Friday, December 31, 2021

Desert Beauty

I wish everyone following our travels best wishes for a happy new year. I am sure we’d all like pretty much the same thing in one form or another this year and an end to the virus, rational debate among our leaders, and no hurricanes for the Keys. I have to put that in as it would be selfish of me to not care about the Hurricane season for those poor souls left behind! 

I have collected here some photos I made while mooch-docking with David and Mary Jane in their special home above Tucson. 

I tried to replicate the style of photos I took in the Keys backcountry, close ups and details of a few of the very particular plants in this area, famous for its Saguaro (pro: Sah-wa-roh) cacti waving their arms at the sky. Which surprised me when I discovered it’s the official state flower!

Arizona’s State Tree is the Palo Verde (green tree) obviously named for its bark!

Rusty loves the desert, always alert and listening and watching. 

Mary Jane restored an old hut they bought together with one parcel of land and restored the structure which has a fire place and seats but no other modern conveniences. She did bring a totem pole from her native Pacific Northwest as a reminder of her roots. 

An exaggerated sunset over Tucson in the over saturated social media style. It does express the loveliness of this place. 


Layne and I made a promise to each other when we left the Keys on October 25th. From past experience we decided we were going to slow down right out of the gate.  On previous trips we only figured out later that the4 was no rush. On this open-ended journey we told ourselves we wanted to take our time right from the start.  The idea was not to pass up an opportunity for an experience, even if Covid was bound to cause us to be cautious about getting ourselves into crowds.  

We left Tucson under a huge black cloud and the reality of van life versus sailing was brought home to us once again as we simply hopped into the cab, turned on the heat and the windshield wipers and got going. Call me a wuss but had it been a matter of sailing we’d have stayed in port! And it turns out the microburst over the. City did not extend to our target: Bisbee, a pretty little historic town.

We parked by the historic Lavender Pit, a former open copper mine named for its owner, not for its beauty.  It’s an impressive hole in the ground though not what I’d call pretty. The modern city of Bisbee looks like an arthritic starfish with four misshapen arms incorporating former towns that fell on hard times. Combined together into one they make a viable town and tourist attraction.

The section of town called Lowell next to the pit is nowadays an open air museum filled with cars and motoring memorabilia. It is also home to a restaurant quite well known in the area.

The Bisbee Breakfast Club had an hour long wait to get a table in the restaurant that has separated and reduced the number of tables for social distancing purposes. The food was basic diner but it was very well done. My chicken fried steak, my first in forever, was crisp not greasy and quite delicious. Everyone was happy and. We drank an ocean of coffee. It was a great way to say goodbye to Bruce and Celia who live in Benson.

That motor theme in the window!

I have to admit we did not rush our lunch so by the time we paid the bill, finished our last cup of high buzz coffee and wandered out into the cold sunshine filled afternoon it was late.

We stood around, all of us reluctant to say goodbye. We want to come back this way when our Mexican tourist cards run out, hopefully in March. Until then Bruce and Celia will have to cope without us.

Naturally we had left too little time to explore Bisbee proper, a former mining town converted into a tourist attraction filled with architecture and local business of the most appealing old school variety.

My copilot did the honors with her mini iPhone 12 as I steered us past thick sidewalk crowds and winding streets.

The main drag twists through town and there definitely is an incline but the steepest parts of town are the alleys and streets that climb the canyon walls.

It’s a pretty place and it shows in the details.

Layne had a bead on this place for our return trip. I’m hoping I’ll get to talk Rusty round more than Lowell next time too.

From Bisbee we drove half an hour across an open desert to our camp for the night. Edie welcomed us to her Harvest Host vineyard outside McNeal, Arizona.

It was an epic spot, let’s face it, set in the middle of the dusty desert plain with a ridge of mountains silhouetted in the sunset. Running with Rusty below. I was told he had to be on a leash to preserve him from wolves and other predators.  I always feel like I need to be on a leash because he will spot the predator long before I will!

Sitting and watching is what he loves to do after a walk.

I don’t know how High Lonesome Vineyard grows grapes out here but they do and they only bottle their own fruit and it shows. Edie’s wines were quite delicious and drinkable.  She makes her own wines to her taste and like any good original you can’t get enough.

Layne was busy making the brat’s dinner and he wiped his bowl clean so it was a good day. We did the same except we had some bread and cheese after our large late lunch.

I put the insulation in the windows and we turned on the space heater (100 amps an hour so it’s good we have 600 amps at our disposal). It’s snug inside our cocoon and I like it.

He curled up in his bed and filled the small space with the sound of his snoring.  I hope he likes the Mexican desert as much as he has enjoyed it this side of the border.