Friday, February 11, 2005

We are at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (map). The park is quite beautiful, although the campground is not really our style -- 200 spaces arranged in a grid, perhaps ten feet apart.

On the way in to the campground, we were measured for length for the very first time. When asked, we said we were forty feet, but I guess that's hard to believe given Odyssey's imposing appearance, so they asked us to pull up to a marked line. Then they looked at another mark in the back, and told us we were 42' (we're not) and the limit was 40. After I protested that we were certainly not more than 40', they pulled out a surveyor's tape and, sure enough, found that we are only a few inches more than 39'. We sat there wondering how many other coaches were turned away based on incorrect marks on the pavement. Apparently, the limit here used to be 35' until this year, when they increased it to 40', so the campground folks don't have a lot of experience with big rigs.

Most of the roads in the park are dirt and limited to vehicles under 26', so we will have to be content with what we can see from the campground here, at least on this visit where we do not have time to pull the motorcycles out. This is really the only place in the US to see organ pipe cacti, which are more prevalent in Mexico.

There is an active border crossing at the southern boundary of the park, leading to Puerto Penasco on the sea of Cortez. Apparently there is also a great deal of illegal crossing through remote regions of the park, and the visitor's center is named after a 28 year old park ranger gunned down by drug smugglers. The border patrol also has a big presence here.

This is our last contact with the border and the perimeter of the continental US, where we have been traveling, with only minor detours, for the last several thousand miles and nearly three months. Today we head north to Quartzsite, on our way to Las Vegas and Death Valley.

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