New Year's Trip to Arizona
Dec 30, 2012 to January 6, 2013

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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.)

December 30, 2012

The trip started with a long driving day, from the Bay Area to Needles on the Colorado River, 550 miles.

Moabi Regional Recreation Area on the Colorado River, where it was sunny, but cool.

December 31, 2012

After exploring around Park Moabi for a while we crossed the Colorado and followed the river south, hoping for warmer weather.

We hiked up to Palm Canyon in the Kofa Mountains, an old favorite of ours.

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.

We got to Quartzsite just at sunset. The temperature dropped below freezing that night.

All panoramas taken this day (3)

Panoramas of Needles, California

Panoramas of the Parker Strip on the Colorado River, Arizona

January 1, 2013

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.

We arrived at Organ Pipe just in time to enjoy a spectacular sunset. Not nearly as cold a night as the last one.

All panoramas taken this day (1)

Panoramas of Quartzsite, Arizona

January 2, 2013

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.

I face up to a towering saguaro cactus.

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.

All panoramas taken this day (10)

Panoramas of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona

Panoramas of Ajo Mountain Road at Organ Pipe Cactus

January 3

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.

Gilbert Ray Campground in Tucson Mountain Park, convenient and attractive. I was still taking pictures mostly of the new camper - I should have taken one that showed the campground better.

All panoramas taken this day (7)

Panoramas of the Bull Valley Trail at Organ Pipe Cactus

January 4, 2013

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.

We ended up back in Quartzsite, where it was even colder than before. We ran the propane furnace all night and were reasonably comfortable - until the propane ran out just before dawn.

All panoramas taken this day (7)

Panoramas of the Red Hills area at Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Panoramas of Hohokam Road in Saguaro National Park

January 5, 2013

By driving so far to escape cold weather we had set ourselves up for a killer drive home.

On this third consecutive driving day we were at least able to spend an hour at delightful Thousand Palms Oasis in the Coachella Valley Preserve.

We pushed on all the way to the Santa Barbara coast, arriving at sunset.

It was a miracle, but we got a very nice campsite at Carpinteria, and listened to the surf that night. It rained gently at dawn then cleared up.

All panoramas taken this day (8)

Panoramas of Thousand Palms Oasis, California

January 6, 2013

We had time for a walk on the beach at Carpinteria, but then had to head for home.

Panoramas of Carpinteria, California

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Cold Desert Trip
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Monterey Bay Trip

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