Okay, the next leg of the trip. I drove from Cottonwood, AZ. to Gila Bend, taking my time. i stayed overnight in the back of a McDonalds. They have wifi now, but they charge you. I found an accomadating Best Western for free. Figured ou my 12 volt problem, which is posted in the other thread.
The next morning dawned ugly, thick threatening clouds. My destination was the Organ Pipes National Monument. I had wanted to head to Santa Fe, NM, but the weather promised to be nasty. I had hoped to avoid the storm by going south. No such luck. Spent the first day and night in the camper with the rain pattering on the roof, and judging by the forecasts, it was going to stay that way the whole week.
So much for the forecasts. The next mornign revealed a bright blue sky. I packed up a lunch and headed out on the Victoria Mine trail:
the blue mountains in the back are in Mexico:
The campground there is excellent. Can't recommend this place enough. only 12 bucks, level cement pads if you want to take the rig off the truck:
Next day we hiked the Arches canyon trail. All these trails are verbotten for dogs so don't tell anyone:
Next stop, somewhere in New Mexico.
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I left Organ Pipe Monument and drove through the big Indian Reservaton to Tuscon. Interesting radio stations going through there. It was all in the native language I didn't understand, but I kept listening because it was nice company.
I like the Cortaro road exit just a bit NW of Tuscon. There's a Cracker Barrel, which I have a big weakness for, and a Walmart. Both let you park over night. There are signs in the WM lot that say otherwise, but there were 6 rigs there when I got there and more by morning. No hassles from the authorities. There are also a bunch of WIFi networks to hop on. Quality Inn has 3 alone. So I took care of the intenet business I had to, filled up with propane and Cracker Barrel fare, and headed east.
The next stop was Pancho Villa State Park, sight of the las armed invasion of the US in 1906 by Villa. Really nice campsites:
I took the camper off the truck and did some exploring in the Tres Hermanas mountains:
On Christmas Eve I attended a spaghetti feed/concert of local musicians. I'd never met anyone there before, but saw an ad for the event on the door of the Tumbleweed Theatre there. I was sat down at a table of folks I'd never met before and treated just like family. Very nice! One of the things I was told that the main industry in this town is the Border Patrol. It is about a mile from the border. The second day I was there we had 50-60 mph winds. Here's a pic of the main street of Columbus:
I left Columbus and headed for El Paso early on the lonely Highway (8?) that is right next to the border. Happened across this photo op of a water hole with the Florida Mtns in the distance:
That night I rolled into the Davis Mountains State park near Fr. Davis Texas. Really nice spot. One of the many amenities of this place is that it's right down the road from the famous MacDonald Observatory. Have you ever heard those one minute radio spots called Star Date, which talk about what you can see in the night skys? They come from here.
i attended what they call a "star party". If you ever have the chance to go to this place and sttend one, don't miss it. They have some of the darkest skys on the planet, perfect for observing galaxies and stars. THe program started in an open air amphitheater where we could see everything, with the moderator pointing out different galaxies and constellations with some high tech light device that made it look just like it was touching the stars. I sat there with a big grin on my face and felt like a little boy first experiencing the vast night skys. later they had telescopes (many of them) set up where you could look at differnet stuff. Really, don't miss this place if you have the chance;
I took a couple of hikes around the area. This is a view of Limpia Creek from the Sheep pen canyon trail:
Macdonald Observaroty from 15 miles away, same hike:
If any of you are Larry McMurty fans this is where he set a lot of his novels that covered the exploits of Captains Call and McCrae. I stopped at a nice RV park west of Presidio on Highway 170, unloaded my camper and spent the next few days exploring Big bend Ranch State Park. They say the drive along this Highway, which roughly follows the Rio Grande River,is one of the most beautiful in the world. I'm hard pressed to argue.
A couple pictures from a hike down Closed Canyon, an amazing slot canyon with walls almost 200 feet high in places. If any of you have ever read Ed Abbey's Desert Solitaire, you might remember an adventure he had where he was exploring a canyon like this and at one point almost couldn't get out because he had been sliding down these sheer rock faces of the canyon floor. One of them he coudln't get back up. I didn't have quite that much of an adventure, but I did have to lift the dogs down a few of those type of spots, then lift thme up on the way back out. We made it back, but I was tired!
here's a campsite at Madera canyon that can be had for 8 bucks a
Fair warning. This road is pretty hairy in spots and makes the descent into Petrolia that Joe Chi Oki described in a menmorable post look like child's play. 15 % in some spots.
Along the way is a town called Contrabando, really a movie set that was used for the Streets of Laredo miniseries, among others:
I'll spend New year's eve here, then it's on to the country described in Cormac McCarthys novel No Country for Old Men, then on to Austin to hear a concert by Larry McMurtry's quite talented son,James, who tells his stories with a guitar.
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