More Molino Basin – Winter Journey – March 2018

Friday March 15: My day at Molino Basin Campground starts with a hike to the creek for photos and quiet time.

Creek side quiet time

Today is catch-up day after our long day in Tucson yesterday. Dishes are done, sundries and clean clothes are put away. Rachel, our camp neighbor, stops by and we look at maps together. She knows of dispersed camping areas that we are not yet acquainted with. Rollie and I play a game of cribbage before I start editing, finishing up The Keeper and the King. Too windy to do music outside, so Rollie and I just work separately in our own campers – good time for me to really focus on viola technique. It is fun learning to play the little instrument, but I have to say (in my opinion) that violins and violas are not very ergonomic compared to cellos, and I miss playing my cello.

Saturday March 16: Overcast, then clearing, then cloudy and gusty – guess it is spring weather. After sitting by the creek a bit, I have tea with Rollie. He is feeling off today – a bit dizzy. I give him some good salt to put in his water and we go for a hike on the portion of the Arizona Trail that parallels the campground.

Views from the Arizona Trail

Walking back down the road, we visit our musician friend, Rachel. She is getting ready to leave, but we talk her into singing and playing for us, and I record her singing her beautiful Desert Song. We will miss her.

Our musician friend Rachel sings for us before she leaves

After breakfast Rollie and I do music in the little tipi tent, kind of crowded, but it breaks the wind so we can play outside. Then we all go down to the Babad Do’ag Vista Point, which overlooks Tucson, as we can get cell service there. We catch up on email, phone calls, and texts.

Babad Do’ag Vista Point
Rich sunset colors at Babad Do’ag

At sunset at the vista point, some girls pose for each other on the rock wall, which makes me very nervous for fear one of them will fall, there being quite a drop-off beyond the wall. But they survive and I get a few photos at sunset.

Sunset at Babad Do’ag Vista Point. The girls’ heads, as they stand on the rock wall, can be seen to the right of the tree.

Back at camp, after a dinner of stir fry veggies and rice, Rollie and I play cribbage before I do dishes. Planner updates and journal are the usual closing of the day.

Saturday March 17: After my morning creek time,

Dry creek bed

Rollie and I hike up the creek on the other side of the highway, a trail that we saw below us when we and Clifford hiked the Arizona Trail to the saddle. It is really quite beautiful along the creek, and we hike until we get to a section that is too steep to interest us today.

Hiking up the creek with Rollie
Trail gets steep
Hanging out with Rollie and Ninja before we hike back to camp

Back at camp, after I tidy up the Suburban, Rollie and I do music, sometimes in the tipi tent and sometimes in the shade of the gnarly oak tree. It is too warm and too crowded in the tent, too windy out in the shade. Other than the in and out, the music goes well. After snacks, Clifford and I head to Tucson, as we are getting new batteries for the camper. On the way back to camp, we stop at the Molino Basin Vista Point for photos of the ocotillo. It was not the best spot and I didn’t have the right shoes to hike down into the ravine, but I got a few photos of these unique cacti in bloom.

Ocotillo in bloom

The usual evening routine of dinner, cribbage, dishes, planner, and journal finishes out the day.

Molino Basin Days – Winter Journey – March 2018

Monday March 12: Today is mostly a mundane town (Tucson) day.

The Santa Catalina Highway makes its winding way through a saguaro forest between Molino Basin and Tucson

Clifford, Rollie, Ninja, and I go to SW Strings again and I try other violas; Rollie buys a nice guitar case. We go to La Mesa RV to look at trailers and motor homes. The service is bad, but we do see a trailer that would suit our needs for space for Clifford’s research. At Camping World, the service is great, but none of the trailers in our size range have a floor plan that will work. We are not really in a buying mode, but it is fun to look. Brief calls and texts are made while we are still in town with cell service.

Back at camp, after we unload groceries and sundries, Rollie and I make a campfire and play music outside. We have dinner together and chat until 11:00 p.m., so it is late by time I finish my evening routine and get to bed. Clifford is always up until the wee hours with his ham radios, so late doesn’t mean much to him.

Tuesday March 13: One thing I like most about this campground is the great little creek that runs through it. This morning, I hike along the creek and find a nice boulder to sit on for my quiet time.

Sitting by the creek running through the Molino Basin Campground


Being present for the sunrise

Back at camp, Rollie is ready for a walkabout, so we hike up to the group site and then hike down the Arizona Trail to our campsite.

View of the mesa from the Arizona Trail

When Rollie and I do music today, Clifford takes cell videos of us to send to Katie, since she might want us to play at her coffee shop in Wallace. I even play a piece on the viola, but it is too long to send. Oh well… at least I can play some tunes, even though I’ve only had the viola for a little over a month.

Lots of editing for Ang today and am nearly finished with The Keeper and the King. Then nachos for dinner and I just barely win a game of cribbage with Rollie before tackling the dishes.

Wednesday March 14: I am awakened at 5:30 by Rollie yelling at someone. Turns out some guy was shining a light on Rollie’s stuff – generator and bicycle and such – most likely with intent to help himself, but Rollie saw the light and went out and told the guy to get lost, but not in those words! Anyway, not a great start to the day.

First light on the mesa

Once it is light, I go sit by the creek awhile before getting ready for another day in Tucson.

Sitting by the creek for awhile

Clifford is picking up a radio that he ordered and we need to go to the laundromat. Once there, we try using the hotspot that was supposedly installed on his cell phone. However, it does not work, so we go back to Verizon and talk to someone else, and it turns out that his phone is not hotspot compatible. We have to go buy a different phone and then back to Verizon to have it activated. This is after going to SW Strings to try violas again, thinking of trading up to a better one, but I like mine better, so it was a waste of time going clear across town. It seems the whole day was spent running around, not very productive, but at least he has his new radio and we have clean clothes.

By time we get home, dinner is late. No journal, planner, or music today, and dishes are left for tomorrow.

Mount Lemmon – Winter Journey – March 2018

Saturday March 11: Cloudy and a little cooler with a bit of rain this morning and a high of 65 degrees today.

I hike a ways on the Arizona Trail where it parallels the Molino Basin Campground and come out at the group site. Nice hike and scenic. I receive a text from our new friend and fellow musician, Rachel, who has gone to Cochise Stronghold to camp. Although I can receive her texts, I can’t send any out from this location.

Arizona Trail where it parallels the Molino Basin Campground

Back at camp I make tea, then visit Rollie and we look at maps in case he decides to leave before we do. Today I tackle domestic chores, cleaning out the closet, which tends to become a jumble since so much stuff has to go in that storage space.

In the afternoon, the clouds open up a bit, so we decide to drive on up the highway to Mount Lemmon at the end of the road.

Hoodoos along the Catalina Highway, also known as the Mount Lemmon Highway
Rock formations along the highway

I want to stop at some of the vista points while the clouds are still dramatic, but Clifford wants to get to the top first. The clouds are not nearly so dramatic on the return trip, but we stop at Windy Point Vista on the way back down the mountain and spend some time meandering about this rocky outcrop of stone.

Rollie and Carol at Windy Vista. Photo by Clifford

We make another stop on our way down the mountain, and even though we have traveled down for some time, we can see the highway far below us.

This is what happens if you drive too fast on this highway

Back at the campground we are surprised to see that Rachel has returned. We have hopes that she will be able to come to our campsite for a jam session, but she finds a spot at the far upper end of the campground, too far for a get-together this evening. However, we look forward to playing music together one these days while we are all still here at Molino Basin.

After dinner, Rollie and I play a game of cribbage before I do dishes. Planner and journal, but no editing today, due to taking time for the outing to Mount Lemmon.

Arizona Trail Hike – Winter Journey – March 2018


Saturday March 10 – This morning Rollie and I have a campfire and music outside at our Molino Basin campsite before it gets too windy.

Morning at Molina Basin Campground – the white square in the center is our camper

Then we – Clifford, Rollie, and I – decide to hike a bit of the Arizona Trail, as it goes right through the campground. It is a scenic trail, in a desert sort of way, very rocky, but decent.

Clifford and Rollie on the Arizona Trail above Molino Basin Campground
Clifford and Rollie on the Arizona Trail
Looking back toward Molino Basin Campground
Rollie looks down at the campground below
Clifford and Rollie look toward the saddle
The trail to the saddle

We hike to the first saddle, maybe a couple miles, and sit on a rock outcropping to enjoy the expansive views.

View from the saddle

The wind starts to blow and within minutes it becomes quite chilly. I am sure glad I had a windbreaker and stocking hat with me. Rollie and Clifford also put on extra layers. Ninja, Rollie’s little dog, is the only one who seems unruffled by the change in temperature.

Ninja is unruffled
Rock formations seen from the Arizona Trail at Molino Basin
Close-up of rock formations

Back at the campground, we see a beautiful horse being groomed for a photo shoot; the location they choose is the gnarly oak tree at our campsite, so we sit back and watch as the photographer poses the pretty girl with the gorgeous horse.

After dinner, Rollie and I play a game of cribbage. Finish out the day with updates to my planner and writing in the journal.

Good-bye Cochise Stronghold/Hello Molino Basin – Winter Journey – March 2018

Tuesday March 6: Today is the day-before-leaving day, so Rollie and I say good-bye to Jimi, our camp host friend at the Cochise Stronghold campground.

Good-bye to Jimi, our camp host friend

We play music outside today – finally warm enough to do that. Pack up as much of the inside stuff as I can. Clifford saves his packing up for the morning, as he will be using the radios and antennas until late. We have an easy dinner of soup and sandwiches so that I have a minimum of cleanup tonight.

Wednesday March 7: We finish packing up and are on our way by 10:45 a.m, with Rollie right behind us. We take Cochise Stronghold Road to Dragoon Road for the first time, which saves several miles, and then east on I-10. We stop at Pilot on the edge of Tucson for gas, then head north across Tucson to the Santa Catalina Mountains and our destination: Molino Basin Campground.

The road up the mountain is a bit steep, but we take it easy, with Rollie following close behind us. Totally different landscape and vegetation than Cochise Stronghold; saguaros dominate the hillsides as we ascend.

Rugged hills of the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson
Catalina Highway leads to Mount Lemmon – Saguaros dominate at the lower elevation

We arrive at Molino Basin Campground in early afternoon and drive through looking for two campsites close to each other, but it is obvious this campground is catering more to tent campers than RV campers. We find a loop with a site big enough for both rigs, two picnic tables, bear boxes, a great gnarly oak tree, shrubs for privacy … hooray!

Our campsite at Molino Basin Campground in the Santa Catalina Mountains

After getting set up, Rollie and I do music outside. The neighbor across the road comes over with her guitar and wow, can she sing! Another camper joins us with his penny whistle. It is so fun to have more musicians – a real jam session.

Rachel joins us with her guitar and great voice

Later, I make nachos for dinner, but skip doing dishes, journal, and planner. Rare for me to skip these, but I’m beat from the whole move and set-up routine. But it was a good day with finding this nice big site to share and jamming with the neighbors.

Thursday March 8: Today is a town day with stops at Barnes & Nobles, Bookmans, Verizon to get Clifford’s phone set up as a hotspot, Trader Joe, and Natural Grocer. It is nice to be living out of town but with access to our favorite shops. Send texts and pics to a couple of my kids, Happy Birthday to my sister Nancy and a friend while we are still in Tucson, as we have no cell service or internet on the mountain.

Near sunset – view from Catalina Highway on our way back to Molino Basin
Last rays of the setting sun light up the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains

Friday March 9: There is an issue with the Verizon hotspot not working even when we go to a pull-out where there is good cell service. Clifford wants to get it resolved today, so we head back to Verizon. Turns out Clifford has to buy a hotspot-compatible phone. We run a couple of errands, including buying a new phone at Target and returning to Verizon to get it activated. Before we know it, we have used up a big chunk of the day.

Back at camp, Rollie and I go for a walk through the off-road campsites on the other side of the creek, a secluded area where tenting is the only option.

Secluded area

It is too windy to do music outside, so I edit for Ang for awhile and play viola before making dinner for us to share with Rollie.

Odd clouds, pretty colors