Monday, November 27, 2023

On Top of Mount Lemmon

Paul has talked a lot about the beauty of Mount Lemmon outside of Tucson and I've read several blogs of people who have made the drive up the mountain, so this became a must do for me.

Once again, I'm posting a lot of pictures of this beautiful part of our country. Paul took most of these pictures. He has a much better eye than I do for what makes a great picture. 

Mount Lemmon takes its name from one of the first women to reach the summit, Sara Plumber Lemmon who trekked to the top of the mountain with her husband by horse and foot.

One of the signs at a lookout over the valley says, "On a clear day you can see the Gila National Forest, in New Mexico, 110 miles away from here."  We weren't lucky enough to have that clear a day. But the views were still amazing.


This picture is over looking the San Pedro River Valley.

Mount Lemmon is the highest point in the Santa Catalina Mountains at an elevation of 9,159 feet. People living in Tucson and surrounding areas make the drive up especially in the summer to escape the heat of the valley. It is also known as Babad Do'ag or Frog Mountain to the Tohono O'odham. 

 Lots of fantastic rock formations including hoodoos. Enjoy.

You can see the road down below where we were.

Construction on the Catalina Highway began in 1933. A federal prison camp was established at the foot of the mountains specifically to supply labor for the construction of the highway. During WWII, the camp became an internment camp and the Japanese Americans were forced to work on the road. The highway was not completed until 1950, 17 years later.  

I found it interesting how the landscape changed as we drove to the top. The Forest Service describes the drive as a biological and ecological tour from Mexico to Canada in only 27 miles. You drive through saguaro cacti, mesquite trees and cholla plants of the Sonoran Desert, pass through stands of oak, juniper, and pinyon pine, enter pine forests and finally strands of fir and aspen on the cooler, north facing slopes at the top. Still some beautiful colors high on the mountain.


We had lunch at the Iron Door Restaurant at the top of the mountain. Let me warn you, their bowls of soup are huge. I should have had the cup size. And it was so good. The ski resort at the top of the mountain is the southernmost ski resort in the continental United States.

Rusty stuff for Diana

We also made a stop at the General Store for some really good fudge. And Paul made a friend while we were there.

After the long drive, Paul needed a good treat, so a stop at Cold Stone Creamery was in order. 

Truly a wonderful day. More adventures tomorrow.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Tom Mix Died Here

Highs in the 70's, lows in the 50s

Last winter, my friend Paul and I decided that we needed to do some Arizona exploring. Then my ankle spoiled everything. So a couple weeks ago we finally sat down and made some plans. We were going to go to Prescott and Jerome but when we saw the temperatures were 29 at night, we quickly changed our plans and headed south to Tucson.

We took Highway 79 South from Paul's house and our first stop (most of our stops were planned by me) was at the Tom Mix Monument.

Tom Mix was one of the greatest cowboys of the silent-era movies and was an actual cowboy in his real life. I remember my Dad really liked his movies. It was reported he could knock a button off of a shirt with a rifle shot, and jump a horse into a railroad box car. He was married seven times to six different women.

On October 12, 1940, Tom was 60 years old and was behind the wheel of a 1937 Cord V8 convertible when he was headed across Arizona. 


No one knows how fast he was going when he saw the road repair crew, but some say that he was standing straight up on the brakes, when his car flew into the ravine. Tom's aluminum suitcase flew forward and hit the back of his head. He got out of his car, apparently unscathed, took one step, and crumpled dead of a broken neck. 

The horse on the monument is Tom's famous "Tony the Wonder Horse".

From here our next destination is the top of the mountain.



Friday, November 17, 2023

Thoughts From The Road

I really need to wrap up my journey to see Elias. I've been home for a couple of months now so this needs to be done!!  I drove 3,385 miles, spent $455.24 on fuel which meant I averaged 32 mpg. I didn't keep track of what I spent on hotel rooms.

Daisy is a great car. She loves to go fast and really loves the flat land. The mountains, not so much. She also waited til we got back to have a problem. One morning I got a check engine light. Drove immediately to John's Auto Repair (they are so wonderful). Chris took a look at what was wrong, found the parts I needed and repaired the car, all in under an hour. Seems I needed a new coil and spark plug. Daisy is purring once again.

I learned that I did not know how to pack for a road trip.  When I was working, I traveled frequently for my job. I knew how to pack for flying which means not much luggage. When I retired, we immediately headed out into our full time rving life. Everything I could possibly need went with us and I forgot how to pack. I think I now know how to pack so I only haul one suitcase into the hotel rooms, instead of everything I brought with me. 

I LOVED driving by myself with only my thoughts for company. I knew when I was planning this journey that I would learn how to be a lone traveler. What I didn't know, was how much I would enjoy it. 

It's a lot easier to pull off to see places along the trail when you're in a car rather than hauling an rv along.  I was able to just stop and breathe and enjoy the beauty of the land.

I was able to reconnect with my sister and her husband. I've always loved my sister (well maybe not so much when we were much younger 😆😆) but we became so much closer as we spent time together.  Maybe it's because we both know we are getting older and our time left here on earth is getting shorter. Whatever it was, I appreciate this opportunity to learn more about the courage my sister has to face life's challenges. 

And what can I say about time spent with Todd, Michaela and Elias. It was perfect. My heart is so full of love.

I missed Jim terribly. He would have enjoyed all of my side trips and especially playing with his grandson. I love you so much honey.  I think you are proud of me. 

Will I do this again?  You bet I will. Next summer will find me and Daisy on the road again. Next year's travels will be a little different because it is going to include visits with friends. This year was mostly about family. 

Speaking of family, how about a couple of pictures.

My vampire grandson. His upper teeth and a bottom tooth have come in since this picture was taken. But this one is just so special. 

He is just about ready to take that first step with no help. Michaela sent me a video of him going sideways holding on to the chair. Got to the end and didn't know what to do, so down he went. Loved it.  See that beautiful quilt he's hanging onto? My neighbor here in AJ, Wendy, made that for him. She does a lot of quilting.

Have an adventure to blog about next time - a trip to Tucson.

Monday, October 30, 2023

Valley of Fire State Park - A Visual Journey

 If you've never taken the time to visit Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, do it. It is so gorgeous. In fact most of this post will be pictures because I couldn't pick just a few.

Valley of Fire is Nevada's largest and oldest State Park and formally opened in 1934. The park gets its name from the way the red sandstone formations seem to glow as if they are on fire in the hour just before sunset. 

Adding another thing to my do list is plan my journey so I can be there at sunset.



Can you see him?

On my way back out of the park, here he is surveying his kingdom.

I did not want to go back through Las Vegas and all the traffic, so I took the road that leads to Lake Mead. This was a beautiful drive with very little traffic.

The End


Saturday, October 28, 2023

Mountain Meadow Massacre

 After leaving West Yellowstone I headed to southern Utah. Not stopping to visit with anyone. I do have a couple more blog posts about a couple of places I really wanted to see. This first one is a very hard post to do because it was so senseless.  This is a long post about a very complicated massacre.

In order to begin to comprehend the events of September 11, 1857, you need to understand the conditions of what was happening at that time in history.  I am taking this history from the website

There was a thunderstorm all around me when I was there. Lots of noise and lightning but not much rain. So several pictures of those clouds I love.

"In 1857 an army of roughly 1,500 United States troops was marching toward Utah Territory, with more expected to follow. Over the preceding years, disagreements, miscommunication, prejudices, and political wrangling on both sides had created a growing divide between the territory and the federal government. In retrospect it is easy to see that both groups overreacted—the government sent an army to put down perceived treason in Utah, and the Latter-day Saints believed the army was coming to oppress, drive, or even destroy them." 

Many emigrants headed for California brought wagon companies to Utah just as Latter-day Saints were preparing for what they believed would be a hostile military invasion. The Saints had been violently driven from Missouri and Illinois in the prior two decades, and they feared history might repeat itself. Church President and Territorial Governor, Brigham Young, told the Saints to prepare for battle and to arm themselves. Emigrants became frustrated when they were unable to resupply in the territory as they had expected to do. They had a difficult time purchasing grain and ammunition because the Saints were keeping the supplies for themselves. 

 As you can imagine, the disagreements between the Saints and the emigrants became heated and caused the tension to boil over. This was especially true in Cedar City, UT.  Heated insults were thrown from both sides and it got worse when the wagon train could not get supplies for their journey. They left Cedar City but the Cedar City leaders could not let it go. They tried to get permission to send the militia after the emigrants and that request was denied. Then they decided they would persuade local Paiute Indians to give the Arkansas company “a brush,” killing some or all of the men and stealing their cattle.

 The generally peaceful Paiutes were reluctant when first told of the plan. Although Paiutes occasionally picked off emigrants’ stock for food, they did not have a tradition of large-scale attacks. But Cedar City’s leaders promised them plunder and convinced them that the emigrants were aligned with “enemy” troops who would kill Indians along with Mormon settlers.  What followed was a five day siege during which the emigrants discovered that it wasn't just Indians but also white men who were killing them. 


In trying to cover up the disgrace of what they had done, the Cedar City leaders made the situation worse by calling out the militia to destroy the emigrants. Those who had deplored vigilante violence against their own people in Missouri and Illinois were now about to follow virtually the same pattern of violence against others, but on a deadlier scale.  

On Friday, September 11, Lee (the militia leader) entered the emigrant wagon fort under a white flag and somehow convinced the besieged emigrants to accept desperate terms. He said the militia would safely escort them past the Indians and back to Cedar City, but they must leave their possessions behind and give up their weapons, signaling their peaceful intentions to the Indians. The suspicious emigrants debated what to do but in the end accepted the terms, seeing no better alternative. They had been pinned down for days with little water, the wounded in their midst were dying, and they did not have enough ammunition to fend off even one more attack.

 As directed, the youngest children and wounded left the wagon corral first, driven in two wagons, followed by women and children on foot. The men and older boys filed out last, each escorted by an armed militiaman. The procession marched for a mile or so until, at a prearranged signal, each militiaman turned and shot the emigrant next to him, while Indians rushed from their hiding place to attack the terrified women and children. Militiamen with the two front-running wagons murdered the wounded.

The 17 spared children, considered “too young to tell tales,” were adopted by local families. Government officials retrieved the children in 1859 and returned them to family members in Arkansas. The massacre snuffed out some 120 lives and immeasurably affected the lives of the surviving children and other relatives of the victims.  

It took 17 years before the law finally indicted nine men for their role in the massacre. Most of them were eventually arrested, though only Lee was tried, convicted, and executed for the crime. Another indicted man turned state’s evidence, and others spent many years running from the law.  A horrible time in Utah's history.

I could not walk the path down to the monument so I am using the one from the website.

 Monument at Mountain Meadows.


 I really wish we could learn from history but hatred and fear continues everywhere.