In the Desert…

Well we’re back; told you it was a short one. A short one with limited cell service. I’d be sitting in camp at night and 3 texts would ping in but whatever service had brought those in whisked away with the wind. It was all good. Nice to not be tethered to all that for a few days.

The landscape, as always, was gorgeous, as are the animals and the stars and the moon (although we lost that the last few days due to the landscape). I do get tired of eating the same stuff and having to clean up at bear level (better than having bears in camp though). And if I had to camp for more than three days with no shower, I’d probably shave my head because I can’t stand my hair anymore after that. Last night’s shower was a delight. Usually we camp for a while and then get an AirBnb for a break, but because this was a short trip, we skipped that part. Which is why we got up yesterday morning and drove all the way home (from the Eastern side of Arizona). We needed a bed, a fridge, and a shower. All good.

We stop at weird little parks to eat lunch while we’re driving, just like I did when I was a kid and my parents drove me across the country to see every historic landmark in the US.

This mural was in one of those parks.

By the way, the landscape described as “high-density cactus forest” that is Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is absolutely gorgeous in spring…all flowery and green and weirdly amazing. Totally would go there again, even though the daytime is hot. They say April is the end of the hiking, and I would agree, unless you are hiking at night. Warm. Some shade, not enough.

I’m not really a desert lover…it’s hot and dry and often flat, but this was beautiful.

We were lucky to have gotten one of the few campsites with a ramada, which gave shade at certain times of the day, mostly the hot times.

You had to keep your car hood up and start the car at least once a day to keep pack rats out of the engine. I never saw any, but I did see a lot of hoods up.

Mostly flat desert makes for really nice sunsets…especially when there are some clouds out there.

We went to one of the ranger talks, about the moon, which I just finished teaching about.

No fire pits, but we managed fires in the grills. Good thing…the Man can’t stand camping without the requisite staring into the fire and managing the fire. It’s fire TV. I do a little staring myself, but mostly it’s my drawing time.

The moths were particularly happy about my headlamp on the first night.

It was warm enough to not even put socks on for a while. It’s been a while since we’ve camped anywhere that warm. And of course, that means it’s even warmer when we’re hiking, which is harder. But hike we did. The Arizona parks have a Hike for Health thing going on right now where you get a pin if you hike at least 5 miles in the park (proven by photos), so we did that in both parks. But honestly, we’re out of shape after a particularly un-hikey winter (health plus work plus weather). Normally we’d be in for 10-15 miles a day, but we did less.

We did Victoria Mine, which was close to 5 miles when we finished; we should have started two hours earlier to beat the heat, but we didn’t. The ocotillo was just starting to leaf out, so some had flowers and no leaves, some had new reddish leaves, and some had green leaves.

It’s a fascinating plant. I keep trying to simplify it for the quilts I make, because making it realistically is a very time-consuming thing. If I JUST made a quilt about one ocotillo branch, that would be doable. Anything else would be nuts. Says the woman who regularly makes quilts with over 1000 pieces.

I do love me some ocotillo though.

In Organ Pipe, we had pretty good cell service, so my Seek app for identifying plants was working. Since I just made my Desert Mother quilt last year and had researched all these plants, many of which I’ve seen before but never ID’d, it was cool to go around and see them in real life…the Organ Pipe cactus themselves…

Plus all the different chollas…

Saguaros of course…

So many saguaros…

I’d never seen the inside of one…

And some of them had fascinating growth patterns…

Lots of flowers because…Spring…

Spring is such a short season that I often miss the blooms that happen.

By the time I have a free weekend to go down to Anza Borrego, it’s done.

I called this Introverted Cactus.

Stay the fuck away cactus. It’s actually some thorny spike cactus (like no duh, look at that thing). In bloom, nonetheless! This was on the kamikaze half-run up a hill to see the sunset. We didn’t time dinner perfectly, so it was a bit of a rush.

The mine itself had these weird little ceramic sculptures that the rangers said they’d found elsewhere too.

Not original to the park probably.

Requisite photo of us, me looking very red and sweaty (’twas warm!) so we could get our pin.

It was a fairly easy hike, in terms of elevation etc. Just warm.

So that was almost 5 miles…then we rested for a while, cooled off, I took a shower with their solar collectors, so warm sometimes, sometimes not.

Then we realized how crappy our cooler was (seriously needed daily ice infusions, which was a pain)…so we drove into Why, Arizona, to get more ice plus drinks plus snacks.

Lots of cool mural stuff at this convenience store…with a quilt motif!

Pretty amazing…

And fun.

We tried a drive, but the ‘better’ dirt road was enough to persuade me that the 21 miles of ‘not so good’ dirt road would be a pain. The other drive was closed for repairs, unfortunately, but reason enough to come back.

Camp was fine. I had a book, cold water, a chair, and shade. I also had friends…this trapdoor spider by the water spigot…

A round-tailed ground squirrel who came up to my feet until I jiggled them.

Then a run up to the sunset…

Another proof picture…where I force that smile…

Yeah well. Still warm.

But beautiful…

Drawing on the second night…

I had actually started another drawing (I’ll post better photos of these once they’ve downloaded off the cloud), but couldn’t get my head around it. Something about protecting unborn children more than the actually born ones. And guns. And teachers. And banning medications for women, but not men. It was frustration. This second drawing is better and has the potential to be something. When I’m traveling, I just draw to draw, not to potentially be a finished quilt. I usually focus on the landscape around me, which is how this started, but I couldn’t get past the other crap going on in our country.

Which hello…this truck was in one of the campsites down from us…

I finally got all the way around it…

Nice sentiments…

Beautiful. I hope she was safe as she drove. I hope no one made it unsafe for her. Because that’s our existence too, more than half of the nation: women, LGBTQIA, children, people of color. Not safe for any of them. And it should be. I’m not sure when the politicians will realize they are outnumbered. I hope it is soon. As I make my work and it becomes more and more relevant with time instead of less…which is what I want. I want the problems to go away, for the world to be better, and it’s not going that way. It’s getting harder for all those groups and that’s just wrong.

OK, with that happy finish! Ha. Oh wait, I did start working on this on the road…

Just so you have a comparison to later. I always take too much stitching, and that’s OK. No one ever wants to run out of something to work on when you don’t feel like drawing or reading.

Today we are going to a concert, They Might Be Giants (my Xmas present to the Man), and are staying near the venue to make it easier for us old folks, so I need to get a bunch of stuff done, laundered, put away, etc before we leave. Early. Because we are old. Plus school stuff and other stuff…like shipping a quilt to a show! I got into Form, Not Function with The Way Out

So that’s cool. More politics. Nothing like a Nida quilt with a uterus AND a giant vagina with a landscape in it. Originally made for a show called Portals. So there’s that. Good news all around. I have some work to do this week; even was quilting last night, despite being exhausted, so more of that today as well. First to make sure the pool guy put everything back after trying to flood my house, then another delightful wonderful shower, and then stuff to get done. It’s still Spring Break for 5 more days. More about Chiricahua and the second half of the trip tomorrow. Or Friday. We’ll see.

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