Monday, March 26, 2012

Sonoran Desert Symposium

This past week was spent helping out with and attending the 2nd Sonoran Desert Symposium sponsored by the International Sonoran Desert Alliance which is based in Ajo, AZ. The purpose of the symposium is to bring together all the agencies which have a stake in the Sonoran Desert. The attendees included: Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, El Pinacate National Park in Mexico, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Border Patrol, Barry Goldwater Military Training Range, Tohono O'Odham Nation, Fish and Wildlife and the Interior Department, plus many individuals and several special interest groups. As volunteers, our job was to help with logistics and registration, but we also were able to attend many of the breakout sessions and partake in the meals and festivities. It was an extremely interesting week, the number of issues and concerns discussed showed why it is so important for all these agencies to have an open dialogue. The most pressing problem is how Homeland Security and those with a stake in preserving the desert can work  together to lessen illegal immigration, smuggling and Border Patrol's environmental impact on the Sonoran Desert.
The symposium was held at the Curley School which was built in 1919 when Ajo was beginning to boom as an important mining town. The entire town was laid out as a planned community with the Curley School built to house 500 students. When the mines closed, the school fell into disrepair. Much of the school has been renovated to house local artists and their works. Here is a view of the front of the school and Sherri in front of a bougainvillea.
On Wednesday the group came down to Organ Pipe for different activities. Sherri and I led a hike up into Arch Canyon, there were 16 on our hike. That night Organ Pipe hosted a BBQ. On Thursday the symposium wrapped up with a dinner and entertainment by the Ajo Ballet Folklorico.
Friday was field trip day. Sherri and I chose a trip to Lago Seco, a dry lake on the Barry Goldwater Bombing Range. Civilians are allowed to visit this archaeological site twice a year and must be escorted by the staff archaeologist. The dry lake was a hub for trading from 1100 to 1450 A.D. and is littered with pot sherds, sea shells and tools. Much of the site has not been mapped and all pieces must be left in place. It really was an amazing place, with the Air Force practicing bombing just over the ridge from our location. The woman with the blue head scarf is Adrian, the head Archaeologist for the Goldwater Range. Below Sherri is examining a pot sherd.

It was a very busy and educational week. Sherri and I learned a lot about the struggles to save the Sonaran Desert and the politics involved. 
I'll leave this blog with a photo of Ryder getting comfortable on the couch....he does know how to relax.

Monday, March 12, 2012


We headed down to Mexico twice since our last post. On Thursday 3/1 Janet, the manager of the gift shop in the visitor center, invited us to dinner at her house in Sonoyta. Janet and a friend fixed 10 of us sopas, which are english muffin sized corn shells filled with cheese, meat and vegetables in a broth. The food and company were great, but I forgot my camera.
Last Wednesday 3/7, one of the volunteers, Anita, who lives in Ajo took Sherri and I and another couple down to Puerto Penasco. Puerto Penasco on the Sea of Cortez, was a sleepy fishing/tourist town on our last visit 19 years ago. It is now much busier and sports high rise resorts. Many refer to it as Arizona's Beach since it is only a 3 1/2 hour drive from Tucson or Phoenix. Since we went down on a Wednesday we saw fewer crowds. Our first stop was the beach where a shrimp boat was passing by, surrounded by seagulls. The next photo looks north toward the resorts.

The two homes above are in Cholla Bay which has some very nice homes and some very funky homes. The next stop was the shopping area along the sea. Here we bought some shrimp, had lunch, watched a whale swim by, looked at the statues and enjoyed shopping. We didn't "Get Wrecked" I just thought it was an interesting photo.

Next, we drove up to a bar overlooking the city. The frog on the light is pretty cool and it is a beautiful spot for a beverage.

We had a wonderful time and Anita is a great tour guide.