Saturday, February 25, 2012


We had an enjoyable trip to Tucson this week, got the truck tuned up and did some shopping. Two nights were spent at the Comfort Suites near the Tucson Mall. Monday we drove over from Organ Pipe, took care of the truck, went to the mall and wound up getting lost looking for a pizza dinner.
Tuesday was a great day!! The daylight hours were spent at the fantastic Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum. The private museum is in the foothills just west of Tucson. We were greeted by a docent holding an owl.
Early in the day we were treated to the flying raptors show. The birds fly free and are lured in by the trainers putting pieces of meat in the trees. It is hard to get a good photo of a flying bird at a low level.

The park overlooks the Tohono O'Odham reservation to the west.
Well, I could bore everyone with zoo pictures and I don't want to but I do want to post a couple of neat photos of the bobcat and mountain lion. So here:

Tuesday night we had dinner at the Arizona Inn. A very swanky place which we probably would not have gone to on our own; however we had a gift certificate thanks to some of the Gift Shop employees at the North Rim. The food was a 9.5, unfortunately service was a 3. I think our server was just learning.
Wednesday we drove back to Organ Pipe and stopped at the Desert Rain Cafe in Sells on the Tohono O'Odham reservation. Very good and different food, the O'Odham are trying to get their members to return to native-traditional foods rather than processed foods. 60-70% of the tribal members have diabetes. Sherri and I had the appetizer sampler which had desert hummus, tepary bean dip and cholla bud salsa. For the main course we split a tepary bean chicken quesadilla. We washed it all down with agave ice tea. The lunch was good and very interesting.
Back in Organ Pipe on Thursday, Steve a seasonal ranger, and I combined our programs for the folks in the town of Ajo. 55 people showed up for our mining/ranching program in the plaza. I thought the turnout was small but Sue, the head of interpretation, was pleased with the numbers. Tonight I have my program in the park's amphitheater and 75-100 will be in attendance.
I'll leave this week with a photo of the beautiful Sherri at the museum. Ya'all come back next week.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ajo and Grass Canyon

Tuesday Sherri and I went shopping and for a Valentine's Day lunch in Ajo. I have not posted pictures of the quaint town, there are some very nice areas. Below is a picture of the Catholic Church taken from across the plaza. Looking the other way is the old train station, which is now shops.

The only spot I could get a picture of the old copper mine was into the sun.The copper mine is no longer in operation. Even with the high price of copper the percentage of ore in the rock is not sufficient to reopen the mine, so Ajo is stuck with a large hole. Turning 90 deg. is the Indian Catholic Church, which is now a museum.

We had a good lunch at a Mexican restaurant, being from Albuquerque we are rather snobbish about Mexican food. So, lunch was good not great :)
Wednesday was a hike day for the boys. Brian, Jim and I set at 7:30am to hike up and over Grass Canyon, down the north fork of Alamo Canyon.
The hike is a loop, to cut off a couple of miles at the end Hilda dropped us off and took the picture. We left my truck at the Alamo Campground. The first picture is Montezuma's Head, where the author Ed Abbey wrote about climbing to the top one drunken evening. The next picture is looking up into Grass Canyon and the saddle, over the top.

We hiked up and over and the view on the other side was beautiful.
This entire hike is not on a trail so bushwhacking through the sage and cacti gets mentally tiring. This shows how steep it is to reach the wash. It was nice to reach the wash where climbing up and over boulders was tough but easier than bushwhacking.
It had rained a 1/3 of an inch Tuesday morning so the tinajas are full of water and algae.
It was a great hike where we didn't see another person all day. After almost eight hours of bushwhacking and climbing over boulders we were glad to reach my truck. We will have to do it again soon.
This week Sherri and I are heading off to Tucson for three days/two nights to shop, eat, service the truck and look for RV parts. I have been asked to give my evening program in the Ajo plaza on Thursday evening, there will be an ad in this weeks Copper Mountain News. I don't know if there will be 25 or 250 people who will come and watch. I am looking forward to giving my program in the historic plaza.
We had more rain on Thursday(rain is always welcome in the desert)and this morning we had fog, which doesn't happen very often. It made for a neat picture.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


This week we had a large group of Escapees RV Club members staying in the campground. The group of 110 was staging here before they headed down to Puerto Penasco. They were going to be here Tuesday - Thursday and we have evening programs scheduled Friday - Sunday.  So, I volunteered to present my program on Wednesday night and we wound up with a record crowd of 134. It was fun presenting a program to a large enthusiastic crowd.
Thursday was a special day for the volunteers. Escorted by M-16 carrying law enforcement, we went out to a part of the park closed to the public. The springs at Quitobaquito were made into a pond in the late 1800's and through the efforts of Natural Resources the ponds are doing well. The pond is home to over 10,000 pupfish which are on the endangered species list.
Most of the 15 mile drive is right on the border and is extremely bumpy. In some places Mexican Highway 2 is very close. The fence is the vehicle barrier just inside the border line.

 The group arriving at Quito.
The pond is unusual in the middle of the desert. It was a very welcome sight to those crossing the desert on their way to California.

We strolled around the pond and took in as much knowledge as possible from a full-time Interpreter and a biologist from Natural Resources. We are going to have 10 tours open to the public starting in a few weeks, and since I will be leading a couple of them, I need to study and research. I'll leave you this week with a couple more photos of the Quitobaquito area, the grave marker is the only non Native American buried in the area. In the photo immediately below we are looking at the point where the water comes out of the hillside.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Evening Program

This past Saturday I gave my second evening program on the ranching history in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. It is a 45 minute talk with some slides, given from the perspective of a member of the Gray family who dominated cattle ranching in the monument. I talk with a western twang for the entire program and reviews have been good :)
With three different program preps complete, we are able to do some different activities on our days off. A week ago we went up to the annual RV show in Quartzsite. We left on Tuesday and spent the night. It is a crazy place. In short summary, it is a flea market for miles, not our cup of tea. I didn't even take a picture.
This past Wednesday we were able to get out for a hike. We left early from Alamo Canyon with the goal of hiking through Grass Canyon and up over a ridge. The hike from Alamo to the canyon was up and down through washes and around boulders.

I took us longer than expected to arrive at the entrance to Grass Canyon, so Brian, Hilda, Sherri and I decided to change course as we did not want to be coming down a mountainside in the dark. As we arrived at the entrance to Grass Canyon, Brian was being one with nature. The wildflowers are a beautiful carpet this winter.
We changed course and hiked over to Copper Mountain. This mountain saw extensive mining and is littered with many holes.

Sherri is thrilled to be holding this copper filled rock. We enjoyed some lunch at the base of the hill.
Brian and I hiked over the mountain, while Sherri and Hilda walked around. The Park Service dynamited some of the holes for safety. Inadvertently, this has created an excellent habitat for the endangered Lesser Long Nosed Bat. In the summer Organ Pipe hosts the largest maternal colony of this bat, who feasts on the fruit of the saguaro and Organ Pipe. An entrance to the mine.

From here we hiked back to the car passing through some large and interesting chain fruit (jumping) chollas. Sherri says they look like Dr. Seuss trees.
It was a good eight mile bushwhack through the desert. It is more tiring than hiking on a trail, but we also saw things few others will ever see.