Monday, January 21, 2019

Willcox, AZ and Chiricahua National Monument: A Wonderland of Rocks

The start of our six-week Texas Road Trip begins in Willcox, Arizona.


Willcox has the singular distinction of being a national leader in cattle production.  This guy was warily suspicious of my approach, apparently with good reason, since he is one of the survivors.


Besides the local bovine culture, the real reason for this stop was to visit the 11,985-acre Chiricahua National Monument, the "wonderland of rocks," about 35 miles south.


The Chiricahua Apaches called this area "The Land of Standing Up Rocks."


But we had to call it "The Land of Bullsh*t Government Closures" because, like many National Parks and Monuments, it has been closed for a month while Trump's and Pelosi's egos duke it out.


To know what we were missing, we turned to the excellent Raven and Chickadee Travel Blog.  Great photos of this beautiful, remote area .. worth a look for sure! We "jumped the fence" (optimistically hoping law enforcement wasn't gonna care when they aren't getting paid) and went as far as possible into the Monument, which wasn't far at all, but hey, we were there so why not. 


 Certain trails near the entrance were still accessible and hikeable.  The remains of CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) projects and buildings, like these huge fireplaces, remain standing from the 1930's.


A few cabins and ranch buildings from the family that founded this area also remain, and guided tours are occasionally given, but of course not during the government shutdown .. whaa, whaa.



Near the entrance, the Erickson Family Cemetery holds the remains of all but one family member, (who married into the nearby Riggs ranching family and who is resting down the road a few miles).


The Ericksons were Swedish Immigrants who settled this area as "Faraway Ranch," which clearly was very Faraway from Sweden.



Charming and quirky delights abound in this area.
It's desolate ... so one can imagine everyone has a fair amount of spare time on their hands.


Back in the town of Willcox, a fun BBQ joint built into a train car (across from the train station) was sadly closed last year due to a fire inside.  We hope they rebuild and reopen.


The tiny-but-coulda-shoulda-been-something downtown has the predictable supply of small museums, a crumbling movie theater, and a dusty supply of antique shops.



Local boy Rex Allen was a star in rodeo, radio, stage and screen as "The Singing Cowboy," so he has his very own museum.  By the sign, he was also apparently a member of the Willcox Cowboy Hall of Fame, which is presumably a very select crowd.


A larger-than-life statue of the hometown hero is erected inside the city park, but WAIT! There's a surprise!  It's not just a statue.  It's a statue-within-a-statue.  Bet you didn't expect that!  Inside the statue is a molded bronze heart with arteries, symbolizing Rex’s heart will always be in Willcox.


But wait!  There's another surprise!  Rex's horse, KoKo, is also buried right there, under the street in the middle of Willcox.


Either our visit timed perfectly with an alien invasion, or else Willcox's location on the earth provides the perfect light for spooky photos of the sun and the moon. 

Here's the sun over the Willcox train station ....



... and here's the (super) moon over our RV park!



Willcox held one final surprise.  Here is the RV park ... your basic disappointing gravel lot.


But step inside the office, and it's a full Michael Kors designer boutique!
IN WILLCOX ARIZONA!
INSIDE AN RV PARK OFFICE!
What ... the ... heck!!!!?


The sun set on our Willcox adventure, & we bid it, & Chircicaua, & dead Rex Allen, all goodbye!


"On the road again" ... heading to Texas!