The San Rafael Valley is a well-kept secret in the borderlands of Cochise County, Arizona. Micro-climates make this a surprisingly fertile territory for wine grapes, and several wineries are dotted throughout the area, surrounded by BLM territory and a collection of independently operated ranches. There are the odd ‘desert rats’ that live on these lands, too – individuals who prefer to live a more solitary life, away from the noise and bustle of the city.
This largely unmanicured region can seem threatening. The rules of the west are fully on display. If you trespass on the wrong property, you will most-assuredly come face-to-face with an angry rancher and a shotgun. Landowners are wary of outsiders; many are hardened against trespassers as a result of drug-muling and human trafficking. But for the casual traveler, if you play by the rules, the only sign of human life you will ever encounter are Border Patrol trucks and the occasional unmanned drone flying overhead.
I feel at home out here, looking down the deep valley, where the wind gliding through the dry grass is the dominant sound. Where the sky opens up and reminds one how small they really are.