We have been to Tuscon many times since hitting the road – and before: To attend an Escapade or to move college daughter Jessica in or out. We have been able to do some sightseeing while there of course, but the trips always seemed rushed – or else during really hot weather.
This time we were returning to watch Jessica in a performance, but we had plenty of time to explore and the weather was mostly on the nice side. So we took advantage of it.
In looking for things in our road atlas that we hadn’t yet done, I discovered Tumacacori National Historical Park. It’s south of Tuscon along the Santa Cruz River down towards the border at Nogales. Sounded like good road trip so away we went.
The mission ruins were very interesting, and the springtime bloom made it beautiful. They even had someone on site demonstrating the authentic way they made tortillas. And they passed out samples. Yum.
We wanted to hike along the river, so a guide there told us about a place down the road that had everything from “Hansel & Gretel forests” (video below) to sandy beaches. So there we went.
I received some new fairies, so it was also an opportunity for a fairy photo shoot. I even got Tom involved in the process.
I’m glad we got out on this nice sunny day, because a storm came in that night.
We didn’t let it slow us down, though. We had explored the Saquaro National Park on the west side of Tuscon, but never the east, so that’s where we headed next. A blustery day, but a beautiful drive through the loop that is surprisingly close to residential areas.
So many of the large cacti – but not as many as were there in the 1960’s. It seems a cold snap took a lot of the saguaro plants out and cattle tromping through the area prevented them from coming back – until they outlawed the cows. Yea!
That day we tried making the drive up to Mount Lemmon in the Coronado National Forest, but the roads were closed. It was snowing and the power was out. Quite a storm.
Halfway through our time there, we attended Jessica’s dance performance. Her first professional show (i.e. outside of school and a paying gig):To say we were impressed would be an understatement. We didn’t realize she was one of the principles in the very emotional piece. The finale had her painting her emotions out with her hair. It’s too hard to describe and I wish I could have taken pictures or videos, but as we watched, I had the thought “a star is born.” Yes, we are both very proud!
When the weather cleared we went for a hike in the Sabino Canyon – another unexplored area on the east side of Tuscon. The tram service was still not running due to flooding on the roadways, but all the water made for an extraordinary hike.
There are many, many trails there, but Tom chose one that went along the river and the canyon. At one place we had to take off our boots and cross a very cold and fast flowing river. I didn’t get video of the crossing because I was afraid of dropping the camera! But downstream, I took a video of a duck going into the same river:
Then we weaved back and forth up the canyon wall. It was SO beautiful and I was so amazed at the color of the wildflowers and variety of plants.
And the view of Tuscon from up there wasn’t bad either:
There were so many hiking options in the area, but we decided to try Mount Lemmon again. It was a beautiful day and a stunning drive.
It was strange how quickly we got up into snow. Most of the roads were still closed, but we were able to park and hike down to a lake.
It was cool but not cold and we had a beautiful walk along the road by the stream. It was a really beautiful drive – and again I was impressed with how close to the city it all was.
We were in no hurry to leave the area. The weather was getting warm and we had a great free spot at the Diamond Desert Casino.
This was the week of Escapade and there were many other Escapees camped at the casino before going to the event. Even though we were there, we decided not to attend because we had been to two Escapades in a row. But we couldn’t miss it entirely – so we attended on the visitor’s day. We caught a couple of seminars and met up with many of our traveling friends that were there. It was such fun to catch up.
I feel like we really got to experience a lot of what Tuscon has to offer on this trip. But our time there did finally have to come to an end. We will be working our way north now to get to the Moab convergence. Next stop – Lake Roosevelt.
Peace & Love, Joy