Thursday, November 12, 2015

Arizona and an incredible hike

We decided after seeing Walker in Artesia we would head over to the Tombstone area.  We hadn't been there for quite awhile and figured it would be fun.  So first stop along the way was Las Cruces with a planned dinner at La Posta, a very old and famous restaurant in nearby Mesilla.  But, when we had dinner with Wendy, Gordon, Nancy, and CT, Wendy mentioned we had to go to Chope's in La Mesa.  So after getting into our incredible view site at the KOA in Las Cruces, off we headed for Chope's 18 miles away, and what do we find?  It is closed on Sunday night, darn, so back we go and have dinner at La Posta.  Oh well, next time.
Coming through White Sands

Big dunes

Our view out our front window in Las Cruces!
We were going to stay at a campground near Tombstone, but decided to stay at the Kartchner Caverns State Park near Benson, AZ instead.  No we didn't go into the cave, Jan does not do that, and she puts up with my fear of heights so it's only fair.  But the campground was very nice, huge private sites, great views, good location, quiet, and dark.
Our site at Kartchner Caverns
While we were here we wanted to go walk around Bisbee and Tombstone, stop at the Wizard, do a hike, and chill.  This is one of the areas we used to visit 15 years ago.  Jan's parents, Vern and Viv used to spend winters in the Tuscon area, and Ray and April, and Jan and I came out in our motorhomes to visit them and see the area.  We came back later with Nancy and CT in 2005 on our way to Alaska for our first time.  

We drove out through the desert headed for Bisbee, a quirky little town that was known for its mining.  First we stumbled upon a fantastic lunch at Thuy's Noodle Shop.  A tiny excellent Vietnamese restaurant that only seated maybe 10 people.
Our lunch stop

Wonderful Beef Pho

Excellent pork Banh Mi
Then we took off on foot to explore.  It is a quirky, artsy, small mining town of 5700 people that is built on quite a hillside, so almost anywhere to anywhere is uphill and down.  There is artwork all over, but we weren't that enthused, nothing definite, just a feeling with many homeless people mixed in with the hippy vibe.  Kind of cool but we didn't find it that inviting.
The huge Copper Queen Mine that operated until 1975

The Copper Queen Hotel

Looking up Main St
So after an hour or so we were ready to move on to Tombstone, always a good visit.  15 years ago Viv, Jan's mom, took us to a jewelry store in Tombstone called Wizard's Workshop that makes its own jewelry from stones they have mined.  It is an interesting place with the two friendly and knowledgable owners, and Viv had many pieces made there over the years, and the daughters all got some of it.  Jan even had them make a few pieces for her, so we wondered if they would still be open and thriving 10 years since our last visit, and they were.  We had a nice visit, even bought a pretty bracelet and then ran into a friend of theirs, Janice Davis, amazing name, huh, who writes for the Tombstone Times, the local newspaper.  We talked about traveling and our full time RV lifestyle and she asked if we had been to the Chiricahua National Monument?  We said no, and she asked if we liked to hike, and if we did there was a wonderful hike there in very unusual and scenic surroundings.  She was so enthusiastic about it, we decided to change our plans for the next day and do that hike instead of one we were planning to do out of the State Park.  We left the store and then walked around Tombstone for a bit.  It was very quiet, between seasons right now, but it was fun to remember so many good times we had all had while there, especially the night Viv went singing and dancing at Big Nose Kate's Saloon! 

The quiet streets of Tombstone

Chiricahua National Monument was a long 85 miles away, but I will tell you, it was worth it!  It turned out to be probably our favorite hike we have ever taken, certainly in the top 3.  We found the pull off area for the Echo Canyon hike after an amazing winding ride up into the hills through incredible scenery of rocks seemingly just propped up on each other.
Driving into the Monument
The loop trail is 3.3 miles long and climbs about 500', the only catch is you go down into the canyon first then climb back out.  It is gradual so is always enjoyable.  The trail winds it way through the junipers and almost immediately you find yourself in the huge rocks and boulders.  You wind around, slip between them, climb over, and work your way down into the canyon constantly amazed that they are piled up the way they are, and better yet, not falling down as you go by.
The trail begins

Like chessman towering over us

Working our way through the passages

Small slots

Great viewpoints

Having a great time!
You finally bottom out in the floor of the canyon and then work your way back up and out along the slope getting higher and higher as you go, never too steep.
Back up we go

A hawk looking for lunch among the rocks

Looking far out at the valley

Just amazing!
Now after our hike we went to find a place for a picnic.
Our lunch spot
It was a fantastic day all around, we found a new place to see, had one of the best hikes of our lives, the weather was perfect, cool, sunny, and clear.

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