(Jan) We had just finished registering at the Saguaro SKP Park in Benson when we ran into Ken Marler. He and his wife Bea were in the park to visit Boomer friends Jack & Jeanne Albers. We joined both couples for Happy Hour that afternoon at the Albers’ new casita. Fun group! Getting to see other Boomers continued the next morning when Bryan & Susan Lavender stopped in, followed by Bruce & Nancy Butler who are on their way to Texas. We stopped into see lot owners Mick & Ann Meilike and their new 5th wheel. Very nice! Bryan & Susan were having some Washer/Dryer troubles so Chuck & Bryan pulled the machine out that afternoon to do some trouble shooting. A visit to Boomers Doug & JoAnn Dubrouillet followed before heading back over to Ann & Mick’s to join Bryan & Susan & them for Dinner. Wow! We feel incredibly blessed to have all of these wonderful Boomer friends!
Taking a tour of Kartchner Caverns has been on our list for some time. This living cavern was discovered in 1974 by Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts, then college students. Because they realized the enormity of their discovery, they kept quiet about it from all except the land owners, the Kartchners, until it was sold to the State of Arizona in 1988 so it could be properly preserved and maintained. Our tour on Tuesday morning took us down into the Big Room. It’s an amazing journey underground seeing stalagmites & stalactites, soda straws & draperies and the home to the largest known myotis velifer (bats) hibernaculum found west of the Mississippi. The bats were not home when we toured but will return here shortly when the cavern shuts down until October when the bats leave for their winter hibernation in the mountains to the south.
(Chuck) Wednesday we headed south to visit Fort Hauchuca. Fort Huachuca is a United States Army installation located in Cochise County, in southeast Arizona, about 15 miles north of the border with Mexico. It was built in 1877, and was one of a series of forts established to guard southern Arizona against the Chiricahua Apaches, led by Geronimo. It was here that the Army organized an elite force that pursued Geronimo and his warriors through Mexico 's Sierra Madre during the summer of 1886, and forcing their surrender in 1889.
The Ft. Huachuca Museum tells the story of the US Army in the American Southwest. The museum displays uniforms of various periods, early equipment and weapons and model rooms, which present the daily life of the soldiers and their families. In the museum is a reference to an interesting story of how the nearby town of Tombstone received its name. It seems Ed Shieffelin was a scout for the U. S. Army headquartered at Camp Huachuca. He frequently searched the wilderness looking for mineral deposits. Soldiers from the camp told him the only stone he would find was his tombstone. In the summer of 1877 Ed was working the hills east of the San Pedro River when he struck a vein of silver ore in the area called Goose Flats. Schieffelin filed his claim under the name "The Tombstone."
In 1913, the fort became the base for the "Buffalo Soldiers", the 10th Cavalry Regiment, which was composed of African Americans. It served this purpose for many years. “Buffalo Soldiers” provided a major force in the expansion of the southwest.
US Army Intelligence Museum is the second museum in the Fort. It is the repository of many artifacts of Army Intelligence and its development through history. Among other things are a large section of the Berlin Wall, a German Enigma machine which was a code device of WWII, several examples of cameras and other electronic devices of the cold war. One interesting feature for me was the introduction of one of the founders of Military Intelligence as Maj. Gen. Ralph Van Deman (1865-1952). I have known of him for many years from my work in family history and genealogy. He is my second cousin, four times removed. It is not a close relationship and I claim no credits, however it is fun to have that family connection.
(Jan) Back at Benson we enjoyed more time with the Lavenders. Not having seen each other for several years we had lots of catching up to do. Chuck went with Bryan to play Texas Hold ‘em at the clubhouse Tuesday night while Susan and I watched ‘The Biggest Loser’ and chatted during the commercials. Last night they came over for Burritos and then we watched a documentary film ‘The Parrots of Telegraph Hill’ at the clubhouse. The film was interesting and surprisingly good. This morning we visited and said our good byes to Bryan & Susan, Mick & Ann and JoAnn and we were on our way east.