Last weekend we went camping at Chiricahua National Monument near Willcox, AZ. Pure bliss!
On the way down we stopped at Apple Annie’s and picked pumpkins and did the corn maze. A very muddy corn maze but we enjoyed it anyway.
We found some fall color on our hike to Far Away Ranch. The weather was perfect, not hot, not too chilly.
Far Away Ranch has a great history filled with strong women. The fireplace was made from stones taken from a monument to President Garfield that was falling down. The names were chiseled by Buffalo Soldiers stationed there before Far Away Ranch became Far Away Ranch.
We had a wonderful tour of the house led by Ranger Anne.
In the afternoon we hiked to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain. This is an old fire lookout tower and proof that we went all the way to the top.
At one point we actually hiked through the mountain!
I would have thought it was too cold for the snakes to be out, especially in the shade, but apparently not. This is a black tailed rattlesnake I believe, right near the beginning of the trail. Luckily other hikers gave us a heads up preventing any heart attacks.
Still there on the trip back, we had marked his spot with a small rock cairn so as to not get caught unawares.
There are no fire pits at Bonita Canyon Campground so we brought our own, perfectly legal. The rangers will let you have a small fire in the grill (if there are no fire restrictions of course!) This was much nicer and we cooked hot dogs and s’mores the first night. It was perfect sitting around the fire weather.
Okay, while seeing the snake on the hike and a skunk (which I did not take pictures of) one night near our campsite (when I was sitting alone by the fire!) did not exactly bring me joy it was still cool (you know, afterwards). But this guy brought a smile to my face:
The mom had already crossed the road and then I came along and the fawn stopped and I stopped and I told him to go ahead. I could see the mama deer anxiously looking back and after a moments hesitation the baby deer bounded across the road and caught up to his mama. We saw a lot of deer, they know they are safe in the National Park area during hunting season.
Wow we had a busy Labor Day weekend but it was all good. It is no secret that autumn is far and away my favorite season but I do my best to enjoy each season and holiday in it’s own time. This weekend we managed to combine the best of summer: swimming and grilling out, with the best of autumn: apple picking and college football.
We started out with an after dinner swim on Friday night which was marvelous. It is dark here by 7:30p and it feels so different swimming under a night sky.
On Saturday morning I had my first bowling of the season with my once a month league and Saturday evening it was time for Wildcat Football. Yes they lost but the marching band still rocked it!
Sunday we had a quiet at home day planned so we could recover from the late night. (Will the Pac-12 ever see reason and schedule for the convenience of the team and the fans?) I did some laundry and watched the Cubs win and then we all went for a swim. Luckily we grilled our burgers early as a rumbly thunderstorm dropped in. So after dinner we played Sagrada and then retreated to our separate spaces to read , listen to the rain and in my case watch “Bridget Jone’s Diary”. We got a nice amount of rain overnight, always appreciated here.
On Monday we drove to Willcox and Apple Annie’s to pick apples, pears and peaches. We shared some pie (apple crumb and pecan) and ice cream and enjoyed the very blue sky and a refreshing breeze. We came home for one last swim joking about how the pool would be closed the next day. (That idea completely confused my son.) We played with my son’s waterproof camera taking all kinds of crazy pictures and movies and had a blast.
No autumn temps here for at least two more months, maybe longer, but mentally I am already switching gears. I washed my fall quilt today (same weight as my summer quilt just a different design) and pulled out my new orange ‘Life is Good’ t-shirt decorated with leaves that I have been saving. The weather channel announced it is now meteorological autumn and that is good enough for me! Over the next two weeks I am sure I will be slowly sneaking bits of autumn into my life.
I took a bit of a sabbatical from the blog in July but that doesn’t mean I didn’t take any photos. So without further ado…
4th of July, fireworks on base and red, white and blue glow sticks a big hit.
Camping in the White Mountains, wonderfully cool among the aspens.
This is pretty much what the sky looked like the whole week we were there: patches of blue surrounded by white clouds, dark clouds and rain falling somewhere. The rain wasn’t continuous but it was fairly plentiful. Sadly campfires weren’t allowed which seemed rather silly with all the rain.
An easy summer fun project: graham cracker houses with waffle cone trees. The key is to make the powdered sugar icing (ie glue) super thick.
In our quest to eat healthier I signed up for our Local Tucson CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) over the summer. I was excited about eating locally grown, freshly picked real food. I was curious to try some new vegetables. We gave it a go for twelve weeks but opted not to renew our subscription again.
It made me kind of sad to give up but it really wasn’t working out very well and I felt like I was wasting too much food and hence money.
There were two basic issues. The first was the distance to the pick up location. It was a good 30 minute drive each way and once school started I had my husband begin to pick up our share on his way home from work. The problem with this was my husband doesn’t cook or grocery shop so he wasn’t good at selecting items. He also got there fairly late so typically there wasn’t any good trading to be done.
The second issue was the types of foods we were getting. We were inundated with onions and various types of spicy peppers. Though I live in the desert southwest I don’t cook a lot of southwestern dishes. I was glad to try my hand at making salsa verde, we ate one batch with chicken enchiladas and I put a second batch in the freezer. But I didn’t feel the need to make a third batch and had no idea what else to do with tomatillos and all those peppers.
We also got shares of monsoon greens, basically weeds that sprout up after rains. I used a few in various salads but they just weren’t my thing. We enjoyed different types of potatoes, melons and squash. We also liked the corn and fruit but it wasn’t enough for three of us. And despite being really fresh things had a tendency to spoil quickly. I tried my best to meal plan accordingly but it didn’t always work out. A few times we were trying to eat what we had picked at Apple Annie’s and then got the same vegetables (eggplant, green beans) and fruits (apples) in our CSA share.
I finally had to accept that for now the CSA wasn’t in the cards. I will keep it in mind for the future though and would certainly consider doing it again.
I am feeling much better these days. It is a huge relief to not feel crabby for no apparent reason all the time. There are various reasons I could be feeling better:
1. My husband is doing the Whole 30 with some co-workers and I decided to do it too since I was going to have to do all the food prep for him anyway. (My husband can grill but completely inept in the kitchen which I think he does on purpose.) I am on day 10 and I believe purging the grains and sugar from my diet are making a difference.
2. I am getting outdoors a bit more despite the heat and humidity. It is still unpleasant out but cloud cover makes it more bearable. On Saturday afternoon we went for a short hike at Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. It had been raining all day but we just had a few sprinkles on our hike and on the way home the sun came out making it yucky hot. On Labor Day we went to Apple Annie’s and picked a ton of fruit and veggies. Despite being “only” 85 degrees, with the humidity and sun it was sweltering. But I love picking fruit and we enjoyed ourselves despite the weather. It plain feels good to be outdoors more.
3. It is September which means there must be an end in sight to the heat. Okay, it will be anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks before we feel it but there is still a feeling of having survived another desert summer. (Well almost survived, only two more weeks of summer to go.)
4. Lots to look forward to. We are now in my “most wonderful time of the year”. My husband and I sat down with the calendar and planned out our camping trips for the next few months. The anticipation of true autumn weather (at higher elevations), wearing long sleeves, and gathering leaves makes me smile.
5. It is football season! This year we bought season tickets to University of Arizona Wildcat football games. Nothing beats the atmosphere of college football. Football and a marching band, what could be better in (almost) autumn? Our first game was last Thursday and it started raining a few hours before kickoff. But the rain ended just as we were going to our seats. We had remembered a towel to dry our seats off and it was a lovely, cool evening. It was so perfect I thought I was going to cry. Arizona won and as usual it was an entertaining game.
Sunday I have my Denver Bronco’s to look forward to. If only Peyton Manning can stay healthy and the O-line keep him protected!
6. I was on-call for jury duty this week and did not have to report to the courthouse. This means I have the whole week free to do whatever I want. (I wish.)