Recharging the Spirit

My routine during much of this COVID-19 pandemic has involved getting up early in the morning and taking a three-mile walk in my neighborhood before settling in for work at home for the rest of the day. This month, I have returned to work at Kitt Peak National Observatory in a mode, we hope, is as safe as possible. When I returned to work, it was amazing to have the sense of little time passing and working in spaces just as familiar as those at home. As someone who enjoys traveling and seeing new things, this has been a challenging time.

Because of this, my wife gave me a terrific birthday present. As soon as my first shift at Kitt Peak finished, we made plans to visit the Chiricahua National Monument in Southeastern Arizona. I have driven just north of the monument on I-10 to and from work for a little over twelve years and I’ve passed the turnoff to the monument many times. However, I have never before taken the time to visit. In a pandemic when we we’re discouraged from gathering and where outdoor spaces are safer than indoor, this seemed an ideal time to visit. I’m glad we did. We started our visit at Massai Point, which gave us a wonderful view not only of the rock formations the Chiricahua Mountains are noted for, but a look back into New Mexico.

Massai Point Overlook, Chiricahua National Monument

On the recommendation of the ranger, we decided to hike the Echo Canyon Trail. Unfortunately, when we drove over to the parking lot, we found it full. After a quick look at the map, my wife and I realized the Massai Nature Trail connects to the Echo Canyon Loop trail. So we returned to Massai Point and started our hike.

Rhyolite pillars

The distinctive pillar formations of the Chiricahua began their life when a volcano erupted in the region 27 million years ago and spewed ash over 1200 square miles. The ash compressed and has been weathered by wind and rain. The Echo Canyon loop trail gives a good view of these pillars and takes you through countryside where you can see grottoes looking into and through rocks. With our little addition, we ended up hiking 4.3 miles. It wasn’t bad in light of my routine 3-mile hikes in the neighborhood, but still a little challenge since there was more up and down than my nice circuitous path through the neighborhood.

Because we were in the area, we decided to visit some nearby historical sites as well. We stopped by the grave site of gunman John Ringo, most famous for his involvement as a member of the Cowboy faction in Tombstone, Arizona in the events leading up to and after the infamous Gunfight at the OK Corral. We also took time to visit Fort Bowie. This was my second visit, but my wife’s first. When I first visited, it was a spur-of-the-moment visit on my way to work one shift. It was also monsoon season, so I ended up making the hike very fast. This time, we were better able to take our time and take the ridge trail that gave us a good overview of the site. As it turns out, Fort Bowie had two locations, which you can see in the photo below. You can likely make out the foundations of the later Fort Bowie on the left in the photo below. A little harder to see is the smaller, original encampment, only used for six years, on the hill to the right.

Both Fort Bowie Locations

Fort Bowie features in my fourth Clockwork Legion novel, Owl Riders. In the novel, I imagine the Chiricahua Apaches end up capturing a mining machine from the Clantons, also famous from their involvement in Tombstone, Arizona. With the help of machinists in Mexico, they replicate the mining machine and turn them into war wagons. Using them, they’re able to capture Fort Bowie, putting them into a position where the United States government is forced to negotiate with them. You can learn more about the novel at:

11 comments on “Recharging the Spirit

  1. Did you take those photos? They’re some nice pics!

    I don’t think I’ve ever been to Chiricahua National Monument, but there’s some places I went as a kid where I don’t remember which place was which.

    I do think it’s fun visiting a place I’ve read about in stories, whether real or fictional.

    The Gunfight at the OK Corral is perhaps my favorite example of how history changes with the times. I’ve seen several depictions of it. In each one, the men’s hairstyles are different, clothing styles and different, and the women are presented very differently. It’s one event, perhaps the most-documented shootout in American history, and yet it and the surrounding events look very different every time I see them.

    • Those are my photos and thanks!

      Yes, I love looking at the different versions of the OK Corral story as well and comparing them. If you haven’t seen it, you may enjoy the film Tombstone Rashomon directed by Alex Cox. It’s mostly about how even the participants and spectators all saw events differently depending on their perspectives. It also has some fun with how 140 years of time (give or take) influences our perception of the tale.

  2. Definitely going to follow your blog!

  3. Those are some nice hoodoos! It’s always great to discover neat things close to home.

    • Thank you! Yes, I spent some time looking for a few nice getaways close to home that also allowed enough social distancing to be as safe as possible. I was glad this gave me the excuse to visit something nearby that I would likely have missed otherwise.

  4. Thank you for liking my post ! Also, yes Kitt Peak is exactly 90 degrees north of. ” mountain at the center of the universe”. I used to have that poster of the famous photo of Kitt Peak amongst a lighting storm.
    Also, be sure to view the entire case that proves, in repeated repetition of the same basic angles, that what is presented is true. Pages not in the best order.

    • Yes I’m well acquainted with the “mountain at the center of the universe” which is called Baboquivari Peak. Likewise I know that famous lightning photo well. It was taken from the 2.1-meter telescope’s catwalk. Thanks for dropping by and have a good weekend.

      • Science requires this : we see in the overlap of a hemispheral star map cued-up at winter solstice, view from the north and south poles ( national geographic 1995 map of the mathematical year of 2000) OVERLAPED on a earth pole to equator map ( cued at the man-made (Royal Observatory) 0 degree latitude at north and all 4 cardinal points).
        Seeing that this ( and the others) proves that the same maker of the earths pattern also made the cosmos, and more,… is a good bet, I would say it is a given, that if we pointed a telescope or radio scope at the point where Easter Rapa Nui Island is on the star map at 0 north, something interesting is there.
        Consider this an official request.
        And also where Jerusalem and all the holy sites and mountains of the world, we must point a telescope at these locations.
        And visa versa, what is on the zoom-in pin-point locations of the stars on earth, my map is only the zoom-out.
        What is really neat about God’s riddle of the cosmos, is how it also brings scientific historic spots into His pattern.
        Note the Mount Graham peak and scope align to site of Gabriel announcing to Mary she will carry God’s son, in Nazareth.
        Also see page of the strange align of Marconi Station on the 10 degree from the center Dine’ Holy Mountain called ” body of the earth. ”
        This story will end the genre of science fiction and maybe even fiction in general, sorry to say.
        view both sites. New findings and pages posted almost daily.
        Thanks for platform, this is real stuff, as fantastical as it sounds, with solid proof, not television/ internet proof, but, real math based /physical object /smoking gun proof.

      • Also view the star map with the chaco canyon pictograph mathematically placed and overlayed on the star map. Be amazed, view the detailed exact aligns. Proving the stars and galaxies are by design, and with meaning.
        And point your telescopes at the center-point of the chaco star design in the pictograph ( please view the pages on this pictograph and chaco canyon) it is truly beyond human imagination.
        Sorry for so many words,but, things must be communicated in detail with complicated things.
        Thanks again,

      • Evidence: the chaco canyon pictograph and its complex mathemaical design (that incorporates the map and footprint design of the temple mount foundation and holy sites of Jerusalem), is located directly on the 108 latitude line. The angled Ural Mountain Range is on the 60 latitude line. The star map cued to the 0 line at Greenwich shows an intelligent align of constellations and stars to Sinai Peninsula and other geological landmarks.

        These lines were established by the Royal Observatory. This shows that God has included the works of the sciences into His plan.
        and, somehow, God influences our decisions so that they fit into His mathematical message.

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