We enjoyed a short stay in Ajo, Arizona at Shadow Ridge RV Park which was a no frills park but it had a nice, albeit short, nature hike within its boundaries. Typical Sonoran Vegetation of saguaro and cholla cacti were seen as well as endemic desert birds like the phainopepla and the gamble's quail. Also this park is known for its javelina who wander through the park and we were lucky enough to see them twice while there. But best of all was the chorus of coyotes we heard every night lighting up the night sky with their cacophony of sounds.
We took a stroll in the nearby town of Ajo and this small town appears to have been more robust in the past than it is now. The town's name (pronounced "AH-ho") apparently was named after the Tohono O'odham word for paint as the Indians were said to have collected copper based minerals here and used them to paint their bodies. The town really began to populate when the New Cornelia Copper Company began operation in 1917. The mine was shut down in 1985 thus facilitating the town’s demise. However, today it is home to many retirees and winter visitors which help keep the town alive.
We also drove over to see the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge This 860,000 acres of desert wilderness near Organ Pipe Cactus has no facilities or paved roads. It was founded in 1939 to protect Desert bighorn sheep and the endangered Sonoran pronghorn. The vegetation is like that seen in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.
First we stopped at the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge visitor center in Ajo, AZ. because we wanted to drive the road to Charlie Bell Pass in the Growler Mountains.To do so we would need to get a permit for entry and we had to sign a liability release (they called it a "Hold Harmless" agreement) for the military since there is still some military ordinance on the grounds.
The dirt road into the refuge is rough but doable with two wheel drive low clearance vehicles if you are very cautious. We were hoping to see pronghorn or some desert bighorn sheep in the mountains but we only drove in about 14 miles and after a short walkabout around the Little Tule Well we decided to head on back. It was taking us much longer to drive the rough roads than we had thought it would so we will have to take the longer drive into the mountains and look for the petroglyphs reported to be there another day.
Upon returning home we had one last happy hour with Mona Lisa and Steve and the other Canadian couple going onto Mexico with us. This happy hour also coincided with Mona Lisa’s birthday so we celebrated with a pot luck that included Mona’ Lisa’s famous lumpia and even included a wonderful Julian Apple Pie!!! With full bellies and final plans in place it’s… look out Mexico, here we come! .
NOTE: We are now in Mexico at Playa Bonita RV Park in Puerto Penasco until February 15th. We are experiencing bad internet here in Mexico so hopefully this blog will post…