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Borrego Springs, CA

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A trip down memory lane

Back in 1980, my parents sold their house in Chicago, and became RV fulltimers.  They towed a 30’ Avion trailer, and traveled for close to eight years.  When they ‘hung up the keys’, they lived in a park model in Apache Junction until the prices of the RV park became too much for their budget. 

At that time, houses came on the market in Ajo, AZ.  Ajo was a copper mining town, and when the mine shut down folks had to leave their company owned homes.  After about five years, those houses came on the market as the mine was destined to never reopen.  It was then that I bought a three bedroom house in Ajo so my parents would have a place to live, and as a possible retirement home for myself.

They cleaned the house up, I paid the taxes, and family members from the north had a place to visit in the warm south for a vacation during the cold winters.  My brother, sister, and I made yearly pilgrimages down there to visit and help them out.

Kurt and Jody were married in Ajo in 2011, and I went down to be ‘best man’ for my brother.  We all had lots of memories of our visits to 9th street.  Little did we know, that later that year all of us ‘kids’ would take weekly turns visiting to help out as my step-father slowly succumbed to esophageal cancer.  In late August of that year, all four of us returned for his memorial service and to move my mother up to Minnesota to live with me.  A year or so later, I sold the house.

So it was a bittersweet journey for Kurt, Jody, and me to return to Ajo yesterday to drive past that house, and revisit some old haunts.

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It was disappointing to see the condition of the house and yard.  Weeds everywhere, and the paint was peeling.  It appeared that no one lived there.  We couldn’t see the back yard where we spent so much time as it had been walled in.  I wondered if the orange and grapefruit trees were still there.  Not easy to see, so we didn’t linger.

On the bright side, we had two other destinations in mind.

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The first was Cabeza Prieta NWR.  We had all been here before, but I needed to get my passport book stamped.  Our plan was to drive part of the refuge on our return from out next destination.

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                                Thirty or forty miles south of Ajo is Organ Pipe Cactus Nat’l Monument.

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After a stop at the visitors center for the movie and museum, we headed out on the 21 mile auto tour loop.

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The gravel road was pretty much as lumpy and bumpy as I had remembered it from 20 years ago.  I was happy we were in Kurt’s truck rather than my little Focus.

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Regardless of the road, the scenery was outstanding and we even enjoyed finding a couple of arches.

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That 21 mile drive took us about four hours, and we didn’t even do any hiking.  We saw a couple of roadrunners and a red-tailed hawk along the way, but I really didn’t expect much wildlife in the afternoon desert heat.

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                                              The monument’s namesake – the organ pipe cactus.

We spent so much time marveling at the scenery of the monument, that we ran out of time to visit Cabeza Prieta NWR.  That will have to wait for another time. 

We did stop in Ajo at Pizza Hut for a very late lunch/early dinner as a tribute to my mother’s favorite place to eat in town.  I ended up with indigestion, but there really wasn’t any other place to get a bite to eat anymore.  Kind of sad.  Things change, and life moves on.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

26 comments:

  1. We are going to be Boondocking in the Aho area for three days

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  2. We are going to be Boondocking in the Aho area for three days

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  3. Sometimes trips down memory lane can be really wonderful and others more than a little sad. Pizza Hut was my Dad's favorite place too. I don't eat Pizza so I vowed to never eat there again after he died. But I broke that vow when I had chicken wings.

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  4. A couple years ago I went back to see my grandparents' house at Lake of the Ozarks, MO where I spent so many wonderful summers as a kid. The house was literally unrecognizable! A huge tall row of hedges blocked most of the view of the house, the exterior was now a completely different color, a new 2 car garage took up what little yard there was, and junk was littered all about. The sad thing is-- almost every other house along the street looked almost exactly the same as I had remembered them!!! Ugh! You can never go back home I guess.

    I really enjoyed my first boondocking experience in Ajo a couple years ago and look forward to revisiting the town this winter. I'll be sure to avoid the Pizza Hut!

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  5. That is one beautiful cactus! Sorry your trip down memory lane was sad:(

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  6. some times going back just doesn't set right. I bet it has been close to if not 20 yrs since I was out there too. But it sure is beautiful still

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  7. I don't think you can ever recover the past, but sometimes it's good to go back and see the changes. After that you can look towards the future. The photos today show a very scenic area. I'd ask where you plan to retire when it's time, but you will probably still be volunteering when you're 95!

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  8. I am going through a similar process now. In 1992 hubby and I bought our dream house. A farm house built in 1850. When we started fulltiming in 2010 my daughter bought it from us. When we would come back to NJ we would park in Camp Driveway. But, that has ended. She accepted another job 2.5 hours away in Pa. She has settlement on a new house 11/14. This house we love is on the market and the relocation company will be here on the 14th to start to process of moving every thing.

    In the meantime we are house sitting until the furniture leaves. We love this community. Love our church family. Hubby was asst. fire chief at the local volunteer fire company. Reasons to return and visit, but not the lengthy stays of a month or more as in the past.

    Not only can we not go home again, but there is no home to go home to.

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  9. Life does move on...often for the better, but not always. We've revisited a few places where what we found didn't quite come up to our expectations from the past; sad in many ways.

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  10. Same.story different town right down to the double car garage taking up most of the yard. Except mine was the house I grew up in. I don't go back anymore - there are no great NWRs nearby to tempt me. Love those pictures of the of the refuge.

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  11. Thanks for sharing a part of your past. Sounds like you three had a wonderful, fun childhood. But as the saying goes...you can never go back.
    We enjoyed the ride though Organ Pipe also. I just marvel at those cacti. They are so interesting.

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  12. We almost always drive by the various houses we have lived in if we are in the area. It is interesting, but always a little unnerving. I have always been happy to move on. Always wanted something new.

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  13. Yep, things do change as time marches on. It's good you have such a wonderful blog to document all your travel adventures so they will always remain fresh and the same despite the passage of time. And that's a good thing. :c)

    Can you imagine how your motorhome would have faired on that bumpy road if you'd driven it. Wouldn't be a dish or glass left unbroken!

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  14. What a great RV'ing legacy you are following in. . .perhaps it's true what they say. . ."you can never go home again!"

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  15. If you have time you might head on down to Buenos Aires NWR..... probably won't see their scaled quail, but some of the hiking trails are outstanding. I didn't know your folks were RVers... how neat!

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  16. Yes, memory lane can be a bittersweet road to go, I know. By the way, weren't you already on the road in 2011? Love that cactus, we totaly bypassed that area in Arizona, which means we need to go back one day!

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  17. We had a great drive on the Charlie Bell Pass to see the ancient Indian paintings..but those were a 1 1/2 mile walk into the pass and it was pretty rocky...Don't think you would want to try it...We just loved Ajo!

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  18. In 2011-12 I did a number of walks with Patches out north of Rasmussen Rd and as far east as Well Rd but never turned south into that neighborhood where your parents house was located.
    My restaurant of choice was Marcela's Cafe & Bakery. Not much in the way of a bakery but had the best breakfast I could find in town within walking distance of Ajo Heights RV Park. The breakfast sandwiches from Olsen's Market were good and it is a great local market.

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  19. It has occurred to me that the older the memories become, the more likely that they will become bitter/sweet.

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  20. Thanks for sharing... webmaster of hitchitch.com

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  21. Enjoyed your post, Judy.... I have lived many places during my lifetime relocating often due to my work, etc....... Returning sometimes is very tough although I have not done it unless I happen to return to an area again as you all did..... I usually ended up with mixed feelings......I think it must be the fact that things change so much, it never matches up with the memories .... Love the fact that your folks were full timers so many years ago.....that's neat....enjoyed the photo of Kurt and his wife relaxing at the picnic table....Glad you have such good company....

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  22. Those cacti are really wonderful. It is sad to see those small towns struggle.

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  23. That featured cactus image is really spectacular. I grow mini cactuses in my home here. :) Great post
    ~ neck travel pillow

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  24. Jimmy and I always enjoy camping at Organ Pipe -- it's such an interesting place to spend some time. Wasn't it Thomas Wolfe who wrote, "You Can't Go Home Again" -- nothing ever looks the same. Hope your time in the desert south is a blast!

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  25. Nice Post.Thanks for Sharing this in your Blog

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