Tag Archives: Desert

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!  http://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

Down From The Mountain

(Click on images to enlarge)

The entire desert environment is harsh and no place for fools (like me) to wander alone.

As is often said, there’s no fool like an old fool. An arduous climb, and harder descent lead me on to the next quest, the same day. I did not find the petroglyphs and ended up stuck in an arroyo for a couple of hours while I jacked the van, again and again, shovelled and stacked rocks until I finally found the high ground. Fool! You may tell me how clever I am to get myself out of my fix, as darkness fell but, this old backwoods man often recites the mantra “superior pilots use their superior knowledge to avoid situations requiring their superior skill.” All’s well that ends.

The path zig-zags ever upward. Each step is a conscious placement of your boots. The rocks are loose and grabbing a bush for support is a definite NOT! Nearly all vegetation is covered in vicious thorns.

The changing views are spectacular and draw you ever upward.

Homeland Insecurity sneaky-cam chained to a tree. James told me drug mules come over the mountain passes..yep, way up there. There are electronic sensors strategically placed and the soon the helicopters are on site.

Fresnal Canyon. It looks lovely, but there is no gentle strolling here.

It was stunning

A Godshead?

A view eastward toward Tonopah and Sells. The water towers are the giveaway. I find it impossible for this alien to to judge height and distance here.

In the distance beyond the cactus, San Miguel and then Mexico. There is an ominous incessant thunder far overhead as fighter jets practise. You can never see them.

I took this photo when my old injuries stopped complaining and started screaming. I reasoned that I was entirely alone and had forgotten to bring my cell phone. One slip, one sprain or broken bone could have been drastic. Going down was even more arduous. I would later learn that the cave I sought was at the  base of the cleft, in the tan spot. I was only ten minutes from the Creator’s Cave where legend has it he emerged to create the world and distribute the people of different colours. I did not feel quite ready to go meet my maker.

So…I sat a while and chatted with a cactus. He was even more prickly than I am.

Someone went to a lot of work to build these walls. An old camp on the mountain? How old?

Everything commands/demands respect.

Even in January the shade felt good. I can’t imagine clambering here on a summer day.

A ground squirrel sunning himself atop a huge boulder ponders the passage of the apparition I must have been.
I order my used Minolta 400mm reflex lense from Japan. It is fantastic for these sort of shots. The photo was taken hand-held at a distance of about sixty feet.

Ahhh! An underground stream emerges briefly to fall into this pool. Everything gathers there, wasps, flies, moths and all sorts of creatures that make tracks. The sound of that trickling water was sweet music indeed. Then the water disappears underground again.

This character was as tall as I am but was definitely not leaning out for a hug.

Dumb ass! I knew better and told myself so during the two hours of shovelling, jacking and packing rocks while darkness began to fall. The van is not a back country vehicle.

Night fell. Ominous but beautiful.

And so I spent the night.

Pre-dawn. Night creatures provided a wonderful symphony.

Don’t fence me in. Part of the coral where I spent the night.

Water is everything. Note the moisture flowing down the cliff face. What is its source?

Up the arroyo (or, wash). These are the super highways of the desert, where the going is easiest and ambush most likely.

Creak, clatter and squeak. The traditional windmill is a green source of retrieving the essence of life. This one was still pumping but the rest of the system needed attention.

Photographer in the well. I imagined falling in. What a place to die in the desert!

An offering in the desert.

Arroyo beans. Each seed contains the future.

Antcano!

After spending a night at an abandoned cowboy’s corner in the desert I finally made my way back to pavement and the small native town of Sells. I emerged from the grocery store to discover coolant again weeping form the van. Oh Golly! Uh huh.

A Caracara, desert hunter and scavenger, watches my departure.

I’ll be back.

After an eighty mile quest for an auto parts store, whereupon checking the length of a new hose, I discovered that my young Yuma mechanic had not properly tightened a hose clamp. Exhausted beyond words I drove around Nogales arranging Mexican travel insurance, finding a friendly ATM for cash to turn into Pesos and finally a place to park for the night. I am writing this in MacDonalds in Walmart. The van is parked, it seems, a mile across the parking lot in the far corner. An antithesis from Baboquivari, but damn, they do have good wifi! I’ve discovered this during yet another sleepless night in the van.

When I walked back to my urban camp I thought my weary eyes were deceiving me. There were creatures snuffling all around it. To my utter delight, the creatures turned out to be Javelinas, a type of peccary and not a feral pig. I was stunned but managed to grab some cell phone footage of these Wal Mart wanderers. By the way, about my Ajo Bird in the last blog. A reader commented to suggest the bird was a curve-billed Thrasher. By guidebook to birds of this region confirmed that. So, at 03:30 from the Nogales Arizona Wal Mart parking lot, this blog’s for you.

In a pig’s eye!

Walmart marauders. You thought I was kidding? So did I at first.

A smile is the shortest distance between two people.” …Victor Borge