Exploration Though Las Cienegas Conservation Area
Expedition by Nissan Frontier and Range Rover
But I also thought that a little place called Ramsey Well was fascinating. Two old rusty vehicles are there. One is a van. The other is a Chrysler Fluid Drive. Both have been shot and stripped, but they're intersting nonetheless. Plus, there is a large windmill with blades about 8-10 feet long has crashed to the ground at some point.
Then the roads out here are many. And wildlife.
Las Cienegas Conservation Area also contains a little place called "Bootlegger's Spring." And I wanted to go there. According to the maps, it would require a hike along a river and into some canyons; that sounded fun.
The reason for this idea? As silly as it sounds, Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers do a song called The Ballad of Lupe Montosa, and it tells a story. I'm a sucker for stories, and in this song is a little mention of a place called Bootlegger's Spring. Let me share the lyrics, because I think it's good:
Not that I expected to run into an unnamed rockstar writing songs at this infamous Bootlegger's Spring, but it just popped off the map at me when I was researching the area. It just seemed like a fun idea to go to some place that comes from some cowboy tale. Every trip needs a purpose, a challenge, or an inspiring cowboy story.
And by the way, there's another place there called Montosa Canyon. Pretty interesting . . .
The towns of Sonoita and Patagonia will always have my attention. First, Sonoita is some kind of a funky mix between real-live working cowboy ranches and a handful of bed and breakfasts that are up for sale. While there are mountains in the area, most of Sonoita sits on an open plain of rolling hills. Then, down the road, you'll find Patagonia. Here, another funky mix exists. But this time it's the people. Artists, musicians, and phoenominal cooks live here. It's like this select group of people live with some kind of "wink" going on between one another. Like they're telling each other, "We've got the rest of the world fooled. They think Sedona is neat? Patagonia tosses that place on it's keester, and we're not going to tell anyone about it."
Let's talk about Las Cienegas Conservation Area, again. First, it's a fantastic refuge with rivers and classic desert wildlife. Several dirt trails traverse the entire area, although many have been closed off. This makes sense, since it is a conservation area. The eastern side of the area ends at the base of the Whetstone Mountains where you can have sweeping views of the entire area and find ranches on the fringes.
There are so many roads that I stopped to chat with two cowboys loading up a dually with hay. When I asked about the roads, one looked at the other then said, "Um, yeah. You just go on up that-a-way and you'll run into a few more forks. One'll take ya to Bear Spring. That's a rough road, but you'll make it."
The other broke in, "So, you campin'?"
"Yeah, are there good places to camp up there?"
"Sure. But it's a-gonna be a cold one tonight. We go up there from time to time, but I like it warm."
* * *
One time Brooke and I went into Patagonia and Mision de San Miguel. We'd heard there was going to be some live music, which always sounds fun. At Mision, they let me wander around the place and shoot some photos. While I did that, a local sat down with Brooke and chatted for a little while.
He had a long gray pony tail and wore a cowboy hat. With a deep voice, he explained that Patagonia is "going to shit" no thanks to the "fuckin' vegetarian jackasses at Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center." His language blew me away, as I didn't expect anyone to say something so coarse off the bat.
But I still kicked back with a few Negra Modelos and shot photos of the band and the wild art on the walls. Close to 9:00, the doors opened and a crowd piled in. This crowd was composed of young men wearing cowboy hats and boots with shiney belt buckles. They began hugging one another and ordering Bud Lights.
Ranch hands, I thought. We were hanging with local cowboys.