With great reluctance I left Organ Pipe. I decided to head towards Tucson to do some much needed shopping, and to be somewhere that I could get TV to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday.
As I was leaving I debated whether to stop in the town of Ajo as it was about 20 miles out of the way. In the early 1980’s my sister lived in Ajo as she had married a guy from there. I remember visiting her and thinking it was the most remote place on earth, a dusty company town that was dominated by a gigantic copper mine. At the time the copper mine there was supposed to be the largest in the world. The mine closed in the 1990’s and given how remote it was I wondered what state the town would be in.
I am glad I decided to visit as the town had much more character than I remembered and actually seemed to be thriving. It is one of the oldest settlements in Arizona having been founded in 1854, one year after the land was purchased from Mexico. The town is centered on a typical Spanish style town square, common in Mexico and New Mexico. It is small but very well preserved and charming.
Since the mine closed it looks like the town has become a small artists colony. Since it was Saturday there was a small farmers market with local artists, and some baked goods, but not a lot of farm produce. There is also a antique and art store around the corner from the square that was interesting.
Next to the antique store was a sign saying do not miss the artists ally, so I turned down to check it out. There were some interesting wall murals down the ally, and I ended up spending about 20 minutes walking the ally even though it was only 30 yards long.
Finally it was time to head out to Tucson. As I was crossing the Tohono O’Odham Reservation which is the second largest Reservation in the US there was a surprising amount of traffic. It turns out this weekend is the annual tribal rodeo and festival. I passed the rodeo grounds and was tempted to stop for the day but pressed on instead.
I spent the rest of the day in one of the busiest Costcos I have ever seen, and the military grocery at the Air Force Base in Tucson. Tonight I am parked on the Air Force Base dry camping.