UTAH (or, High & Dry)

CrossCountry Bob knew that Utah was high.  Winnie found out the hard way, guzzling gas as she climbed this pass towards 9,600 feet…

As for dry, Utah was more than one kind of dry…

Desert dry

The other kind of dry caught CrossCountry Bob by surprise.  Turns out that Utah is the driest state in America – you want a bottle of gin to replenish supplies before venturing into the backcountry? – too bad, Mr. CrossCountry Bob with your not so bright assumptions; (but in his defence, CrossCountry Bob couldn’t have imagined a place (even a place thick with Mormons) that was so much like the days of WAC Bennett in British Columbia (say 1970 or so) when liquor was only sold in government liquor stores and cash only (WAC didn’t want anyone getting drunk on credit).  But, yes, in spite of that history lesson, Utah had stepped right up to the plate and knocked it out of the park with its “State Liquor Stores” and in smaller towns, “Package Agencies”, the relevant one of which CrossCountry Bob found was open noon to 6 pm, closed weekends

The sad result of all these control issues was that Winnie was forced to venture into National Park wilderness without the sustaining power of end-of-day gin and tonic.  A gruelling proposition to be sure, but CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie were determined.  After all, there were scenic treats as consolation…

And so, CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie managed without, and even thrived, with high trail desert hikes providing an endless supply of often stark beauty and, even though the weather was chilly, the cold beer (left over from hot Valley of Fire) provided a reasonable end of day substitute.  Not a perfect trade-off, but workable.  And the hiking was interesting after the parking lot…

Utah might limit gin access but the supply of natural beauty was unlimited. And not just the National Parks.  The Escalante region for example…

There were also high end state parks that CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie explored (cleverly, early in the season before the crowds but maybe not so cleverly, as winter’s bite was still active).  At Coral Pink Sands State Park that bite was a swift wind over the dunes but your intrepid duo climbed the dunes anyway…

By now, CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie had (thought CrossCountry Bob) developed a substantial immunity to cold and wind, so Bryce Canyon National Park was next up at an elevation of over 8,000 feet.  The campground in the Park wasn’t full (Clue one) and part of the campground was closed due to snow cover (Clue two).  But, paying full attention to those clues, CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie donned long underwear, gloves and toques before hopping onto the mountain bikes to “feel” Bryce and allow its rocks to show off their true nature…

Next up was Kodachrome Basin State Park which was a lower elevation than Bryce.  Lots of optimism by CrossCountry Bob was not misplaced as there was enough warmth for CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie to mountain bike over some miles of great trails, ending on a ridge that someone aptly named Panorama Point…

What a day!  Loving this, CrossCountry Bob was pleased that Paintin’ Peggie had wanted a four day stay here to have a patch of down time and paint.  Kodachrome didn’t really care about those plans and the next day provided a generous helping of wind blow snow to complement the multi-hued rocks (and remind CrossCountry Bob of who really runs the show in Kodachrome)…

And once again, Winnie proved herself the core of the campaign.  Warm and snug inside, Paintin’ Peggie got a lot of painting done (and CrossCountry Bob wasn’t idle, writing part of the time and reading part of the time, and wondering part of the time whether an undiscovered side effect of omicron was temporary insanity randomly dispersed across the globe with special concentrations in government). 

CrossCountry Bob could pause here and reflect on what happened to seventy years of relative peace in Europe but that brings on concern, sadness and a sense of disbelief.  A descent into old ways with sociopathic authoritarians creeping out from under their rocks.

So, for the moment, CrossCountry Bob dropped back into the Utah landscape and its sandstone brilliance…

And arches…

Hiking through this land was a pleasure of discovery (and by the way, for those of you surprised at CrossCountry Bob hiking, that was a surprise to CrossCountry Bob as well).  In his defence, CrossCountry Bob points out that every climbing trail in the Parks yields vistas and landforms and constant reminders of how temporary each of us are.

The land is too dry for a British Columbia type forest and so, as Paintin’ Peggie notes, this is different than hiking in the forest where all you see is trees).  And a bonus, no bears to worry about and too early and cold for rattlesnakes and scorpions.  Happy days for CrossCountry Bob who last hiked through forests way back (as in long, long ago) during his brief tenure as a forestry student (no laughter or sarcastic emails please).

The final National Park for CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie, Zion National Park, had Winnie retracing our steps after we managed to snag three nights of a very hard to come by camping site.

First glimpse of Zion coming in through the eastern tunnel…

Tunnel built in the 1930’s. Winnie had to drive down the middle to fit!

Zion was a lower elevation than Bryce or Arches and the season was already underway with people swirling like ants about a honeypot.  But a cure for that was onto the mountain bikes and cycling up the road where cars were not permitted. And this is what we saw…

Still, starting early in the day, there were a minimum number of talkers (perhaps they need extra sleep to restore vocal cords energy?) and CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie were able to hike in relative peace up the famous Angel’s Landing route which quickly turned into a candidate for best hike of the trip, tied overall with Valley of Fire (which was Paintin’ Peggie’s top choice).

What was left after Zion?    By then, Winnie was like a horse that smells home – no matter how much you work the reins to delay the inevitable, home is where you are going.  And Spring was creeping closer up north with CrossCountry Bob tiring of American news and looking forward to simpler things such as figuring out “what is the agenda of that guy Trudeau anyway??”.  But first, a Costco stop for some of the best priced wine in America and, of course, a final clip of Americana…

First item inside Costco

And with that, CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie are ready to leave America, a unique and beautiful land, vibrant and flawed like any, a mixture perhaps like no other. It is where CrossCountry Bob would go if there were no Canada.

Canadian essence

This won’t be the last time CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie go to America.  But with omicron backing off, other places beckon (and other places don’t).  The world is pushing an increased sense of urgency into CrossCountry Bob now.  Don’t wait it whispers, “I promise you nothing if you wait”.

Wishing everyone well…

Goodby, America and Hello Canada!

Las Vegas in two Acts

With Paintin’ Peggie finished with her plein air painting course in Tucson (a fine time was had), the time had arrived to point Winnie north towards Las Vegas.  CrossCountry Bob picked a route through Quartzsite, then north to Parker, Lake Havesu and on to Las Vegas.  Sounded like a plan (to him, yes, but not so much to Paintin’ Peggie).  Turned out to be a less than perfect plan. Quartzsite was flat, bleak desert festooned with off road vehicles, wind and dust and to top it off, it was Presidents Day weekend. Yikes! 

A shade north of Quartzsite is one of the largest BLM boondocking sites in America (BLM stands for Bureau of Land Management).  Cross Country Bob saw an abundance of home town Americana around Quartzsite, worth checking out (he thought) but Paintin’ Peggie said please no (a clue perhaps to where the tastes of Paintin’ Peggie aren’t), and so Winnie passed on by…

North of the Quartzsite off road vehicle metropolis – sweet, empty desert

Although CrossCountry Bob missed taking pictures of specific Quartzsite Americana, he rose to the challenge and located some quality substitutes…

By the time Quartzsite receded in Winnie’s sideview mirrors, the sun was sinking lower than CrossCountry Bob liked and it was now “find a spot very soon for the night” time – something that was not always easy with RVs littered across the southwest, filling most RV parks and campgrounds like sardines in a tin.  The next town on the road was Parker which had thosel sardine RV resorts – not an option for this picky duo.  But to the rescue, on the outskirts of Parker there was a Reservation and in this area that meant (surprise) – a Casino – and this particular Casino had a big parking lot with lots of RVs stopping over.  Turns out casinos have other uses than vacuuming up money. Winnie stayed over, not quality camping for sure but okay for a night and better than rumbling diesels in the truck stops that Paintin’ Peggie preferred to avoid.

From Parker to the Parker Dam is a 30 kilometre strip of the Colorado River thick with mobile home parks, RV Parks, strange looking aluminum park models, each with a big garage area for the toys (boats, skidoos and ATVs). 

One of many in every corner of this strip of river

Using a favourite CrossCountry Bob expression, “we came, we saw, we went” (excepting a pleasant stopover at a BLM campsite along the less populated side of the river with some wild burros that somehow survive both the desert and the torrents of sun-seeking snowbirds)…

Next up was Lake Havesu City which Paintin’ Peggie indicated was not an improvement (unless you like RV lots, golf carts and gun stores)

Moving on north from the limited pleasures (warm weather) of Lake Havesu City, the weather turned C.O.L.D.  Canada was apparently sending down a reminder that winter still had a bite.  CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie had that reminder pounded home while camped in Golden Valley south of Las Vegas as nasty, swirling winds rattled and rocked Winnie for hours then (just in case more ha ha! was required) delivered a snow shower in the morning chill (this is Vegas country, remember?).

snow in Golden Valley 1 hour from Las Vegas

By now, you might be thinking that CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie were hankering for a slice of city life and yes, that was the situation.  A snowbird refuge – Las Vegas RV Resort – well run, clean and rows of RVs, but with all the hookups and only an Uber ride from the Vegas Strip.  RV resort living (good for a few days but all winter? remarks Paintin’ Peggie with a slight shake of her head) and then she was off, CrossCountry Bob in tow, not for the casinos but for the budding Las Vegas Arts District north of the Strip.  A low rise area of old industrial transitioning into a curious mix of art and offbeat retail.

A Bonus (this is Vegas after all), after some hours of walk about and browsing a few eclectic stores – there was a rustic little restaurant serving tender, high flavour BBQ brisket that CrossCountry Bob savoured to the point of overdose.  Best in the American southwest so far was the satiated conclusion of CrossCountry Bob. Oh, and there was the cake shop (spotted by Paintin’ Peggie) where she lasered in on a luscious slice of birthday cake. Happy Birthday to Paintin’ Peggie!

The charms of chocolate

After a fine day in the Art District, there were a couple of days of painting on the agenda for Paintin’ Peggie while CrossCountry Bob, with his own serious agenda, booked an Uber to the casinos to meet good friend, Dave Marshall, who flew down from Kelowna to see Metallica (believe it!) and partake (with CrossCountry Bob) of a healthy dose of poker action.

Not Las Vegas without a bit of poker action – Dave had no mercy on those Vegas players.

Aside from the poker, the concert idea took root and the next night CrossCountry Bob, Paintin’ Peggie and Dave were in Allegiant Stadium to see Billy Joel.  Now that man (age 72!) knows how to put on a concert!  Grade A+ which more than made up for the traffic jam on the way to the concert stadium during which CrossCountry Bob’s kidneys went on a rampage, leaving CrossCountry Bob feeling as if the only thing that existed in the world at that moment was his bladder (you all know the feeling).  Made it to a porta potti outside the Stadium – just,oh just – and do you know how wonderful the inside of a porta pottie can feel?  Grand! But that was a side issue for the night as Billy Joel and his band took to the stage…

Billy Joel in action

And after over 2 hours of memory lane with Billy Joel…

Outside Allegiant Stadium after Billy Joel concert

End of Act I.


There is another side of Las Vegas.  Eighty kilometres east is the Valley of Fire.  No slot machines inhabit this landscape.

Time to explore the timeless with Winnie settled into a Valley of Fire campsite

Winnie in Valley of Fire campsite

But first, a bighorn sheep checking us out…

A fine specimen!

Act II continued with hiking  through glorious terrain…

Paintin’ Peggie was loving it, popping up all over…

And the rippled rock that CrossCountry Bob called the ice cream rock which Paintin’ Peggie just had to climb..

Oh, and the temperature was plenty warm; by the time the kilometres of hiking were finished CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie were quite happy to rest in the shade. That Vegas sun can be mean if you don’t pay attention. Lots of water. Hats and sunglasses mandatory. CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie pay attention to the rules (sometimes).

End of Act II.  It existed before Act I and CrossCountry Bob figures it will still exist long after Act I is done.

From Tubac to the O.K. Corral

A key part of this little southern adventure is to observe and experience Art (CrossCountry Bob not being an art expert, tends to find his Art by trotting along behind Paintin’ Peggie).  And Paintin’ Peggie found Tubac and so, no surprise whatsoever, CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie left cold Sedona and arrived in Tubac, Arizona, an artistic community 70 kilometres south of Tucson.  Paintin’ Peggie’s timing was impeccable with an art festival underway with more than 100 artists and artisans marketing their wares, much of it of admirable quality.

One thing CrossCountry Bob noticed is that the Americans were more likely than Canadians to part with their dollars for quality art.  This might be a function (speculated CrossCountry Bob) of the fact that most of the festival attendees were retired boomers with money (in most of the campgrounds Winnie has visited down south, she was the small Chevy among the Caddies).

But there is one thing Americans are much less inclined to part with and that would be their Bill of Rights.  It used to be not so long ago that Canadians would turn their gaze south and ponder whether the troubles in America perhaps stemmed in part from an over zealous love of free speech and guns for everyone.  This American view of how it should be was always different than Canada’s “peace, order and good government”.  But, while Canadians seemed content with their self-satisfaction over the years, something strange and alien was seeping under the back door, spreading like an Omnicron, replacing Canadian niceness with a blanket intolerance.  This alien fog spread over the entire spectrum, from left to right, moderate to extreme, and like the Omnicron, is not the least bit fussy about who it infects.  Suddenly, if you don’t agree with “the view”, you are on the outside looking in, an enemy of the entrenched elite (you know, those who know whats best for you and won’t hesitate to tell you so).  Is this how Canadian democracy will come to die, in a wilderness of petty virtue signaling and intolerance?

From down south, CrossCountry Bob watches the once abundant polite Canadian becoming rarer by the day.  Even the Americans have noticed (and it takes a lot (a lot!) for Americans to even remember that Canada exists, let alone be interested).  When CrossCountry Bob left Canada on January 9 part of his blogging plan was to write about democracy in America.  But in an ironic twist, it is Canadian democracy on the table.  Maybe the Americans will send us their inventory of these for deployment in Ottawa and wherever the locals become restless…

Meanwhile, back to Tubac, for there is abundant life not to be smothered.  There is creativity and beautiful art, far away from the twittering crowd.

But was there a dark side to Tubac?  After some hours of the festival, the image of a cold beer would not leave CrossCountry Bob’s thoughts.  And with that cold bottle of beer at Tubac Jack’s Saloon, why not some nachos in Tex-Mex land?  Turns out the beer was cold but the nachos would certainly be nominated by CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie as the “worst ever”.

Ahh, a lukewarm cheese sauce (not cheese!)

And where was Winnie during this time of great art and bad nachos?  Well, after the first night in a dump that impersonated an RV campground, Winnie settled into a pleasant boondocking site about 5 km north of Tubac (boondocking – the art of camping for free on federal lands).  The price, of course, was unbeatable and the desertscape could not be priced, especially in the early morning light or an approaching sunset.

As a side note to dawn and dusk, one thing Paintin’ Peggie has taught CrossCountry Bob is how certain light best enhances nature and as a result CrossCountry Bob’s appreciation of natural beauty is way up.  Bonus points to Paintin’ Peggie!

Tubac had one other feature that CrossCountry Bob was particularly fond of and that was sunny, warm weather (shorts and short sleeves to be specific).  After cold Sedona, a pleasure. Biking into the hills consumed parts of several days, exploring the desertscape and waving at the frequent present border patrols.

But even the warmth could not hold Winnie for too long and after some days of Tubac’s art and always fascinating Americana, Winnie was becoming restless.

With Tubac in the rearview mirror, Paintin’ Peggie turned her attention to bakeries. You may recall that Paintin’ Peggie has a keen eye for a bakery and in the town of Patagonia (population 972) she found a winner. 

For the record, it has been noted at times that Paintin’ Peggie in a Patagonia bakery is an amazing replica of CrossCountry Bob in a wine shop.  She knows what she likes (he knows what he likes), she buys what she likes (he buys what he likes ), she eats it (he drinks it).  All an integral part of the cycle of life of Winnie in America.

Once the baked goods inventory was reduced to the satisfaction of Paintin’ Peggie and CrossCountry Bob, it was on to Karchner Caverns State Park.  No actual caverns for CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie (dark, damp, batty, and crawling with Americans with smart phones) but it was a nice spot for Paintin’ Peggie to be inspired for plein air painting.  And it was also a nice spot for Paintin’ Peggie to lead CrossCountry Bob off the grid (again!) on a trail supposedly okay for mountain bikes but not…

Paintin Peggie, it has to be said, has this endearing propensity of not quitting something once started, and when it involves mountain bikes and trails, well, it has to become a mountain goat trail before Paintin’ Peggie yields.

To CrossCountry Bob’s relief, the climbing trail eventually became impassable to mountain bikes and it was turn around and back down; a careful descent into the growing dusk which of course hid the rock that ambushed the front tire of CrossCountry Bob’s bike.  Down went CrossCountry Bob (hating that moment when he realized there was no recovery and there was nothing to be done but brace for landing).  CrossCountry Bob did brace and missed the plentiful cactus spines by a fraction.  The just as plentiful rocks made up for that narrow escape by providing a hard hello to his left palm and a smack to the left knee. Nothing severe as it turned out, but CrossCountry Bob’s knee was not happy.

The next day, heading out for a “short” hike, Paintin’ Peggie says, “Why are you limping?”  Eyes askance by CrossCountry Bob was sufficient answer.  That knee kept Paintin’ Peggie waiting on the hike from time to time as CrossCountry Bob was being careful not to turn tender knee into trouble knee. 

The plein air course in Tucson that Paintin’ Peggie had signed up for was now on the time horizon and a few days in busy Catalina State Park near the course location seemed just the ticket.  But camping sites were scarce and then, Miracle!, a few sites were suddenly available and Paintin’ Peggie snagged one of the sites online.  Arrival turned that miracle to dust as the extra “sites” turned out to be a group gravel site converted to cozy RV slots complete, as it turned out , with droning generators and free radio music from Winnie’s neighbour.

Peggie took a picture of it all from the hill behind and called it the O.K. Corral; our version of nearby Tombstone thought CrossCountry Bob except there would be no Wyatt Earp showdown for Winnie (maybe wise since there were no guns in Winnie but there certainly were in a few of the American RVs as a casual conversation with a camper or two revealed to CrossCountry Bob).

And now, for those of you who persevered through this blog and CrossCountry Bob’s diversion into the state of Canadian democracy, a few photos of Winnie’s continuing escapades…

North to Sedona (or, Cold Beauty)

Where to from Organ Pipe National Monument? Paintin’ Peggie wanted to paint around the erosion sculpted red rocks of Sedona. So Winnie went north. A pit stop at a boomer RV park in Cottonwood for laundry and those types of mundane items. Then onward. There was one concern creeping into the best laid plans – the high desert – north was higher elevation and that meant colder. Well, how cold could it be in Arizona? Turns out plenty cold..

Early morning surprise and welcome to the high desert

Winnie was cranky about the water lines but for one cold night she tolerated it.

During the day the high desert warms so CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie carried on, being careful of the wind (as in cold wind) that seemed pervasive. Not to be deterred though, CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie checked out Jerome, an old copper mining town up in the hills (colder even). It turned out to be a town pleasantly reborn as an art and craft town. Paintin’ Peggie had fun. CrossCountry Bob stayed mostly in the sun, staying warm while hunting for Americana.

After Jerome, it was another overnighter in the brisk air, then on to Montezuma Castle, a national monument area. Looked like a fine place to live at one time, probably the high rent district with the peasants down below on the valley floor working the fertile river valley and taking the arrows from whatever invaders happened by. And always watching out for the flash floods that also drop by from time to time (this is an occasionally far too much water type of desert).

After Montezuma, Winnie rolled north into Sedona – a reputation for beauty well deserved. But tourist dollars and hikers everywhere take the shine off for CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie (both are “less people please” types). Now that can be a problem with snowbirds and their RVs littered across the land but the resourceful duo solved that by going boondocking along a forestry road, locating a spot with great painting views and no neighbours (your average snowbird with an RV tends to be allergic to settling in where there is no power (horrors!), no water (oh, how to cope) and no cable TV (perhaps the worst of all, especially for those boomer RVs with TWO TV’s). For CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie, as long as the cold of night was held at bay by Winnie’s furnace, their boondocking spot was premium grade with class A painting potential.

There was the cool air of course, but the compensation was a sunrise.

But eventually enough is enough when its warm you want (after all, Winnie didn’t come to Arizona seeking cold) and it was exit south, braving the freeways through Phoenix (busy and fast) and then Tucson (not so busy and getting warmer). South of Tucson was the next destination – Tubac. What is in Tubac (besides warmer weather)? If you guessed a town of artists, galleries and lots of retired American snowbirds, then you have figured out why Paintin’ Peggie and CrossCountry Bob are stopping there.

Next post will be the Tubac adventure and a helping of Americana, Tubac style.

As always, some photos to finish with…

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…