January 8, 2014
With nothing in my belly except for the water I continue to drink, I spend a miserable night in a tent in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. After throwing up all afternoon, I continue to be sick at least every hour until the sun just begins to give a little light to the very early morning. Only now it’s just painful, gut-wrenching dry heaves as I have given up on the water. I feel like a cat trying to spit up an enormous fur ball. I stay in bed and assess the situation. Originally this was the day I had planned to leave; but since I did not finish the Ajo Mountain Scenic Drive, I make the decision to stay one more night in the campground giving me the opportunity to take it easy all day and rehydrate.
I muster the energy to leave my warm, cozy nest of sleeping bags and blankets and wander over to Caroline’s campsite next to mine. Because of my misadventures the previous afternoon, I tell her my intention to stay another day to complete the Ajo Drive and do a little more exploring. Caroline is planning to spend the day in Mexico with a ranger friend but she recommends the 4.5 mile round-trip Victoria Mine trail if I’m feeling up to it. She says it is a very easy hike with benches scattered along the way and ending at an historic mine. This sounds like the perfect afternoon activity after spending the morning resting and recovering from dehydration.
Breakfast consists of nibbling off various items in the food bags. A bite off the edge of a honey bun, a nibble off a blueberry breakfast biscuit, a taste of a granola bar. Nothing tastes appetizing but at least its staying down. I drive to the kiosk in the campground, pay another $12 to stay one more night, and return to the Ajo Mountain Drive. Without stopping at Stops 1 thru 11 and passing by both the Arch Canyon and Estes Canyon trailheads because all was completed the previous day, I arrive at Stop 12. By now I am feeling much better. No headache and the tiny amount of breakfast I managed to eat has not been rejected by my fickle stomach. I spend an enjoyable hour slowly completing the scenic drive while reading the guidebook at Stops 12-18. The leisurely experience has improved my attitude and I decide to try the other scenic drive that is offered at Organ Pipe.
North Puerto Blanco Drive is a there-and-back 10-mile round-trip graded gravel road similar to Ajo Mountain Drive. Just about any car can take the trip; four-wheel-drive is not necessary. The views are not as spectacular as Ajo Mountain Drive, but it is a good opportunity to see the Sonoran Desert’s biodiversity. There are a view stops with placards that describe various facts about the desert. As I begin the drive, I start to get just a little bit tired. Knowing that after five miles the road ends at a picnic area turn-around, I choose to forego stopping at the teaching stations and drive straight to the picnic area. I will read all the signs on the return trip. I just want to get to an area to rest and try to eat a little lunch. When I arrive at the picnic area, I am really exhausted. Instead of eating, I recline my car seat and take a nap. I sleep for an hour and still feel weak and, oh no, sick again. I bless the desert plants on the North Puerto Blanco Drive with the little bit of breakfast that I had managed to eat and drive right back to camp; without stopping to enjoy the organ pipe or saguaro cacti, the ironwood trees, or any of the beauty of the desert.
Back at Twin Peaks Campground, I give the solar shower a try. Since I have not showered in two days I’m thinking this will brighten me up and make me feel better. Even after a barely lukewarm (better than cold!) shower, and even though my hair and body are clean, I continue to throw up. Well, there is absolutely nothing in my stomach so really I just continue to have very painful feline-like dry heaves. At this point I just want to go to bed so I crawl into my tent at 4:30 in the afternoon and bed down for the night.