We have been camping in Ironwood National Monument for the last couple of days. We have an extra day after an evening with a lunar eclipse and a day hike. After another beautiful evening in the desert with a fire, we have a lax day to enjoy as we slowly return to Tucson.
The next day during breakfast, the campers up the road roll out, leaving it all to us once again. This is pretty much an entire National Monument populated by nude us. The sense of freedom soars.
We break camp in no hurry. The heat of the day is coming as we drive off. We will take our time.
Out on the main road, there are two vehicles to pass by, which are heading in the opposite direction.
There is a road which more or less bisects the Monument. I haven’t explored the remote north side half.
Before heading home we find a trail leading off into the expanse. We take off of the main road. This time we’re going downslope to the north. In four-wheel drive we wander, exploring, looking for a camp for another day.
This is a Monument to Ironwood trees, but it is one of the two remaining intact Ironwood ecosystems left on the planet. This ecosystem includes quite a few saguaros.
Saguaro will vary in color, size, number of arms, how straight, or stout the arms are.
They tend to be different in character from region to region. They entertain in their infinite individual personalities out here.
The arms flail more.
Because of the sheer numbers and density, there are more opportunities to discover crested saguaros, which are claimed to be only one in ten thousand.
We are enjoying more of the saguaro’s dancing party figures as the 4runner lumbers down the two track road winding through a landscape that demands curves.
Roads and trails take the easier routes here. They meander around trees, large cactus and rock. There are no straight lines in the Sonoran Desert, unless a string of power poles or a gas pipeline cuts through.
We look for crested saguaros, different personalities that may appear to interact, or say something and we just see what we see.
All of the while, we are wondering why this road is here. We surmise, a grand campsite, a wondrous hiking trail, or maybe an old mine, or old homestead. This one goes to a cattle pen and water tank, then on to nothing in particular, just closer to the hill, maybe to hunt, or to hike.
Sometimes we just stop. When the motor is shut down, we step out naked into a stone’s silence and a grand turquoise sky. There is a mandate to follow any curiosity that we may find. Sometimes we’re a few steps and sometimes the next mystery takes us spontaneously away for hours.
It is these times when the truck is left unlocked, and clothing isn’t in the thoughts and we just follow our noses with little care.
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