Southern Arizona

Monday, January 3

Last night was cold, but it looks like things will warm up over the week. Still not much connectivity, WiFi is non-existent, and the phone data connection is barely there at all. But it was enough to do a quick Spanish lesson. With my cold I’m taking it easy today. There’s lot’s of trip ahead of us, so it makes sense to take a little time off and get better.

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Tuesday, January 4

Still taking it easy, we did get out for a bit. Just up the street was the Visitor Center for the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, so we went up for a look around. We are in the middle of the Sonoran desert, and it was great seeing the birds, animals, and plants, particularly the Saguaro cactuses. When we got back we found that the WiFi is actually workable if you go into the laundry room. It’s probably just as good outside the laundry room, but in the Arizona sun I can’t see a screen.

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Wednesday, January 5

Another quiet day. Cheryl went out for a long walk into the center of Ajo, and we will probably both go there Saturday morning based on recommendations from a fellow RVer. We also dumped the tanks successfully and without incident. We seem to have worked out a procedure that is effective. 

Thursday, January 6

The first anniversary of the day democracy almost died in the U.S. During breakfast we experienced some electrical issues, and it turned out our power pedestal had stopped supplying power, and we were overloading the inverter. Fortunately, the spot next to us was empty, so we just plugged in over there. Then we did the laundry, and arranged to get more propane. The folks here are very nice, and said we could just place our tanks out in front of our trailer, and they would pick them up, fill them, bring them back, and tell us what we owed them. There are a number of long term residents in this park, so it is a great service to offer. After getting the tanks back and re-installed, we went for a walk in the surrounding desert. I still have a bit of a frog in my throat, but it is getting better. I think tomorrow we will go to the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

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Friday, January 7

Today was Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument day. It is right on the border with Mexico and is classic Sonoran Desert landscape and plant life and probably wildlife as well, though we didn’t really see any of that. The Sonoran Desert straddles the border with Mexico, and in size is about as large as the state of New Mexico. The Organ Pipe Cactus sends up as many as twenty cactus trunks from a single root, which is rare. The Saguaro, on the other hand, is a single trunk, though it may grow branches after about 70 years or so. They can get up to 50 feet in height, and live as long as 200 years. Then there are the Chollas, which are like little trees with fuzzy branches, and the Ocotillos, which at this time of year look like dead sticks, but they are merely dormant until rain comes.

We went to the Visitor Center to get oriented, and found the perfect hike with the Desert View Trail. It took us up a hill (kind of a foothill to the mountains all around us), and had guides to all the plant life posted along the trail. Organ Pipe Cactuses seem to love hillsides more than anything. Most of the ones we saw were on a slope, while the Saguaros tended to be found more on the flat ground. With the climbing up and down the hill this was as much exercise as we wanted. Then after lunch, we went on the Ajo Mountain Scenic Drive. It was not an easy drive on a bumpy unpaved road, but again many stops along the way to view the plant life. All in all a day full of the Sonoran Desert, and it was wonderful. This is the kind of day I pictured when we were planning this trip, and we both had a great time.

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Saturday, January 8

Saturday is the Mercado in Ajo. If it were not winter there would be produce for sale, but not in January. But there were lots of arts and crafts available, Cheryl bought several raffle tickets for a beautiful quilt, then we walked through a couple of galleries in the buildings around the plaza. We stopped in to the Arizona Tourist Information Office, and picked up some brochures for our next stop, Benson, Arizona, which is just southeast of Tucson. We checked out the tables set up around the plaza, and then went walking through the historic district of Ajo. We spent a few hours there before returning to the RV. It was a very pleasant way to spend Saturday.

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Sunday, January 9

It was a very nice day, sunny and warm, so we went for a walk towards Ajo, but turned off the main road to find a park. It had ball fields, exercise stations, paths, and even a pool. It looked quite nice, though nothing to compare to our Rolling Hills park back home. Still, it made for a very nice walk, and we both got our 10,000 steps in. When we got back we prepared for our departure in the morning by dumping our tanks.

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Monday, January 10

We got up and packed up the RV, and then a major improvement in our situation. It so happened that the RV park we were staying in, Belly Acres, is owned by an RV Repair shop right next door. We had made an appointment for 9am Monday morning. They installed our new steps, which means we no longer have to go in and out using a step ladder. While they were at it, we had them fix a few lights. They were very nice, and we loved the care they gave us. So if you are ever in Ajo and need RV service, check out Kord’s right on Rt. 85. When they were done, we got on the road and headed for Benson, just southeast of Tucson, where we will stay for a month. We passed Kitt Peak observatory (it’s on Rt. 86), but it is not open to the public. Too bad, I would have liked to go there. But there is a Pima Air & Space Museum which we will check out, and lots more around here. We got to the Valley Vista RV Resort just after 4:30, and got set up, but by the time we had everything in place it was getting dark, the wind picked up, and the temperature dropped. Benson is at 3,500 feet above sea level, and in January it gets down to the mid-30s, but in the afternoon up to the mid-60s. For comparison, back home in Michigan is 15 right now, Cheryl checked. We had a little electrical problem when the electric space heater and a few other appliances started shutting down, so we went to bed.

Tuesday, January 11

Some more of those electrical problems in the morning. Appliances would shut off, then come back a few seconds later, then go off again. This happened repeatedly until about 7:30 and suddenly stopped. We mentioned it to the office, and an electrician came out. He found some issues, and we tested it. I turned on the Microwave, the toaster oven, the space heater, and the refrigerator all at once, but nothing stopped, so we are hoping that fixed it. We tried hooking up Cable TV, but that did not work, so we’ll have that looked at when we get home. Then we went shopping, and picked up a few more DVDs while we were there (Walmart). By the time we got home and put everything away we both decided we had done a full day, so we relaxed. One of the things we like to do when traveling in the RV is have some entertainment while we have dinner. We brought some DVDs with us, but soon realized we would run out long before the trip ended. So I ordered some from Amazon to be sent here. All in all I think we should be set now.

Wednesday, January 12

The electrical problems continued, so we will probably move to another site. It is hard to figure out what the problem is, but we had no issues before getting to this park, but then again no one else here is complaining. The park staff suggested taking off the surge protector, but I am reluctant to do that. The problem could be caused by a low voltage condition, and I bought a protector that guards against that. And low voltage can damage appliances just as much as voltage spikes can. After lunch we went to the Pima Air & Space Museum. There was a lot more Air than Space, but we had a good time. There were lots of planes to see, both military and civilian, and it made for a nice afternoon. We put together a list of things to do in this area, and I think we could do something different every day of our stay here, though we may take a day off now and then. After all, we have to do laundry about once a week.

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