Desert Trails

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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Thursday, February 17, 2011

I came up with one of those brilliant inventor ideas this morning while Ilana was yet again looking for her glasses on her way to her exercise class.  "Too bad they don't have a chip in them so that they would ring or buzz or play music when you phoned them," I said.  "That's a great idea," she said, on her way out the door.  Or maybe they could be made to taunt you with "nayh, nayh, nayh-nayh nayh!"  Yeah, and since chips are so small these days why couldn't there be one for your keys too, or anything else you can't keep track of?  Of course you have to first find your phone.......  This is the kind of stuff you think of when you've got too much time on your hands.
     The RV park we're staying at is called Desert Trails and indeed, there is a whole system of nice trails just outside the perimeter of the park that take you through the Sonoran desert on the backside of Tucson Mountain Park.  Here, giant saguaros stand against a mountain backdrop, surrounded by prickly pear, barrel cactus, Palo-Verde trees, creosote, ocotillo, and other things spiny.  With the air full of ozone and the broken light softly illuminating the cacti, I walked the trails early this morning with Chance after last night's light rain.  Talk about your meditative  
     On the trail again this morning with Chance, who has come to look forward to these early morning walks through the desert.  On the way out I spotted a Winter visitor to the park, a bright red Cardinal sitting in the top of a paloverde tree, framed against a brilliant topaz blue sky.  It was early, the desert still cool, and birds were out in numbers, especially the cactus wrens, perched on the spiny tops of giant saguaro arms and crowns.  The cactus wren is a beautiful bird that looks like a small woodpecker, with a black barred back and spotted chest.  There were lots of mourning doves with their soothing calls and other smaller song birds flitting among the sparsely leaved trees and thorny bushes, including one with an especially sweet and beautiful song.  The sun was behind a bank of clouds and the light was magical on the desert landscape, molding itself around all the cactus and giving the surrounding mountains a pink glow.  
     A jackrabbit bolted across the trail and Chance made a beeline to give chase but I called him back and he reluctantly stopped short in a cloud of dust.  It's amazing to me how quickly he can disappear when giving chase to one of those little speed demons of the desert.  And it is equally amazing how he can run full tilt through a maze of thorns without a scratch.
     Farther up we took a spur off the main trail, through an arroyo and up a small rise, and heard a big group of coyotes yipping and crying not far away.  They sounded for all the world like a gaggle of kids at an amusement park, screaming from the cars of a speeding roller coaster.  Chance got nervous and didn't want to get any closer so we turned around and found another trail going off in the opposite direction.  Returning home to the trailer, Chance got a cookie and took a nap while Ilana and I whipped up some delicious apple pancakes with bacon and strong coffee.
     We are back in New Mexico for a couple of weeks, staying with friends and getting our house in order.   We have a few loose ends to tie up, including fixing some things in our rental house, getting some things out of storage, meeting with our tax lady and getting our teeth cleaned.  We'll be looking for a bike rack because we intend to take our bikes with us this time. 
     We drove here from Tucson with an overnight stay in Silver City New Mexico, a historic little silver mining town (now mining copper in unsightly huge open pit mines where whole mountainsides are eaten away) where nothing much is going on anymore.  Then we continued home on Hwy 152, one of the snakiest mountain roads we've ever been on; nothing but curves and hairpin turns for over 40 miles of climbing to the pass, at over 9,000 ft.
     It was a cold night and snowed the next morning, just enough flakes to tell us that Winter was still here.  But today was sunny and warmer and we hiked with the dogs on the Bosque trail by the Rio Grande River.  What a beautiful setting, with the snow-dusted mountains in the background across the river. 
     Tomorrow we return to Santa Fe after being gone for three months on the road.  It's a wierd feeling being home again, almost as if the trip up to now was but a long dream.  I'm sure that after a week or so we will lust for the open road again and head off to Texas with great enthusiasm to see parts of the country that we never have.  The trip up to now has been a shake-down to get our feet wet and see if we have the legs this kind of traveling.  I think we do but the true test will be down the road to Amarillo and Austin and then across the coast states towards Florida and on up into the Carolinas.  We hope to arrive there in early May.  Wish us luck.
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