This blog will cover our hiking and biking activities as well as spring flowers, a visit to downtown Tucson and the regular events around our place on North Desert View Dr on the outskirts of Tucson. This post includes our activities in the last part of March as well as April.
Our first few hikes were at the end of March. The temperatures were heating up so we ventured south to Madera Canyon, where it wouldn’t be as hot. It was warm enough to wear shorts and t-shirt when we headed up from the upper parking lot (Mt. Wrightson Picnic Area) on the Old Baldy trail. We found a few patches of snow in the shade near our highest elevation.
At Josephine Saddle we had our lunch, then headed down the “Super Trail.” Most people do the loop the opposite way, but we would rather climb the steeper trail and take the longer more gradual trail downhill. Here’s a view towards Josephine Saddle which is the low point just to the right of Wendy in the photo below.
The next week, the weather was not as hot so we hiked closer to home. Here’s Doug on the Pima Canyon trail. We hiked up to an old dam and back. (4hrs, 10km) We saw plenty of birds even though we didn’t bring binoculars.
By the next week, it got really hot, but we wanted to get out anyway. We started walking before 8 for a two hour ramble with views of Sombrero Peak. We made a loop around the rock bluff that is behind Wendy in the photo below. We were home well before lunchtime, and spent the afternoon in our air-conditioned trailer. It reached 37 degrees Celsius that day. (April 8)
Now to our mountain biking. We revisited the Honeybee Canyon area in early April. The trail has vast views and the landscape is more open than our usual spot at Tortolita Preserve. Many people travel farther than our 30 kilometre ride, but we wanted to keep it under three hours. It was 27 degrees Celsius when we finished, so warm enough for us.
We were surprised on our ride by this small clump of Golden Poppies out in what seemed like the “middle of nowhere.”
Here is another photo of our favourite mountain biking trail at the Tortolita Preserve.
And another one taken on our last day riding there in the middle of April. On this ride, it felt like we had the trail “wired”; we knew each bend and drop, when to brake, how fast to take a corner and what gear to be in to do a climb. We know the twenty times we rode the trail over the season taught us that. We can hardly wait until next season.
Along the Tortolita Preserve trail, we usually see birds and sometimes a cow. This time we rode past a scary-looking snake. We stopped and Doug got this photo before it slithered away. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but if you look closely you can see that the yellow stripes have red in the middle. We think it is a deadly coral snake, but we didn’t get close enough check out its fangs to be sure. The rhyme that can help you tell if it is a coral snake or not is: “Red touching yellow will kill a fellow, but red touching black is safe for Jack.” It’s another reason to travel north when it gets hot: the snakes come out.
Another spot that we visited many times over the season was the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. The first time we visited the museum back in the spring of 2019, it was to see an art quilt show, so it was fitting that we saw the latest exhibition on our our last visit of this season.
This wall displayed works by four different artists. It’s interesting how each one is similar with the use of bright colours and artists’ decisions to show only part of the creature in their work.
Springtime brings the flowers to the Desert Museum. It seemed that all the Ocotillo bloomed at once. It was a bit weird to see them blooming when most of them didn’t have leaves.
This is a blooming barrel cactus at the Desert Museum. We forgot to get its name, but we don’t think it is a local species. The cactus garden has cactus from all over the world.
This is a flower of a prickly pear that is found in the Tucson area. It’s red interior is a distinct feature of Opuntia macrocentra or black-spined prickly pear.
This Engleman prickly pear grows beside the dirt road on the way to our place.
So did this Buckhorn Cholla. Without flowers, its interestingly shaped arms are quite formidable, but the flowers give it a softer look. We had never seen them bloom before.
The week before we came home, we thought about things that we hadn’t done yet and going into downtown Tucson was one of them. In early 2020, we saw that the Old Pima Courthouse was being renovated. The work is now complete and it’s beautiful. This is a view from the back near the gardens for The January 8th Memorial that commemorates the tragic event on that day in 2011 and the wonderful Tucson spirit that emerged. The city’s visitor centre is housed in the building and has interesting displays about Tucson’s past.
The University of Arizona’s Rock and Gem Museum has also moved to the Old Courthouse. We were not expecting such an extensive collection and amazing displays. Our favourite section was the full-size model of the mine in Bisbee, Arizona, showing the crystals and gems as they may have looked on a mine wall. We spent more than an hour looking at the museum and only saw about half of the displays.
Our main objective, however, was to have lunch at the famous El Charro restaurant. Doug had the same favourite meal (Enchiladas Banderas), but we hadn’t been there since February of 2020, so he really enjoyed it.
That was the only time that we ate out at a Tucson restaurant for our whole stay. We enjoy preparing our own meals. We keep our air-conditioning at 25-26 degrees Celsius, so on days when the air-conditioning is still running at dinner time, we cook outside. In the photo below, Wendy is preparing a bulgar pilaf on the induction plate. The chicken will be grilled on the barbecue.
Tucson sometimes feels the effects of the winter storms that dump snow in northern US and Canada. On March 29th, we actually had a hail storm. Here’s the view looking south, taken from the trailer doorway. On days that we have a forecasted high of 20 degrees Celsius or lower, we plan a dinner that we can make in the oven.
The clouds from the storm that day helped make a stunning sunset.
The time came that we had to make our way home. This is the view on our last night, with the truck in place to hook up early in the morning.
After four days of driving, we made it home to Cranbrook, BC. It’s springtime here, the grass is greening up and the daffodils are almost up.
All the bird photos will be in the next blog post coming shortly. The Redwood has been cleaned and will be ready for our next travels in the summer.