Sunday, March 16, 2014

Southern Arizona

March 9-10
Casino Del Sol - Tuscon- free, no facilities.  Join the Casino del Sol club and get $10 of gambling money and a free buffet dinner!
We drove from Patagonia Lake State Park to Tucson going through Nogales which is on the Mexican border.   Stopped at Tumacacori National Historic Park and San Xavier del Bac Mission.   It was really interesting to hear the history about the Jesuits and the Spanish, why they came to the New World and how they treated the native Indians.   At San Xavier it was also Pow Wow festival.  

We are parked in the Casino lot with about 50 other campers, many BC plates.   It was really windy today all the way from Patagonia to here.   The next morning was warm and sunny and the wind was gone.   We found a laundromat and now have clean clothes, sheets and towels!  In the same strip mall, found Candy's Hair Salon and got my hair done.  Then we did some shopping at the largest wine/beer/spririts store I've even been in-8000 wines, 3000 spirits and 2500 beers - amazing prices.  So sad we can't bring more back across the border.  More groceries from Trader Joes and another unsuccessful look for RV locks that fit the outside locker doors.   Went to the Casino and used our free $10 and broke even.  Warmer evenings here and it was up to 28C.  

March 11-12
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land south of Why - Free, no facilities
Left Casino del  Sol this morning and drove south-west to Why on Hwy 86, a long straight stretch of highway through a large native reserve.   We stayed 2 nights at a BLM site with about 2 dz other campers.   The first night, just as it got dark, we heard 2 horses gallop by.  The noise set the dogs off and we wondered why people would be galloping so fast on a narrow dirt road without much light.  We are in an area very close to the Mexican border and have seen that the Border Patrol have a significant presence.   The dogs get to be off leash and out of their pen here as we don't have any immediate neighbours.  Really beautiful sunsets both nights.  
We took a walk this morning to see what other sites there are further off the highway and found many other nice sites that we could get to that are further in off the road.  Also found a white Desert Lily in bloom.
We would stay longer, but we are running out of water, so need to get to a site with some services, then we will probably come back.   Unfortunately, our brand new Honda generator is not working.  Down to about 10C at night and up to 26C in the daytime.   By 9 am it's close to 20C.  I didn't realize how close we are to the north end of the Gulf of California (or Sea of Cortes) until I looked at a map.   

March 13-14-15
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument - $12/night plus $8 park fee (no hookups, solar shower, sank-station and water.  
First afternoon we got here, we first of all filled up with water and dumped the black water and then got all set up.   Also took the dogs and a garden hose to a faucet and gave them a bath.  They were both so dusty from all the free time at the BLM.  Once we were sitting down and relaxing, we realized we had a problem with the toilet.   Daryl tried a few different things without success and in the end we had hook up the RV, take it back to the sani-dump, hook up our garden hose to the fresh water tap and stick the hose down the toilet.  I got to control the faucet while Daryl got the toilet end.   Fortunately that worked and we got set up all over again.    
The campsite is only about half-full and is quite nice.  There is an amphitheatre and they put on talks at night.   While we were there the talks were on desert tortoise, the geology of the area and an interesting talk by an archaeologist who has worked in the area of this park for 25 years.  The native people had been in the area since about 15,000 BC.  The next morning we drove the Ajo Mountain Drive and enjoyed the scenery and all of the Organ Cactii.  
I saw a number of flowering cactus, orange, rust, pink, yellow.   

Today's RV problem is that that shower tap is leaking and my Fido US talk-text-data package is not working.   So we need to find a town with free Wi-Fi, an RV repair shop and a Honda dealer.  We drove down to Lukeville which is on the Mexican border thinking they would have a grocery store, but there is only a gas station, small restaurant and convenience store.  At night, from our campsite, we look south to the border and there is a string of very bright lights illuminating the border and Border Patrol is very active.   We've been through 3 checkpoints now.  It's really windy again today, but it helps cool the temperature. down during the day.   Starting to think about a route back home again.   

March 16-17
Ajo Country Club - $3 a night! or free if you have lunch or golf (9 holes $10) use of the locker room facility and free Wi-Fi. 
We drove from OPCNM to Why, checked out an RV site beside the Casino which wasn't that appealing so continued on to a gravel road and checked out a BLM site we had heard about, but it wasn't nearly as nice as the last one we were at, so again continued on.  As we were on the gravel road, wondering where we were going to get the rig turned around on a narrow road, we pulled over to let some vehicles behind us pass. Turned out it was 3 US Border Patrol trucks.   The first one stopped to see if we were OK and told us to continue on a bit further to a place we could turn around which we did.   On the way back to the highway, we saw a car coming towards us with a canoe on top, so we stopped to let him know, kiddingly, that there were no lakes ahead.   (We are in the Sonoran Desert by the way!).   He laughed and said he hadn't had the canoe in the water much since he left BC.  Turns out he's from Powell River!   So, we got back on the highway, stopped in Ajo for groceries and then found the Ajo Country Club.   It's a small golf course and restaurant with a small airport beside it.   

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