Unfulfilled Wishes

After spending a stretch of days in remote destinations, living off a diet of Clif Bars, PB&J sandwiches, and my own boring cooking, I was ready for some urban dining when I got to Tucson. Goodness knows, there are opportunities here with a lineup of chain restaurants to attract the masses to the most upscale of strip malls. There are Pizza Parlours, Taquerias, tamale houses, noodle houses, steak houses galore, and that’s all without ever even leaving the “main drag” of Oracle Road right outside Catalina State Park.

With the vast variety of fancy restaurant fare to choose from, I had been looking forward to “getting my ethnic on,” in some exotic Indian or Asian fusion fantasy. Instead, I ended up in a chain chicken joint, “The Lucky Wishbone” –a fast food fried chicken eatery that caters mostly to take-out, with a few aluminum chairs dotted around the white tiled sterile counter. Not exactly ambiance, but I wasn’t there for the setting. I was there for the piece of chicken known as the wishbone, or more fondly referred to in my family as the “pulley bone!”

I venture to say, most people today never heard of a wishbone, unless it is a salad dressing. I can imagine even fewer know the term “pulley bone.” It is essentially the collar bone, or fused clavicle of the chicken, which when left intact, is the symbol known as the “wishbone.” (Apologies to my vegetarian/vegan friends!) The only way to obtain this special cut of the chicken is by hand-carving the chicken, in my case, by a loving mother.

Growing up in the south, Mom to this day still fries most everything. But as kids, her fried chicken was a special treat. And since there was only one wishbone, it was a given that a fight would break out over who got the pulley bone. My older brother always seemed to win this sibling squabble. As the oldest in the family, he always got to pick his favorite piece. He not only got his wish with the prized piece of chicken, but in the wishbone battle as well. (What? Me bitter?) 😉

Like a box of Cracker Jacks with the prize inside, the wishbone comes with its own toy imbedded. Each player grabs an end, makes a wish, and whomever ends up with the bigger piece of the wishbone is the lucky winner whose wish was promised to come true. Of course, there is a strategy. Getting one’s thumb highest up the apex of the wishbone typically assures a win, which ultimately results in a game of thumb-wrestling.

I haven’t seen this cut of chicken since I was a child, so when I read in the Yelp reviews about “The Lucky Wishbone,” well, I simply can’t resist. My wishbone comes right out of the deep fat fryer, too hot to even bite into. The crust is a golden crunchy brown, and the meat, juicy, white and tender. But I hardly taste it for the anticipation of getting down to the wishbone to relive one of our most memorable family traditions. But sadly, like most attempts at recreating childhood memories, the present day version falls short. Alas, my wishbone had already been broken…LW1


Meanwhile, here is a great way to burn off the calories consumed at the Lucky Wishbone…Romero Pools hike from Catalina State Park. A beautiful 2.8 mile OW out and back hike with an elevation gain of 900 Ft. Add on another mile from Ringtail Overflow to the trail head, and you have a respectable 7 to 8 miles.

It’s a steep climb up, up, up on an unseasonably hot Tucson spring day. Young athletic types pass me wearing skimpy clothes and swimsuits under their spandex, offering the promise of a dip in the pool as relief from the baking sun directly overhead. Finally after what feels like I have been climbing up and over the devil’s own wishbone to reach his watering hole, I reach the pools…barely enough water to soak my Manhattan-born blister, let alone a refreshing dip.  But a beautiful hike nonetheless…

It's a warm day on the trail!

It’s a warm day on the trail!

"My analyst told me..."

“My analyst told me…”

I have fallen in love with the Mariposa Lily.

I have fallen in love with the Mariposa Lily.

Mariposa is Spanish for "butterfly."  I love that they are such solitary stems.

Mariposa is Spanish for “butterfly.” I love that they are such solitary stems.

That there's SHEEP COUNTRY!

That there’s SHEEP COUNTRY!

In Nov, 2013, thirty-one bighorn sheep were released in Catalina State Park.

In Nov, 2013, thirty-one bighorn sheep were released in Catalina State Park.

Another 30 sheep are due to be released this year, therefore all sorts of restrictions are in force along the trail.

Another 30 sheep are due to be released this year, therefore all sorts of restrictions are in force along the trail.

They will transplant 30 sheep per year until the herd reaches 100.  Sadly, I did not see any on my hike.

They will transplant 30 sheep per year until the herd reaches 100. Sadly, I did not see any on my hike.


Overlooking "Montrose Pools" along the way.

Overlooking “Montrose Pools” along the way.

Finally, I reach Romero Pools.

Finally, I reach Romero Pools.

My only wildlife sighting.

My only wildlife sighting.

Looking down over the trickle of a waterfall.

Looking down over the trickle of a waterfall.


No matter how small the stream, it still feels refreshing on a hot day.

No matter how small the stream, it still feels refreshing on a hot day.

Why does one of my favorite desert flowers have such a difficult name?  "Parry's Penstemon."

Why does one of my favorite desert flowers have such a difficult name? “Parry’s Penstemon.”



28 thoughts on “Unfulfilled Wishes

    • Janna, I was surprised to see how many of us grew up with pulley bones! I was not sure if we were the only ones who called them that, but looks like it was more popular than I thought…

  1. Beautiful hiking as usual! I think your wildlife siting was a Colorado River Toad, also known as a Sonoran Desert Toad. The critters are absolutely lethal to dogs. They have poison glands behind their eyes and on their hind legs that excrete a toxic poison, so if a dog even licks one, it can kill them. We just had rattlesnake aversion training done on our property for our three dogs, and in two weeks the trainer is returning with one of the toads for “toad aversion training” too. For those who might be thinking about protecting their dogs, you might be interested to know that our vet here in Tucson said not to bother with the immunizations that supposedly protect your dog from rattlesnake bites. She said it doesn’t protect them from the effects of a bite, and you still have to get your dog to the vet within four hours to save it, no matter what–a very expensive process. The aversion training is apparently highly effective, with the exception of a dog simply being surprised by a snake they didn’t see. We’ve been less than thrilled to hear from multiple sources that Tucson has a rather high snake population. A friend of our trainer who works with rattlesnake removal as his full-time job even got bitten recently on a hike…so be careful out there!

    • Tina, I think this is very useful information for dog owners. Thank you for posting it here. I knew toads could make a dog sick, but I had no idea it was that toxic. Also had no idea there was snake training! Interesting…

  2. Lucky for me I only had one brother to fight with over the wishbone, and we did every time!
    I really like the photo of the toad. We’ve never seen a sheep in Catalina, either.

  3. I remember fighting over the wishbone but deep friend chicken is over the top for me now. Good thing you had a hike lined up to work it off. Looks gorgeous and the pool refreshing. Love the toad.

    • Gaelyn, it is over the top for me as well, but I can’t help myself. Fried chicken is my favorite food, unfortunately!

  4. Ahh – wishbone memories! As usual, as I read through your post, many of the pictures elicited a silent “Wow,” but your “My analyst told me…” caption resulted in a very loud laugh. Nicely done!

  5. Lovely park. Best Toad photo EVER! We always had a ‘pulley bone’ at our house too, which my mom and I would vie for. I suspect now she probably let me win every time.

    • Kim — I was trying to get down to the water, and that fat toad was in my way. He was not moving! You were fortunate to have such a compassionate pulley partner…

  6. I feel so guilty as I was the older brother who always got one side of the pulley bone, although it was not called that. I introduced the pleasure to my children and watched them decide whom should get to pull, being three children it allowed lots of discussion. Just last month I exposed my grand daughters to the joys of wishing only to see the top pop off leaving both with only the skinny leg in their hand.
    Another great hike and I guess that there was not much snow in the Tucson mountains as the streams were pretty shallow this spring. We loved the flowers and hope that the restoration of the sheep is successful. As always we enjoyed your creation.

  7. How disappointed to get all the way to the pulley bone only to find it broken:( Hope the chicken was good!

    Romero Pools is a neat hike with such gorgeous scenery. The day we hiked two years ago which would have been early Feb, the water was flowing fast. Glad you had a little water to do a soak:)

    • Pam, the chicken made up for the disappointment, just as the foot soak made up for the dry river. Both were worthy of a rematch.

  8. Excellent photos. I love the clarity of the colors of desert flowers – hope that makes sense. Enjoy your hikes but they never seems to use many calories for me 🙂 thank you for sharing.

  9. Love the wishbone memories. They were the highlight of fried chicken for me. I would definitely have gone to this restaurant. Is Pulley bone a regional term? I’d never heard of it? Texas? I’m from Ohio. Love the toad. He’s a fine only wildlife sighting. That water looks lovely even if there was only enough to put your feet in. Given the drought in the west that seems lucky.

    • Hi, Sherry! I suspect it might be a “southern thang.” I wasn’t sure if it was just my family, but several others including Jim from Life’s Adventures (from Florida) had also grown up with the term.

  10. Your wishbone tales brought back memories of my childhood. As one of the youngest of 7 I rarely got to pull the wishbone. I can still see my mom putting the wishbone on the windowsill in the kitchen to let it dry out before it was time to make a wish. I have never heard it called a pulley bone however.

    Thanks for bringing back this memory!

    • Jim and Barb — I am impressed that you had the stamina to wait for it to dry! We needed instant gratification. I do recall soaking it in vinegar a time or two though as a “science experiment.” It made it all “bendy.”

  11. I think the broken wishbone was telling you that your wishes are all coming true. 🙂 Love the Romero Pools hike — that’s our favorite at Catalina. We were there in early February and the pools were gloriously full — with a waterfall to add to the ambience.

  12. Thanks, Laurel, I’d like to think you were right! I would love to have seen the pools full. From the looks of all the people wearing swimsuits on the trail that day, there were some disappointed hikers.

  13. I had to laugh as I read about the wishbone as we did just this as kids, although I had never heard of it called a pulley bone. We also did that hike, although not trying to burn off calories from the Lucky Wishbone. Probably best that we had not heard of this place as it looks too yummy to resist. Love your wildlife sighting as I am a big frog fan. 🙂

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