Saturday, March 13, 1999
I had the rental car all packed and ready to go this morning and headed out soon after 7:00 am. I wanted to take the old US-89 down to Sahuarita instead of I-19. This is now called the Old Nogales Highway. It's in fairly good shape as more people are living along it as Tucson spreads south of the airport. The road starts near the Tucson International Airport and runs along the west side of it.
Soon it's running past old mobilehomes and junkyards. This is the shabby areas that show up around the edges of cities. Soon there are better homes and open desert areas. There are also quite a few pecan groves along both sides of the road. I pass the Madera Canyon turnoff which is in the Coronado National Forest in the Santa Ritas. Tucson is surrounded by four mountain ranges. On the north are the Catalinas, on the west are the Rincons, along the edge of which is the east section of Saguaro National Park, and on the south are the Santa Ritas. These three ranges are part of the Coronado National Forest along with quite a few other ranges in southern Arizona. To the west are the Tucson Mountains, much of which are part of Tucson Mountain Park, which is a county park. On the west side of the Tucson Mountains is the west section of Saguaro National Park and Arizona Sonora Desrt Museum.
Before long the planned retirement communities in Green Valley are coming up. How sad to live where there are no children. No one but people just like you. I cross I-19 and drive north to Anamax Park in Sahuarita where the volkswalk starts.
The route follows roads in Sahuarita and Green Valley up to the Titan Missile Museum where the checkpoint is. I don't go in today but we went to the museum several years ago and it's a little scary. The technology is so old now. They still used transistors. All the Titan missiles are deactivated now but I wonder how feeble what is "defending" us now will look in a few years.
I did the 10K in two hours so it was a brisk walk. I got my books stamped and headed off to Organ Pipe National Mounument. Back to Tucson on I-19 and then west on AZ-86 through the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation. This is over 100 miles of desert and only a few small towns inbetween. The road goes through Sells which is the tribal headquarters and then on to Why (don't even ask why), where I go south on AZ-85 to Organ Pipe.
It's warmer than usual this year so the campground has plenty of room. Usually this time of year they fill up about 3:00 or 4:00 pm but they don't quite fill up today. The heat and lack of flowers has cut down on the visitors. There are still plenty of motorhomes but I'm not the only tenter. It's a nicely run campground and it's kept clean though sparse (no showers) and they restrict the generators to only a couple of hours in the afternoon.
After setting up my tent, I walk the 1 1/2 miles to the visitor center and watch the film about Organ Pipe and check out the exhibits. In the evening I go to talk in the ampitheatre. I love going to the little talks given at all the national parks. I always learn something new and enjoy seeing the other people that are at the campground. Afterwards I just sit and watch the stars. This far away from a city you can see the milky way so clearly. It really looks likes someone just spilled stars across the sky. The campground is so quiet and dark it's great. I can remember when people would light up their campsite like it was a stadium. People don't do that anymore and seem to enjoy the quiet more.