Wow, we are in the outback. Highway 83, a secondary Arizona highway, heading southeast from Tucson, is billed as a scenic highway, and they're not kidding. It is beautiful! This is the land of distant mountains, rolling hills, and lots and lots of sky. As we gained elevation the temperature dropped and the few clouds in the sky even squeezed out a rain drop or two.
Before we get to our destination, we spot a winery sign. We'd had a coffee shop in mind, but wine will do nicely. We brake, turn around and head up an unlikely looking road. This narrow rutted dirt road passes a number of small homesteads. After about 1/4 a mile, we arrive at the winery. It has a small tasting room with a delightful patio overlooking vineyards and the distant hills. Thinking we would be alone in this remote location we were surprised to join several groups of wine-tasting visitors. Benton was welcomed on the patio, wiggling his way into friendships, so we all three thoroughly enjoyed a reprise from Thistle.
For our camping destination, we had set our sights on Kentucky Camp, managed by the United States Forest Service The on-line information was for dispersed sites, no water, no electricity, elevation 5223'. My app, Ultimate Campground Project, also showed it in the Coronado National Forest, Latitude: 31:747897, Longitude: -110.741035. After many bumpy miles of rutted, dirt road, we came to a locked gate blocking access to Kentucky Camp. Well, heck, what's wrong with right here? Ed and I looked at one another, nodded agreement, and set up camp.
Our camping spot is right next to the Arizona Trail, but looking more like a dirt road. Tomorrow we plan to bike it, with Benton, off leash! Happy, happy day for Benton! We also plan to walk to Kentucky Camp, to see what we can see. The sign on the gate welcomes walking visitors and dogs on leash.
Because of our proximity to Mexico, we are seeing warning signs: Beware of Illegal Immigrants. Caution! Smuggling Area. Miles back, we'd passed through a border patrol road block. But, the people use these hills freely despite the chilling messages. On the way into Kentucky Camp, we drove past a large horse camp gathering. Further along, we passed a covered-wagon type circle of ORV hauling RV's.
In our travels, we are searching for an America beyond the fast-foods, gas stations and motels the billboards announce at every off ramp. We want to find folks not politically polarized, angry or fed-up and we are finding them. Everywhere!
The people we're encountering in campgrounds, on trails and backroads, and at gas stations, are not interested in how we vote or where we stand on issues, but in helping us find what we're looking for, or in learning about our Whidbey Island home, or the good hiking trails we've found. We are finding a non-corporate face to America, like Charron Vineyards, independent wine-makers, tucked away in Cochise County, Arizona. We depart from Charron with two bottles of Syrah. Hurrah!
"Age appears best in four things: old wood to burn, old wine to drink,
old friends to trust and old authors to read."
- Francis Bacon