Archive for March, 2013

San Pedro River and Southeastern Arizona Bird Migration

March 25th, 2013 by Mike Hug

The migratory birds are starting to make their way through Southeastern Arizona using the San Pedro River highway. The cottonwood trees have fully leafed out in the last few weeks and the temperatures are in the 70 and low 80s. It is a great time to be outdoors and watch all the activity. Lizards are out and on the hunt. It won’t be long before the tent caterpillars to start feeding on the leaves and the birds will be right there to take advantage of it.

Gambrel Quail Picture

Gambrel Quail feeding below our feeders

In the last few days Vermillion Flycatchers have been feeding on the property. You can’t miss the bright red flash as they chase an insect. Some swallows flew through this morning at our San Pedro River B and B. The normal sparrows and finches are at the feeders and doves are on the wing. An of course the Gila Woodpeckers are coming to the hummingbird feeders for drinks of nectar. We also noticed that the Gambrel Quail are around now. Yellow headed blackbirds are here is Saint David also. Our resident Says Phoebe is here building her nest again. This will be the 5th year that she has nested on the patio beams.

Raptors are also moving up the river. Just last week we saw 2 Mississippi Kites fly by and stop at the fence. While watering I spotted a Gray Hawk. Wezil Walraven guided a couple of birders that stayed with us at Down By The River last week and he told us that he had seen a common black hawk along with the gray hawks just to the south of us. So the show is beginning with a lot of new birding activities to see here along the San Pedro.

One caution is that the weather is pleasant but this is the desert so take water with you when your out. I saw that the humidity yesterday was very low. Actually at 6 PM when it was 68 degrees the humidity was 1 %. I have never seen it that low before. You will be losing water in that humidity so make sure you hydrate. Also humidity that low increases the fire danger so please be careful. To enjoy all this just come on down to this part of southeasstern Arizona and stay with us at Down By The River B and B. We are located in Saint David on the San Pedro River at the northern end of the San Pedro River National Riparian Conservation Preserve.

Tombstone’s Rose Tree Museum

March 14th, 2013 by Mike Hug

How would you like to see the largest living rose bush? To do that you have to travel to Tombstone and visit the Rose Tree Museum located on 4th St near E. Toughnut St. As the story goes, in 1885 or 86 depending upon who you talk to, a woman by the name of Mary Gee received a rose root from her family in Scotland. They sent it to her with other things so she could have something to remind her of home. The rose root was from The Lady Banks Rose. There is a festival in Tombstone every year to celebrate the Rose Tree during the time that it is in bloom. This year, 2013, the festival runs from April 5 through April 7. Since it did come from root stock that had been in Scotland prior to arriving in Arizona, the plant is over 127 years old. That alone is impressive.

But even more impressive is the size of the rose tree. The main stock is about 12 feet in circumference and is close to 8 feet tall where it branches out.  Yes you do walk under it and it covers almost 9000 square feet or a fifth of an acre. That is larger than some house lots at a tract home subdivision in Phoenix. The flowers on the rose tree are small compared to the hybrid tea roses that are available at nurseries today. The pale yellow blossoms bloom only one time during the year during the festival time for about 4 weeks. When the blossoms are finished you have to wait another year before you can see it again. There is a staircase to a viewing platform that allows you to view the top of the rose tree.

Photos of Rose Tree Museum and Books, Tombstone
This photo of Rose Tree Museum and Books is courtesy of TripAdvisor.

The Rose Tree holds the record with the “Guinness’ Book of World Records” which list the rose tree as the largest rose vine in the world. Various pictures of the vine and the blossoms can be seen on the Picture Tombstone website.  Purportedly in 1937  the author of  “Believe It Or Not” fame,  Robert Ripley visited Tombstone and stated that to his knowledge the Rose Tree was the largest rose bush in the world at that time. No one has contested the record holder’s claim. The Lady Banks Rose is actually native to central China where it grows in the mountains. It was brought to England by J. D. Parks and introduced to the London Horticultural Society in 1824.

The Rose Tree Inn Museum is open every day from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, except on Christmas. Admission is $3. So when you go to see the Rose Tree you should consider staying at Down By The River B and B, located on the San Pedro River in St. David. We are centrally located and are short day trips from all the Cochise County attractions.

What is that wind sock for across the road?

March 6th, 2013 by Mike Hug

There are a lot of unusual things and interesting people that are found in Cochise County. We have famous people, people that provide optics to the military and NASA, people that are cowboy poets and story tellers, a doctor that specializes in immunity problems such as when molds infect the body, visionaries that want to protect the environment, people that are authors and I could go on with more examples. We also have people who have different occupations that they are good at doing. I wrote about one person, Wezil, who has spent his whole adult life doing bird tours for clients. There are also people who have hobbies that aren’t the normal ones.

One of the questions that I have gotten when I talk to guests is “What is that windsock for? Is there a landing strip over there on the other side of the road?” Well as a matter of fact, there are two landing strips here at DMR Ranch where Down By The River, a San Pedro River B and B, is located. Chester is one of the first people that we met when Barb and I came down here and decided to build our b&b. He is a first class heavy equipment operator and did all the excavation on the property when we built this southeastern Arizona b&b. Chester also has an airstrip on the other side of Efken which he uses for his hobby.

Paraplane chute inflation picture

The fan from the paraplane inflates the chute prior to taking flight.

Chester has flown off the landing strip many times since we have been here. He operates less now than when we moved into the b and b in 2005. This is mainly due to the cost of fuel. Every once in a while when the weather is nice and calm, he goes out, checks the strip for holes and rocks and then preps his paraplane for flight. He is able to fly for an hour or so and then returns home.

An explanation of Chester’s wonderful flying machine is in order here. Paraplanes were developed in the early 1980s. The paraplane is made of two main parts. One is the specially designed parachute that gives the plane lift and the other part is the framework that is the seat for the pilot and supports the motor and fan that powers the plane. The frame can be best explained as something you would use in a swamp with the big fan at the back. The only difference is that this frame has wheels instead of floatation devices.

Paraplane take off picture

The paraplane take off can be done in a relatively short distance.

The parachute is laid out on the ground behind the fan in a specific manner. After starting the engine, the fan blows air at the parachute and the chute lifts off the ground into the air. Letting off the brake the frame moves forward and the chute rises further. It takes approximately 50 feet to become airborne and after a couple of circles around the field the plane has reached enough height to pass over the power lines and surrounding hills. The paraplane is steered by leaning left or right to make turns. To gain height you increase the fan speed or reduce the speed if you want to lose elevation and land.

paraplane flying overhead picture

Paraplane in flight over our B and B

When Chester flies, it is usually on a Sunday morning when there is no wind. We have had guests watch him take off after breakfast. The last time he flew, I got my camera and took pictures of him taking off. His paraplane has a colorful chute and I am sure that this helps other planes see him as he is flying. It is fun to watch him leave but I think that having my two feet on the ground works just as well for me. If I fly, I like fixed wing aircraft since it gives me a greater sense of security. But that is just me. If you are lucky when you come on your visit to Down By The River, you will have a glimpse of Chester as he takes off or lands.

The Amerind Foundation Museum

March 1st, 2013 by Mike Hug

Amerind picture

The Amerind Foundation is sited in Texas Canyon amongst the rocks

Located in Cochise County, Texas Canyon is a scenic granite outcrop made up of a jumble of boulders and rock. The area that was caused by volcanic activity millions of years ago. It never reached through the surface of the earth and the surrounding ground has eventually worn down over time to expose the rock formations. I wrote a blog on the history of Texas Canyon a little while ago. In Texas Canyon there is a museum that is a unique experience for travelers to Cochise County. This museum is called the Amerind Foundation Museum and it celebrated the 75th Anniversary of its founding in October of 1937. Amerind is derived from combining the two words American Indian.

Amerind Sign

Sign on Dragoon highway point the way to the Amerind

William Shirley Fulton was the founder of the Amerind. He born and raised in Connecticut. He was interested in archaeology and started to come to Arizona in 1906, prior to Arizona becoming a state in 1912. He visited many places in the state including the Hopi and Navaho reservations. He was particularly interested in the Southwest Native American cultures and collected many items of interest. During one of his trips he heard about Texas Canyon and the supposed prehistoric artifacts that could be found. While in Cochise County in 1930 he purchased the property that now is home to the Amerind Museum. He started searching the property for artifacts and did archaeological digs on parts of his ranch. He became more focused and honed his skills, he published accounts for eastern museums telling about what he found at the sites.

After founding The Amerind and incorporating, he hired an archaeologist and started to support research on a larger scale. His efforts produced one of the finest privately held collections in the United States. Over the years since it’s founding, The Amerind has grown

Museum Building picture

The museum building houses the Native American Artifacts

from just a house to a museum of Native American artifacts, a research facility, library, art gallery, storage facility and gift shop. In 1952 Charles Di Peso was hired as the first Director of the Amerind. His tenure lasted 30 years until his death and he expanded the focus of the foundation to include excavations in other parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Northern Mexico. Di Peso was instrumental in doing the excavation at Casa Grandes in Chihuahau, Mexico and excavated the large village. Prior to that, archaeological work in Mexico was done further south and concerned the Aztecs, Olmecs and Mayan civilizations. Northern Mexico was not thought to be worth studying.  He published eight books on the excavation and that is the leading work in the field even to this date. Displays of this work are on display at the museum.

Amerind art museum picture

The Amerind Art Museum is housed in this building

Since Di Peso’s death in 1982, The Amerind became less involved in archaeological excavations. The focus is now on the research and providing multiple seminars and discussion groups for various topics and the preservation of the artifacts at the museum. Prior to 1985 the museum was only opened by appointment to visitors. The museum houses exhibits gathered from Alaska to the plains, the Southwest and also to locations in South America including Ecuador and Peru. The displays tell you the story of the artifacts and something of what life was like at that time. Allow a couple of hours to tour the museum and read the interpretive exhibits. The museum houses an the estimated 21,000 artifacts.

Picnic ground picture

The museum has picnic facilities on the grounds for use by guests.

Pioneer CemeteryThe Amerind Museum is open to the public from 10 AM to 4 PM every day except Monday. Special events and exhibits are held year round at the museum. Check out Down By The River’s events page to see the things that are happening during the upcoming months at locations near the b&b. The grounds of the ranch have picnic areas and also include the site for the Texas Canyon Pioneer Cemetery of the original Texas Canyon Settlers. The rocky scenery of Texas Canyon accents the museum building and the surrounding area. Hiking around the grounds will lead you to fun and discovery. Down By The River B and B is a perfect location to stay at when you visit Amerind. The San Pedro River BnB is centrally located to many of Cochise Counties attractions. To get to the Amerind take I – 10 east to Exit 318 and head south on Dragoon Highway about a mile and you will see the sign at the entrance. The road to the museum is on the left.

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