The farm in Texas was still as weird as when we left it –the guy is awesome and we love him deeply but it was clear that we needed a plan to leave. Plus, it was cold and wouldn’t stop drizzling; a big deal when your living in a tent with no actual shelter to spend the rainy day in. We spent our time in the hilbilly hot tub that we modified. it was an old woodfired water heater with a pipe directly feeding into a 100 galon horse trough. Oh Yeah, best bath tub possible, palm trees and fresh tropical fruit, making the most out of the colder American Winter days. So we decided to go to New Mexico, where we’d thought it’d be warm. Boy, were we wrong! We got to the middle of New Mexico by nightfall and set up camp at a rest area. Coming from Mexico where it was hot and sunny, we had no blankets or coats, or anything very warm. We layered up! My teeth were still chattering with three pairs of pants on, two t-shirts, two longsleeves, and a hoodie on! To make matters worse we had gorged out on giant sized ice cream earlier in the day and it made me really sick. I spent the night outside the tent in the desert wind puking my brains out and shivering, it was 15 degrees.
We stumbled upon a site in New Mexico called City of Rocks which was really cool. It’s a valley of very oddly shaped rocks that seem very out of place and we almost sprang the cash to go to natural hot springs but decided against it. We were dead set on going to warmer grounds; I couldn’t take another 15 degree night.
And that is how Arizona happened
Our first day in sunny, mountainous Arizona was spent at the Saguaro National Park. The park is actually in our 1,001 Place to See book that started this whole grand adventure. Of course, Fred looked at the trail map and picked most epic hike, an 8 hour, what turned out to be 12 mile, hike. Let me tell you, nearly a week of consistent car-life, a roller coaster diet, and the satisfying but heavy exhaustion traveling to foreign lands brings, sure did a number on our muscles! The hike was remarkable, we’ve never seen the giant Saguaro cactus’s before and we learned that ones that are as tall as us were about 50 years old, they start sprouting the iconic arms when they are 75 years old, and begin to die off after 200 years. That old! And their everywhere, guarding the rocky sun tan mountains. Wow –we were so impressed! We made it to the peak in five hours, but had to run most the way down the mountain because it was getting dark . Always an adventure. We made it to another area with ancient petroglyphs carved by Native Americans and watched an amazing desert sunset.
Flash back to the summer prior, back in Michigan: we met a couple and their dog, Serena, Nick, and Yotey, in the woods at the sand dunes, while we were out on a hike one day. We got to talking and found out they had been traveling for three years; doing basically exactly what we wanted to do. So I got their names and made contact with them on facebook.
So after our epic hike amongst the ancient Saguaros I saw on facebook that Serena posted that she and Nick were also in Tucson, Arizona! I got her number and they gave us directions to BLM land –public land that every citizen owns (whether or not you are aware of it) and can freely live on for two weeks at a time. Awesome! Nothing is better than free, sketch-less camping. Nick and Serena, and their fellow snow bird, Willard invited us right into their little community. We did breakfasts, dinners, and hikes together with lots of travel story swapping. Days were slow but very enjoyable with good company and beautiful landscape. The desert is full of surprises; some beautiful,many pokey, and always mind blowing.
We explored another side of the Saguaro National Park, where the even larger Saguaro cacti dwell! Our next destination was Quartzsite, Arizona where there was a giant gem and mineral show every year.It was actually Nick and Serena who told us of the one in Tucson and the Honey Bus from Mexico whom informed us about Quartzsite, a more family, community, and camping far from the city atmosphere–and Fred was super into it. So we packed up our camp and went into the dry, desolate part of the desert.