Among the Cacti

In every direction a desertscape, a part of the Sonoran Desert where the organ pipe cactus resides undisturbed (mostly).  Some cacti nearby paid the ultimate price to make way for the Wall, one side USA and one side Mexico.  The cacti (other than those that paid the price) seem indifferent to the human ebb and flow (actually no ebb, only a flow north), playing their own cacti waiting game – waiting for rain (to survive), waiting for night (to flower in summer), waiting to grow (slowly) when the time is right.

CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie are in Arizona, in Organ Pipe National Monument, a few miles north of the Wall.  The camping is pleasant, abundant time to paint and write and walk the desert trails.  To get to this part of the Sonoran Desert, Winnie rolled east from the Salton Sea, passing through Yuma which an uncle of CrossCountry Bob’s once called “the asshole of the world”.  Maybe it was thirty years ago when he made that comment but now Yuma is merely a nondescript midsize city- nothing too good and nothing too bad.  CrossCountry Bob didn’t spot an asshole anywhere (even though he really, really looked).  But he did find an Albertson’s and there, at the request of Paintin’ Piggie, a resupply operation ensued so that Winnie was ready for desert camping stocked with the necessities (water, food and wine in case you were wondering).

Night was rolling in so Winnie refueled at a Flying J truck stop (gasoline was $3.60 a US gallon in Yuma, $0.80 cheaper than in California, go figure, probably taxes thought CrossCountry Bob, as he reflected that these American states were chumps compared to the Canadian provinces when it came to laying on the gasoline taxes).  So, the refueling in Yuma worked quite fine but then not so fine for the truck stop night as a big rig slid in close and spent the night humming to Winnie with its running diesel throughout the entire night. 

Arriving at Yuma truck stop as the sun sets

Paintin’ Peggie is now officially no longer a fan of truck stops despite their late in the day, don’t have a plan convenience.  CrossCountry Bob will have to concoct some clever ruse to reverse that position.  Maybe adopt a Trudeau type specialty and characterize RV Parks as a fringe element consisting of undesirable boomers with unacceptable views whereas truckstops are filled with the good 90% of hard working truckers (is there any noun a politician uses that isn’t precede by “hard working”?).  Here’s a suggestion – “hard working” never belongs in front of the noun “politician”.

Boomers – undesirable element?

Enough of CrossCountry Bob digressing (for now).  Back to Winnie’s adventures.  The town of Gila Bend is the turn south for Organ Pipe National Monument and that town, other than sitting at a highway junction, serves no other useful purpose that CrossCountry Bob could discern.  For example, no bakery. And CrossCountry Bob learned some time ago that it may not be wise to let too much time lapse without Paintin’ Peggie meeting a good bakery.

A fondly remembered bakery way back in Oregon

In this instance there was nothing CrossCountry Bob could do except drive south and shilft attention to Ajo, an old copper mining town turned snowbird winter hangout. A pleasant town square and lots of old miner homes converted to boomer winter abodes – there was even a bum display by an old timer on a park bench… 

Boomer nudity?

CrossCountry Bob says don’t let the view put you off the town. In any event, it was south from Ajo as there were places to see and scenes to paint. And with serious painting on the agenda, Organ Pipe National Monument was the ticket.

Lots of cacti hanging out, waiting (to be painted). While Paintin’ Peggie painted, CrossCountry Bob learned a lot about cacti, for instance they like it hot and the big ones can live over one hundred years. But there is more to the desert than cacti; check out this little ambush predator that CrossCountry Bob spotted:

Waiting for dinner to drop by…

But that spider is not the main event in this particular neighbourhood.  Something much bigger stretches across the desert…just folow CrossCountry Bob’s finger…

USA this side, Mexico on the other side

There is a lot of border patrol activity in the vicinity and signs warning CrossCountry Bob to do what he would do anyway and that is use caution and avoid strangers in the open desert (especially, they say, if those strangers are carrying black water bottles).  CrossCountry Bob figures that must be because the sun reflecting from a shiny water bottle could be spotted by border patrols.  Ahhhh, America, whatever Canadians might think, lots of other people still want in.

Border patrol station just north of Organ Pipe National Monument

Now back to more important things.  As in Paintin’ Peggie hard at work in the desert…

Artist at work – do not disturb

A note here about that cholla cactus in the left foreground.  This cactus loves to lie in wait and “jump” on unsuspecting artists in the desert who do not move about with care! CrossCountry Bob does not have a picture of the one that jumped Paintin’ Peggie because it was a choice (easy) of a picture or quickly and carefully removing the jumper spines from Paintin’ Peggie’s hand. With Paintin’ Peggie rescued, it was time for CrossCountry Bob to check his shoe…

And learning from the entire experience, here is CrossCountry Bob working on his blog while being cleverly positioned at a safe distance from the cholla cactus (and coincidentally closer to the refreshments)…

No cholla cactus in sight!

And, now, here is Winnie relaxing in the sun, resting up for the coming drive north towards Sedona…

Notice the engine hood up?  That is to discourage the local packrats from nesting at night and chewing up the wiring to use as A1 quality nesting material.  The local desert inhabitants never miss a trick at surviving in the desert. 

CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie are now as far south as Winnie wants to venture.  Some RV’s cross into Mexico for the short 60 mile hop to Puerto Peñasco on the Gulf of California but CrossCountry Bob will pass on that.  Mexico in a RV is not a dance CrossCountry Bob wants to get up and do.  Winnie will stay on this side of the Wall.

To finish up, CrossCountry Bob wanted to say that he is enjoying writing this blog and wants to thank everyone for reading and a special thanks to those who take the time to post a comment or two.  Much appreciated. Y ahora, saludos especiales a mis amigos en nuestro grupo español 😊

As always, to wrap things up, a few pictures of people, places and other oddities from the perspective of Paintin’ Peggie and CrossCountry Bob…

4 Replies to “Among the Cacti”

  1. Sounds too good to be true really. Pictures are beautiful and I’m happy to see Peggie is hard at work! We must make it outta here soon!
    Be nice to those truckers! Freedom!

  2. Hey CrossCountry Bob,

    I spent some time with folks in Arizona… folks who welcome those peeps with the black water bottles. Folks who make their way across that offensive wall that determines illegality for people who have no other choice – given the politics of our time – but to make the horrific journey to a more hopeful existence.
    When I was there one of my friends got pricked with one of those cactus needles – it was horrific. Super dangerous. So, be careful out there. I am loving the documentation of people and places in your posts… the colours are amazing!

  3. Just to clarify, is Peggy the hard-working artist and you are the boomer? Or are you the hard-working boomer blogger? I think I have to agree with Peggy about the truck stops.

    We are on the other side of the wall in Cabo. Maybe Winnie should zip down here for a visit.

    Fun to read your blog. Much more entertaining than the precedents you left me at interior law.

  4. Beautiful pics-especially the sunsets. Have had a cholla cactus jump on me too-quite shocking how far they can jump!-and challenging to get those spines out
    Had a good visit to Kelowna to celebrate Moms birthday-raised a glass of champagne to toast 96 years
    Keep enjoying your travels-rainy and snowy here so it looks much warmer there-better for outside painting and writing
    Xo Marguerite

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