No, not that one….the one you’ve probably never heard of – Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. This has been our home for the last three nights. Boondocking in the truest sense of the word. There is Nothing out here, and in the 80 or so campsites spread out in many square miles, we saw only about ten campers.
Upon our arrival, we checked in at the Visitor Center for guidance as to a spot where we might be able to land the Fireball. It appears that many of the roads require high clearance vehicles, which we certainly don’t have. Good guidance directed us to site 36, with a magnificent view of Boboquivery, the sacred mountain. It’s amazingly quiet here (with the exception of the generator of our neighbors about 3/4 mile down the road). Coyotes park themselves right at the edge of our clearing every night and begin barking. Soon, the single coyote voice becomes two or three. It keeps Jezzy on edge, for sure – she’s happy to be moving on after sleeping with one wary eye open every night.
The NWR is a place of strange, remote beauty. Golden prairie grasses blow in the wind, and naked mesquite trees break up the prairie. Like many areas of the Southwest, the story of the land here has been ranching, overgrazing, drought, and severe erosion once the rains began again. Stripped of the protection provided by the prairie grass, floodwaters carved deep trenches through the valley. Mesquite trees were planted by the ranchers to halt erosion, but they quickly became an invasive nuisance themselves, competing with the grass for scarce water resources. On and on, the cycle repeated itself. Remnants of the old ranching days are still visible, although most of the barbed wire has been removed to facilitate the re-establishment of an antelope herd.But, it is gorgeous here. We had miles and miles of gravel and dirt roads to explore on our mountain bikes. Often, the only people we would see every day were Border Patrol units, of which there were many. Helicopters and patrol planes are a constant presence. Strangely, we saw no wildlife. A few scattered birds, and tracks that we believe may have been javalina. Perhaps this slithery track was made by a snake – perhaps a rope dragging from a vehicle. (Look right in the center – between the tire track marks).We cycled and hiked for three solitary days. Before our arrival, we loaded up with extra drinking water, and made sure our tank was full as well. A pleasant surprise was finding that mesquite wood makes excellent campfires. It burns long and slow, with little tending needed.Guided hikes are offered in nearby Brown Canyon two Saturdays each month, so we signed up for one in mid-February. This is an area we haven’t hiked before, so we are looking forward to new sights and sounds next month.
OK, now a couple of bitchy points. I understand that some folks smoke. OK. But, is it SO damned hard to throw your butts in the firepit? Quit throwing them wherever you damn well please!
Another thing…..there are no toilets or waste facilities here. You pee and poop in the desert. But, do you think that means that you leave your nasty toilet paper (and whatever it’s covering up) laying around? Gawd. Get a grip, people. Get a shovel.
Whew! I’m over that. We’re moving on to Patagonia Lake State Park, in Patagonia, AZ on Monday. This is a well-known spot for birders, and we’re hoping to see a few species we haven’t seen before, and learn a bit as well. We hate saying farewell to our peaceful site here, but still are anxious to an area in which we have only passed through on bicycles in the past.