New Year's Trip to Arizona
Dec 30, 2012 to January 6, 2013
This was the first trip longer than a weekend that my wife Nora and I made in our new FourWheel Camper. The weather at home in the Bay Area had been cold and dreary so we wanted to get down into the low desert for some warmth and sunshine. As it turned out the cold weather drove us all the way to the Mexican border.
The trip lasted eight days and I took 43 panoramas.
(Click any picture to open a larger version.)
The trip started with a long driving day, from the Bay Area to Needles on the Colorado River, 550 miles.
After exploring around Park Moabi for a while we crossed the Colorado and followed the river south, hoping for warmer weather.
We ended up in a long-term camping area on the south side of Quartzsite. There were thousands of "snowbirds" parked in the desert there, an annual encampment that in January and February may total 100,000 people - compared to the permanent population of only 3500.
There was no point hanging around Quartzsite in the freezing cold, so we made a strategic move, all the way to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument on the Mexican border.
It was cool and sunny at Organ Pipe. We drove the scenic loop and took short hikes in the amazing cactus forests. Unfortunately, the southern part of the monument, Puerto Blanco Drive to Quitobaquito Spring, which we had enjoyed on previous visits, was now closed due to hazardous encounters along the border - they even took the road off the park map.
The comfortable campground is in a lush (for the desert) growth of cactus and palo verde. It was warm enough to sit outside until the sun was down. This is us, doing what we had come there to do, briefly.
Our second day at Organ Pipe we hiked up to Bull Pasture in the Ajo Mountains. Feeling pressed for time, we drove north and arrived at Saguaro National Park west of Tucson after dark.
We drove slowly through the west unit of Saguaro National Park, with a few short walks and some panorama shooting, then dutifully continued the long drive home.
By driving so far to escape cold weather we had set ourselves up for a killer drive home.