Sunday, March 31, 2024

Hiking Again in Tucson

These yellow flowers were everywhere in Arizona but I never got tired of them. We're on the road
into Picacho State Park.
Looking up at the main mountain on the right

We found an empty section in the day parking
for a great lunch spot.

We only spent one night in Casa Grande but we enjoyed a leisurely morning and didn't leave until 11, checkout time. It wasn't far to our next destination, the KOA Lazy Days in east Tucson. This and the following reservations were all made just two days ago when the cold weather decided us to move south instead of our planned trip through Taos. We were lucky to get places as this is Easter week and generally booked up. On the way we stopped at Picacho State Park for lunch. We tried to get a site there earlier but it was totally full. It's a lovely place and maybe next time.

We've gotten to know many of the cactus varieties but they are endlessly fascinating for these Vermonters! Now we're hiking in Saguaro National Park East.

We used a little telephoto to take this photo of the
mountains over Tucson going north.

This little bird has found a smooth
spot to sit.

The saguaro come in fantastic shapes!!!

Looking down from a high spot on
the Cactus Loop trail.

The KOA, like many we have stayed at, was very nice although we didn't take advantage of the two pools - too many kids and too cold. We moved south to warmer climes but Tucson was experiencing a cold snap which for them means a high in the lower 60's. Our first day we explored Saguaro National Park East. After the usual talk with the Ranger, we drove the Cactus Loop Trail and hiked the Mica View Trail and looped back on the Cactus Forest Trail.

Then we visited our cruiser friends Jack and Fred (her real name is Susan) at their winter home RV. They have another RV in Alaska where they spend summers and a house in Philadelphia area for the in-between seasons. Their boat "Denali Rose" was a Nauticat 43 like ours but a ketch not a cutter rig like Scott Free.  We met them at a Nauticat Rally in Beaufort, NC before we bought Scott Free and continued to see them for years as far as Trinidad. It was a fun evening with lots of memories of life sailing.

The Valley View trail in Saguaro NP West

The barrel cactus were in bloom and
the fruit ripening.

The start of our Valley View trail.

The trail was easy with lots of rock steps to mark the way. We met a lot of families on this trail and everywhere - again Easter week and school vacation. 

The view at the top of the trail.

Our second full day we planned to hike in Tucson Mountain Park. Scott put the Visitor's Center into our navigation but it sent us to Saguaro NP West, where we'd already been just a few weeks ago. It turns out they are all in the same area. The ranger gave us a good suggestion, "Park in the first trail head where there is a spot and hike there." It was so crowded due to Easter week. We lucked out and on the Bajada Scenic Loop we snagged a spot in the Valley View trailhead. This is a lovely trail with beautiful views and lots of wildflowers. Later we returned to Tucson over the Gates Pass, which Donna & Dick had taken us to 3 years ago. It's a dramatic and historic road over the mountains started by Thomas Gates in 1883.

The rugged landscape going up Gates Pass

Looking back at the road from a viewpoint.

We didn't stop at the top of the pass as the 
parking lot was packed but we did last time with
Donna & Dick.

We finished up that day with a late lunch at a surprising restaurant Scott found online, Moriscos de Chihuahua. From the outside it looked like a dive but inside it was covered in murals and we were the only non Latinos there. The food was excellent and so plentiful that we had it again the next day for lunch! We had little room for dinner that night! The next morning we were off again, back this time to Las Cruces.

This is just one wall in the Moriscos  de Chihuahua Restaurant. 

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