A favorite desert campground…

Next morning, I left the Morongo Casino early and arrived at one of my favorite campgrounds, Lake Cahuilla Recreation Area .  Previously I had stayed there with power/water but they had no available spots, this time, so I chose the primitive camping with no hookups.

I have to say, the primitive camping area has become my new favorite.  I was able to get a spot right along the lake and the sites are spacious.  There is a picnic table and a fire ring, and you have free use of the showers/bathrooms.   You can use the dump, and there is a potable water spigot.  Cost for a primitive spot is $20 a night, plus $2 per dog, per night.

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The scenery is beautiful from sunup to sunset, it’s fairly close to shopping, laundry facilities, restaurants etc. though you feel far away from it all.   There are hiking trails (one trail dogs are not allowed, as it is an area frequented by Bighorn Sheep) where you can hike for as long as you want.  One of my favs that is close, is the Boo Hoff trail which you can drive your 4x4s on.

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This year White Pelicans as well as Cormorants were seen at the lake multiple days.  Fishing is allowed (stocked trout) but you not only have to buy a fishing license in town but pay an additional fee to fish at Lake Cahuilla.  It is a water source lake so no swimming, boating etc.

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A winery, BPOE, beautiful lake and a casino parking lot….

I’m combining a couple of my stops, because my camera malfunctioned and I don’t have any good pics of the winery or casino.

The winery we went to next was the Julietta winery in Clarksburg, CA.   Parking for RVs was tight, I had to unhitch the Jeep to make it into a spot. Lots of overhanging trees to watch out for.  Not much room…maybe 1 bigger rv and a smaller one or one big and a couple van size. Dogs on leash, not a lot of area to walk them.

The tasting room was cute with some outside seating.  You can bring in something to eat but nothing to drink. They have water, etc you can buy there.   We tried a couple of their reds, but they weren’t to our liking so didn’t buy a bottle.  We bought their cheese sampler but don’t recommend it as the pieces were very tiny of each for the price.

At this point we split up, Cherie heading to Indio to visit family, and I headed off to Santa Barbara to visit friends.   I stopped for the night at the Santa Maria Elks, chose the partial hookups for $25 (no sewer) full hookups there are $30 and dry camping is $12.  Big lawns but dogs not allowed. Friday nights they have a cook your own on their oak pit bbq…you can choose from steak, chicken, spareribs or fish.

Bright and early I headed for my next camping destination, Lake Cachuma.  Lake Cachuma was a dam created lake. It is surrounded by Santa Ynez and San Rafael mountains and consists of 9000 recreational acres.

No body contact is allowed with the water as it is a domestic water supply, but they allow boating and rent kayaks at their general store.   They have a marina that sells bait, tackle, fishing licenses and fuel.  There are hiking trails, playgrounds, a nature center and fishing piers.   At the general store you’ll find necessities, a gas station and propane.  There is a coin operated laundromat and showers.

There are cabins you can rent and a variety of choices for camping. They charge for everything, even putting your kayak in the water.  For RVs it’s $40 a night for partial hookups in the winter, $45 for full hookups.  I chose partial because they also charge $3 per dog, per day.

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As far as dogs go, there are nice grassy areas to walk them and two good size fenced dog parks to let them run.  I never saw another dog in the dog parks the two times I took them there.

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My big draw for camping in this location was it was close to the Cold Springs Tavern, that I had planned on meeting a  FB friend, Kathy Moacanin for the first time.

Cold Springs Tavern

Cold Springs Tavern is a famous stagecoach stop on the San Marcos pass.  From their website:

“What is now the Cold Spring Tavern began operating as a stagecoach stop in 1868. The original structure is believed to have been built in 1860 and included the Long Room, RV Room and Kitchen. Ownership of the Tavern during the early years is not well documented. Records indicate the Doulton family purchased 160 acres, including the Tavern, for $10 in 1900. The Doulton’s transferred ownership in 1907 to the Miramar Corporation, which went bankrupt and lost the mortgage in 1934. Caretakers, Mr. and Mrs. Green, oversaw the property until early 1941.

Adelaide Ovington, a former actress and writer, purchased 40 acres surrounding the Tavern in 1941 for $2,000. She said “I want to buy that door and whatever comes with it!” She was also the wife of Earle Ovington, a Santa Barbara aviation pioneer and the first United States airmail pilot. Adelaide ran the Tavern alongside her daughter, Audrey Ovington, until her death in 1972. Audrey, a legendary personality and writer, was the sole proprietor until her death in 2005. Wayne and Joy Ovington Wilson, third generation and current owners, take pride in maintaining the Tavern in its historical state.”

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Like many of the places I’m drawn to, I felt right at home inside.  Loved the antique and humorously decorated interior.  There is SO much to this place, if you’re interested read all about it on their website, here is a link to just the fun facts about the place: https://www.coldspringtavern.com/about-us/fun-facts/

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Kathy and I, both had one of their specialties, their tri-tip sandwich.  The sandwich is oak grilled tri-tip thick sliced with a selection of their house made bar-b-q, apple horseradish, or fresh salsa.  They also are famous for their chilis.

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I would highly recommend a stop at the Cold Springs Tavern, even as far as taking a detour to visit.

After I left Lake Cachuma I decided to meet up with Kathy again, and our mutual friend, Patrice Lambourne.  We decided to meet at the Ventura Harbor, as it was close to the hwy I would be taking to the desert.

Ventura Harbor is a beautiful place, lots of dining choices and shops to peruse.  There are fun little photo ops along the sidewalks, which I wanted to take advantage of and picturesque views of the harbor and boats/ships.

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For lunch, we chose Andria’s Seafood Restaurant and Market.  All their choices are fresh, and it was difficult for me to decide, so I chose the Captain’s combo which had a little bit of everything  (and I got two large meals out of).  I don’t think you can go wrong with whatever you choose, it was all delicious.   For entertainment, there are Grackles hanging about, just waiting for the opportunity to swoop in and steal a french fry or piece of fish!

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After I left  Ventura I hit some traffic caused by two trucks colliding in an intersection, the time lost there caused me to land in Los Angeles commuter traffic at it’s worse.  It took me over 3 hours longer than a normal driving time for that distance. With only 48 more miles to go to my intended stop, I couldn’t go on.  I tried to stop at a couple of different rest stops but they were all closed for repairs/etc.  I finally pulled into the Morongo Casino’s free RV/semi parking lot and got some much needed sleep.

As far as a place to spend the night, if you are exhausted or like to visit casinos I can recommend this stop.  There are trucks coming and going all night and be sure and leave yourself a way to leave the parking lot as many vehicles were blocked in by others.

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On the road again

Jan 6th through the 10th.

After a delayed start, due to young Pistol ingesting some of Kylie’s estrogen pills and having to return home to do 2 weeks worth of monitoring/bloodwork,  we are on the road again.

We drove over 400 miles to our first stop at Stanton State Park,  Canyonville, OR.   This state park is good for a stopover on I-5, there are full hookups for $28 (rates are due to rise this year), and bathrooms with showers.  There is a playground for kids, and river access for fishermen.  There are pull-through sites up near the front, the downside is you hear road noise.  Lots of back-in sites and if you drive down to the lower level of sites the road noise disappears.  I’ve only stopped here in the winter and spring, so minimal neighbors (none this last time), I imagine in the summer you might need reservations.

Your other option in the area is either a free parking lot at Seven Feathers Casino or their upscale RV park at  a night.  Their gas station is self-served (in OR!) and the prices have been very good every time I’ve stopped there.

I had a break in the weather and decided to hit the Siskiyous the next day.  Bare and dry and had to break out my sunglasses!  I stopped in Weed at the Hi-Lo cafe, a locally owned and operated restaurant that has been around since .   Homemade apple pie, delicious breakfasts served all day, and a huge menu with lots of comfort food.

Continuing on I decided to camp at the Win-River Casino.  Full hookups for  but basically a parking lot with neighbors very close. There is a tiny fenced pet area, or you can walk your dogs around the perimeter.  They give you a discount on breakfast, a coupon for 10% off a spa treatment and a $5 coupon with a $25 fuel purchase.   There prices at their gas station were good for the area, as well.

Feeling a little frustrated with the places I had to camp for the last two nights (not very conducive to traveling with 3 big dogs) I looked for something with a bit more elbow room.  Near Orland, CA, I found a place that definitely filled the bill!  Black Butte Lake and the COE (Corp of Engineers) Buckhorn Campground have no hookups, but offer bathrooms/showers and LOTS of elbow room (though, again, I imagine in the summer there will be LOTS of people here).  Each “campsite” has a fire pit, picnic table and bbq.

In the winter, however, I had 3 fellow travelers the first night and 2 the second.  Dogs must be on leash, but there are LOTS of areas to walk. The only warning I have is that many of the grassy, open areas have lots of nasty burrs that will embed in your dogs fur and feet.

This is a very peaceful location, expansive lake views, black basalt buttes and blue acorn oaks spread about the land.  There is a boat ramp, and the lake offers crappie, channel catfish and large and smallmouth bass.  Lots of bird watching, Acorn woodpeckers, Killdeer, doves and waterfowl of all kinds.   While out walking we kicked up a jackrabbit, and saw tracks of deer and coyote.  There was a sign posted that mountain lion had been observed in the area.

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View of the lake from the campsite

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Most of the grassy areas have these terrible burrs

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Sunset on Black Butte Lake

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Sunrise on Black Butte Lake

By the time I drive through Phoenix…I’ll be whining……

Phoenix, a huge metropolis in the desert….I’m not a city person, and I’ll admit it.  I don’t mind visiting a city for a couple hours or a day, but longer than that and I don’t do it willingly.

We were actually driving to Scottsdale to camp at Westworld and attend the Arabian Horse Show that is held there every year.  Phoenix/Scottsdale drivers put any of the other crazy drivers I’ve seen to shame (and I’ve driven Los Angeles, the east coast and in Europe).  Rude, pushy, driving 10-20 miles over the speed limit, I couldn’t wait to get the RV parked.  It was definitely better when I was just driving the Jeep, but still could be challenging.

Camping at Westworld isn’t bad…just power and water, with a dump.  You’re basically camping in a parking lot. The best spots, if you have a dog, is along the polo field.  Great place to run your dog, there are no fences though… so a recall is required.  There are leash laws, so be aware…of course there are signs around for fines for not picking up after your dogs and I was shocked at the amount of dog feces that covered the place from the folks attending the horse show.  Price $28.48 a night which includes tax.

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There are numerous dog parks, but plan on having lots of company.  Same with hiking trails, parking lots are full with hikers, walkers and runners on the known trails.

Being a desert community, many of the restaurants have outside dining and some are pet friendly. Be sure and call ahead.

A couple of links with dog friendly places and hikes:



There are some great museums to check out, I didn’t find the time (or want to spend the money) to see any of them.

We did take a drive to Carefree, which has a lovely park with cactus and succulents from around the world.  An interesting sundial takes center stage, at the gardens.  It stands 35 feet tall, extends 72 feet and is 90 feet in diameter.  It points to the north star.  The sundial was completed in 1959, and is one of the largest sundials in the US.   It was designed by architect Joe Wong and solar engineer, John Yellott.  The huge dial is made of steel and plated with anodized copper and the metal gnomon, the shadow-casting portion of the dial rises 35 feet above the plaza.  There is seating all around the park, a couple with outdoor fireplaces for a cozy evening visit.  The park is dog friendly with poop bag/garbage stations.

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A trip to Cave Creek is fun with lots of interesting items for sale. Be sure and bring a large amount of cash to buy most of their offerings though!

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The food offerings around Phoenix, Scottsdale (I had someone from Gilbert say they call it “Snotsdale” for the snooty people) 😉 and Tempe are amazing.

My favorites, not necessarily in order:

Coconuts, which originated in Maui and now has two other locations in AZ.  Fish and Shrimp tacos were the delicious choices I had (ate there 3 times) and reasonably priced.

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Andreoli’s Italian Grocer was a top 10 for me, everything is made on site, including all their pastries (sfogliatella is a MUST HAVE) and even their prosciutto and other meats .  Prices are spendy but you won’t be disappointed.  If you can, show up on Mondays or Tuesdays when they have a fellow strolling through playing the guitar and singing Italian songs.  He does requests so bring some favorite titles.  My friends requested Lazy Mary which was a fun, rousing song. Andreoli’s was showcased on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives on the Food Network. If you like Italian food you will LOVE Andreoli’s!

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Speaking of Diners, Drive Ins and Dives… another place showcased is right down the road from Westworld.  Tom’s Thumb, also known as The Thumb is a combination gas station, car wash and detail shop, gift shop, wine cellar and BBQ restaurant.  “Just Your Average Gas Station” is the tagline.  Delicious smoked BBQ with a variety of sauces from mild to extreme, all done on location.  The chef and owner Kipp Lassetter is a former surgeon!

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For Mexican, check out the upscale Sol Mexican Cocina.  Go for Taco Tuesday, great specials at great prices.  Including their house, made from scratch, Margarita!  Another great Mexican place is Mariscos Playa Hermosa, in Phoenix.  It’s a must visit, especially if you love seafood.

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Don’t go here for the pizza (ok, but nothing to write home about) but for the entertainment.  Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa has an impressive Wurlitzer and pipe setup.  They have a few organists that play, we saw Charlie Balogh.  He played many well known favorites for children and adults alike.  He also took requests.

A little history on the Wurlizer and the Organ Stop Pizza restaurant: “A Wurlitzer organ was acquired from the Denver Theater in Denver, Colorado. In the theater, the Denver instrument had 15 ranks, or sets of pipes. The instrument was totally rebuilt, and the decision was made to enlarge the organ to 23 ranks for its debut in the new Mesa Organ Stop. In 1984 the Mesa Organ Stop was sold to longtime employee and manager Mike Everitt and his business partner Brad Bishop. Under the new ownership, improvement of the pipe organ became a high priority. Over the course of the ensuing years, careful acquisition of rare pipework and percussions were made, culminating in what is now the largest Wurlitzer pipe organ in the world. With the change in ownership, the restaurant continued to gain in popularity. Inevitably plans were made to move into a facility twice the size of the original in order to accommodate the ever increasing number of patrons and ever-expanding organ. This new mega facility, located at the corner of Stapley Drive and Southern Avenue, was designed specifically to accommodate the expanding scope and size of the Organ Stop Wurlitzer. Construction of the new facility began in May of 1995 and the grand opening was Thanksgiving weekend of that same year. In its new and improved location, Organ Stop Pizza and its Mighty Wurlitzer have come to be known as the biggest and best in the world as attested to by many of the world’s finest theater organists and, more importantly, the hundreds of thousands of patrons who visit each year. There are continuing efforts to make additions and improvements to the organ, endeavoring to fine tune the instrument closer and closer to perfection.” – http://www.organstoppizza.com

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Next, onward to Casa Grande!




A bend in the river….

Gila Bend was named after an almost 90 degree bend in the river where the town resides. Not sure that you would make Gila Bend a destination, though it is along the historic Butterfield Trail.  It’s also known for UFO sightings and even a sighting of Bigfoot!

A bit of history on the Butterfield Stage route that ran through Gila Bend:

“When dust from the Gold Rush began to settle, most of the ’49ers discovered the best that they could hope for was a working-man’s wage. They began to miss the homefolks. Getting a letter from California to the states back East was nearly impossible. Some of it went around the continent on ships, and other mail went by private companies at inflated rates. Nothing was done to improve the lack of communications between the East Coast and West Coast until 1858.

Government officials in Washington decided to establish a mail route using the wagon route blazed by the Mormon Battalion 12 years earlier. A government contract was awarded to John Butterfield who resided in New York. He would be paid $600,000 a year for six years to carry mail from St. Louis to San Francisco. Stagecoaches left St. Louis and San Francisco twice a week. The journey was completed in 25 days or less.

John Butterfield was a true entrepreneur. In 1850, he founded the American Express Company. American Express was the result of a merger between the Wells Fargo Express company and Butterfield’s own Butterfield and Wasson Express Company. The result was American Express with Butterfield in the top chair; however, Henry Wells and William Fargo both owned huge shares of the new company. The next time you see an American Express card, take a moment to reflect that it all started with a stagecoach.
Butterfield probably would have fared better if he had not won the bid on the mail contract. He spent the first two years’ proceeds just getting the Butterfield Overland Mail Company started. Although the contract’s primary purpose was mail delivery, passengers could also make the 25-day journey (2,800 miles) by purchasing a $200 ticket.

Most passengers probably only made the trip once. One writer described it as a “trip through Hell.” In order to average more than 100 miles a day, the wagons were driven 24/7 at the fastest speeds allowed by the terrain and the team pulling them. They averaged slightly more than 5 miles per hour.
There were no sleeping quarters, the food at the stage stations was horrible, and they were subject to the full range of weather conditions. Attacks by Indians and outlaws were also common. The lack of water and the condition of the water in other locations added to the misery of the journey.

The Butterfield Overland Mail Company continued its trips twice a week in each direction for the next 2-1/2 years. During that time, Butterfield was pushed out of American Express due to huge debts. Wells and Fargo took over the Butterfield Overland Stage Company contract. They were almost immediately facing a new problem due to the Civil War. In 1861, Texas joined the Confederacy, so the route had to be moved.”

– fourwheeler.com

If you’re looking for a reasonably priced place, to spend a night or two, Holts Shell RV Park is the place. If you have Passport America or Escapees membership you can have a nice spacious site, and full hookup for $12 a night.  Level spots, clean laundry and showers/bathroom.  Dog walking in the desert.  The downside is it’s at a truck stop and the noise from the trucks during the night/early morning can be annoying.  Try to pick a spot the furthest away from the entrance.

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The Shell station and RV park has a fun air about it, with large metal dinosaurs, Rattlesnakes and Gila Monsters located here and there.  If you’d like a metal sculpture to take home with you they have an assortment by the station/store as well as other souvenirs.

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I will say that they have one of the best Italian restaurants I’ve eaten at, and it was also reasonable.   Little Italy is it’s name, pasta al dente, lots of delicious choices.  Their claim to fame was in 2011 when Prince Harry enjoyed a pizza there while training at the nearby Air Force Base. 🙂

We were only their for one night, heading to Scottsdale for our next two weeks.

Ajo, AZ a artistic oasis….

We spent a week in Ajo, I could have stayed longer.  It’s a quaint little place with artists tucked into the tapestry of the town.  It’s historically a mining town, a large abandoned copper mine takes up a large part of the land.  There is rumors that it may start up again, which I’m not sure if it will be a good thing or not for Ajo.  It definitely would bring in more money, but it also would probably take away the warm heart of the town.

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We stayed at Belly Acres, right as you come into town.  It is a smallish, inviting park with everyone being friendly.  The host of the park, Dennis Ochsner,  is quite the character.  He definitely gives the place a western feel, with his pistol at his side, cowboy hat and sometimes sporting a sheriffs badge.  Full hookups are $25 a night with the 7th night being free .   I had a nice location, tucked into the back corner…but most of the park is pretty tight.  You could hit it when there aren’t a lot of other RV’ers, but it was full when we were there.  That, I think, would be my biggest gripe that it was crowded.

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They have lots of get togethers for birthdays, watching the game or just having a pot luck in a building specifically for that at the back of the park.  There is a propane tank if you need a fill up.  A laundry and showers.  Next door is an auto/RV repair and parts place owned by the same man that owns Belly Acres, Kord Klinefelter.  Kord is another character, and I think you either like him or hate him.  He gets mixed reviews from people that deal with him.  He does cuss a lot, but that didn’t bother me.  He also was able to fix a part on my Jeep for minimal cost that another mechanic didn’t want to deal with.

Another thing about Belly Acres is they really don’t have a great place to walk your dogs. There is a wash behind the park, but it was used to dump things in the past and there is broken glass, metal, and other debris.  Little dogs are allowed to wander loose, but big dogs are not.  (Not that I would let my girls wander around loose anyway).  Night time you will hear coyotes, close. So don’t let your little dogs wander then.  We would see them at dusk strolling along town roads.  We also had Javalinas (Collared Peccaries) come around our vehicles in the early morning hours.

There is a nice dog park, the E.S. “Bud” Walker dog park, right in town.  It has a small dog area, and a large dog area.  There was rarely more than one dog, if any, at the park when I took the girls.  I did take them for walks in the washes, and by the airport.  You do have to be careful there again, as coyotes, javelina, range cattle, etc. may be encountered.

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The center plaza in town is lovely, with a nice grassy area in the middle.  Lots of dogs can be seen walking around on it.  There is a Saturday Farmers Market, and fresh produce, baked goods and artwork can be found there.  Get there early before they sell out!  There are some little shops surrounding the park, including a coffee shop and a visitor’s center.  The newspaper building, around the corner, has a great book and art store inside.  There are two photogenic churches close by.  The Curley school, also within walking distance, is historic and named for the mine superintendent, Mike Curley.

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John Campbell Greenway was the man responsible for the mine and the town.  He was a fascinating man, and if you get the chance to go to the Ajo historical museum you can learn all about him and the story of all that has happened in the surrounding area. The museum was originally the St. Catherine’s Indian Mission.  Jose Castillo is one of the docents there, he is a 2nd generation Ajo-ite.  He and his father both worked in the mine. His grandfather immigrated from Mexico.   Bob Hightower, is the other docent, and he was a history teacher in town.  They were both a wealth of information and well worth spending time with.

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More about Greenway. He was a rough rider with Teddy Roosevelt and was there at San Juan Hill, where he earned a silver star.  He also served in WWI and received a distinguished service cross.  It would take a book to cover all the interesting facts about this man!

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He developed the New Cornelia mine in Ajo, the first large open copper mine pit in Arizona. He also was involved with the Lavender Pit Mine in Bisbee and the railroads that carried the ore.   He created the town for the workers, wanting it to be a good place for the miners to raise their families.  Spanish Colonial Revival was chosen for the architecture, and it fits beautifully in the desert landscape.

Throughout the town you will see painting on buildings, statues and other forms of art.  There is an “art alley” that has many different paintings by various artists. The last set of art photos depicts the collection and processing of the Saguaro cactus fruit.

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Ajo is a great jumping off place for exploring the Organ Pipe National Monument and Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife refuge.  You will need a pass to access some of the Cabeza Prieta refuge as it’s on military land.  You can get the pass after watching a video and providing vehicle information, at the Cabeza Prieta Visitors Center in Ajo.

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While I loved the people at Belly Acres, I think if I return I will look at staying at the Hickiwan Trails RV Park, that is next to the casino on the way out of town towards Why, AZ.  Both the casino and the RV park are operated by the Tohono Od’Odom.  They have full hookups,  gravel pads with cement patios.  Surrounded by beautiful desert and only $11 a night.


A desert wilderness…Organ Pipe National Monument

We drove in for the day to Organ Pipe National Monument.  This monument was created by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1937. It preserves over 330,000 acres and it was named a International Biosphere Reserve in 1976 by the United Nations.  It’s intact ecosystem has attracted scientists from around the world.  

It has a dark side though,  as signs warn you about illegal immigrants and the monthly finds of bodies that don’t make it across the dangerous terrain.   In the 1990s the monument became a hotbed of illegal activity, with human and drug traffickers seeking routes to bring their contraband from Mexico to the US.  In 2002 a park ranger, Kris Eggle, was shot and killed by drug smugglers.  This caused most of the park to be closed down to visitors for awhile.

Now there is a very visible presence of Border Patrol,  additional law enforcement and park rangers.  There are vehicle stops that are well staffed with Border Patrol officers and dogs.  It’s safer but you still should be aware of your surroundings. 

There are two campgrounds within the monument, one by the visitors center, Twin Peaks can accommodate up to 40 feet in length. They don’t take reservations but you can call 520-387-6849 extension 7302, to confirm the availability of a campsite. All the restrooms have running water and flush toilets. Three restrooms have solar-heated showers. Potable water is available throughout the campground. A dump-and-fill station is provided for RVs. The cost is $16.00 per night. Holders of the Golden Age/Senior Pass and the Access pass receive a 50% discount on camping. Additionally, the park entrance fee is $12.00

The other campground, Alamo Canyon, is for tent camping only.   It is $10 a day and limited to a 7 day stay.  There are 4 sites at this location.

Exploring the area fully would take weeks, we chose to drive the 21 mile Ajo Mountain Drive.  It is a dirt and gravel road with the occasional asphalt on some of the steeper, or wash areas of the road.  You can drive the road yourself or take a van that the center offers January through March. It’s a 3 hour long ranger guided tour.

The drive is awe inspiring, vast expanses of desert and mountains.  Organ pipe, Senita and Saguaro dot the landscape.  I also noticed Cholla (teddy bear and chain fruit (jumping) varieties), Prickly Pear, Barrel cactus as well as Ocotillo.   The usual suspects were there as well…Creosote, Brittle Bush, Palo Verde as well as Jojoba. 

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  We didn’t see any wildlife, other than a few birds. Including one of my new favorites, a Phainopepla.  These birds have a symbiotic relationship with the mistletoe in the spring.  The birds eating the berries,  spread the seeds of the mistletoe by either wiping a sticky seed from their beak on a branch that will become a new host.   They also will pass the seeds through their system and those will may also be deposited on a new host branch. 

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I highly recommend a visit to this monument, however if you plan on doing any hiking I would leave my dogs back in my air conditioned RV if you are camped outside of the park.   If you are just going to drive the loop and not get out much, they are fine to ride along with you though they are only allowed on two short trails and at a very small dog area at the visitor center.  If you are camping at Organ Pipe, they only allow generators to run during certain hours, so plan accordingly for leaving your dogs at your campsite.