Monday, February 13, 2012

A very busy weekend (photo's added).

Location, Benson, AZ

After a very busy weekend, we took a little down time today.On Friday morning we arrived at Kartchner Cavern for our morning tour of the Big Room. There was not near the amount of people waiting for tours as might be expected with all the winter visitors in the area. There were 17 people in our tour.

The tours are conducted by State of Arizona Park Rangers and volunteers. One person gives the tour talk while the other brings up the rear and watches so no one touches anything. They have gone out of their way to minimize introducing any foreign material into the cave. Kartchner is considered a “living cave” as water is still penetrating through the roof of the Cavern. The interior temperature is maintained between 68 and 72 degrees while the humidity is 99%. This is all done by a double set of sealed doors acting as an airlock. Also, everyone walks through a section of tunnel with misters in the ceiling which gently sprays everyone to trap lint, hair and any other materiel on your cloths.

Each night after the tours end, the cave walkway is washed to remove anything brought in by the tours. The water is contained within high curbs which line the entire walkway. The water drains down through grates in the walkway and pumped out of the tunnel.

Any area touched by someone is marked by pink tape and cleaned each night.

Once a year, the entire chamber is cleaned. It is also closed completely during the bat maternity season. Bats enter by a small hole which is too small for humans to enter.

During the summer months, the cave's Big Room serves as a nursery roost for over 1,000 female cave myotis bats. The pregnant females return to Kartchner Caverns around the end of April, where they give birth to a single pup in late June. The babies remain in the roost each evening while their mothers forage for insects in the surrounding countryside. During the summer the colony consumes about half a ton of insects, consisting of moths, flying ants, beetles, mosquitoes and termites. Mothers and their offspring will leave mid-September, to begin their migration for their winter hibernation roost. These bats provide the only link between the ecosystem of the cave and the surface.

For more information check out the State of Arizona website:

This was a really great tour and we want to return again and do the Throne Room next time. There are no photos as camera are not allowed on the tour.

On Saturday, our friends Mike and Candi took us along with a few other people to see the old site of Camp Rucker. Lots of buildings are still maintained by the BLM and much work has been done lately on new roofs.

Adobe wall of the ranch house.
Barn with new roof.
After the Army abandoned the camp it was used as a ranch site. Hence, the barn and ranch house.

Officers quarters.
Ceiling detail in officiers quarters.
We had a picnic lunch at a nearby campground and also explored a campground up the canyon.

On Sunday we began the day with breakfast at a local golf course along with several other people. After breakfast Mike, Clyda, and I drove to Gammons Gulch north of Benson to visit a western movie town. We were given a tour by Jay Gammons the owner who played the little drummer boy in John Wayne’s movie Rio Bravo. Jay is a font of knowledge about the movie industry, movie stars, old cars, and other old west memorabilia.
Jay playing the banjo in the saloon.

The saloon built for a video production.

Prisionor's view from jail cell.

Old wiskey bottles with original whiskey inside.

For more info go to:

After going back to the RV for lunch, Mike and Candi picked us up and we drove to Tombstone so the ladies could attend the Tombstone Quilt Show. Mike and I wandered the streets while Mike imparted to me his vast store of Western knowledge. Mike is a western shooter and shoots in competitions. He knows where every western character lived, died, and is buried.

When the ladies were done with the quilt show, we went to Big Nose Kats Saloon for a sarsaparilla or something harder for some of the group.

Stained glass window at Big Nose Kate's saloon.

It was a great weekend. Thanks, Mike and Candi.