Tucson & Southern Arizona (April 22-23, 2021)

There was a bit of bittersweetness as I departed from Yuma: the trip had found a midpoint of sorts and I was headed home.

Without Route 66 as the blueprint, I set my course around a few hastily-chosen and conveniently-located cities and landmarks. The first leg was to Tucson, via Saguaro National Park. The theme of ‘going all the way to but not actually entering a point of interest’ (as begun by my near misses at Petrified Forest and Meteor Crater on my way to Flagstaff) was continued here: I was under the correct impression that it was National Park Week, but under the incorrect impression that that gave free entry to all parks all week (it was just the first day). Once again feeling that a quick drive-through wasn’t worth the $25 admission, I took some pictures in the Visitor’s Center parking lot and continued on my journey.

In Tucson I stayed at a cool and quirky spot I’d found on Hipcamp called El Pais Motel. While it was a motel with proper rooms, now that I was making my southern route where evening temps stayed out of the 40s, I decided it was time to save a bit of money and return to the camping routine. Which was… funny in the El Pais lot. It was very windy and dusty, which makes for difficult set-up as a solo camper.

But I finally succeeded and then had an actual, open pool awaiting me. My pooltime was interrupted by a brief heart attack when I realized Ollie was no longer in the pool area– he’d found a sneaky second gate that hadn’t been shut properly. I found him by the resident chicken coop amidst the vintage trailers, but he gave chase until the nightmare culminated with him running toward the busy street just outside the property. However, the only rules he ever obeys are the rules of the road, so he stopped at the stop sign, then bolted back to the property at my ‘kennel up!’ command. Crisis averted.

The next day I took a little personal diversion: cut down to Sierra Vista, to a little apartment building I’d called home for a few months in 1989 (just long enough to welcome my first brother into the world). I was too young to have any nostalgia from the area… I thought being outside the apartment might stir up some long-forgotten memories, but it didn’t. My parents didn’t have any other points of interest in the area to suggest, so on I chugged towards New Mexico, where I’d camp in a gorgeous spot in the Organ Mountains.

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