"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime"-MARK TWAIN

Sunday, January 31, 2016

AJO, and other stuff.


One can’t get to Organ Pipe without driving through the center of Ajo (AH-ho) Arizona. Ajo owes it’s existance to this hole in the ground.  A mine called the New Cornelia, which later became owned by Phelps Dodge Corporation.

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It was a company town, and not like companies of today, they wanted happy employees.  The company built this plaza to house most of the early business ventures.  Even a movie theater.

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The plaza was anchored by the train depot.

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It’s been a while since the last train passed through.

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Across from the plaza is the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.

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The local school.  1750 students in Ajo in 1965.

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Sadly, things went bad in 1983 with a bitter strike by employees of the mine.  The mine was closed in 1984 and most folks left town.  Phelps Dodge began marketing the company houses as winter homes to tourists.  An example.

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They left behind millions of tons of waste rock, as well of this hill of bleached slurry which was left over from the ore processing.  This hill is probably 200 feet high and over a mile long.

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On another day I hiked a seven mile route through the Monument.  Nothing special to see, but it was enlightening. Hiking with the same guy.

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A human highway.

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Water placed strategically by some Samaritan group.  Park Service and Border Patrol do not remove it.

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Water jug dropped by someone. Black bottle thought to be sign of illegal.

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Busted bicycle.  Once green, it had been camoflaged with black paint.

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Whatever their reasoning, drug running or just entering illegally, it is not a friendly enviornment.  I couldn’t imagine trying to cross this terrain without more water than one could possibly carry.

On a brighter note, we are surrounded by these little guys in the campground.  Gambel’s quail.  They are constantly on the move, and hard to get a picture of.

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And, we have suffered through one of these each afternoon.

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That’s what has been happening so far this week….jc

Saturday, January 30, 2016

We’ve become Snowbirds, apparently.


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We made our way down to Organ Pipe Cactus NM with plans to stay two nights.  After getting here and finding a great campground with paved roads and concrete sites, new restrooms, water, and a dump available, all for $8.00 a night; we extended two days.  After checking the weather where we planed to go next and finding it not so great, we extended another three days. That makes a week, if you’re counting.  The longest we have ever stayed in one spot. And, we haven’t left yet.

Here’s the highlights of what we’ve been doing.  On Monday we just hung out and made a trip to the visitor center.  On Tuesday we did the Ajo (AH-ho) Mountain drive with a guided ranger tour.  Twenty one miles through some very rugged country, narrated by a very well versed ranger.

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Organ Pipes.

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Crested Saguaro.

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Wednesday found us up close and personal with the “fence”. Border fence, that is.

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It comes in two varieties here in Organ Pipe.  The high fence near the official border crossing, and a more friendly version just over the hill. 

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As we were bouncing along a washboarded gravel road on our side of the border, going the same direction as this semi, I was wondering; what’s wrong with this picture?

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We were on our way to Quitobaquito.

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Quitobaquito is located just a few hundred feet North of the Mexican border.  It is in one of the driest parts of the Sonoran Desert, and a gem of Organ Pipe NM.  Do you see that little patch of green in the bottom right of this photo?

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A closer look.

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It’s a spring.  Flowing at a rate of about 45 gallons a minute.

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Which creates this pond.  Who would ever think you would see such in the desert?  First documented in the late 1600’s, it has been an oasis for thousands, for thousands of years.

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Home to the Quitobaquito pupfish.  an endangered species.

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That’s the first half of the week….jc

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

On to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument


Our last evening near Dome Rock was topped off by another nice sunset.  As we were loading things into the truck for our departure on Sunday morning, we received an invite to a hot dog supper.  Now there’s not much that tastes better in the great outdoors, than a hotdog consumed around a campfire with friends.  Fred and Mary did a fine job of feeding the crew.

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Sunday morning found us on our way to the Pit Stop to dump tanks and fill up with water.  We were heading for Yuma, and a Walmart run, followed by the drive to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.  We thought we were never going to arrive, but did shortly before evening.  Just in time to fix some supper before darkness caught us.

It was cloudy Saturday night, so we missed seeing the rise of the full moon.  I knew it would be almost as good on Sunday night, so i grabbed my camera and tried to get some pictures.  I know for a fact that National Geographic won’t be calling.

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It’s hard to combine darkness and light with my simple camera.  I did get a good one after it cleared the horizon.

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Monday found me on the trail, again.  Nothing fancy, just a walk to an old mine.

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Through lots of Saquaro, and Organ Pipe.  Early settlers thought the cactus looked like the pipes on an organ, hence the name.

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Not much left at the old mine.  Probably copper, but possibly some silver.

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I’m always impressed with the machinery that was hauled by mule and wagon back into such desolate areas.

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Yep, that’s a 60’s era steel bath tub in there.  Not sure where the water came from.

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A number of shafts around the area, but all were fenced off with wire, or a more permanent solution.

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Bats by the thousands use the old shafts for hiding, and also raising their young during the Summer.  That’s the reason for the open configuration. 

On the way back to the campground I passed this old dead twisted tree.  No telling how old it was before it died.  Reminded me of the permanence of the desert.

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The Desert.  Supposedly, a place where nothing lives……jcSmile