Mount Lemmon Closed–Rain Dance Anyone?

8 Jun

Mount Lemmon, my favorite summer hiking spot, has closed until further notice due to extreme fire danger.  That means all of my favorite summer hiking trails AND Sabino Canyon are off limits until the sky opens up with some fire season relief.  Since the majority of forest fires are started by people who can’t seem to follow the no campfires or the please don’t throw cigarettes out the window of your moving vehicle rules, we’ve all been banned until further notice.  Worse yet, the dry lightening strikes that usually precede the wet rain of monsoon season are apparently pose a threat of setting fire to the forest.  I’m so sad!  Please do your rain dances and think good thoughts for our beautiful mountain forest!

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Wilderness of Rocks

19 May

Wilderness of Rocks
9 Mile Loop, 2000+ ft. elevation change.

The Wilderness of Rocks trail was the first trail we ever hiked on Tucson’s Mt. Lemmon and the heat drove us back for a second run last weekend.  It’s a beautiful trail with strange, rock formations, cool, shaded forests and amazing vistas.  The hike starts at the summit of Mt. Lemmon (from The Catalina Highway, take the road to Ski Valley frand follow it to the parking lot at the end) and immediately plunges down to world of rocks, running streams and pine forest.  The walk back up the mountain is a tough, but rewarding climb.

You’ll see a lot of variety on this trail, including a lot of old fire damage/devastation.  I didn’t have a camera with me last week, so I used my phone and snapped a few pics and played around :

Looking down from Mt. Lemmon.

Rocks, rocks and more rocks!

In the forest...

A Walk Down the Miracle Mile

10 May

Original 1950's sign of the Tucson Inn.

A couple of weekends ago, I found myself on an Open House/Tour of Tucson’s Miracle Mile that was put together by the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation.  Wandering up and down historic, though somewhat seedy, Miracle Mile, once the main highway leading into town, might seem an off thing to do on a beautiful Saturday morning, but it was an absolute treat!

The Miracle Mile stretch of old highway 80 had its boom in the 1940’s-1960’s, where many a cool, neon signed motel/motor court sprouted, only to fall out of popularity when the freeway was built, diverting traffic around town.  What’s left today is a mix of crumbling, motels, some of which have fallen to various states of decay to fully restored, preserved and rennovated buildings, celebrating the architecture of the boom.  It was interesting to walk around and see the old motels, especially those that had been restored and rennovated into new spaces for senior living communities and artist studios.  The showcase of the event was an open house of Ghost Ranch Lodge, which has just been restored and reopened as a senior living community, mixing the old casitas and motel blocks with newly built apartments to match.

The restored Ghost Ranch Lodge, now a senior living community.

Sign from the "refrigerated" La Siesta Motel

The Oasis at El Coral, also restored to a senior living community.

Studio Galleries at Monterey Court

Hello Mt. Lemmon!

29 Apr

Spring is in the air, which means that the thermometer is creeping up and up and as lovely as the 85+ degree weather is for evening  bbq’s, leisurely strolls in the shade, lounging by the pool, and so on, it is definitely getting a bit hot for desert hiking.  Of course, all of this is to say that last weekend we were  inspired to make the trip up Mt. Lemmon for the cool mountain air and the extensive network of trails.  I love Mt. Lemmon.  As soon as I discovered it (and its generally 30 degree cooler temperatures), I knew that I could be happy in Tucson.

Last week’s hike was along the Green Mountain trail, from the trailhead/parking lot across the road from the Bear Canyon campground/picnic area.  We hiked all the way up to the Upper Green Mountain trailhead, turned around and hiked back.  If you have two cars and want to shorten the 8 or 9 mile distance, you can park one car at the top and shuttle between them (that way you can choose whether to hike up or down)!  Either way, the views, the fresh mountain air and the satisfying crunch of the pine needles under your feet is well worth the drive up the mountain!

The Desert Museum

20 Apr
 

The Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum is one of my favorite places here in Tucson. A sort of botanical garden/zoo, there’s a lot of fun things to see and learn about within the 21 acres of pristine desert. I like to bring non-hiking visitors here to get a taste of Tucson because it’s sort of like hiking through the desert, with its 2 miles of winding trails through the plants and animal displays, but much easier than actually forcing them to actually hike through the desert, which is admittedly, not everyone’s cup of tea. 

Of course, my favorite parts of the Desert Museum are the animal displays:

Mr and Mrs Bobcat take a stretch.

A tiny owl says hello.

Javelinas, doing their thing.

A staring contest with the Kestrel Falcon.

The only kind of javelina that Id want to get this close to...

The Presidio Trail

13 Apr

Don’t you just love how hosting a guest will get you out of the house and into the role of tourguide?  Well, I certainly love the chance to do something touristy in your own backyard.  With that in mind, when my inlaws came to visit this past week, we decided to take a self guided walking tour down the old Presidio Trail.  The tour, which has a handy map that can be downloaded from The Tucson Presidio Trust for Historic Preservation, is a fun way to take an interesting walk around old, downtown historic Tucson (it’s so easy, just follow the blue line painted on the sidewalk!).

The thing I liked most about the tour was the way it gave us an excuse the meander our way through downtown Tucson and enjoy some obvious and not so obvious sights that we might not have even noticed otherwise.  Some of my favorites:

The Pima County Courthouse, with it's beautiful pink walls and tiled dome.

Funny how you can work across the street from a place and hardly ever really go inside unless you take the time to do something like a walking tour!

The Wishing Shrine with its legend of a tragic love triangle.

Old, thick adobe buildings in the barrio historico.

Pops of color in the Barrio Historico.

My personal favorite: Aging neon signs of the Pueblo Hotel.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

30 Mar

Before we moved to Tucson, neither of us have never lived in a place (other than my parents’ house while I was growing up) with any kind of yard.  Our last place in San Francisco didn’t even have a patio even a fire escape for even the smallest bit of outdoor living.  As a result, we are now endlessly appreciative of our luxurious (to us) backyard.  Aside from lounging in the yard, dog stretched out at our feet on the porch, my favorite thing is the garden.  I don’t really know how to garden (my only previous plant experience consists of a potted houseplant named Edward), but I am having fun watching, with wonder, as seeds turn to plants and plants turn to tasty food!

Take a photo walk through the garden today:

Peas in a Pod

When oh when will they be ready to eat?!


Carrot?!

Will this really be a carrot soon?

Baby Plum

 

I really can’t take any credit for the plums, as the tree was already here when we moved in, but it has been fun to watch the tree get blossoms and now baby plums!

Billina The Chicken

Not a plant, but the chickens would like to remind you that they are part of the backyard/garden too!