We enjoyed our time in Tucson, especially the Tucson Mountain Park. The city of Tucson set aside about 20,000 acres for the park and the National Park Service added about the same when it created the Saguaro National Park adjacent to it. Early the first morning, we joined a guided walk hosted by a park volunteer. He taught us the names of the different plants we were seeing and how they have adapted to this harsh environment. It really opened our minds to understand this beautiful forest we were experiencing. The next day, we hiked the six mile Brown Mountain Trail. It gave us great views of the Sonoran desert. I was surprised to find lichen growing in the desert. I have always thought of lichen as an alpine plant, yet here was a species thriving in the desert.
|Colorful lichen on the rocks of Brown Mountain, Tucson Mountain Park|
|Our campsite at Tucson Mountain Park|
|Sarah, Mom and Aunt Arlene at Fountain of the Sun|
|Harley and Sarah in the lapidary studio|
Another bonus for us in the Phoenix area was the ability to visit with my old friend, Bob. Bob's son Christopher, with his wife Stacy and their three adorable sons, live in Scottsdale. It happened that Bob and his wife, Christine, were in town to visit the kids and grand kids. Sarah and I spent an enjoyable afternoon with our old friends.
|Grandpa, Bob, giving drum lessons.|
The planes and exhibits were well worth the effort to see. I enjoyed having the opportunity to see two of the most important planes in history, the B17, Flying Fortress and to see a fully restored P-47B. These two planes rang the death bell for Germany's Luftwaffe.
|Mom wandering around the Air Museum|
|At the Japanese Friendship Garden.|
|The morning of the Phoenix "blizzard' at Organ Pipe National Monument|
|Organ Pipe National Monument|
|Double Stone Arches at Organ Pipe National Monument|
|Organ Pipe National Monument near Diablo Canyon|
This 4.4 mile round trip hike is over gently rolling hills that give great vistas to the south and the town of Sonoyta, Mexico which is just a few miles away.
From Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument we headed for Yuma. I wanted to visit Yuma, but thought it was just a bit "out of the way" for this trip. But, Sarah found out that some colleagues/friends were attending a conference there. So, we made the detour. I was astounded at the number of RV resorts in the Yuma area. We arrived at the Mesa Verde RV park after the office closed, but there was a list of available transient sites posted in the office lobby. We took one that was on a corner lot to give us a little more room (like most RV resorts, there is very little space between the permanent mobile homes). We learned the next morning, that we would have to move because the space we were in was reserved for the coming week.
While Sarah attended the conference my mom and I toured the Territorial Prison at Yuma. We arrived just as a guided tour was starting. We learned about advanced attitudes of incarceration that were developed here, such as a prison library and hospital. There were no cells to hold the first prisoners sent to the Yuma Territorial Prison, they had to dig into the hillside to make the cells that would incarcerate them. We got a taste of what conditions must have been like for the prisoners. While the day was cool and breezy, the bright sun made the temperature within the enclosed compound very warm. The heat on a hot desert day must have been unbearable.
|Prison cells and courtyard at Yuma Territorial Prison|
But John Mellenkamp did a fine job with his cover: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=john+mellencamp+doremi&oq=joh&gs_l=youtube-reduced.1.0.35i39l2j0l2.45617.46040.0.479220.127.116.11.0.0.0.74.18.104.22.168...0.0...1ac.1.Ar1VW9ElZQ4
|Coast to Coast Bridge is behind the darker railroad bridge in the foreground|
We hoped to boondock in the Sonoran Desert National Monument on our way back to Phoenix. But, all the side roads were closed. This forced us to return to the Phoenix metro area. A call to Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction, just outside Phoenix, informed us that there were a few spots left in the "over flow" area and they were first come, first served. Fortunately, we arrived early enough to secure site no.94. It was perfect. Our backyard had an unobstructed view of the Superstition Mountains. From our camp site, we drove east into the mountains and canyons. We were amazed by the geological formations as well as the lichen that covered the rocks. Sarah and I have decided that we must study geology to gain an appreciation for what we are seeing.
|Our campsite at Lost Dutchman State Park, AZ|
|Moonrise at Lost Dutchman State Park|
|Fish Creek Canyon|
|Sarah on the edge of Fish Creek Canyon|
We returned to Monte Vista where I left Sarah while my mother and I flew back to Massachusetts.
Stay tuned, more to come.