2012 - March - Mariners Spring Training - Tucson

by Scott  

March 21 Wednesday

We left for Tucson, go in around 1300. We were too early to check-in so had lunch on the patio outside the hotel restaurant.

At 1400 they assigned us a room, it was located on the first floor, faced outside and the freeway. This isn?t what I had in mind for vacation so we went to the front desk and asked about getting a suite like we had had the previous year. We waited a while longer and at 1500 we were assigned a suite which has a lanai looking out on the pool, fragrant orange trees just outside, a living room with desk, large bedroom and 2 bathrooms ? much nicer. The desk clerk had explained that when we booked the room through Expedia (or Orbitz, doesn?t matter) you basically get what?s available, calling the hotel directly for reservations is the better way to go.

We walked to LaCocina for supper, lots of fragrances in the air along the way. The restaurant is only about 0.4 miles from the hotel, nice outdoor seating, and a live local jazz band made up of a bass player, guitar and drummer. Scott  had a quinoa chicken spinach dish with peanut sauce, very good. I had quinoa pasta, Bathrat squash sauce with arugula and grilled chicken, wonderful flavor. Next to our table was a pond with turtles, goldfish and other fish. We walked back to the hotel and crashed.

 

March 22 Thursday

We were up by 0600 as we have to drive 44 miles to the trailhead. We ate breakfast at the hotel them headed out. There was a $5 fee station on our way up, also signs saying this is bear country ? Yippee!! Our plan was to hike a trail toward the top of Mt Lemon, as we drove up there was snow which got deeper as we climbed. At 8000 feet there was too much snow to hike and our trailhead was at 9000 feet. We?d seen other trail heads on our way up so we drove back down to the Bug Spring Trail. There is no snow and the temperature is just right. Initially the trail had some switchbacks up to the ridge then pretty level to Bug Spring. There is probably water at some times of the year but right now it is dry. We hiked up to another ridge, it was getting quite a bit warmer so Scott stopped in the shade of a ?tree?. I walked ahead to get some pictures looking back down the canyon. There is a lot of beautiful quartz and mica. As we hiked upward there were hoodoo rock formations. We found a flat area to stop and eat lunch, walked a little further up the trail then decided to head back. The elevation gain was only around 1000 feet but with the heat, it seemed like a lot more. There were nice vista views of the surrounding area on the way down.

I guess I didn?t write down what we did or where we ate today, I do recall we were pretty exhausted after the hike.

 

March 23 Friday

We?re going to a game at the Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium in Tucson, it?s the former Cactus League stadium for the Diamondbacks and White Sox. Today the White Sox are playing the LA Dodgers, I think it?s a split squad game. We got lucky with parking, we made a right turn off the main road and ended up in a free parking lot. We stood in a long line for Will Call, it didn?t move very quickly. We had front row tickets on the first base side, the game was pretty lop-sided. In the 5th inning the Dodgers were leading 13-4. We decided to leave and look for a Dairy Queen to have a blizzard which sounded really good in the warm weather. The GPS found a couple that weren?t too far out of the way but we ran into street work and a street fair and ended up not being able to find one.

We went back to our hotel, got cleaned up and walked to a restaurant called the Iguana. It was rated well but was full of drunks, very noisy, quite a dive. We left and walked to a place called the Italian Caffe Milano on Congress Street ? really good food and chianti. We browsed at a Mexican Folk store, stopped at La Cocina and listened to a blue grass band then walked back to the hotel.

 

March 24 Saturday ? Temperature in the 80s

We were up around 0700, today we are hiking in Romero Canyon in the Catalina State Park. There is a $7 fee to hike in this area. We initially had a little trouble finding the park as the GPS had us turning where no road exists but we followed signs and found it. The first quarter mile of the hike took us through a wash then open desert like area. The trail turned left then started climbing. There were lots of interesting flowers along the trail, I got pictures. The trail became increasingly rocky and narrow in many places, the temperature was hot and there was very little shade along the way. I do OK in this heat but it?s really hard on Scott. We climbed about 2.8 miles then the trail dropped down to some beautiful cool pools. We found a rock to sit on, took off our boots and socks and put our feet in the water. We ate lunch, hiked around the pool area then headed back. This was equally as difficult, hard on the knees and feet, but all worth the effort.

On our way back to the hotel we did find a DQ and stopped to have the blizzard we missed out on yesterday.

We got back to the hotel feeling exhausted and sore but after showering, all was well. I sent mom pictures of some of the flowers and took a picture of my sore feet to send to her. We ate supper on the patio outside the hotel restaurant, Scott sort of served as our waiter, there was some kind of convention going on so it was pretty busy. We just had a good salad and a glass of wine and relaxed in the sun.

 

March 25 Sunday - Temperature in the 80s

Today we are hiking Pima Canyon. After yesterday we aren?t sure what we are getting into but looking forward to it anyway. The hiking here is so different from the Northwest. There is no fee for this hike, there a supposed to be big horn sheep. The hike started out across fenced private land, lots of different kinds of cactus along the way ? some types that we hadn?t seen before. The trail is rocky, at about a quarter mile into the hike there were people taking pictures. About 25 feet off the trail there is a crescent sugaro cactus, extremely rare. The top of the cactus is in the shape of a crown rather than the long arms present on all the others. One couple we spoke to said they come back each year and take a picture from the same spot so they can see how it changes over time. We cross a dry creek bed and went through a cottonwood grove where there was lots of shade. When we had hiked in about 3.2 miles we saw some turkey vultures flying overhead. There were also depressions in the large rocks that had in the past been used by the Hohokam Indians for grinding beans.

We ate lunch at these rocks which also overlook a stream. We had kept watch out for bighorn sheep but never did see any. On the hike out we did see a huge Gila monster along the trail, they don?t move very quickly so I was able to get some good pictures. We also saw more turkey vultures flying overhead.

This was a good hike, again because of the rocks, very hard on the feet ? and my toenails which I won?t go into.

Back at the hotel we showered and walked to El Charro for supper. We had Margaritas, guacamole and chips, Scott had stuffed chicken with a white sauce and rice, I had a chicken enchilada.

We walked back to the hotel and started packing for our departure tomorrow.

 

March 26 Monday

We checked out, drove to Phoenix and returned the car. Again, all very efficient. The flight was uneventful, however our shuttle wouldn?t start and had a dead battery that needed to be jumped. We visited with other passengers who were just returning from a trip to South America. We dropped them off, the driver gave them Scott?s suitcase which he didn?t realize until we got to Scott?s house.

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