Section 4: Nogales to Douglas
Just a short day today to finish the tiny section we missed between the Coronado National Memorial and the road.
Six or so miles and without overstuffed backpacks? We'll take it!
We also wanted to go to the Visitor’s Center, which had been closed when we were there before, and show Kris the AZT and some of the beauty of that area. The visitor’s center was actually pretty cool and we recommend checking it out (and the entire Coronado National Memorial while you’re at it!)
The memorial commemorates the site where the Spanish conquistador Francisco Vaquez de Coronado entered the United States from Mexico on his two year expedition to find fabled cities of gold. He brought about 400 men with him and they made it all the way up to Kansas. They didn’t find any gold but the notes and findings from the expedition provided valuable information on the physical area and the indigenous people encountered along the way (those that weren’t killed off by Coronado). The memorial is also extremely scenic with a killer view of Mexico to the south. While we were walking downhill back to the road, Kris went on an insane run to the top of the pass (after living at sea level for 2 years and suffering some intense jet lag). Trust us though, that view is worth it!
It’s sad to leave the Huachuca Mountains and their unique features and beauty. The limestone cliffs towered behind us while the pancake-flat San Pedro Valley stretched out ahead. At this point we are most worried about the mountains past Douglas on the very distant horizon. Ooof, the perpetual worry over the unknown! We are almost finished with Arizona and about to enter New Mexico. Hard to believe.
We moved quickly along the road with only the occasional tourist car passing from behind. The homes here at the foothills of the Huachuca Mountains are large and expensive with respectable spaces in between them. There are several gated communities and again everything appears brand new. As we neared the highway, the environment transitioned back the shabbier aesthetic from yesterday. Kris, finished with his run and back in the car, found us by the side of the road and we return to Sierra Vista for chores and prep.
Introducing Kate Stanley, our third visitor of the trip!! Tenny worked with Kate three years ago and they maintain a spontaneous friendship with random visits in very random locations.
Kate and her boyfriend Drew were returning from a climbing trip in Mexico and they shared the story of their hellacious border crossing in Laredo, Texas. During the holidays it took three hours to cross. Many of the cars were packed to the brim with Christmas gifts which made the “random?” vehicle inspections particularly brutal.
The scene was absolute chaos with cars and pedestrians moving in whatever space possible. Oof. Drew also shared an observation on Border Patrol that was consistent with what we’ve seen. He differentiated between one kind of agent that comes from northern or mid-America specifically to protect the border (usually white, often with military or law enforcement background) and another kind of agent that grew up along the border and is doing the job that is available (often Latino/Mexican or POC). This is absolutely a generalization, but it is something we’ve observed in our own interactions.
We were a large, lively group of five and it made for some great gabbing. We ate and talked and shared stories of travel and adventure. After being a community of two for so long, it felt great to be part of a group!