Day 165 – 2/11/21 Saguaro National Park

We had a nice day checking out Saguaro National Park, and then closing it with a stop at Black Rock Brewers.

Bella woke up on her own this morning, at 6:30, and started school right away.  She said she couldn’t sleep all night, but was up and in a great mood, and got rolling fast.  She had a great school day, and was all done before 11am.

Bia was up as usual, said she was a bit nauseous, but I think its in her head now.  She also had a great morning and was mostly done by 11 as well, and joined her last class on the road.  It is great to have the hotspot for that too, we can just get going and they can finish class on the go, especially when we are in metro areas where there is great cell reception everywhere.

Carol went grocery shopping to get stuff to take today, as we planned on covering as much as we could, and wanted to leave by 11.  So, we’d need lunch and solid snack options, plus lots of water\juice.  She was gone for almost two hours, and then got back and got everything ready to go.

I had two work calls, and really was not able to do any writing, just helped the girls get going, got ready for my work calls, wrote down a few main items so I’d not forget later, and caught up on some news and reading.  I loaded the truck with our stuff, hiking shoes, water, food, etc.  And we were out by 11:15, pretty good for a week day.

Saguaro National Park is actually divided into two park areas, with the city of Tucson right in the middle, or in between both areas.  We went to the West Saguaro first, then we headed to the East side later.  The drive there was easy, it’s about 40 some miles to the visitor center from where we were, but slow roads, so it took about an hour.  We go uphill for a while, and the road gets quite interesting as we get close, with lots of quick up and downs, and turns.  Also, the amount of Saguaro Cactus increases as we get closer, as you’d imagine.  We drove by the Old Tucson movie studios area, but it was closed unfortunately.  Our first stop was the visitor center, and Carol went in to get a map.  We confirmed our choices on the map, realized the map was just for the west side, and that the east side was quite far and on the other side of Tucson.  Until that point, I just though it had a west and east, but that it was connected…. Nope, quite disconnected.

The weather was pretty awesome, just warm enough and the sun was pretty strong, so we all put sun screen, especially the girls.  Our first stop was a nature trail, which was super short, but it was nice to see and read about the different plants and animals that live here.  We had a nice walk.  Bia was hanging with me, and Bella with Carol.

It is pretty cool to see all the cactus and the different shapes they form.  Carol loves to make up what they look like, or what they are doing.  Bia liked to see that some birds make homes in the trunk of the Saguaros as well, and we were looking for holes that may be birds nests, and we did see a few.  This trail is paved and small, so the girls had their flip flops on.  Bia and I were ahead and got to the car first, then when Bella and Carol came, Bella was holding her hand and had a cry face on.  She saw a piece of cactus on the floor and since she didn’t “see” any pricklies, she decided to pick it up.  There was a park ranger nearby, and he said that even though you don’t see it easily, all the cactus have tiny pricklies, and it was likely that she had some on her fingers.  He told her to rub her fingers and she’d feel it, and sure enough, she had 2 stuck to her thumb.  Carol took one out right away, but couldn’t get the second one out and that’s why Bella had her cry face.  Oh boy, I felt like this was going to mess up the day at that moment… but, it didn’t quite….  Bella was a little more sensitive from there on, until we were done with the next hike.

From there we moved on to the Valley View Overlook Trail.  When we got to the trail entrance, we just parked and had lunch.  We also tried to get the prickly out of Bella’s thumb.  Carol used some tape to try to pull it, then Bella just wanted to do it herself.  Well, that process of Carol trying, Bella crying, Carol getting frustrated, Bella crying, Carol getting mad, Bella crying… was, well frustrating to watch.  hahahaha…  I told Carol to just let it go, leave Bella there and I’d deal with her, and she should start the trail, so she did.  I had finished my sandwich so I helped the girls put their shoes on, and helped Bella with her thumb.  Just told her to cover the area so she would not bump it, and that eventually she could use the glue from the band aid to pull out the prickly.  She was all good then, and as we walked in the trail, she actually took the bandaid out, and the prickly was gone.  Yay… crisis averted.  This hike was more of a hike, with a dirt path, well desert dirt, so more like dust and gravel. hahahaha… and it wound through the cactus, went through a wash, and then up onto the top of the area in front of us, giving us a nice overlook, as the name of the trail promised.  It was nice indeed, lots of desert and cactus :)… oh, and mountains far out, but not too far.  This was a short hike as well, well, all hikes on this park are short, at least the main ones.  We had a nice hike, and everyone was in good spirits.  Bia and Bella were very chatty, each talking to one of Carol or I, and sometimes switching around.  It was actually a really nice time together.

Then, we moved on to our last stop on the West side, Signal Hill Petroglyphs.  Another very short hike, another walk through the cactus in the desert :).  The different piece of this trail is that at the end, you hike up a mountain of rocks, and can see petroglyphs there.  It’s not a lot, but there are a few you can still see, from the Indians from a long time ago.  The view is nice there too.  And this was it for our visit to the West Saguaro National Park. 

It was about 3pm, so we had enough time to go to the East side, so we headed that way, went through Tucson, and were at the East side entrance within an hour.  Carol stopped at the visitor center to get the map from the East side as well.  The plan was to drive the 8mile loop drive, and do one trail, the Mica View, which is inside the loop drive.  The east side is right by a bigger mountain range with bigger mountains, so there’s a bit of that as difference as the other side is mostly flat land.  It felt like there is more variety of different plants on the east side as well.  The views were very nice around the loop drive, and we did make one stop for pictures. 

Then we stopped by the trail entrance for Mica Trail, and headed to the trail.  We had a really nice walk.  The weather was nice, just warm enough, sun was out but not burning hot, and everyone was chatting and in a good mood.  Those hikes are very nice.  There was nothing special about this hike, just more desert and cactus 🙂 but the views with the sun setting behind the desert and cactus on our way back was very nice. 

The conversations today were all over, ranging from Bella’s plan for her bunny (that’s the current topic\animal), to plans for their own rooms, to how much they are going to play with Vi when they get to see her.  They counted that we are 35 days away from seeing the Calinas, and were excited.  We finished the hike and started driving out of the park.

I wanted to stop at a brewery before heading back, and since it was still around 5:30, there was enough time.  We still had enough food to eat “dinner” in the truck, so we had the girls eat their dinner and told them we’d stop for ice cream next.  I stopped at a gas station to get ice cream, and we headed to Black Rock Brewers.  This was a nice stop, the brewery is in an industrial park area, and is big enough to have a few tables spread apart.  There were maybe 10 tables total, and 3 in use when we arrived.  We tried a few beers and they were all great.  The girls were playing on their phones, using their WiFi, which was very good, and they were having a great time.  Carol and I were talking and having our beer, and having a good time too.  I love stopping at breweries!  For “some reason” we are all always very happy when we are at a brewery hahahahaha.  

From there we drove back home.  Since everyone had dinner already, and dessert, all we had to do was showers and get ready for bed.  The girls wanted some screen time, so we made sure they had all their stuff ready and that they had showered and had brushed their teeth and such.  Carol was working on some video stuff after we got back, and I was working on posting a post.  As I was looking for some pictures, I flipped through some from when we went to the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, and remembered that Bella was being a pain that day, especially at that spot, so I showed her a picture from that day and asked her if she remembered that day… here’s how that went:

“Bella, do you remember this day?”-me
“What do you remember about that day”-me
hahahahaha… YES, drama for sure!  At least she recognizes it.

And the rest of the night was as usual… kids to bed… some more online checking things… then bed.

It was a very nice day at Saguaro National Park, and nice ending at Black Rock Brewers.

Leave a Reply