Sunday, November 23, 2008

Odd Ramblings from Benson, AZ

While the economy is slowing down drastically, there’s been no slowdown in the number or length of trains passing through Benson.

The tracks paralleling Interstate 10 seem to be one of the major east / west routes for rolling freight, and the cross-town streets are routinely shut down day and night for several minutes at a time. Our SKP park is far enough away from the tracks that, yes, we can hear the train whistles, but they are distant and quiet rather than raucous.

Benson has been the transportation hub for the entire San Pedro River Valley. In 1871, a mile north of what was to become Benson, a stage stop was built to serve the Butterfield Overland Stage which carried US Mail and passengers from St. Louis, MO to San Francisco, CA in 25 days or less, a run of 2700 miles.

While the mural at the gun and ammo store is attractive, it is a glorification of what the old Butterfield stages really were. Instead of six passengers in a custom coach drawn by three pair of horses, the wagons were more open, with the nine passengers sitting in three rows, the first row facing backward. The six passengers in the facing rows were so close together they had to interlock their legs, with one passenger at each side dangling his/her outer leg outside the wagon. Instead of a handy boot for stowing their luggage, they sat with their bags on their laps. Diaries of these early-day travelers spoke of long days and nights of riding, two short meal breaks daily, and grabbing what sleep they could while bouncing along, wedged tightly with the other passengers. And instead of horses, four sturdy mules often drew the wagons.

In 1880, the transcontinental Southern Pacific paved the way for itself and two other rail lines to transport silver and copper from neighboring mining communities from its Benson terminal. The town was laid out as a square of 160 acres, bisected by the railroad.

Our town celebrates its railroad history; its visitors’ center was built as a replica of an old-time depot. Today Benson is served by the Union Pacific and by Amtrak.

We have told you that we are on the park’s Propane Committee and promised you pictures of our assignments.

Here Suzy is in the cashier’s kiosk with Betty, her trainer, and I’m pumping a tankful of LPG for a customer.

The shift for pumping officially runs from 9:00 to 11:00am, Monday and Thursday each week. We arrive anywhere from 8:00 to 8:30 to set up the station, and begin filling tanks that have been dropped off in advance just as soon as the cashier has finished his/her set up process. (We have one man and four ladies rotating through that assignment.)

The shift for the cashier has to begin no later than 8:15, and will last sometimes until nearly noon with the close-up and accounting reports, counting money, etc.

Thanksgiving is coming in just a few days. As reluctant but capable co-chair of Table 7, Suzy was concerned that she might have to prepare the turkey if no one else volunteered (luckily someone did!). Without an oven to roast a large turkey, we popped into Wal-Mart and bought a GE electric roaster oven just in case. Then, because she’s never used one of those before, Suzy figured she’d better know how it works, so we bought ourselves a 16-pound turkey. Suzy roasted the bird Wednesday. It was perfect! Moist, properly done, and delicious. Of course, Suzy’s turkeys always turn out that way, so I wasn’t in the least surprised. Now we have our own leftovers in the freezer for after Thanksgiving.

Two or three years ago, Suzy did a half-turkey in our microwave / convection oven. While I was carving the bird, I flipped the cutting board, bird and all, onto the motorhome floor! The carpet never recovered, I was embarrassed, but (with a little judicious dusting and scraping) the dinner was delicious!

Fall color has come to Benson! These cottonwood trees line the highway just below our park, and make a nice foregrund for a shot of the Dragoon Mountains to the east.

We follow several bloggers’ postings, including our grand-daughter Renee’s Life As I Know It. One blogger, “Squawmama,” recently posted this quote from Audrey Hepburn. (Those of you older than 60 will remember Audrey Hepburn.) Ms Hepburn wrote it when asked for her beauty secrets, and the poem was read at her funeral.
For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.

Thanks for coming by today. Pretty soon we can report on the Thanksgiving dinner and begin to plan for the 2008 Christmas of … Our Life on Wheels.


  1. Hello Suzy & jerry... I loved your post today... It was really informative and makes one want to come visit where you are... Do you stay there every winter? Exactly where is it??? Just full of questions aren't I... We are thinking of going on the road totally for a couple of years come next summer... Just trying to get an idea of where we would like to go... Have a blessed Sunday...


  2. We have also grown to admire Benson history, having spent three winters enjoying the city and surrounds. The train depot/information center houses a wealth of historical information about the founding of the city.

    Nice photo of Suzy manning the cash booth. And you look very comfortable filling those propane tanks.

    Have an enjoyable and happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Replying to Squawmama and to Dick and Jeri --

    Benson is in southeastern Arizona, 35 miles east of Tucson, exit 303 on Interstate 10. There's a lot to see here, Donna. We'd love to show you around.

    Dick and Jeri, thanks for following along, and yes, the Visitor Center has a BUNCH of good stuff.

    Have a great Thanksgiving, all of you!

    Jerry and Suzy

  4. Jerry and Suzy,
    I always look forward to your Sunday posts and was not disappointed today. All that talk of turkey made my mouth water! I was amazed at the low price of those roasters in Wal*Mart! I can remember when they cost over $100 and unfortunately, I guess that is showing my age LOL! Have a wonderful holiday. We plan to be in Yuma with family so it will be a great day.
    Joy and Phil

  5. Looking forward to seeing you in Benson!

    Terry and Darlene Miller


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