Saturday, January 31, 2015

New Year, New Wheels

This January, we had a new addition to our family...

Say hello to Ghillie, our beautiful new vehicle!

Ghillie is a 2008 Jeep Patriot, and a huge step up for us. We had been praying and searching for our next vehicle since before Christmas break, and we are so thankful that the search has ended and we can now enjoy more road trips in a very reliable vehicle!

Charlotte, meet Ghillie. :)

Our first mileage milestone. We bought it just in time for this!

We have already broken it in with driving across town and going on a few short road trips. We even had to test out the 4 wheel drive on a muddy, dirt road in the rain. We especially enjoy being able to drive the limit and merge easily onto interstates, reaching 65 before the entrance lane ends!!

Selfie from our first road trip in Ghillie!

Charlotte has tested out the back row and our seats up front, and has declared Curtis' lap the best for riding. ;) We are also excited that we can now fit 5 people in here comfortably! No more cramming in the back of a truck cab!

There are so many other new features that we are loving - working air conditioning (a wonderful thing when living in AZ!), power locks (our last truck had the "reach across"), and a button that controls the windows! Folks, it's official, we have entered the 21st century! 

Now ever since we've gotten this car, we've been aching to go on some adventures...

Friday, January 30, 2015

Sabino Canyon

Sabino Canyon - the main road. Taken 8/13

Out of all the spots we like to go to enjoy Tucson, Sabino Canyon Recreational Center is definitely the one we visit the most. I've mentioned it many times before - we went walking there for the first time the first week that we lived here together, and have gone back many times for letterboxing and hiking. Not only that, but we also go there a couple weeknights every month to go running! It's a great place to see both Tucson's desert and the Catalina Mountains, and is great for running, walking, biking, and hiking. This week, we went to meet up with some letterboxing friends there on one of our free days. We have already gotten most of the boxes in the area, so we decided to take advantage of the time and do a hike we hadn't done before.

View of desert scenery & mountains. Taken 9/13

Sabino Canyon has many trails to enjoy. There is the main paved road that goes 3.7 miles into the canyon, with lots of trails going off of that. When we go running, we always take the paved road. Then there's Bear Canyon Trail, which we have taken before - that eventually leads to 7 Falls. There are trams that run during the day, and they can take you to the end of the roads and back. I learned this week just how busy this place can get during the day - and I'm so glad to see so many people enjoying this beautiful spot in Tucson.

The river that runs through the canyon - Taken 2/14

Of course, Sabino Canyon is also the place where I saw my first, second & third javelina, first tarantula, first, third, and fourth rattlesnakes, and first desert tortoise. It can be a real wilderness experience, so take caution while enjoying the trails! Also, no dogs allowed, so poor Charlotte has to miss out on all the fun we have here. :(

Wildlife is all around out here! Taken 9/14

On Wednesday, we decided to start by taking the paved road all the way to the end. I had only been 3 miles back, so I was finally able to see the last .7, and Curtis was able to see it all in the daylight. (It's always dark by that point when he runs the entire thing!) We reached the end and contemplated taking a tram back to meet up with our boxing friends, but as it turns out you can only take those if you purchased a ticket at the beginning. So instead of going back the same way, we decided to take the Phoneline trail, which goes up the side of the mountain and follows a ridge back to Bear Canyon.

Taken at the end of the paved road - 1/28/15

The beginning of the trail was steep and quickly switchbacked up, but after the first half mile it evened out and stayed constant for the most part. We found it really enjoyable, and considerably cooler than the paved road because we were in the shade more often. The trail was also very well maintained, besides a few rocky bits. I enjoyed looking down and seeing the paved road from above.

Looking down at the end of the paved road from the Phoneline trail

The perfect day for hiking!

Looking down on the paved road going through the canyon.
We were thankful that we took the Phoneline trail from the end of the canyon back out, because as we came out of the canyon, the trail had a long, steady decline rather than a steep, quick one. (But that's just what we prefer, go ahead and do what you prefer when you hike this ;)) We took the trail all the way to the end, where it met with Bear Canyon, then had a bit more to walk to get back to the visitor's center. When we finished and sat down to wait for our boxing friends, we looked at the map and realized that we had just hiked 9.2 miles in under 3 hours, in the heat of the day!

Saguaros have personalities.

Next time you come to Tucson, make sure you save some time to enjoy Sabino Canyon - you won't regret it! Here are some other random pictures from our adventures there. :)

Walking down the main paved trail

Hiking down Bear Canyon Trail

Sunsets at Sabino are Spectacular :)

We brought my mom here and enjoyed a hike at sunset!

On one of the many bridges that cross the river in the canyon

When we brought Curtis' dad here in 9/14, it had rained all day and the creek was flooding!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Dragoon, Tombstone, and the San Pedro River

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Day 2 of this weekend's adventures! Today, we met up with our friends Mitchell and Alex and headed East to Cochise county for some hiking and letterboxing. All of the locations that we visited are some of the lesser-known about historic spots that the guys have a lot of interest in. We planted letterboxes around each of them, and hope that many people will find them and enjoy getting some information on what happened around these areas!

Curtis has been working on a letterbox series about the different events in the Civil War that took place in Arizona. You can read the summary of what he's learned here. Today, we visited a site near Dragoon, AZ, that is actually one of the better maintained spots. While most of the soldiers that died in these battles were buried in San Francisco, CA, a few Confederate Soldiers were buried here. We also saw ruins from a stagecoach station that once stood here.

Stagecoach Ruins 
Charlotte loved sniffing around here!

After visiting here, we drove to Tombstone for lunch. We ate at the Chuckwagon Eatery in Tombstone, and were very thankful that they are dog friendly! We were able to eat outside, and they gladly brought a bowl of water for Charlotte. It seemed like everyone there was a basset hound lover, and Charlotte loved them all back! If you're ever in Tombstone, check this place out, especially if you have dogs - they're the only dog friendly place in town!

A photo to remember Charlotte's first trip to Tombstone!

After eating, we went to visit the grave of Ed Schieffelin. He was the prospector that discovered silver here in Cochise county, which led to the founding of Tombstone. The grave is to the West of the town, and is actually quite impressive.

Ed Schieffelin's grave

Facing East

Facing Northeast

Facing South - those are the Huachuca Mountains, with Miller and Carr peaks on the far left!

After that, we started heading Southwest to the San Pedro River area. We stopped on the way to visit Brunckow Cabin, which is apparently known as "The Bloodiest Cabin in Arizona History." (I didn't really realize it until I looked it up later - it's really crazy all the places I end up going with these guys!) It also was owned by a miner, and that really interested the guys. And Charlotte. :)

The guys, checking out a mine shaft. 
Mountains in the area!

What's left of Brunckow Cabin

Once we finished there, our last stop was to a trail around the San Pedro River area, near the Charleston ghost town. This was my favorite hike of the day - it was such a beautiful and well maintained trail, and we got to see a lovely sunset around here. As you walk along the trail, there are lots of informational posts that explain what certain ruins are, or what happened in this area in the past.


Charlotte loves being on the trails with us :)

We came across the coolest structure I've seen yet along this trail - Gird's Mill near where Millville used to be. This was like a 3 story fortress, so of course we had to go check it out!

Climbing up Gird's Mill

A closer look at the structure.

Taken from the second level of Gird's Mill!

I loved watching the sun set over the Huachuca Mountains - if you recall, we did a hiking trip last fall in this range. Miller is the furthest peak on the left, and Carr is the next point to the right of that. Click here to read about that adventure!

The San Pedro River

And finally, to end the day, we enjoyed walking across Charleston Bridge and watching a stunning sunset. It was the perfect day to explore Cochise county some more! We finished off this adventure with having steak, rice, and potatoes at Mitch's.