Sunday, May 22, 2016

5/22/16-Part 1, Organ Pipe Natl Monument, Ajo AZ

On April 8, we drove from our camp on Gold Gulch Drive to Lordsburg, NM, where we hit I-10 to Tuscon and then 86 toward Organ Pipe National Monument (OPNM). Most of the drive was long, straight and somewhat barren, but even in that there was beauty. I especially enjoyed the rainbow in the pic above.

Organ Pipe is only 5 miles from Lukeville, the port of entry at the border (see map here). So we saw a lot of border patrol activity in that sector, and passed through one of the several border patrol checkpoints. My van always gets their attention. I’m getting used to it, but I still tense up. I have no idea why.

The official address of OPNM is Ajo, AZ, but just before you turn on to 85 to get to Organ Pipe is the very small community of  Why, AZ. We stopped at their store, Why Not, for a break. Isn't that a great name? And the plants out front are gorgeous!

We had made another interesting stop about halfway between Tucson and Why. We pulled over to let the dogs have a break at a landmark about the former town and mine named Quijotoa. We were traveling through the Tohono O’OdhamNation Reservation.

When we got to OPNM, we first stopped at the Kriss Eggle Visitor Center, and I got my National Park Access Pass. I can now get into National Parks and Monuments for free plus 50% off camping fees. I had no idea! I was so excited!

Next we headed to our campsite.

When you get to a fork in the road, which one do you choose? The Fee Station of course.

As we got closer to the campground, we saw this Emergency Assistance station. The sign is in three languages: English, Spanish and Native American.

The park kept getting more amazing with each turn.

Organ Pipe National Monument is in the Sonoran Desert and gets an average rainfall in April of 0.47” according to the National Park Service (here). Most visits to OPNM are Dec-Mar, but Colvin had researched the weather and knew that uncharacteristically we would probably enjoy light rain several times while there. He was right! It extended the spring blooms and made everything cooler than usual. I also loved the fragrance of the desert after the rains.

We reached our campsite by mid-afternoon.

It had a great view.

It wasn’t long before we had a visitor. “I’m going to sneak in way over here by the grill and picnic table so you won’t see me get this chunk of apple.”

We tossed another bite of apple a little closer to us. He wasn’t sure at first, and took his time, but eventually he hopped over and gobbled it up. A couple of days later this little guy even followed me and the furbabies to the toilet vault. So cute!

After some campers left, we moved a few sites over. This campsite had more space and was at the end of the road with more privacy and an expansive view. Sweet!

Colvin had a great idea about my patio mat. It was/is a wonderful mat (Thank you, Bryce!), but its original footprint was almost bigger than my van. Plus I had difficulty folding it by myself and it took up most of the van’s floor space when traveling. So, to keep it from being so cumbersome he cut it down to a manageable size for me and taped the edges so it wouldn’t unravel. Now it simply folds in half and fits easily on the floor of my van in between uses.

All the hard work wore the dogs out.

Every now and then we’d get a fantastic show of jets or planes flying overhead – just like these 3.

One day we were climbing this hill....

We got about as high as this arrow....

.... when a jet flew over and discharged the loudest sonic boom you can imagine. My knees buckled and in a flash I was in the fetal position glued to the side of the mountain. I’m not sure which stunned Colvin more – the idea of a sonic boom (which neither one of us could remember hearing in decades) or the fact that his girlfriend had, within a millisecond, crashed to the ground.

I slowly got up. In the back of my mind I was wondering if there might be a landslide. By the time I stood up straight, I was laughing so hard I had to use my walking stick to keep from sliding downhill. All I could think was that if my bff, Cathy Wallace, had been there – I’d never live it down! Thinking of some of the stunts she and I have pulled made me laugh even more. I don’t think Sasquatch quite got the humor, but when I called Cathy and told her about it, she sure did! We are two peas in a pod for sure.

Not long after the sonic boom thrill, we headed back down. Here’s a pic looking up the hill from where we were. It may not look very steep, but I felt very lucky that when I collapsed I didn’t roll right down the hill.

I was slower going back down than Colvin (mostly because I was taking pics). You can see our campground behind him in the following pic.

I had asked him to wave for the camera. You might not can see it in the pic above so I enlarged it. This is the wave I got.

“Now that right there is funny. I don’t care who you are.”


I had yet another seizure and slept thru Saturday, 4/9. Don’t have any pictures from that day, and don’t remember it.


In my next two posts I’ll share pics from Ajo, a hike, and a beautiful drive we took. 


  1. So beautiful out there....I miss it so.....not much longer though!

    1. August will be here before you know it, John. Hang in there! See you soon.

  2. totally AWESOME photos of a spectacular place to visit. wow on all of them..

  3. Thanks Sandra! What a wonderful compliment! It is a spectacular place. Wait until you see the ones from our road trip and trail hike! :))


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