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Saturday, December 5, 2020

And Now, at Last, the Post You’ve Been Waiting For

“We want adventure! We want adventure! We want new Western scenes!” 


Well, you have all been very patient with me the last two and a half weeks. I went on a trail ride and only gave you a single photo of the horse I rode, with no details of the ride! How could I? Finally now, the Artist and I explored a new-to-us mountain road, and I have the pictures to prove it. 


If you remember last year’s expeditions along Turkey Creek, that should give you a point of reference. We begin south of Chiricahua National Monument, and at the relevant intersection we go straight ahead instead of turning left (east) to Turkey Creek. 

Back in Leelanau County, Michigan, an unpaved road not regularly maintained by the county is called a “seasonal road.” Here in Cochise County, Arizona, they are known as “primitive.” By either name, they spell roads less travelled, and the signs advising us to “Watch for Animals” are entirely unnecessary in my case. Might we see a mountain lion today?


Along with all the other troubles and woes of the year 2020, the summer monsoons never arrived in southeast Arizona. Creeks and washes are dry, as are many of the seasonal ponds we have enjoyed seeing in previous years. The rocky streambed above is an example, but every wash and streambed we crossed, whether by “fording” (is it called that if there’s no water?) or bridge, was the same. It makes me hope for a very snowy winter in the weeks ahead.

Old, tall trees, however, have deep roots, and these giants tell us of a sometime-watercourse before we see the sign. The Kuykendall Cutoff and Rucker Canyon Road have many one-lane bridges, but we encountered only two other vehicles all day and were nowhere near a bridge when we had to squeeze past one another. 

Another dry wash

Oh, the trees, the glorious trees! It isn’t so much Michigan lakes that I miss in Dos Cabezas but trees, and the happy note on that is that all we have to do is drive up higher into the mountains to find them. Aspen, sycamore, pines, junipers, and beautiful, beautiful spreading oaks!

We are climbing now. And as we climb, we begin to get the misty blue long views, looking through peaks to the San Simon Valley that lies to the east of the Chiricahua range. Below is my favorite photograph of the day -- I think....

Although looking back is also beautiful….

Another cattle guard

I see the cattle guards differently since my trail ride earlier in the week. Now I note that gate to the side of the road, a gate to be opened by a rider on horseback or by someone driving cattle through, as the animals cannot pass over the cattle guard (this is their whole point) as can wheeled vehicles. I like the thought, and every time we come to a cattle guard, I cast a fond glance at the gate to the side.


Besides the long mountain views and tree-lined streambeds, the Artist and I like the stretches of open, savannah-like ground dotted with trees. It looks African, we think (though neither of us has ever been to Africa), as our road opens out before us.

“This would be a great place to shoot a Western,” the Artist observes. “No gawking crowds getting in the way.” 


At last we descend to the San Simon Valley (from about 7,000 feet above sea level to maybe 4500), and what to my wondering eyes should appear? Horses!

And beautiful cattle! 

We had been "somewhere else" and were not home yet, by a long shot.


There were more mountains to view up close as we made our way north through the edge of New Mexico to the expressway and a long ride home into the sunset. Just now, however, we were back on pavement – and sharing the road with enormous trucks, so the sense of discovery was quickly dispelled. 


The truth is that we hadn’t planned an adventure when we set out in the morning, and while I always make sure to have a bottle of water in the car, we had nothing else. No sandwiches, no granola bars, not even an apple or a carrot. Also, back at the cabin, when I looked online for Rucker Canyon, I learned that we had, somehow, completely missed seeing old Camp Rucker itself! Maybe if we’d taken that left-hand road with the sign that read DEAD END? Anyway, further adventures await. Not only Camp Rucker but maybe – if I can screw up my courage and if we don’t get snow too soon – Pinery Canyon and Onion Saddle itself! Stay tuned to find out --.


Meanwhile, back in the ghost town I repotted my Christmas cactus and followed the advice of blogger friend Cheri, out in Eastport, Maine, for rooting cuttings to make more plants. Cheri wrote such a touching post about my Sarah the other day, it caught me completely off-guard and made me cry again. But we do pull up our socks and go on, don’t we?



Dawn said...

That was a very nice adventure. I have done that so many times, found myself on an adventure when I wasn't prepared and ended up soooo hungry! Good thing you at least had water! I love the photo of the yuca plant and the valley too.

P. J. Grath said...

Then today (Sunday) we went with apples and granola bars and came home without even breaking into the snack bag! But it is better to be prepared, and water is a necessity.

I think it's the photo of the century plant you like? I posted that photo on the Facebook page for Cochise County and Its Wonders and was surprised and honored when the site administrator used it today as the cover photo for the site. For the difference between yucca and agave, though, see

Jeanie Furlan said...

Horses! The Wild West! And YOU!! I loved these photos - so different with the trees, as you said. You captured some really nice views of the high country of the 🌵 desert. So I hope you get back out and see that Camp Rucker. Did you ride horses part of the trail? DO send more of your adventure outings! It’s so nice to see nature rather than our city, although we do have beautiful views from the 20th floor. They just opened the big park, Ibirapuera Park, so we’re going there this week. 🌳 Trees galore!

P. J. Grath said...

Jeanie, I didn't ride a horse on this adventure, but I kept thinking what great country it would be to ride through. That's really the way to see it, I think. The next adventure I'll be posting was very close to home, but I think you will enjoy sights featuring beautiful sandhill cranes, too.