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Kathy and Tim Visit
Cherie's sister Kathy and her friend Tim came to visit in May, with Ally's birthday being a big draw.

Kathy looks feline...you can almost hear the purr of contentment...or is that the soft rustle of a kerfuffle?

Nights of the Round Table

Many nights and quite a few days were spent sitting around the wine barrel table sipping wine, hurricanes, and aperitifs. Made for some serious family bonding.

Tim and Kathy seem happy to be in the dry warmth of Arizona on their first night. Of course it is night time ... we'll see what the heat of day brings.

Anna and Mike joined us to welcome Aunt Kathy. They were soon in the "spirit" too.

Ally: Omigosh, guys, this isn't gonna lead to a little brother or sis, is it?

Here they are...in the same time zone. No Mike drunk dialing calls at 2:00 a.m. (Cinci time) to Aunt Kathy, or payback calls from Aunt Kathy at 6:30 a.m. (Sierra Vista time).

Hurricane Winds

We made some New Orleans Hurricanes to help Kathy and Tim adjust to the day-time temperatures...

...it seemed to work...no one fainted, or at least not from the heat.

When the hurricanes blew themselves out, there was always a bottle of wine around to take the edge off the day. Usually it was a red wine, but the bottle of Becker Chardonnay, above, was noteworthy too, as it was one of the few Texan wines we've tasted that ranks more than a "lone star."

Timmy seems to have stars of his own swirling in his head this night

"All You'll Find is Your Tombstone"
Ed Schlieffelin was the tenacious prospector who braved the Apaches and the unforgiving sun to find silver in the hills of southeastern Arizona Territory in the 1870s. The soldiers on Fort Huachuca warned Ed that all he'd find would be his own tombstone. Our Timmy was inspired by the story to retrace Ed's footsteps and find the vein of lore that is Tombstone today.

One of the more famous Tombstone stories revolves around the gunfight at the OK Corral, where Tim walked in the shadow of the gunfighters, echoes of the Clanton Gang, Wyatt Earp, and Doc Holliday still ringing in the air.

And Tim visited Boothill, where the Clantons decided to lay down for a while after their tiring shootout with the swaggering Earp brothers.

A tour of the mines under Tombstone provides a glimpse of the source of wealth for this boomtown and what most folks put up with in their day jobs ... before a night of revelry at the saloons, bordellos, or the Bird Cage Theater.

Tim checks out a specimen of low-grade silver ore, left, wondering if it will fit in his pocket.

Below, veins of copper and silver streak the walls of the mine.

The Bird Cage Theater
Twenty six murders; over a hundred twenty bullet holes in its walls and ceiling; fourteen boxes with views of the stage and acts of their own; a bordello in the basement; hangout of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson, Johnny Ringo...the Bird Cage is a living history of Tombstone at its height.
And Tim in the middle of it all, soaking in the history of the Old West, reliving the episodes of his boyhood black-and-white TV westerns, ogling the saloon girls. Doesn't get much better than this for an old man.

Tim blends in with the other relics inside the old Bird Cage...he even seems to cast a shadow near the stage. Dress him in a black duster and imagine him carousing in one of the bird cages...or maybe not.

The Exotic Josephine

In the basement bordello of the Bird Cage, below, Wyatt Earp reputedly began his relationship with his last wife, Josephine.

to get a better look at the nature of their initial relationship.

(Use the zoom feature on the resulting photo and scroll around the photo for more detailed views)

Wine Tasting
Kathy and Tim wanted to step out of the box while they were here...out of the box and into the bottle, as it turns out. Appropriate that they expanded their wine horizons by taking a tour of Arizona's wine country.

First stop, Callaghan Vineyards, home of Arizona's premiere wines.

Click on any of the wine label logos in this section to take a virtual visit of the wineries' websites.


Down the road is Canelo Hills, where you might see us and Ally show up on their weblog.


Kathy and Tim arrive at Dos Cabezas Wine Works in their rental car ... they wish. Oh well, enough wine, and even a ride in the back seat of a Honda Civic feels like a limo.


After knocking back a couple of wines,
Tim exits Kief-Joshua Vineyards, shaking his head and thinking to himself "Goll-eey, I ain't seen short shorts and long legs like that since I was knee high to a grasshopper."

And Kathy is musing "I love Arizona! I could wear shorts here year around."


Which goes to prove...
"If you drink too much wine...
...be careful...
or you'll make an ass out of yourself!"

A couple of donkeys mug for the camera across the street from Callaghan Vineyards.
You decide—which one is Kathy and which one is Tim in this "after" wine-tasting photo?

Good segue to the next photos, since in Arizona, it's...

Asses to Ashes
and Dust till Dusk

With the hot, dry weather we had while Kathy and Tim were visiting, we had seven major brush fires in the area in as many days. The one below broke out in Elgin while we were wine tasting, giving us front row seats to watch the air tankers spew their red-colored slurry to try to contain the fire. It was still burning the next day, though.

One of the tanker planes fighting the fires is shown flying above the photo. Active flames can be seen to the right of the pine trees, above.

The fire left little in its wake. This shot, taken a couple of weeks later, shows where the fire line ended, almost exactly splitting the mountain in half, with the left side charred and the right side still green.
A closer look at the destruction almost looks like a lunar landscape.

Day Trips Around Sierra Vista
Fort Huachuca is nestled in the foothills of the Huachuca Mountains, where the deer and the jackalope play.

We spent an afternoon driving around the fort's vast acreage, where we saw at least eight deer.

Kathy and Tim stand atop one of the lower hills overlooking the fort's Huachuca Canyon. After looking at this photo a couple of times, I now understand why some guys wear their sunglasses on top of their heads—might want to think about a little shade up there, Tim.

The Fort's museums are pretty neat, actually. Cherie provides a ghostly presence at the far right of this view of life in the 1880s.

Funny how, like in Tombstone, women of the night figure so prominently in the history of the wild west. Here one awaits her customer, er, soldier, to tether his horse for the evening.

Kartchner Caverns

Kathy checks out a succulent cactus erectus, which she instinctively strokes to life.
Another afternoon was spent walking the still living, still dripping Kartchner cave, which is a wonderful sight, but one that can't be photographed. Click on the ticket at right to go to the park's web site and see inside the cave.

Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

Click on the ticket above to explore the museum's exhibits (including 360° views) at their web site.

Flesh or fish, Kathy and Tim are wide-eyed at the variety of flora and fauna in the desert.

Kathy and Tim are startled by something, it appears. Or maybe Kathy's expression is that old folks look, you know, leaning forward and asking, "Huh, what did you say?" (I said "smile for the camera." Tim responds, "which one, yours or the one in my lap?" Oh, my!)

Ally takes it all in ... that is she took the ice cream cone all in. The rest, well, it was 103° in the shade, and she wasn't keen on stollering around the grounds in that kind of heat.

Bisbee: The Time Machine
No trip to southeastern Arizona would be complete without a visit to the old Mule Mountain mining mecca of Bisbee, where a drive through the Mule Mountain tunnel transports you into another century...where the '60's live on through its colorful residents and arty establishments.

Yes, these mystery tourists pointing out the "B" on the Bisbee Mountain are Shelley and Jessie, who surprised us by flying in from Michigan on a top-secret mission to give Cherie a heart attack and to meet Ally on her first birthday. The almost pulled off the former, and scored on the latter.

A family reunion of Cherie and her sisters (and her niece Jessie) on the streets of Bisbee. Talk about a blast from the past...the only other time in recent memory when they were all together was during Hurricane Ike on the shore of Lake Michigan (2008).

From left, Jessie, Cherie, Shelley and Kathy

The fate of smokers in America is that they are very lonely people, ostracized from their family, friends, and fellow humans (sometimes their friends and family are also humans). However, smoking leads to a certain pensiveness as they find the need to carry on conversations with themselves...occasionally silently.

Tim is apparently a master at the silent conversation, but his lips still move.

Table 42
That's a "table for two," which is what our guests seemed to desire rather than to socialize with the family on the patio of the Copper Queen Hotel.

Fair enough, our presence is usually boring to sisters-in-law who have the sophistication of making high-brow jokes about their brother-in-law who is now "retarded", oh, I'm sorry, "retired." After the fifteenth time, even that clever play on words lost some of its sheen. So, who's the mental giant now, Miss Ohio?

Jessie bonded with Ally in the short time she was here. I think Ally finds kindred spirits in her female relatives.

Here Jessie was teaching Ally the "Spring Break" maneuver while Anna looked on. Don't ask me where Jessie learned that.

Okay, so maybe Kathy was right, I really am retarded. Certainly appears so as Tim and I model Shelley's undergarments on our heads. Just don't call us the Cone Heads, alright?

And of course, it never hurts to close with a beautiful girl, in this case Ally, who is forlorn at losing all her relatives, but finds comfort, as usual, in a bowl of treats.

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