January 31, 2022
I started out this week continuing to look for volunteer opportunities or ways that I could contribute and be of service to the community here. I printed a sign to put up on local bulletin boards stating that I could help out with my email address and emailed the visitor center in Patagonia which I had noticed was not open much and had a sign on the door saying they were looking for volunteers. Within 24 hours the visitor center had responded and offered me an easy shift on Saturday afternoons so I never even had a chance to hang my signs around town. Volunteering at a visitor center is a perfect fit for me. Though many people who stop in seem to know more about the area than I do, I listen well and will pick up on things quickly. It gives me a chance to talk to all kinds of people who love travel and exploration as much as I do so it makes me joyful.
We have slowed down on our production of videos for our YouTube channel for a bit, but that’s just how creativity goes for most people I think. It comes in bursts and then ebbs for a bit. We are up to 200 subscribers in just over a month so our early efforts have paid off. We did start to work on a video about photography and shooting during the golden hour before sunset and then went to Gate’s Pass to take photos and drone footage, but decided not to finish our release it as it really didn’t meet our standards when we reviewed the footage and it also really didn’t have anything to do with RVing.
Gates Pass is a beautiful place to hike just outside of the Saguaro National Park. It is free to park and hike there and the hillsides are covered in saguaro cactus as well as cholla, fishhook barrel, prickly pear, and many others as well as shrubs and trees. The sunsets here draw quite the crowd and we arrived a little too late that day to get ourselves into the perfect position to capture it so we will probably visit her again before we travel north. Luke has made the mistake of getting too close to the chollas twice now and got attacked. He swears he will have his revenge. Did you know that it can take a saguaro cactus up to 10 years to grow an inch? It’s amazing to think of how old some of these suckers are when you see all the tall ones living here.
As the week comes to an end I am thinking about how much I appreciate the feeling of community and belonging, even if it is fleeting and changeable. Many of us lost some of this while we cope with a deadly pandemic and have had to adapt as we slowly came to accept that things will never go back to the way they used to be. I am grateful that we were able to uproot our lives completely to go on this adventure and that we have met so many friendly and kind people along our journey thus far. I am glad that we have found a place where we can settle down for a month or two. There is so much free camping in this area with beautiful scenery all around that we realized we can stay within the three towns that make up the Sky Islands of Patagonia, Sonoita, and Elgin (or at least close to these towns) for the rest of the winter and still follow the BLM rules of changing sites every 14 days to a place at least 25 miles away from the previous site.
I am still thinking about ranch life. Probably because I binge watched the show Yellowstone a couple of weeks ago and was enamored with the sites. Granted, that show takes place in Montana and I have yet to visit there, but there are ranches all over the place out here too and I always gaze at the ones we pass with wonder and curiosity. Maybe one day I will find a work camping gig on a ranch and the romanticism of the life will end for me or it will deepen. Until then, I will wonder about the deep connection to the land that rancher must have, the rugged outdoor lifestyle, and all the cows they care for with their sweet big eyes.
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.