to reconnect. ¬†He said “yes”, and dinner was on. ¬†When he and his spouse Bob walked into the restaurant, I knew him immediately even after so many years. ¬†We spent a delightful evening catching up a bit, and sharing some delicious Chinese food. ¬†If Tim and I get to Alaska this summer, it’s possible that they’ll join us for a few days. ¬†That would be crazy fun.

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Bob is on the left, yours truly in the center, and Benny, sporting a magnificent beard, on the right. ¬†If anyone out there is contemplating reconnecting with family – go for it! ¬†You’ll be so glad you did.

CABAZON POW WOW

Speaking of family, Tim and I¬†went to the Cabazon Indian PowWow. ¬†It was really something to see. ¬†The not-to-be-missed part is “the entrance”. ¬†Each family in the tribe enters the arena separately. ¬†They come in dancing, and bird singing, with drum circles playing. ¬†All are wearing their individual tribal dress – just beautiful! ¬†Take the time to watch this short video – I think you’ll enjoy it as much as we did. ¬†Click here:

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Just a few pics –¬† IMG_0621

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Sorry these pics are a little fuzzy, they were taken from quite a distance.

I do want to mention that during the opening prayer, the elder gave thanks for everything they have – all of their blessings. ¬†I couldn’t help but think about all that they lost – what was taken from them. ¬†I have great respect for the Cabazon tribe for keeping their traditions, passing them to the nest generation, and for sharing them with us.

INDIO  INTERNATIONAL TAMALE FESTIVAL

The town of Indio has a strong Hispanic presence. ¬†It wasn’t surprising that it hosted The International Tamale Festival. ¬†Of course, we spent the day –¬†¬†It was great! ¬†There were about 200 vendors, most of them selling tamales – both savory and sweet.IMG_4096

Tim and I ate a few tamales, and washed them down with a “horchata” – yum! ¬†and cerveza. There were amusement rides for the kids and lots of crafts vendors. ¬†For us, the best part of the day was the music. ¬†The festival had four different stages with great music. ¬† Our favorites were the Mariachi Tierra Mexicanos, and Flashback Boyz. ¬†The main attraction on the Amigo Stage was the AB Quintanilla & Kumbia Kings. (AB Quintanilla is Selena’s brother).

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The Mariachi Tierra Mexicanos

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Flashback Boyz – got the people up and dancing!

Over  the two day festival, thousands of people visited Рclearly enjoying a shared culture, and welcoming those of us who just love the food and the music.

JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK

December 4, 2015

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A visit to Joshua Tree National Park introduced us to a new kind of beauty – the desert. At 794,000 acres, it is larger than the state of Rhode Island.

Deserts don’t have firm boundaries. ¬†Much of JoshuaTree lies in an overlap between the Colorado and Mojave Deserts called the transition zone. ¬†Hundreds of species of life lives here, that have adapted to conserve moisture and beat the heat.

The topography is desert beautiful.  But to really enjoy it, you have to look a little closer than you do when looking  at large, obvious features.  The Mojave Desert is 3,000 feet above sea level, and that is where the wild-armed Joshua Tree grows.

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The Joshua Tree isn’t really a tree at all, but a species of yucca. ¬†Once you drive into the Colorado Desert portion of the park, which is below 3,000 feet, the Joshua trees abruptly stop, and different flora take over.

There is a Cholla Cactus Garden. ¬†Be wary of the ¬†“jumping” cholla. ¬†They have a tendency to “jump” and attach themselves to the unsuspecting. ¬†Ouch!

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You will also find  an Ocotillo Patch.

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Ocotillo are one of the most fascinating plants on the planet. ¬†Although it is covered in thorns, it is not a cactus. ¬†Those thorns are actually leaves, quite possibly unique in the entire plant kingdom. ¬† It’s a tall, deciduous woody shrub that¬†only grows¬†below 3,000 feet in the desert.

There are crazy rock formations throughout,

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and beautiful vistas.

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You must pay close attention in Joshua Tree Рthe subtle differences mean life or death to the species that inhabit the area.  Breathtaking beauty!

BONUS: ADDITIONAL DESERT WANDERINGS 

On our way to Borrego Springs, and the Anza-Borrego Desert we passed what must have been at least a thousand RVs, scattered in groups throughout the desert, in canyons. ¬†Each of them brought one to several ATVs. ¬†They had “circled the wagons”, and it was clear that they planned on spending the night, perhaps the weekend. ¬†We figured it must have been a rally. ¬†Tim and I are constantly intrigued by what we like to call “subsets of people”. ¬†People with probably hundreds of different interests, get together for enjoyment. ¬†Anyway, we called this group the ATV people (I know, not so clever). ¬†We captured a few pictures of one of these groups. We saw large groups just like the one below, across miles and miles of desert.

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If you look very closely, you can see two ATVs at the bottom of the canyon (or not). ¬†I would be afraid to drive from the bottom to the top of this terrain, but they were doing it – “for fun”.

We arrived at the tiny town of Borrega Springs. ¬†It is a delightful little town with one giant attraction. ¬†An installation artist named Ricardo Beceda, has ¬†created 130 metal sculptures in the Anza-Borrego Desert. ¬†Each of the sculptures comes to life because they are created “in motion”. ¬†The artworks range from prehistoric mammals to historical characters, fanciful objects, and a 350-foot-long serpent, whose tail extends from one side of the street to the other. ¬†If you visit, use a 4-wheel drive vehicle. ¬†Some of the sculptures can be seen from the road, but for some, you have to wend your way through desert tracts – ¬†so much fun!

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Wow – these guys are huge!

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Make this a part of your traveling adventure. ¬†You won’t be disappointed. ¬†It is well with the trek.