My brother Blake and I have been visiting Mom and Dad in Tucson since Wednesday. We have been looking forward to escaping the Ohio Winter for quite a while, but it went right down to the last minute – we had to change planes in Dallas-Fort Worth on the way, and there was a Winter Storm Warning there for an amount that northerners would just laugh at. Thankfully, it stayed warm enough that they received only rain and we blew right through – though DFW cancelled hundreds of flights over the weekend when the Texas Winter finally did arrive.
Lots of images to share – most are hiking related and others are just cute . . .
Living proof that life goes on while vacationing in the 21st Century – Blake and I both brought laptops along and set up shop on the dining room table. This was the view as we dropped everything to go across the park to play Pickleball with Dad.
Dad took us on a “warmup hike” the day after we arrived (Dad’s warmup hikes only last about six hours). We went up to “The Dome” in Saguaro National Park, east of Tucson. I find it fascinating that we can take strenuous hikes way up into the mountains and still see the city in the distance most of the time. Every now and then, a hiker will encounter strands of fencing from the days when ranchers used this land – couldn’t resist taking a pic that I described as “Manmade Thorns and God-made Thorns”.
While we were on the dome, we visited with a man from Quebec who mentioned that he had always wanted to know the elevation there. Being that close to town, I immediately whipped out my phone, went to the Google Play Store, put “altimeter” in the search box, and within seconds had one on my phone. We have used it constantly ever since and it’s great when we’re dealing with the relentless climbs Dad takes us on (“relentless” has become a bit of a family joke over the past few days). The altitude at The Dome was about 4,500 feet – the readout on this pic was taken at Mount Kimball the next day.
Afterward, Mom and Dad took us to The Gaslight Theatre – where Blake took his very first “selfie” on his birthday. Because of the timing of Blake’s birthday and our parents’ winter escapes to Tucson, this was the first time they had seen Blake on his birthday since his youngest son Tyler was born 21 years ago.
On Friday morning, we set out at dawn on the Finger Rock Trail on the way to Mount Kimball – Dad said this was the most strenuous and most scenic hike in the mountains around Tuscon. And he was right on both counts.
I took pictures of Finger Rock (it’s just to the left of the tallest peak on the right) at various points as we climbed the trail.
Eventually we couldn’t see it anymore, and finally the whole range was blocked by another peak as we continued to climb.
The trail looked like this all the way to the top.
There were lots of Saguaro Cactus along the trail at the lower elevations. Dad had just explained how a hard freeze that lasts several days can cause the moisture inside a cactus to freeze, expand, and literally kill it from the inside. And then we encountered these two fellows – I called the one on the left “The Scarecrow” and the one on the right “I Am Groot”.
At a “saddle” where the trail forked as we headed toward Mount Kimball, this camera was mounted in a secluded spot under a shade tree. We found two more just like it a couple of days later. I assume we were on Candid Camera, but we never heard the shutter click.
The scenery changes with the elevation – by 5,000 feet, the Saguaros were gone and were replaced first by scrub trees, and eventually by pine trees that brought the sights and scents of home. I was amazed by these two stacks of enormous rocks in the middle of nothing else.
We finally reached Mount Kimball – six hours and 4,000 feet in elevation from where we started at the trailhead. There were a couple of other hikers there when we arrived, so we took each others’ pictures at the summit.
The view from Mount Kimball is spectacular in all directions. These are two views in the same direction – the one on the right is a closeup so you can see the little white specs just above the middle of the picture. That’s Biosphere 2 about 40 miles in the distance . . .
The trip back down the mountain took 4½ hours and was every bit as grueling. Blake and I were both really sore the next day, so we played a little Pickleball with Dad, caught up on our work, watched the Dayton/VCU basketball game, and observed life in the park where our parents live. And that observation led Blake to take one of the most endearing photos I have ever seen . . .
Almost 58 years of marriage, and our parents have still got it . . .