I was in for a big surprise when Patty and Dan said we were going to the snow. SNOW? In Arizona? I know it's definitely cold enough to snow, but certainly not within 100 miles. I was wrong .... shivering and whining-it's-cold WRONG! It seems the Coronado National Forest, over 7,000 feet in height, has SNOW.
We went from a very few saguaros in the valley to hundreds of healthy, happy ones. What a sight to see, all these hands and fingers reaching up to the sky as you climb in altitude.
When you get up to a certain level, maybe 4,000 feet or so, they disappear and pine trees stand tall in their place. The drive was just spectacular. You can see the road in the middle, winding up the steep mountain. The light swipe of grey at the top of the image at the base of the far mountains is the moth ball airplane fleet in Tucson.
Pretty soon we came into Hoodoo City ... lots of rock formations left after erosion of the soil around them.
Although I don't think it got below 38 degrees, it was freezing cold from the wind. Take your BIG jacket for this trip. At the top of the mountain, we stopped and looked off to the Northeast at the little copper mining town of Oracle. They say on a clear day you can see the forests of New Mexico from here.
At the very top where the road ends is a ski resort. Not quite like California's resorts, but they did have two chair lifts. Since they were closed, we went down to the Sawmill Run restaurant in Mount Lemmon for a GREAT lunch. The pastrami sandwich that Patty and I shared was delicious, and lucky for us, they ran out of the soup we ordered, leaving us with sweet potato tots. You've GOT to try these tasty morsels of yumminess!!
As we came out of the restaurant, you could see across the road where the fire came through years ago, destroying most all of the cabins here. A few have been rebuilt up on the mountain, but many disappeared forever.
Half a mile further down the road is the Cookie Shop. They told me cookies, but didn't mention the size. When she said the price of four cookies was $26, I about had a heart attack ... which is probably what would happen if I ate both of the two I ordered. They are the size of a large dinner sized paper plate ... ooey, gooey and warm to boot!!! One is plenty for four people ... trust me on this one!!
On the way back down the hill, we stopped in at the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site. In 1942, after the Japanese were rounded up and put in camps because we were so paranoid during the war, he was arrested for curfew and sentenced to this Catalina Federal Honor Camp. He protested the internment, and eventually in 1987, a full apology was issued to the Japanese people by the U.S.
Hard to see, but this is what the camp here looked like between 1939 and 1973 when it was finally torn down.
Only foundations remain of the many buildings that housed the "workers". There were no prison walls or wire surrounding the facility, but if you escaped, where would you go?
While here, these workers built the road you drive to the top today. And what a road it is!! In places it straddles the ridge top, a steep cliff on each side.
What a great day trip, I think only 25-30 miles outside of Tucson .... snow .... who knew??? Too full of pastrami and a Jolly-Green-Giant-sized cookie, I passed on dinner.
I won't pass tonight however, as Patty and Dan's son and granddaughter come for STEAK!!! In the meantime, I'm torn between looking at houses to buy and quilt shops!! You never know, I just might find the perfect location to relocate!!