Saturday, May 14, 2016

Under the Tucson Sun

Roger here...  The saguaro cactus above is one of many at Catalina State Park where we are staying for a week.  We are staying for seven nights and are currently half-way through our stop.

An interesting factoid about the saguaros from our friend, Greg.... It takes 50 years for the plant to grow an arm.  So these guys must be pretty old.

We have another spacious and scenic campsite.  Trees shade the site, an important matter in the 90-100 degree mid-day temperatures --- (a dry heat :-).   We also have another spectacular view.

Mount Lemmon (It really is spelled with two Ms.)

Two other features of our campsite have made it memorable (actually three).  The first feature is a painful one.  While walking the dogs after our arrival, I stepped on one of these thorn-filled branches.  One of the thorns pierced all the way through my soft-soled shoe and a quarter inch into my foot.  There was blood, pain, loud ouching, gnashing of teeth and a lot of hobbling.  I could not pull the thorn out with my hands (needed a pair of pliers) so I had to hop back to the campsite holding the shoe and two dog leashes that were attached to two dogs who were continually lunging toward the local critters.  Dianne rescued me when she saw me limping down the road. Happy ending....  I survived and did not need to have the foot amputated.

The second feature involved the critters that so interested the dogs.  The campground is laid out in the middle of a prairie dog town.  What fun it is to watch them pop up, look around, and do their prairie dog thing.  The dogs could not be happier.

Retraction!  Since first publishing this post, we discovered that the critters that we thought were small prairie dogs are actually round-tailed squirrels.  They look like prairie dogs, and move like prairie dogs, and live in underground towns with big holes like prairie dogs, but they're not.  

The third feature is actually a luxury.  The showers here are so nice that we would rather use them than the one in our motor home.  No pictures of the shower room  ---  I thought it would be weird.

The primary reason that we decided to spend so much time in the Tucson area was to visit with our friends, Greg and Barb, and to see their new home at Sun City --- Oro Valley.  They invited us to their home (pictures in next post) on our arrival day for a delicious home-cooked meal.  Ribs! and wine. 

 Greg referred to the planned activities that they designed for us as appointments.  Our first "appointment" on the second day was a tour of Sun City Oro Valley.  This fifty-five plus community has two thousand homes and virtually every activity one could imagine.  In the picture above, Barb and Greg are posing with the statue outside the Aquatic and Fitness Center.  There was so much to see...  lap swimming, tennis, pickle ball, huge weight room, miniature golf, golf, bocce ball, etc. Organized activities such as bicycling and hiking were also plentiful.   

Tennis Courts

The Artisan Center was equally impressive. There seemed to be dedicated space and organized classes for virtually any artistic effort and interest--- even a spacious library, a modern computer center, and an auditorium for various events, including resident thespians.





Model Making


Stained Glass

There is a gift shop where residents' works of art can be purchased.  Pretty amazing.

Appointment number one ended with lunch at the golf course grill right in the development.  (It was delicious!  -- D.)

Greg gave us some time off before our second "appointment."  We had mojitas and appetizers at a local eatery, then took our lawn chairs to a free outdoor concert in front of the movie theater.  The band, Ronstadt Generations, consisted of Linda Ronstadt's brother and two of her nephews.  They were all originally from the Tucson area, and they were good!

It was a little more crowded than we expected it to be.  There was not room for the four of us to sit in one spot.  So Dianne and Barb were off by themselves.  

The temperature had cooled by early evening and the setting was amazing.

We enjoyed a night's rest before promptly meeting for our third appointment --- a drive through the Catalina Mountains to the top of Mount Lemmon (the mountain we see from our campsite).

The scenery, as Greg drove up the mountain, varied with the elevation.  During the early part of the drive, saguaro dominated our views.  There were also bicyclists struggling to the top of the mountain --- many, many bicyclists.  Dianne insisted that they were crazy and could not possibly be having fun.

Further up the mountain the terrain became more rocky.  We traveled through several miles of intriguing hoodoos.

During a quick stop I was able to break away and climb up on a rock.  One of my joys :-).  I have not been able to do that for some time.  This summer's travels should afford other opportunities.

When we neared the summit of Mount Lemmon, we stopped for lunch in a small town near a ski resort.  We then proceeded up to the ski resort that was covered with pine trees, 9000+ feet above sea level.

Barb and Greg
We took a half hour chair lift ride (each way) to the top of the mountain.  Greg made bird noises along the way.  Another interesting factoid from Greg...  This is the southernmost ski resort in the continental United States.
Despite Dianne's concerns, both she and Barb made perfect dismounts as they hopped off at the end of the return trip.

You might think our fun was over, but it was not.

We headed back to the small mountain town and found the Cookie Cabin.

Now that is a chocolate chip cookie!  (Try to picture the was fresh from the oven, warm and gooey -- oh, so good!   We split one.  -- D.)

Upon returning to civilization, Greg allowed us an hour of free time before our fourth "appointment."

We were all invited to one of Barb and Greg's neighbors' home for a happy hour.  The view from this spacious and beautiful patio behind the house was breathtaking, and the hosts and other neighbors were so very friendly.  We have decided that this is a really good place.  

More to come from Tucson in the next post.  

Now for the pet pictures of the day.

Izzy and Bandido renewing their friendship with a game of tug.

Tequila on prairie dog alert.

Found one!


Nancy and Bill said...

Now that's the kind of "Appointments" we would like;o)) Good seeing you up on those rocks again!!!

Anonymous said...

Tucson is an amazing town. So much to do, and so many wonderful places to eat. Try Ray's BBQ on Speedway, if it's still in business. Also Lucky Wishbone has the best chicken strips in the world. Avra Valley, West of Tucson is very beautiful. And who could refuse Kitts Peak?!!! Love your blog!