Thursday, March 16, 2017

Catalina State Park

Tucson/Lazydays KOA
Tucson, AZ
March 2017

Our final couple of weeks in Tucson have been busy days.  We have new glasses and sunglasses, all my appointments taken care of,  new RV house batteries thanks to The Battery Guy, who replaced them on site (always my favorite way to have service done), new fluids in Belle, and two fans installed in the engine compartment thanks to Rick's RV Service, AND visiting with Carol, Ronnie and their pup Cooper.  

We managed to get in 3 bike rides, 2 days of hikes, and some yummy eats in between all of our appointments. 
A quick water break at Augie Acune Los Ninos Park

The Loop in Tucson is 131+ miles of shared bikeways that connects parks, trails, and bus and bike paths.  The best part is that we can get on it right from the KOA. 

Our choice for hikes was Catalina State Park.  Since Carol and Ronnie had never been to Catalina State Park, it was our choice for some easy and beautiful hikes.  The first day we got a late start due to a bone density test I had done so we hiked the Birding Trail.  The next day, we combined the Nature Trail and Romero Ruins.  It's been warming up to the low 90s here so an early start sure helps beat the heat. 

You have to cross the wash to get to the Birding !

This thick, cool, luscious, grass lined Birding Trail in one section... 
...and I wasn't the only one who enjoyed it !  

I see you Cooper !

The prettiest wildflowers were on the Nature Trail and Romero Ruins Trail.

We did see ruins which cover about 15 acres on a ridge overlooking the Sutherland Wash.  These ruins  are the remains of a Hohokam Indian Village that was occupied between 500 and 1450 A.D.  Also easily visible are the remains of more recent structures (1910) built by rancher Francisco Romero.

 The views from the ridge are very pretty...especially with wispy clouds.


Isn't this a beautiful saguaro?  It was huge, healthy, and so full.

Well, until next time...

Up next, spring in Moab, UT...yippee !

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Robles Pass and Empire Ranch

Tucson/Lazydays KOA
Tucson, AZ
March 4 & 5, 2017

Robles Pass is a 1,000 acre parcel purchased by Pima County located in the Tucson Mountains.  Even though the well marked trails are designated multi-use for hikers and cyclists, they are never crowded.  Joe and I did a 6.2 mile hike that included Ledge Surfer Trail, Camaro Loop Trail and one wrong turn on a trail that led to W Ajo Highway (we think!). It was a pleasant day with some sunny skies, some overcast skies, and a steady cool breeze as temps climbed to 82 degrees.

It was awesome to pull into an empty parking lot.  We had the trail all to ourselves until we were almost done and met a couple of bikers just getting started.


FYI : the cholla are full of buds...this means lots of beautiful flowers in a few weeks !
 The next day was Sunday.  It was rather breezy, chilly and mostly overcast so we headed to Empire Ranch about 40 miles south of Tucson.  Once off I 10, it was a nice drive on AZ-83.

  Al,, first posted about Empire Ranch.  Then John and Pam,, went.  Their pictures sparked our (ummm, my) interest...a nice way to spend Sunday.

Empire Ranch is located in the Las Cienegas Conservation Area.  The ranch is located on the eastern slope of the Santa Rita Mts and surrounded by meadows of salt grass.

It is a working cattle ranch that was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.  Back in the 1870s, it was one of the largest ranches in Arizona with a range spanning over 180 miles.

Today, the Empire Ranch Foundation and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) work together to protect and restore the historical buildings and landscape as an outstanding western heritage and education center.  The ranch is open to the public everyday for a free self-guided walk/tour.  

There are lots of pictures with details and information about the buildings.  This one shows the changes made to the main house from 1871 to 1886.

Lots of western movies and tv series have been filmed here including  3:10 to Yuma (the 1957 film), Bonanza series (1959-73), and The Outlaw Josie Wales (1976).

There have been updates (during the 1950s) to the main inside master bathroom... 
 a family kitchen...
and a front porch complete with daffodils...all of which bring back memories from my childhood.   

Like Al, I took way too many pictures !  It was hard to sort through them all and pick just a few.

Our next stop for the day was Madera Canyon via E. Box Canyon Rd/NF-62.  It was a very pretty ride through the Coronado National Forest on an unpaved, twisty, narrow road.  

We weren't interested in a long hike...the 2.1 mile nature trail fit the bill.  I was mostly looking for birds as we meandered along Madera Creek under huge limbs of Arizona White Oaks and beside tiny patches of Mexican Poppies. is good !  Until next time, 

This old camaro gave the Camaro Loop Trail it's name.