Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Arizona 2015 (Part 2) . . .

I have been back in the Midwest for a week.  Somehow we missed all of the flight cancellations that plagued the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport while we were gone.  Flights from Tucson to DFW were cancelled on two days while we were in Arizona – and travelers had to wait up to four days to get an available spot on a flight (on the trail, we encountered a twenty-something from Maryland who was thrilled that his vacation was being extended four days).  Then we flew home with only minor delays – and DFW shut down for Snowmageddon for two days afterward.

Over the past week, I have endured single digit temps during setup in Indianapolis . . . basked in the glow of Ellen from Tessler’s catching a shoplifter in her booth . . . and now I’m looking outside my window, where Spring has finally arrived and temps are in the 50s.  Thursday or Friday, we expect big deliveries to arrive so we’ll go back into shipping mode – so this seems like the best opportunity to wrap up the travelogue . . .

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The day after Blake took that adorable picture of my parents walking down the street carrying a laundry basket between them, we started hiking into Ventana Canyon just before dawn, from a parking lot in an upscale housing development at the foot of the mountains.  Dad had told us the day before that we were hiking to “The Window” – and that it would not be as strenuous as the hike to Mount Kimball two days before.  It takes a while before the sun gets high enough to light up the canyon, but it’s quite a sight when it hits the upper peaks.

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Most of the time, the trail is easy to find – but when it crosses the stream or goes through rocks, it’s nice when someone has taken the time to build a rock cairn to point the way.


The view back toward Tucson – notice that the sun still hasn’t come out inside the canyon.

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Blake’s got shots that make us look like intrepid explorers along the way . . .


Of course, my shots of them usually involved food breaks.

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Another of those “What He Saw . . . What I Saw” combinations.  I haven’t seen what Dad shot at the same time.  I am always drawn to the sound of running water and babbling brooks.

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If you look straight down from the twigs at the top center of the left picture, you can see a tiny hole – that was our first view of The Window.  I zoomed in to take the shot on the right.  We had been hiking for four hours – and it would be three more hours before we actually got there.


Another running water shot, through a split in the rocks along the way up.

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The view from the back side of the “saddle” just before we started the final climb up to the window.  The scenery is familiar – once again, that’s Biosphere 2 in the middle of the picture on the right.

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Dad and Blake enter The Window.  I was in no hurry – the wind was absolutely howling and there was nothing but a sheer drop on the other side.  Heights bother me enough on a calm day – with this much wind, there was no way I was going out onto the ledge.

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I was satisfied taking pictures from a safe spot just inside The Window.

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Blake took the shot of The Great White Adventurer, and the kid from Maryland who was enjoying his extended vacation took the shot of all of us at my safe spot inside The Window.

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We made much better time on the way back – only four hours from The Window back to the car.  Still, it was an eleven-hour hiking day.


The entrance to the canyon lets hikers in but keeps livestock, horses and such out . . .


On the way back, we made a pilgrimage for that which can only be drooled about in the eastern half of the country . . .

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The next morning, we spend a couple of hours playing Pickleball with the natives.  If you’re not familiar with the sport, it’s a combination of ping-pong and tennis on a squash court – and it got its name because the people who invented it had a dog named Pickles who kept running off with the ball.  You can probably tell from the form that Dad and Blake are quite a bit more athletic than I ever was.


And then after working up an appetite, we took Mom out for lunch. 

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And that evening, we enjoyed the spaghetti sauce that their neighbor made when she found out we were coming – we had enjoyed it so much when she made it two years ago.

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On the day that we go home, we always take a “short” (only four hours) hike in the morning so that we don’t feel like the whole day is a travel day.  There was rain the day before, so there were lots of low clouds obscuring the mountains, and water droplets hanging from all of the bushes along the trail.

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Really nice view of the desert as the sun was coming up, with the mountains in the background.  And this was the only critter we saw in four days on the trails . . . he/she was not a bit afraid of us, just sat there and watched.


Another of my many stops by a little bit of running water.

Our destination on this hike was Garwood Dam, inside Saguaro National Park.  There is an interesting story and pictures about Nelson Garwood and his ranch that you can see by clicking on this link.  What’s left now is not quite as impressive as it was in those days . . .

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This is all that’s left of his house, and the road that once led to the dam is now just a hiking trail.

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Blake, Dad, and Blake’s oldest son Conner hiked to the dam 13 years ago.  Apparently this sign wasn’t there then – Dad and Blake went out a bit to recreate a picture they had taken then.


Meanwhile, I followed the rules and stayed off to the side a bit . . .

Alas, all good things must come to an end and we had to head for home.  A 30-minute delay before we left Tucson was nothing compared with what others were going through.  And a 60-minute delay before we left DFW for Dayton gave us enough time to finish what we started while we were waiting . . .


The Dayton/Rhode Island basketball game, on my phone and courtesy of the Slingbox Ryan bought for me a few years ago – best Father’s Day present I ever received.


  1. Great travelog! thanks- my fav way to see the sights!

  2. Amazing photos! Thanks for sharing! (and looking forward to the shipment...perhaps there will be a package heading my way soon.)

  3. Greg, thank you for all the wonderful photos. I have always loved Arizona. We used to go to Phoenix a lot. Things change and we haven't been able to go for a long time. My daughter and I went two years ago and were very sad since it has become so built up and "frou-frou". I've wondered if Tuscon was as bad. It doesn't seem to be, looking at your pictures.
    Your Mom looks good. I hope all is well with her.
    You had a wonderful vacation!