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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Saturday March 10 – This morning Rollie and I have a campfire and music outside at our Molino Basin campsite before it gets too windy.
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.
We hike to the first saddle, maybe a couple miles, and sit on a rock outcropping to enjoy the expansive views.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Monday March 5: Today Clifford, Rollie, Ninja, and I go for an outing to Chiricahua National Monument in the Chiricahua Mountains to the west of the Dragoon Mountains where we are camped. I make thermoses of tea and coffee and get a picnic together for us. Then off we go.
It is about an hour’s drive from our camp to the Visitors’ Center. Very nice place with good displays, maps, books, and gifts.
Then we drive the scenic road to Massai Point Nature Trail where there is a loop hike. Sure wish we could stop to get photos of the interesting rock formations on the way, but there aren’t many marked pull-outs.
At Massai Point, we park and hike the scenic trail at a leisurely pace, Rollie and I both taking lots of photos. The rock formations here were created by a volcanic activity 25 million years ago. Over 2,000 feet of ash-flow covered the landscape and erosion carved out what we see now.
After this hike, we head back down the road and pull in at the campground, curious to see it now under different circumstances than when we were here about 15 years ago after driving over the Chiricahua Mountains in late December, pushing snow with the bumper of our 2-wheel drive S10. That was one of the dumbest (and scariest) things we’ve ever done.
Today is mild, mostly sunny, but windy, and the campground is quite full. We find a spot to pull over to placate the photographer (me),
and then continue on down the road past the Visitors’ Center to the Faraway Ranch, so names as it was so far away from any other civilization. There is a picnic area at the ranch and it is less windy at the lower elevations. We find a table in the sunshine and have our picnic before exploring the Faraway Ranch homestead.
We missed the tour, but walk about and read the kiosks. It is interesting to contemplate what life was like for the people who were the first settlers of this land; not the first residents, as those Native Americans were being pushed onto reservations by this time. One can admire the courage and tenacity of the settlers, but one should not overlook the travesty of justice in regard to the Native Americans who lived on this land for centuries before.
Back at camp I send cell pics to family and do some editing. Tonight we have a simple dinner of soup, cheese, and crackers, and then I play cribbage with Rollie before downloading my camera photos. Always fun to look at the photos after a day’s outing.
Thursday March 1: March comes in as a lamb with a beautiful blue sky and it is relatively calm most of the day.
When the sun warms things up, I play viola outside for the first time.
In the afternoon as Rollie and I play music outside together, the neighbor, Toby, comes over with a banjo and joins us in a few bluegrass pieces. Although he is not primarily a bluegrass musician, he is very talented and has a good voice, and sings/plays a few old blues pieces for us. It certainly is fun to have him play with us. Instead of running into Sunsites to the post office as planned, I make another campfire so music outdoors can continue.
Friday March 2: Another beautiful blue-sky morning.
It seems a shame to have to run to Sunsites/Pearce for errands, but we have things to take care of – like post office and getting a few groceries.
Later, back at camp, Rollie and I walk down the road so I can show him a century plant. Lots of yucca and sotol around, fewer century plants close by. While we are out walking, we see a pickup/camper rig that is attempting to turn around on the other branch of road into the dispersed area, one that is not suitable for trailers. As we watch, the driver makes some very radical moves that no doubt left some scratches and dents. A bit scary seeing how some people drive their rigs – they really don’t know what they are doing!
Saturday March 3: A gorgeous morning, but windy in the afternoon. Today I am doing a photo shoot with Jimi, the host at Cochise Campground. Her uniform has arrived, so she is able to look official for the photos.
We take the trail up to the pictographs for some of the photos and hike the loop around the Nature Trail, as well as going a ways up the Cochise Trail.
Between cell and camera, I have an assortment of photos of her daily activities as camp host. Back at camp, I edit the photos and put the best on a flash drive for her. These will be used for brochures and such as she sees fit.
After preparing the photo files for Jimi, I play cribbage with Rollie before making breakfast burritos for dinner for all of us. It is too windy to make a campfire or play music outside, so just do the evening routine after dinner cleanup and head to bed a bit earlier.
Monday March 4: This morning Clifford and I walk through the campground and follow a trail out to another road that heads up to the foothills of the mountain.
We also do a short hike up my favorite trail. I’m glad Clifford gets to see some of the places I have enjoyed during our stay here.
Later, Rollie and I drive up to the campground so I can give Jimi the flash drive with the photos from yesterday.
While we are there, we look at the photo books she has made of her first and second years of hosting here and at Sunny Flats in the Chiricahua Mountains to the west. Her photo books are interesting and an inspiration to me to try one of my own.
After we get back to camp, Rollie and I join Toby for music, and since it is windy, we go down into the arroyo where it is calm, but shady and cool.
We play until we get too cold, and then head back to the campers to make dinner.
Tuesday February 27: I have tea with Rollie while Clifford does the Early Bird ham radio net. Later Rollie and I go for a walk through the campground and down the road. Becka calls – not a good day for her, as her school had a 3-hour lock-down today because of a shooting threat, not to be taken lightly after the recent school shooting in nearby Florida. After we get back from our walk, Rollie and I do music together with Clifford as our audience.
Katie calls: big hassle with my car – it is buried in snow, but needs to be moved, and there is a mix up with the registration – a DMV error that happened when we registered the Suburban last spring. It gets straightened out, but only with time (Katie’s) and expense (mine). I wanted my car to be in Montana/Idaho for my use when I am there, but it seems to be an inconvenience for whoever is babysitting it. But at least her calling about it gives us time to chat about other things and catch up on the news.
Wednesday February 28: The rain in the very early morning hours turns to snow; it is blustery and wintry when I get up.
I dig out my long wool coat, which I haven’t had to use in a very long time, and go for a walkabout to take photos of the snow.
Now, for most of the country, having snow in February is no big deal and everyone is tired of winter. However, this is the first snow I’ve seen in almost a year and I’m very excited about it.
So, bundled up, I walk through the campground and revel in the beauty of falling and newly fallen snow.
After brunch with Clifford, I go about again, as the sky has opened up; a blue sky and sunshine on the snow are in complete contrast to the blustery morning.
Back at the camper, I play viola and write in the journal until Clifford starts a podcast with our webmaster. Since he needs quiet, I go play cribbage with Rollie at his camper and later we do music. The snow has melted away, but I’m happy to have been here to see it, to walk in it, to take photos of it.
Saturday February 24: 27 degrees, calm and beautiful this morning in the Dragoon Mountains of southeast Arizona.
Checking the weather, I see that Wallace, Idaho, (where we lived before moving to Utah last fall) has lots of snow and more forecast. I kind of miss seeing that snow.
I go for a hike this morning, enjoying the quiet and the solitude.
Back at camp, I take care of a few domestic chores, then go over to Rollie’s camper to play cribbage using the board that I picked up at the thrift shop yesterday. My siblings and I all learned to play cribbage as kids and continue to enjoy the game.
Clifford is on the phone with Straight Talk, trying to figure out why our hotspots are getting used up so quickly. We monitor our usage carefully, so it is not making sense. In the end he cancels service with them… we go from very poor internet service to no internet service.
I play viola awhile, talk to my daughter Merri about a writing project she is working on, then make breakfast burritos for all of us for dinner. Later, when I try to send pics to my daughter Becka, cell phone does not work. Hmmm….. Good thing I have several non-net projects I can work on. Otherwise a person could get frustrated!
Sunday February 25: Another beautiful morning. I have tea with Rollie and then we get ready for our hike on the Cochise Trail.
Clifford and I have hiked this exceptionally scenic trail before, but it will be new for Rollie. We head on up to Cochise Stronghold Campground, say Hi to our camphost friend, Jimi, – too bad she can’t hike with us today – and then head on up the trail.
It is a great hike on a beautiful day. We only go as far as the 1-mile point where there is a pretty spot by the creek, a perfect place to have our picnic.
We relax by the flowing stream as it cascades over rocks, but eventually it is time to head back down the trail.
Back at camp, I clean and organize the Suburban while I chat with Becka. Since cell is working again, I send a few pics of the hike to family/friends and post one on FB. Even with the hike, I have time to do some editing for daughter Ang and download my camera. It always fun to look at the photos after a day’s outing.
By time we have dinner, it is too late for music together, but other than that, it was a good full happy day.
Thursday February 22: Today is “stink repair” day, which includes drying out every damp corner, removing any affected window moulding, and cleaning the fridge. Many things got damp during these last rainy days.
Then Rollie, Ninja, and I go for a hike, finding a place to sit in the sun out of the wind.
Back at camp, I do some editing, write in the journal, and send a few texts before going over to Rollie’s camper to play music. I play guitar to his mandolin until my fingers get tired, then switch to viola and he plays guitar.
Chicken dinner at our place. Both campers are small, but it is fun to do stuff together.
Friday February 23: The mountainside is golden in the first rays of the sun. Great blue sky, calm but chilly this morning.
I go for a hike up the mountain by myself, as it is a bit too chilly for Rollie and Clifford is focused on his ham radio.
Today is errand day, but we also do some exploring with Rollie, going to nearby Pearce, almost a ghost town. It was an active gold mining town founded in 1895. It grew to a population of 2,000, but several disasters including a cave-in, flooding, and faulty wiring caused havoc, resulting in the mine being closed in 1942, although the town was largely abandoned before then.
We also go to the cemetery, a bit neglected, but a part of the history of this once lively place. We wander around looking at headstones, noting how many children died. It was a harsh life, especially for women and children.
Clifford and I go on to Sunizona for propane and the laundromat. Browsing the thrift store right next door to the laundromat is a fun way to spend the time while clothes wash and dry. We both get a few things here, including a cribbage board. Back at camp, we put stuff away and have a late dinner. No music today, but all-in-all, it was a productive day.
Monday February 19: Very windy all day with hard gusts that shake our little home.
I start the morning with a walkabout n the misty rain to see how much water is flowing in the wash.
With the rain last night, the waterfalls on the rock face of the mountain have been reinvigorated and I estimate from the water in a free-standing pan that the Dragoon Mountains have received about 3″ of rain in the last several days.
In the afternoon there is enough sunshine to charge my laptop for a few minutes so I can do some editing, but most activities during the day are non-electronic related. Dinner is simply soup and salad, since I am not crazy about cooking and cleaning by lantern light. Living in a cute homey but small camper can be stressful when the weather is not conducive for spending time outdoors.
Tuesday February 20: High today is only 53 and the wind is chilly, so no morning walk. But later, as some blue sky appears, I do a good walkabout up the mountain and then out to the road and back to the campsite via a long loop. It is good to spend time outside.
Back at camp, I make a list of things that can be done that do not involve power: Hike, take photos, write in journal, read a book or magazine, play viola, play guitar, color, sing, clean a cabinet, clean the floor, meditate, go visit someone, dance, write postcards, write a letter, gather wood for a campfire, build and sit by a campfire (if it’s not too windy), mindmap a project, cook something, gather rocks, knit, tidy camper, tidy campsite, add to planner, study up on essential oils, make coffee and take time to enjoy it. If the cell is charged, then I can add texts to family/friends, practice Morse code, and peruse cell pics.
Since cell is charged a bit, I check FB, post a pic, and text with Rollie – he is on the east side of Tucson tonight, having left Parker, Arizona, this morning, and he will be here sometime tomorrow. Big smile! Now I can add play cribbage and music with Rollie to the non-power list.
Wednesday February 21: Breezy and cool with a mix of blue sky and clouds throughout the day.
When Rollie and Ninja arrive, I show him around so he can pick a campsite that will work for him; he decides to share our site with us, as that will make it easier to visit back and forth for music and meals.
After he is set up, we drive through the entire loop to look for firewood that has been left behind by other campers. Then we head on up to the Cochise Stronghold campground so Rollie can meet the camp host, our friend, Jimi, and we make plans for a hike on the Cochise Trail later in the week.
In the evening, we play music at Rollie’s camper; fun to play viola with his guitar, now that I can play a few more tunes, and of course, the mandolin and guitar as we were doing earlier in the winter.
I make a big pot of chili for dinner at our place – too cool and windy to eat by a campfire, but fun to share the meal in the comfort of our little home and catch up with the events of the last couple weeks.
Saturday February 17: I go for a walkabout first thing to check on the water in the wash. It is far from flooding, but fun to see a stream where a few days it was dry sand.
As fog rolls in, I go out again to take photos.
A text from our Cochise Stronghold Campground host friend, Jimi, suggests a hike this afternoon, so I go on up to the campground.
We hike up the trail to the pictographs, an interesting trail, not really for the casual hiker, but not too strenuous, either.
Instead of hiking back down the trail, we hike down into the ravine, which now because of the rain holds a flowing stream, and make our way down around boulders, dead fall, and shin dagger yucca – wicked little desert plant best seen at a distance.
I learn that the bubbly scum I’ve seen on pooling water is from the abundant yucca, since the rain has saturated the soil enough to get the roots. The soaptree yucca derives its name from the soapy material in its roots and trunks which made this plant a popular substitute for soap. (www.desertusa.com).
Sunday February 18: Still cool and mostly cloudy this morning, but enough sun to hang out everything that is wet from the rain that leaked in a couple of the camper windows.
In the afternoon, beautiful cumulus clouds form over the mountain with the sky a gorgeous blue backdrop… quite wonderful to see.
Message and pic from Ang showing two feet of new snow. Guess the high of 66 here today would seem like a heat wave to my kids and siblings in Montana. I miss seeing my kids and siblings and feel a little sad that we are so far apart.
Big wind and more rain in the evening and during the night.