This National Monument is in southern most AZ bordered by Mexico on the south. Most exploration of the monument is via 4 wheel drive trails, but they have a 20 mile trail that is suitable for most street vehicles. Since we no longer have the jeep, we were glad to have an area to explore.
The organ pipe cactus is more widely found in the Sonora desert of Mexico. The national monument is the only area they are found growing wild in the US. There are also a lot of the large majestic saguaro in the area as well as ocotillo and chollas . We were surprised that many of the Organ Pipes were almost as tall as the saguaro.
The surrounding mountains have at least one arch in them and there is a short hike in the arch canyon. Not sure what we would find when we got there, but after seeing the arch we were glad that the trail did not climb that high. Nice little mostly flat hike into the canyon.
While on the walk we spotted our first poppies of the year what a nice sight, means spring is on the way and spring means wild flowers. We have had several rainy days here in the desert since arriving the first week of January which also means spring wildflowers. After a little investigation we discovered that the organ pipes don’t bloom until late May into June and the saguaro not until June/July, but other wildflowers and some cacti begin to bloom late March and all of April. We may change plans and hang out for April and hopefully see the desert BLOOM!!! Nice to be so flexible with our schedule that these little flowers can change it that quick…
Anyway, here are some more cacti pictures with beautiful blue skies looking down. Stay tuned for some blooming desert, maybe… Peace and Love
We visited another petroglyph site near Gila Bend. Yes there were hundreds of petroglyphs but only in a very small area. The site is on BLM land and coupled with a boondocking campground. We did not stay, but did enjoy a picnic at their facility.
The petroglyphs were located in a single mound of rocks and seemed to be only on the east side of this mound.
There were lots almost like graffiti, but in a very concentrated area. The tour took all of 5 minutes.
All and all we would not make a special trip here, but if you so happen to be traveling on Interstate 8 between Yuma and Casa Grande, AZ it has nice picnic facilities and only 10 miles off the highway. Peace and love!!!
We just so happened to be in the area while the “World Championship of Native American Hoop Dancing” was going on. Although it was a little pricy for our entertainment style, how often do you get to see a World Championship competition of anything??? The competition was held at the Heard Museum whose mission is to be the worlds preeminent museum for the presentation, interpretation and advancement of American Indian art. Entrance to the museum was included, we were there mostly for the dancing, but a brief review of the museum was an added bonus.
Hoop dancing was completely new to us. Native American hoop dancing is an individual dance and is performed as a show dance in many tribes. It features a solo dancer dancing with a dozen or more hoops, using them to form a variety of shapes and sometimes animals. They formed birds, imitated horse riding, hunting and fishing.
We have to say that “World Championships” may be a little deceiving because it is a Native AMERICAN dance. The participants were all either from the US or Canada. A special guest at the event and one of the judges was Eddie Swimmer the very first champion 30 years ago and a Cherokee from Cherokee, NC. He danced for use during the lunch break.
Modern Hoop dancing is relatively new being invented in the 1930s and popularized by Tony White Cloud who traveled around with Gene Autry during WWII promoting war bonds to benefit the war effort in the US.
Although to us the music sounded very similar from one dancer to the next, it was apparently very specific. Below is a pic of the “drum circle” and each dancer spent several minutes instructing the circle as to which song to play and when and where to change the tempo. Watching the singers was almost as interesting as watching the dancers…
Peace Love and let’s keep singing and dancing!!!
Years ago, before so many of the mighty rivers (Colorado, Rio Grande and Gila Rivers just to name a few) were tamed, with dams and irrigation canals, crossing them was quite a challenge. With the advancement of the automobile building cross country roads was a must and river crossings were only one of the problems.
The Ocean to Ocean Highway from Tybee Island, GA to San Diego, CA was the first “all weather” transcontinental highway. But it had to cross several rivers on its route, AZ rivers were only part of the issues. The famous “ocean to ocean” bridge in Yuma, AZ helped to complete this cross-country route over the Colorado River.
Crossing the Gila River was another problem. The original plan was for a bridge near Antelope Hill but there were issues from the beginning and in 1920 AZ highway department decided to reroute the highway. It came near Gillespie Land and Irrigation Company dam. As a temporary river crossing method AZ Highway Department added a concrete “apron” to the dam that vehicles could drive across. Notice the platform these kids are playing on, the “apron”.
They say that this worked for the most part, but sometimes when the water was running, they would have to chain 5-6 vehicles together to cross without being washed away!!!
In 1927 this Gillespie Dam Bridge a through truss steel bridge spanning 1,660 feet across the Gila River was built. At the time it was the longest steel bridge in the country… Happy to be traveling this wonderful country after much of the hard and torturous work has been done. This life changing bridge is now a road side attraction, makes you think makes you wander!!!
In 1993 during a unusually heavy rain a portion of the dam unexpectedly failed this is whats left now.
Peace, love and safe river crossings to all!!!
From Quartzsite we went to Yuma for a quick shake… Shaking the Q dust and dirt out of the bus, our clothes and ourselves. The highlights of this visit were our first loooong hot shower and clean sheets for the first time in 3 ½ weeks (don’t judge)!!! Oh, and Nellie got to walk in grass for the first time in a couple of months she is a happy camper!!!
After Yuma we started our slow mosey east landing first in Gila Bend, AZ. Gila Bend is a small crossroads town at the intersection of I-8 and AZ 85 just south of the Gila River. There is not very much in town, but of course we have been able to keep busy and find some fun excitement.
The Buckeye Air Fair was a FREE event in Buckeye the western most suburb of Phoenix. There was a fair with food vendors and rides for the kids and an air show from 12-2. The fair portion really didn’t interest us, so we enjoyed the air show from an adjacent field.
Thank goodness for the smoke being emitted from the planes as it made it much easier to follow them. Several sped straight up until almost stalling and plummeting back down.
There were many loop de loops, this one by a bi-plane.
More loop de loops and zigs and zags.
All in all a nice little air show. Peaches (Peace) and love from AZ and their beautiful blue skies!!!
We arrived even before the pre-rally rally and enjoyed being able to visit with a smaller crowd and meet new friends and old ones as they all arrived. Above pictures are full on rally crowd. It was a much different experience than our first stop here three years ago. Then the weather was terrible (cold and very windy) where as this time it was mostly warm although still windy on occasion.
We did not do as much exploring the area as we did last time, but truly enjoyed visiting with some friends. Being full time RVrs visiting with friends is something we really miss. Having been to several BB rallies over these years it’s nice to feel part of the group.
Some of our adventures included group walks in the mornings. On one we found several works of desert art. These were not new some of the ladies had been here before, but they are being maintained and quite nice works of art. They are in the “magic circle” an area of the BLM land where clothing is optional.
We went with a group to visit Castle Dome ghost town and museum. The dome you see in the mountains is the remnants of an ancient volcano. There are several in the area. Our trip leader was Mark who has lived in Yuma for many years and work with the military in the Yuma Proving Grounds where all outer space related equipment has been tested among other things. His stories were very interesting. This entire area was once dotted with mines and small mining communities. The museum is a collection of remnants of these small communities ranging from the late 1800 right thru memorable history in the 1970s put in a makeshift ghost town. Check out the pachinko machine (similar to the ones in the Flagship Arcade) and the Rockola Princess juke box very similar to the one Ron refurbished for Hailey that we had for several years. Just a few of the many attractions at the museum…
We went on a short jeep ride.
Enjoyed with full moon rise, and even got a shot of the moon impersonating a star on the Christmas tree.
Enjoyed many pot luck dinners and many beautiful sunsets.
Loved the cacti.
And stayed long enough to be one of the last in the circle – and Randy got a mini bike ride with Tom.
Peace and Love until we meet again!!!
Our last stop before hitting Quartzsite and the big BlueBird Rally. Needles is a small town on the California side of the Colorado River near the convergence of Arizona, Nevada and California. Surrounded by desert farmland and mountains it is a pretty desolate place.
Just north of Needles is Laughlin, NV where gambling appears to be king. There is very little town, but several large casinos. We skipped the casinos, but did find a nice little gem behind the Tropicana. Some one or a group of some ones have built several labyrinths. Not overly fantastic, but a nice little find none the less.
The mighty Colorado River is again tamed just north of Laughlin by Davis Dam. There is a very nice little park on the Nevada side of the river at the dam. Nellie enjoyed the grass and we all enjoyed a picnic.
Finally, our favorite and best find in the area was Grapevine Canyon. Several miles down a dirt road yet only a short walk from the parking area is a great collection of petroglyphs. They are so thick it appears much like modern day graffiti. All of this was just at the entrance of the canyon. You could go further in scrambling over fallen rocks, but it did not look safe with Nellie along and according to others, there were not as many petroglyphs further in.
Even Nellie enjoyed checking them out!!!
Peace and Love!!!