Saturday, 5 April 2008

Organ Pipe Cactus, Arizona

(There is a new blog post by Dan below this one... don't miss it!)

We have come to the last few days in Arizona for the time being. We will be back here in a few weeks to visit the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, on our way further north into Utah and onwards. But in the morning we will be heading into California.

The last two days have been spent admiring the Saguaro and Organ Pipe Cacti, at the Organ Pipe Cactus National Park, in west Arizona, bordering with Mexico. The drive to the park was as beautiful as ever. The roadways were lined with gorgeous spring flowers, and for two hours we stared at miles and miles of Saguaro cactus (see 2 posts down). We drove through an Indian Reservation and past hundreds of miles of mountains, desert wilderness and cacti. The prickly pear cacti have become less and less as they are replaced by the Saguaro and Organ Pipe varieties.

We ended up getting an RV spot at the Alamo Canyon part of the park. The ranger said it was beautiful there and that RVs werent generally allowed, but since ours was 25ft and not 45ft she'd let us use it. The Alamo park only allows for 4 sites, whereas the main campsite had about 100 sites. We love to be as alone as possible in the wilderness, so we took that option. The 3 mile lane to the Alamo Canyon turned out to be a gravel dirt track. We could not drive more than 5 miles an hour on it without feeling like the RV would fall to bits. But it was worth it. We were blessed with the most stunning, remote, quiet place to sleep, surrounded by mountains and cacti. The kids, as usual, completed the junior ranger program in the park, which was educational. Barney and I went on a cacti scavenger hunt as part of the program and made notes about various species of cacti, wildlife, bite marks in prickly pear etc. He really enjoyed that. It was very hot but a dry heat, no humidity. It was bearable, and as we had no electric or water hookups we had to cope whatever the weather was.

The area we stayed in was so beautiful that we had no need to drive about the place. Dan and Jimmie went on a hike to the creek whilst Barney played cars in the shade, and Annabelle and I relaxed in the sunshine. We saw plenty of lizards creeping about the place. In the evening we all sat out to watch the sunset behind the mountains. The silhouette of the cacti across the landscape was something I will never forget. Later that evening we all sat out staring at the stars. The sky was so clear that we could see satellites, and even the odd shooting star. The desert skies are so much clearer than city skies.

Now we have driven almost to the border of California, where we will head to in the morning.

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