23-26 Dec 03, Tue-Fri: Caballo Loco Ranch, Tucson, AZ
24th: This evening we enjoyed HOT chili in the clubhouse provided by the Ranch. There wasn't a dry eye in the place!! Cal had 2 bowls. After the first one, his mouth was numb so he decided a second wouldn't make any difference. They had some hot stuff to add if it wasn't hot enough to suit one’s taste, but most declined the added fire.
25th: Ham/pot luck dinner Christmas day in the clubhouse was delicious as usual and enjoyed by all. After dinner Connie and Cal went to visit new-found friends and tour their converted Eagle Bus. Needless to say, Cal was in heaven examining all the details. It was fun.
26th: Heavy wind last night caused us to take in the slide to reduce the noise of the flapping awning over it, and this morning we had some heavy rain for a spell. By noon the dust was well laid and the sun is out. This huge area of desert is riddled with ATV/4-wheeler roads that are perfect for hiking. We strike off from camp on the rough roads with Cal’s handheld GPS and a spirit of adventure. Great fun.
27 Dec 03, Saturday: Hickiwan Trails RVP, Why, AZ
Much as we’ve enjoyed four super days in this piece of the desert, we’re ready to move on. We stopped to see our friends with the bus on our way ‘out of town’ and ended up visiting for an hour. They’ll be in Quartzsite when we are so maybe with the aid of cell phones, we’ll make connections. We also hope to exchange visits in Kansas and New Hampshire.
Our 117 mile run to Why over Routes 286 and then 86 today was punctuated by an occasional tiny settlement and enhanced by a multitude of saguaro, cholla, and ocotillo cacti. That’s about it: light traffic and lots of vegetation between us and the mountains. We spent three nights at Hickiwan Trails RVP on our maiden adventure five years ago, and it’s always fun to return to a special spot.
28 Dec 03, Sunday: Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Ajo, AZ
It was a beautiful 25- mile run south on Rt. 85 to our site in the National Monument, another 5-star campground. There are no hookups here but generators can be run from noon to 4 p.m., the large, adequately-spaced cement pads are quite elegant with lots of cacti between every one. We have an end site so a great view of surrounding mountains, all this beauty for $5/night (duffer rate).
We selected the Desert View Trail from the list of trails to be hiked, and it proved to be sufficiently vigorous and rugged to fulfill our exercise requirements for the day–beautiful too.
After lunch we boarded our Honda and departed for the 21-mile Ajo Mountain Drive. We wound along the foothills of the Ajo Mountains, the highest range in the area. Outstanding desert landscapes and impressive stands of organ pipe cactus were among the highlights of this spectacular tour. This National Monument is truly special.
29-31 Dec 03, Mon-Wed and 1-4 Jan 04, Thu-Sunday: Gold Rock Ranch, Winterhaven, CA
We stopped in Why, AZ, to fill our tank with propane at the Why Not Travel Store, and then topped off the gas tank at the local Indian Reservation (they always have the best gas prices.) The up and coming town of Ajo west of Why is a great little oasis, once a copper mining town. As we continued north of Ajo on Rt. 85 to I-8, there were vast expanses of nothing between us and the distant mountains–quite a contrast from the beauty and lush vegetation we just left in the National Monument.
We enhanced the excursion with a most delicious date shake in Dateland on I-8. We've
confirmed that Stan and Liz will stay at Gold Rock Ranch in Winterhaven, CA, another night since that’s our destination.
After checking the Winterhaven PO and learning that our mail has not yet arrived, it was on to Gold Rock Ranch and the site Stan and Liz are holding beside them. We’re happy to see our friends again and to return to this Ranch which we enjoyed so much last March.
Tuesday: No sun today, a high of 54 degrees, but the four of us are totally content with visiting, walking, computing, and watching the young folks chugging happily by on their 4-wheelers as they travel to and from the expansive desert.
Soon after Stan and Liz departed for San Diego on the 31st, it was time for us to meet Karen and Bob at the Golden Corral buffet in Yuma. It’s interesting that our paths are converging on this date as it was five years ago that we celebrated New Year’s eve together in Canyon Lake, Texas. We’ve kept in touch and met out here in the southwest every year since.
This Ranch may be off the beaten path but there’s plenty going on, and we’re seeing more action than we saw last March. Since it’s school vacation between the holidays, there are families here in addition to the older generation of permanent residents. The young folks brought their ATV’s, one for every member of the family over 9 years of age. They suit up in their helmets and padded clothing and take off in groups to cavort in the endless desert which surrounds us.
About the Ranch:
This property was homesteaded around 1930 by Carl Springer Walker b:03 OCT 1880, d:22 MAY 1967. He married Margaret b:06 SEP 1883, d:29 SEP 1971.
They had a son Robert Weld Walker b:1909 d:1987. He married Margarete "Scotty" Stotvold b:1912 d:1998. They had no children.
Carl owned a Packard agency in Mexico City and in 1912 when the Mexican Revolution was getting underway they escaped with only their suitcases and settled in Ohio. They came out here and Homesteaded this property in 1930.
During WWII, the government took over the property and used it as part of Patton's desert training operation. When the owners got the ranch back after the war they discovered that the well that they had so painstakingly drilled with home made equipment had been destroyed so they sued the government and won.
The Walkers bought out the Mining rights to the Tumco mine across the way and made a little money processing the tailings but it wasn't particularly lucrative. They started a bed and breakfast here picking up folks from the railroad and thus evolved this Mobile Home and RV Park.
As Robert and his wife had no children, the Ranch is no longer in the family.
On Saturday, the 3rd, we decided to refill a prescription at WalMart. We could have traveled just a few miles east to Yuma, AZ, but thought it would be more fun to check out El Centro, CA. Route S34 north from the ranch was a peaceful ride through the desert, and then it was west on Rt. 78 which instantly became busy with traffic. The most interesting feature was that highway went smack through the middle of the Algodones Dunes. As we approached the Dunes, there were motorhomes of every size and description parked randomly all over the desert. The residents of those homes were zipping up and down over the dunes, with their motorcycles and 4 wheelers, looking like little bugs with two sand streaks flying out behind them.
West of the Dunes the terrain was flat and vast, and wherever irrigation was in place, immense fields of green things were growing. We guessed some of it might be sugar beets. Also saw evidence of cotton. We think the farmers should put little signs out beside the highway for tourists like us who aren't familiar with what is growing.
WalMart was easily located after we drove through Brawley and then south on Rt. 86. There would be a delay in filling our prescription, and we were told there was a Golden Corral within walking distance. Now, how convenient is that?
We returned to Winterhaven via the much more direct I-8. We had tickets for the chicken dinner being served at our Club House, and although we weren't hungry, we enjoyed light portions of the delicious meal. That was followed by an evening of country music — we visited with a nice couple from British Columbia.
Sunday, the 4th: We signed up for another week here at the Ranch between the Cargo Muchacho Mountains and the Algodones Dunes. That says it all — this piece of the desert suits us just fine!
Happy New Year — Cal and Connie