Monday, February 17th, 2014

Traveling through Agri-wasteland between Tucson and Yuma is a challenge for me. Not only is it ugly, it stinks. So many nasty smells, mostly from animal waste. Chicken poop is the most challenging, while cow poop is the most abundant. Trucks hauling cows in front of us invade our airspace and we both scramble for the “inside” setting on the dash fan. The air conditioner usually helps, but if you don't anticipate the odor and it gets into the cab, it takes a while to air it out. I seriously hate this drive, but it's a necessary evil to get to Algodones, MX.

This is especially harsh after spending nearly a week in the Ironwood, National Monument. Our camp spot was gloriously situated at the base of Ragged Top mountains and nestled between 

From Casino Del Sol, Tucson Mountain Park, Ironwood National Monument

 

various types of cacti. The weather was hot the first couple of days and then descended to an optimal temperature, making it one of the best camp spots ever. It was fairly secluded, and except for some hikers and the Ranger on the first day, we saw no one. We never would have found this spot, as it's off the dirt road, but the first day we were trying to find our way through the Ironwood to an acceptable camp spot, we took a way in that ended up on dirt road that turned terribly nasty and impassable

From Casino Del Sol, Tucson Mountain Park, Ironwood National Monument

for our rig.

From Casino Del Sol, Tucson Mountain Park, Ironwood National Monument

We consulted the GPS again and found another road in that took us further north, into the park. By the time we went a few miles in and past the mile or so stretch of private homes (that have no business being there in the first place) it was getting late. We found a pull off on the side of the road and camped for the night. It's all BLM and camping is permitted just about anywhere.

The next morning, Sam was outside and I could hear voices. A man was out walking and approached Sam to tell him that this wasn't a safe place to camp. He has a house just down the road and he walks around here every day. Being so close to the Mexican border, it's a major corridor for drug and human trafficking. We had already read about that, but also read about people camping there and really enjoying it. That’s the camping we were looking for. We had no idea we were camped in one of the worst spots for illegal activity. The guy told Sam about finding contraband such as bales of pot, guns and even people hiding in the washes around that area. They drop things and scouts come and pick them up. Of course, I wanted to go scouting, but the sane part of me said, “what are you, crazy?”. Well, I might be crazy, but I'm not stupid. Border patrol is in the area and occasionally airplanes and choppers do a sweep.

Later, the first guy called his neighbor, also from Oregon, and sent him over. He told Sam that he thought his neighbor exaggerated a bit and was overly concerned, but that it probably wasn't the safest place for us to camp. We had planned to move that day anyway, looking for a better spot.

From Casino Del Sol, Tucson Mountain Park, Ironwood National Monument

Good thing we met these guys first, as they told us about the camp spot we ended up at. 4 miles up the road and a left at the cattle guard. We never would have known. It was a rough, rutty, dirt road not passable by a rig any bigger than ours, but totally worth picking our way to the end site.

From Casino Del Sol, Tucson Mountain Park, Ironwood National Monument

Although there were numerous cow patties and evidence of trampled and eaten beaver tail cacti, we never once saw or heard a cow. The only reason we left after 5 days was because we ran out of water.

Before we went to the Ironwoods, we spent nearly a week in the Casino Del Sol

From Casino Del Sol, Tucson Mountain Park, Ironwood National Monument

parking lot,

From Casino Del Sol, Tucson Mountain Park, Ironwood National Monument

among the many snowbirds in their Rvs, landing for a while, on their way to somewhere else. We spent some time getting to know Tucson and visiting Tucson Mountain Park,

From Casino Del Sol, Tucson Mountain Park, Ironwood National Monument

not far from the casino. We had always wanted to be among the Saguaros, but so far, hadn't made it that far south. This time, we found the mother load.

From Casino Del Sol, Tucson Mountain Park, Ironwood National Monument

We met some new friends

From Casino Del Sol, Tucson Mountain Park, Ironwood National Monument

(B & G) in the casino parking lot. A couple from Winnipeg, who were riding out some time in the lot because it was too dang cold to go home. They drive a small class B van and have the appropriate size dog for their space, a classic black Scotty. He is only 10 months old, so they're still trying to train him. He's wicked cute. G was having a problem with his teeth and they were waiting to hear from their Canadian insurance company if it would be covered. We told them about our dentist in Algodones, MX and they ended up going over to the Quechan Casino parking lot and giving him a try. I got an email, when in the Ironwoods, that they had a great experience and G got his teeth fixed for a fraction of the cost in Canada or the states. They were ecstatic, which made us very happy. You just never know, when you make a recommendation. Everyone's experiences are different.

We met a women C, in the casino lot, traveling around full time in her 35' class A. We went inside and I began to drool. A full time bedroom with slide out, check. Living room with slide out where the couch is, check. Huge, flat screen tv above the electric fireplace (meh). Full time side dinette, definite check! Extra seating up front where the cab chairs swivel toward the living space, check. Still, it's too big to travel around like we like to, but it was quite cush and luxurious and I could easily spend some time in it. She does very well maintaining and maneuvering that big rig and her toad (tow car) all by herself. She also had an enviable bank of solar panels on the top. Her set up is no slouch.

She had a traveling companion (E) for a few months. A good friend with 2 small dogs. E had been following in her own car and then staying in the rig with C. We had the fortune of meeting E a couple of days before she parted ways with C to head back to her home in California. The day before she left, we had the hula hoops out and E took a liking to it. We had one large, heavier hoop with us, which she was able to hoop with a bit. She began obsessing about where she would get her hands on a hoop after she went home. That evening, I ended up bringing her the hoop at C's and sold it her, at ½ because it was used and rag tag. At first she didn't want to take it because she knew it was one of our favorites, but for me, it is all about spreading the love and joy of hooping, especially when someone takes to it. She left early the next morning and was happy to have hoop in hand.

So.... new friends, it's a good thing!!  

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