Sunday, December 31, 2006

Christmas Blog 2006

Quite a few days late, but here it is again:

Christmas in the Sonoran Desert, one more time!

Originally I'd hoped to attend 11:00 p.m. liturgy at St. Francis in the Hills UMC, but Karen called late Christmas Eve and said she was too tired. After spending way too much time after Karen phoned trying to find a protestant mainline offering Christmas Day services, Christmas morning I had an inspiration to go to Sacred Heart RC on nearby 601 East Fort Lowell Road, where I'd attended a couple other Christmas day mornings with Carla's now-former neighbor.

Dinner at Home

We had a wonderful, traditional, home-cooked dinner at Carla's house. The menu consisted of Roast Turkey, Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Corn, lots of Gravy, creamed Pearl Onions, Green Bean Casserole (you know!), Sweet Potato Casserole (you know about that one, too), Rolls, Butter, Cranberry Sauce, Olives, Mince Pie baked by Richard with brandy (store-bought). Beverages included white wine, red wine, cherry coke, cranberry juice, beer, sparkling cider, coffee and milk.

Street People Again!

For an explanation of this terminology, check out this blog from Christmas 2005. Both times Carla had met these "street people" while walking her dogs [on the street], but her friend Arlene refers to them as "street people," so in some sense they have been, since they were out on the street (at times doesn't everyone go outside and spend time on the street? I hope so!). Eight of us gathered around the table for dinner: James, our newest friend; Richard; Patti; Floyd; Miriam, Patti's mother; Marilyn; Carla and myself.

Huskies at Home

In alphabetical order they are: (girls) Ava April, Easter Angel, Blues, Copper Queen; (boys) Nikki, Nanook, Spirit of 2004.

A Very Blessed Nativity to All Creation!!!!!

Mount Lemmon Blog

Mount Lemmon Saturday afternoon we drove the Catalina Highway - officially "General Hitchcock Highway" – north of Tucson to Mount Lemmon [this is a great article about the history and geology, Arizona mapso I won't retype all of it] in the Santa Catalina Mountains—a little over three years after the Summer 2003 fires, today was the first snow in two years and the first day vehicles could drive up the canyon without chains or snows. Because it provides delightful respite from blazing heat during the hot summer months, Mount Lemmon, named after botanist Sara Lemmon, who climbed to the top with John, her spouse, in 1881, is extremely popular with Tucsonians. Out-of-towners enjoy it, too, evidenced by a handful of license plates from surrounding Southwestern states as well as many from the Mexican state of Sonora. At the base of the mountain, Smokey the Bear cautioned, "Moderate Fire Danger." BTW, a while ago I blogged a little about Sabino Canyon, at the foot of Mount Lemmon. Other signs read, "Ice May be Present" and "Watch for Snowplow." We also saw a Bears Crossing graphic sign.

We started seeing snow at about 4,000 feet and thicker snow around 4,500 feet. Mount Lemmon itself is 9,000 feet high! Again I bought postcards, but unhappily they didn't have the snow cards I'd hoped to find; nonetheless, I've included a couple of postcard scans.

Tucson panorama
As the linked article explains, the Mount Lemmon landscape goes quickly from a Sonoran lower Desert ecosystem to mid-desert and then to a habitat resembling southern Canada. The transition from desert saguaros, palo verdes, oaks, catclaw, manzanita and mesquite to ponderosa pine, Arizona pine, Apache pine, Chihuahua pine and snow seems abrupt! Amid the hushed wonder and quiet beauty of still-fresh powder, I could not help but think of Elinor Wylie's poem,
Velvet Shoes

Let us walk in the white snow
In a soundless space;
With footsteps quiet snd slow,
At a tranquil pace,
Under veils of white lace.

I shall go shod in silk,
And you in wool,
White as white cow's milk,
More beautiful
Than the breast of a gull.

We shall walk through the still town
In a windless peace;
We shall step upon white down,
Upon silver fleece,
Upon softer than these.

We shall walk in velvet shoes:
Wherever we go
Silence will fall like dews
On white silence below.
We shall walk in the snow.
Here's a list of the designated campgrounds, trails and vistas we passed; in real life, many of these are all three of the above and more:

Campgrounds: Bear Wallow; General Hitchcock; Gordon Hirabayashi; Loma Linda; Molno Basin and Campground; Peppersauce; Rose Canyon Lake and Campground; Spencer Canyon; Whitetail

Trails: Bigelow; Box Camp; Bug Spring; Butterfly; Green Mountain; Incinerator Ridge; Palisade; Showers Point; Sunset; Sykes Knob Picnic Area

Vistas: Aspen; Babad Do'ag - Tohono O'odham for "Frog Mountain"; San Pedro; Seven Cataracts; Manzanita; Thimble Peak; Thumb Peak; Windy Point

Communities: Ski ValleySoldiers Camp; Summerhaven business and residential district

Friday, December 29, 2006

Tombstone Blog

This afternoon we drove to Cochise County and to Tombstone, "The Town too Tough to Die," and reputedly the only remaining true Western frontier town. The town site lists population as a mere 1,504 people with a high desert elevation of 4,540 feet. Here are images from the postcards I bought:




I'm concluding with a picture of Wyatt—we went to Tombstone to visit Wyatt and his Dad, Johnny, since they may be moving to the UK soon.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Traveling to Tucson again

Originally I had a reservation on Southwest for Wednesday evening, the TV pics from Lindbergh totally horrified me plus no way could I get packed and ready in time to leave to get to the airport three hours before flight time (and possibly still miss the flight), so I cancelled my SW rez and decided to go by dog – Greyhound – again. In the past I've traveled by dog at least once in each direction and found it relatively relaxing. In addition, this time I saved close to $60 my taking the low road rather than the high skies!

Here's my chronology:

Friday evening I arrived at the downtown San Diego Gr*yh**nd Station (notice that as a cat person, I'm using a convention of treating dog stuff as an *obsc*n*ty). Talk about security—none whatsoever! I'd made my reservation online and paid for it with a credit card. I gave the reservation # to the clerk, and asked if he needed the actual credit card or my ID, but he said no, although my ticket had my name all over it. So I sauntered to the line of folks waiting to board at gate 6.

As we traveled through the dark night, the blanket of stars in the sky was wondrous; for a long time we traveled alongside the Big Dipper:

Big Dipper

I need to quote one of my favorite old-time groups, Spanky and Our Gang's
Lazy Day

Blue sky, sunshine
What a day to take a walk in the park
Ice cream, daydream
Till the sky becomes a blanket of stars
What a day for a picnic
Daisies and lots of red balloons
And what a day for holdin' hands
And bein' with you

However, it wasn't any day for any picnic!

Midway through the journey, the border patrol (USBP) always storms on the bus, checks papers, asks country of citizenship, and this time they called very blonde and Anglo-appearing) "Melissa Thompson" off the bus regarding some concern, though she re-boarded and continued through to Tucson.

When I used to go to Tucson on Southwest's now-nonexistent late afternoon flight out of San Diego, flying into the Southwester sunset was a supreme treat, esp since Tucson is an astronomer's Dark Sky area. Yesterday's sunrise was pretty special though, bringing up memories of getting into Prescott AZ around the same time of day, also during the winter.

We left Phoenix a half-hour late, at 9:30, and on a Harrah's casino bus rather than Greyhound equipment! Funny, esp given my feelings about casinos.