Baja/Southern Arizona/New Mexico

When the start of a journey is as crazy as ours, I was wondering if we should postpone. We woke up at our home in Galisteo and it was 6F (-14.4C). The van did not want to start! I had an early morning appointment so by the time I got back, Paul had most things ready to go. We headed to Hwy 40 through ABQ and then hit a traffic jam and accident. No worries, we have time. But then…..our route gets diverted because of snow and we go all the way to Flagstaff before heading south. The snow is bad and goes down to a single lane for awhile. We make it to Fountain Hills and my cousin Kelly and Mark’s home. They waited to have a late dinner with us (so sweet) and we sleep parked in their driveway.

The next morning Billy and I hike/run up Sunrise Peak. Wow! So glad to finally do a trail here.

When we get back, Paul says there are more van issues and we head out after breakfast to an RV parts place and get a new water pump. Yes! It works. We head back on the road and try to find BLM land. We get stuck in some sand in California and Paul digs us out. We decide to find a better camp spot. Butterfly Dunes BLM Land has a flat camping area with pit toilets. Lots of ATV peeps there but its safe and quiets down.

Billy and I wake early while the stars are out. The dunes look shimmery and cool in the dawn light. When Paul gets up we head to the border crossing where there are no issues getting into Mexico. Head down Hwy 5 to San Felipe and stop at public beach. Billy gets his first taste of ocean water.

first beach in Baja at San Felipe

Going further we stop at La Poma, but directions took us the wrong way and again we are stuck in the sand. Luckily there are many nice folks who help us out. We park on the beach next to a palapas. We decide to have dinner there also and it was really good, fresh fish tacos and platters. The beach is excellent for shell seekers although too cold to swim.

Our next destination is Bahia de Los Angeles and Playa La Gringa. The views and access to water are perfect for free camping. (except no banos). Very windy but I do a short run with Billy on coastal trails. They remind me of the coast in Spain. We spend a good couple days exploring the beach, hiking and looking at star fish.

Paul bought a SUP board which was great to use in the bay. Billy got his first scary ride on the board but he was super brave. Paul makes pizza on the beach and we have a least one roaming coyote who likes the smell

Sunset at Playa la Gringa

Paul needs some brief internet connectivity so we head to Camp Archelon closer to the town of Bahia de Los Angeles. We camp really close to the other guests. I am not in love with this location but they do have some nice amenities like a photo show, small restaurant, wi-fi, showers (mostly cold) and banos. If you rent a hut it could be different.

Heading back north we arrive at Campo Tourista Puertocitas and I jump in the warmer water of the bay. There are natural hot springs in the rocks here. We enjoy a good soak before dinner. The town has a strange feeling. We saw an artist working on a mural and many sculptures scattered about. We heard that the economy and a hurricane caused the decline and many properties were destroyed.

We do a morning soak also and there are quite a few people there. I still would recommend if soaking is your thing. $34 dollars or 600 pesos a night. Pricey for Baja but gated, safe, nice people, and quiet in the night.

Paul and Billy in/by the beach hot springs

Again on our way North we stay one night at Betel Residence 2 which is a defunct and destroyed RV park that Rueben manages. At one point there was a shwanky club house and a swim up pool bar. Now the sand has reigned king and everything is falling apart. We were surprised that the toilets flushed in the camping area. We went on a beach adventure here to find hot springs we read about. It was a lot of fun but the springs were only tepid. Super quiet as hardly anyone was there.

The border crossing on the way back was a bit longer but not too bad. Extended drive day so we got to Picacho Peak SP late where we stayed in the over flow area. A sunset to die for! We showered in the am and shopped in Tucson before heading out to Kentucky Ranch where the race starts the next day. Super windy and colder than I would like.

Gene Dykes meets me in the morning and we head out on a 50 mile adventure. The Old Pueblo Trail Race is the oldest in Arizona and it is way harder than we both expected.

Landscape near the race, looking towards Mt. Wrightson (9456′)

We try and run together but in the end we are separated. I wait at the mid point and when Gene shows up he is bloodied but ready to head back out even after I try and talk him out of it. I again go faster and try to beat sunset which I don’t. I did manage to be the last female and Gene the overall last finisher so hooray! Paul and I sleep at race site again.

Next day we pack and head not too far over to BLM land – Las Cienegas. There are many camp sites but most are filled. We pull into one and go for a walk. You can actually go through the cow gate at the end and reach more dispersed camping. That also looked nice and a bit more private. We visit Empire Ranch and view some of their artifacts, history and trails. Paul fills the van up with water there too.

History at La Cienegas

I am in the mood for a dip in water. We hoped to camp at Patagonia Lake SP. but dogs are only allowed in day area. We have lunch and use the SUP board there. Billy goes for a ride and scares some of the birds hiding in the marshy inlets on the side of the lake. So many birds!!

In Patagonia Paul talks with RAAM legends Susan and Lon Notorangelo, still leading PAC Tours (this one seemed to mostly off-road in the surrounding part of southern AZ). Cute town and the only one “on” the Arizona Trail (the actual trail crosses a road a couple of miles out of town). A local tell us about Harshaw an old ghost town. We end up camping there for the night next to a cemetery and one old adobe home.

It was fine in the evening but a mining company, South 32, is working on the Hermosa Project right now and they started driving by early. Controversial in the area because of water rights, traffic, pollution etc.

Next we stopped in Tombstone, really a tourist place but tacky and could be fun with a bunch of friends. We didn’t stay for a gun fight show.

Bisbee has been on my radar for awhile now. An artsy old mining town that was revamped in the 60’s and is still going through changes. We loved the stairs, art, shops and interesting people.

Paul looked up an Ardour user and we had a delicious Vietnamese dinner at Thuy with Jordan, his wife Nila and two sons Sequoia and Tanha. We park our van outside their home for the night. Steam Punk design and some really cool trailers in the back yard that they created and were shown at the Eclipse Festival. Lots of dogs and two puppies for Billy Goat to play with. Good conversations and budding new friendships.

Wake up a bit late a do a short morning walk. You can see the border wall in the distance. Boo. More morning conversation and a yummy breakfast. We say our goodbyes and head to Chiricahua National Monument. Paul and I do a short 3.8 mile hike on the Echo Canyon loop. Spectacular rock formations and that glowed as the sun was going down through the canyon.

No more available camping so we go just outside the park and down a forest road (very washboarded) about 5 miles and camp next to a dry river bed. Many dispersed campers.

Not wanting to drive (bounce) out the 5 miles, Billy and I do a morning run and meet up with Paul at the end. Now to journey home, but not without a soak. Riverbend in TOC is completely full so we go back to Faywood Hot Springs near City of Rocks SP. Paul enjoys the drive on a long dirt road called Whitewater, that cuts out going up to Silver City.

60mph on this dirt road. Whee!

Arriving in early afternoon, Paul soaks most of the day while I soak, nap, hike a bit with Billy. Very funky place, clothing optional, peacocks, stone ring and star chair and places for tents, RVs, vans, and cabin rentals. The whole place could use a bit of polish but we appreciate its tenacity.

Heading home was uneventful. A quick stop in ABQ for late lunch at Poki Poki Cevicheria an interesting Asian fusion place. Paul shops at Whole Foods, one accident on I25 north with a delay, and then the quiet roads heading to our home in Galisteo. Ahhhh….