Sunday, February 26, 2023

Gettin’ Outta Dodge!

We were camped in the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, near Arrivaca, Az.  It's a great place to camp and explore, and the designated camp sites are often a half mile from the nearest neighbour.


Like many areas near the border, there can be a lot of foot traffic from undocumented border crossers.  This area is no exception.  And like my previous camp in Ironwood Forest, there are lots of these cheap, camouflage backpacks, that must be issued to all border crossers by their handlers.  Inevitably, they are cast aside as soon as their designated ‘ride’ shows up.  Sometimes there are other personal items, and sometimes a pair of crude carpet sandals, designed to make tracking more difficult.


Lots of nice trails to hike or bike.


This one ended abruptly where it went down into a wide valley, and erosion ripped a trench 10 or 12 feet deep.


We were camped near one of the Border Patrol’s blue light rescue towers, with reflective flashers that sparkled during the day, and an intense blue strobe light that flashed at night.


I hadn’t seen any Javelina in the area, but after a few days, I learned to identify their tracks and the holes they dug and the vegetation they eat.  In many areas where they are hunted, they are also quite nocturnal.


As many other snowbird bloggers have commented, the weather down in the southwest has not been that favourable for the last month or so, with temperatures often quite a bit below normal values.  So – when the forecast started to predict freezing temperatures at night, followed by barely warmer temperatures during the day, and something called a ‘freezing mix’ for precipitation for a few days – I’d had enough.  Get me out of here!IMG_0833

I thought, why be essentially stuck indoors for three days, with not much better weather after that?

Why not hook up, put on some good tunes, aim the truck down the road, and spend those days seeing some new scenery, and finding some better weather at the end?

So that’s what we did. We blasted off, and headed east.  Before long, we found ourselves in New Mexico!

IMG_0843IMG_0844And it wasn’t that long before we found ourselves approaching Las Cruces.


With daylight to spare, and good tunes on the radio, we kept right on a-rolling down into El Paso, Texas, and beyond. 

We all know that Texas is big, but it’s still a bit of a shock to see the sign near El Paso saying that Beaumont, Tx is ONLY 854 miles ahead!  Yikes.

Lots of overpasses and bridges getting through El Paso, which is on the Rio Grande.


So, right across the river is Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, clearly visible here from the Interstate.


The speed limit might be 80, but you have to be prepared to stop!


Sure enough, another Border Patrol checkpoint!


We didn’t find a primo spot to spend the night, but ended up on a dead-end street in a fairly quiet residential neighborhood in Horizon City – because the Walmart was just too bright and noisy.  Continuing eastward the next day, we got off the I-10 as soon as practical to slow the pace and enjoy the ride a bit more.

Large pecan operations predominated in some areas.

I think this balloon was worried about being shot down, to opted to stay on the ground!


Some of us slept most of the way …



Lots of interesting and historic towns along the wayIMG_0890

You know you must be close to the border again, when you start to see Border Patrol trucks parked on hill tops along the highway.


And, you know you’ve made the right decision to leave Arizona, when you see the temperature is 32C, or 89.6F!


With the help of iOverlander app, we found a very nice, quiet, very scenic spot to stop for the night, overlooking the Pecos river, where it flows into the Rio Grande.  It is a free spot inside Amistad National Rec area in an old abandoned campground, that we had all to ourselves!


Still headed southbound in Texas – till next time …

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Read the Fine Print

Temperatures have been much below normal the last couple of weeks in southern Arizona.

While camped in Ironwood Forest National Monument, we did not hear any rain overnight, because it was falling as – Snow!  Most of it melted on the ground, but quite a bit was on the roof of the rig, which quickly melted in the morning sun, making mud puddles front and rear.


Night time visitor.WGI_0016

This only delayed us a little as we packed up and prepared to move on down the road. We headed further south, onto highway 286, which leads down to the border at Sasabe.

There was quite a group of Border patrol trucks pulled up along the side of the road, and a large bus – which indicated to me that they must have just  apprehended a rather large group.


Further south down the road there was the regular BP checkpoint, but they weren’t interested in us headed south.  We still had to slow down to bounce our way over the speed bumps.


Photos from dash cam …


We entered the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, which would be our home for the next few days.  Camping is free, with the usual 14 day limit, and you must camp in designated camp spots.  But unlike any ‘normal’ campground, these sites are spread out over many miles of primitive roads.  The closest sites might be 100 yards apart, but some might be a mile or more from the nearest neighbour!  My kind of camping SmileIMG_0800IMG_0801

We picked a spot we had scoped out last winter, just for a change of pace.


There were lots of options, as we only saw 2 other campers in the whole area.IMG_0784IMG_0785


Lots of primitive roads lend themselves to biking and hiking, while watching for wildlife.

The refuge was established in 1985 to protect several endangered species.  The land was formerly ranched and there are numerous remnants of that era visible all over the refuge.


Some of the former ranch buildings are still used by the refuge, but some are sadly abandoned relics of the former ranch operations.


This particular ranch facility has been given some modern infrastructure.  There is a solar powered well at this place, with a convenient tap available for thirsty travelers!

It is marked by a blue flag so anyone lost or thirsty knows where they can get  some drinking water.


I think this was a cattle watering trough for the cattle that once roamed here.


Moving right along – one of my pet peeves is signs that don’t really mean what they say …

For example, these signs are posted at refuge entry points and all along the boundaries.


They say that unauthorized entry is prohibited, in other words ‘no trespassing’?  But clearly, it is public land, open to hunters, hikers, campers, bikers, and anyone else that happens by!  Perhaps it is NOT open to undocumented aliens?


In an other area of the refuge, it adjoins Arizona State Trust Land.  It clearly says ‘No Trespassing’.  But, read the ‘fine print’!  Trespassing is just fine – if you are hunting, have permission, or get an easy online permit!


The second sign clearly indicates ‘No Camping’.  Most of us would conclude that that means NO CAMPING!  But that is not the case.  Read the fine print.  It is only illegal to camp ‘within 1/4 mile of a water hole for wildlife or cattle’!

Sure hope my entry to the National Wildlife Refuge is ‘authorized’ or I could be in big trouble Winking smile.

What’s with this unseasonably cold and wet weather?  I mean, it’s not quite like the –22 temps at home, but I’ve had to wear long pants, and socks even, for most of the last few weeks.  That’s not what I signed up for.

( I wonder if Google will publish, or hide this post? )