It’s been rough most of the last few weeks dealing with the high winds and frequent dust storms in New Mexico. As a rest and regather stop, I’m at a Boondockers Welcome hosts’ home in Southeast Arizona for five nights, specifically seven miles outside the tiny metropolis of Willcox, Arizona. An inexpensive annual club, Boondockers Welcome consists of RV-friendly hosts who list their places to boondock at for one to five nights for free (or if provided, a tiny payment for hookups). Hosts are typically RVers themselves, so it’s a way to meet more people in the tribe, so to speak, for both guest and host.
Since arriving, I’ve wallowed and done very little! Not pure nothing, but close. Needed the break to just be, and outside of a few excursions into Willcox proper (and more below on making the most of the least), just rested, read, slept a lot, prepared food for ahead, etc. Tomorrow is a bit more exciting as I head over to explore historical Tombstone, AZ, then on to eccentric Bisbee, AZ, in the afternoon.
Meanwhile, in my lazy, no-hurry state, I experienced the pleasure of exploring a small town that on the surface seems like a place you’d drive by and ignore, or perhaps stop and gas up there, but drive on with nary a second thought about the people living there or their town.
Willcox’s population of around 3,800 seems too small to support much of anything, but is essentially an agriculture and ranching community, with a good sprinkling of retirees living in the open plains nestling up to those mountains I never tire looking at. Interestingly, the Willcox wine region area produces 74% of wine grapes grown in Arizona.
As with small towns like this, what you first see is usually not the best part of the town. The outskirts where the ACE Hardware, Hitchin’ Post Cafe, and Safeway lie could be anywhere USA. Other parts are somewhat abandoned, or run down, but still in use. The real gems of these little towns are found in their original downtown area where, if they had a robust history, you’ll likely find something special.
Way back in the day (really way back) the railroad fed Willcox and by the number of old buildings kept intact in the historical downtown district, it must have been quite the place. Now these old buildings are boutiques, or themed restaurants, thrift shops, junk shops, even the old movie theatre is still there screening modern movies.
Even though the downtown places are somewhat (okay, mostly) touristy, they’re still interesting to roam around on a sunny, cool day in Willcox, Arizona, with those mountains as a perpetual vista before heading on to other adventures in a few days.