Ba Bam Part II

The Ajo Mountains
Looking back into Mexico. Within the vista of this harsh desert as I take this photo there are illegal immigrants making their way toward a faint hope. They may have walked thousands of miles. Although it is illegal, some folks take out caches of water and food. There is a slogan here: “Being humane should not be against the law.”
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a very large forest of huge Sagauro cacti
Dennis and Laurie, charming hosts of Belly Acres RV Park in Ajo. Everything you need is within a short walking distance and the facility is great. You are treated as family. It is pet friendly, and affordable They are online. Laurie, by all accounts is a great cook and I can attest, makes the world’s best baked beans. Dennis is the world’s friendliest gentle bear. Don’t worry about the pistol on his hip, it’s just Arizona!  www.bellyacresrvpark.com

 

 

I’ve now stayed for three nights in Ajo this time. I’m not sure I want to move on, but the long trek home has to begin and the meter of life is ticking. Deadlines and commitments!

The folks who run this RV Park, Belly Acres, are embracing, charming and provide a lovely place to stay. They had a Super Bowl Football gathering and pot luck supper with copious heaps of very good food complete with a keg of beer. I am not a football guy but how could I say no? All the folks here are lovely. There is a NAPA store and garage next door. They fitted my van repairs into their busy schedule and I can go back out on the road with a renewed confidence.

In the NAPA repair yard
OK! Enlarge the image and read the small sign.
Inside the NAPA store a 1952 Harley Davidson for sale. The same age as me, with only one oil leak, it is in much better shape than I’m in.

 

I’ve finally been able to get to really know an acquaintance of several decades. I know Frank through a mutual friend and we hit it off well. He took me for a drive into the desert in his SUV which was amazing; both the desert and Frank. The vehicle has a standard transmission and Frank has only one leg. The man uses a wooden cane to work the clutch as smoothly as anyone else. He is a genius and a very inspiring character, having courageously worked as an advocate for disabled folks for decades. He is clearly more enabled than a lot of folks who have the use of all their bits and pieces. That does not change the simple fact that he is a great fellow. I’m proud to count myself among his friends.

My friend Frank
with more friends, Zena and Charlie.
Now fill it in again! How’s that for an environmental disaster? That turquoise bit in the bottom is water. This is one of the world’s largest open pit copper mines and one hell of a pile of pennies!
A funky Ajo home. Homes in an abandoned mine town are cheap so you can afford to do some creative things.
Funky Ajo art school.
The old Ajo Mission now turned mine museum.
Your sidewalls are gone!
There is a load of cool junk,um, I mean artifacts. Check out the etching on the rock.
A desert home with a spectacular view. It’s for sale!
The View
May I have this dance?
Dry camping
On BLM land you can camp without fees, or services, in exchange for the reasonable expectation that you will respect the land and take or leave nothing.
Locally known as the pipeline road, this will, if you are tenacious enough, take you over the mountains and down into Tucson.
And now for something different. How do you fry a frozen egg? At least the fridge is working!
“Flying high in April, shot down in May.” Folks sure do like to shoot things down I here. I try to stay polite!
I did try!

There is a vicious, cold wind blowing across the desert this morning. I ave had a sleepless night and am waiting for dawn to pack up and move although reluctant to leave this fantastic place. Ajo is home to one of the world’s largest open-pit copper mines, or at least home to a massive work of environmental devastation, now closed. The small town is also the hub of the American Sonoran Desert. With the Air Force Gunnery ranges and several intriguing places of interest, including Baboquivari, within a short radius, I could happily spend several months here. Adios Ajo, for now.

Ah Arizona!
I have enough excellent photographs of the desert to put together a fine picture book…and maybe I will!

To be upset over what you don’t have is to waste what you do have.” …anon

Baboquivari

The beautiful old church in Ajo. Look at this and hear the coo of Mourning Doves
My Ajo Bird. He sang while I prepared to move on. I’ll have to learn which flavour of desert bird he is.
Downtown, old Ajo.
The centerpiece at the general store in Why, AZ. Rock music droned from speakers in the cab. I want one!
The store. What visitors can pass without stopping?
And why not indeed? This nest is in a cactus in front of the store.
I’ve seen plenty, but they’re always on the run…away. So are the wing-eared Desert Jack Rabbits who are almost as big as the coyotes.
Wild mustang stallion. I saw the herd crossing an arroyo so I raced ahead, slammed on the brakes and leapt out. This guy, was very patriarchal and stood guard till the rest of the herd ran ahead. Look at the scars on his chest! He’s a feisty old guy.
Run girls, run!
Once they were safely out of sight, Old Studly brought up the rear. What a thrill to see!

Can you smell the smoke? It’s mesquite. There is a campfire at my right elbow. A breeze blows the heat my way as well as a fine shower of ashes. Above me, through the still-bare limbs of a Mexican Blue Oak, the desert stars throb with a spectacular energy. Towering over me, a mile above, are the stark black cliffs and peaks of Baboquivari. Until a few minutes ago they still held an eerie glow from the distant sunset.

Arizona backroad to Fresnal Canyon and the foot of Baboquivari. It’s the high one in the distance.
A pilgrim arrived. Baboquivari is in the background. behind the tree.
Look closely.
See?
Another offering to the creator. This place is the ultimate church. Folks come from all , mountainsover in answer to its call. Others come to climb the lofty vertical stack at the top of the mountain. I barely began that ascent!
The west-facing cliffs held the sunset even into darkness. In the morning I would climb to the base of the long shadow to the right of center. It looked easy!
Slowly, the light faded as if reluctant to let go of the mountains.
Last year’s birdnest and a promise of new leaves in the new year.

Have you ever felt excitement and peace all at once? I am here, finally, after dreaming of it for five years; and I’ll be back! This is a sacred place to the local Tohono O’odham indigenous people whose history here goes back at least 12,000 years. Other native nations in the American Southwest have successfully declared themselves sovereign states, complete with their own passports which you are required to have to enter their land.

Night falls
Only the crackle of the rising flames and calls of night creatures punctuated a silence that you could feel. Wonderful!
Night desk. Where this blog was written. The desk lamp is a wonderful solar lamp/USB charger imported from Norway.

The Tohono embrace you as a visitor to their hallowed mountain. Shinto priests have come from Japan to meditate here. I understand that, I can feel why. The resident guide/caretaker, James, welcomed me and issued me with a free permit as well as telling me where to hike to find some secret places. I will rest here for a day or two. I would stay longer if there were good company to share this with. On my bucket list, coming here was very near the top. I have been summoned since I first saw this place five years ago from the lookout on Kitt Peak. It will take more than one blog to complete this essay.

James, my mountain mentor and guru. This man exudes an aura. The peace in his eyes and the lines on his face tell of his life’s time in a radius of this mountain and a deep spiritual attachment to his land. He is eager to share his knowledge if you are eager to hear him. We have promised to meet again….in the same place.
Trump this! A traditional and effective method of fence-building.
James told of meeting illegal immigrants who were “In rough shape” and doing what he could to help fellow humans in desperate need. While
I understand the reasons for going through the legal process of
immigration, I also ponder about people who walk all the way from the bottom of Central American to take the risks of illegal entry. Aren’t those the kind of folks you’d want in your country? The US Homeland Security Forces is a massive military force and seems, to my eyes, to be waging a huge battle largely with their own paranoia. But I can hold no opinions, either way based on what I’ve seen. I am an outsider, and also an alien intruder.
Devil’s claws decorate and protect Jame’s home at the base of the mountain.
First Light…and the climb begins.
I was watched.
…And watched. These feral, free range cattle roam everywhere. how they pass through the thick, tangled and massively-thorned brush is amazing. It is even more incredible that native cowboys are able to round them up and coral them.
Up through the shadows I climbed. The pathway is very rugged and not for the faint-hearted. Next blog will be images of the climb and descent.

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” …Oliver Wendell Holmes