Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Odometer 25736 Trip 162 Ajo, AZ Wednesday November 21, 2012 Short trip from Yuma down Interstate 8 to Ghila Bend, then south on State Route 85 to a small desert town called Ajo. Most of the area to the south of the freeway, and both sides of 85 is the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range, a huge chunk of Arizona from Yuma 140 miles east toward Tucson and 40 miles wide. 2.7 million acres of the Sonoran Desert. The large size of these training areas is required because modern weapon systems now engage an aggressor from 25 miles or more distant. Other than the signs warning you to stay out- it looks like any other beautiful desert landscape. Speaking of beautiful deserts, as we drew near Ajo we came alongside the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. This is one lush desert compared to what we have been travelling through. We plan to stay here in Ajo for about a week or so and we definitely will be visiting the Cabeza Prieta. On our way across Interstate 8 we passed a huge construction site and a quick check on the web informed us that what we were looking at was one of the largest, if not THE largest solar plants in the WORLD! Right here! 70 miles west of Phoenix in a little tiny town called Gila Bend. When finished it will generate 280 megawatts of electricity- enough for 70,000 homes. I stopped counting at 17 construction cranes- I hope there are a few left for the rest of Arizona’s contractors.
The road from Gila Bend to Ajo is a good one and there was no wind to speak of, so after a brief stop in Gila Bend, Joan took over the driving and I got a chance to really look at the passing scenery. We chose to rent a space in the Shadow Ridge RV Park, it wasn't too adventurous- seeing as how we have been here twice before, once in 2002 and 2006, however we really like this area and this park. It is amazing to think we used to get here and relax and explore and get 1,100 miles back home in just 2 weeks! We have been invited to Thanksgiving dinner at the RV resort clubhouse tomorrow. We originally figured on being in Dallas with Joan's brother and his wife Sally and our niece Savannah. We realized last week that we were travelling much too slowly, so we called to let them know we will still be visiting, just much later.
Jeff grabs a quick nap after a strenuous morning of reading and internet. Joan and I rode down to the main plaza of "downtown" Ajo on the folding bicycles we carry with us in one of the storage bays.
Joan and I were really looking forward to getting another glimpse of the giant open pit mine that is literally on the edge of town. Copper was first discovered here by the Spanish in 1750. Modern mining techniques began to harvest copper, aluminum, gold, zinc, tin, and other rare metals and gems in 1917. By the time Phelps Dodge closed the mine in 1985 the "hole" was an oval 3000 feet by 2,000 feet wide andove 750 feet deep, yielding more than 350 million tons of ore!
We are well acquainted with the docent of the Ajo Mine Museum and we spent a very fascinating hour talking with him about the history of this area. We got to the museum late in the day and there is so much to see and hear we will be back on Friday to chat some more and see the rest of the displays.

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