RV ADVENTURES - January 2011


I enjoyed these new rv adventures and my job here at ORPI immensely. The maintenance crew was made up of several guys who all grew up in Ajo, went to school together, and worked in the copper mine until it closed, so when we joined them for a government-mandated break at 9:00 and again for lunch at noon, there were lots of funny stories.

The volunteers (camp hosts, fee collectors, interpretive assistants, invasive species (buffelgrass) eradicators, etc.) were a great group. We all got together for a potluck in the VIP campground occasionally and had a noisy good time.

Arches Canyon in Organ Pipe Cactus NMArches Canyon

I worked with my supervisor Carol on Mondays & Tuesdays, and with Shiny (another volunteer) on Wednesdays & Thursdays. Both of them were fun to be with. With all the traveling and moving around Robert and I did in the past few years, there was not much time given to making friends – I had missed having women friends to talk with, so was appreciating this new kind of rv adventure.

Mehitabel was parked in the VIP campground, a separate area. I hung out a hummingbird feeder on the palo verde next to me, so got a good view of the visitors. I think they were black-chinned or Anna’s hummingbirds. It attracted lots of bees and the occasional curious cactus wren, too. And we got some windy days that caused all the nectar to spill. There were also small groups of black-throated sparrows (fat & very curious), white crowned sparrows, and black-tailed gnatcatchers that came on a regular basis, as my water hose dripped a bit. Cactus wrens are very common, and fun to watch, as are the Gambel’s quail. We saw an American Kestrel on the way out to Pinkley Peak one day, and once on the Ajo Mountain Drive, Carol & I saw two red-tailed hawks, sitting on two peaks about 200’ apart. They looked enormous.

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Saguaro Entrapment

I got a new USB modem which worked pretty well connecting me to the internet, but couldn't be counted on 100%. I also discovered that my cellphone would work sometimes if I set it next to one of the windows and put it on speakerphone. RV adventures are wonderful things, but sometimes it's hard to stay connected to the rest of the world.

The remote areas – Alamo Canyon campground, Pinkley Peak, and Ajo Mountain Drive – are quite beautiful. I got out to all three of them once each week and never got tired of looking at them. They changed so much depending on the time of day, the light, etc.

Shiny & I hiked into Alamo Canyon, and did some of the hikes here in this area of the park as well. We wanted to go out to Pinkley Peak early some Sunday morning with our drawing materials and colored pencils to watch the sun come up, however there had been a real cold snap (my water hose froze & split, but I cut off about 10 feet and fixed it), so we had to wait for the mornings to warm up a bit.

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Ajo Mountains, Southern AZAjo Mountains from Pinkley Peak Picnic Area

Robert came down several weekends. He brought some special items from Whole Foods that I can’t get at the one grocery store in Ajo. We did some hiking, played cards, watched movies, and had a relaxing time. He had been very busy with doctor appts. at the VA hospital in Tucson, but still didn't have all the answers.

Saguaro and Palo Verde

He asked me occasionally if I’m happy. How do you measure happiness? When I watch the sun come up over the Ajo Mountains in the morning; when I watch it go down in the evening and fill the sky with apricot, gold and magenta; when I take the garbage out at night, see the full moon and the sky filled with stars; when I see the feathery clouds wisping across the sky during the day; when I watch the little hummingbird fighting off would-be invaders at his feeder (which is illegal for me to have) - all these moments, I am filled with wonder and a feeling of peace and contentment. I don't think these RV adventures could be any better if I had someone to share it with. Maybe it would be better sometimes, but many times to be alone and witness the glory is enough.

I often think that the desert is my home. Maybe it is anywhere I can see so much sky. It seems that the sky is my touchstone - I am always aware of it and what it is doing. It feels like I am in the right place; the fact that I am alone doesn't seem to make much difference.

We have had just two very brief showers since I got here, and there’s not any rain in the forecast – that means a not very glorious flower display for the spring rv adventures most likely.

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Ajo Mountain Range from Desert View TrailAjo Mountain Range from Desert View Trail

Book Breaks During RV Adventures

BOOKS: I have been doing a lot of reading. In addition to the books listed below, I’ve read several photo/essay books about Indian country, the Monument, the Sonoran Desert, Canyons of the Southwest, etc. – all wonderful!

Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey. He knew what was coming.

Isabella Greenway, An Enterprising Woman by Kristie Miller. Isabella lived in Ajo and Tucson and was very active in AZ politics (at one point representing the entire state as a Representative in Congress). She was a dear friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, and a contemporary of my great-aunt Anita who had the ranch in Moose, WY.

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Alamo Canyon

An American Childhood by Annie Dillard - excellent.

Escape! by Aron Spilken. About a large group (about 40) from El Salvador that crossed into AZ in the Organ Pipe Cactus NM on July 3, during the heat wave of 1980. They left their country because of all the atrocities and unrest occurring. Their "guides" were not very good, very nice, or very honest, and almost all of them perished in the desert near Alamo Wash. Horrible, horrible story. Carol loaned it to me and remembers the incident.

Here’s a quote from the preface:

"There is great peace in the desert. It provides space for all the senses. There is a quiet of magnificent depth - not the smothered silence of soundproofing, but a vast, natural, receding stillness that is given perspective by the occasional glints of distant birdcalls and insects. The air is beautifully clear, with only the faintest and most pastel of scent colorings. The eye can stretch to infinity. And even the mind is eased by the emptiness."

I am at peace on my rv adventures, easing my mind and stretching my eyes here in the desert.

Loved this book since I'm always looking for new places to explore in Arizona.

Ajo Mountain Range at SundownAjo Mountain Range at Sundown

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