Desert Fever

One can only wonder at the history. I am noting, as I talk to more folk, that while they value the huge contribution provided by Mexican immigrants, it is the illegals from all over Central America that they object to. Point taken!

Friday, January 25th. It seems like ten months since Christmas! This morning I crawled out of bed well before dawn and decided that no matter what, I’d catch up on my blogging. Six hours later I was done and packed up the van, ready for the road. After bidding a fond farewell to my Ladysmith amigos, I went and provisioned up, then hit the road. Aghast at the size of the RV dealer’s lots I finally cleared through a Homeland Insecurity checkpoint and began to feel free again. I’d beaten the mechanical gremlins and was off to see the wizard. But then I began to smell something. My weary old farm boy brain decided it must be the faint aroma of some chemical being applied to the fields that I was passing.

Northern Sonora Desert vista.
I keep trying to imagine what it was like before us white folk arrived. This is what it must have looked like.

At a place called Wellton, I pulled off to gas up before pursuing an alternate route along a back road which is always my bliss; exploring a new rural track. At the gas pumps I shut off the ignition. Pshhhhhh!!! Balls of steam erupted from under the hood. I swore softly. Yeah right! When I crawled underneath I could see coolant running down behind the new water pump. I swore softly again. As it is turns out an old heater hose had ruptured. It should have been replaced when the pump was changed, but, that’s the way the pickle squirts.

My desert neighbour. He was cautiously amiable. He was travelling very light and was heading home to North Carolina after a tour of Mexico!
Between a rock and a hard place. Desert repairs for dummies.
All mine! There is absolutely no one around to lend a cup of sugar. Repairs complete!

After slowly cooling the engine down I made a temporary repair then ventured into the tiny farm town and found the new hose and coolant I would need for a permanent fix in the morning. The NAPA clerk assured me that Geronimo’s Mexican Restaurant across the street was excellent. Noting the vultures circling above I came on in. It is five pm as I write and the place is filling with local seniors. Muy Beuno! I last ate a small bowl of hot cereal at 05:30 and this place has fantastic authentic food especially when feeling famished.

Geronimo’s Wellton AZ
Stop in if you are going buy. You’ll thank me for the tip.
After my meal, I stepped outside…and looked up!
“For Whom The Vultures Circle.”
Next door to Geronimo’s , Pauline’s Treasures was closed…but the inventory stayed outside. That’s a social comment!
Heartbreaker! She was wandering on the road, miles from anywhere. Beautiful, friendly and affectionate It hurt to drive on and leave her behind. I did not look in the mirror; noting that someone must be feeding her.

Well, now I’ve made several repairs to the accommodation infrastructure, and three to the engine room so, damn your teeth Murphy, I’m confident the worst is behind me. On the wall beside me, is a ubiquitous black and white photo of the area which I’ve seen several times. It was taken in Yuma in 1950 when two men in a small Aeronca sedan flew in circles for forty-five days non stop. They were served with fuel, oil and food from a convertible car racing beneath. What they did for matters of personal hygiene is a nagging question for me. I once had an airplane which held nine hours worth of fuel. My bladder never outlasted that fuel tank and I tried several creative and sometimes humiliating ideas. Both machines have been recovered, restored and are now on permanent display inside the Yuma City Hall.

Old Cactus Bones hisself.
I could wear out a camera here.
Painted Rock Petroglyph Site
A sacred experience for anyone with a heart
I edited my number of frames of this place down to 36. I could have easily taken four times more!
Clicking Man
The best light is always at either end of the day.
Ma, Ma! The mules is gone!
A whole lot of mooing going on. There are very many feedlots with an amazing number of cows. The stench is horrific even to this old farm boy!
The Solara Generating Station. There are several of these randomly scattered across the countryside. Each one is incredibly immense.
Geezer Cycle Gangs
There are huge herds of these as well.
Don’tcha fall off now!
There is far more money in this custom tricycle than there is my van

There are still two hours of daylight, I forge on eastward and look for a place to spend the night. Just at dusk I pull off the old highway I’ve been travelling and over a hump, behind a hill, I find a spot in raw desert that seems perfect. As I manoeuvre for a level spot I notice a small tent and a motorcycle a mere one hundred yards away. I go to apologize for cramping his solitude. The fellow is amiable enough but won’t shake my hand or give me his name.

The night is splendid with a moon-lit desert and brilliant stars. Up[ before dawn, I make my repairs, then take a short hike. In the distance I can hear crump…crump, crup..crump. I check the map. It is artillery from a distant practise range. It is far enough away to somehow add an air of peacefulness to my scene.

A day later, I’m blogging from ‘Belly Acres’ Rv Park in Ajo Az,a place I’ve stayed before. The sun is just breaking through the van windows, mourning doves are cooing away from the palm tree above me. Today I’ll be off to Baboquivari. There ’ll be no peace in the valley.

And now for a few desert blooms
Winter flowers. The spring desert bloom is just beginning. I’m told that because of heavy December rains, the show will soon be fantastic.
am going to have to dig out my books and learn the names of some of these.
At first I thought that some one ahead must be heaving sacks of cotton balls out of their car window. Then I noticed that a particular plant had these fuzzy flowers attached. Dunno!
Out of reach except for hummingbirds
Much, much more to come!

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”

…Saint Augustine

Author: Fred Bailey

Fred is a slightly-past middle age sailor / writer / photographer with plenty of eclectic hands-on skills and experiences. Some would describe him as the old hippy who doesn't know the war is over. He is certainly reluctant to grow up and readily admits to being the eternal dreamer. He has written several books including two novels, 'The Keeper' and 'Storm Ecstasy,' as well as 'The Water Rushing By', 'Sins Of The Fathers', 'The Magic Stick', as well as an extensive inventory of poetry, essays, short stories, anecdotes and photographs. His first passion is the ocean, sailboats, voyaging and all those people who are similarly drawn to the sea. He lives aboard 'Seafire' the boat he is refitting to go voyaging, exploring new horizons both inner and outer. This blog is about that voyage and the preparations for it. In spite of the odds against it, the plan is to sail away this fall and lay a course southward. If you follow this blog your interest may provide some of the energy that helps fuel the journey. Namaste Contact him at

6 thoughts on “Desert Fever”

  1. the desert will hopefully treat you well! Hope the new home repairs are going to be behind you. Great photos!

  2. Very interesting pictures and commentary – as bleak as it looks, it is sunny and warm and I like the way the townspeople seem so friendly. The quote is a good one … perfect for this post Fred.

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