Sunday, May 18, 2014

Beginning of Summer 2014

Time to celebrate! Curtis has completed his junior year of college!! Our summer has officially begun!

Of course Arizona gave us our first 100 degree days to help get the party started. ;)

We have a nice long bucketlist to complete this summer, ranging from personal things for me like wanting to work on sewing projects and improve my cooking skills, to several trips and adventures we have planned. The main goal for this summer is to not stay inside in the AC, but to get out and enjoy Arizona for all that it is, as this might be our only summer ever living here!

We started off Curtis' break by walking to our mall and falling in love with every puppy at the puppy store. Thank God for Coldstone on the way home for cheering us up after having to leave the adorable twin dachshunds behind…

On Thursday, we went boxing! The first box took us to the Sweetwater Wetlands Park in Tucson. Here they have a reclaimed water treatment system, as well as a home for many birds, lizards, bats, snakes, and other creatures. At 95 degrees, we were a little tempted to jump in the pond...

After this box, we went a little further South to find another box hidden near the Santa Cruz River. However, unlike the last box, there was no water in the "river"!

Yesterday, 5/17, was our first 100 degree day for this summer! What better way to celebrate than be outside, hiking and having a picnic in it? :)

We took off on a full day's adventure with our friends Mitch & Roxy. We drove about 2.5 hours West on a highway new to all of us, and ended up at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. 

Above is a drive-by picture of the infamous Organ Pipe Cactus. They only grow around this area because, like me, they don't like frost or basically cold of any type. 

Besides the organ pipe cactus, all the other plants look somewhat like Tucson Mountain Park, with new and different looking mountain ranges. All our familiar desert plants were around, but we were all amazed by the way the desert looks when you are really separated from Tucson or other cities. At this National Monument, you can really take a drive or hike and appreciate the desert for what it is, when left alone by people.

We went out for a 2 mile hike - around noon, in the heat of the day…and loved it! Above you can see the big arch in the rocks. If you look closely, you can see an even smaller one right above it!

Again, in different light, with a blooming saguaro.

Besides a few others driving through the park, we were the only ones here - and definitely the only people out hiking! It was so quiet and beautiful.  

A few shots of the Organ Pipes!

Above, a smaller/younger plant. Below, a more mature cactus.

Closer picture of the arch - see the smaller one on top? :) 

Still so much green! We were hoping to see a bighorn sheep or something equally rare, but had no luck. Smart animals! :)

Here, we reached the end of our hike and took a break under the shade of a natural rock formation. We enjoyed homemade granola bars and yelling to hear the echo!

We walked back to the car and continued driving through the park. The guys discussed all the minerals and mining possibilities in the mountains as we passed by.

In some of these, you can see the yellow/greenish lines through the top of the cliffs that had us all intrigued.

Below, a close up of the above mountain tops.

We stopped to have a picnic in this small shaded area - believe it or not, this was enough to keep us cool as we ate!

While driving back, we looked South, where we could see Mexico, just miles away. Mitch pointed out a break in the mountain ranges that we are pretty sure is where the ocean is! We were only 70 miles from the sea. It's a weird feeling, knowing we are in the heat of the desert, but just an hour's drive South will take us to the ocean!

After finishing at the National Monument, we made it through the security check point, only to have to pull off to find a box along the road. We did our best to hurry, knowing full well how suspicious we looked!

We then drove back East to Tucson, driving through Why, AZ, and a long stretch of Indian reservation. When we reached Three Points, AZ, we took a detour South to find another box.

After reaching Tucson, we stopped at Kennedy Park to find our last box of the day. I love how the mountains look when the sun is setting. Above: Northeast

Above & below, facing East

And finally to the West. It had cooled down nicely at this point!

And that was our weekend - our first summer adventure, one thing crossed off the bucket list, and a whole new area (to us) explored! Here's to one more year of enjoying Arizona! :)

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