Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Desert Rain

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March 10, 2015

Rainy day in Ajo
This has been the wettest winter that we have encountered in all the years we have been visiting southern Arizona- still who can complain- the weather here has been infinitely better than just about anywhere else in the US.  The latest rain only lasted for one day and part of the next.  We spent the day indoors, working on our tax preparation, catching up on e-mails and reading.  

Feb 28

Traffic on I-10
Joan and I were jarred awake at 3 AM today when our phone rang.  Jeff got out of bed and headed for the offending instrument, knowing full well that a call at this time of the morning cannot be good news.  Our friend Mark was calling to tell us that he needed someone to drive him from Ajo to the hospital in Phoenix.  One downside to Ajo is that the town is far from any hospital.  The town has a good medical clinic, however they are not equipped to deal with emergencies, and anyone going there for emergency care will be loaded into an ambulance and taken north to Phoenix. I got dressed and by the time I was ready to go, Mark had arrived at our doorstep in his Chevy pickup.  Mark was suffering lower abdominal pain and appendicitis was suspected.

We arrived at Banner Estrella hospital in Avondale at 5 AM and Mark checked in at the emergency room.  An hour and a half later he was admitted to the hospital and told me to take his truck and drive back home.  To everyone's surprise, Mark called at 4PM that same day to let us know he was being released to come home.   Miracles of modern medicine, his surgery was scheduled for noon and he was released 4 hours later.  Joan and I went together this time, and made a second trip to Phoenix and back in Mark's truck.  We were all safely back in Ajo, by a little after 8 PM.  Whew!  What a day.

Building sign boards

I (Jeff) have been attending the local Rotary chapter in Ajo, and thoroughly enjoying the small but active group.  One of the local fundraisers is a BBQ lunch in the Ajo Plaza that provides scholarship money for graduating seniors who will be going on to college or a tradeschool.  I have volunteered to make the flyers and distribute them, and to make plywood sandwich board signs to help draw in motorists.  Aways the carpenter, I have a decent supply of tools with me in the motorhome.

2nd Saturday in Ajo, AZ
The old downtown plaza is still the iconic gathering place for Ajo and many activities take place there.  The photo above is of a crowd at 2nd Saturday, the name for our local farmer's market and craft fair.

Princess Patches

One of our good RVing friends, Barb, who is currently staying here in Shadow Ridge, got what we'd all consider the worst possible news- a pipe had burst in her home base in Colorado and the basement was flooded.  She needed to fly home to take charge of the situation there, so we offered not only to drive her to the airport, but to also take care of her kitty while she was gone.  We got a crash course on the feeding regimine, and also instructions on how to administer shots of insulin twice daily.  I'm happy to report that two weeks later, she is back in Ajo, and kitty-cat was elated to see her return.  

The winter weather across the north and northeast kept delaying the plane that would eventually land in Denver and bring Barb south to Phoenix.  Joan and I used the trip to the airport to pick up Barb as a shopping opportunity, and cruised a couple large grocery stores for vegan fare that is not available here in Ajo.  We love ice cream, and a Eugene, Oregon company So-Delicious, makes a soy and coconut milk ice cream that we think is better than dairy milk ice cream.  Bringing home some So-Delicious was not possible with the wait in Phoenix and the 1-1/2 hour drive home- bummer.  When Barb's Denver departure was delayed again, we found a convenient Starbucks and had a pleasant and relaxing break while we received e-mail updates on her flight status from the airline.  Once we had a definite arrival time from Spirit's website, we headed over to the airport.  At Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport we were pleasantly surprised to find that they have a no-cost "Cell Phone" parking lot where you can wait for your passenger to arrive and call you.  The best part of the lay-by is a large lighted digital sign board that  reads out the status of all the arriving aircraft.

Hiking near Ajo, AZ

There is so much to see and do in this corner of Arizona, and a favorite hike for us starts right outside the gates of the RV park.  There is a group of antennas on a hillside above the town, and the trail/road leading up to them is a great work-out if you only have a few hours before happy hour.  Our group today consists of  (left- right) Beverly  and Bob Burns, Bob Bass, and Joan- I'm the photographer.  From the top of the hill is a great opportunity for a panoramic view of town.

Sunday March 1st

Map of Organ Pipe NM

34 miles south of Ajo is the Organ Pipe National Monument a 517 acre reserve that is the home to the beautiful organ pipe cactus .  National Parks can only be created by an Act of Congress, whereas a Monument is established by Presidential proclimation.  Franklin D Roosevelt created the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (OPCNM) in April of 1937, in order to preserve an ecologic wonder of the Sonoran Desert.  In 1976 the monument was designated as an International Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations.  There are currently 631 of these Reserves in 119 different countries around the world.

Bob & Bev, Jeep Wrangler Ultra

Today we are with Bob and Beverly in their Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and we are headed out to drive Puerto Blanco Drive, a 37 mile loop road that takes in the western part of the OPCNM.  The really cool part of this, is that the loop road has been closed for about the last 10 years, due to smuggling activities, and has just been re-opened to public use this year.  (see map above)

Organ Pipe NM scenery

The fact that we have had a relatively wet winter, by desert standards, has made the scenery all that much more lush and green looking.

Puerto Blanco Road

The views are stunning and the combination of sunlight and clouds makes the scenery all that much more compelling

Mexican Golden Poppies

We saw a lot of flowers blooming on both sides of the road, like the Mexican Gold Poppies above.

US- Mex Border

The last part of the loop road, heading back east towards highway 85 follows right along the border fence between the US and Mexico.  To our left is the National Monument, and to the right is this rather unformidable looking steel post and rail fence that would stop a vehicle, but not much more. 

US border and Mexico Hwy 2

Beyond the fence is Mexico Highway 2, a four lane highway roaring with semi-truck traffic.  Such an interesting juxtaposition- wilderness to our left and freeway to the right.
We followed the border fence for about 8 miles before intersecting with Arizona Route 85 at Lukeville, and motored north, back to Ajo

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

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