The Empire Ranch – A Quiet Journey

180 square miles.
That’s over 115,000 acres.

That’s how large the Empire Ranch used to be when it was at its greatest.  It has been a working cattle ranch for over a hundred thirty-five years and is now under the aegis of the Bureau of Land Management or BLM.  The BLM is working to ensure the preservation of the Empire Ranch and all of its buildings and history.

That’s where I am today, the Empire Ranch, near Sonoita Arizona. Although it has lost some of its size, at over 45,000 acres, it is still a giant.

For more information about the Empire Ranch, the different rides and events that happen at the ranch each year, and of course, more about its history,  here is a link to their website.

The Empire Ranch

You can also look up information on the BLM site.

BLM on The Empire Ranch

The last time I was here I went for a guided tour of the ranch. I got to walk through most of the buildings and they explained what happened when, who owned it and who helped to create this incredible empire.  This is a place that is full of history and you can feel that as you walk through the different buildings and as you look at the land and see these incredible vistas.  They not only seem to go on for miles but at over 45,000 acres, they actually do go on for miles.

ere I am standing on the porch of the main ranch house

Here I am standing on the porch of the main ranch house

I even got my picture taken at the same spot that John Wayne stood, when he was leaning up against the rail in one of his many westerns.

Imagine it.  Me. Standing in the same place John Wayne stood.

Imagine it. Me. Standing in the same place John Wayne stood.

There is so much to be explored in this incredible place and  that’s wonderful and there’s all kinds of information online for you to look at to find out more about the history of the Empire Ranch.

But today…..

Today…

Today, I want to take you on a quiet journey. I want to share with you some of the incredible beauty of this place and perhaps to express the warm, gentle, feeling of peace that I get when I’m here.

It’s been raining. It started last night and sounded so wonderful on the roof of my little trailer. It has been raining most of the day and its just now starting to slow down.  It is still very cloudy though.  But not that sullen sky, with cold grey clouds, that one so often associates with a rainy day.  Here, there’s a brilliance, a brightness to the sky and the land is so vast and huge that it’s still retains its beauty, even on a rainy day like today. Almost as though the heavens themselves are celebrating the wonder and beauty seen below.

It was still raining at this point but the sky was so bright.

 

There are clouds drifting over the mountains in the distance. Some are even being carved by the tops of the mountains, just as the mountains have carved their outline into the horizon.0412151706a

You can actually see where there’s been a little snow fall on the very tip of the mountains that pierce the skyline directly behind my camp.

Closer at hand, just beyond the pond, you can see the line of magnificent cottonwood trees that have probably been here for centuries.

You can see the tops just beyond the pond.  There is a row of these incredible Cottonwood trees that must stretch for a mile or more.

Last year, I took some pictures from under the great cottonwood trees.

Their tops are green, growing, and grand,

There is a trail you can walk underneath of these green giants.

their trunks are vast, gnarled and ancient.

Magnificent!

When you stand underneath one, you feel so small.

Their branches seem to be reaching and stretching for just a taste of the sky.

Incredible.

But for today

Today…

The sun is still hidden in the clouds.  I’ve only seen it take one tiny little peek out at noon. Just barely enough to let you see its outline, then it slipped away behind the silver grey curtain.

Noon Sun

That is the only time I’ve seen the sun so far today.

But even so, there is such incredible beauty to be shared.

There are smaller trees dotting the landscape. Their branches seem bare and stark, adding to the sense that this is a desolate place, yet even in their winter garb, they add to the beauty of the plains.

These trees seem stark.

On closer inspection you can see a bit of green, a bud here and there,

Some branches are just budding

even a branch that is starting to leaf,

While others on the same tree are in full leaf

reminding you that spring is happening in its quiet, gentle way.

There is a stillness here, a silence, a sense of calm. There is no rush.  No desire to be some place else. No need to change its look or feel, to be something different.   There is simply the knowing, the being, the accepting, that this is the way here and has been, since time began.

There’s just a bit of a breeze now, its rustling through the grass that runs across these plains. Drawing a whisper from the reeds that were dry, awaiting this spring rain. The sound it makes as the breeze goes through is so calming, so quiet. Underneath those dry brown reeds of former years, burnt to the color of sand by last summers sun, you can see the new green that is only now starting to show.

The sound it makes as the breeze goes through is so calming

As I read through this quiet journey again, to be sure that I’ve captured this moment in time, when I get to this part, to this place, I stop and close my eyes. I can feel that soft breeze, hear it gently singing through the grass.  I take a deep breath and slowly release it. I can feel my body relax and my heart is eased.  This is a place where my mind, my body, even my soul, is at rest.

Then…

The sun shone through again. A little stronger this time.

The Sun conquered by the clouds of silver gray

It tried to part that silver grey curtain, to cast its light on the land. Even though it was brief, you could feel the trees reaching for the warmth,

You truly could get that sense that they were leaning into the sun.  reaching for its life giving light.

needing that light which feeds their leaves, their branches, their roots.

Then all was quiet, as the sun dropped beneath the horizon. A final gleam of light, a promise for tomorrow.

This picture surprises me every time I look at it.  I do not know how, but my little camera captured the beauty of the closing of the day in this one photo

The light is fading now, as night embraces the land. No fanfare, no trumpets, no amazed surprise, only accepting, that this is the way here and has been, since time began.

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The Little Gypsy

Home Sweet Home!

Home Sweet Home!

She has not changed much on the outside.  Although thoughts of her name painted somewhere comes to mind.  Plus I do have an idea for all of that white space that will have to wait til next winter.  But for now, lets take a look at the changes I did make!

From Lots of Storage

From Lots of Storage

To Lots of Storage?  Well More than enough for me.  My Guitar, Mandolin, Dulcimer are all underneath the bed.  Along with a bucket for me soups and a tub for my summer clothes.  The van is now my primary storage place.

To Lots of Storage?

Well More than enough for me. My Guitar, Mandolin, and Dulcimer are all underneath the bed. Along with a bucket for my soups, though that may go back into the van.  I even have a tub for my summer clothes. The van is now my primary storage place.

I have taken out the old bed entirely.  The board was made of Plywood and Particle board.  Both are items I should not be around for any length of time because of the glue that they use.  I made the new bed 16 inches narrower and just over a foot lower.  It is made out of 1 by 4 pine boards.  It has made a huge difference for me as far as livability goes.  The builder had it designed that way for specific uses, like weekend camping trips.  For me this is going to work much better, since I will be living in it!  I could not get to most of the storage space the way it was, but now I am utilizing most of what I have.  The bed was so high it was hard for this ole gal to get into, so lowering it also improved the trailer by leaps and bounds.

Here is the tub with my clothes in and a place for my shoes on top!  :)

Here is the tub with my clothes in and a place for my shoes on top!

Taking out the old bed took a couple of days of hard work!  It was in there to stay.  Until I came along.  Fortunately, I was able to reuse many of the 2 by 2’s and especially the ones with the special holes the builder had for screwing them into the floor.  Here are some pics of the old bed coming out.

That front slot is where the slide out table used to be.  Going to use a different approach. More on that later.

That front slot is where the slide out table used to be. Going to use a different approach. More on that later.

This is where I had one of those two drawers I made.  They make work out under the bed at a later date.But for now they are stored away, because this is coming out.

This is where I had one of those two drawers I made. They make work out under the bed at a later date. But for now they are stored away, because this is coming out.

He used a lot of wood to make that slide out table happen.  Clever design, and I thought about that approach...

He used a lot of wood!  That was a solid bed.

Here you can see the side where the wiring came in.  That only had to be moved down a little for it to fit in my new design.

Here you can see the side where the wiring came in. That only had to be moved down a little for it to fit in my new design.

Outside my place was , shall we say, busy?  LOL  It was a mess!  But it was only for a couple weeks.

Outside my place was , shall we say, busy? LOL It was a mess! But it was only for a couple weeks.

Here is where I started to work on the new bed.  It was looking really big once I took out the old bed!

Visualizing the bed.  Those 2 x 2's are just sitting on the framework around the edges of the trailer.

Space!  Lots of Space!

Visualizing the bed. Those 2 x 2’s are just sitting on the framework around the edges of the trailer.

Getting the frame set.  I have the legs setting on the floor where the beams run under the trailer.

Getting the frame set.

I have the legs setting on the floor where the beams run under the trailer. The builder said to use them or lay some 2 by 4’s if I was going to have the legs go any where else.  Help to distribute the weight.

That door toth front storage will not be used again!  Ah Well.  I could not get to it anyway.  There is a door from the outside.

That door to the front storage will not be used again! Ah Well. I could not get to it anyway and there is a door from the outside.

Then Poof!  The Bed appears

Then Poof! The Bed appears

What do you think? Not too Shabby for an ole gal?

What do you think? Not too shabby for an ole gal?

I am sure you know it was not quite that easy.  But it was getting dark and I so wanted to lie down on my new bed I just did not stop to take pictures!  Shame on me!

That night we threw the blankets and the little feather mattress we had on that big beautiful bed and slept the sleep of the victorious!

It was dark when I was setting the last boards in place.  I don't think I even had them screwed down.  Macha and I did not care!

It was dark when I was setting the last boards in place. I don’t think I even had them screwed down. Macha and I did not care!

After sleeping on a board 18 inches wide… Wait.  Didn’t I tell you about that part?  No?  Oh Boy what a story that is!  We had already moved into the trailer the way it was, thinking we could make it work.  We couldn’t.  The bed was too high and it was just too much to bear having all of that space under the bed going to waste.  I could not reach anything under it without laying down on the floor and scooching (is that a word) my way back under neath it.  Not the best way to utilize that space trust me! Plus I had already given my cot to my son for his truck.  So there was no bed in the van.  But I did have this board that was 6 feet long and 18 inches wide that had come out of the trailer.  I had the old milk crates that I had taken off of the roof of the van. I put them inside the van and laid that board on top of them.

18' wide by 6' long.  It was downright interesting!

18′ wide by 6′ long. It was downright interesting!

I think it was four or five nights total that we laid on that skinny little bed.  Oh My!  It felt like a very long time!  Sure did make us appreciate that nice 3 foot wide bed when we finally got to lay down in it!

Next I cut down the mattresses.  Yup there are two.  The top one is a little softer for comfort and the bottom one is a heavy foam so you don’t reach through to the wood. I do like the way they builder had this little trailer set up in so many ways.  Just had to make some adjustments!

Getting close.  Have to cut off another inch or so of the width to get a good fit.

Getting close. Have to cut off another inch or so of the width to get a good fit.

Foam is done!  Yippee!

Foam is done! Yippee!

So. Can I brag just a little? I had to show you this since no one will see it once the shelves go in.

Okay!  So!  Bragging a little?  I had to show you this since no one will see it once the shelves go in.  Pretty nice fit when you consider I had a hand saw and sandpaper to work with.

Pretty nice fit when you consider I only had a hand saw and sandpaper to work with.

Cut down the mattress and wrap it in a sheet? Voila!

Cut down the mattress and wrap it in a sheet?  voila!  BED!  I cannot begin to tell you how happy I was about this!

BED!

I cannot begin to tell you how happy I was about this!

BUT!  The Acid test is about to happen.  Will SHE approve?

Sniffed it over once and laid down!  Macha is as grateful as I am to NOT be on that 18" wide board in the van.  That was interesting.

Yes! The Macha Stamp of Approval!

She sniffed it all over once and laid down! Macha is as grateful as I am to NOT be on that 18″ wide board in the van. It certainly made us happy to be sleeping here instead!

Did I mention how happy I was to be in our new bed?  So happy that every night as I lay down I am still thanking the good Lord all over again for such a lovely bed!

Now! We have a place to sleep, so, what about a shelf or two?

All that lovely space!  A shelf will do two thing!  Give me more falt space to fill up and protect all of my electrical wiring.  You can see my positive and negative strips up against the wall and I have moved my two DC Outlets and the 110 outlet so they will be under the shelf as well.  That will keep me from accidentally pulling any wires loose.  Ahem, Any MORE wireds loose.  That has happened too many times!

All that lovely space!

A shelf will do two things. Give me more flat space to fill up and protect all of my electrical wiring. You can see my positive and negative strips up against the wall and I have moved my two DC Outlets and the 110 outlet so they will be under the shelf as well. That will keep me from accidentally pulling any wires loose. Okay, Okay, Fine. It will keep me from pulling any MORE wires loose. That has happened too many times!

Take the mattress out because it is now time to add a shelf.  Lots of lovely space just waiting!In this photo you can see I already have some of the boards in place.  The cool thing is none of th boards are screwed in place.  They are just sitting there on the 2 x 2's that I made into a little tray. That way I can easily get to the the DC strips that are underneath this shelf and add wiring for my lights later.

Lots of lovely space just waiting!

In this photo you can see I already have some of the boards in place. The cool thing is none of these boards are screwed in place. They are just sitting there on the 1 x 2’s that I made into a little tray. That way I can easily get to the the DC strips that are underneath this shelf and add wiring for my lights later.

One Shelf Done!

One Shelf Done!

It sure didn’t take me long to put something on it!  No flat place is safe in any home I live in!  LOL

Here you can see the trays I made to let the boards have someplace to sit.  On this side they may end up screwed in place since I want to add a special shelf on top of this one.  But that is down the road.

Shelf number two!

Here you can see the trays I made to let the boards have someplace to sit. On this side they may end up screwed in place since I want to add a special shelf on top of this one. But that is down the road.

A lot more sawing.  Well it is a lot when you are doing it with a hand saw!  Shelf number two is done!

A lot more sawing.

Well it is a lot when you are doing it with a hand saw! Shelf number two is done! Thank goodness I had a borrowed screw gun.  I don’t know what I would have done without that!

One more shelf?  Yes!  This one will just sit on top of that first shelf.  Make it so much easier to view movies and still have a place to sit my water glass!  This is important stuff you know!  LOL

One more shelf?

This one is not quite as finished as I would like but it will work until I can do the finishing pieces on it.  It won’t look quite so rough then.

Ah Yes!  Nice fit.  It will just sit on top of the shelf.  But I will be adding barrel bolts to keep it from wandering.

Ah Yes! Nice fit.

It will just sit on top of the shelf. But I will be adding barrel bolts to keep it from wandering. I got some fancy flattened ones.  You can see one of them here.

This is the one in teh front I have one in the back as well so she wont come off when we are going down the road.

This is the one in the front.

I have one in the back as well so it wont come off when we are going down the road.

In a pinch it could be used to have a place to work on my computer.  It does work.  Tried it out.  But I came up with a better notion for the short term.  Show ya later.

In a pinch it could be used to have a place to work on my computer.

The back barrel bolt fits into the front slot when it is in this position to give it a little stability.  With the bed as a seat it does work. Tried it out. But I came up with a better notion for the short term. Show ya later. Have I said that before? Well!  Later has finally arrived!

Here I am sitting on the bed and my computer is sitting on a board that is fastened to the shelf with a C Clamp.

Can you see the C Clamp off to the right?

Here my computer is sitting on a board that is fastened to the shelf with a C Clamp.

I can slide the computer out to sit in front of me and as long as the C Clamp is not too tight I can swing the board in and out as I need too!  Pretty slick trick!

Pretty slick trick!

I can slide the computer out to sit in front of me when I am sitting on the bed and as long as the C Clamp is not too tight I can swing the board in and out as I need too! That shelf is heavy enough that it holds my computer in place.  I don’t want to lean on the board though.

Eventually, I plan on setting up a rectangular Lazy Susan on the other side.  Using this same concept.  Except the board will fold out and I will be able to use it from the bed or from my seat.

Here you can see the seat.

Here you can see the seat.

I have added another cushion to the seat.  I had them still, so why not use them! The other one has been cut down a bit and is under my guitar to cushion it as we travel.  By the way, if you are thinking that shelf looks crowded you are right!  I have already put some of it back in the van.  Trying to organize the van has been challenging.  But it is coming along. Things have been going back and forth, but I am getting a handle on it.  I think!

It is the original seat and still hides my privy.

Peek a Doo… Umm, do I mean Boo?

This is the original seat and still hides my privy. I am hoping to come up with a creative way to hinge these doors or at least the top one.  So I don’t have to take it apart and put it back together every time.  Still thinking on that one.

 

So that is it for now! My beautiful trailer is so usable now!

Sitting on the bed and looking to the right.

Sitting on the bed and looking to the right. My painting is sure looking good in my new home!

Looking in from the door.

Looking in from the door and to the left.

From the door and in to the right

From the door and in and down to the right

Straight in from the door.

Straight in and down from the door.

From the bed and looking left.

From the bed and looking left.

I have a beautiful home!  With my van as a great storage place it is all working well together.  My kitchen is still outside.  With most of my food and kitchen accessories in the van.

I am so blessed!