Hello? Anyone still out there? Thanks for not giving up.
Lots of ground and water passed under Miles treads. Our story picks up six months ago in the Southwest US.
With the California deserts warming up, exploring Arizona and New Mexico sounded like a good idea. March in Arizona brings spring training. Apparently, giant baseballs are used for spring training to get the players warmed up to normal sized baseballs.
The best surprise in Arizona and New Mexico is Organ Pipes National Monument on the border of Arizona and Mexico. Beautiful scenery. Great campground. Ranger programs. Good bicycling. Scenic four wheel drive roads. Interesting fellow travelers.
The Ajo Mountain drive delivers something for everyone. Vistas. Hikes. Picnic areas. Heaps of organ pipe cacti.
Check out the campground and amphitheater. Go to the ranger programs. We loved the star viewing party with high power telescopes and the talk on the space program.
The ranger led van tour to Quitobaquito Springs drove along the border bringing the group to a tiny spring guided by concrete to form a lake. Hmmm.
Folks along the way raved about the city of Tucson and the Tucson KOA. We tried it. Here are our highlights – a solar sun shade roof to keep the ridiculous temperatures off the van and a laundry room. We rode the Tucson bike path for a bit only to find the route too industrial.
Another beautiful, less visited place in Arizona is Canyon de Chelly National Monument. The rim drives give easy access to great views into the canyon where people have lived for 5000 years.
Varying indigenous cultures and their interactions with other tribes and government are visible throughout Arizona. We traveled in the lands of Apache, Hopi, Navajo and Chiracahua. Reading history on the treatment of the people and their land is disheartening and disappointing.
Regardless of state or country, mining and logging develop paths to harvest natural resources. On one hand, the industries decimate a landscape. On the other hand, they pave the way to more easily access remote areas. Is there a good way to strike the balance?
Our time in New Mexico proved to be brief. Perhaps the time of year prevented access to higher elevations with great camping. One park, City of Rocks, and one sight, Very Large Array, caught our attention.
City of Rocks is a wonderful, small state park with unique characteristics. In a one square mile area, rocks distributed by a volcano 34.9 million years ago. That’s 34.9 million years not 35 million years. Over these millions of years, the rocks eroded forming city of streets and odd rock formations as you an see in the photo of our campsite.
The Very Large Array is a radio astronomy observatory in the middle of the desert. Twenty seven 25 meter radio telescopes spread out in a Y-shape with each telescope mounted on railroad tracks for positioning. Strict rules are posted on turning off cell phones and other potential interfering equipment. The entire visit left my imagination running wild on getting sucked into a black hole.
Along the way, spicy food, beer and pie kept us well fed.
Moab, Utah beckoned. Lots of fun came our way until we hit a bump in the road. More on that in the next update.