In the pale Moonlight I stood quietly upon the Sonoran desert’s sandy floor wrapped in the cool early morning air watching a near full Moon slide slowly earthwards through a wandering bank of clouds low on the western horizon. It was morning and my cameras stayed in the Motorhome a short distance away as I absorbed the moment. With the Moon slipping silently behind a distant mountain range Pheebs and I turned and together walked slowly back to the Motorhome. Head bent in thought another day was underway. I must try harder to do better.
MONDAY NIGHT SUNSET
Had meant to mention this before but forgot so will mention it now. Darby Wells Road is a loop drive on the western side of Ajo. The road comes in off highway 85 about a mile south of Ajo’s town center. This is the way to come in if you have an RV. The north end has some tight corners and gulleys which are fine for cars, vans, light trucks and maybe small Class C’s but don’t bring your big 40’ diesel banger in that way. It’s not impossible but just not probable.
Anyone coming here is going to be bowled over by seeing probably the largest looking rock pile/slag heap they have ever seen. If approaching Ajo on highway 85 from the south this mammoth rock pile is visible for miles and miles. It’s from the old long ago closed Ajo mining operation but don’t let the site of it bother you. Like most of us who have been here before that humongous pile of rocks will turn into just another mountain to your eyes and although you know it’s there and you can see it from the south end of Darby Wells Road, after awhile you won’t even notice it much anymore. Turning off highway 85 you will drive along Darby Wells with the slag heap on your right. There’s a few boon-docking sites along that road to the left but there’s more scenic sites further ahead. After maybe a mile Darby Wells Road swings right to the north. At this junction a Jeep Road (Bates Well Road) heads southwest through the desert down to Organ Pipe. If you follow that sometimes wash-board road for a short ways you can find some nice boon-docking sites on the right. We prefer to drive another mile or two north on Darby Wells Road and keep in mind everything on your left side is BLM land (Bureau Of Land Management) and boon-dockable……but the right side is a different story.
MONDAY MORNING SUNRISE AND YES THE SUNRISE WAS JUST THAT FIERY TOO
Now to clear something up about the barbed wire fencing on Darby Wells right hand side I’ll tell you this……..Most of the area to your right is property of a mining and minerals company. Until a couple years ago there were a number of choice boon-docking sites along that side the road. However, and isn’t there always a however eh……somebody, maybe an RV’er while hiking in that mining property area fell and was injured. Because of that the mining company probably for insurance purposes decided to fence their property off right out to Darby Wells Road. Now here’s where a misconception grew. It was reported by some RV boon-dockers at the time that the whole right hand side of Darby Wells road was now not accessible. That is incorrect!! That barbed wire fence does continue alongside Darby Wells road for maybe a mile or so but it then makes an abrupt 90* turn and heads east. The whole area north of that 90* fence turn on the right side of the road is still free for boon-dockers.
WE’RE PARKED ON DARBY WELLS ROAD WHERE THE FENCE TURNS….LAND BEHIND THE JEEP IS FENCED AND THE LAND AHEAD OF THE JEEP IS FREE FOR BOONDOCKING
THESE SIGNS ARE WHERE THE FENCE TURNS FROM NORTH TO EAST
AND THIS IS WHERE THE FENCE TURNS
Following Darby Wells north the road swings around to the east just before the Cow Plops and heads on through some tight turns and gulleys into the back end of Ajo where it turns into W Rocolla Avenue. If camped at the north end of Darby Wells Road where we are it’s only maybe 2 miles into the north end of Ajo as opposed to heading south down around the slag pile to highway 85 then turning left back north to Ajo. I’m guessing that could be 3 or 4 miles going that way. We can’t even see the big slag pile from where we are here at the Plops.
About half way around Darby Well Road or what is often called Ajo’s Scenic Loop you will see a road heading off to the left. This is the road to the Indian Cemetery and and there are some great boon-docking sites on this road…..but there’s a problem. This road is not maintained as well as Darby Wells and summer Monsoon rains wash parts of the road out each year which is unfortunate. Very first time for us here back in late 07 we were able to get quite far up this road whereupon we found us a great site. If you stay on this road (4x4 only) it will take you on a beautiful drive about 10 miles out into the desert to the next mountain range where you can find an old abandoned Mica Mine. Here is our Mica Mine day link. We Found The Mica Mine Today
This whole area is criss-crossed with Jeep and ATV roads so there’s lots of off-roading, hiking, and exploring to do. Ajo itself has a great history and seeings how this whole area is off the beaten path there is not the usual big rumble of people everywhere. And by the way, one of Americas true gems is located about 15 miles south of Ajo. If your in the area do not miss the Organ Pipe National Monument and especially the 25 mile loop drive east of the Park’s headquarters. We’ve done that drive 3 times with a few hikes along the way. And if you want to slide on down into Mexico you can do so at Lukeville just a few miles further. We did years ago but it didn’t turn out so swell for us!! Close Call In Mexico
<<< INSIDE EVERY SAGUARO CACTUS IS A WOODEN SKELETON AND THIS IS A GOOD EXAMPLE OF A STILL STANDING SAGUARO SKELETON
One of the reasons we decided to stop at Ajo’s Darby Wells area for a few days was to touch base with some old memories and find a couple former boon-docking sites we had stayed at in previous years. Before the day heated up we were into the Jeep and off down Darby Wells Road to see what we could find. And we did find the location where we met RV Sue And Her Canine Crew for the first time. Unfortunately that area is no longer accessible and is fenced off. Oh ya and while we here we broke our toilet there and had to make a quick trip to Tucson where a couple days later I ended up in a Tucson hospital with a very painful kidney stone. Awwwww Nuts We Busted Our Toilet and Oh No Al Makes A Big Toilet Mistake and AL Spends The Night In A Tucson Hospital
THIS HERE’S THE SPOT WE MET RV SUE WHEN SHE ROLLED IN FROM NEW MEXICO AND WE ALL CAMPED UP THERE ON THAT RIDGE
WE WERE PARKED DEAD CENTER IN THIS PHOTO ON THE TOP OF THAT RIDGE AND RV SUE WAS OFF TO THE LEFT….CAN’T SEE IT BUT THERE IS ACTUALLY A BUMPITY ROAD GOING UP THROUGH ALL THOSE SHRUBS AND CACTUS
SAW THIS COYOTE RUNNING IN THE BRUSH CLOSE TO OUR CAMPSITE THIS MORNING
Next we headed back up Darby Wells Road then turned left heading west out Indian Cemetery Road (cemetery’s on the right about half a mile in) looking for the spot we first stayed here nearly 10 years ago. We found it and also found the site where new friends of ours were camped a short distance away. It was those new friends we had met earlier who were responsible for us coming here to Darby Wells.
THIS WAS THE M&M&M’S SPOT AND THEIR CARDINAL FIFTH WHEEL WAS PARKED WHERE KELLY IS STANDING
BEAUTIFUL SPOT WITH ALL THESE TEDDY BEAR CHOLLAS (PRONOUNCED CHOYAS)
I THINK WHEN MIKE AND MAUREEN WERE HERE THEY MUST HAVE DUG THIS BIG HOLE LOOKING FOR GOLD:))
KELLY BLACKBERRIES THE CHOLLAS WHILE PHEEBS WISELY KEEPS HER DISTANCE FROM THE DEADLY STICKERS
It was the winter of 07/08 I think and our second year of RV traveling. First time to the southwest in our 2003 Damon Challenger Motorhome. It was November and we were up in Utah to see Bryce and Zion Canyon. We were in need of an RV Park for a few days (we didn’t have solar yet) and we found a KOA in Canonville. Nobody else there except for 1 fifth wheel which just happened to have Ontario license plates on it and that is how we met Mike and Maureen and their then dog Molly from London Ontario only an hours drive from Bayfield. From then on we referred to them as the M&M&M’s. Now to shorten this story up we ended up at Gunsight wash south of Why Arizona and the M&M&M’s ended up in Ajo at an RV Park I think. Somehow they heard of the Darby Wells road area and after scouting it out they brought their fifth wheel over, found a great spot and set up camp. Couple days later they came down to visit us at Gunsight wash saying, ‘why stay there when you could stay up at Darby Wells where it’s far more scenic. Well with that we drove up to Darby Wells later and ‘Walla’ that was it. We hustled ourselves back to Gunsight, packed up our rig and headed off to Darby Wells and the rest is history.
Indian Cemetery Road was a bit rough and although an RV could be got up there if taken slowly it wasn’t nearly in as good a condition as it was back in 07/08. We found the M&M&M’s campsite, drove in and took some photos. Our old campsite was just up the road less than a quarter mile and we were able to find it as well. Oh the memories. That was at a time when when we still had the original Bayfield Bunch together. Max, Checkers, and little Cora aka Motormouse.
THIS WAS OUR SPOT AND THE JEEP SITS WHERE OUR DAMON MOTORHOME ONCE SAT
OUR OLD CAMPFIRE RING WHICH I’M SURE HAS BEEN REBUILT MANY MANY TIMES OVER THE PAST DECADE AND THAT’S BLACK MOUNTAIN IN THE DISTANCE
FROM OUR SITE WE WOULD WALK OUT AROUND THOSE ROCKS AND ONE MORNING KELLY, CHECKERS, LITTLE CORA AND I CLIMBED UP TO THE RIGHT OF THOSE BROWN ROCKS
WHAT A BEAUTIFUL MORNING IT WAS TODAY AS WE RETRACED OUR STEPS FROM 10 YEARS AGO
THE BEAUTY OUT HERE IN THE SOUTHWEST JUST NEVER STOPS
AN ORGAN PIPE CACTUS SKELETON IN THE FOREGROUND BOTTOM RIGHT
OUR JEEP IS OUT THERE SOMEWHERE
I CLIMBED UP HIGHER TO THE BIG ROCKS WHILE KELLY REMAINED BELOW AND WORKED ON AN INUKSHUK
HEY DAD IT LOOKS LIKE MOM MADE ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE STONE THINGYS WHILE WE WERE CLIMBING UP THEM ROCKS
A VERY HEALTHY LOOKING YOUNG ORGAN PIPE CACTUS
We parked the Jeep on our old spot and headed off walking to retrace one of our favorite walking trails. The further we walked the more we remembered. ‘Oh hey I remember that and look here’s the spot we’……. Aw yes how sweet those memories are and of course with blogging and taking photos all these years we can with a few clicks of a mouse instantly travel back to actually read the words and see the photos of every day we were camped there……. and just about everywhere else we’ve been.
AN OLD SAGURO LIES DECAYING ON THE DESERT FLOOR
THESE GREAT VISTAS GO ON FOREVER AND EVER
From our old campsite we followed a Jeep road nearby to a big cropping of rocks where I knew there to be an old stone Indian looking off to the northwest. Sure enough there he was right where I last remembered him. Funny how after nearly 10 years I could find that face in the rocks yet Monday I couldn’t even remember to close 3 cupboard doors I had left open in the rig.
DO YOU SEE THE OLD INDIAN??
HOW ABOUT NOW……….
THE OLD STONE INDIAN HAS A LITTLE BEAR WITH HIM SITTING UP BEHIND
IT WAS THAT ROCKY TOP ON THE LEFT KELLY, CHECKERS, LITTLE CORA AND I HIKED UP TO ALL THOSE YEARS AGO
NOTICE THE PIN HOLE OF LIGHT IN THE CENTER OF THIS LARGE ROCK FORMATION….THAT WILL EVENTUALLY ONE DAY BECOME AN ARCH
TOOK OURSELVES FOR A SHORT SNORT ALONG ONE OF THE MANY JEEP ROADS
I’M SURE IF THE INDIAN CEMETERY ROAD WASN’T SO ROUGH THERE WOULD BE RV’S OUT HERE FILLING THESE SPOTS
THIS IS ONE OF THE BETTER SECTIONS OF INDIAN CEMETERY ROAD
Heading back along Indian Cemetery Road towards Darby Well Road we did stop at the Indian cemetery long enough for me to take a few photos just as I had done once before all those years ago. Although the cemetery looked the same it also looked different somehow.
With morning’s Sun getting hotter we were back to the rig before noon. A bite to eat and grabbed a shower while Kelly vacuumed the coach. Rest of the afternoon was spent in Leisureville while we both worked away for awhile setting up my new computer. So far so good as I do my usual grumbling while Kelly simply works away quietly solving set-up problems as they inevitably and quite normally do crop up. Of course I had the rig’s door open in case that new computer was needing to be pitched right outside into the desert for a good smartning up!!
DO YOU SEE A HUMP BACKED GORILLA IN THIS PHOTO AND ALSO THE GEICO LIZARDS DISTANT MUTANT COUSIN??
Now, a little something I should finally mention here. Even before and ever since leaving Congress over 3 weeks ago we have been on a destination mission. Yes there is somewhere we have to be by a certain date and that date is fast closing in. In all likelihood we will have the big wheels rolling in the morning for our pre-determined destination a couple hundred miles away…………….:))
GROANER’S CORNER:(( One bright, beautiful Sunday morning, the townspeople were in church, listening to the organ play. Suddenly, Satan appeared at the front of the church. Everyone started screaming and running for the front entrance, trampling each other in a frantic effort to get away from evil incarnate. Soon everyone was evacuated from the Church, except for one elderly gentleman who sat calmly in his pew, not moving, seemingly oblivious to the fact that God's ultimate enemy was in his presence. Now this confused Satan a bit, so he walked up to the man and said, "Don't you know who I am?" The man replied, "Yep, sure do." Satan asked, "Aren't you afraid of me?" "Nope, sure ain't," said the man. Satan was a little perturbed at this and queried, "Why aren't you afraid of me?" The man calmly replied, "Been married to your sister for 48 years!"
- Don't spell part backwards. It's a trap!
- Old skiers go downhill fast.
- The other day I held the door open for a clown. I thought it was a nice jester.
I kept checking your blog for a post tonite and voila`. I'm "funning" with you, Al. Ajo was one place we did not visit during our travels. Am enjoying all your posts about the area.ReplyDelete
Thanks for a few more choice boon docking spots.ReplyDelete
Travel safely now to your new destination.
Loved that first photo of Kelly standing on the rock with walking stick in hand.ReplyDelete
Glad you caught that coyote. Quick hands with a camera, Al.
Enjoyed the good info about the Ajo area with the links. And all the photos of this area. You wrote this blog as if this might be your last time here. I know there is never a never, but you never know, do you?
Have a safe and enjoyable journey to your predestined new home.
What a great post. Even without your stunning photos, your opening words alone took me from snowy Ontario to feeling like I was right there in the desert. Great tour, thanks.ReplyDelete
I am amazed at how Pheebs knows to avoid the prickly plants, she is one smart girl.
My guess for your destination is "Bloggerfest". Have to wait & see.
Seriously fabulous photographs Al. Love the skies, the cactus and the Old Stone Indian. How much fun to go back to places once visited and loved.ReplyDelete
Wow Al, you outdid even yourself today! The only problem I see is that the area will get more crowded with people like me...ReplyDelete
You've got me hooked on Darby Wells Rd.ReplyDelete