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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Valleys,Desert, Dunes and Irrigated Imperial Valley

Tuesday March 10.2015 La Siesta Motel Cabin 17 Ajo, Arizona

To continue—on Sunday the 8th, when we emerged from our motel in Kingman we found that the Coors Pole Car had been joined by Cheese-It 16!  ( Found in Monday’s paper that this car was raced in Las Vegas with Greg Biffle driving. It was the Kobalt 400, part of the Nascar Sprint Cup and he came in 14th)

Headed west out of town and down the grade into the long Golden Valley that extends about five miles across to the mountains. We’ve traveled this road before so I didn’t take any pictures til we came to the 12 mile 6% grade descent into Bullhead City. We’ve come from the West along this road but never down the steep side before.

At Bullhead we crossed the Colorado to Laughlin which is right at that pointy southern end of Nevada. Continued along the main drag past all the beautiful casinos and then into the desert along the Colorado. Somewhere along the line we crossed into California though there never was any indication of it until we noticed the cars were mostly California plates. When we reached Needles, another Rt 66 remnant. Interestingly enough the roads on both sides of the river are route 95. We stayed on the California side since it is not built up—no Lake Haversu City,etc. But it is miles and miles of dusty, barren desert. Once in awhile a beautiful flower or interestingly shaped mountain breaks the monotony. Once in Blythe, irrigation is evident and a man-made oasis of cultivated fields and palm trees of all sorts appear. Imagine crossing this area before these watered places existed!!!

From Blythe we continued southwest through more desert and expensive gas. California never gives anyone a break—even in its most desolate places they still make you pay. I’ve come to the conclusion that the three most precious, self-absorbed States are California, Texas and Vermont. And each of them at one time or another was an independent Republic—they’ve never lost that sense of independence even after joining the rest of the lesser parts of this nation.

Soon we came to an area that was fenced with a barrier topped with barbed wire. Hard to say what it was. The map showed an extensive Air Force firing range but there were no signs indicating that—the no trespassing signs were not the usual Government or military signs. The area looked like the walls of a huge open pit mine, but nothing labeled it as such and there was no indication on the map. One thing for sure, it isn’t a preserve for the desert tortoise so don’t toss any over the fence!

In Glamis we came to the largest area of sand dunes in California—The Aldogones Dunes that run for 40 miles along the base of the mountains and are at least 5 miles wide. One side of the road in the Imperial Recreation area is preserved and off limits to any hiking or mechanized travel. The other side, however, is open to dune buggies and there were several having a great time, doing wheelies ect. I recognize them from some Steve McQueen movie but I guess they were also in Star Trek VI, Return of the Jedi.

Somewhere in this area I missed the country road we were going to take due south to I 8 back to Yuma. Think we would have missed the dunes if I’d noticed it so was glad for the error. Was even happier when I realized that I would see part of the Imperial Valley that my Dad spoke of often. He talked of the damage done to the Colorado when the American Canal was built to bring its waters into this desert valley to create huge truck farms by the Imperial Land Company. By this diversion of the river’s water the Colorado does not flow above ground in Mexico any longer.

It is a beautiful valley though and supplies so many fruit and vegetable products to the rest of the country. We saw new corn seedlings, other corn plants at least mid leg high, sugar beets, cabbage, onions, red lettuce, grasses and a few orange trees as well as date palms. The cole crops are so dense you can’t walk between the rows!!


We soon reached Holtville and I 8, which runs right on the Mexican border—those white fences with chains that you see mark the border. We turned southeast and followed it back across the Colorado and into Yuma, Arizona where we spent the night.

Yesterday we weren’t sure how we wanted to proceed East—go to Tucson and through the mountains?  Hang up toward Phoenix and call our brother in law? Start back up toward Kingman and maybe go up to Page from Flagstaff and see Antelope Canyon?  I decided that I wanted to return to Ajo and go back to Organ Pipe National Monument. We’ve avoided it because it is only 9 miles from Lukeville and the border but I’ve heard that the sleepy almost deserted town that had been a vital mining town has been turned into an artist colony—sort of like Bisbee ect. The large school which sat empty seven years ago has been turned into artist studios and apartments. So off we went on I 8 to Gila Bend and then down toward the border once more.

There are alcoves in between the small barren mountains. Each alcove contains a natural desert cactus garden with scattered wildflowers providing splashes of color. Being this close to Mexico there are many Border Patrol Stations and these days there are young German Shepard officers working along with their handlers. We’ve only had to stop when returning north from the border and never detained once we proclaimed our citizenship.

First thing we did was to check into La Siesta Motel—this time we have a cabin but had a front room seven years ago. The cabin is tiny—smaller than our bedroom at home but really cute and cozy, though the TV reception stinks!!LOL Notice the age of the TV—lol

After getting our food into the fridge we tooled around a bit—town is certainly more crowded. The plaza is filled with cafe and gift shops etc. Lots of Mexican insurance sellers—they were only at the border in the past. An IGA, two gas stations, several new RV parks and a car repair shop—all new. But the liquor/tobacco store( Indulgence ) sits empty and forlorn—for sale. The restaurant where we used to eat dinner is out of business, too. It is so crowded that you can’t get a nice shot of the historical churches that are so beautiful—nor the school, nor the old Cornelia Hotel which is open again. We found a new place—though I think its been here awhile and the sign is not taken care of—and had a burger and a Panini. Another couple asked for desert and the waitress said that the restaurants in town all agreed to go healthy so the only place for pizza is the Pizza Hut ( that was here 7 years ago—so some residents must still go for unhealthy) and that ice cream is only available at the IGA. The bakery does, apparently, have some sticky stuff.  Oh, poor old Ajo—the nuevo hippies have arrived—the soup nazi had nothing on the artists of Ajo.

Returned to the motel  and vegged and enjoyed the patterns the palms made on the blinds on windows and doors.Lots of phone calls—trying to reach Betsy for her birthday but only succeeding in playing phone tag. Chatted with my nephew and his wife for awhile. Then Bill’s brother Fred called so we spoke with him a bit. He gave us Jim the brother in law’s phone number. But before we had a chance to call Jim, he called us!!!!! Fred the Fixer emailed him our phone number and address—wish he’d butt out. Kind of left in the air whether we will be able to hook up with Jim before we leave Arizona.

Today, we started our day at Marcela’s—saw no baked goods nor did I smell anything baking—for breakfast. This is the only place I can get chorizo served on shredded lettuce for breakfast and wonderful sourdough toast. The orange juice and coffee are awful but this is the only game in town for breakfast—just as it was 7 years ago. Passed the Ranchouse Restaurant where we used to eat dinner—so sad to see it closed.

Spent most of the day in Organ Pipe National Monument—the best park for a huge variety of different types of cactus. So glad we returned—I’d forgotten just how beautiful it is. Stopped at Olsen’s IGA on the way back to the room and picked up some frozen fruit bars, more cheese and two beautiful peppers. The red one was 59 cents and the yellow 49 cents—sold by the piece not the pound—incredible prices.

Jim had texted us –how do you text??? Took me forever to get a message typed and couldn’t figure out how to make a space. Have to hit a button several times to get the right letter—just a pain. Anyway we called him back. He’s checking out restaurants in Casa Grande and will email us an address of one where we’ll meet him tomorrow. Guess we’ll stay in Casa Grande tomorrow night. Too confusing for me. Oh, well.

Finished my sandwich and V-8 so think I’ll close—get settled in and do my nails while watching NCIS on the snowy TV. Still have my Mardi Gras nails—they are finally chipping—plus my nails have grown a quarter inch so have a bare nail at the base. Not a good look.

Will let you know how the meeting works out—for now—good night, sweet dreams. The Two Traveling Peas, Kathy and Bill

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