From the big city to the tiny town

Our lives can have a funny rhythm.  We’ve spent a week or 10 days in exactly the same quiet spot, mostly taking walks and reading, and the time seems to move so slowly. And then we sometimes have a week where it’s all movement and bustle, and when we land at the end of it, I’m amazed that only a short time has passed.  Although this week did encompass some solitude in the desert, we also crammed a whole lot in before that.  Plus, we have big news!

We left Tucson on New Years Day, in a heavy rain and dark skies. A friend had invited us to hike at a peak that was on our route, but the nasty weather deterred us, so we continued onward.  As we got closer to Phoenix, the skies cleared up for the first time in days, and we headed to the far west side, to overnight in a free regional park, Buckeye Hills.  Our friend Becky (Interstellar Orchard) and her friend Julie were staying there as leg one of their 10 day southwest Arizona ramble. It was the perfect overnight stop.  Soupy the adventure cat was free to have an outing, we climbed some nearby hills, and slept in complete quiet for the first time in months.

The next day, we headed into Phoenix proper to take care of appointments, the first being an RV repair that was done quickly and inexpensively. Yippee! We moved over to a casino for the rest of our stay, where parking lot camping is free for 3 days. It’s not the most peaceful place to sleep, but it was centrally located, and way better than $40/night in a big city RV park!

I’m not much for Phoenix as a city, but we made the most of our time. We got to see our friend, Trey, and meet his partner, Lisa. We also did some hiking that’s right in the center of town. Papago Park is a a great city park filled with funny lumps that are great for scrambling, and Piestewa Peak was a leg-burning challenge with amazing views.

Papago pouting:

The law of urban trails is that no matter how hard it is for you, someone else will pass you, jogging it for funsies:

And now for the big announcement! One of the tasks in Phoenix was a job interview. Our holiday jobs just weren’t as lucrative as ones we’ve had in the past, so we needed to pick up a bit more work before we return to the resort in May. And what did we pick? Here’s a hint: I’m going to be a wench. We’re going to be kitchen help for the Arizona Renaissance Festival! The Festival is every weekend from February 11-April 2–we will work long days on Saturday and Sunday, but then be off Monday-Friday. We can camp on the festival grounds for pretty cheap, and we’ll be right next to the Superstition mountains for our days off. Plus, I’m looking forward to meeting lots of mobile, non-retired folks! If nothing else, this gig will make for some really good blog posts!

With all our chores squared away, we headed out for some traveling before we report to the festival at the beginning of February. First stop was way down south in Arizona to go to an area that’s been on our bucket list for a while: Ajo, AZ, followed by Organ Pipe National Monument. We found out that Becky and Julie were “coyote camping” in the BLM outside of Ajo, so we joined them for a few days. This area is the antidote for too much city. We camped down old ranch roads that wind through the Sonoran desert, with a whole lot of space around us.  We were also inbetween the national monument and a wildlife refuge, which is an important animal corridor.  While were sitting out and stargazing, a pair of kit foxes scurried right past us, fully visible in the moonlight.

This old windmill was part of a ranching corral complex, and still bringing up water for the trough at its base:

Most of the saguaro in this area were very unattractive, and kind of misshapen. I’m not saying that mining is bad for these babies, but maybe it wasn’t all good!

Besides walks, enjoying the sun, and evenings with Becky and Julie, we also took a trip into town to explore historic Ajo. It was a decent sized city when the copper mine was in operation, but since that closed, it’s a lot more quiet. Artists are starting to move in, and it’s worth a few hours to explore, but it mostly just felt like the remnants of a once thriving town. We went on the self guided walking tour, peered into the defunct copper mine, and perused the Historical Museum.

Beautiful square still decked out for Christmas:

The old copper mine is a mile and a half across and 1000 feet deep.  With the viewing platform facing south, you’re guaranteed the worst possible picture of an already ugly place:

Great murals all over:

The former school has been turned into artist’s residences for weekly, monthly or yearly rental:

The town did have gorgeous light.  This picture is without any filter!

Next up is Organ Pipe National Monument!

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