On the way there, a friend of mine offered to stay the night with his family in Tucson and, in order to get there at a decent time for visitors, I didn’t stop to make plates. Head of the household I stayed in though, Tio, is really worth mentioning. He is 93 years old and all of his life resided in Tucson area. He’s sharp as a tack and is a living repository of local history, which should really be recorded in hours of interviews, but I didn’t have time for it. In the morning, I went to Mission San Xavier Del Bac – a functioning catholic church built in late 18th century.
Driving on eastward, I couldn’t help stopping when I saw the boulder-studded hills of Texas Canyon, near the town on Dragoon. Just by taking the exit and parking within 100ft I got the following plates, so it’s definitely a spot to come back to.
Driving back and forth along this border I came upon an abandoned historic site – Fort Bliss officers housing buildings that sat right on the riverbank. Sometime in the past it served as private housing for ordinary citizens, but it looks like it’s been a while since that phase ended and now the buildings are vacant with an air of importance still lingering around them.
As you can see, the first plate above has a very ugly blueish mark on top and right edges. The second one has a similar, but smaller mark in top right corner. That is there because my collodion was getting to be too thick – after so many plates have been poured back and forth, ether and alcohol have evaporated enough to make it more jelly-like than it should be. On the second plate above I adjusted my pouring technique, but even that didn’t get rid of the mark completely, so I spent the next hour or so hunting down some 95% Everclear. I had about 90ml of collodion left and added about 20-25ml of alcohol to it. That brought back correct consistency and from then on plates started to look a lot better.
Next day I stopped at the Painted Rock site, just west of the town of Gila Bend. The site has some great petroglyphs and is a lot more known than the site I went to a few weeks before (detailed in the New Years Desert Trip post below). One of the interesting things there is that settlers started to leave their own marks long before the words like graffiti and vandalism were a part of daily vocabulary, and so there’s rather well-done signatures with dates like 1809, 1873 and so on. I tried my very best to make a plate of the 1873 date, but to no avail. I think my box needs a little attention in the light-proofing area – it’s perfectly fine when I’m in the shade, but if I’m set up at just the wrong angle in full sun I think it’s letting in a little light. Due to the way that parking lot is configured and the way the wind was blowing I could not re-setup the box in any shade and so I have no plates to show you despite dashing 200ft or so back and forth between the rock and bark box three times. Instead of a plate here’s a quick snapshot of the mound where most of the glyphs are found with some tourists, of which there were plenty, around. There’s also a shot that a photographer by the name of Michael Rausch, who happened to have been there, snapped as I was scurrying from the box to the scene during one of my feeble attempts at securing a plate...
Frustrated I drove and drove until I noticed the shrubs by the highway sway a lot less from the wind and then stopped by the small outcrop of mountains just east of Yuma. I again didn’t venture too far off the exit – being parked within a stone’s throw from the road I was able to make the following compositions.