Thursday, March 30, 2023

Ajo Or Garlic

 It's always interesting to know the meaning of names. And so we found out that AJO is the Spanish word for GARLIC. 

So how come a town is named garlic?

Well, garlic was found in the surrounding hills of this town, wild garlic, that is. And when people settled here for the rich minerals being found they called their town GARLIC or span.: Ajo (AHO)

Something else being found here was a variety of minerals.

Native Americans, Spaniards, and Americans have all extracted mineral wealth from Ajo's abundant ore deposits. In the early nineteenth century, there was a Spanish mine nicknamed "Old Bat Hole" that was abandoned due to Indian raids. Tom Childs, Sr., found the deserted mine complete with a 60-foot (18 m) shaft, mesquite ladders, and rawhide buckets in 1847. He did not stay long at that time, because he was on his way to the silver mines near Magdalena de Kino, Sonora.

Thirty-five years later, Childs and his son returned with a friend and started developing the abandoned mine.

In the year 1884, the camp at Ajo was practically abandoned. Not a soul was in camp when Tom Childs Sr., and his son arrived. With them was Washington Michael Jacobs of Tucson, Arizona ... Childs and Jacobs located the mining claim which constituted most of the old Ajo group of mines. They made a permanent camp and worked the mines.

High-grade native copper made Ajo the first copper mine in Arizona. Soon the Arizona Mining & Trading company, formed by Peter R. Brady, a friend of Childs, worked the rich surface ores, shipping loads around Cape Horn for smelting in Swansea, Wales, in the mid-1880s. The mine closed when a ship sank off the coast of Patagonia. Long supply lines and the lack of water discouraged large mining companies

With the advent of new recovery methods for low-grade ore, Ajo boomed. In 1911, Col. John Campbell Greenway, a Rough Rider and star Yale athlete, bought the New Cornelia mine from John Boddie. He became general manager of the Calumet and the Arizona mining company and expanded it on a grand scale. The Tucson, Cornelia and Gila Bend Railroad was built from Gila Bend to serve the mining industry and was in service from 1916 to 1985. In 1921, Phelps Dodge, the nation's largest copper company, bought New Cornelia and the mine became the New Cornelia Branch of Phelps Dodge, managed by Michael Curley. For several decades more than 1,000 employees worked for Phelps Dodge in the open pit mine. In 1983 union-affiliated mine employees went on strike. The mine continued with non-union labor for a short while before stopping production in 1985.
Current pop. is under 3000, while its peak was in 1960 over 7000.
For us the main interest is the beautifully restored town center with the Mexican-inspired plaza. 

Arcaded buildings around the green center lawn, adorned with huge palm trees are the relaxing center of Ajo and it sure has the ability of transporting your mind down into old Mexico. 

On the upper (western) side of the plaza 2 Spanish-style churches complete the beautiful architecture.

Little stores, a coffee shop, an art gallery are places visitors will enjoy to see. 
The lower part is the old railway station with overgrown tracks still present behind the station.

Park benches are beckoning you to sit down and listen to the never stopping bird chatter in the palm trees above.

Another attraction of Ajo are the rich murals on the north side and beyond the plaza.

These are 2 wall mosaics

We have seen all this before but keep coming back here. Take a look at the images and you might want to see it for yourself.

Unfortunately our time is just about over.
Thursday we will move our rig over to the Coyote Howls East Campground. They offer boondocking, but have features like dump station, water and garbage disposal, all of which we will use during our last overnight stay in Arizona. Unlike in other RV Parks we can stay there for only $20/night. 
Friday morning our wheels will start rolling eastwards along State Rte 86 towards Tucson. We finally made up our mind re. our travel route and will follow the I-20 east until we hit the I-95 at Florence. 

This would be fun to travel in

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

The Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

It is a 20-mile drive from the Why-BLM south on Hwy85 to one of the most beautiful desert parks in the U.S. - the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

And even though I have been there twice before, I needed to see it again.

Driving down Hwy85 was an attraction in itself. Both ditches were glowing of carpets of blue wild lupines interspersed with the bright yellow flowers of Brittle Bush. A feast for our eyes. Naturally, most other people didn't seem to notice or simply didn't care. Right away we noticed the wild car chase which was going on along the highway. Everybody seemed to be in a heck of a hurry. Well, we were not.

The Ajo Mt. circle drive starts on the east side of the highway right opposite the visitor center. It's a gravel road of 21 miles leading through the Diablo Mountains in the most spectacular way. It's a one-way road. Some steep passages are paved, the rest is pretty rough, though 2x4 vehicles have no problems. Take your time if you want to see it. Go slow and stop often! At this time of the year and with previous rainfalls the flowers were an attraction in itself. We had made a conscious choice to do the tour on Monday, rather than during a busy weekend. Phoenix is not too far off and city dwellers can ruin your experience of the park when they storm up the dirt roads.

The park also offers another round drive, but it is 41 miles. It's to the other (western) side of the highway. We didn't do that today and last time I was there the trail was closed, due to a lot of border activity. For miles the trail goes right along the border.

Btw. there is also a $25entry fee which entitles you to revisit the park for 7 days.

I understand that the border is now secured by the hotly discussed border fence, and we didn't see so much border patrol any more.

You can read more about our previous visit here.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

The Green Desert

 Most people would think of the desert as a barren landscape with little or no vegetation, but it is a stereotype only. While there are lots of sandy, or rocky barren deserts in the world, deserts can also turn green. That is if it receives enough water. This early spring it has been raining a lot, both in California but recently, also in Arizona, where several rivers have caused flooding and road closures.

The beauty of rain falling into the desert appears only days after rainfall.

The desert turns green.

When we did our extensive morning walk with Dixie, we both had the feeling that we already had left the desert. Everything around here is appearing lush green. Yet, you won't find a river or a lake anywhere around these parts. This 14-camp BLm area ought to be the most beautiful I have even experienced. And the walking trails extend for miles into the green desert.

Even though we started in the coolness of an early morning, we could feel the heat of the rising sun behind us. And suddenly, there was the feeling of getting thirsty and exhausted.

It was time to turn around. We hadn't taken any water with us, which really is a No No in the desert. After initially being eager to get on the walk, Dixie now showed signs of slowing down as well.

So we returned to our campsite. A wanderer might get fooled by the green desert and a cool morning, but it's still the desert we are experiencing, and the power of the sun and dryness of the air is impacting our physical abilities. Of course, all this green lushness will disappear after a few weeks and after temperatures have climbed way up into the nineties.