As long as I can remember I loved trips to Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. We lived a mere 70 miles north of the Mexican border and the ever-changing City of Nogales. We had traveled through on our way to Guaymas many times when I was a child but only stopped long enough to obtain a visa and move on. It seemed as soon as we crossed the border, life immediately changed.
We often crossed at night so I had to strain to see the city as dimly lit buildings flashed past the open truck window. Delicious smoke from open fire grills and outdoor stoves made me want to stop and stay with the families. Later my older sister would be allowed to take a high school trip with her friends and returned with colorful stories and fancy souvenirs.
It would be years until I would be old enough for my parents to let me go on my own. Nogales offered just what I needed as a teen in the 70’s. Leather shops, blankets hanging in the sidewalks, colorful wood carvings and ceramics everywhere. Now mixed with the delicious smell of Mexican food and firewood was leather, wood and hot blankets in the sun.
Since then we have made several friends, visited houses on the cliffs, stayed too long, not long enough…Nogales. I love the smells of this city. We found a Cantina on a back road with chicken cooking on a grill outside and the smell was AMAZing! There were many locals waiting in line for their order. A friendly man saw me taking pictures and came out to tell us that yesterday the streets were flooded with 5 or 6 meters of rain. He showed us the pictures of the arches across the street barely above the waterline. I didn’t get his pictures but below is the picture of the approaching storm. We are all hoping it would not flood like yesterday. Shops were ready with sandbags and everyone was optimistic. It seems Nogales has grown up right along with me. Medical tourism is now a large source of income. Pharmacies and dental offices line the streets where blankets once hung over sidewalks. Medication may cost less than half here. My favorite dentist is here. We like to wander before and after appointments. Of course one MUST stop at La Roca to eat.
La Roca Entrance to the courtyard.
The plaza is cool and inviting. Bright Colors and art adorn the sidewalks.Walking back over the bridge we are above the lines of cars crossing the border from Mexico into the USA.There are still some tourist shops. These young men played dominoes to pass the time during the slow summer season. The intense one on the right is winning. Curios still line the streets as traffic leaves Mexico to enter the US.Old meets new.
There is a feeling when I cross the border through the turnstyle, walking on slick tile, then the bricks, past the chatter of the taxi drivers, toward the main street of Obregon. Although the city changes with the needs of the tourists, the people and the city we love stays the same. Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.
Traveling east on I 10 from Tucson there is a MIGHTY unusual sight. Miles and miles of train engines coupled together. They have been there for months.
Did I say miles? YES it’s miles. They stand like regal soldiers and like faces, no two seem to be the same. Some carry scars and scrapes & some polished to pampered perfection.
We have seen this sight several times over months and each time I wonder at the magnitude of the meandering yellow line.
I asked a railroad man why these giants of metal and deisel have been exiled to the dry AZ desert. It seems sad that the once proud engines have been retired as they are no longer needed. Knowing this felt lonely as I wander along the tracks listening to the wind creak between them like metal whispers.
Pondering this idea and feeling watched, I touch them one by one and imagine their journey. It seems like I have been walking a long time to find the end and beginning.Soon I come to a bridge that I can cross under. I cautiously approached the underpass and find this graffiti which confirms everything.
Suddenly a swarm of wasps from the largest nest I have ever seen attacks. Wasps make excellent train engine guards.
I couldn’t help the opportunity to lie on the tracks in front of a train just this one time as I say goodbye.
We planned several days to explore Zion and still not enough time. Choosing to enter from the East end of the park was a great decision for us. The RV site located less than a mile from the entrance was much less crowded than the Hotels and camping areas to the west.
I would recommend the Hi-Road Campground for convenience and surrounding beauty.
However, a rake and a little maintenance would go a long way. WiFi only in the laundry room/showers only and sites were not policed for trash and debris. Even though conveniently located just off the highway, the traffic simply stops around 8pm when the National Park closes. Very dark and quiet. Great for a cozy fire & stargazing.
Hiking, hiking, hiking for all skill levels. Starting at the visitors center, and with the help of some knowledgable park rangers, we were able to find exciting and challenging trails.
On one of the trails we were approached by a barefoot young man and his very friendly dog named Bogart. We chatted for a while learning he was from Maryland and how sad he was that he had to be back at work in 10 days. We played with Bogart and listened to his stories about traveling across the US in an RV aloneand the people he met along the way. He gave us directions up the dry riverbed to a lovely area. We said our goodbyes and headed out.
About half way through the hike under a ledge we saw a piece of paper flapping in the breeze on a jar full of green buds and flakes. It had rained the day before so we knew the note was freshly placed. G investigated and the note said “From Me to You” Inside the note went on “Trainwreck, use at your own risk! ENJOY!” We laughed and surmised that our new friend fashioned himself as some sort of modern-day Johnny Appleseed, and whatever “Trainwreck” was he wanted to share. We left it for the next person to discover.
A storm moved in the next day creating an eerie fog near the peaks of the mountains.
We were excited to see the water in action. Whichever one of us was driving the passenger was on waterfall patrol.
Sometimes we are lead to a place and we don’t know why. West of the park we pulled in to discover the Fort Zion Virgin Trading Post.
I have to say it was one of our most colorful stops! We enjoyed the quirky buildings outside. They even have a petting zoo. It is a definite must see!! Be sure to save time for some Homemade Ice Cream after a yummy lunch at the restaurant.
We asked about the area and were introduced to the Owner, Andy. We talked for about 90 minutes and were fascinated by his interesting stories. One I can share was about the Coyote Dance. The indigenous people of the area believe that on full moons Coyote’s gather high on a certain mesa and dance in a circle to celebrate their strength and victories. Andy and a friend were hunting on top of a mesa in the area and came across disturbed ground in a circle around a some brush. He whipped out his phone and showed us pictures of the circle and zoomed in on what surely seemed to be coyote footprints.Here’s the coincidence; One of G’s favorite artists is Robbie Robertson to whom he listens every morning during workouts. His favorite song is Coyote Dance. <Click on the link to listen.Ahhh Beautiful Zion, I will see you again.
As many times as I have been to the South Rim, hiked down in to and rafted through the Grand Canyon, I had never been to the North Rim. I’m so glad we took the time. It is truly hard to explain the experience of such a wonder. We started by just relaxing and mapping out our hiking day at the Grand Canyon Lodge viewing patio. Plan on spending some down time here!
Someone pointed out a peregrine falcon soaring over head. At one time there were only 70 in existence. Now thanks to the efforts of the National Park Service conservation there are over 400.
A tourist bus exploding with nylon tracksuits &oversized visors poured out just as we started down the trail This interesting lady had just the hat for the occasion!
I recommend taking a lunch and eat at one of the high tables on the observation deck. We did and enjoyed the view and the fresh air. The lines for the one restaurant can be very long and lots of people were eyeballing my hoagie and pasta salad. We decided to head out to Cape Royal. On the way we witnessed the devastation of a forest fire from years ago. Young Aspen trees have taken over where Ponderosa Pine trees once stood. Soon the burned areas of the North Rim will be covered with lush Aspen trees. I was so Excited to see Window Rock! I have always wondered where it was. Walking on top of it is interesting. There is a 3′ wide by 4′ long rock to walk over to the point. Both sides are straight down for a very long way. We noticed many people waiting on more solid ground for their friends. No matter how their friends coaxed they wouldn’t venture out. Having never heard of Cape Royal I thought it was probably rocks that looked like a castle. I was soooo wrong. Cape Royal made me cry. We walked along the twisted juniper path bundled in jackets because we were near 9000 feet elevation and there is still snow on the ground. The people coming toward us on the path were silent. Most smiled and nodded. Thinking perhaps it was trail etiquette we stayed quiet too. About a half mile later we turned a corner to a 270-degree view like I cannot describe.I couldn’t move. Just as I gasped a cold breeze pushed extra air into my lungs. My eyes filled with tears while my mind tried to accept this view. No picture can capture that moment. I tried.
We stayed for quite a while. I wish I could stay forever.
On our way down we wanted to shout to the people coming up the path -“just wait! It’s so beautiful! You’re gonna CRY!” Instead we were silent, smiled knowingly and nodded.
I have an unreasonable fear of bridges.
This includes bridge like structures such As the Eiffel Tower; which G points out stress cracks and rusty bolts holding thousands of tourists a day. It’s like Gabriel Iglesias says about when a 400 pound person is getting on an elevator and we begin to calculate weights of the passengers.
The Navajo Bridge is now abandoned to cars which does not make me feel safer. I know that engineers spend their lives calculating the weights and measures on these projects. That’s why I started this by saying my fear is unreasonable. Now this bridge is an attraction to take pictures like this:
I realize I am about half way and think I can always jump to the emerald water below if the bridge under my feet gives way. The heros of ALL action movies hang on to the correct piece of rope/wood/steel and swing to safety. Only bad guys fall to their deaths. Then I see this sign which makes me question everything.
Perhaps the jump isn’t survivable so I hold on tightly to the rail and distract myself with the locks couples put on bridges now as a symbol of their love. I do NOT want to put a love lock on the bridge because the engineers didn’t plan on that extra weight did they lovers?
Holding onto the rail I find this etched from 2010.
I know there is a story here so I Google the name. Good to know he survived.
There’s a tale to tell that ends with a night gathering of friends under clear desert skies & a crackling fire. We are here to celebrate a friend’s leap year birthday. This weekend was chosen to round up the RV’s and head out to Triangle T Guest Ranch.
Triangle T is surrounded by rock formations that conjur up images of wild west hideouts & cattle rustling. Some of the rocks seem to defy gravity…
Check out this lizard rock.It’s huge.
There are little surprises all around the ranch. Likethe rock maze below.
Moseying down the dusty trail we stumble upon an old movie set from 1957 – the original 310 To Yuma.
There is just too much to explore around this ranch. Bonus the Amerind Foundation Museum is within walking distance. The hiking is spectacular:
I wrote about The Rock Saloon before here: Corny Shenanigans . This time there was live music and some boot scootin’.
One more walk Sunday morning just to say goodbye and we are back on the road. Camera roll below: