In Thursday’s night sky I could hear an airplane but couldn’t see it as it circled around 3 times somewhere overhead. It was a slow mover, propeller driven, had a low howl to it and showed no lights. We are under military skies here on Darby Well road with both day and night operations going on above us. Some easily explainable and some not so much.
CAN YOU TELL WE HAD US A COLD WIND BLOWING THIS MORNING
WE HAVE TO BE CAREFUL AROUND THESE TEDDY BEAR CHOLLAS
After a day of rest and relaxation it was time to get ourselves out and about, drop in on a fellow RV Blogger, see if we could find another one or two and hit some old familiar haunts packed with many great old memories. Maybe even catch us a few new sights along the way.
Our first destination for the day was the historic Arizona town Ajo itself and from where we are camped at the north end of Darby Well road it’s a short scenic drive into the back end of town with a few gully washes and tight turns along the way. Our aim this morning was to simply drive around town a bit looking at a few old familiar spots and we did do that……and more.
Our first stop was ‘Marcelas Cafe and Bakery’ to split a ham and cheese breakfast Burrito plus share a coffee to go. Next stop at the big Shell Station to refill a couple gallon containers with water. Clean washrooms, car wash, propane etc at this Shell and it’s a good stop for RV’ers. Slipped up around the big pit mine area for a few pics then down into the town proper.
A GOOD STOP FOR RV’ERS HERE
AJO IS A TOWN OF MANY BEAUTIFUL MURALS AND YEARS AGO WE MET THE RV BLOGGER FELLOW WHO HAS PAINTED MANY OF THEM
WHAT IS A TRUE WESTERN TOWN WITHOUT IT’S OLD RUSTING RELICS OF THE PAST
THIS HOUSE REMINDED ME OF A NEOPOLITAN BRICK OF ICE CREAM
THIS RECENTLY RENOVATED BUILDING WAS WHERE WE CAME FOR BREAKFAST WITH OUR COMPUTERS BACK IN 2007
LIKED THIS BURGUNDY CHIMNEY
NOW HOW’S THAT FOR A GRANNY FLAT EH
WE TOURED AJO’S MINING MUSEUM YEARS AGO AND FOUND IT INTERESTING WITH IT’S MANY MANY ARTIFACTS
THIS OPEN PIT CORNELIA MINE IS ABSOLUTELY AND STAGGERINGLY HUGE AND WAS ONCE THE HEART AND SOUL OF AJO
NOT SURE WHAT THIS BUILDING IS
Downtown Ajo has some of the most amazing architecture of any small western town we have ever seen and rather than trying to explain it to you I will try to do it with a few photos…..Okay Okay I know there is no such thing as a few photos with me. First building coming down from the pit mine area to catch our attention was the historic Curley School Campus now an arts and cultural center & home to Artisans with onsite accommodations. I have taken photos of this building and it’s beautiful landscaping before but had never been inside the building until today when eagle eye Kelly spotted an open door.
VIEW OF DOWNTOWN AJO FROM THE CURLEY SCHOOL
WIDE ANGLE LENS LOOK TOWARDS DOWNTOWN AJO
While outside taking a few photos Kelly slipped up the terraced steps and met a nice lady in an office just inside the door. We didn’t get this nice ladies name but she took us on a wee tour of the now restored and renovated building showing us what one of the artist apartments look like. From the time I walked through the front door of this magnificent old school building I was very much reminded of my own public school back in Tavistock Ontario Canada. The light fixture globes hanging from tall ceilings, creaking wood floors, the smell of countless decades of wood varnish and that hollow sound in the halls. A welcome touch to my oh so distant past. An unexpected treat today thanks to the nice lady at the Curley School:))
THE OPEN DOOR KELLY SPOTTED
STEPPING INSIDE THE OPEN CURLEY SCHOOL DOOR
NOTICE THOSE OLD SCHOOL LIGHT FIXTURES
VIEW FROM INSIDE THE SCHOOL’S COURTYARD
THIS IS THE LADY WE MET EXPLAINING TO KELLY HOW THE ARTIST IN RESIDENCE CAMPUS WORKS AND BEHIND THEM A LARGE OPEN AIR OUTSIDE THEATER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
LOOKING AT ONE OF THE SPACIOUS 2 BEDROOM VACANT ARTIST’S APARTMENTS AND THAT SQUEAKY WOODEN FLOOR TOOK ME RIGHT BACK TO MY PUBLIC SCHOOL DAYS WHEN I WALKED ACROSS IT
It’s only a short block to the downtown heart of Ajo from the Curley School and oh my what a downtown it is. We fell in love with Ajo’s town center way back in January of 2007 and again I will try to let my photos give you a glimpse of something you are not likely to find in most other small western towns.
THIS LARGE PARK IN AJO’S CENTER REMINDED US OF BORREGO SPRINGS CHRISTMAS CIRCLE
CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS ARE STILL UP AND I THOUGHT THAT WAS A NICE TOUCH TO THE PARK
Another one of the main reasons we like the Ajo and Why Arizona area so much is it’s lack of population densities, traffic and commercialism. The area, tucked as it is between the huge Barry M Goldwater military range to the west, the Mexican border to the south and the Tohono Indian Band reservation to the east is truly ‘off the grid’ you might say. Interstate 8 to the north at Gila Bend is not close enough to be a bother by funneling traffic down through the area……with one exception. Highway 85 south from Gila Bend is a popular route for northern RV’ers heading to Mexico’s Rocky Point area and that brings them right through both Ajo and Why. Located about 138 miles west of Tucson Ajo and Why are far enough away not to be bothered by the masses and that fact alone is one of the main reasons we liked this area from the very first time we accidentally stumbled upon it back in January 2007.
BEAUTIFUL SPANISH ARCHITECTURE IN AJO’S DOWNTOWN CENTER
I would say about 90% of all fellow RV travelers we have met over the years are folks who prefer to be closer to big cities and populations. RV’ers as a rule are a very social oriented bunch and like to hang out with fellow RV’ers and have their big box stores close at hand. No big box stores in Ajo or Why and I’d venture to guess the closest traffic light to the west would be Yuma 158 miles away, Buckeye 77 miles to the north or Tucson 138 miles to the east. It’s only 38 miles from Ajo to the Mexican border at Lukeville and for sure there are no traffic lights there either. Ajo itself though does have one traffic light. Most folks and fellow RV’ers would consider this area too remote and too far off the beaten path and it is that fact alone which has kept the old west still alive and well in Ajo and Why Arizona. Now don’t ya all come rushing down here now ya hear……..
AJO’S LIBRARY WHERE WE CAME A COUPLE TIMES WAY BACK IN THE ERA BEFORE VERIZON AIR CARDS
VISITOR INFORMATION CENTER IN THERE
From Ajo we slipped ourselves 10 miles south to another one of our very memorable favorite little out the way places. There’s not much there mind you but it holds a special place in our hearts as it was here in our very first year of RV traveling that we stumbled up a little RV Park by the name of Hickiwan Trails. In our truck and fifth wheel driving west from Tucson after visiting Kitt Peak and not having a clue as to where we were going or where we would even spend the night we spotted what appeared to be a bunch of RV’s off to our right in the desert. We hadn’t seen much in the way of modern civilization for a couple hours and spotting those RV’s was a huge relief for us. And what the heck……they seemed to be parked behind a Casino. How could there be a Casino way out here in the middle of seemingly nowhere. Well there was and behind that Casino was a full hook-up real live RV Park. And that began our love with Hickiwan Trails. Now I could recount a lot of memories here including the Blogsite Kelly and I ended up doing for them but those are stories for another time. Back to today.
OUR FIRST TIME AT HICKIWAY TRAILS THIS WAS OUR CEMENT PAD SITE BESIDE THE PALO VERDE TREE
It had been 5 years since we’d been there and driving in we saw a couple out for a walk who looked familiar. We circled around the park and came back as the couple reached their Class A Motorhome. Kelly recognized their rig and I realized we had just spotted a couple old friends from our Hickiwan days. How nice to touch base with John and Pat Matoon. Had us quite a chin wag catching up on all the old news we had missed for the past 6 or 7 years. John and Pat actually had us to their home over in Tularosa New Mexico years ago and along with their daughter Kelly took us out for supper. Kelly, a painter actually painted some of my photographs from back in those days. Before we left today John gave us a beautiful walking stick he made from an Alaskan Diamond Willow tree. So nice to see those folks again after all these years. From John and Pat’s rig we slipped around the corner and knocked on the door of another couple (we were quite the social Butterflies today) we remembered from our Hickiwan days. Bill and Carol are from British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley where I lived for a time in the early 70’s. Didn’t get to see Carol and unfortunately we woke Bill up from an afternoon Siesta but we did speak with him for a bit.
LAUNDRY ROOM, SHOWERS AND WASHROOMS
From the Hickiwan Trails RV Park we headed south out of Why Arizona down to the 2 mile marker at Gunsight wash. We were on a mission to find that Wily Wandering Willy fella, also a British Columbia resident and former RV Blogger. Ivan had mentioned he thought WWW was at the Gunsight Wash around Christmas time. Search as we did through the scrub and brush at the popular boon-docking area we never did find him. Last time we saw Wandering Willy was when he dropped in to see us at our house in Congress back in 2012. I’m sure we’ll cross paths with that Wily Rascal somewhere along the trail.
I HAD RESERVED THIS SPACE FOR A PHOTO OF THE ELUSIVE WANDERING WILLY BUT WE NEVER FOUND THE RASCAL
We had one more stop to make before getting back to our rig so we set off to find Doug and Yuma from Miss Adventure Travels . We knew them to be somewhere down around the south end of Darby Well Road west of Ajo. Took us a bit of looking but we found them tucked away in amongst the Mesquites and Saguaros. Nice to see Doug and Yuma again and this time have a sit down chat. Last time we saw Doug, his wife Dolly, and their dog Yuma was nearly a year ago at Quartzsite’s 2016 Bloggerfest and we only got to talk for maybe a minute. Again I will let a few photos show you our visit today.
BY GOLLY THERE’S SMILIN DOUG HIS VER SELF AND THAT THERE’S YUMA HIS VERY SELF AS WELL
PHEEBS AND YUMA DIDN’T WASTE ANY TIME GETTING SOME RIPPING AND TEARING GOING ON
“BARK BARK YUMA BARK BARK”
OKAY YUMA THAT’S ENOUGH I’M GONNA SAW YOUR LEG OFF
DOUG’S COMING OVER IN THE MORNING AND MAYBE WE CAN GET A WEE HIKE IN
To find out much more about Ajo Arizona through words and photos be sure to check out fellow RV Blogger Jeff Smith’s blog at Blue Roads Journal.
GROANER’S CORNER:(( The middle aged man was visibly shaken when his Doctor advised that he had only 6 month's to live because of the terminal disease that was detected during a recent physical check-up. The Doctor suggested that he should get his 'house in order' , make sure his Will was current and ensure all final arrangements were in place for the funeral. He should then make plans to enjoy what might be left of his life, to the fullest. "What will you do for the last six months?" asked the Doctor.
His patient thought for a few minutes then replied, "I think I'll go and live with my Mother-in-law." Surprised by the answer, the Doctor asked, "Of all people, why in the would you want to live with your Mother-in-law?" "Because it'll be the longest six months of my Life!"
And Did You Know::
- Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.
- Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach a person to use the Internet and they won't bother you for weeks.
- Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.
- All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.
- Why does a slight tax increase cost you two hundred dollars and a substantial tax cut saves you thirty cents?
- In the 60s, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.
- America knows exactly where one cow with mad-cow disease is located among the millions and millions of cows in America, but they haven't got a clue as to where thousands of illegal immigrants and terrorists are located. Maybe the USA should put the Department of Agriculture in charge of immigration.
Willy here,sorry I missed you guys,both Ivan I were at Gunsite wash but I left for Ogilby Rd on the 3rd,then before I could look you up here,you high tailed outta town.ReplyDelete
Ivan was still there when I left.
Ajo really intrigues me, next year it will be a 'must' to look up. Thank you for the wonderful photos and stories. Pheebs and Yuma were having a great time!ReplyDelete
Ajo looks like a nice quiet town. It's nice that they did something with the old school instead of just letting it go to ruin. Local building codes makes it almost impossible to use old buildings without spending a lot of money.ReplyDelete
It's true about the Department of Agriculture. They keep up with everyone's business very well.
We too love The Ajo and Why area, small town feelings and atmosphere, is actually our kind of place, we do plan on getting back there again this year. I remember Doug and Yuma from Bloggerfest as well, nice that you met up with them again.ReplyDelete
Don't forget to get down to Organ Pipe Cactus NP; some mighty fine hiking trails down there!ReplyDelete
Loved the photos of Pheebs and Yuma. They had fun playing. You even got me smiling. I am glad you were able to see inside the Curley School. Beautiful building centrally located. I always wondered what the inside looked like. Even has a courtyard.ReplyDelete
Thanks for stopping by. Loved the visit.
Thanks for the review of Ajo as we plan to spend some time there in FebruaryReplyDelete
We are heading to Ajo at the end of the month so it has been great reading your blog and seeing the pictures, we are very much looking forward to our visit!ReplyDelete
We spent time 4 days at Ajo last February. We boondocked at the Ajo Rodeo Grounds which is east of town. Your story pretty sums up what we saw with the exception of the Old time Fiddlers contest. It was fantastic entertainment and there were some real class fiddlers there from all over the country. They had concerts every night in the Golf Club hall, and impromptu performances in the lounge area. This year it is February 2 - 5 at the Golf Club.ReplyDelete
Ajo does sound like a really neat little town. I'd be there with the same 10% as you rather than near any big cities or box stores! That open pit mine is quite obvious on Google Maps.ReplyDelete
We've only been to this area once, but, boy did we love it. We stayed at Hickiwan Trails and loved it!! I was thrilled to have FHU'S and be surrounded by saguaro:) We loved Ajo! Great little town:)ReplyDelete