An Agenda in Tucson

I fell in love with Tucson when I visited last year, but my time was limited.  I was on my own version of the Amazing Race to make it to Oregon in time for the spring Skinnie Winnie Rally, so I limited myself to three nights in both parks; Catalina and Gilbert Ray.   I loved both of them equally for their different surroundings, so this year, I vowed to return and stay until I felt like I’d had my fill.IMG_1360 IMG_1366

Ocotillo over Sabino Canyon

Ocotillo over Sabino Canyon

It didn’t take long to get my fill of Catalina.  Last year, I had a nice big spot in the corner with the Catalina mountains in my face.  This year, the park was full, and the only thing I had “in my face” was the awnings of Overflow.    Once again, I was grateful to have a place to park at the end of a drive down from Phoenix along the International Speedway of I-10, but still it is maddening being crammed into such a small circle of the Ringtail Loop with two other huge, empty group sites adjacent to me.

My reason for wanting to return to Catalina was all about Sabino Canyon.  I didn’t expect that I would be so lucky as to have another “Ladies of the Canyon” * encounter as last time.  That was a serendipitous lesson in canyon living that I still think about a year later.IMG_1369

Telephone Line Trail goes to the right, high along the canyon wall.

Telephone Line Trail goes to the right, high along the canyon wall.

Overlooking the trams below...

Overlooking the trams below…

No, my reason for wanting to return was prompted by the same vanity that won’t allow a woman to bypass a scale tucked into a private corner after she has been following the latest diet craze.  I wanted to see if I could hike the canyon “bottom up” this time.  Last year, I couldn’t do it.  I had to ride the tram to the top and walk the four miles back down.  But someone told me in retirement, “You are now going to be the Director and CEO of YOU!” to which I replied, “And my first agenda item is going to be to get my fat a__ in shape!”  So I needed to see if I was making progress by benchmarking against my baseline.  😉 (You can take the girl out of the corporation.  Hopefully eventually you can take the corporate out of the girl!)IMG_1387 IMG_1408 IMG_1394

I am pleased to report not only did I make the 8 mile trek up and back, but I went a little further beyond the turning point.  While at the top of the canyon, I met a man who told me there was a worthy spot another four miles up the trail called “Hutch’s Pools,” a beautiful spot to cool off with a dip in the pool.  He recommends riding the tram up, and hiking in from the top of the last tram stop.  Oh, well, there’s always next year.  As Roseanna Danna would say, “It’s ahhhhlways sumpthin!”IMG_1401 IMG_1402 IMG_1389

I did have another interesting encounter in the canyon this year.  A group of 14 “Christian students” on a field trip.  Based on the long skirts worn by the teenaged girls, I took that to mean “Mormon.”   They stopped for a sermon in the most scenic stop of the entire canyon, so I took that as my permission to eavesdrop.  Their “Guide” was making reference to the prolific veins of red marble that ran through the hillside, comparing it to “the blood of Christ.”

Two of the students sit high atop the rock formations on left.

Two of the students sit high atop the rock formations on left.

Blood on the rocks?

Blood on the rocks?

Switchbacks to return down from Telephone Trail.

Switchbacks to return down from Telephone Trail.

As he was finishing his brainwashing of the malleable young minds, their sun hats ringed with wildflowers from the Canyon, he encouraged them, “As we leave here, if you see some white rock with a little vein of red that reminds you of The Blood of Christ, pick it up and put it in your pocket as a reminder of our time here today.”   Too bad he is does not teach the message with as much reverence for the future of Mother Nature as he does for the past of Father Christ.  “Take nothing but pictures.  Leave nothing but footprints.”
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26 thoughts on “An Agenda in Tucson

  1. Great pics! Never made it to Tucson. Good for you on the hike.
    So much to see when you do the walk. Enjoy your blog.

    • Hi, Gaelyn — Yes, Havasu was proof, but Sabino Canyon was more like an “unfinished conquest.” I wanted to hike up last year and couldn’t. So it was more about returning to finish a commitment to myself that “next time I come back, I am hiking up this canyon, darn it!!”

  2. Congratulations on achieving your goal! I have two favorites in your post; my favorite picture is: Ocotillo over Sabino Canyon. What a unique Saguaro!

    My favorite phrase: “brainwashing of the malleable young minds”

  3. Nope, not Mormon–they don’t do long skirt hikes. Might have been Mennonite or some other group that requires the women to wear long dresses no matter what (can’t imagine doing that!) We recently had an extremely interesting stay in the heart of an Amish community in Nappanee, Indiana. So thought provoking on so many levels. Glad you are enjoying Tucson! We are here too–in a moment of whimsy we bought a 1/2 acre property as a place to sit a spell with the RV each winter–now we are up to our eyeballs in fixing it up–but we seem to enjoy such challenges. Perhaps we can meet up for a bite of breakfast, lunch, or dinner while you are here?

    • Tina, thanks for the clarification on the “skirt-hike!” I have never had the opportunity to visit an Amish community, so I am unfamiliar.

      What a great place to sit a spell! I love Tucson! Wish I had known you were there, I would have loved to meet up. But I am behind on the blog, as I have already moved over a state. Next year, though, I will certainly give you a shout!

      • That would be great! By that time we are planning to have a “guest” RV hookup on the property too, so you’ll be welcome. It’s peaceful and we have lots of birds and awesome cactus. We leave here in May, so who knows…maybe we will cross paths somewhere else before then! Safe travels.

  4. It’s been several years since we’ve done the Sabino Canyon hike, so it’s probably time to make sure we can still do it. (Although we did recently complete the 10-mile Wasson Peak hike in Saguaro NP, and that was a good one, too.) Love those personal challenges! Although I certainly would think your Havasu hike is proof that you are, indeed, in excellent shape. :-)

    • Thanks for the comment, Laurel. Yes, the Havasu hike was more challenging, but as I said to Gaelyn above, it was more about returning to do something I wanted to do last year but couldn’t.

      I did Wasson Peak last week. Loved that one also!

  5. I just re-visited your Tucson blogs from last year as we are contemplating driving down in May for a month or so in order to see if the dryness will help Deede with the pain which has kept us home bound for the past year. After visiting many doctors they seem to be now thinking that it might be arthritic in origin. So we loved your prose and pictures today.
    Keep up the good work and looking to find a way to combine your work skills with retirement.

    • Allen, I have heard people say before that Arizona is good for arthritic pain. I certainly hope you find positive results for Deede! I really love the Tucson area, so I hope you enjoy the visit. Wish I was still there, I would love to meet you both!

  6. We love Tucson and all the surrounding areas. Sabino Canyon is a wonderful place. Our favorite hike is to the Seven Falls. Good to see you are in better shape than last year:) Check that off the list! Your photos are beautiful and make me miss my saguaro. But then I am with my red rocks:) I love that nurse tree with all those young saguaro…a busy momma !

    Suzanne, I think you should have spoken to the leader of that group and reminded them of the general rule of nature especially after seeing the flowers in their hats. Too bad they only respect what they want too.

  7. Hi, Pam,

    I have been thinking of you a lot. I have some “crested sightings” to post if I can ever get caught up on the blog! I started to do Seven Falls, as the volunteer in the Visitor’s Center recommended it, but I had to do the Telephone Line, since it was the one I had my sights on last year.

    I agree it was a missed opportunity. I should have given them an entire additional hour lecture on respecting nature!

  8. Corporate speak stays with you but maybe now you can look at it objectively and see that it was often a longwinded way of saying something. What I used to notice was that a particular phrase would have a huge popularity for a while until something else replaced it.
    Good on you for doing the hike too and great pictures, did you use your recently acquired map skills?

    • Hi, Dave,

      I tried finding a topo map of the area, but the Visitor’s Center had no maps at all! If I don’t start using them soon, I am going to lose them again!

  9. Hiking in a long skirt? I can’t even climb stairs in a long skirt. I’m sure you are a “selected” few to see this group in the mountains – a sign? Hope not. Think of all that extra laundry…
    When is the Skinnie Winnie Rally in Oregon? Sounds fun.

    • Hi, Linda — Sorry, my reference to the Skinnie Winnie was last year’s rally in Canyonville, OR. This year, the rally is somewhere in Ohio. They try to alternate coasts, so this next one will be in the middle. Too far from me this year, unfortunately.

  10. Who said you don’t get better with age. Congrats on achieving your goal. Looking forward to ‘reading ‘about the next hike. I get my best hiking done that way.

    • My thoughts exactly, Pam! I know how excited I get when I see a new wildflower I have never seen before. How sad if this group had gone before me and plucked them all!

  11. Beautiful photos of a great achievement! You’re very inspiring :-) It is so telling that a religious group can disrupt an otherwise spiritual experience. I suspect that in spite of the leader’s disrespect of her, Mother Nature touched many of the young people in that setting in a very real way.

  12. Jodee — I hope you are right. It was interesting to observe the group, how most were just interested in “selfies,” but there were a couple who were also photographing nature, which was refreshing…

  13. You have given me a great idea when next we head to Tucson. And looking back at your posts and what you have accomplished, I would say you are getting in amazing shape! Well done! :)

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