Thursday, October 22, 2009

We saw a Cherry Cow today!

That title will mean something to only 5 other people, and they will know exactly where we went today.  The rest will have to read on.

We left Apache Junction Tuesday about 11, and drove only 150 miles to Roper Lake State Park near Safford, AZ.  Our original plan was to continue east yesterday, but just didn't feel like it.  Instead we rode the scooter up Mt. Graham.  The road is very scenic, but also very winding.  Most of the way the speed limit is 25, but many, many turns required slowing to 10.  The road is paved to a little over 9,000 feet and we were plenty cold by the time the dirt road started.  We don't enjoy dirt roads on the scooter so we turned around.  The trip up and back only took a couple hours and was a lot of fun.  The views on top were incredible.  We could see the Chiricahua's, the Dragoons, Willcox, the Rincons, Safford, and a lot more scenery that I used to know the names of.

It was seeing the Chiricahua's from the top of Mt. Graham that gave me an idea.  Instead of leaving today, why not make another trip down memory lane?  So that's what we did.  First thing this morning we loaded the scooter on the back of the truck and headed south, through Willcox, past the Dairy Queen where we used to eat banana splits and I first had Dilly Bar's, and south to Chiricahua National Monument.

For those who are not familiar with Lafferty family history, we spent 2 or 3 weeks camping there in early 1959 after Mom sprained her ankle.  The camping we did there in the old school bus is one of our favorite family memories.  During that time there, Dale and I hiked every trail in the park, some of them multiple times.

We parked the truck at Faraway Ranch, the original homestead in the area which has been preserved as it was in the 20's or 30's, and unloaded the scooter.  The roads in the monument are narrow, with overhanging trees, and I didn't want to add a new sunroof.  We stopped at the visitor center, then rode up to Masai Point at the end of the road.  On the way we rode through the campground were we had spent that time years ago, but I could not remember which site we camped in.

We ate our lunch at a picnic table at Masai Point, and were quickly visited by some old friends.  Chiricahua Jay's are a kind of blue jay, although the visitor center called them something else, and they are notorious camp robbers.  Dianna couldn't resist tossing them a few small pieces of bread.  They were totally brazen, and came right down to the table.  I remember them well from years ago.

After eating lunch at a picnic table we rode down about a half mile to the Echo Canyon Trail  parking area where we parked the scooter, put on the rucksack, and headed down the trail.  The formations were even better to view from up close as we walked through them and down Bonita Canyon. It was a pretty steep descent, but the loop back up to the parking area was a little more gentle.  Regardless, this little 3.2 mile hike was much, much tougher than any of the trails Dale and I took back in 1959.  I wonder why they made the trails so much steeper and more difficult?

We rode the scooter back down to the truck, loaded it up, and returned to Roper Lake, getting home just about 5:30.  It was great fun.  The place looked different after 50 years, as I only have general memories of the places and trails.  I had forgotten most of the details and would not have been able to describe much of the roads, campgrounds, visitor center, Masai Point, or any of the other places.  But it sure felt familiar and good.

And now, for those who have never seen a Cherry Cow, here is the story.  One day in early 1959, when camping at the campground there in Chiricahua, we all watched a white tail deer wander through the area.  On of my young siblings asked, quite innocently, "Is that the Cherry Cow?"

Today, shortly after arriving and unloading the scooter, the Cherry Cow pictured below came wandering through.

The rest of today's photos are on my gallery.


  1. This was the place where I broke my ankle. There was a laundry room in the rest rooms with a water heater heated by wood, which the rangers (or someone) had chopped. Dad washed some necessary items and hung them on the bushes around the Tramper.

    That is also where we saw the coatamundi; I'm not sure of the spelling, and neither my spell check or dictionary is of any help. He was so friendly that he came near enough to the trailer that we could toss food scraps to him. We later learned that he may have been rabid.

    We must have had angels on our shoulders in those days when we rushed fearlessly into the unknown.

    It sure looks like Cochise's Head to me. Can you still see the pine tree that formed his eyelash some fifty years ago? You can still see that formation on the main road between Willcox and Benson.

    Good memories!

  2. Mom, I remembered that you sprained/broke your ankle while we were staying at a trailer park in South Tucson, and that we went to Chiricahua to let it mend.

    Yes, the pine tree is still there, or maybe a new one has grown in its place.

  3. You're right; it was a bad sprain which I got carrying Donna to the shower in the morning, in that trailer park. And I misspoke, we had the Tramper, not a trailer, didn't we?

  4. We didn't have Tramper or a trailer at the time. We were still in the old bus.

  5. I actually remember Mom spraining her ankle carrying me. I must have been 6 or 7. I don't remember much else about Chiricahua except what was captured on our old movies.

  6. I went back to the Chiricahuas to camp with one of my first 2 wives. I don't remember which one. I also don't remember who said "Cherry Cow" but it sounds like something I would have said at that age.

  7. I think it was Dale who called it a "Cherry Cow". I seem to remember that he knew what he was saying, and he said it as a joke.

    I remember Dad carrying Mom after she sprained her ankle. It bothered me to see one of my parents getting hurt. You mean they aren't perfect?