After leaving Tucson, we made a quick hop over to Ajo, Arizona to see Organ Pipe National Monument. Seeing that this was one of our shorter travel days at 136 miles, we thought we would do a little exploring after we set up camp. As we started to drive away from our campsite, the tire pressure warning indicator came on in the Escape. Well, Ajo isn’t exactly a booming metropolis, so we asked the campground owner where we could find a tire store. They suggested the used tire shop down the street. The business consisted of a well worn building filled with old equipment and a bevy of used tires. It was run by an older Hispanic gentleman and his wife, who happened to be eating their lunch at a combination desk/kitchen table/parts counter. I immediately could sense that this guy had been here for years and knew his stuff. 😉. He jacked the car up, took the wheel off and proceeded to dunk it in an old claw foot bathtub filled with dirty water. It didn’t take long before he found the leak, which actually was from a failed patch that we had done in Kentucky. He explained that it was too close to the sidewall and would never hold long term, so I had him plug it and went off looking for a new tire. There was a Napa parts store close by and he explained to me that the closest tire dealers were in Phoenix. After a few phone calls, I located an identical Goodyear SR/A at a Goodyear store in Goodyear, Arizona, of all places. So off we went on an 80 mile journey to Goodyear.
After paying for the tire, I couldn’t help but ask Nile the store manager if there was a connection between the town’s name and the tire company. He explained that the city was named after the business, and that the store we were standing in was one of the first Goodyear tire stores. He showed us an old photograph on the wall of the building in its early years, which looked like not much more than a 1920’s era gas station. Over time, it had morphed into the full service auto center it is today. Back in 1916, Goodyear purchased a large amount of land in the area to grow cotton, which was used in tires back in those days.
They eventually build this aerospace facility there, which manufactured blimps and airframes. All of this amazing history we might have never known, were it not for that low tire pressure warning! We drove the 80 miles back to Ajo, making what was our shortest travel day of this trip our longest. 😊
The next day, our friends Jeanne and Keith drove down from Mesa, so we could explore Organ Pipe National Monument together. We met them at the 2014 Fall RV Dreams Rally and had lunch with them last April in Junction, TX. It was great to see them again! Our first stop was at the Kris Eggle Visitors Center.
It was named for National Park Ranger Kris Eggle, who was killed in a shootout in the park with Mexican drug smugglers in 2002. Kris was a Cadillac, Michigan native, and was previously a ranger at Sleeping Bear Dunes.
Stocked up on information, we set out to explore the park. We chose the 21 mile Ajo Mountain Drive as our first trip of the day.
It didn’t take long before we found a crested Organ Pipe cactus…
…and our second Western Diamodback rattlesnake of the trip!
This double arch was perched high up on a mountain ridge.
This unique Saguaro caught our eye also.
The blooms were close enough to get a good look at. Amazingly, a bee had descended into this bloom as I prepared to take this photo. It completely disappeared into the flower!
Along the way, we saw this unusual outcropping. What does it remind you of?
After the Ajo Mountain Drive, we decided to go down and take a look at the border.
Wow. This was not the friendly border we had experienced in Big Bend last year.
At a few points, the border fence snaked up the hillsides. After driving a few miles along it, we decided we had seen enough. We headed back to Ajo to check out a little more of the town.
We toured the Immaculate Conception Church, with its colorful stained glass. We also visited the town plaza, although most of the businesses surrounding it were empty.
That didn’t matter, as we had a great day with Keith and Jeanne!
Next up: California. Stay tuned to see what we discovered!
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