Oh Arizona, you’re dry and dusty but full of beauty. We left New Mexico, crossing the Continental Divide last Saturday morning and stayed the night just across the state line at a time-forgotten railroad town in Southeast Arizona (forgive me, but I can’t recall the name of the town). Sunday morning had us up and on the move towards Tubac – a tiny and eclectic place about 50 minutes south of Tucson.
Following the directions sent from our soon-to-be new friends, Will and Mona, we found ourselves exiting the southbound highway and winding up some rough and ultra-steep mountain dirt roads. Even in a car, these roads would have been challenging and poor ol’ Winnie had a heck of a time (not to mention Brad who used some colourful language while trying to navigate this terrain in the old girl). Eventually we came to the peak of one of the largest hills which lead steeply into a deep valley, then up an extremely aggressive incline on the other side. Before attempting the feat we stopped the rig to consider our options. We called Will and Mona (who’s house we could easily see just beyond the massive gully) and told them we weren’t sure we would be able to complete the last part of the road – so they came and picked us up. We left the Winnie on the mountain slope to cool down for a few hours and just before dusk Brad decided to give it a shot, it took every bit of power to climb that steep hill but soon Winnie was parked on the top of the solitary mountain in Will and Mona’s driveway, a little battered and bruised, but no worse for wear.
We were treated to a wonderful meal and chatted the evening away on the patio, overlooking the violet mountain skyline. The next morning our alarm went off at 7am and by 7:30 we were on the road with Will and Mona to meet up with the Monday hiking club. This mornings’ hike was duesy known as the Madera Trail in the Coronado National Forest. Six miles round-trip, 1600 ft up the side of a mountain and back down. Brad and I were by far the youngest in attendance, the average age was probably mid-70’s (with a few folks into their 80’s). 19 hikers in total and Brad and I were stunned at the physical condition and stamina of these amazing folks.
That evening we had little left to offer so dinner and drinks were all that could be accomplished. The next day we set off on the motorbike and found our way to Pena Blanca Lake via some curvy and entertaining roads. At the lake we had a beer and took in the amazing views. We set off again and reached the small town of Tubac for some wondering then onto Green Valley for supplies.
Our house show went down Thursday evening at a beautiful estate on the outskirts of Tubac. The crowd of more then 60 people was treated to some great food and music in a courtyard fit for a King. We played from a roof-top balcony as the sun set behind our backs. It was a beauty evening and our new friends Jim and Judy (the RVing folks we met at a McDonalds parking lot in Fort Stockton, TX) even came out. After the show we made plans with Jim and Jude to caravan out to Quartzsite together the next day.
Quartzsite… an area in the middle of the west Arizona desert that is tooted as the the RV Boondock Capital of the World. Apparently in January and February the population swells from 1200 to up to 2 million. When we arrived it looked fairly empty but the markings (and smells) of many RVs were still present. A Latin/Spanish music festival was happening at the event grounds and we found a great little spot on the side of a modest mountain to park for a few hours and take in the sounds. We pulled out the chairs, sat under the wide open sky as it turned to dusk and swapped stories with Jim and Jude. Eventually we had to move as the area was a no camping zone, so we caravanned over to a free parking lot (which stunk to high heavens of sewage - likely the result of many black tanks being emptied on the ground). We enjoyed a round of nightcaps then called it a night.
The next day we were California bound and made plans to stay in Palm Springs but Christ Almighty the desert was hot and we finally had enough, so we pushed on, crossed the mountains into the cooler and greener climate and stayed the night at a county park campground near Beaumont. This morning we made our way around LA and through Topanga Canyon (jesus, what a road) and headed north on the Pacific Coast Highway, through Malibu (omg) and Zuma Beach. Tonight we’re staying between Santa Paula and Ojai and hope to check out the towns tomorrow on our way to somewhere new - not quite sure where we’re headed yet but I’m sure it’ll be great.
We’ll see you soon,