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Thursday, March 3, 2011

VACATION - Found Old Fort Rucker Ranch

(This is my second post for today, so I am catching up now!) 

We spent a pleasant morning with fellow RV bloggers, Rene and Jim of http://www.liveworkdream.com  we had coffee and banana nut muffins for a treat.  The dogs did their tricks to entertain them and we are sure to see them again in the next few days!

Now that we are settled in our boondocking spot for a few days, we are planning on taking the Tracker and the dogs for a few little exploration trips.

One place we wanted to see was Old Fort Rucker Ranch... our RV friends Al and Kelly recommended a book a while back called "A Cowman's Wife" by Mary Kidder Rak. ISBN-10: 1432571958
She wrote the book while they lived on a ranch up high in the Arizona desert.

Book Summary of A Cowman's Wife

Women in the American West were not only mothers, teachers, and nurses, but also cowgirls, outlaws, and ranchers. Mary Rak's career as a ranchwoman began in 1919, when she and her husband Charles Lukeman Rak purchased a spread fifty miles north of Douglas, Arizona.
In A Cowman's Wife, Rak details the seasonal round of ranch chores; the devastating effects of drought; the difficulty of finding hired hands; and the exigencies of marketing the cattle, especially during the Depression.
The new introduction to this rangeland classic was written by the late Sandra L. Myres. Her research into the lives and writings of ranchwomen provides an excellent background for understanding Mary Rak and her work.

So with Al's guidance as to where to find the ranch, off we went!  And ... we found it!   It is very difficult to find, there are no signs.  It recently is undergoing a historical renovation, and is not yet really open to the public.  So unless you read the book and know the area, you would not have a clue as to what lays beyond the gate at the side of the road. 
Here is a Google Earth shot of the old fort grounds. 

First... this location was an army fort.  The Canyon here has a direct path down into Mexico. 

Then it was no longer a fort, it became a cattle ranch.  It passed through 2 owners before Charlie and Mary Rak bought it in 1919.  They raised cattle on the 22,000 acres. 

We walked around, poking our heads in the buildings and barn.  It was like watching the book come alive in my head!  I could feel and see what Mary saw on her ranch as she wrote her book.  Walking through the buildings and the home, I recalled stories among the chapters, and relayed some of them to Steve as we wandered around the place. 

I snapped about 100 photos... but Al has so many good ones in his picassa folder:

and three blogs on their explorations at the ranch:

 These are the Swiss Helm Mountains that Mary would look out on, and they would drive the rugged 80 miles or so up to Wilcox or the 50 miles south to Douglas for supplies for the ranch.  It was early 1920's and she told about tales with battered old vehicles and the hard life of ranching.  But her book also told of the wonderful views, rewarding events and people who passed on through their lives at the ranch.

When we were done exploring to our heart's content, we went back to the Tracker and got the dogs some water.  We laid out our Honeymoon Mexican Blanket and had a picnic lunch at the gate.

ACK ~  don't look at those chicken skin white legs of mine!   
I am slathered with sunscreen so we don't ruin a single day of vacation suffering from sunburns! 

On the way back to the motorhome, Ducky got a SPECIAL TREAT!   In a past blog I told about how she feels that she must hollar at cows and put them in their place.  Well.... this area  of the desert is full of free range cattle and these just happened to be on the road in front of us!   As we drove up slowly......

.... she gave them the big "WHAT FOR"  and barked and barked at them!  As we drove by, the cows starting galloping alongside the Tracker to see why a goofball dog inside was barking at them!   Duke just smiled his doggy smile and said: "Boy oh boy are you gonna get it now!"

And so it goes, another day in our Arizona desert! 

no miles traveled in the motorhome
86 miles traveled in the Tracker 



  1. If you liked Cowman's Wife you will also enjoy

    Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Stewart, Elenore Pruitt

    Available free for the Kindle thru the Archive.org web site.

  2. That is so funny about the cows. Thank goodness you are safe from danger, Ducky deserves a few extra pats for being such a good dog!

  3. Glad to see you made it down to AZ. We're where the "sunshine spends the winter" or Yuma boondocking and enjoying same weather. Heading out to Ajo for lush Sonoran desertscapes. Happy trails

  4. another great post!..thanks for sharing your special day with us!!

  5. Boy isn't it great going back and seeing this great countries history, especially when you have a heads up from a fellow blogger like Al,We really enjoyed being along with you on this trip so far,can't wait to see you guys again. and hear about the highlights in person. Be safe out there. Sam & Donna.

  6. I know where you guys are boondocked--what a great spot! Have fun exploring that area, we hope to be down there early next week.

  7. So glad you made it to old Fort Rucker to see Mary & Charlie's house. Such a quiet, peaceful & special place surrounded by the Chiricahua Mountains. Have been there 3 times & look forward to dropping by again some day. You are also just a short distance from Tombstone & Bisbee. You might find the Weaver's club interesting in the basement of Bisbee's YWCA next to the historic Copper Queen Hotel. Downtown Bisbee is small so everything is easy to find.

  8. Going to have to get that book, looks like y'all had a really good day!!


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