We stopped at Butterfield’s RV park in Benson for the night. Darn nice park. The only negative would be the proximity to the train tracks. A train went through every 20 minutes blowing its whistle several times. It did not bother our sleep one bit.
Now the good part. They have an observatory. That said, they were the only RV park with one. They have a 16” which we were informed is the smallest professional device. They are commonly used at universities. It's getting better. The man that did the “star talk” was gifted at explaining things in terms we could understand. The program was a little over three hours.
We looked at Saturn and it’s four moons. Europa was setting behind Jupiter while we watched. Other objects were Proxima, M3, M35 and NGC3242, the Ghost of Saturn.
Monday, April 24
We drove three hours southwest on a not so good two-lane to Ajo, AZ. We are going to spend two days checking out Organ Pipe NM. We should have allocated more days, but I screwed up. I have a hard time making a schedule.
This afternoon we spent two hours at a local museum chatting with a guy about the history of the former copper mining town and border policy. We would have never guessed the mine owner was connected to so many swells, including TDR. The owner was very progressive, in the old sense. He paid well, built a hospital and schools which look good today 75 years later.
The "5 C's" of Arizona are cattle, climate, cotton, copper, and citrus. We had seen two or three copper mines on previous trips. This trip we have seen them everywhere. We had no idea there were so many, and many are still in operation.
From Ajo to the Arizona/Utah border
Tuesday, April 25
We got away early and drove the Ajo Mountain Loop. While it’s named for the Organ Pipe cacti (Stenocereus thurberi), the Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) greatly outnumber them. And to our eyes have a better appearance.
Wednesday, April 26
We took our time leaving Ajo and arrived at RV Coach Glass in Phoenix after lunch.
Thursday, April 27
They started work at 8 and finished at 12:30. That’s longer than they took at the place in Florida to screw up five windows. There was a little bit of etching on the glass after two months.
We escaped Phoenix to a Escapees park in Congress, AZ. We should have stayed in the lot at the glass shop. The Escapees park was a not a dump, but only a few steps up. People actually spend a season there.
Friday/Saturday, April 28/29
We arrived in Prescott. We had no idea it was so peoply. We walked along the lake and got a few pictures. The wind was blowing so no yakking. The boats have yet to get in the water.
We took some more pictures at sunset on Saturday. The wind had died off, but we did not have the time to launch before losing the light.
A Photo club was there also
Rocks and water were not the only going on. There was a National RC Rock Crawler competition
Sunday, April 30
We escaped Prescott. It may not be as bad as Sedona, but we have no reason to return. Having driven 89A to Jerome back in 2007 we knew better than to take that twisty windy downhill road again. So we dropped down into the valley and found a pleasant place to park on Forest Service land. It seems dispersed camping is everywhere the AZ forests.
Monday, May 1
We went a few minutes north to the misnamed Montezuma’s Well. Montezuma was never anywhere near here. We were informed that snow melt on the Mogollon Rim [Muggy On] 10,000 years ago is still seeping to this well. Several million gallons an hour. Hard to believe, but it is an oasis in the gravel pit.
The ranger mentioned that the V Bar V ranch was just a few miles up the road and had over 1,000 pictographs. We have seen dozens of walls of pictographs, but he made this one sound special and it was. But only because there was a ranger explaining it. First, the wall is almost on a true north/south axis - that’s necessary for it to work as desired. The Indians placed two sharp rocks in a crevice that acts like a sundial, but for dates, not hours. They etched into the rock face symbols to denote key times of the year, such as a representation of an ear of corn. When the shadow from the inserted rocks points to the corn, it was time to plant. They even have a when to dance symbol after the time to harvest symbol. A good corn harvest was a great deal more important to them than picking up a few ears at the grocery.
The Seasonal "Sundial" The shadows point to symbols that are critical times of the year. For instance, wait until the shadow points to the ear of corn before planting, otherwise risk frost and loss of seed.
Tuesday, May 2
We moved a little north toward Flagstaff. Glenda wanted to route us 40 miles north on I17 and then 20 miles south to our destination, Morman Lake. The Delorme map showed a much shorter route on a two lane paved road. The map was wrong, it turned to gravel, but we went through some great high pines country. All the formal Forest Service CG’s were closed, so we opted for dispersed again in the pines.
We passed a sign for Lowell Observatory on the Forest Service road but did not check it out. The storied hilltop center is in Flagstaff is no longer used for research. This one is their Dark Sky facility.
Wednesday, May 3
We made four stops in Flagstaff for various items and planned on staying at a campground at Sunset Crater. But it does open until Friday. So again, we are parked in the pines. This time with Blue Birds that are most interested in looking in our windows. They perch on the window frame and turn their heads to peer with first one eye and then the other. We think they are mystified they can not see in. Right now, the female is perched on Dorothy’s kayak and the male on mine. I should take a picture, but a week worth of volcanic dust covers the rear the window. OK, I got out the California Duster and cleaned the window. Do the Blue Birds return to perch on the yaks. No!
In only a week we have made it from Phoenix to the northern part of the state. After we leave here we will have to go through the Navajo Res to Page. We are about out of water.