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Like I said, rather than sit around all weekend in town waiting for a mechanic to fix our trailer wheel, we have chosen to enjoy the splendors of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

We’ve taken a couple of great rides yesterday and today. Yesterday’s ride was the 21-mile Ajo Mountain Loop which we have done in previous years. It was much more enjoyable this time on our cushy mountain bikes. Mary didn’t have to walk up any of the hills this time (and she’s telling everyone she meets about it.)

Today we chose the 40-mile Puerto Blanco Loop. In previous years this was closed to the public because of cross-border smuggling but they put up an all-steel anti-vehicle fence on the border and I guess that stopped a lot of smugglers so they opened it up.

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We didn’t see any smugglers but two dour vultures watched us from atop saguaros at the start of today’s ride. On three separate occasions coyotes scampered across the road in front of us. And down near the border at the end of our ride we had two young men with backpacks, in much the same manner as the coyotes, run across the road and run into Mexico.. They must have been illegals.

The northern half of the ride is by far the better half. Only two cars all day but plenty of coyotes, cactus forests, extinct volcanos, abandoned mines and ranches. There we were, just the two of us riding along a desert road with only the sound of the decomposed granite crunching beneath our tires. Idyllic.

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Forget about smugglers, my only real concern were the cholla balls that dropped into the road from the abundant cacti along the way. Those things are unbelievably sharp and flattening our bicycle tires wouldn’t even be an afterthought for them. They’re not called “jumping” cholla for nothing. You even get near them and they stick to you. I don’t know how the wild animals avoid them. I once tried to kick one out of a trail I was hiking. It stuck in the toe of my boot and wouldn’t let go. When I tried to kick it free with the other boot, it stuck to that boot too! Reminded me of the Uncle Remus story about B’rer Rabbit and the Tar Baby.

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