Longtime friends, Steve and Wendy Richards, from Lexington, Virginia, gave us an excuse to get our motorhome out of storage and visit one of our favorite places in Southern Arizona, Organ Pipe National Monument. April is a prime month to visit because the, found-only-here in the U.S., Organ Pipe is in full bloom, along with a wide array of opuntia (prickly pear) and cholla; quite a few annuals are still hanging on also.
One of the best things about Organ Pipe is getting close to rattlesnakes; there are more rattlesnakes in Organ Pipe, per square acre than anyplace I know. This one checked out our campsite thoroughly before curling up a couple of meters away. He kept his rattles up, just in case. We put our feet up, just in case.
Organ Pipe is one of the most diverse parts of the most diverse desert in the world. It is a brutally beautiful place that unfolds slowly in subtle ways. One of the best ways to experience Organ Pipe is from the seat of a mountain bike on the 23 mile Ajo Mountain Loop Road. Most people who can ride a bicycle, and are in reasonable physical condition from hiking etc., can do the ride, although it takes awhile for some to get accustomed to the riding-on-ball bearings feeling. Lay the bike down once in awhile, take a stroll in the desert, take your eyes off the wide landscape, the big things; focus on the skeletons of organ pipes and chollas a pollen covered insect at the center of blossom, the structure of a thorn, oh, and maybe the rattles on that rattlesnake trying to get your attention.