Saturday, January 19, 2008


Can you make out a narrow, very rocky, barely-there trail in this picture? With cactus on all sides? That was the path we were hiking to find a geocache in Tucson Mountain Park this afternoon when we finally... GAVE UP! Yes, we did - just sat down on a rock and said "forget it"! And ate our lunch.

Arizona's trails can be a real challenge. Here, the steep surface consisted of ROCK covered with a slippery layer of sharp, pea-sized gravel. The steeper the climb, the more frequently we slid - and that was going UPHILL. In my imagination, the downhill slide included grabbing at nearby cactus to stop our falls, or breaking an ankle. NO geocache is worth that (to us wimps, that is).

This was a great test of my new Ariat Terrain Women's Boot. When I needed new hiking boots earlier this year, Ariat boots were recommended by my cousin Rosanna, who has worn her's to hike through the Grand Canyon and in the Dolomites. My sister Sydney has a pair, too, and both said they fit perfectly from day one - an almost unbelievable claim for a hiking boot.

I add my recommendation to theirs: if you are looking for a perfect-fit, lightweight, leather hiking boot that can handle even Arizona's rocky trails in comfort, this is the one. I see that they are available online, but I bought mine in tiny Elfrida, Arizona, at the High Lonesome Feed Store, suppliers of all things needed around the ranch and corral.

Before we took off on our hike, we visited a couple of our neighbors here in the park to plan a dinner out. I had read and saved a review of a Mexican restaurant in Tucson, Las Cazuelitas. Reading about their seafood dishes awakened a longing in me for the fabulous shrimp and fish we have enjoyed on our trips to Mexico.

We had no trouble convincing Jim and Ellie (left) and Doug and JoAnn (center/right) to join us. Jim and Ellie arrived here at Diamond J yesterday. Since we all had "met" previously via our blogs, we wanted to be sure to get together with them while we were all in the same park.

Odel and I are totally spoiled by the food we have consumed (in great quantity) in Mexico, so our experience at Las Cazuelitas was underwhelming. "Passable" and "mediocre" spring to mind, but the food was better than that... just nothing we would go out of our way for again.

Our companions, on the other hand, were great. Travel conversation with congenial fulltimers - especially over a meal - is difficult to beat.

And, a real surprise to me: the best mariachi quartet I have heard in a restaurant! Four musicians strolled in, settled themselves, and started off with an interesting technique: the two violin players plucked the strings of their instruments rather than "bowing" them. I had not seen/heard that before (Laurie Brown: mariachi expert - ha, ha!) and found it really appealing. Another musician played a small bass in the style of a guitar, so it looked like he was playing a GIANT guitar.

Tomorrow we pull up the jacks and move to Beaudry RV Resort, just the sort of place we usually avoid. However, their repair facility is authorized to work on our Spartan chassis (we need a minor repair) and to do warranty work on our Shurflo water pump (we need it replaced), so we are paying $44 (choke, choke!) for one night so that we can have Scoopy in for repairs at 7:30 on Monday morning.

Once the repairs are complete, we're off to Boomerville at Quartzsite to spend five days camped in the desert with our fulltiming friends. We've had a couple of good weeks here in Tucson, but I'm ready to see a new view out our windows.

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