February 14, 2022
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! With life being radically different for us now from what we were used to, we also don’t feel the need to make as big deal out of holidays. We are certainly aware of them as we do marketing and ads for a business, but for a few reasons, they just aren’t a big thing for us so far. It may be because we are away from friends and family, or that every day feels pretty special as we mostly do just what we want to do that day, or that getting and receiving stuff is often less excited and more of a burden when you are living in minimal space…it could be all of these reasons. We are not anti-Valentine’s Day. We still called our mothers and wrote messages to friends and wished a Happy V-Day to strangers we saw that day, but no gifts or expensive restaurants for us this year. Quite by accident though, Luke gave me the most romantic gift the weekend before. After not picking up his guitar since we left, he took it out and wrote a song while I was out volunteering. That evening he played it for me without any preamble. For the first couple of lines I nodded my head along listening and enjoying the melody. I heard him mention the town we are camping in and have come to love which made me smile. Then the chorus came and tears sprang to my eyes as I realized it was a love song. Like all couples, we have had our never ending arguments, annoyances, and troubles, but we are very happy together. I attribute our happiness to a few factors. We chose to love each other and we continue to make that choice. That means that we also choose to accept and respect each other. We choose to be curious about each other and be supportive of each other’s dreams. When one does something that the other struggles to accept, we are good at communicating about this. People spend a lot of energy trying to make their partner change to be more perfect for them, when we are not perfect ourselves. We are all learning and maturing every day and we have been able to build this great love over the years by learning these lessons and helping each other grow. Love means something different to me now than when I was young and it’s funny to reflect on this. Love used to mean being swept off your feet and caught up in romance. Now it’s more about the shared intimacy and admiration that builds over time. I’ll be sure to include a link to the song in here once he makes a video of it.
That is how the week ended. It began with prospecting for gold along a wash (small rocky and sandy trenches all over Arizona to divert water off roads during flash floods) with a woman I met on Facebook. New friends are great fun, even if you only spend time with them once. She was just that-possibly just how I will be in 20 years. Her and I learned together how to use her metal detector as it was her newest piece of equipment and we set off with this, a pinpointer, buckets, a shovel and sifter, and a hatchet as we could not find a pickax. The detector makes different tones for the various types of metal so she taught me how to use it and helped me practice finding things and getting to know the various tones. This part is important so you don’t use up all of your energy and daylight digging for bottle tops. We didn’t get the nugget tone, but we had fun and it was a nice day to be doing stuff outdoors. I came away with an impressive two squashed bullets (1 lead and 1 aluminum) and one old lid to a tin can.
We also had a wonderful time with camels this week. We went out to the neighboring town of Elgin to Dana’s home and home to Confetti Camel Farm. She has two pet camels named Banjo and Tango who were very lovable and cute. They nuzzled us and licked our hands and tried to eat the cameras as we took photos. Dana answered our many questions, bridled the camels to have them lay down for us, positioned them for a couple of shots in front of the mountains, and she was an overall wonderful hostess. Camels are fascinating. Why you ask? Well first of all, their penises point backwards so they pee backwards and mating is an interesting challenge for the species. The reason for this is that camels live in desert climates which have frequent sandstorms. When the winds are high, they will group together and face into the wind. The penis points behind them so it won’t get clogged with sand…brilliant! They also can drink up to 30 gallons of water within a few minutes. They are the only animal that can drink this much this fast without dying. They can then go two weeks without needing to drink again. They are full grown at 9 years old and will weigh over 2k lbs at that point. They were very gentle. Everyone asks if we rode them and we did not. The owner explained that the liability coverage needed to let people ride them would be in the millions. Her camels are male, but I also learned that camel milk is very pricey at up to $80/liter. Luke said he wants a camel now. They are easy to fall in love with. Perhaps one day we will have a camel ranch and make riches on camel milk sales.
I joined some of the local Facebook groups here to share photos and be aware of things going on in the community and posted a few I’ve taken in the area. People seemed to love them which encouraged me to go out and shoot more. I caught a great sunset and came away with a couple of photos I was happy with from the scenic highway that passes through these towns.
We moved to a new campsite that has the best views we have had at home so far. As usual, it is way off the beaten path so it’s a 30 minute drive down a long dirt road to get into town, but well worth it. I was asked to volunteer both days this weekend and was very glad I said yes. Both Saturday and Sunday offered beautiful weather and lots of happy people out walking around that stopped into the visitor center. I met some other RVer’s who have been at it a long time and shared tips on where to stay and a work camping job in Wyoming for the summer I may think about. I went over to the Lumber Yard bar next door after my shift on Saturday to drink a cold local draft and listen to a musician play some acoustic originals. He had a great voice and I was impressed that I could mostly follow along when he started singing in Spanish. The coordinator at the visitor center stopped in to grab mail and told me I should contact the Vera Earl ranch in Sonoita to see if they would have me over for a tour and let me take photos. I sent them a message and they sent me a speedy and enthusiastic response. The owner has business in Texas this coming week, but I’m in no rush and excited that I found a ranch. We drove by there to check it out and buy some skirt steak that I will use to make barbacoa this week. They even threw in some free beef knuckles for our dogs. If you are still wondering why I have adopted this lifestyle, here’s a picture of our campsite for the next two weeks.
Jennifer MacNeil is currently traveling the US with her husband and two dogs. She loves to have adventures, explore, meet fascinating people, and see amazing places. She strives to learn every day and spread kindness to others. She documents her journey through her photography and blog to share with others.
This Post Has 2 Comments
Gail Getzwiller - Nizhoni Ranch Gallery26 Mar 2022
Hello Jenifer, I picked up your card at the station in Sonoita and thought I would look up what you do. I have a Native American Art gallery in our Ranch house and would love to invite you to come visit – if you are still in the area. We are located off the beaten path. Hope to hear from you. I also have a ranch in Benson – would love to show you that as well and offer a camp site. I don’t have Facebook, so contacting from web.
Jennifer MacNeil27 Mar 2022
I do wish we had connected before we left the Sky Islands. I do hope yo take you up on this offer if we come back to the area next winter. We really loved staying in these towns and felt so welcomed by the community.