Sunday, December 27, 2020

Counting down


This strange time has given us plenty of time to reminisce about places we have visited over the years. As Jim Croce starts singing, memories start flooding back.  Like having Sunday brunch overlooking the Potomac River and Watergate Hotel in Washington DC or taking ferries to Alaska or in Italy. One memory leads to another as the I Heart Radio playlist cranks out songs from the 60s and 70s with the words that are still in our brains. The best memories are time spent with family like skiing with grandsons, Tyler and Kyle. We are also made us hopeful to return to new adventures again.


The Loop

Our slower than usual travel over the past 9 months has given us the opportunity to take hiking and cycling trails we have previously missed in Colorado and Tucson awaiting the vaccine. These are some of the places we enjoyed while in Tucson. 

The 54 mile trail around Tucson is pretty flat and has another 50 miles of trails to ride or walk. The streets are rough and congested to ride on, making the trail even more desirable.

We woke to snow on the Catalina Mountains.

Lost Dutchman

During a visit to Mesa for our final repairs on our trailer, a bobcat made a brief visit. Fortunately, I happened to have the camera sitting on the table as we watch the Superstition Mountains change with the sunset as he made a quick stop.

Agua Caliente Park

Agua Caliente, Spanish for hot water, is a unique 101-acre park with a perennial warm spring and pond and evidence of human habitation dating back about 5,500 years. In 1873, a ranch and health resort was developed and is now a city park.

The renovated 1870s Ranch House Visitor Center and Art Gallery were closed and the weekly birding tours on hold until after COVID. We enjoyed the shade of mature palm trees and native mesquite trees as we walked around the park checking out the ranch and bunch house.  The desert has been very dry this year and this was a the perfect place to watch birds as they snacked on bugs over the water.

Sabino Canyon's Phoneline Trail

We took the shuttle 4 miles to the end of the canyon's road and hiked the scenic 5 miles back to the visitor's center. 

Phoneline Trail runs along the eastern slope of Sabino Canyon created to carry supplies up to Summerhaven on Mt. Lemmon. The first phone line from Tucson to Mt. Lemmon ran along the trail. 

The 1/2 mile trail of switchbacks up to the Phoneline trail.

We could see both Blackett's Ridge and Thimble Peak from the trail which is relatively flat with plenty of rock obstacles to avoid. We would stop to look around rather than stumble over the edge. I was glad to have my hiking pole with me.

We are armchair travelers for a while with so many good memories and a few that were stressful. The time I was too cheap to pay for a private vehicle to take us to the airport in Paris. We had train passes to use and save the 60 euros. After all, we had just spent two weeks traveling from Switzerland and found our way just fine. Well, sort of, with the help of a few kind people. We made it to the airport but had no idea how to find out gate or even an entrance. Finally, an English speaking lady who was also looking for British Air and took pity on us. Once we were shuttled to our plane and settled into our seats, the pilot announced "Congratulations, you survived Charles De Galle". 
As we listen to The Grass Roots, we are enjoying the memories but also planning for the future. Thank goodness for the intelligent scientists mixing their magic brews into vaccines.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Mt Lemon

 Catalina Highway

Before starting our drive up the Catalina Highway up Mt Lemmon, we downloaded the University of Arizona's Mount Lemmon Science Tour app.

The free hour long audio tour app produced by the University of Arizona College of Science, is available to accompany the drive up the Santa Catalina Mountains Highway near Tucson. From the Sonoran Desert at the bottom to the pine forest at the top of Mount Lemmon, covers 6,000 vertical feet. In climate terms, it is like driving from Mexico to Canada in an hour.
The objective of the Science Tour is to teach the science of southern Arizona. The Santa Catalina Mountains are just one of several Sky Island mountain ranges that make southern Arizona an environment unlike any other. Sky Islands are isolated mountain ranges in southeastern Arizona and northern Mexico, connecting two very different mountainous regions with more biodiversity in southern Arizona than anywhere else in the United States in only a few miles.
The drive from the bottom to the top, at the speed limit, takes one hour.  

Approximately 18 miles up Catalina Highway, we found ourselves at Windy Vista Viewpoint.

We are definitely getting restless to be back on the road or volunteering now that the trailer has been repaired. We have a few dental appointments for our tune ups before heading out in February.

Living in an RV resort is ok for a while. We had been offered the opportunity to camp host at Kartchner Caverns State Park or Picacho Peak State Park but had to pass until our teeth and trailer were tuned up.

I get lonely for friends and family at times and know things will change soon. But I never feel lonely while hiking or riding my bike. We talk a lot  while hiking for a while and other then walk for a mile or more without saying a word. Last week the 13 miles of hiking and 50 miles of bike rides over  left my left foot hurting. Ice, rest and massage did wonders. Actually, I think my foot hurt from running around in my flip flops. Back to sensible shoes.

The Arizona National Scenic Trail is a complete non-motorized path, stretching 800 diverse miles across Arizona from Mexico to Utah.
At the end of the highway, Skiing and snowboarding Mt Lemmon typically runs from December through February depending on snow conditions and accumulation. Ski Valley atop of Mt Lemmon boasts the title of Southern most ski resort in the continental United States and has over 20 runs including 8 that are Black Diamond. 

We didn't bring our skis with us since snowfalls is marginal at best. But we hope to get some skiing in once we head back to Utah soon.
Changing leaves along the Sunset trail.

I had previously mentioned that Canadians have been blocked from driving across the border leaving many resorts in the US's southern states with lots of vacancies. Snowbirds make a 2.4 billion dollar impact on Arizona's economy. They make an even larger impact on Florida when 500,000 flock south to the sounds of 6 billion dollars. Some Canadian friends have flown to Arizona for the winter. A few have hired towing companies to haul their RVs across the border. Commercial traffic is still allowed. They then fly to the US and retrieve their RVs for the winter travels

Cuenca, Ecuador

An Expat Destination The morning after returning to Quito we boarded an hour-long flight to Cuenca. Driving up the winding roads would have ...