Tuesday, December 06, 2011

IN SEARCH OF THE SAGUARO FOREST

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SOMEWHERE EAST OF BURROWS GAP TODAY
Oh how we wait for that welcoming sun to slip up over Black Mountain each morning and cast it’s warming rays through the frosty windows of our coach.  And, before I forget, if you look up at the moon these nights and see a bright object close to it, you are looking at the Planet, Jupiter.  The bright one low in the west is Venus.
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MILES UPON MILES OF PEACEFUL TRANQUILITY
Bye 9:45 this morning we were out the door and into the Jeep heading northeast out of Ajo on the desert road called Pipeline.  Again, road is a generous term for the trails and paths that criss cross the desert’s in these parts.  Mike from MEANDERINGS OF WANDERWOLF had told us of a scenic Canyon and Saguaro Forest some 10 miles across the dry valley floor northeast of Burro Gap.   And that’s where we went.
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IT’S GOING TO BE A ROCKY DRIVE ACROSS THE VALLEY FLOOR
Until we reached Burro Gap the scenery was nothing to write home about.  A lot of Mesquite scrub and a few Saguaro’s scattered about.  Very dusty, brown looking and dry.  Road was rough in places but what desert road isn’t rough.  Two mountain ranges loomed higher the further we went and we soon became aware of the increasing Saguaro Cacti.  We have seen this before in the Sonoran Desert.
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The closer you get to a mountains base, the greener the desert gets.  Generally there is a slight rise in altitude but the main factor for all the green is the increase in moisture.  And that moisture comes down the mountainsides in the form of water.  Any kind of rain or snow in the mountains eventually makes it’s way to the valley floor close to the mountains base and that’s where the abundant desert growth is.
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Simply speaking, the further we went, the greener it got.  I had just navigated through a large mud puddle when Kelly excitedly spotted something not often seen in the desert.  In fact it is a much sought after rarity in the Saguaro Cactus world.  Hawkeye had spotted a ‘Crested Saguaro Cactus’ about a hundred yards off the road to our right.  Only other one we have ever seen is near the front entrance of Tucson's Living Desert Museum.  The Crested Saguaro is 11 miles in on Pipeline road once you turn off #85 highway just south of Ajo at the stone cairn on the hill.  When you get in about 11 miles start watching the right shoulder of the road for an old tire laying around a small Mesquite shrub.  This is the marker for the Crested Saguaro which you will see about a hundred yards in off the road.
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Noticed another curious Saguaro near the crested Saguaro so took some pics of that feller too.
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We continued our journey until we saw the soil texture change to a lighter sandy color on a hill.  A couple of very rocky sections of road brought us up to the crest of a small rise.  We had already been driving through many Saguaros, but over this rise the terrain changed slightly and we saw a forest of Saguaros marching onward towards Coffee Pot Mountain.
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THE SAGUARO FOREST GOES FOR MILES AND MILE
We pulled off on a small road and took a short walk marveling at the beauty of the surrounding mountains and the beauty of all the desert greenery surrounding us.  I couldn’t help but think of all the folks who will never see the beauty of these lands as we see it.
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Each year we come to the southwest I am increasingly enthralled and entranced with this desert landscape.  The beauty just never ends if one opens their eyes and minds to see it.  You just never know what is over the next hill or around the next curve in the road.  A scrubby flat rocky landscape can suddenly turn into a forest of Pinion Pines, Arizona Sycamores, Fremont Cottonwood or Quaking Aspen trees.  Seemingly barren rocky outcrops can spring forth with Desert Spoons, Beaver Tail Prickly Pear Cactus, tall flowering Ocotillos, giant Saguaro and Organ Pipe Cactus or Buckhorn and Teddy Bear Cholla.  Today Kelly found a bunch of Desert Christmas Cactus as well.  Unfortunately not in bloom.
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Knowing these desert trails meander forever through the desert we decided it was time to turn around and head back to Ajo.  Hadn’t gone far when we noticed a vehicle approaching us.  Soon became evident as it drew closer we were being approached by a Border Patrol vehicle.  We had kind of expected that because we knew we were on one of the main drug and people smuggling routes from Mexico up into the Phoenix area.  There are cameras and hidden ground sensors in the desert to alert the Border Patrol of any activity.  Today, we were that activity.  According to one forum we read Pipeline road is described as a hotbed of human smuggling and drug running.  The Border Patrol vehicle rolled to a stop at the side of the road.  I slowed and stopped as a uniformed young Border Patrol officer stepped out of the vehicle and approached us.  Nice fellow just checking us out and asking us a few questions like where we came from and where we were going.  He could see we were not a couple of Banditos or Desperados so the conversation was relaxed but both Kelly and I noticed the whole time he talked to us his right hand was on the butt of his gun at his hip.
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BORDER PATROL WAITS FOR US TO APPROACH
We were soon on our way again bumping and jostling our way towards Ajo.  Kelly spotted two very low flying Army helicopters off to our right but they didn’t approach and flew right on by.
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A FEW SLIGHT WATER HAZARDS TO TRAVERSE
By 1:30 we were in Olsen’s grocery story and I had my face buried in a hot roast been sandwich at the store’s deli Café counter while Kelly scooped some groceries.  We were home by 2 and nearly knocked silly by a couple fury wagging doggy tails.
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Noticed we have 376 blog followers on the counter now but the display at the top our blog is not showing the newest ones so until that problem resolves itself I have no idea who the new folks are.  And, clicking on the ‘more’ buttons doesn’t seem to help:((
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As much as we love this area on Darby Wells road west of Ajo Arizona there are a few cautions and considerations I should mention to anyone planning to boon dock in the area.  If you have pets that are frightened by loud noises this might not be the best spot.  During the week there are a lot of low and high flying jet aircraft twisting and turning in the skies above.  Occasionally the sound barrier is broken causing a loud sonic boom and the roar of jet aircraft at times is like a never ending distant thunder. 
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There are a few mine pits around and it’s important to scout out your surrounding boon docking area to make sure you know where they are and keep your pets away from them.  Most are shallow and not a problem but I saw one last week that I couldn’t see the bottom.
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My number one pet peeve every year though is not one that only applies to the Darby Wells area, but to just about every boon docking site or area we have ever been.  And, just not boon docking areas but general roadways as well.  It’s something that just fires my anger practically every day when I see it.  Broken glass!!!!  The closer a boon docking spot is to a local town, the more smashed beer bottles one will find.  Darby Wells is no exception.  The young locals have driven the Darby Wells loop road for years throwing their beer bottles out car windows to smash on the rocky ground and some campsites have been used as ‘party central with fire pits littered with smashed bottles, beer cans, shotgun shells, etc.  Broken glass is never picked up in the desert and it is everywhere.  It’s just a fact of life here in the beautiful southwest and it is our biggest worry for doggy paws.  We find this problem just about wherever we go and it just makes me so dam mad!!!!
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Anyway, just wanted to throw out a few cautions to be aware of.  Don’t let any of them stop you from coming out to the desert though because the few negatives do not come anywhere close to all the great positives you will find out here in the natural great outdoors.
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Neighbor Rick and Pheebs best Pal lady dropped by this afternoon and Rick gave us directions to a Mica Mine in the area complete with an abandoned house still standing. Said last time he was there the house still had furniture in it, so you know where we will be off to sometime in the next few days.
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I just love these days of exploring and seeking out new things. What an adventure and what a great lifestyle this RVing is. We are so fortunate to have and to have had these past 5 Snow Bird years on the road. Now if we could just figure out a way to stretch the usual 5 months into maybe 10 months……or more:))
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THE DISTANT AJO MOUNTAINS AS SEEN FROM EAST OF BURRO GAP TODAY (NIKON D40 AT 300mm-1/800TH OF A SECOND AT F36)
Sorry for the long post……some days my enthusiasm just carries me away……10-4:))
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TONIGHT’S MOON (NIKON D40 AT 300mm-1600 ISO 1/250TH OF A SECOND AT F20 HAND HELD)
GROANER’S CORNER:((  "I'm sorry," said the clerk in flower shop, "we don't have potted geraniums. Could you use African violets instead?"
Replied the customer sadly, "No, it was geraniums my wife told me to water while she was gone."

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-Tourists see the world, travelers  experience it.
-Until one has loved an Animal, their  soul remains un-awakened.
BAYFIELD BUNCH PHOTO ALBUMS https://picasaweb.google.com/117858411710794543295
The only thing better than right now  will someday be the memories of
right  now...AL

18 comments:

  1. We love your "long posts" Make notes about things on your blog that may be of interest to us someday when we are able to travel again. Your pictures are great too. and of course Groaner's corner always puts a smile on my face.
    Joe and Betty
    bettyandjoe.blogspot.com

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  2. It's like I get a little trip to the desert every morning. (Almost wrote "dessert", that wouldn't be healthy.)
    It's ironic that in a city like Vienna, any litter on the street (broken glass, whatever) isn't going to be there much longer than a half a day. Pretty much the whole city gets cleaned up once a day. I was just out to walk my wife to the parking garage and pick up a paper, and the regular street sweeper dude was out there. This was before 7:00.
    Then there's the shame of it all to see broken glass in such a beautiful place as the desert. Gah! Some places would be just so much nicer if it were not for all the stupid people.
    Those cacti were awesome by the way.
    I suppose there's no worries about getting "stranded" out there, with the Border Patrol keeping an eye on ya?

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  3. Great pictures of the "Forest" Al! Love all that cactus going on there for sure! Hopefully things will warm us a bit more... still a little cool over here in Desert Hot Springs too...

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  4. Those crested cacti remind me of Greek columns, although I can't remember which is Doric, Ionic, or Corinthian! I had never heard of crested cactus, but I think it is very interesting looking.

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  5. I like the long trips into the desert also. You are having so much fun doing what you love to do, it is infectious ,no wonder your happy. be safe out there. Sam & Donna..

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  6. Love the Crested saguaro and the whole forest is really great. We to love the southern Arizona desert, but are not as adventurous as you guys,. Thanks for taking us to places that we not otherwise go.
    Now haw can we stretch those 5 months???

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  7. Thanks Al, never too long! Love the Crested Cactus. What a marvelous day.

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  8. Al (and Kelly, et al) I lived in Arizona many years and yet I continually learn from your blog posts! I had never seen a crested saguaro 'in the wild'. You are making some wonderful, beautiful discoveries. I just can't tell you enough how much I enjoy your posts. And the Border Patrol? I'm sorry for the reason they have to be there, but I sure do love 'em. They are a most wonderful group of men and women.
    --Jool

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  9. There is a Crested Saguaro on the back road you took to Charlie Bell Pass, but you have to walk a bit off the road to see it..Love that desert,and LOVE the Border Patrol...Oh,..also LOVE Olsen's grocery..We got some great fried chicken at that deli counter..and breakfast burritos...

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  10. another great post filled with lovely pictures and good information!!..thanks for sharing your day!!

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  11. Great shots of the crested Saguaro. They are indeed rare, but at least one can be seen along I-8 between Casa Grande and Gila Bend.

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  12. Enjoyed today's post! I like your long posts, keep 'um coming!!

    I had never heard, much less seen, a crested saguaro. Very different cactus!

    You spoke about the Border Patrol agent keeping their hand on their weapon. I noticed that with Highway Patrol and Sheriff's Deputies and asked about that. Do you know what they told me? It was a comfortable place to put their hand. That's all :) :) Here I thought that there was a deeper meaning (LOL!!).

    Sheila :)

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  13. gorgeous cactus pics..and some of them are soooo big...makes me wonder how long they've been there...great blog definitely not too long..and love your posts..:)

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  14. What thought and planning you do
    to give all of us information and gorgeous picture. And, your right,
    most of us will never see these sights in person. Had a second home in Sedona area for some years and in traveling around never saw a crested Saguaro or didn't know enough to recognize it.
    You both are providing a great blog. Thanks again!

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  15. You got some superb pictures of the fasciation on that Saguaro.

    Fasciation is rare overall, but has been observed in at least a hundred different plant specie. There are even a few that are cultivated especially for their dependably fasciated flower heads, for which they are called "cockscomb".

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  16. Beautiful pictures of the crested saguaro. The desert does indeed have its own special beauty.

    Broken glass on the desert floor (or anywhere else) is one of my hot buttons also. Absolutely no reason for it and so dangerous to pets and people too. SIGH!!

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  17. Hi Al here is a tip when you are on rough roads, If you lower the air pressure it makes the ride smoother. I really enjoy reading your blog. I could see Tucker having a great time being free just to roam around. Take care,

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  18. Ya know, I was born and raised in AZ, and my family was all over the state every weekend, hiking, picnicking and camping. I have never seen a crested saguaro "in the wild." This was a real treat!

    Emjay

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