Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Escape from Ohio to the Arizona Chill (Part Two) . . .

This is how I tried to title this post -- Escape from Ohio to the Arizona Sunshine Chill (Part Two) . . .  But the blogwriter wouldn’t let me use a typeface with a line through it in the title line.  But it would have been fitting – because it got cold in Arizona between Friday (where we left off yesterday) and Saturday morning.  Winter Storm Warnings in the mountains and a cold rain in the city.  So we took it easy on Saturday morning and then headed out after lunch.


Dad’s plan was to go partway up Mt. Lemmon Highway and start from there, but the road was closed at the foot of the mountain – the state patrol was manning the roadblock and ordering everyone to turn around.  But Dad has hiked everywhere around Tucson, so he immediately had an alternate hike closeby.  So we parked near the Avenida de Suzenu Trailhead and then walked through a housing development down Horsehead Road and into Coronado National Forest.

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Again, through a gate to enter the hiking area.  Most of the “fences” are long gone, but I assume there were once cattle roaming here.  You’ll notice that this was my “long pants hike” – Blake and Dad stay warmer than I do.  Besides, for much of the hike it was raining off and on and sometimes sleeting.  Gave me another reason to go into “old grump mode.”

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We spent much of this hike walking along ridges, with great views of the canyons below.

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You’ll note that we are not too far from civilization – that’s Tucson in the distance in both pictures.

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My brother in “moron mode” – there was nothing behind that flat rock but a drop of about 100 yards into the canyon.  Obviously, he doesn’t share my fear of heights – when I was a kid, it was really bad.


Thought this cactus with multiple arms was fascinating – apparently a saguaro cactus doesn’t even start growing an arm until it’s 75 years old.

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Found an abandoned house above the trail, so of course I wanted to go up and explore it.

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More views of the house, along with a look at the view from the front porch.

Sunday was another full hiking day -- 18+ miles in the Sabino Canyon and Bear Canyon areas.  We started at daylight in the parking area and walked 3.8 miles up a paved road – if you’re not a hiker, you can ride a tram up the canyon and back with stops along the way to sightsee.

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Dad convinced us to bring along an extra pair of shoes in case the water was running over any of the “bridges” along the way, but most of those along the tram road were dry.  I got a kick out of the warning sign for the bikers who frequent Sabino Canyon.

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Then it finally happened – water pouring over the bridge.  It wasn’t deep, so Dad just walked through.  But I couldn’t resist the challenge . . .

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So I hopped from one stone to another to keep my feet dry, then borrowed Blake’s camera to get a picture of him before we ventured on.

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Beautiful views as the sun came up.  The picture at right shows the tram road winding back through the canyon from an elevated spot after we started on the hiking trail.


Dad and Blake took food breaks – while they were eating, I looked for cell phone signal to send a text to Ryan back in Ohio.

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As I said, food breaks . . .

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Picnic/camping area near where a couple of trails meet before climbing into the mountains in different directions.  The Boy Scouts had spent a lot of time here clearing campsites and marking the trail as it crossed the stream.

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Three different views in the life of a saguaro cactus – the one in the middle still had a little bit of green at the top and the tips of the arms.

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Finally reached the point where we had to pick a route across a wide stream – and hopefully stay dry in the process.  Dad and I both chose to move carefully from boulders to rocks to partially submerged stones and took our time getting across.

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Blake just took off and jumped the wider distances – I guess the young have better balance.  Must have been a little more moisture here – the desert wildflowers that we saw in bloom at Picacho Peak three years ago (but weren’t this year) were blooming above Seven Falls.

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More views along the trail.  And those switchbacks across the canyon, leading to Seven Falls?  Yep, we walked them all.

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Had to cross the stream at least half a dozen times on the way through Bear Canyon and back to where we were parked.

On Monday, Blake and I decided to spend the morning with Mom before we headed to the airport.  We had reserved a rental car to drive from Tucson to Phoenix to save them the trip – it only cost $50 (less than the gas required for Dad to drive there and back).  So we started our day the way Mom starts hers most days . . .

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With a walk across the park to the dumpsters!

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It says a lot about how much more energy Mom has these days that I stopped to take a picture of her and Blake walking – and it took me more than a block to catch up with them.  Noticed along the way – I thought this was a rather ingenious way of making sure that your dish doesn’t blow over when the winds howl.

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Then we took Mom to breakfast.  Our first choice was Millie’s Pancake Haus – we have been there before and it’s great.  But it’s also closed on Mondays.  So we went to Mimi’s Cafe instead – walked in about 8:00 a.m. and had the whole place to ourselves.


It was nice to have some “Mom Time” and the waitress was happy to take a picture with all three of us.


Shortly after, we took off for Phoenix.  Made one stop along the way for a “fix” before heading home.

The rest should have been easy – the weather was fine everywhere and I got a text as we neared the airport that our flight was on time.  Little did we know (and I should have taken pictures of the ordeal but was too busy being irritated) that mechanical problems would cause our flight from Phoenix to be delayed for hours.  Since we were going to miss our connection in Denver, we were sent out of the terminal back to the ticket counter along with eight other “Dayton Refugees”.  Five of us were booked on a redeye flight to Charlotte on a different airline (the other three were stuck until the next day) – so we spent ten hours marooned in the Phoenix airport, all night on a plane to Charlotte, and finally arrived in Dayton about nine hours late.  I was fine on Tuesday, but the airport marathon and lack of sleep hit me hard for a couple of days after.


And of course this is what welcomed me back me the morning after we got home . . .

That’s it for this year.  I am curious – when I first decided to put a travelogue on the blog after the Grand Canyon hike four years ago, I just posted a few pics and narration.  But because some of you asked for more, I have posted many more pics the past few years.  Is it too many – would something in-between be better?  This takes a long time and I don’t want to bore you, so I would appreciate a little feedback.  Thanks!


  1. I love seeing all your pictures and hearing about your family. Don't ever quit!!

  2. I enjoy watching you with your family. I can't do that anymore & I'm so glad you have such a good relationship with your parents and brother. Don't stop sending pics! They're enjoyed!
    Paula S

  3. As a native Tucsonian married for life in Texas I enjoy all of your pictures as it brings back many wonderful memories. You need to experience Sabino Canyon in snow! It is awesome. Keep the pictures and narrative coming. And here's to a continued long and happy life for your parents to keep you doing the annual trek.

  4. There are not too many pictures for me - love following your adventures.

  5. Great to see it all greg- and how well your Mom looks!
    I've enjoyed visiting the desert and you and your family makes me understand how it could be home.
    It's not the place- it's the people.
    Hope we will et to meet in October.

  6. great pictures of you and family.

  7. I enjoy all the pictures and narratives about you and your family. I love seeing the area around Tucson. My son-in-law is stationed at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson.

    1. My parents' place is about two miles from Davis-Monthan -- we go right past it all the time.

  8. I love your chatty newsletters--I've grown to feel like I sort of know you! If it's a lot of work to send so many pictures, cut back a bit, but don't get rid of them--I love seeing you and your wonderful family!!!

  9. Greg. I really enjoy reading your narrative & seeing your pictures. My sister & B-I-L live in Tucson and are avid hikers. I usually send her the link to your information! I have enjoyed my several visits to Tucson so always enjoy seeing the area through your pictures.

    My sister also just finished radiation/cancer treatment so LOVE to see how great your mom looks.

    Jan L/Beavercreek

  10. Loved reading this years escape from Ohio. Keep up the narration and pictures! I'm really, really enjoying seeing how great your Mom looks (younger than ever I think) and to see her with such energy is a true joy. Nope, love your blog posts...EXCEPT for those where you torment those of us not lucky enough to live anywhere near the store with the yearly sale and other such fun things! LOL, sorta!
    It's really nice to see how close you and your entire family are...almost feel like I know them. Ear scratches to Zoey!

  11. I do truly enjoy reading about your escapades being a traveler myself :) I can appreciate the time it takes to put it together but hope you keep it going. It's a great online scrapbook that you can also look back at and smile :) Thanks for all you do.

  12. Greg! Thanks for sharing your family adventures with us. Love the pictures and the narration- always interesting and lovely. I am impressed with the time you spend hiking with your dad and visiting with your mom (so glad she's doing better!) I've never been to Arizona (or many of the other places you post pictures of) so I always enjoy seeing your adventures. Thanks for all the effort you put into the blog.

  13. Thanks for spending all of the time posting these accounts! I always enjoy your writing and updates!