Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Off to Quartzsite – Again

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What a challenge . . . to find a new adventure something different. As Sheila said, “We’ve seen too much!”

From Tucson we went to Casa Grande and the Rovers’ Roost Escapee RV Park for a sense of normality (after the strangeness of Tucson); to see old friends; visit their great outlet mall; and, of course, catch up on the clean-up and laundry.

What were we thinking . . . Quartzsite during the RV Show and the Big Tent . . . total insanity, but we did it. Again this will be the last time we go to Quartzsite during the BIG TENT!!

Quartzsite – Good People

Having said that: it wasn’t all bad. We got a chance to visit with old friends:

- Gordon and Lil have been part of our RVing life almost from the very beginning;

Fred beside Lil & Gordon

- We went to both the Escapees Happy Hours;

- We visited with Elizabeth (whose painting of Palm Canyon hangs in our Motor Home) and John at Prospector's Panorama;

- Diane and Andy who we shared a lot of our travels with last year; and

- Paul and the folks at the the Oasis Book Store’s Authors Fair – all extraordinary folks.

Paul at the Oasis Book Store

Quartzsite – BLM

Finding your way

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Yes We Were There!

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Yes, we were in Tucson when the shooting happened – so many of you were asking. It brought back memories of the École Polytechnique Massacre in Montreal in the late 80’s when Marc Lépine shot so many people.

It has opened up some dialogue about mental health and guns but the media is still pushing the sensationalism – too bad.

In the meantime, we hit some great highlights in the area and expect we will be back next year to really explore more.

Travels with Chuck and Sheila

And I thought the Cacti around Ajo were superb: they are nothing compared to what we saw along the way from Why to Tucson.

We travelled from Why, AZ to Tucson on Friday (January 7th) with Chuck and Sheila – our friends from Wetaskiwin. It’s amazing how pleasant a trip can be when you are with people who share so many of the same interests.

We picked up the Passport book that gives you 2 fers and discounts at a number of interesting places at the Tucson Visitor Information Center that Diane and Andy told us about last year and at $15.00 it was well worth it. Just one visit to the Desert Museum paid for the Passport.

The Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum

Spectacular!! Mainly the Museum is an outdoor exhibition of Sonoran Desert plants and animals with over 2 miles of pathways to explore.

We lucked into an astonishing guide who walked and talked us through the botanical exhibits. She was incredibly knowledgeable and explained things so well – especially (as we found out later) considering this was the first tour she had done solo – our hats off to her!!

The animal and birds are extraordinary, too.

Tubac and the Artists’ Colony

About an hour south of Tucson on the way to Nogales, Mexico is an old settlement that once housed a Spanish garrison and is now a thriving artists’ community.

To me the highlight of the experience was the karen newby gallery and sculpture garden.

On our last day in Tucson, Chuck and Fred went over to see the Old Tucson Movie Sets only to find out that they were closed that day.

Sheila and I went to the Mission San Xavier. It is a VERY old Mission built by the Catholics (circa 1700). The highlights here are the restoration of the buildings as well as the authentic fry bread and the tamales.

Anyway, this was not the time to be strange people in a strange place but we will revisit the area.

Monday, January 3, 2011

And Here We Are – In the Desert Again!

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There are parkers and there are travellers.

There’s no question that we are not ‘stay-put-in-an-RV-park’ type people although the Kofa Ko-op has its attractions. The hot tub was certainly a BIG attraction and we did meet some keeper new friends.

Again our timing is the pits. The rain started just minutes after we left. Tell me why it is that most of the time the prevailing winds are from the west but not this time. We’re heading south-east and the winds are coming from Mexico (south-east); but then, it’s so good to be travelling again.

As we drove along the main Interstate (8), we were amazed at the number of (what I call) Toy-Hauler type RVs or rigs hauling utility trailers with toys (ATVs, four-wheelers and such) on them.

Playing in the Dunes has become an alluring activity amongst the Young & the Brave of Arizona and California.

Last year we met one father and son team who bring their toys down from Canada every year and spend a couple of months playing in the Dunes.

Local folks often make it into a family get-together somewhere in the Imperial Dunes of California and will spend the time playing together in the Sand.

There are Dune Buggies; ATVs and some fancier toys called Sand Rails that can cost up to tens of thousands of dollars.

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The Sand Dunes, themselves are fascinating too.

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Dec. 30, 2010

We are presently just outside the very small community of Why, AZ about 10 miles south of Ajo, AZ which is also a small community but not as small as Why. Why got its name because it was situated at the 'Y' in the road. In order to get U.S. Mail delivery, a community had to have a minimum of 3 letters in its name.

There is no longer a 'Y' in the road; it is now a 'T' but they didn’t change the name. Why is on the way to the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument just north of the Mexican border.

We have no access to the internet here but there is a fabulous library in Ajo and we will go in periodically to send and check emails etc. By the way, Ajo means garlic in Spanish.

It has turned chilly and yesterday was rain and wind. The wind and coolness have persisted but the sun is shining and that helps as long as we can stay out of the wind.

Today we took a tour up behind Ajo and rediscovered the most incredible Cactus forest. I'm sure there are more Organ Pipe Cacti there than there are in the Park.

Dec. 31, 2010

Ch-ch-ch-chrickey it's cold!! The host here at the park said that the thermometer hit 19 F. Our thermometer went down to 24 F. No matter 19 or 24 - that's cold.

Oh, Happy New Year, even though I know it is going to be very late by the time this gets to you.

Jan. 1, 2011

It is still VERY, VERY cold! - Maybe a couple of degrees warmer but not so you would notice. New Years Eve was very quiet - mostly spent staying warm.

We decided it was warmer to do something than to sit around complaining about the cold, so we went down to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and then down to Lukeville and Gringo Pass (the US-Mexican border) for a Mexican lunch of tortillas, tacos, fruesdos (sp?).

By the time we got back the sun had warmed things up considerably and we were greeted by a vendor selling fresh shrimp from Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) Mexico - so you know what we're going to be eating.

Jan. 2, 2011

Today was make bread day - even though it is still rather chilly, again the sun was out and that makes all the difference in the world.

A knock at the door can change everything!

“You guys want to go up to Painted Rock west of Gila Bend?” It was Chuck.

Sure, we enjoy exploring new places, especially with Chuck and Sheila because their interests are so similar to ours.

We had heard plenty of stories about Painted Rock but had never been there. So off we went.

Painted Rock is a pile of rocks that somehow had become a meeting and gathering place for many of the ancient peoples and therefore a great site for archaeologists to study these people and their cultures.

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“The people that made the designs carved their cultural experiences and personal visions and dreams. Only they themselves knew the meaning of these symbols. In coming of age tests and ceremonies, the teacher or student would record visions important to them during their experiences. Some symbols may seek help from spirits to gather inspiration and ensure a successful hunt. Certain elements or designs may be warnings to travelers about the dangers that lie ahead on the trail. Still other symbols may continue to remind people about important stories of the past to ensure that they are not forgotten.”

Another how do they do that??

So many times we have seen cotton fields and the huge compressed bales but this time we decided to see the cotton up close.

The plants look dead. Some of the heads are still closed; some have exploded into cotton puffs; and there is cotton all over the ground.

So how do they harvest it??

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And last but not least – when we got back to our Camp-site, we were greeted by an incomparable Sonoran Desert sunset.

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