December 24, 2014, Vail, AZ- Growing up, and especially in my teens and twenties, Christmas Eve almost achieved a holiday status all its own. As a young adult, it almost became a not-so-dry run for its sister Eve, a week later. This morning, I scouted around for a breakfast place in Lordsburg. The Pilot Truck Stop store turned out to be the closest thing to such an establishment, since I swore off fast food chains, a while back. (Well, I do go in Subway, now and then, but you get the picture.) Armed with a blueberry muffin and high test coffee, I checked out of Holiday Motel and headed west.
Cochise, the famed Apache warrior chief, was a complex man. His thoughts on the state in which he found himself and his people were summed up by his observation to General Crook that the common enemy of both Apache and American was the Spaniard, who had long since disappeared from these lands, to be replaced by the Mexican, whom Cochise neither understood, nor trusted. He didn’t particularly like Crook, but he did see the General as a man of his word. The feeling was mutual.
Cochise would probably like the way in which his old redoubt, the Stronghold that bears his name, has been kept largely wild. There are horse camps and vacation cottages nearby, but the campsites that are set aside, for those who come to pay their respects to him, are primitive. Pack it in, pack it out, just as the Chiricahua people did.
I walked a short distance, from the Day Use trailhead, to the base of the Dragoons, and said quiet prayers to the Father of us all. Like Quanah Parker did, at the Sipapu in Palo Duro Canyon, nearly three years ago, Cochise communicated with me: “You are ever welcome at this place. Return, at length, when you are able, my son. For now, go in peace and harmony, and above all else, keep your word.”
The ruggedness of Cochise Stronghold was soon replaced by the wild yapping of those whose owners call them the Heathen Hounds. Hacienda Ranch lies a fair stretch down towards the road from Vail Steak House, one of my homes away from hom, when I’m down this way. The Heathens and their people came this way, from Oklahoma, about six months ago. These are hounds (chihuahuas) that like all such little critters, would gladly enjoy me as their breakfast. Bob and Tamy are of a different opinion regarding yours truly, and so I was given a fine lunch and a nice little guest room. So, I hailed the Heathens from the other room, and went off with Bob, exploring the low country, and a winding hill.
After such a repast, the confluence of the Chihuahua and Sonoran Deserts called out pretty loudly. There are no sahuaro, or yucca, in this transition zone, but everything else is here, including the javelina and coyotes.
These ancient rocks are found along a wash, just southwest of Hacienda. Bob and i went a bushwackin’ through the scrub, and found this seasonal tank. He thinks a larger one lies just to the west of this one. Maybe on a future jaunt, one or both of us will find it. Th scene is recorded for posterity. These next scenes are from the winding road up a nearby hill. In the absence of sahuaro, the ocotillo take full advantage. The dogs didn’t take advantage of me, but even if they tried, I’d have loved to death.
This Christmas Eve was spent watching a rebroadcast of A Christmas Story 2″, which bored me to tears, and . another, of “Pearl Harbor”, which delivered the full horror of that awful day. One element of surprise, though, led to another, and as Admiral Yamamoto said, the sleeping giant had been awoken.