Saturday, March 18, 2023

More Time in Tucson

We are so lucky to have come at just the right time to see the desert bloom. Our first major glimpse was here at Catalina State Park with profusions of golden flowers along the road.


A view from the Romero Ruin Trail

We made reservations way in advance for Catalina State Park and it was totally full both days we were there. Two years ago we stayed here with our cruiser friends Dave & Ellen Bett and loved it. We enjoyed it again this time. Our first morning we hiked the Romero Ruin Trail which had two stream crossings. This time we took our shoes and socks off and waded through. The ruins there are first those of the Hohokam people (Ancestral Sonoma Desert People) who lived in this area between 300 and 1500 AD and built a pueblo and a Mesoamerican ball court here. It was a culture that existed from Arizona down to Northern Mexico and were known for their large-scale irrigation networks.  Later Francisco Romero built his ranch in the mid 1800's and used some of the stones to built his home. 

Heather mid stream. As you can see it wasn't
very deep. There was another crossing just

Scott and I with our bikes at Catalina
State Park with Baby

That afternoon we hiked the Nature Trail with signs explaining the local wildlife and vegetation. We had to wait until late in the day as the parking lot was packed until then. It was a Sunday and everyone in Tucson was out hiking and picnicking. The weather was lovely and we enjoyed sitting out in our chairs for lunch and drinks in the evening. 

Looking from the Nature trail across at the mountains.

The next morning we pulled our bikes out of the truck and rode up through the park. We intended to continue down and out of the park to the bicycle path beyond. But a stream crossed the road (new since we arrived) and it was too deep for our bicycles. Later it went down enough to cross in the truck and trailer. Our next stop was a Harvest Host location, Little Anthony's Diner and Gaslight Theater. We had tried to get tickets to the show, but they were sold out. But our host, Jenny, took us for a tour and wangled a table to us! It's a dinner theater and very nice. The show, a tribute to Tina Turner, was excellent. Our site was in the parking lot near the highway but no problem for us and it was quiet overnight. We enjoyed lunch there our first day and requested and got a second night. We were hoping to get tickets to another show that evening, but no luck.

A look at the stage from our table

A closer look at the band. They were great, 
especially the lead singer.

After we received our cruiser friends Xmas letter we'd been in contact and they came over for lunch our second day there. We met Jack and Susan "Fred" Webb at a Nauticat rally back in 2003 and saw them occasionally after that. They sold their Nauticat years ago and now live between Tucson and Maryland. It was fun to connect up with them again. Sadly, we didn't take a photo! Usually I'm good but not this time. 

Here's a view of the road leading up to Mt. Lemmon from one of the viewpoint parking lots.

That morning before our lunch we drove up to Mount Lemmon ski area. Mount Lemmon is the highest point in the Santa Catalina mountains and the peak is at 9,159 feet. The road winds through the Coronado National Forest for 26 scenic miles. It's an engineering marvel with lots of turnouts for viewing or letting other cars pass. Given it was a weekday morning there weren't many cars, but there were lots of bicyclists!  The narrow road didn't allow for easy passage of two cars, one going up and one down, along with cyclists. 

It didn't look like a difficult slope but hey, it's
skiing in southern Arizona!

And in the summer this must be a wonderful
change from the hot desert.

Our next stop was the winter home of our neighbors, Donna and Dick Swartz, in Marana. They aren't going to make it here this year but wanted us to at least park there and plug in. But first we had to resolve a problem with the trailer's brakes. We'd tried many places around Green Valley but they were all busy. Jack Webb suggested a place in Tucson and we dropped the trailer off there Wednesday morning. We frittered away the waiting time doing some shopping and having lunch until they were finished. Then we drove off to Marana. Unfortunately the brakes weren't fixed. In fact they seemed worse. So we called and had to go back the next morning. 

The view in the morning from Donna & Dick's house in Marana, AZ

They took another whole morning, and then declared that was the best they could do. Three out of the four brakes on the RV are now working. Better than before, but not perfect. Then it was late in the day and the weather was overcast (unusual for here) so we decided to continue north rather than go back to Marana. Our next destination, Foothills West RV Resort was able to take us a day early. On the way there we saw a sign on the highway for the Casa Grande National Monument and made a quick decision to leave the highway and explore. The results will be in my next post. 

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