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.