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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Parting Shots From Valley of Fire, and An Opening Volley On Organ Pipe

Clouds have blessed us today here in Organ Pipe... way, way down on the border of Meh-hee-co.

I fully realize Marathon Man Leonard will shake his head with incomprehension when I whine that it's too hot at 73 degrees. But his "relativity reference" is Austin, Texas, while mine is Lovely Ouray... even though I grew up in these parts. Two days and counting, out on the trail... in full sun... and my skin is "well done," this in spite of SPF 950 goo, long sleeves, and layers of grime.

I feel it's only fair to warn you; a rant builds within this vessel of postcard conveyance. I will put down the "fire" for now and leave you alone to enjoy a complacent Super Sunday. BUT.... (oh boy, bite your lip Mark... bite down hard) well, (bite, you dummy!) uh, (growl, swallow hard) maybe just a teaser here, so you can mull it over and be ready to hang me in a politically incorrect effigy when I dump on a wrong that needs to be righted... something that is l-o-n-g wrong, wrong, wrong, way down here on our border with Meh-hee-co.

Is it just me, or is there not something profoundly amiss in the collective mind of "Govie," when as a country we'll go to war, invited or not, in the name of Human Rights (spelled, O-I-L, most of the time) in Middle Eastern places, and not defend our own sovereign borders with anything more than a wink and nod? 

Ladies and Gents, one of our finest National Parks is under siege, it's being held hostage from the citizens of, and visitors to, this great country. Govie has given up. It's too much of a political "hot potato" for the fast growing "block" of voters. Park Rangers are being forced piece by piece, acre by acre, to shut down and out from our view and enjoyment the best of Organ Pipe National Park. For almost ten years now we've used a garden hose on a problem that needs a fire hose. "Danger: Keep Out" signs now litter all but the restricted core of this amazing Park. The most powerful nation on the earth has given up and let some of it's prime land be controlled by another country, and it's starting to piss me off!

But in the mean-well meantime, let's look at some final "Parting Shots" from Valley of Fire, a Park that is there for your complete enjoyment... a Park where you can go anywhere you want and feel safe as a babe in its mother's arms.

 We stumbled upon this blind man hiking alone except for his seeing eye dog. This in a environment where I could barely manage to remain upright. You can barely see a "cane" in his right hand... picking its way through the wash... while the dog found a smell that interested him.


  1. Rant on, Mark, right on! However, I do think the majority of that block of voters would not approve of the illegal activity in the Park anymore than anyone else. It seems the inability to separate LEGAL from ILLEGAL has mystified both our citizens and our elected officials. Why should anyone, regardless of race or national origin, be allowed to terrorize any of our borderlands while our hard working Park Rangers and Border Patrols are held hostage by political correctness? Okay, I'll stop. Aside from my own rant, I certainly did appreciate your photos of Valley of Fire. Simple amazing colors and shapes.

  2. As always, I appreciated the beautiful photography as well! And, I am equally pissed right along with you!!! But what's to be done about it? It doesn't matter who we vote for any longer. They make their fake lie promises while campaigning and then go to the city and play the party game... so there ya go. Maybe when the "new voters" figure this out like the rest of us have, they'll become just as disillusioned and take matters into their own hands... oh NO, wait! That can't be good! Never mind. I don't have an answer.

  3. Wonderful photos of Valley of Fire-- really have to get myself there someday soon.

    Spent some time in Organ Pipe and Ajo last winter. Gorgeous area, but so frustrating!!! I had driving the main tourist loop at Organ Pipe previously, and so this time while I was at Ajo, I decided to take the 4WD road down the west side of the park to explore that area with hopes of crossing down along the southern border of the park back to the highway. It all looked quite do-able on the NPS map, and even the NPS website didn't mention anything unusual.

    So, down the 25-mile washboard gravel road I went. Got into the park on the west side and continued to make my way down to the southern road. As soon as I turned, there were signs saying the road was closed due to border security issues (apparently had been closed for years ever since the NPS ranger had been killed by the drug gangs). Sure would have been nice to update the maps and website! I had no other choice but to drive the 25 mile washboard road all the way back to Ajo. Absolutely pitiful that the border (and this national park) can't be better protected.

    But on the other hand, I've heard border town violence is way down from what it was a few years ago, so wonder how many of these restrictions are still in place simply because our Fed agencies find it too bothersome to re-open those areas to the public?

    I'll look forward to your current assessment of the situation there. Such a beautiful park.

  4. I saw some openings for seasonal jobs and volunteers at Organ Pipe, but when I read about the problems there, I decided it was not for me.

  5. Immigration...a topic near and dear to my heart...and one I don't have the answers for, by any means. I'm looking forward to spending time in the border country someday and seeing it all for myself. Of course my experiences are a little more northern and midwestern. Our 2012 visit to renew Wayne's "green card" in Milwaukee included a waiting room full of an interesting variety of nationalities. One young woman was discussing her date for citizenship testing and wondering how she could schedule it around her college classes. She had a flawless midwest accent so had probably spent most of her life here yet wasn't a legal citizen yet. I could've sat there all day just to see who came and went! Be careful down there!

  6. Mark - Susan here. I'm thinking of that comment above where it may be too bothersome for the management of the park to re-open those areas. I have felt completely safe here. More safe than in Tucson, Phoenix, and most other big towns. Yep.

    Today, we went into the Visitor Center and asked where the petroglyphs in Bull Canyon were located. We were told that the scientists and management did not want to tell visitors this information. That they didn't want visitors knowing where these petroglyphs were. Yep. We really were told this. In addition, we were told that if we did find them, not to post photographs or information on the internet so that others wouldn't go there. Yep.

    We are going to find, photograph, GPS locate and put flyers throughout the campground, Why, Aho, Trip Advisor, etc.

    If the management and staff at Organ Pipe National Monument are unable to follow the purpose of what a national park/monument is... oh yea gads. It's no wonder that the Park Rangers and Volunteers don't return. I think it's best for me to just avoid the Visitor Center. Pretty sad for such an incredible place. Yep.

  7. ps. the internet connection is sooo much faster now that the primary bandwidth glutton is gone. so says Maikel.

  8. M - We've seen Organ Pipe Cactii near Ajo and enjoyed the solitude and open space there. We've never felt the urge to visit OPNM. Sometimes the cactii are not greener on the other side of the fence. -scamp

  9. It's quite a while since we visited Organ Pipe, but even then the road along the border was closed. We did one small hike to a natural arch on the loop road that was open to drive. We were put off the other hikes that were open by all the warning signs. While we were there we didn't see another soul, although it was the beginning of May and getting a bit warm.

  10. Thanks for the very beautiful photos of an amazing park.

  11. The Why/Ajo/Organ Pipe area is very familiar to us. Many great memories over the last few years. Especially like the Ajo scenic loop drive that begins near the Visitor Center. Agree with your thoughts about what is happening there. It is all made very clear by the memorial at the Visitor Center to the fellow who lost his life due to the drug violence coming across the border. What a shame for America to simply roll over on it's back & ignore the problems of border security.....

  12. Donna K,
    Thanks for your comment. Illegal immigration is one thing, drug running is another thing altogether. So far we can't stop either, but you would think there'd be a way to make both go around Organ Pipe instead of through it... so that we could use it as it was intended.

    Meow Mamma,
    Thank you. Photos in V of F are easy to take... glad you appreciate them. And I hear the campaign promises, right up till the day after election. Then promises get redefined... "What I meant by that was..."

    Thanks. We noticed that the new maps handed out at Organ Pipe do not even show the west loop road anymore... on the map it ends at the road block. But it's all hush hush... no one wants to give you a straight answer... they act like we didn't have a right to ask questions, probably because there are no good explanations. stay tuned...

    The reasons there are always openings for seasonal jobs and volunteers at Organ Pipe is that few want to come back... they are prisoners held captive in the core area and must keep looking over their shoulders. Yep... you could get on at Organ Pipe. Good that you look elsewhere tho.

    Pam and Wayne,
    The second generation... children of illegal immigrants... are caught up in the middle. Every bit as American as the rest of us. Govie committees are trying to figure out what to do with them as we speak. Again, my problem is more that we should not give up any of Organ Pipe to be used as a "pipeline" for immigration or drugs. The least we should be able to do is make them go around. Would that be so hard?

    Susan Wiseone,
    Well, that's just arrogance and hypocrisy in "high" places. It's a National Monument... created for us... in fact, we own it. To set a Park aside for our enjoyment and then act like we shouldn't go see the ancient cultural treasures is not in keeping with the mission statement of the National Parks Dept.
    Imagine if the Rangers knew where we went :))


    Ajo is a great area... we've boon docked around there. The Border Patrol presence makes a lot of dust on the backroads (cough).

    Thanks Jill... much appreciated :))

    Bayfield Al,
    Thanks for your comment. It's interesting to get another perspective as a Canadian.. Good luck selling your Class A. Folks, if you want a good deal on a used motorhome click on Al's name and go to his website The Bayfield Bunch.

  13. We also love the Ajo/Organ Pipe area and are saddened by danger signs and road closures. We boondocked out on the Scenic loop last year and our neighbor's rig was completely robbed and demolished, though the police thought it was kids from town. This was the first time we've ever been forced to leave for fear of our safety....Sad, indeed!

  14. Maybe we should all drop Sally Jewell a note while she is still a "mere CEO." ;-)

  15. Still Howlyn,
    Wow... It does sound like "kids," but still...
    It goes to show you that it can be dangerous on either side of the "fence," that illegals are by far not the only problem. thanks

    She will have her hands full, that's for sure.
    thanks Suzanne.
    note to readers, be sure to check out Suzanne's Blog... she is a good writer, an experienced traveler, and still goes to Mexico.

  16. Thanks for the kind words and plug for the blog, Mark! I take the easy way out by writing about butterflies, and leave the burning embers to you. LOL!

    I can't help but ponder the irony while you are organizing a "Take back Organ Pipe" campaign, the Mexicans are doing the same in San Miguel de Allende, trying to keep it from becoming a "Gringo colony." ;-)

    My friends in SMdA say most of the violence will stop when the rest of the country goes the way of Washington and Colorado, "growing our own." I hope I see it in my lifetime, but I am not convinced.

    Always considering John Lennon's point of view, "Imagine there's no countries...it isn't hard to do...nothing to kill or die for..."


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