Thursday, March 17, 2016

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Quitoboquito

We escaped from Tucson after a solid week there; drove west, turned left at Why, and arrived at Organ Pipe. There are still mostly saguaros, but in some places, like on the road just into the campground, there are suddenly many organ pipes.

Yesterday it was too hot to be cooking inside, I did chicken and potatoes on the grill outside. There was an empty site nearby that we cooked and ate at. The grill at our site was just about under the awning, and I didn't want the heat, smoke, or fire coming inside.

This morning we went for a bike ride early, about 10 miles from the campground up to Pinckley Peak and back. The morning light, and the evening, is very pretty.

There are small rolling hills and dips, which are still refreshingly cooler for a few hours after sunrise.

It was slightly chilly when we left, and getting hot the time we returned. It's amazing how the temperature swings with the sun getting high. It the late afternoon, it's a bit too hot for us, could be time to go north....

After our second breakfast, we made sandwiches to go, and drove to Quitoboquito. It is a spring fed oasis right next to the Mexico border, 10 or 15 miles along the border from the main road.

Close to the populated Lukeville / Sonoyto area, there is fence tall enough a person couldn't really get through it. Further out, the fence is meant to prevent trucks or atvs from driving across.

By chance, today the border patrol was giving a talk at the natural monument visitor center. So we got to see the talk, on our way back from poking around the desert at the border. The vehicle fence largely prevents trucks from driving straight across and wrecking the desert. But there are still cases where large ramps are built onto a pickup truck, a second truck drives up over the barrier, and leaf blowers are used to hide the tracks. That's where the cameras, drones, and radar lead the border patrol to visitors. And then all the roads have checkpoints further up.

The park rangers and the border patrol work together closely, and it's serious business. The Kris Eggle visitor center is named for a park ranger who was killed on duty in 2002.

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What do you think, where should we go next?