Of Dragoons and Dragons

Oh, I’m getting behind in my chronicles! Too many cool sights and organisms, but I’ll do what I can this evening to show you some interesting things. Commentary will appear as if by magic sometime during the wee hours of the coming morning.

North of Bisbee and east of Tucson is a range of dramatic granite mountains known as the Dragoons. The range isn’t extraordinarily lofty or extensive but the landscape is beautiful, just full of intersecting canyons and intricately eroded peaks. The range is historically famous for providing a hide-out and refuge for Cochise’s Apache warriors during the eleven years of fighting between the tribe and the US Army.

A couple of days ago Bev, a collie named Sage, and I spent an afternoon walking up one the Dragoons’ canyons. Some photos from the excursion:

The photo above is of a typical Dragoon jutting above the desert valley, and below is a closer view of another mountain.

Bev and Sage on the trail:

A view back down the Slavin Gulch trail, looking across the valley towards another sector of the Dragoons:

I enjoyed seeing the Dragoons, but there is something to be said for proximity. The house I’ve been occupying is perched on the edge of a canyon slope which extends up into the Mule Mountains, amongst which Bisbee is nestled. The other day as I ranged freely along the canyon slopes, attempting in vain to avoid the ubiquitous thorns, I came across a dramatically-shaped granite outcrop which is perhaps thirty feet tall. Later I consulted a map and found that the outcrop has a name: the Dragon Rocks. The formation doesn’t look much like a dragon to me unless I squint my eyes and wax fanciful, but the pile is easily climbable and offers a splendid view of the canyon. From my admittedly unsocial point of view the place seems not to be visited very often. The next two photos below were taken respectively in the morning and the evening. The morning shot shows two aspens which were nicely illuminated by the rays of the rising sun.

This shot is a view from the dragon’s spine of the upper reaches of the canyon, my current neighborhood:

Another view from the top of the rocks, looking down at the same two aspens. The evening sun kindled the aspen-tops into a brilliant glow:

The shadow cast by the dragons; the right-hand protrusion at the top of the shadow is my own shadow:

The rocks’ summit seems to be a favorite spot for defecation, most likely by a family of coatimundi. I wondered what the creatures had been eating? I resisted the impulse to add to the pile:

A closer view for those interested in such matters:

Clinging to the furrowed and ledged side of the granite structure was a tenacious manzanita just coming into full bloom. A view of the flowers, which modestly don’t open very far; such coyness doubtless irritates the bees which pollinate the shrubby tree.

On my second visit I discovered an abandoned mineshaft just beneath the rocks. I was mightily intrigued:

Sage, the intrepid hiking collie, nosed around the entrance as I cast my shadow within. I’ll bring rubber boots with me next time!

Larry

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10 Comments

Filed under Arizona, Essays and Articles, Natural History, Photos

10 responses to “Of Dragoons and Dragons

  1. Joan

    Well, these are fascinating pictures. I had to look up coatimundi, to see what matched the poop. Much smaller animal than I would have guessed but then there was not a visual reference. I was thinking if a coatimundi was related to a cougar, then I’d not want to roam those hills very often.
    Since I’ve already written a poop poem in re yourself vs. the bear in the woods, I guess I’ll pass on the poopimundi.

    As for thorns etc…I guess we now know why cowboys wore those sheepskin chaps. It certainly was not because they looked cool. (grin)

    BTW Did you see far enough into that hole to determine if it was a mine or a cave?

  2. Joan

    Darrell, I recall it. It was one of my favorite movies. Wasn’t that the one with Debora Pagett as the female lead? Not sure. Should look it up before I blab. I don’t think there is a Jimmy Stewart movie I have not seen. Even the ones before my time I could catch on late night TV. It was also significant because it did not make the indian the bad guy for once. Way before Dances with Wolves.

  3. Darrell

    Thanks Bev . . . it’s a place I’ve long loved.
    Joan . . .Yes Debra Padgett had the gal lead.. I agree with you, its a flat-out misconception to believe that Dances with Wolves was the first film to depict Indians in a favorable light. There were at least a half dozen movies I can recall from the ’50’s that did so, including Tecumseh, Osceola, etc. And Chandler/Cochise did a “prequal” a bit latewr: The Battle of Apache Pass, in which the honorable Cochise is set upon by the Americans. AND don’t forget Ramona, Hiawatha and other literary classic that were filmed. Also, Burt Lancaster’s “Jim Thorpe” and “Apache”. Don’t forget Yul Brynner as Black Eagle in “Kings of the Sun”. All are “sleepers” it seems
    Speaking of sleepers (and James Stewart) one of my favs is 1957’s Spirit of St Louis . . . maybe the best airplane movie ever made, I think. But it flopped at the time . . . sad.

  4. Joan

    Yeah, Darrell, there were some really good (well within the standards of the time) movies back then. The only thing they really lacked was real Indians in the major roles. I mean, I was convinced Jeff Chandler, who was Jewish and from Brooklyn, was part Indian. (grin) I don’t even know if they used them as extras. I think not. Swarthy Italians, or heavily made-up white guys.

    With the exception of Tonto (Jay Silverheels) and Chief Dan George, from Little Big Man, You can count on the fingers of one hand, actual native American actors who played significant roles in movies. And Little Big Man was not made in the 50’s.

    Here are the two others whose names I recognized: Grahm Green, Adam Beach.

    The few movies made about and by Indians were even less. These are all contemporary. I remember Smoke Signals, and Windtalkers, about WWII Indian soldiers who used their native language to confuse code breakers. Beach appeared in some Indian whodoneit’s also.

    I never saw the classics you mentioned. They were evidently not a hot item at the Tom Sawyer theater. (grin) .

    • Darrell

      No Indian actors? Well there was Will Rogers who poped up on several fronts (tho not an actor, there was Wiley Post, probaby the #1 luminary in American aviation of the ’30’s. But I think there just wasn’t the current pop-proclivity for being “Native American” so mixed descent actors and actresses were passed off as “Latin”? Recall Anthony Quinn, Ricardo Mantalban, Dolores Del Rio, Katy Jurado, Thomas Gomez, etc., had quite significant fan following. Also in addition to the aforementioned, there was Tom Mix.

  5. Pingback: flight of the dictionary demon | Riverside Rambles

  6. Joan

    Indian actors playing Indian leads. You don’t see that. In fact you don’t see them even playing Indians. Didn’t happen. I don’t think Will Rogers ever appeared with feathers. I’ll bet the Indians don’t consider being Native American a “pop proclivity.” Latin, or Latin American, was pretty much in fashion. Lucie Desi etc. Think of all those Carmine Miranda movies…the Latin dances… etc. Plains Indians, and even desert Indians…not so much.

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