So here I sit in a KOA near Benson, AZ. I am about half an hour away from the border. I was going to cross at Douglas/Agua Prieta, but spoke with someone today who suggested that Naco will be a better crossing as I would be avoiding a bordertown crossing.
The KOA I am sitting at is actually quite cute. A Korean couple run the place and seem to make an effort to make it very homely…almost like an old western but not in a fake way…and there is lots of amenities for tenters — this has not always been the case throughout my US travels. In many an RV park, the notion is sleeping in a tent is laughable. I know several of my readers may be questioning why I am not partaking in the “free camping” option. Largely this is because I like having access to the internet and a warm shower before bed is always nice. At his particular campsite, a shaving and showering involves a heavy dose of classical music — Stravinsky, I believe. The operators are a little quirky 😉
What have I been doing all of this time? Truth be told, I am running a little behind my intended schedule. I had it in my head that I could forego some purchases in Ontario with the expectation that they could be had cheaper in the US, and with more variety. Boy was I wrong. Traveling from MI to AZ is not like cross border shopping in Buffalo. Or using an internet order web site. Honently, it has been a real PITA to find certain things. In some case I have headed to stores that have closed their doors presumably because of bad economics. In other cases the inventory isn’t kept in stock — “we can get it in for you in a couple of days”. Even basics like underwear and socks that is beyond your basic cotton stuff — more sports/quicky dry stuff suitable for hot weather — has been reasonable hard to find. What else? I have bought a few tools which cost significantly more in terms of face value dollar amount than they would have in Ontario. Some items, such as dental floss are considerable cheaper (under $2 versus around $5, so go figure) but all in all — when I factor in the amount of searching and the among of stores that I had to visit to find what I needed, I would have probably not spent having purchased in Ontario and save a hell of a lot of time and frustration.
So a lot of the last couple of days has been focused around shopping. A few clothing items, other sundries, motorcycle gear and boots. I did find a nice pair of boots at a very small “trials” store. Trials bikes are basically very light dirt bikes w/o seat with motors that are just a little larger than chain saw motors in which you test endurance and skill climbing hills, logs, boulders and the like. Trials boots are sort of a cross between heavy duty motorcross boots and hikers — and make for reasonably good “adventure touring” boots. So I picked up a pair of Gaerne Balance (oiled) and mailed by road boots home.
I have met a lot of nice people so far. Occasionally you get a crank, or someone spouting off about how “them Mexicans are going to shoot you” or skin me alive. That said, the closer I get to the border, the more people are offering positive comments and helpful advice, routes, etc. Many have ridden motorcycles throughout the region. The further you get away from the border, the higher the fear of the border. I hate to ask some of the “locals” down here what sort of imminent demise lurks on the northern border…attack of the zombified beady eyed Canadians 😉 Anyways, of course there are some area, such as Juarez, to avoid.
I’m getting tired so will finish shortly but I should mention that I have been through some of the most beautiful territory, over the last couple of days, in my life. Within the scope of an hour or two I have seen pine trees turn into cacti, and rocky mountain turn into sand. I will not forget smell as I head down the mountain highway within what I believe was Tonto forest reserve. It took a minute but the desert smell was that of hot rocks of a sauna.
What else? At this point, with the exception of flash flood warning points, I have totally forgotten about the concept of rain. My lips are always slightly chapped and my hands become drier.
Finally, on my way down here today I ran into something that really caught me attention. I know that there is an airforce base around Tucson. I passed it at least once. On the way out of town I saw through the side of my eye what seemed to be a grave yard. What I was seeing was the tails of airplanes. While mostly keeping my eye on the road, I was also trying to make out how my planes each how had. I would say that there was between 10 and 12 places per how and I was counting the rows by the dozen. I have never seen anything like this before. There must have been a hundred, maybe event hundreds of these propeller, what I would call cargo planes. The I say the aeronautical version of an autowrecker on the other side of the road. “Excuse me. Do you happen to have the fuselage of a Somali Airlines jumbo jet?” — “Well, yes, it is your lucky day…we have one right over there”. So there was a lot composed in size of many city blocks that contain airplane parts. Whole planes, piles of wings, frames. Even collections of what looked like the noses of missiles. You should have seen the size of the concrete blocks and RVs around (kidding). Then more planes. These ones looked like modern fighter jets. Previous joke aside, while not quite cinder blocks, these did seem to be on a purpose specific supports. They may well have been decommissioned. There must have been many dozens of these planes as well. And more. I hear tell that there is an “airplane graveyard” right in the area. This may well have been it. So while I don’t have a particular interest in aeronautics (roomies — please close your ears to the last statement — blasphemy, I know) — my jaw was literally hanging open as I passed through this site.