Traveling east on I 10 from Tucson there is a MIGHTY unusual sight. Miles and miles of train engines coupled together. They have been there for months.
Did I say miles? YES it’s miles. They stand like regal soldiers and like faces, no two seem to be the same. Some carry scars and scrapes & some polished to pampered perfection.
We have seen this sight several times over months and each time I wonder at the magnitude of the meandering yellow line.
I asked a railroad man why these giants of metal and deisel have been exiled to the dry AZ desert. It seems sad that the once proud engines have been retired as they are no longer needed. Knowing this felt lonely as I wander along the tracks listening to the wind creak between them like metal whispers.
Pondering this idea and feeling watched, I touch them one by one and imagine their journey. It seems like I have been walking a long time to find the end and beginning.Soon I come to a bridge that I can cross under. I cautiously approached the underpass and find this graffiti which confirms everything.
Suddenly a swarm of wasps from the largest nest I have ever seen attacks. Wasps make excellent train engine guards.
I couldn’t help the opportunity to lie on the tracks in front of a train just this one time as I say goodbye.
As many times as I have been to the South Rim, hiked down in to and rafted through the Grand Canyon, I had never been to the North Rim. I’m so glad we took the time. It is truly hard to explain the experience of such a wonder. We started by just relaxing and mapping out our hiking day at the Grand Canyon Lodge viewing patio. Plan on spending some down time here!
Someone pointed out a peregrine falcon soaring over head. At one time there were only 70 in existence. Now thanks to the efforts of the National Park Service conservation there are over 400.
A tourist bus exploding with nylon tracksuits &oversized visors poured out just as we started down the trail This interesting lady had just the hat for the occasion!
I recommend taking a lunch and eat at one of the high tables on the observation deck. We did and enjoyed the view and the fresh air. The lines for the one restaurant can be very long and lots of people were eyeballing my hoagie and pasta salad. We decided to head out to Cape Royal. On the way we witnessed the devastation of a forest fire from years ago. Young Aspen trees have taken over where Ponderosa Pine trees once stood. Soon the burned areas of the North Rim will be covered with lush Aspen trees. I was so Excited to see Window Rock! I have always wondered where it was. Walking on top of it is interesting. There is a 3′ wide by 4′ long rock to walk over to the point. Both sides are straight down for a very long way. We noticed many people waiting on more solid ground for their friends. No matter how their friends coaxed they wouldn’t venture out. Having never heard of Cape Royal I thought it was probably rocks that looked like a castle. I was soooo wrong. Cape Royal made me cry. We walked along the twisted juniper path bundled in jackets because we were near 9000 feet elevation and there is still snow on the ground. The people coming toward us on the path were silent. Most smiled and nodded. Thinking perhaps it was trail etiquette we stayed quiet too. About a half mile later we turned a corner to a 270-degree view like I cannot describe.I couldn’t move. Just as I gasped a cold breeze pushed extra air into my lungs. My eyes filled with tears while my mind tried to accept this view. No picture can capture that moment. I tried.
We stayed for quite a while. I wish I could stay forever.
On our way down we wanted to shout to the people coming up the path -“just wait! It’s so beautiful! You’re gonna CRY!” Instead we were silent, smiled knowingly and nodded.
I finally finished cross referencing 90 sites from a field guide to minerals and fossils to the Arizona Gazetteer!
My celebration consisted of me finding and cleaning up an old leather briefcase to hold the field guide and maps so that they may be accessed quickly. Plus it looks very Indiana Jones. Many times we decide to go at a moment’s notice so I have assembled kits. Like some kind of crazy hiking hoarder. We always have a panning/mining backpack ready to go (just in case).
We also keep a hiking kit ready in a brown plaid backpack.
By far the most important thing of all is water. Even in the winter we take at least a gallon a person. I made these holders crocheted out of plastic bags. They hang from our backpacks and we refill the bottles so no plastic waste.
Arizona weather can go from blazing hot to freezing cold so we always dress in light layers and carry along jackets. Kits are packed and ready for the next adventure!
There’s a tale to tell that ends with a night gathering of friends under clear desert skies & a crackling fire. We are here to celebrate a friend’s leap year birthday. This weekend was chosen to round up the RV’s and head out to Triangle T Guest Ranch.
Triangle T is surrounded by rock formations that conjur up images of wild west hideouts & cattle rustling. Some of the rocks seem to defy gravity…
Check out this lizard rock.It’s huge.
There are little surprises all around the ranch. Likethe rock maze below.
Moseying down the dusty trail we stumble upon an old movie set from 1957 – the original 310 To Yuma.
There is just too much to explore around this ranch. Bonus the Amerind Foundation Museum is within walking distance. The hiking is spectacular:
I wrote about The Rock Saloon before here: Corny Shenanigans . This time there was live music and some boot scootin’.
One more walk Sunday morning just to say goodbye and we are back on the road. Camera roll below:
Beautiful 79 degrees here in Southern AZ-so let’s go hiking!
No way staying inside on such a beautiful January day!
Treasure hunting in fallen trees for a specific shape of wood to finish a project. My backpack is already full of NOT the right shape of wood.
We flushed out a pair of cotimundi out of their nest. I was not fast enough to get a picture so here is an internet picture (ours were BIG & a bit redder than this guy):
They may have been headed down to the stream
Suddenly we come across this trail to an abandoned building! I am so excited! Walking through tall grass is not my favorite (sneaky snakes). We are on the lookout for crawly things and No Trespassing signs. All clear so here we go…
It is fun to think about the families that gathered here, their pictures that hung on the wall, What the curtains must have looked like. Much to imagine except…
…LOOK it’s the kitchen sink! Below an abandoned Teddy Bear which makes me a little forlorn. Poor homeless Teddy.
Lots of good opportunity to play with the light and texture of this old place. Camera Roll below:
We had so much fun and yes I did find a rotted chunk of bark for my project. Two times we passed a man beside the path who was watching for birds. Each time I had a boogie board sized chunk of bark under my arm. The second time we stopped to chat as he recites the types of birds he is watching. He asked me “Is that the same piece of wood I saw you with earlier?” To which my G replies “She just carries wood around for exercise. Cool huh?” I smile & the birder looked puzzled but said nothing as we turned away and continued down the path.
We stumbled across this Arizona shaped quilt on display at the Naninni Library just as the Librarian was placing it behind the glass. It was mesmerizing. The quilt focuses on Historical places in Tucson and southern AZ. Small touches & attention to detail~WOW!
This cool crisp sunny morning on the 2nd day of a new year is perfect day to visit El Tiradito aka the Wishing Shrine.I am not Catholic, nor do I believe in wishing. However, I do believe in new beginnings and second chances.
This shrine happens to be the only Catholic shrine where a sinner is buried in unconsecrated ground. Appropriate place for a visit reflecting on last year’s f’ups & hopes for next year.
It’s history is a classic tale of a love triangle.
All of that seems lost with the flickering saintly candles & memorial objects. Our shared pain is here in this place.
Our sins exposed like the ruined adobe wall holding little bits of paper, our wishes.
My wish is here too. It is a symbol of what breaks my heart leaving it here for a higher power to handle when I can’t anymore.My favorite story about this shrine is that it’s presence stopped a highway from cutting through this old part of town. Thank you Juan Oliveras for your unknown contribution to the preservation of Tucson over 140 years ago. Just shows you that even sinners make a difference.
Exploring further and one finds out that Tucson had a wonderful lakeside resort here in the 1800’s. Check out the picture below.
Hard to imagine now while we struggle for decent ground water. Lush and green many people enjoyed this area for health & entertainment. Now the area is dry as can be. Little touches everywhere.
The neighborhood was renamed Elyasian and this historic market remains as someone’s home.Continuing on through the neighborhood there were a lot of interesting textures.
This is the theater located off a side street.
I am grateful for this part of Tucson. The Old Pueblo. Grateful for this beautiful day to walk in the sunshine around this old neighborhood. Celebrating the new year by exploring the past. Acknowledging that we are just traveling through and life changes in an instant.
I spent last night upstairs on a couch outside my mother’s room. All night long I heard an owl that apparently perches just outside on the chimney. Mom says the owl also likes to sit in the tallest Palo Verde tree next to the house because it can take off better to hunt. Either way the owl is announcing his presence at the exact moment I think I am finally falling asleep. (Like it KNOWS)
The hooting of the owl into the wee hours of the night made me think about my Dad all the more. He had actually written a story in his book “Jackie” about an owl that sat outside he and his brother Jim’s bedroom window when they were children.
Below is an excerpt from his book :
In fairer weather the boys occupied the same upstairs bedroom. A window was at the foot of the bed on one side with a large tree close by. The night breezes and bright moon made shadows dance through that window. A large Hoot Owl took residence in that tree, and for nearly a whole summer the boys hid their fears under the sheet pulled tightly over their heads. Earlier that summer Jackie had won the argument to be called Jack now that he was older. He was admonished by his parents that if he was big enough to be called Jack then it came with the responsibility to be not afraid. Jack had to put up with the owl. The critter was huge and noisy! Well they got used to it after a while and when they called to Hooty, he would answer. After that it was kind of fun talking to “their owl”.
So now I am thinking that ~Life just gets curiouser and curiouser ~ and just like Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird when she suddenly sees Boo Radley behind the bedroom door I whisper “Hey Dad”.
Random find in the tiny town of Clifton, AZ in a small museum resides the high chair of Sandra Day O’Conner. Arizonans are so proud of the first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court. I asked permission from the stoic caretaker to take the picture. Of all the mining subjects in the museum he wondered why I chose this object to photograph.
I wanted this picture to remind me that even one of the most influential women of my lifetime started the same way we all did. Our choices, our decisions, make us who we are. She is such an inspiration and example of responsible citizenship.
“Do the best you can in every task, no matter how unimportant it may seem at the time. No one learns more about a problem than the person at the bottom.” Sandra Day O’Conner.