Monday, February 06, 2017
Some R&R in Cochise County
Denis and I usually take a week off to celebrate my birthday/our anniversary at the end of January, and this year was no exception. The only thing different was that we couldn't stay in our usual cottage because someone else has taken a long-term lease on it.
I happened to find a cottage in the Sulphur Springs Valley east of Bisbee. Sandhill Crane Cottage is a few more miles off the beaten path than our usual place to stay, but that can have perks, too. For one thing, it was only a half mile from Whitewater Draw where thousands of sandhill cranes spend the winter.
The cottage looks a bit drab on the outside in the winter, and I would like to go back sometime and stay in the summer when all the trees are leafed out. The cottage itself is straw-bale construction covered with stucco. That bell up at the top makes me think of the Alamo. How about you?
Let's take a look at the inside.
Here I am in the living area looking toward the dining room and the front door. This cottage was built by an old hippie who didn't like doors; the only ones in the entire cottage are exterior doors.
There are caliche floors made of decomposed limestone (nicknamed "nature's cement") that has been beaten down. The old hippie also liked stained glass transoms, which were beautiful when the sun shone through them.
The front door happens to be a salvaged 200-year-old pair of mission doors. If you're looking at the photo to the right and you're wondering what those light-colored lines are on the doors, well... that's daylight. It's a wonder we didn't freeze our toenails off, but we didn't. The two heaters in the cottage kept us nice and toasty.
The owner of the property gave us a guided tour, and one of the things she told us was that there is a pair of great-horned owls that roost in her trees. I did see them, but they were so well camouflaged that my photos were worthless. They were quite vocal on occasion, however.
A piece of advice that she gave us stuck in my mind: "If you go outside at night, make noise. We have javelina and coyotes."
The builder of the cottage used wood beams throughout. About twenty years ago, there was a bad fire in the Chiricahua Mountains, and he brought back several burned trees to clean up and use. Denis and I found ourselves admiring the wood, and we could see burn marks if we looked closely enough.
I took this photo to the right from my vantage point in the dining room. You can see more beams-- and the lack of a bedroom door. The bathroom is through the bedroom to the right. For a couple, this place is perfect. Who really needs doors? If there were more people in the cottage, privacy might be a bit problematic.
That table to the left holds the television. While we were there, it also held the Blu-ray player that we brought with us along with a selection of movies. Nothing like traveling in style, is there? Denis bought a refurbished Blu-ray player for $30. It's very small and fit in easily with our other provisions.
There were two tables in the cottage-- one in the kitchen where we ate and the large table in the dining room. For some reason, Denis decided to make the dining room table his gizmo-charging station, and the top of the table often looked like a den of snakes with all the cords going every which way.
As you can see, I also chose the dining room table as my headquarters. Knitting patterns being held down by magnets, a bottle of water, reading glasses, a Kindle. I not only had the best view of the cottage, I was sitting by a pair of French doors and had a good view of the outdoors.
See what I mean? You can also see some of the plants the owner brought in to keep them from freezing, and there's my knitting bag.
My birthday/anniversary was a special day. When I woke up at sunrise, I was serenaded by the owls perched in the tree right outside the cottage, and then in the afternoon while I was knitting by the French doors, this roadrunner came right up to the glass to get a look at me before wandering leisurely through the grounds to find tasty morsels for its lunch. (It's chowing down on one in the photo.)
One of the reasons why wildlife loves this property is that it has a pond which was formed by the local Apaches coming to dig the clay they needed to make their pottery.
While we were there, a storm moved through and what tumbleweeds didn't roll past those French doors seem to have drowned their sorrows in the pond.
Of course we went to Whitewater Draw-- especially since we were so close. We've met people from all over the world there. People want to see thousands of sandhill cranes, and I don't blame them. It's a Bucket List sort of moment.
While we were there, something startled the cranes, and thousands of them took to the air. The sound they make is quite memorable, and I have to admit that I find it very peaceful.
Toward the end of our stay, we were treated to a run-of-the-mill Arizona sunset. I never tire of them. They are absolutely breathtaking.
The night before we headed back to Phoenix, coyotes serenaded me as I lay in bed. When Denis and I loaded up the Jeep in the morning, we had a little surprise....
The Jeep was covered in a heavy frost. It's been a lot of years since that's happened, and in a way, it was a fitting end to our week staying at the end of a dirt road in a house made of straw.