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Thursday, February 7, 2013

"You Can't Touch This," Hammer Time, Break'in It Down

I am posting near "real time," less the "fire" cool to embers of "who cares, it's just one Park... down Meh-hee-co way."

We moved on from Organ Pipe to the birdwatching mecca of Madera Canyon, south of Tucson. I'm falling way behind with spotty internet connections. I promise to get back to our travels down the Colorado River corridor from Lake Mead to Parker; it is worthy territory and I am itching to share a few of it's wonders with the BCB "faithful." I think we'll return there, spend a couple of months, if not all winter, next year... boondocking, hiking, biking, and kayaking. It has an enormous amount of lake and river water, beautifying an otherwise austere volcanic desert... a landscape clash of color, concept and content. I can feel it now, tugging at our collective boot, bike and Kayak heart. So stay tuned for that; 'nuff said.

Storm clouds gather on the California side of Lake Mohave. Photo shot near Kathryn's Landing, Arizona.
We've been sustained by Postcard Landscapes, from water and mountains in the Colorado River corridor, to cacti and mountains in Organ Pipe. Who says you can't "eat" the scenery? Bobbie and I met our wandering friends, Susan and Maikel Wise, in Organ Pipe's campground five years ago almost to the day. The "Wiseone's were on their first treadmill "sabbatical," while we were on our our third. The dejavu of meeting up on the fifth anniversary right where we first crossed paths was not lost on me. They were waiting for us in space 20 this time, and had a couple of mischievous adventures in mind... "out of bounds" adventures. Hail to the "Wise," and their miscreant mantra, "Rules are for Sissies."

If you missed the previous post, "Parting Shots," now would be a good time to go back and read it because I'm going to take up here were I left off there: "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!"

This road Off Limits to citizens and tourists... but not illegals.

We have been to Organ Pipe many times, the first being March of 1986. I only know that because Bobbie is the "reminderer." "That's where we watched Haley's Comet!" Ah, yes... now I remember. Haley's Comet streaked across our star glutted black dome, an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience. Organ Pipe is so out of the way... free of light and air pollution. Night skies are as clear and sharp as Carl Sagan's Cosmos photographs, (R. I. P.), as if you're looking through a magnifying glass when compared to a "city" backyard. Where did you observe Haley's Comet? 

I'll page through photos of our bike ride with the Wise-ones while I get this post off my chest. We were on the second day of a quest for the Holy Grail of Cacti, Senita!  Susan seemed desperate to get it checked it off her Junior Ranger "list."  Evidently, one is never too old to be a Junior Ranger. The irony is, we had to go "out of bounds" to find them... you know, into the "Twilight Zone," that area we've given back to Meh-hee-co, to use as a "highway" to the good ole U. S. of A..

Let me be clear, before a few do gooders get all ragged out... thinking I'm an "intolerant" SOB, as well as other political blasphemies. First and foremost, we are all immigrants, even Native American Indians. They got here first, though, by a long shot, and that should count for more that it does. But we can't re-write, nor, apparently, re-right history. All I can say is that I hope oodles of oil and natural gas is discovered under the God Forsaken Reservation land we stuck most of them on.

My beef, this post, is not about the illegal immigration or drug pipeline from Mexico. Do I think something needs to be done about it? Yes. Will it ever happen? I have my doubts, because it has become a political issue. Let's face it, if one wants to be President of the United States they best not piss off the fastest growing block of voters out there. As an aside, unless "things" change within the Republican Party, I doubt there will be another Conservative President. That's how important and "hot" the "potato" is. You can just kiss our two party system goodbye. Where was I... oh yeah, "where's the beef?"

Politics aside, my "beef" is with how Organ Pipe is being managed (read, "mismanaged"). I imagine somewhere in a National Parks Ivory Towered building in Washington DC, somebody brought up the subject of illegals using Organ Pipe as a Highway to the good life... and "High" life. After all, it is our demand for "drugs" that creates the ideal petri dish for growing the problem of drugs in the USA. I imagine the meeting... called after a Park Ranger was gunned down in the Organ Pipe-line desert... the "motion to close," followed by a show-of-hands vote. "All in favor of closing all but the core of Organ Pipe? Opposed? Motion carries." However it happened, it happened. Somewhere it was decided that the best solution is to give up our Park instead of fighting to keep it completely open for the people it belongs to, US.

Illegal Bikers!!!! Susan and Bobbie.

It's un-American, to concede defeat and give the bulk of Organ Pipe back to Mexico. It may not be the perfect analogy, but there is a Bear/human problem in the Parks of Glacier and Yellowstone. Still, one can still hike to their hearts content most of the time... the exception being a bear attack where someone gets mauled and dies. The Rangers close that area until they can find and ID the bear, "deal with it," and then the trail is reopened.

Danger is everywhere out here in the west... rattlesnakes, bear, mountain lions... moose, as big as your god damned car... cliffs, avalanches... cold and heat that can kill you in less than an hour. But we don't close Parks because of these problems for they are the very reasons why we flock to them... to see what it was like before things got paved and over populated. Is it dangerous? Somewhat, yes. People die every year... mostly "stupid" people. A Ranger at Organ Pipe said that the majority of rattlesnake bites in Arizona are on the arms of young males with alcohol levels above .10 in their blood. Women get bitten the least, and it's usually on the lower leg. That said, sometimes trouble finds us, even when we're doing everything "by the book." What are we going to do, stay in the house? Quit driving? Stop hiking? I think not.

Articles of clothing, food containers and water jugs litter the washes of Organ Pipe. Footprints... all heading north.

Our biggest thrill is to hike Glacier's backcountry during Fall when the Grizzly's are active. We can't explain the attraction., it's just who we are... curious, mildly addicted adrenaline junkies who refuse to settle for a tedious existence, as seen and lived through a "window of safety." We find purpose, excitement, and reasons for living in the west's backcountry. Some find it in the lab, history books, or in teaching. All good. Just do something.

Water jugs and clothing at the entry to a homemade shelter for sleeping or ?

What should we do about Organ Pipe? I, for one, think, whatever it takes to open the Park in its entirety. Why not (ahem) "encourage" would be trespassers to go around the parks borders. Why not use the National Guard, if we have to... enforce, for a pitiful few miles, the rule of law. Station enough manpower along our fence/border to deter, if not outright prohibit, Organ Pipe from being used as a "pipeline." Make it stupid and dangerous enough that even fools would go around it. Hell, put turnstiles on both sides of the Parks boundaries, if we must, to encourage their use. Either go around or get busted, buster.

We found a couple of bikes left behind... tires flat, rims bent. They were cheap Walmart bikes... not built to withstand the rigors of backcountry travel. These barricades were placed by the park to keep vehicles from traversing the washes. Can you believe it?

One thing we noticed on our bike ride through some of the wash/corridors of illegal traffic was numerous "humanitarian aid" water jugs left to water the "traffic." They were even dated so as to indicate freshness. What kind of message does that send? "Oh, it's against the law for you to be here, but since we can't enforce it have a drink on us." Maybe we should put the water jugs around the outside Organ Pipe's boundaries... hell, put food out there too, for all I care... give them a ride! But not in the park!

Why not post signs, saying in no uncertain terms, "You are likely to die of thirst, heat stroke, and/or get arrested if you use Organ Pipe to get into the USA! Please go around to either side and use the turnstiles. We have placed food and water at various rest stops for your refreshment. Thank you :) Have a nice trip!"

As for finding a Senita Cacti for Susan, well, we were forced to go out of bounds to find them. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do and break the rules to force a change... AKA, Rosa Parks.

After many miles, traversing deep wash corridors of illegal traffic, thorough some of the most beautiful denied landscapes you will never see, we finally found a Senita! Then another, and another, and another. One particular small basin was full of them, abruptly so. 

We were also on the lookout for an Elephant Tree, which I thought this to be (above). Alas... it was not.

The Senita differs from the Organ Pipe cactus in that it has far fewer segments, five to seven, as opposed to twenty to thirty. The thorns on the tips of the "arms" are soft and resembles an "old man's beard" and are sometimes referred to as "Old Man's Beard Cactus."

So much of Organ Pipe is now off limits to visitors... some of it what I consider to be the most beautiful like in the photos on this post. If something isn't done, this is as close as you will get to seeing what's out there.

This road is maintained, but off limits. It takes you to where the Senita Cactus are. We kept an eye out for Border Patrol and Rangers... but no one came. We had it all to ourselves, well, us and the illegals.

Off limits, Bobbie.

Off limits.

Back to the pavement... just before the new gate that closes off a major western portion of Organ Pipe.


  1. Awesome pictures , thanks for sharing your journey.

  2. we send troops to fight and die defending the borders of Aborigines that have been fighting for ten thousand years and hate us for interfering with their "Culture".

    Yet here at home Park Rangers, Ranchers and Border Patrolmen are murdered by armed, foreign trespassers, illegally violating our borders... and we do NOTHING.

    Armed foreign violation of a national border is Invasion isn't it? Refusal by our "Leadership" to defend our borders, to abandon our land, to even run away from the fight is; Cowardice in the Face of the Enemy.

    I say bring the 82nd and 101st airborne back from whatever futile attempt at stopping aborigines from butchering each other they are currently deployed to... and park 'em on that border, from California to Galveston... to do what they are SUPPOSED TO DO.

    Give the commanding generals one, single, order... Use your forces to protect and defend the sovereignty of our National Border...

    I promise you... that border would suddenly become peaceful and serene.

    Will it happen? Not a chance. This is becoming a nation of; "whining He was mean to me... boo hoo... poor poor me... not responsible for anything, but I'm due everything you have so gimmee gimmee... watching their Freedom wither, stunningly unperceptive sheeple"

  3. Halley's Comet...Seattle overlooking Shilshole Bay...Rather shocked there were only 20-30 of us watching..It only shows up every 76yrs!!..What some reality show too important to miss???
    The rest of your thoughts? I agree but have to try and keep the blood pressure down..
    Ride Safe.

  4. Thanks for giving me the virtual tour of the road I had wanted to drive last year only to discover it "closed". So, it does indeed sound like they closed the road for valid reasons a few years ago, but then the bureaucracy forgot to open it up again later. Arghh.

    I also wonder if chronic budget cuts in our Parks system is giving us a glimpse of further closures to come (in not just Organ Pipe). I recall a very troubling article a few months ago talking about how some drug cartels have now taken over remote parts of national forests to grow their drugs, etc rather than the trouble of having to sneak it across the border. All because we have insufficient staffing to sufficiently guard our parks and national lands.

    Maybe increasing citizen "patrols" into these areas is indeed the answer!

  5. Some comments, not arguments.

    Nickel to a dime, you were observed on the closed roads. Just not worth the trouble to reveal the hide and write a incident report. Rangers are scarce now.

    I am not sure an Army division could close the border even if they held hands. Take most any section of the border area. Hundreds of Border Patrol in cars, trucks, quads, helicopters, fixed wing, blimps, and drones in a 50 mile section. They continue to cross daily.

    The people we call Mexicans, are also Native Americans. They just wound up on the other side of a border after being here for a few thousand years.

    Been all around Lake Mojave, but never to it. Looks great.

    Storm clouds gather on the California side of Lake Mohave
    Well, how about
    In Nevada, not Arizona
    What does it matter?
    What does it matter?

  6. Few thoughts here...

    1. I just wanna be able to see the senita cactus.
    2. I just wanna find the elephant tree.
    3. I don't wanna find dead bodies in the wash from dehydration.
    4. I don't wanna pay $8 for a pint of strawberries. Cross that out. Strawberries taste bland these days. Blueberries.
    5. I think the biologists want the backcountry for themselves. Preserve and protect for the enjoyment of the park biologists.

  7. Another insightful, true, and makes-me-want-to-do-something-about-it blog. I'm so happy to hear you broke the law and went for it.

    However, I failed to get "Oregon" Pipe usage three or more times. Did I miss something? Does Oregon somehow figure into this? Oregon Trail didn't go close...Oregon Territory wasn't close. Was it a joke? A bunch of typos?

    The proofreader in me went nutso.

  8. Travel Bug Susan
    I'm putting you first even tho your comment was last.
    Thanks for catching the misspelling of about half the "Organs" in "Organ Pipe." whew... I'd love to blame my spellchecker, but noooo, It was my oversight, in a rush to get a post up before batteries died or Verizon dropped out. I did proof read it once... which makes it ever worse :((. So, Thank You!
    BTW... FYI... it will happen again, too, so feel free to point it out :)) and thanks for you comment. I think I got them all corrected...

    Geo and Suz,
    Thanks... It was fun, and HOT!

    CowBoy Brian,
    Thanks. I can always count on you for "honest advice" when it comes to Govie Problems :)
    I see you are in Tucson... maybe we'll cross paths again.

    Klb explores,
    It is enough to bring one to tears :(

    Up River Dave,
    I'm surprised you could see up in Seattle with that "thick" humid atmosphere :)) Stay on the Blood Pressure meds and let it rip :))

    You are welcome :))
    Insufficient funds is a growing problem... something's got to "change." It seems like a good job for a peacetime military, if peace ever breaks out again...

    Delta Mike,
    I know we were observed by Illegals... tracks cover our tracks on the way out. Govie has spy cameras hanging from tethered balloons... I'm sure he saw us.
    and it was Nevada... thanks! I really blew the details on this post. sorry :((
    and thanks for your comment :))

    Then I want to be a park biologist !!!!

  9. Perhaps if we spent less money sending troops overseas to places we often aren't welcome? If nothing else it would help solve our budgetary problems and perhaps money would start flowing back into the parks. There must be a "hidden" reason this portion of the border seems so spectacularly undefended. Crooked dealings somewhere between the two governments? Depending on which drugs are being smuggled legalizing marijuana might ease up the drug trade problem. As for the water jugs, perhaps nutso "do-gooders" are visiting the park and leaving them out like the crazy people who leave out food for 50 stray cats instead of letting nature solve the problem of too many stray cats.

  10. Pam and Wayne,
    I'm going to take some flack for this, but why not legalize ALL drugs! Bingo... crime from drug lords, gangs, dealing, prison load, goes down. Use the tax money for education (against drug use) and to free up Organ Pipe from some of the "traffic!"
    Nice comment!

  11. Pam and Wayne,
    I'm going to take some flack for this, but why not legalize ALL drugs! Bingo... crime from drug lords, gangs, dealing, prison load, goes down. Use the tax money for education (against drug use) and to free up Organ Pipe from some of the "traffic!"
    Nice comment!

  12. No, no, no. Legalization and then taxing will only drive the cost up that much more. The biggest problem with illegal drugs now is their cost and the associated crimes that are committed to buy them. Taxation will just make the problem worse.

    We must make all drugs FREE! Get anything you want and as much as you want from the government FREE DRUG DISPENSARY. People can then get as high as they want and not have to steal to do so.

  13. I had to come back and reread this post. We spent two days and 18 miles of hiking and finally found the senita cactus yesterday!! We have some of those same exact photos of the same cactus. I was the one that just had to see them. The whole park is now open to the public. The ranger said they looked at the visitors problems with the illegals and decided that there really wasn't a problem so they decided to open the whole park. That wash with the cement barriers also had a torn tire, front fender and several black water jugs and items of clothing. Who knows how old they were. We were the only ones out there except for five Border Patrol and one ranger on horse back. The ranger pointed to the cactus thank goodness!!! It was this post that sparked my interest in finding that cactus...John thanks you:)


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