Ajo, AZ train station
The road to Ajo is scenic in an Arizona wide open spaces sort of way. The scenery is not spectacular but the vastness of it is impressive and seems to draw a person out emotionally, making them more aware of the majesty that can be found in simple vistas if we just look. My destination was worth riding to first for the ride, of course, and then for the charm of the little southwestern mining town.
Ajo Plaza from the sandwhich shop
Ajo, Arizona is a former copper mining town down very close to the Mexican border. It was a company town in every way, laid out by the first mine manager but with an eye to creating a living environment as family friendly as a southwestern border mining could be in 1900. The mine is closed now and the town is struggling to reinvent itself in some way or another. The evidence of the days of copper industry wealth are still apparent there though. The town is replete with interesting southwestern architecture and ornate buildings such as the Curly School, built by a big corporation trying to create a wonderful place for it's employees to live even if their work is tough and dangerous.
Church from the plaza
There is enough interesting architecture, blue skies, and magical southwestern sunlight that the town is a favorite spot now for artists and photographers. A visit with one of the locals while sitting in the plaza munching a sandwich revealed that there is a good deal more art culture there than one might expect and it was easy to see why. Gleaming whitewashed buildings and blue skies are always a winner when drawing, painting, or photographing. Much of the town away from the main plaza is pretty worn and frayed now but the residents, new and old, seem committed to making Ajo a fine place to live.
By the way, even though the town is off the beaten path a bit and there is only one sandwich shop open on the town plaza, the sandwich shop is a WiFi hotspot! The senior citizens I chatted with were both sitting there with their laptops open and browsing the web while they ate. The sandwiches are good too.
Fred eyed the Honda bike and asked "Whatcha ridin' there?" I replied "A Honda." He replied "Ha!" Cheapskate! Shoulda bought a Harley." I allowed with a chuckle as how I'd had a Harley once upon a time before they were fashionable but preferred the comfort of the Honda now.
After a time I prepared to head on down the road and Fred said that the single wheel drive of his bicycle made it darned hard to get started on an uphill. He'd stopped part way into a gravel driveway and there was clearly not going to be enough torque in his old legs to get the trike rolling again without some help. I can take a hint so I offered a push start which he accepted with genuine appreciation. I stepped around the back of the back of the bike and helped him get rolling again. As Fred peddled off down the road I walked over to my cheapskate Honda, climbed on board, and hit the road too.