The theme of this week’s hike was geode hunting. Following directions down an unmaintained forest road we found ourselves just north of the Mexican Border at an abandoned corral. The summer rains have filled the canyon with life.Caterpillars and butterflies everywhere.
There is a slight breeze gently whispers through the valley. We have our picnic in quiet reverence.
Time to find what we came for. The hike up the canyon is beautiful and we are looking for a 90 degree turn north where a geode collecting area is located. The suspense hunting for treasure is exciting. I turned & jumped when I saw this Chupacabra… It’s just G holding up a COW PELVIS. Gross. Of course he wants to take it home. “You could make something from it!” No no no. Nope. No….Sigh.
So far the hike is the treasure. We aren’t sure what we are looking for. About 100 yards past the 90 degree turn in the canyon north, rocks peppered with small geodes are everywhere.
There are big holes in the cliff walls where large geodes were removed. It’s so hard to get them out. Someone had better tools than we are using.
It takes a really, really long time to chip out with a pick. Now we have a few little geodes to cut & polish……and beautiful memories.
As long as I can remember I loved trips to Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. We lived a mere 70 miles north of the Mexican border and the ever-changing City of Nogales. We had traveled through on our way to Guaymas many times when I was a child but only stopped long enough to obtain a visa and move on. It seemed as soon as we crossed the border, life immediately changed.
We often crossed at night so I had to strain to see the city as dimly lit buildings flashed past the open truck window. Delicious smoke from open fire grills and outdoor stoves made me want to stop and stay with the families. Later my older sister would be allowed to take a high school trip with her friends and returned with colorful stories and fancy souvenirs.
It would be years until I would be old enough for my parents to let me go on my own. Nogales offered just what I needed as a teen in the 70’s. Leather shops, blankets hanging in the sidewalks, colorful wood carvings and ceramics everywhere. Now mixed with the delicious smell of Mexican food and firewood was leather, wood and hot blankets in the sun.
Since then we have made several friends, visited houses on the cliffs, stayed too long, not long enough…Nogales. I love the smells of this city. We found a Cantina on a back road with chicken cooking on a grill outside and the smell was AMAZing! There were many locals waiting in line for their order. A friendly man saw me taking pictures and came out to tell us that yesterday the streets were flooded with 5 or 6 meters of rain. He showed us the pictures of the arches across the street barely above the waterline. I didn’t get his pictures but below is the picture of the approaching storm. We are all hoping it would not flood like yesterday. Shops were ready with sandbags and everyone was optimistic. It seems Nogales has grown up right along with me. Medical tourism is now a large source of income. Pharmacies and dental offices line the streets where blankets once hung over sidewalks. Medication may cost less than half here. My favorite dentist is here. We like to wander before and after appointments. Of course one MUST stop at La Roca to eat.
La Roca Entrance to the courtyard.
The plaza is cool and inviting. Bright Colors and art adorn the sidewalks.Walking back over the bridge we are above the lines of cars crossing the border from Mexico into the USA.There are still some tourist shops. These young men played dominoes to pass the time during the slow summer season. The intense one on the right is winning. Curios still line the streets as traffic leaves Mexico to enter the US.Old meets new.
There is a feeling when I cross the border through the turnstyle, walking on slick tile, then the bricks, past the chatter of the taxi drivers, toward the main street of Obregon. Although the city changes with the needs of the tourists, the people and the city we love stays the same. Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.
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!