Again we passed through mostly high desert on our trek eastward today. We left Deming by about 10:30 and jumped back on I-10 continuing through more gorgeous long views to the surrounding rocky desert mountain ranges. About 100 miles later, we pulled off in Anthony, a city of numerous cattle feedlots located between Las Cruces, N.M., and El Paso, TX.
A few miles later, we pulled into the West El Paso RV Park despite still being in New Mexico. It is another large gravel lot but there are lots of trees here, some with leaves. The wifi at this parking lot is terrific unlike the wifi last night in the gravel parking lot in Deming. Another good point is that we are upwind of the enormous cattle feedlots, their flies and their rich, aromatic scents. We will be departing tomorrow to continue our trek toward Carlsbad, N.M.
Driving across a large high desert was our task for today. We started out at about 4500′ elevation and, despite a bunch of hills and valleys along our route, ended up at about 4500′ elevation. The weather was clear as a bell and the long vistas to the myriad mountains poking up out of the desert were fantastic. The mountains here are not the nice, green formations we typically visit. Instead, they are huge monoliths of bare, fried stone. They are very jagged and quite striking.
We drove about 20 miles north from Sierra Vista/Huachuca City and then headed east on I-10 again. There ain’t much in the way of cities or towns going east on the interstate. We passed through Benson, Arizona, and Lordsburg, New Mexico, and other than that, it is a broad expanse with a few remote trading posts. These trading posts have dozens of roadside billboards as drivers approach touting incongruous selections of items like, diesel, “real” Indian moccasins, Mexican serapes and blankets and, strangely, knives. We blasted right by them at about 65 mph.
After a couple hundred miles, we pulled off the interstate in Deming, N.M., where we ambled over to the Low Hi RV Park. There was a sign in front of the park that said it was the location where “singles swing” but we didn’t spot any swinging singles or anybody else that appears any differently than ordinary RV park denizens which are predominately middle-aged and elderly adults and dogs.
During our previous visits to Deming, we have stayed at a place called Rancho Lobo RV Park. Unfortunately, the road from Deming to Rancho Lobo is about 10 miles in length and some of it is poorly paved. The last little bit is dirt and, since the last two times we have visited the park it was raining, we carried a little bit of New Mexico all over the country when we departed because the red mud splatter from the road is both a rich color and adheres to anything it touches like Bondo. No amount of driving in rain will remove the material or the color. Fortunately for us, the roads to the Low Hi RV Park are paved. The park is basically a gravel parking lot although they have some trees, none of them with leaves at this time of year. The wifi sucks in both parks. After all, we are in Deming, not known as a place where modern electronic communications is important. They do have a very good county museum here but we will miss it this time because we are continuing our eastward trek in the morning.
Today was another day for us to catch up on some maintenance so our exploration went right out the window. Peggy finished the laundry we didn’t finish a couple days ago. I dumped the waste tanks and filled our on-board water supply because we are heading into areas where water might not be available. We disassembled and re-assembled the rear left corner of the trailer but this time we used appropriate fasteners unlike the rusty short screws we removed and discarded. We bought fuel, tobacco and milk to top off our supplies. We made some reservations for our next few destinations. I had one of our propane tanks filled. We have used quite a bit of propane recently because it is down in the 20’s at night here. The two electric 1500 watt heaters we have in the trailer just can’t keep up with outside temperatures below freezing but the trailer’s propane furnace has no problem. It does chew up a lot of fuel, though.
Tomorrow we depart the Huachuca City/Sierra Vista area heading east toward New Mexico and Texas. We will cross the Continental Divide for the first time on this year’s trip shortly after we go by Lordsburg, N.M. Maybe the nighttime temperatures will come up a bit once we start going down instead of up.
During some previous stops we have made in Huachuca City and Sierra Vista, we have driven south down AZ-90 to Turkey Trail Rd. Turning off the pavement, we wandered a few miles to the Ash Canyon Inn which is touted as a B&B but, more importantly, has various types of bird feeders and impaled fruit in the backyard trees.
Between the feeders was a constantly changing constellation of colorful birds happily gorging themselves on the abundant free food right in front of a nearby human audience. There must have been a dozen or more species sidled up to the buffet, most of them with gorgeous plumage. We saw not less than five types of woodpeckers alone. We hung out for quite a while.
We also stopped at Home Depot for screws to tighten up one of the corners on the Barbarian Invader and some rattlecan glossy white so Peggy can make our trailer’s entry handrail sticky. We also went to a Mexican food place called Rudolfo’s for tamales. They were tasty and a plate with two tamales, rice and beans was around $7.50. Their seating is uncomfortable prefabricated McDonald’s type, miserable for porkers like me so I recommend eating in the car.
We captured some birds and other stuff on the camera. For a look, click here
Chores put the kibosh on fun stuff so we hung around the park and did the laundry and the dishes and other mundane stuff. It was not exciting.
It was very cold for us west coast types last night. By early morning, temperatures were down near freezing so we malingered drinking Irish Cream-fortified coffee in the trailer until about 10:00 before wandering outside to prepare for departure. My shorts and T-shirt regular attire may be a bit too comfy for temperatures in the 40’s.
By about 10:30 we were ready to go and we split from Justin’s Diamond J RV. After passing through some poorly delineated and striped construction before hitting I-10, we jumped on the freeway and headed east. About an hour and a half later, we turned off I-10 and headed south on AZ-90.
Twenty miles later, we pulled into the Quail Ridge RV Park just north of Huachuca City near Sierra Vista. Huachuca City is the location of Fort Huachuca, home to the Buffalo Soldiers who did most of the fighting in exchanges with the Apaches during the U.S, government’s efforts to eradicate Native Americans that stood in the way of whitey’s land grabs during our alleged Manifest Destiny. The program was bullshit but it was effective at wiping out the indigenous population. Strangely, it wasn’t the fighting but disease that capped the locals. Old movies about big campaigns of white cowboys slaughtering the Apaches are thrilling but mostly inaccurate since black soldiers did most of the work.
Now Fort Huachuca now has strange balloons and antennas pointed south, perhaps in an effort to detect pesky immigrant Mexicans that were clever enough to get over the ugly sheet pile wall visible a few miles to the south. Those too stupid to operate ladders would seem to be the only folks stranded south of the wall. If Trump has his way, all of those poor ingrates that are challenged by ladder operation will be obliged to stay within the borders of Mexico. The rest can flood over, just like before we wasted 18 billion dollars. Ain’t we twits?
Nice things about this part of the world are the abundance of birds, which makes me happy and we have found a restaurant that has good tamales. We will be visiting the tamale joint tomorrow.
The terrific weather we have enjoyed here in Tucson for 6 days changed for the worse today. Very little clear sky was visible first thing this morning. The temperature dropped about 25 degrees from yesterday’s balmy sunshine and by midday the rain had started.
We got in a stop at Costco for liquor because we are departing for points east tomorrow morning. It seems the further we go east in the U.S., the more bizarre the liquor laws become. We stocked up here in Arizona where liquor acquisition isn’t so expensive or problematic. We also pulled in for fuel where the lower temperatures and blasting wind challenged my commitment to wearing shorts. Brrrr. Off to Sierra Vista tomorrow.
Sabino Canyon was our destination today. Accordingly, Sabino Canyon is northeast of Tucson, we are camped southwest of Tucson and there are no limited access highways to cross town. As the crow flies, it is about 20 miles between Sabino Canyon and Justin’s Diamond J RV Park but, due to the tortured terrain and the unique nature of Tucson roads, it takes about an hour and a quarter to cross the gap.
The drive is worth it. Sabino Canyon is a federal site so our Geezer Pass got us in the parking lot for free, a $5 savings. We quickly popped over to a ticket booth and paid $10 a head for a trolley ride into the canyon. The trolley can be exited or re-boarded at any one of nine stops along the creek running down the bottom of this stunning desert chasm. The local rock formations are made out of gneiss, a particularly stripey sedimentary formation that looks very shiny after the water buffs it up some.
Today we were quite fortunate to see a large roadrunner with snazzy plumage right in the trolley boarding area. Even better, we got to see some coatis doing coati stuff near the creek bottom. They are interesting little critters that have a fuzzy tail with dense fur, long rear and short front legs and an overall appearance of a combination lemur/weasel/raccoon/cat. We were lucky again today as we heard long-time residents stating that they have been in Sabino Canyon zillions of times but today is their first coati sighting.
We used our new GPS to cross through central Tucson stopping off at a T. Joe’s to purchase chow items that are probably bad for us but very tasty. The city streets here have been laid out in such a fashion that motorists heading generally west are required to go east, south, north and make many turns before being allowed to drive home. It is very strange, to me.
We took some snaps of the wildlife and the terrain. Check ’em out! Click here
Saguaro National Park is geographically divided into two distinct sections. A few miles north of our current campsite southwest of Tucson, the western portion or Tucson Mountain District of the park spreads out along the western slope. The eastern or Rincon Mountain District is about an hour’s drive through Tucson from the western portion. Our focus for today was the Rincon Mountain District.
We intended to use our new GPS to find the route from our RV park to our destination across town. When starting the unit up for the first time after purchase, I found myself completely incapable of operating the device and the User Start-Up Guide had nice illustrations but absolutely no information about how the pricey gizmo works. Failing miserably at my initial efforts, I accessed the internet and, after considerable clumsy searching, found a operation manual that could be downloaded to my laptop but not to the GPS because I couldn’t operate it. After quite a bit of reading, I had progressed to being able to access some functions but not reliably. Therefore, I figured we were ready to go.
We arrived at the Rincon Mountain District after about an hour of city street driving in Tucson. Due to the weird configuration of Tucson roads, any persons wishing to travel from east to west or vice versa across town are obliged to use city streets with frequent, signal-controlled intersections because there are no east-west highways. The same goes for north-south except for those that can access Interstate 10.
The Rincon District of the park has an eight mile one-way loop road through a cactus forest and the scenery is stunning. Desert birds are abundant and we spotted some fuzzy scurrying critters that moved so fast we couldn’t identify them. Saguaro, barrel, prickly pear, cholla and Ocotillo cactus are everywhere. The massive rock formations are magnificent. Peggy and I stopped about halfway through the loop and took a stroll on the Desert Ecology Trail. It is a short loop through flat (mostly) ground and they don’t even need to post signs telling the idiots to stay on the trail because the flora will force them back quickly. Everything out here has nasty spikes, leathery skin and fierce appearances. It seems pretty plain that cowboys who worked in Arizona mast have had thick chaps or real prickly legs.
Despite my almost complete inability to operate anything more sophisticated than tweezers, I was able to fool our new GPS unit into returning us to our RV park and it only took about an hour even though we never missed a turn and didn’t have to hang a U-turn anywhere. It was almost magical.
We took a few pictures. To see them, clickhere
We never seemed to really get going today. We drove the trash over to the park dumpster and gave it a whirl. We took a stroll into the desert surrounding the park. We gave back scratches to some of the local dogs. We were boring.