Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Buenos Aires Camping

It was just warm enough in Buenos Aires to hang up my hammock from a tree and watch the Border Patrol go back and forth in their trucks, quads, and horses.  And often, their ‘eye in the sky’ was somewhere overhead, leading them to their next targets.  In case you have just joined the blog, this is not the BA in Argentina, it is the national wildlife refuge in southern Arizona between Sasabe and Arivaca.

CIMG8711 CIMG8712CIMG8713


This close to the Mexican border, I had expected more warmth, but it was not to be.  Now there was even a winter storm warning on the horizon!  While I have put up with a lot worse living up north for decades, it is not something you expect or look forward to when your main goal is to seek sunshine and warmth.  I guess I will have to give Baja some more consideration for next year unless they get the weather better organized here.  Bring on the global warming.  At least in the winter.

So, after a few days of ‘Border Wars’, Hailey and I packed our stuff and headed out to explore some new territory.

Warning sign posted at the Arivaca dump.


Neither of us had been to Nogales or Patagonia before, so after navigating through ‘rush hour’ traffic in Arivaca (!) we hit I-19 and headed on south.  I-19 is different than most US interstates, as you can see in the photo.


It made me, and presumably any Mexicans, feel right at home.  After feed and water in Nogales, and narrowly avoiding the border, we turned back north again on the very scenic drive up through Patagonia.  I hadn’t checked out the available boondocking in that area, and didn’t see any perfect spots from the highway, so kept on rolling up through to Sonoita, where I knew there were some great looking spots.  Turns out, there are likely good spots SE of Patagonia among some ghost towns, and also at Patagonia Lake state park.  Next time we’ll stop closer to Patagonia.

Two years ago when in the area, I had noted some good looking camp spots in the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area managed by the BLM, as I traveled past.  It can be accessed from either highway 82 or 83, though I chose the south access.  The road is good, but very rough with rocks imbedded in the road surface.  Camping is permitted in designated locations only, so I chose the first one I came to, which was at the Road Canyon junction.


Once there, we settled in to wait out the storm.  It was ugly – for a day in southern Arizona; and a nice day for a picnic in Alberta!


Not wanting to show off too much, we stayed mostly indoors till the sun returned and quickly melted all the white stuff.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Back south again.

After a couple of snowy and cool days up in the Sedona area, it was certainly time to seek out some warmer climes. Therefore we drove off the edge of the Mogollon rim, and followed the Interstate right down into central Phoenix, then turned left, and drove till we were back out in the country east of Apache junction, and in some beautiful scenery. Like Al of the Bayfield Bunch, I was also not a fan of Starbucks, or their prices.  But I let myself get talked into having coffee and a breakfast snack there for two out of three days, and have to admit I had no complaints.  Will I go back?  Maybe.

The next decision that had to be made was how far to drag the fifth wheel out on the Apache Trail. Although the State Park is very scenic and popular, I find it way too crowded and busy for my liking.  Likewise a small sliver of BLM land I camped on last year is not that inviting – though it has an awesome view of Superstition mountain.  Since no decision was made the trailer followed us all the way to Tortilla Flat.  The campground was closed (as we were already aware), but the restaurant/saloon was packed in spite of being a weekday.  Parking was very tight as well, but a spot in the driveway fit the requirements while we dined a late lunch.CIMG8701CIMG8700

The rig finally got ditched near the end of the pavement on a side road with a super, high-elevation view all around.  It even had cell service and 47 off-air TV channels!


It was a large, spacious pull-off, but it turned out to be fortunate that a far corner was selected.  Then the rig got dumped and we investigated the drive further down the Willow creek hill towards Apache Lake. An alarm was set for 0600 (that is well before 0930, for any of you retired folks) because of a planned meeting in the morning (at Starbucks!) in Apache Junction.  It turned out to be redundant however, as several large trucks arrived and began to unload equipment a bit north of 5AM. Departure was not late as a result!

Boondocking web sites mentioned some possibilities south east of Apache Junction off Queen mine (?) and Hewitt Station road.  There were a couple rigs parked near the start but there did not appear to be much room, so kept moving.  Most areas along the road were small, garbage strewn, impromptu gun ranges (as is unfortunately common when near major urban centers), but a spot at the far end of the road where it joins the highway 3 miles from Superior filled the bill for a couple of days.  Aimless drifting after that took us south west to Florence.  Pretty sure there must be more people in jail in Florence than free!  I counted at least 3 major prisons, and it looked like a new one under construction.  Coolidge nearby is vying for the title as well, but I only counted one prison there.

After a brief time on the Interstate headed southbound, Tucson was avoided by following a secondary route to the west leading past one portion of Saguaro National Park.


Even shots from the road shows that the saguaros really feel welcome here.  There are lots of them.

After some more south and west driving, it was obvious that we were nearing the border when the Border Patrol vehicles started to outnumber others on the road.



When the ‘welcoming committee’ showed up with the helicopter, I knew I had found the right camp spot!P2167487

I felt like I was in a National Geographic ‘Border Wars’ episode for the next few days.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Getting the blog up to date …

I guess I missed these photos of rock art taken near Barker Dam in Joshua Tree NP.

Rock art 101.


And, this photo of the truck trying to get a look into ‘The Slot’ canyon at Borrego Springs.


So then it was off back to Yuma, where I did not even need to get any tires repaired or replaced this time!  We went directly to the Arizona Market Place to check on the latest deals.  Got a new outdoor RV mat, and enjoyed some live music while chowing down.  We left town in the morning, but not before taking advantage of the best propane prices around at $1.79/gal, compared to $2.79 in Quartzsite and more elsewhere.  We headed north, and spent a few hours walking around the Castle Dome museum, after dropping the rig at the end of the paved portion of the road.


For more photos and a better report, check out Al’s photos from when the Bayfield Bunch visited in 2010.

From there we roared through Quartzsite non-stop via the Interstate, not stopping to see if Wandering Willy was still keeping an eye on things out along Plomosa Road.  At that time RV Dreams group may have been out there as well?

It was getting dark upon arrival in Wickenburg, so we found a spot out on the Vulture Mine road, in among an organized equestrian group.

Hiking in the Sedona area was on the agenda the following day, so we just waved at the former Bayfield Bunch RV sitting on the corner with the for sale signs on it as we roared through Congress, and began the long climb up through Yarnell and into Prescott, where it was feeling a bit more like winter.  A tour of Jerome took most of the rest of the day.  After a cool night we found Sedona to be decorated with a fresh coating of snow, but the sun was warm, and it was fine for hiking the trails.



Next: lower elevations and warmer temps!