Archive for December, 2012

San Xavier Mission – Part of a Loop Trip

December 28th, 2012 by Mike Hug

San Xavier del Bac

San Xavier del Bac Mission

Down By The River B&B is centrally  located for various day trips to places throughout SE AZ. The San Pedro River B and B Lodging is perfect for loop trips to see this part of Southern Arizona. One all day loop trip we like to make is driving to Tucson and then taking Interstate 19 south with a stop at San Xavier Mission, then on to Tubac. Leaving Tubac head south to Nogales with a possible stop at Tumacocori Mission State Park on the way. At Nogales take Highway 82 east to Patagonia and finally stop at Sonoita and Elgin to do a little wine tasting. From here we take 82 east as we head on home. This loop trip can be done in reverse or it can be a detour on the way to or returning from our southeastern Arizona BnB.There are even some alternates that can be used to shorten the loop.

There are people that have never heard of the San Xavier del Bac Mission, or White Dove of the Desert as it is also called. Some people have stopped and some others may have seen it in the distance as they traveled on Interstate 19. I first saw in the 1970s when I came to Arizona. Barb was there during the restoration and saw the work that was being done. So I am going to tell you a little about this landmark when you make this loop trip. Each year 200,000 people from all over the world stop to view the finest example of Spanish Colonial architecture in the United States.

San Xavier Altar Picture

The Main Altar

The history of the mission started in 1692. Father Eusebio Kino, a Jesuit missionary, established the San Xavier Mission just south of present day Tucson at the Tohono O’odham Village of Wa:k. That is spelled correctly. The church was named after the patron saint San Francisco Xavier, pronounced ”Havier”, “del” is Spanish for of the, and the word “Bac” comes from the way Father Kino wrote down the word Wa;k.  Visits by missionaries to the village were sporadic until finally in 1752 the first church building construction was started under the tutelage of Father Espinosa. This church still stands adjacent to the east side bell tower. The building now houses the museum and gift shop. The actual construction of the large church began in 1783 and was completed in 1797 under the Franciscan missionary Father Velderrain. Father Velderrain accomplished this with the help of the village population and monetary loan of a wealthy rancher in the State of Sonora in present day Mexico.

The mission has been under many jurisdictions since it was established. Originally, this part of Arizona was under the authority of New Spain. When the Mexican people gained independence in 1821, San Xavier became part of Mexico.

Last Supper Mural

Last Supper Mural

With the Gadsden Purchase of 1854, the Mission joined the United States as part of the New Mexico Territory. The territory was later split and San Xavier became part of the Arizona Territory and then in 1912 the territory became a state. As to the Catholic Churches jurisdiction; San Xavier was in the Diocese of Durango when the mission was first established. It changed to be a part of the Diocese of Santa Fe when it was established in 1859. In 1866 Tucson became a diocese and regular services were again held at the Mission. A school was started at the Mission in 1872 by Franciscan nuns. In 1963, The Mission was listed as a National Historic Landmark and it has the distinction of being the oldest intact European structure in Arizona.

 The original construction was made with low-fire clay brick, stone and lime mortar, the entire structure is

Lady Of Guadalupe Picture

Lady Of Guadalupe

roofed with masonry soaring vaults, which is not found in any other Spanish Colonial buildings within the United States. The artwork and decorations on the interior of the church are from unknown artisans. The belief is that they were from Queretero and were created in guild workshops and then transported to the mission by pack animals. After being placed in the church then local craftsman finished the work using gesso, a gypsum product, and then adding paint. The Franciscan Cord can be found throughout the interior and exterior of the church. There are many mural paintings and statues throughout the mission

 Over the years the mission started to deteriorate through normal wear and tear and in 1859 the first repairs were made to the church. In 1887, an estimated 7.6 earthquake in Mexico damaged the mission. This earthquake was about 60 mile south of Douglas, AZ and was felt up to 120 miles away. The quake also changed the flow of the San Pedro River and you can read what the Tombstone paper wrote about the earthquake here.  In 1905  Bishop Granjon began

East Side Chapel

East Side Chapel

major repairs on the mission and again more restoration was done in 1939 after a lightning strike affected the west tower. Cement was one of the repair materials used during these times. As it turns out this would later cause more damage to the artwork on the interior of the church.

In 1989, excessive leaks were found in the walls and forced emergency restoration. Major conservation began in 1992 with a five year effort to preserve the interior of the building. I remember seeing the building in the late 1970’s. The murals and statues looked worn and drab. This was caused by all the years of candles being burned in the church. Because of the smoke and water damage the work was critical to maintain the artwork. There is an ongoing effort to preserve the church when the money is available. Funding sources have been harder to get due to budgetary restrictions by grant and state organizations. To help with the preservation of the Mission, a group of community leaders formed the Patronanto San Xavier in 1978. You can read about their efforts on their website.

To reach the Mission drive south on Interstate 19 about 9 miles, take exit 92 (San Xavier Road) and follow

West Side Chapel

West Side Chapel

signs to the Mission. Visiting the Mission San Xavier is free of charge. During the year there are special events that are held at the mission.  It is definitely worth your time to take a look at a part of history that help to shape this part of the Southwest. This mission and Tumacocori are the inspirations for us to name one of our guest rooms the Mission Room.

San Xavier Side View

San Xavier Side View

Willcox Wine Region of Cochise County

December 14th, 2012 by Mike Hug

Grapes on the Vine Picture

Petit Syrah Grapes on the Vine at LDV

Down By The River Bed and Breakfast is centrally located to many attractions in Cochise County and in particular to the two wine regions here in this part of Arizona. That is why we are recognized by our guests as the “Lodging Hub of Cochise County“. The last blog was about the Sonoita area wineries and how they are working with the Knights of Columbus Charity Golf tournament. The golf tournament proceeds go to the University of Arizona Cancer Research Center and to a High School Scholarship fund for graduating seniors. This is the 7th Annual event and Down By The River B and B is one of the sponsors for this golf tournament. You can read about the special we are offering for guests that “Stay n Play” during that weekend at the bnb. After that blog was published Angie and I went over to the other wine region here in Southeastern Arizona and visited a few of the wineries in this part Cochise County. Actually many of the grapes that are processed for the tasting rooms in the Cottonwood area are grown in the Willcox – Sulphur Springs Valley. Many of the wineries help us out with the charity tournament over the years and we are most grateful.

We started our trek by heading to Zarpara Winery. They are located in Kansas Settlement, south of Willcox but we took a short cut through Texas Canyon and got off the Interstate to save some time. This route takes us past the Amerind Foundation which is a wonderful museum that was established in 1937. I will talk about it in a future blog. So back to what I was originally talking about.

Zarpara Picture

Zarpara Tasting Room is in the middle of the vineyard

Zarpara Vineyards has only been open since January. The tasting room is located in the middle of the vineyard and it must be beautiful during the summer with all the grapes hanging from the vines. We were there in December when the leaves have fallen and the plants are dormant. The nice thing about Zarpara is that the owners Rhona and Mark are there to greet you as you come in the door. Besides their own wines, the tasting room also has 5 other wineries that they represent. They have wines from Sierra Bonita in Graham County north of Cochise County, Gold Rule Vineyards, Sand-Reckoner, Arizona Stronghold and Gallifant. They don’t’ have tastings of all of these but we did get to sample a few and found many to our liking. We did leave a little lighter in the back pocket at the end of the tasting. Zarpara has agreed to be a T Box sponsor this year for the tournament.

Keeling Schaefer Tasting Room

Keeling Schaefer Tasting Room is in down town Willcox

We then drove into Willcox and our next stop was in the downtown area where Keeling-Schaefer and Carlson Creek have their tasting rooms. The downtown area of Willcox is home to the Marty Robbins Museum and the Rex Allen Museum. Carlson Creek’s tasting room is on the south side of the railroad tracks.  Keeling-Schaefer is on the north side right across from the Railroad Park where The Willcox Wine Festivals are held in May and October. Check out our events page for the dates of these events. Both of these wineries have some great wines and if you park at one location you can walk to the other. The owners weren’t there but again we were greeted by hostesses who were very knowledgeable about their product and thus enhanced our experience. We also took some time to stop by our friend Rodney at his Cajun-style restaurant near the museums. Rodney serves some great catfish sandwiches and we also like the gumbo. Big Tex Barbeque is also nearby. The restaurant serves barbeque pork, brisket and chicken to name a few things and it is located in a train car at the intersection of Railroad Avenue and Maley St. (Route 186). Try it during the week or Saturdays but they aren’t open on Sundays.

Our last stop was at Coronado Vineyards located on the east side of Willcox. Coronado has been a sponsor of the golf tournament almost from the start. We enjoy going to see Terry and Jacque when we get to Willcox. Coronado has a kitchen and at certain times will serve items while you are tasting wine, thus giving you a Coronado Winery Enterancechance to pair food to wine. This is a nice concept and you can see how the food and the wine blend to make your tasting so much more enjoyable.

We didn’t get to the Laurence Dunham Vineyards because Curt and Peggy were up in the Fountain Hills tasting room and they were getting ready for their Christmas Event. The winery and tasting room in Cochise County is south in the area of the Chiricahua National Monument and they do events at various times of the year also. LDV was a T Box sponsor last year for our tournament. Another winery we didn’t get to because of time and distance was the Bowie Winery in Bowie, AZ. This tasting room is about 20 miles east of Willcox at the town of Bowie. If you go to the Fort Bowie Historical Site then you are close to the tasting room. After hiking at Fort Bowie you may consider taking a break and stopping for  a little wine tasting. They also have pistachios and pecans for sale.

Now you have heard about both of the Southeastern Arizona wine regions and have been told about the central Arizona wineries Cochise County connection. So plan your visit to take in some of what the wineries have to offer and when you do thank them for their civic contributions to the charities that they work with. If you are looking for a wine country b&b, then consider that you want to find a nice place to stay during your visit and reserve your room at Down By The River B and B for a comfortable stay and wonderful breakfasts.

Sonoita Area Wineries

December 11th, 2012 by Mike Hug

Down By The River Bed and Breakfast is centrally located to many attractions and because of this we are short

Arizona Prize Wines

Arizona Wines Are Prize Winners

distances throughout Cochise County and parts of Santa Cruz County. That is why we are known as the Lodging Hub of Cochise County“. Southeastern Arizona is known for birding and more recently wine tasting. SE Arizona has some of the best of both of these pasttimes and Down By The River BnB is close to both with birds out our back door at the river and the wine regions of Sonoita and Willcox a short drive. Some of our birdwatching guests have told us that a B&B with wine tasting nearby is the perfect fit for their adventure.
Angie and I took a little time to go to the Sonoita area wineries to ask the vintners to again  be sponsors for a Charity Golf Tournament. We wanted to let them know about the Knights of Columbus Marie Lovell/ Barbara Hug/ Paul Padia Memorial Golf Tournament that will be held on February 23, 2013. Yes this is the Barbara that started the B and B with Mike. The tournament proceeds go to the University of Arizona Cancer Research Center and to a High School Scholarship

Charron Patio

Charron Vineyards allows you to sit on the patio and overlook the vines while you sample the wine.

fund for graduating seniors. This is the 7th Annual event and Down By The River B and B is one of the sponsors for this golf tournament. You can read about the special we are offering for guests that “Stay n Play” during that weekend.
Many of the wineries help us out with the charity tournament over the years and we are most grateful. Mike was lucky enough to win a free wine tasting in the raffle last year so we were able to do some wine tasting at the same time. We also took some time to go to the Willcox area wineries to talk with the different vintners about sponsorships. We will discuss that in a blog next week.
We didn’t get to all the wineries in Sonoita but we did get to stop at 8 of 11 tasting rooms. We took time to enjoy the conversation with the people that were wine tasting and got re-acquainted with many of our vintner friends. Angie and I have always found that wine

Oak casks at Dos Cabezas Winery

At Dos Cabezas you can walk into the store room where they wine is stored in oak casks.

people are usually happy and like to talk to each other. You get to know something about them as they tell you about places that they have been where they took time to taste wine. You can put that in the back of your mind for later use if you plan to travel to another area of the country.
Because some of the wineries are only open on weekends, we chose a weekend to make our loop trip. We started our tour by taking I-10 to Vail and then Arizona 83 south to make our first stop at Charron Vineyards. We were able to talk with Susan and a little with Milton while viewing the area off the porch at the tasting room.
We continued down 83 to Sonoita but the next two places we stopped at the owners were at a wine festival in Phoenix so we didn’t get to talk with them. one of these wineries was Dos Cabezas near the

Hops & Vines Picture

Hops and Vines has recently opened and intends to be a microbrewery along with being a winery

intersection of Arizona 82 and 83. After some discussion with the staff people and customers there we headed east on 82 to Hops and Vines.
Hops and Vines may end up being a little unique once they get everything finished and running. They currently do wine tasting but will be growing hops and then have a microbrewery at the same location. We haven’t heard of wine and beer tasting at the same locations before. Might have some potential for a diverse palate.
After leaving Hops and Vines, we proceeded across to Lower Elgin Road via a dirt road that wasn’t too bad in comparison to some tracks we have been driving on in Cochise County. We stopped at the Wilhelm Family Vineyard and spoke with Karyl. Karyl is a great lady and you just get taken over by the conversation and her knowledge of wine. She is always so up beat and we enjoy going to her tasting room to hear about what she has been doing. She

Kief-Joshua Winery

Kief-Joshua is a popular winery in the Sonoita area.

works with wounded warrior project and other charities including ours.
After that we stopped at Keif Joshua. Keif was gone to the Phoenix Festival also but as always the place was very crowded. We didn’t stay to talk but left the information and headed over to Rancho Rossa since Sarah was closing early that day. We would have loved to taste her wines but time was running short but we got to talk a little and then left for Lightning Ridge Cellars. Ann makes Italian style wines and they go great with the pasta dishes we make to treat ourselves every once in a while. A little story about the first time we went to Lightning Ridge. We were coming from Dos Cabezas and were headed to Rancho Rossa but we missed our turn on Elgin Road. I made this mistake

Lightning Ridge Winery

Lightning Ridge Winery produces Italian style wines.

because we were coming from a different direction than normal. I figured out that I had made a mistake after a little while and just before I was going to turn around I saw the wine tasting sign. So we stopped in and met Ann and her Great Dane.
There were other people in the winery tasting and they said “Oh you got lost too!” It was a good mistake I have to admit.
Our last stop was at Sonoita Winery and it was almost closing time for them. Sonoita was the first winery in the area. They have many types of wine that range from semi sweet to dry. There is a good selection of the various types and will be diverse enough so that everyone in your group should find something that fits their taste.
We ran out of time and there were three other wineries that we didn’t have a chance to stop at but we will

Sonoita Winery

Sonoita Vineyards is the oldest winery in Southeastern Arizona

make another effort later. These wineries are Callaghans, Canelo Hills and Village of Elgin Wineries. Being able to touch base with 8 wineries in less than 6 hours and to put in driving time on top of that is a lot and makes you keep moving.
For those who are interested, the different wineries also have events during the year and we try to keep these noted on our website events page. So check back to see what is going on in the Southeastern AZ wine country and our B and B. When you go to taste wine in Sonoita there isn’t anyway that you can do it all in a day. It will take multiple trips so consider Down By The River B & B. Since there are also wineries to the east in Willcox, you would be able to do both areas from a single base. The Willcox wineries have some offerings which are also very good. But more on that later.

The Adventures of Rocket J. Squirrel and Pepe Le Peeuuuh

December 4th, 2012 by Mike Hug

Down By The River B and B is located on the San Pedro River in SE Arizona. Being so close to the river, we have a lot of wildlife that frequents the property. The San Pedro River is a water source that flows throughout the year and is above ground near the bnb usually until late June just before the start of the monsoons. The water source draws all types of animals and birds into the area. We generally don’t have problems with pesky critters, although the deer do give us fits with tree damage and rodents dig holes in the middle of trails and around the plants. With that being said we usually enjoy watching the activities that go on around us.

At the beginning of November while working on cleaning up the yard, I needed to get a rake out of the shed. As I walked toward the shed I noticed a movement in the brush behind the garage. It didn’t look like a rabbit but then I wasn’t really looking that close. We have a lot of cottontail rabbits and a few jack rabbits around so I just assumed that Peter Cottontail was out foraging. A couple of days later as I looked out the double doors I saw a squirrel meander across the stoop. I knew that I didn’t need a squirrel around and so I went out the main door and tried to scare the squirrel away. As I came around the corner, Rocket J. Squirrel made a b-line behind the shed.

He was safe from me but I decided to bang on the shed to see if I could get him to vacate the premises. We played cat and mouse as he moved from one side to the other as I banged on the shed. We played this game for about 5 minutes until he decided to beat a hasty retreat out past the garage into the fields to the south. I kept checking for the gray squirrel for the next couple of days and didn’t see him near the shed at all. I felt that I had given him good reason to decide relocation was a better option. Hoping that he had moved to a locale inhabited by Bullwinkle, far away in Minnesota, I forgot about Rocky.

Then one morning, our cat became real agitated. Looking out onto the patio, I spotted Rocky. The brazen little critter was sitting up on a chair looking over the territory. I went out the door and he saw me but then turned back to look at what was going on in the yard. Not until I advanced did he decide to run for it. Rocket J is a good name for the streak of gray that flew by me on the way to the other side of the house.

Another week passed as I decided to work on the mesquite trees at the bird room patio. As I got back there I noticed the furry little bugger. Yup, Rocky was back and now he had a burrow under the house at the bird room. Rocket was down the hole before I could get close. Just what I need is a fur bearing critter under the house. I figured that I could trap this rodent. I am smarter than he is. No big deal. Get a trap, bait it and the work is done. Not so fast fool! Rocky J is a little slyer than you thought. Rocky trips the trap, eats the bait and then goes back into the burrow to excavate more. All I do is give him free meal delivery to the front door. I can’t even catch him out away from the burrow and bury the entrance before he can get back. He isn’t named Rocket J for no good reason.

So as I realize that Rocky is not the pushover I thought he was. I decide to bite the bullet and bring in the big boys to take care of this. In step the pest control people with a live trap. As it is set up, I comment that this trap looks a little large. But I am assured that this trap will get Rocky. It is made for skunks and raccoons and will still trip with a squirrel’s weight. OK, so let the fun begin. The trap is set next to the hole, baited and now I am assured that this will work. Rocky will be caught in a quick fashion and transported to Frostbite Falls, MN, never to dig a hole under my house again.

Nothing happens for 2 days except that Rocky fills in the one entrance and digs another one at a different place away from the trap.  I even see him in the trap having a snack and think – “Aha got him!” ….but no he didn’t trip the trap door. Rocket beats a quick path to the burrow again, filled tummy and all. That night our cat gets all agitated again as Angie and I are having supper. Angie spots a black and white animal walk past the door at the breezeway. We have just seen Pepe Le Peeuuuh and that first introduction to Pepe is a nonevent. We had two rooms with guests and expecting a third couple to show up later that evening.

The next morning is Thanksgiving so naturally the fun begins. Remember Pepe?  Well he is not just wandering

Pepe Picture

Pepe asleep in the trap on Thanksgiving day.

around anymore looking for adventure. No he is holed up in of all things the live trap. He is sound asleep, just like our guests. Pest people, they don’t work on Thanksgiving; they are home with the family. But I have paying guests and Pepe the moocher, who is not one that I want to have around. I call anyway and plead my case and am assured that I will get a call. I just know that it will be Friday before anyone shows. But low and behold I do get a call and maybe someone will be there in the afternoon. I inform the guests of Pepe’s presence and we all keep our distance although I did get some pictures from about 10 feet. Chris, with 30 years experience, showed up and gave Pepe a relocation trip that afternoon but the trap was not returned that day. I thought one would be back on Friday but it was Monday. During the respite, Rocky had the run of the yard and was expanding the burrow to 4 maybe 5 rooms. The mounds of dirt grew and it looked like someone emptied a couple of wheelbarrows around the house.

Pepe again

Pepe like the food so much he came back to dine again.

Great, just what I need, more excavation under the b and b. But Monday is soon here and a new smaller trap is brought. This is going to work. I just know it. Shouldn’t catch anything but Rocket and then life will be good again. We can hardly wait. With dawn I get my coffee to go next door and get things ready for the morning breakfast. Ah but first I want to check the trap. Oh boy the door is down. Rocky you are mine. But hold on a minute….that doesn’t look like Rocky. It looks like Pepe. It is Pepe! I make a phone call to Chris and tell him that the trap is full. He says great he will come out to get Rocky and I tell him not so fast. It is our friend Pepe. He came back because the food was so good. Well Chris didn’t show up to do the removal this time, Shawn did. Shawn had never removed a skunk before so he got dressed up to keep himself protected.  I took a video to show what was the trapping process is. I don’t know what happens when it comes to getting Pepe out of the cage. That might be a little too close for comfort for me.

Now I get a third cage even smaller than before but there is a question that is posed. Since we got Pepe twice

Rocket J Squirrel

Rocket J Squirrel finally got his little self caught and is ready to visit another locate far away.

at the burrow maybe the skunk ran Rocket J off. Have to see if anything is caught or seen. To tell the truth I hadn’t seen Rocket so maybe he was gone. So to test that theory I decide to fill in the holes and see if they reappear. Nothing happens all day but the next morning there is another new hole to the burrow. That make 6 entrances that I know of, five of which I have filled. So I set the trap next to the burrow and add some rocks to block paths. The next morning, SUCCESS IS MINE! Rocky is trapped.

It has been 3 days now and no return of Rocket J. Squirrel or Pepe Le Peeuuuh! Hopefully the rest of the year will be uneventful and we can enjoy the Christmas Season without the worry of having a basement bungalow under the b and b.

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