With our next main location being Las Cruces, New Mexico we took a few days to get there. This time we used our Harvest Hosts membership. It is an organization of winery and farms that offer free camping in exchange for buying supplies from their shops.
The drive from Lake Havasu took us through Phoenix to Mesa and then Superstition Dairy Farm. Here we were hooked up to full hook ups and parked close to the 2500 milking cows. Awww, the sweet smell of a dairy farm. It was pretty impressive seeing the cows and calves and the set up of the whole enterprise. With a walk through the farm at dusk we settled in for the night. We were lulled to sleep (and woke up through the night) to the mooing of the cows. In the morning we purchased some cheese and ice cream and then we were on our way before 10 AM.
On our drive today we chose not to take the interstate and instead drove through the desert with the mountains to the east of us. We connected up to the freeway at Tucson as we started to head east towards New Mexico. Our destination for the next two nights was Pillsbury Winery, south east of Wilcox, Arizona. This time we were dry camping ( no hookups ) in a field under an amazing dark sky with more stars then we have seen in a very long time. It was an interesting drive into the winery which took us down a very dusty, washboard gravel road for about five kilometres, past pistachio and pecan trees and into a vineyard in what felt like the middle of nowhere. Our spot gave us an amazing sunset as well as the view of the Chiricahua National Monument.
Thanks to Toni and Charlie ( our friends in Tucson ) we were introduced to Linda and John from Wilcox and they were gracious enough to offer to be our tour guides. Our chariot arrived a few minutes before 8:30 and we introduced ourselves and off we went. First stop, Chiricahua National Monument visitor centre. Here we learned about the birds, animals and humans that have made up the area over the centuries. The main show however was when we drove back into and up on the mountain. The rock formations of the Chiricahua Mountains are beyond words. The columns of rock were in the thousands. Like stone totem poles. The short hike we did was breathtaking!!
Next on the agenda was a drive by of the Coronado Dairy Farm. It was like nothing we had ever seen before in the dairy business. They milk over 6,500 cows twice a day!! There were over 60,000 cows of different ages in one location. As a past dairy farmer I must say that the conditions and health of these cows (and the ones from Superstition) were very good. They were clean, dry and their body condition was perfect. It was something to see.
At lunchtime we stopped in at Sandy’s Restaurant and RV Park. The RV park looked very basic, which is an understatement, the diner was in the middle of nowhere but offered all day breakfast. June has said she is not ordering pancakes again until we go back to Sandy’s! The chocolate chips pancakes were to die for!
The main event in the afternoon was the Amerind Museum where they had a Mata Ortiz pottery display set up with some artists showing their craft. The other interesting display at the museum was the history of Paquime, Mexico. After a tiny Mata Ortiz pottery purchase ( such a cute little vase! ) it was time to taste some more wine. So, off we went to Golden Rule Winery. The owners are friends of John’s and also a Harvest Host member. Next time we find ourselves back in the Willcox
area we definitely will park our home here! They are also pistachio farmers as well. (Side note: pistachio and pecan trees need a “male” tree to pollunate the female trees. The male trees are easy to spot because they are bigger then the females.) We spent well over an hour sipping wine, eating pistachios and chatting with the owners and serving staff. I think we left with about 12 bottles of wine!
The final portion of our Willcox adventure was dinner at Big Tex BBQ, their slogan is “smoked barbeque done right” and it was! The dining area is built around an old rail car. Back at our home we shared a bottle of wine from Pillsbury and said goodbye at around 22:00. What a day. We meet as strangers and left as friends!
With the morning sunrise on February 11th it was time to say goodbye to Arizona for another year and see what New Mexico has to offer!