To sum up... we camped at Aguirre for 4 great nights and then headed west over some crazy winding roads into the Gila National Forest, where we hiked and explored some cliff dwellings. These have fascinated me since I was a kid, and said kid in me felt it was really neat to finally see some. These were built and inhabited by the Mogollon native people 700-800 years ago. Very cool place. We spent that night in a hotel rather than camping because it had been many days since we'd taken a shower and it was supposed to be a very cold night, below freezing.
From Gila, we drove further west and into Arizona. Our first destination was the mind-blowing and somewhat psychedelic Chiricahua National Monument. It is hard to describe, and also difficult to capture the magical trippiness of the place in photographs. Here's a little video we made for our familias:
From there we continued west to the Sonoran desert, and into Saguaro. This desert is... very spiky, spiny and HOT. The landscape is peppered by very large and wickedly far-out Saguaro cacti (check out the pic below, that's me at the foot of one of them). There is all kinds of cool wildlife out there... mountain lions, coyotes, roadrunners, Gila Monsters, tarantulas... but we only encountered some Africanized honey bees whose swarming hive we wisely circumvented. I am typing this in our tent somewhere north of Phoenix... tomorrow we head north to Sedona and eventually the Grand Canyon.