Friday, February 24, 2012

Ajo, a Misnomer?

Let's clear the air, there is no garlic grown in Ajo, the Spanish word for garlic, unless the name refers to the desert lily which is an onion-like plant that grows in the surrounding hills!  The Spanish may have named the town using this familiar word in place of the similar-sounding O'odham word for paint (o'oho).  The Tohono O'odham people obtained red paint pigments from this area.  That said, you also need to not judge this book by its cover, as in driving by on Highway 85 and letting first impressions rule your stay.  Like a lot of small town America, Ajo has its share of for sale signs and closed businesses.  However, once immersed in the local scene and scenery, we are totally enamored with Ajo!

Our slice of the Sonoran Desert pie lies on the western edge of Pima County, about 125 miles from Tucson, and we intend to devour our fair share.  Parked here on BLM land we have access to hundreds of square miles of jeep roads, forests of giant, gesturing Saguaro and Organ Pipe cacti, soaring peaks and rock formations, sunsets and starry night skies.

This may be true!
Our site sits amid a forest of Saguaro with the tailings of the old Cornelia Copper mine in the background.  On a morning hike to Black Mountain our surroundings are pictured:

The multiple personalities of Saguaro.

A group hug!

So...let's buckle up, grab the maps, GPS, and lots of water...we're off to tour the neighborhood.

Locomotive Rock is an impressive outcrop that graces our horizon.

As is Ajo Peak...Can anyone else see the Indian Head on the left?

Darby Wells Cemetery is located on Mica Mine Rd. just off the Scenic Loop  drive.

A lot of the these photos are taken along the Scenic Loop, a 10.9 mile drive from town over a well maintained gravel road.

The Brittlebrush are blooming!

Organ Pipe cacti are plentiful!

Palo Verde tree

I am in search of the "model" for my painting, done by a friend in 2006, of an old, twisted Palo Verde tree somewhere here on Darby Wells Road.

These brightly lit Cholla are deadly.  They break off and jump at the slightest movement.

I call these mud hills Elephants' Knees...Any idea what their geological name is?

Greenway cross on "A" Mountain

From rock art in Anza Borrego to can art here in Ajo along the Scenic loop!

Wild poppies are popping up, indicating our wildflower season is commencing!

The Stillhowlyn Folks

Night skies


Gaelyn said...

Appropriate mural for my memories of Ajo. Love your campsite and surroundings. Used to look for a gnarled palo verde to camp by for the artistic value, which your friend has captured so well. I kind of miss that part of the desert, until the wind gets to blowin'.

See ya' in town.

lou said...

I was in Ajo only once and it was viewed only from the car. We were on our way to Rocky Point for a quick weekend. By the way it was the middle of July and rather warm. We hope to return to the desert sometime soon, and enjoy the winter weather. Your pictures are great. Thanks for the visit, and take a little time to be safe.

Unknown said...

You honored Darby Wells Road and Ajo with your beautiful photographs and descriptions. Chuck and I visited there briefly while The Bayfield Bunch and RVSue were still there. We were having electrical problems and had to leave after 2 nights. It was amazing. I hope we get to go back for a longer visit next year. Thank you for taking the time to show us how beautiful the desert can be!

Bob and Kathie said...
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Bob and Kathie said...

Your photos are fabulous as usual. I really like your night photo. You captured the romance of the evening and crescent moon.

Al Bossence said...

Glad you folks are enjoying the Darby Well area as much as we have the past few years. Just a great place to be & we also took a liking to the dusty little town of Ajo. There is a great 25 mile or so loop drive down in Organ Pipe which starts right across the road from the Visitor's Center on the highway. Hickiwan Trails RV Park is behind the Casino in Why & we have many pleasant memories from our early RVing days there back in January of 07.

Al said...

That looks wonderful, nice photos.

The closest I have to a night-time photography tutorial is a lightning tutorial here: - night-time photography is either about having a tripod and taking long exposures, or having a very fast lens and a steady hand (preferably with something to lean against).