Saturday, December 29, 2012

Tombstone Road Trip ~ Jerome to Tombstone ~ Nov 7-8, 2012

Nov 7th ~ After breakfast in Jerome we head down the mountain to Cottonwood and pick up Hwy 260 east through Camp Verde to Payson where we stopped for lunch. From there it's southeast on Hwy 188 to Jakes Corner and Lake Roosevelt. We're just picking the roads as we go. There is little traffic, most of the world is in too much of a damn hurry to explore these old highways. A boon for those of us who prefer roads less traveled. It's about 80 degrees, perfect for driving with the windows down. 
 Hwy 188

Roosevelt Lake Bridge
Down near Globe, we turn south onto Hwy 77 and head for the Oro Valley just north of Tucson to spend the night. We got in about sunset and found a Quality Inn with a kitchenette. Rather than cook we headed to Whole Foods for provisions: vegetable samosas, stuffed baked potato, fresh salad (with some of our sun gold tomatoes added in) and green beans for dinner and croissants, yogurt, and juice for breakfast. I can say two things about the Oro Valley. They have beautiful sunsets and the most poorly designed thoroughfares ever. We decided not to leave until the morning commute was well over.

Nov 8th ~ Destination Tombstone today. We pick up Interstate 10 in Tucson and head east to Hwy 80 south. First stop is the Singing Winds Bookstore, about 4 miles north of Benson. Our friend Heather said it's a must.

The bookstore is on a 600 acre ranch, down a dirt road past an encampment of old trailers and broken cars. Owner Winn Bundy opened the shop in 1974 to fulfill a long time dream. It was still a working cattle ranch at the time. She told us she spent $600, that was supposed to pay a vet bill, on her first books and never looked back. She is in her 90's but is as vibrant a woman as I've ever met. Word of mouth has kept this wondrous outpost in business for over 30 years. Folks come from all over the country and return often. There no road signs but for the one on the driveway.

The shop is a floor to ceiling maze of new books with the haphazard character of a used bookshop. Half the fun is the (absolutely essential) tour of the eccentric bibliographic arrangement. Winn or her assistant reel off a litany of subjects pointing to the unlabeled shelves with collections on ghost towns, guidebooks, mining, geology, westerns, Indians of the Southwest, Indians outside the Southwest, Indian rock art, sculpture and archaeology to name only a few. They don't accept credit cards so bring cash. Her tiny desk is topped with a calculator and carbon paper for hand written receipts. Change is kept in small containers in a drawer. Rod found a book called "Indian Herbalogy of North America" to add to our collection.

It was hard to leave, but it was time to have lunch and head for Tombstone. We found the Horseshoe Cafe on the way through Benson. We liked the mural on the side of the building and the parking lot was full, reason enough for us to stop and we weren't disappointed.

We got into Tombstone around 4pm under crystal clear skies and gathering clouds. Our home away from home the next four days is the Tombstone Bordello. Considering we were married at the Gold Hill Hotel, the oldest "working" hotel in Nevada (near Virginia City), it's reasonable for us to be drawn to a former bordello. This is the sunset view from our upstairs window.

We unpacked and decided on a walk into downtown.  We wandered down to the end of a side street that had mine tours and a little outside bar at the back of an old industrial building. We chatted with Cary Grainger, who runs the mine tours. When his family moved from Vermont to Utah he fell in love with rocks. His parents retired here in an RV and he soon followed. We told him we were here to find out about my great grandfather and he told us we had to talk to Nancy Sosa at the Tombstone Archives at 6th and Fremont. Best advice ever!

The other reason we're in Tombstone is to meet up with my 93 year old aunt Betty. She and her husband Bob are on a Historical Wild West bus tour. She is my link to my grandfather John Sherman Bagg and my great grandfather Stanley Chipman Bagg. We weren't expecting them until evening, but when we drove uptown for dinner we saw the bus at their hotel. We helped them get settled in and had dinner together at the Longhorn. Long day for all of us so early to bed. Tomorrow we explore Tombstone and visit the town archivist.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Tombstone Road Trip ~ Laughlin to Jerome ~ Nov 6, 2012

Election Day ~ We voted by absentee ballot before we left home so all we can do is wait and see. We didn't need to be in Tombstone until the 8th and had no desire to drive through the Phoenix area so we continue to scout blue highways and head east on Hwy 40 towards Kingman and Flagstaff before heading south.

When it was time for lunch we took a random turn onto old Hwy 66. The first thing we see in Seligman is the Road Kill Cafe. No way we can pass this up so we pulled in. The interior decor and signage is a feast for the eyes and the food delicious. Check out the menu at

Imagine our surprise to see one of our Sonoma County wines on the sideboard.

We turned south just west of Flagstaff onto Hwy 89 through Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona. It's an incredibly beautiful drive.

We pulled into Slide Rock Park just north of Sedona for short break. The sandstone has been etched by eons of water passing down the canyon, which made for easy walking and inviting pools.

Mom and Dad lived in Sedona in the early 70's when it was still an undiscovered artists colony. We thought about spending the night until we got there. It was like was like a mile long, high class strip mall with gridlock. I took one look at Rod and said "keep going, we'll head for Jerome".

Jerome is a little copper mining town that resides on a steep hillside at an elevation of 5,000 feet. The roads are all like Lombard Street in San Francisco. It went from boom town, to ghost town, to biker haven, to hippie heaven to a thriving arts community. A delightful place to explore.

On a whim we decided to stay at the historic Connor Hotel. No elevator and two flights of stairs. No way we're going to haul our suitcases in so our solution is pack one grocery bag of clothes, and one with the ditty, camera, and a few other necessities. Delightful room with a king bed and period decor.

The owner suggested dinner at the 15 Quince Grill and Cantina. We shared plates of chicken tacos and salsas/chips. Five stars in our book. We ended the day with an evening of acoustic music at the Spirit Bar next door to the hotel.

After packing up we walked down to Bobby D's BBQ Pit at the English Kitchen for a most excellent breakfast, outdoors on the deck. Their potato hash is worth a drive to Jerome! After breakfast we stretched our legs a bit with a walk about town and then headed out, making up our game plan as we went. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Laughlin, NV ~ Nov 04-05, 2012

The adventure continues with the drive from Bakersfield to Laughlin. This is your quintessential wide open spaces drive with a spider web of blue highways and roads less travelled. We took Hwy 58 east to Hwy 40 east to Hwy 95 north.

We went from hill county covered in valley oaks to an autumn desert that was more colorful than expected: green, tan and gold with soils of black, red, gray, and ochre. It was sunny and warm with very little traffic.

Arrived in Laughlin in the late afternoon, tossed our stuff in the room at the Aquarius Hotel and took a walk on the Promenade along the Colorado River. We had a light dinner, spent a little time in the casino and called it an early night.

Monday morning after breakfast we took off to find the Katherine Mine. It was discovered by my grandfather John Sherman Bagg. He worked as a teamster hauling ore from the Sheepstrails Mine to their mill down along the Colorado River. The road took him past a solitary granite knob protruding from a flat gravel plain. One day he decided to pan some samples and in September 1900 he staked his claim and named it the Catherine Mine (original spelling) after his sister.

John Sherman Bagg

He mined about 2,000 tons of ore from the Katherine between 1900-1903. The mine was leased out in 1903 and an unknown amount of ore was removed before the it was closed in 1904 and sold to the Arizona Pyramid Mining Company. He sold the mine so that he could pursue a degree in mine engineering. He attended Claremont College and then UC Berkeley where he met my grandmother Hazel Hobson (more on them later).

The young ranger at Lake Mojave Park didn't have a clue about the location of the mine, but after a little exploring we found an obscure sign at one of the landings.

A large area of tailings from the mine is closed off by chain link fence for safety reasons (Our guess maybe 1/5 mile wide and 4/5 mile long). In the early days cyanide and other hazardous chemicals were used for gold extraction. We could see the remains of at least four coffer dams. Satellite imagery from Google Earth is quite impressive. We parked and followed the fence line up the hill and found the ruins of the mine. Pretty amazing to touch a piece of your history.

Then and now

I didn't realize until I saw both photos side by side, but if you look at the mountains in the distance, you can see the line of sight is almost the same. You can see a portion of the tailings out past the remaining foundations of mine buildings. In the distance you can see Lake Mojave, which was at the time, the Colorado River before Davis Dam was built.

One of the mine entrances, long since filled in for safety reasons.

More research will be needed for these large pipes, they were either for pumping water and slurry out of the mines or for the tanks holding the processing chemicals.

On a whim I called the Colorado River Museum in Bullhead City, AZ. We had stopped by but they are closed Sundays and Mondays. I talked with Vicki and told her who I was and what I was researching. She also gave me her phone and told me to call next time we were in the area and she'd open up for us. They have articles and photos including one of author, Louis L'Amour, sitting on the steps of the bunkhouse at the mine. The historic documents are not yet digitized but the project is in the works.

In correspondence with L'Amour's grandson, Beau, I found out that Louis never wrote specifically of the Katherine Mine, but it is mentioned in his book, The Education of a Wandering Man. Guess I'm going to have to find a copy of that one!

Each door I open provides more trails to follow and kindred spirits along the way. I'm beginning to understand the love of the chase. Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Happy Birthday Girl ~ Dec 15, 2012

Friendship ~ Adventures ~ Laughter
Partners in Crime

Reno 2009

We had so much more trouble to get into!
Miss you every day

Monday, December 10, 2012

Oh Well Part III ~ Dec 10, 2012

It's Always Something 101 ~ We needed a higher guage wire for the new well, a submersible pump draws more energy than a jet pump and we want to keep both wells active. The current wiring from the house was not in a conduit, so we couldn't simply pull new wire. We really didn't want to trench across the existing waterlines, french drain, septic tight line or PG&E gas lines. Looking for an alternative Simon, our eletrical guru, suggested we to drop a line from the PG&E pole on the east end of our property (closer to the well than the house) to a new pole nearby and then run conduit underground to the wells.

Seemed like a great idea until we met with the PG&E representative. It was going to cost $5,000 ($2,000 due immediately) for all their departments to get involved assessing and surveying scenarios. Oh and by the way the process would take at least 8-12 weeks. Say what? Totally unreasonable. It's not good to let a newly drilled well sit for a long period of time without pumping water and we all felt the cost was excessive. So it was back to square one. Simon gave us a great bid for trenching, conduit, wiring and (as long as we're in there) new waterlines from house to the wells.

Some wise soul once said timing is everything and Well Week was no exception. In between "heavy rains, high wind, and deluge" days, the work got done. A few hitches along the way: water lines where we didn't expect them, the septic tight line a little to the left of the site drawings, but  breaches expertly repaired.

Cliff from Weeks tied up the project last week. The old well is dedicated to our large vegetable and flower garden, the new one gives us options for house and/or gardens. Rod went out to fill up the bird baths in back of my studio this morning and came back in with a big grin on his face. One turn of the faucet and the stream reached our blue spruce which is about 25 feet from the patio. Ah, simple pleasures!

Going to blow this picture up, print it and mark a road map of what goes where on it before we wrap the pipes and/or forget what he told us.

New well, electrics and water lines $18K ~ Customer Service Priceless!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wednesday Wonders ~ Dec 5, 2012

Stormy weather has kept skies grey, but our Liquid Amber tree continues to defy the monochromatic heaviness. PS: Stayed tuned for more on the great Arizona adventure. Our craft fair season is over this weekend and I'll have more time to research and write. Every time I uncover one piece of information it leads to another.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Intrepid Hunter ~ Nov 28, 2012

Meet our neighbor "Mister" a dark shadow with golden eyes. Much to our delight he likes hunting for gophers in our south forty.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Cosmic Cowgirl ~ Nov 23, 2012

She rides the great wide open
On a steed of love's devotion
It could be in the Rockies today
Or a beach along the ocean

Martini in hand, friends at her side
Perhaps tonight it's a musical ride
Tom, Ray Wylie, Thad or Fred
By campfire, small barn or train instead

We shared the venues, road trips and scenes
The decadent desserts at Roxy's
With sliced almonds and whipped cream

Emandal Farm

Trisha crossed all our paths in different ways
Leaving none of us the same
Her truth was simple
Her philosophy never changed

Follow your heart
Jump in with both feet
Say what you mean
And follow your dreams

The posse remains ever true
You're always at our side
For laughter and lift me ups
And of course the occasional
Kicks in the butt

Life goes on
We add years and miles
And no doubt we'd all give anything
For just another smile

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tombstone Road Trip ~ Off with a Bang ~ Nov 3, 2012

The first stop on our road trip to Tombstone, AZ was the annual BABE (Bay Area Bead Extravaganza) show in Oakland. I wasn't going to go this year, but decided to at the last minute since we had to drive right by there on Hwy 580 to get to Interstate 5 (read Justification Shuffle). We had reservations at a hotel in Bakersfield for our first night out, so we had plenty of time to get there before dark ~ or so we thought.

Just north of Novato, we hear a loud bang that shook car. WTF? There were no objects in sight and it didn't seem to affect drivability so we continued to Oakland for lunch and a little bead therapy. I found this amazing borosilicate glass bead set, by Colorado artist Harold Cooney. I was so drawn to the colors, Rod just pulled out the cash and said do it. He's fun to shop with.

When we left the Marriott with the windows down we started hearing some grinding and rasping. We're about to take off on a 2,200 mile road trip so our friend Common Sense says "Okay it's time to take the Jeep home". Once there Rod grabbed the rear driver side wheel and pushed and pulled, nothing, but on the right side it clanked and had about an inch of play. Considering the axles were just replaced I didn't know what to think except that going to the bead show was a good move ~ justified.

I wasn't going to bother my mechanic until we returned so we just did a Hail Mary and threw everything in the Honda CRV. Because my Jeep is a big loud V-8 our neighbor heard us come home and wondered what was up. Andrea is always amazed that this kind of adversity never seems to phase us. Our take is that "it is what it is and there's no sense in getting upset." My only concern was getting to Bakersfield after dark, she looked at me and smiled "but that's the best way to see it" and sent us on our way.

No way we were to face Oakland again so we took Hwy 37 and went out through Martinez to 680 to 580 to I5. I can see why our friends like I5 when headed south. It's wide open country, with far fewer idiots than most freeways closer to civilization. When we stopped for a late lunch, we found out that Kern County produces 76% of the state's oil and is 3rd in all counties in US in agricultural production. Who knew? We made to Bakersfield in good time: great room, comfy bed and a freshly made to order breakfast at the hotel in the morning. Deep breath, we're on vacation.

Sunday Morning Along Hwy 58

Sunday morning we made a left off of I5 and head east on Hwy 58, to I40 and Laughlin, NV. We'll spend a couple of days there to try and locate my grandfather's gold mine near Lake Mojave.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Oh Well Part Deux ~ Nov 2, 2012

When Drake and Tim returned to work Monday, they found that a portion of the hole had collapsed so they had to re-drill a section, but we're at 240" as promised and we have water. By early afternoon the solid and perforated 5" PVC casing was installed and the hole back filled up to the 50 ft level with Monterey sand. A sanitary seal was then installed, to keep groundwater out of the well. The remaining section of hole was back filled with a cement and bentonite mix to ground level.

Once that was done they mixed and poured a small pad to protect the well head, the old fashioned way ~ with manpower.

The pump, pressure tank and plumbing will be installed November 26th. Since we wanted to keep the old well functioning we'll have to upgrade the wiring which now comes from the house. It's not in conduit and this would mean trenching across the road, the PGE gas line and our septic line to the leach field. Not what we'd call an option. It was decided the more economical way to go is to bring electricity from the PGE pole at far edge of our property (nearer the well) and run the line underground to the well head. We're waiting for a quote which will no doubt show up while we're gone.

Watching them jockey this rig and the drill rig around the sloped pasture,  fenced garden areas, compost piles, leach field and trees was worth the price of admission on Monday. Timing is everything, it started raining Tuesday.

What is really interesting is that our old well, which has been shutting down nightly due to the draw from the back flush of the filter system, has not shut down since two days after they started drilling. Maybe they shook the troll loose?

Well (pun intended) we're off tomorrow for a ten day adventure to Arizona. We're looking forward to seeing some new territory, doing some star gazing in the great wide open and looking into a little family history.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Walkabout ~ October 27, 2012

I'd been on the computer for most of the morning and decided some exercise was in order, so I grabbed my camera and headed out for a circuit around the vineyard next door. Temperature in the mid 70's and color everywhere. Hard to believe it's almost November.  

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Oh Well ~ October 26, 2012

What are the three things a homeowner doesn't want to hear?

  1. You need a new roof
  2. Your septic system is shot
  3. You really should replace your well
I don't know if the proper word is "fortunate" but we do have the first two covered; the roof is in good shape and the entire septic system and leach field was replaced in 2006. Thank the goddesses for home equity.

We recently did the annual filter change on the house water system(Sebastopol well water is famous for bacterial iron). The increase in the volume of water to back flush the filter tank started shutting down the well on a nightly basis. After three years the jet pump, 100' down the well, is no doubt once again clogged with iron and manganese. The well cannot recharge fast enough to keep pressure tank at optimum levels.

The new morning ritual of walking down to the well to restart it and picking up the paper on the way back up to the house wasn't an ideal long term solution, especially with winter approaching. What are the options? 

  • Pull up and replace 200' of piping and the jet pump to the tune of about $1,000 ~ assuming that is the only problem
  • Install a water storage tank $6,700
  • Replace well estimated cost $17,000 and be done with it

The first and second choices are less expensive, quick fixes with no guarantees. The well is 60 years old and the stability of the old iron casing had to be part of the equation. Technology has changed dramatically in the last several decades so we decided to replace the well. The old one is still operational and we'll use it for the drip system in the vegetable garden.

The arrival of all the equipment, logistics of getting into place, and the process itself has been quite entertaining for the troops up here around our little compound. The sand chairs atop one of the compost piles provide prime viewing.

Set Up

Day Two

Weeks Well and Pump has been drilling for two days and will probably finish up on Monday. The old well is 240' so we'll go down to the same depth. All the tailings and slurry must stay on site so they built an earthen dam behind the garden for the water, soil, and sand, all of which is non-toxic.

Our neighbor, Engineer Mike, mused that it was too bad we couldn't find the Mother of all Gopher Dens and pump the slurry underground. Visions of cartoon tunnels and herds of gophers leaving town put a smile on all of our faces.

I walked down to the "wash" just before sunset and was fascinated by the colors, shadows and small tracks that already ran across the face. Stay tuned for Chapter Two.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ethereal Beauty ~ Oct 25, 2012

We just got back from a short jaunt up to Butte County to see my Aunt Betty and her husband Bob. They are 93 and 95 respectively and delightful company. We went up to tag along when they met with an attorney to update their trust.

The four of us are heading out for a more entertaining adventure on November 5th. They're taking the Land of Legends, Wild, Wild West bus tour through historic sites in Arizona and we're going to meet up to spend a couple of days exploring and looking into family history.

The trip took us through Lake County via Hwy 20 and we saw a lot of the damage caused by recent lightning fires. The ground and brush are burned away, and though the trees are burned their leaves remain. It created a rather other worldly vision in the changing light of a passing storm, an ethereal beauty hard to describe.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday Coloring Book ~ Oct 21, 2012

Rumor has it we're going to get rain tonight so we decided to take a walk at Riverfront Park just outside of Windsor. Got some good exercise, a few photos, and checked out bass fishing possibilities. Rod is now, after all, a gentleman of leisure, a fledgling retiree, and elder of the hood (well besides me). He's looking forward to some uncommited time and then will start scouting out volunteering opportunities. He's seen how much I enjoy my two days a week at the Legacy Shop Annex in Sebastopol.

Chicory Blossom