Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tucson Meet Yourself October 10, 11, 12

                        Polish Fiesta came from Poland to perform on Friday and Saturday

Around the second week of October Tucson, Arizona, hosts the annual Tucson Meet Yourself festival. Tucson Meet Yourself "is a celebration of the living traditional arts of Southern Arizona's and Northern Mexico's diverse ethnic and folk communities." This is a longer festival with acts starting around 12 pm on Friday and ending around 6 pm on Sunday night. On three different stages dancing groups, musicians and bands perform traditional acts.Recently this festival has become known for its food and locals even call it "Tucson Eat Yourself." Admittedly the food choices are amazing. Dozens of booths feature food from Vietnam, India, Poland, Mexico, and Jamaica just to name a few. However, for me Tucson Meet Yourself is about seeing great entertainment and learning about new cultures.  One of the enduring hallmarks of this festival is that it is free to watch the acts all they ask is for a one dollar donation Enjoy my photos from Friday and Saturday's acts.(some information from

                                  Polish Fiesta danced traditional Polish dances

                                 The girls of Polish Fiesta
                                        Belly Dance Tucson

                                   Belly Dance Tucson

                  Group who sang Russian songs

                     Gertie and the TO Boys

                         Sonora Dance Group

                        Beautiful dresses of the group

                              Seven Veils Belly Dance

                 Indian food stand

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pima Canyon Catalina Mountains October 4, 2014

                                         In the Foothills of the Caatalina Mountains

Two weeks after hiking this trail I finally have time to blog about it.

Location: Pima Canyon is accessible from the Catalina Foothills. Take Oracle Road passed Ina Road and turn right onto Magee Road. Follow this for 1.5 miles to the trail head.

Last year I hiked Pima Canyon with my friend Nathan and loved it. The trail was less popular and the canyon very impressive. I returned with the intention to hike to the top of the canyon where the Mt. Kimball trail branches off of Pima Canyon. I made good time in the lower part of the canyon where the trail was in decent shape and not very steep. In this section I saw many different colors of Desert morning glory. The Palo verde and Jojoba also grew like crazy after the September rains.Three miles in I reached a place where Pima Creek descended over two rocks. For most of the year this canyon is dry but in early October the water was definitely flowing. At the falls I met a semi-professional photographer who was taking photos of butterflies. He moved to Tucson from Chicago, Illinois, when he started to work for a camera lens company. After I left the water fall the trail became very overgrown. I had to use route finding skills to find sections of the trail. I also stopped trying to dodge Prickly pear and other thorny plants causing my legs to become riddled with small thorns. Around mile four part of the trail had been washed away by the recent rains.I continued another twenty minutes before I realized the high temperature would not be in the low 90s but the upper 90s.  I decided to turn around after I determined that I barely enough water to make the 5 miles back to the car. I rationed water extremely well but became a little disoriented near the bottom of the trail. The last mile to the car I hiked with no water something I do not want to do again in the desert. Total mileage: 10 miles.

After the hike I assessed mistakes made and decided on a number of changes. For future hikes I will take the same amount of water but will supplement it with Gatorade. I also need to bring more food such as trail mix to offset the loss of salt that I am loosing through sweat. Even experience hikers can become complacent and sometimes need a kick in the pants.

                  Desert morning glory

                      Lush vegetation in the canyon

                    More vegetation in the canyon

                  Butterfly enjoying water
Waterfall in canyon

                                     Yellow flowers

Monday, October 13, 2014

Greek Festival Tucson, Arizona September 27, 2014


After year off because of a fire in the church, the Greek Festival returned to St. Demetrios Greek Orthodoc Church  on Fort Lowell Avenue. Over the course of three days there were dances, church tours and lectures by U of A professors on various Greek topics. Visitors could enjoy all types of Greek food from Gyros and Spanikopita to Baklava and Greek wines as well. Tara ate a Gyro while I  ate Chicken Souvlaki both of which were very good. Quintin enjoyed the dancing and food but was tired by 8 pm. After Tara and Quintin left I toured the Church. It is sad to see that construction has come to a halt because of a lack of funds.

                                   Quintin enjoying the festivities

                                Big tents

Sabino Canyon Seven Falls, Catalina Mountains September, 27, 2014

                                             Bear Canyon with water from the recent rains

Location: Sabino Canyon is the trail head for Seven Falls. To get to Sabino Canyon from the University of Arizona take Campbell Avenue north toward the Catalina Mountains. Turn right onto Skyline Road. Skyline will become Sunrise Road. Keep driving until you reach Sabino Canyon Road. Turn left and you will see the parking lot on the right.

A year and a half ago I hiked the 7.6 miles to Seven Falls by way of Bear Canyon. I remember the hike was very pretty but I also remember it as being very popular with tourists. If you come to Tucson or live in Tucson this is the hike everybody chooses to do. As a result, of this popularity rescues in Bear Canyon are common. In fact today I saw a woman who injured her knee when she jumped from a high rock into one of the deeper pools.  I also saw a number of couples who were carrying very little water. The trail is easy to follow and few route finding skills are needed. There are four creek crossings that could pose challenges during the monsoon season. There are also a few areas where people have created illegal trails by cutting switchbacks. Please stay on the trail. These illegal trails cause erosion and they also can get you in steep rocky terrain.  On this hike I did see 50 or more Army personnel (from Marana) who were hiking this trail to stay fit. They were very friendly and even helped out the woman who injured her knee.

                                          One of the falls

                                                A zoo up at the falls

                                              If you look closely you can see four of the falls

                                     Bear Canyon terrain

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Goodenough Mine Tour Tombstone, Arizona September 20, 2014

                  Ore cart in the mine

Directions: Once in Tombstone, Arizona, the mine is located on the intersection of Toughnut and Fifth Street. Tours occur on the hour starting at 10 am and ending at 4 pm.

History: In 1877 Ed Schieffelin discovered silver-ore in 1877 in southern Arizona. He named the new claim tombstone to poke fun at the Arizonans who claimed he would find nothing but his tombstone in southern Arizona. A year later he returned and filed the claim for the Good Enough Mine. The boom was on and thousands of prospectors came to Tombstone to strike it rich. Mining waned in 1890 due to a decline in silver prices as well as flooding in the mines. The mines produced about $85 million in silver.(Information from

The Tour: The tour is approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Visitors have to wear a white hard hat and vest before entering the mine. The most physically demanding part of the tour were the three flights of stairs at the beginning. The most interesting part of the tour for me was seeing an example of a silver ore vein and observing the cavernous tunnels of the mine. I also found it interesting how much garbage volunteers hauled out of the mine in 2007 before they opened for tourists. Our tour guide could have offered more historical facts about the mine as well as Tombstone, Arizona. For visitors who are interested they offer a three hour and six hour tour

                         Tools used in mining

                                   Mine itself

                             Tara and I at the enttrance

Friday, September 19, 2014

King Canyon to Wasson Peak Saguaro National Park West September 13, 2014

                      Arizona poppy

Directions: King Canyon is located near the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum. To get to the trail head take Speedway west from the University of Arizona. Drive under I-15 and follow the directions to Gates Pass. From Gates Pass carefully drive the windy road to Kinney Road. Turn right and watch for the trail head on the right near the museum.

The Hike: I returned to Saguaro National Park West to complete all four trails to the top of Wasson Peak.  Trails  included in this group are Sendero Esperanza, Hugh Norris, King Canyon and Sweetwater. All of these routes are beautiful but my personal favorite is Hugh Norris because it is longer and has views the whole way to the top.

Last Saturday we finally had temperatures cool enough (low 90s) to hike in the lower elevations so I took advantage. When I exited the car at 9 am there were clouds in the air and a cool wind blowing. I made good time hiking the old road that leads to the Mam-a-Gah Picnic Area.  For visitors who do not want to hike the old road a lower trail follows the wash below. The Mam-a-Gah Picnic Area was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Today the buildings are crumbling under disrepair.  The flora of this part of the trail is Saguaro, Palo verde, Ocotillo, and different species of cholla. After following the wash a short distance, the King Canyon trail becomes steep. Views start to open up toward Kitt Peak and the Baboquivari Hills to the west. The trail continues to climb until it reaches a saddle where the Sweetwater Trail descends  east toward town. Follow the Hugh Norris northward as it switchbacks its way past a number of inactive mines. After 1.1 miles a spur trail to the summit departs to the right. Wasson Peak is one of my favorite peaks to climb near Tucson because it offers a fantastic view. From the summit it is possible to see 20 wilderness areas.Total mileage was 7 miles with about 2000 feet of elevation gain.


                   Wild- dwarf morning glory

                  Trailing windmills


                           View looking east from top

                            Ocotillo with leaves

                                       Trail near top
                                                Arizona poppy    

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Butterfly Trail Mount Lemmon August 30, 2014

                                   View toward the San Pedro Valley

Directions: The Butterfly trail is located off of the Catalina Highway near Tucson, Arizona. Don't start looking for the trail head until you have driven over 20 miles. Along the way are a number of beautiful pull-offs including Windy Point Vista and San Pedro Vista. Remember a visitor pass ($5 for a day and $20 for the year) is required to park at picnic areas and trail heads in the Coronado National Forest. For this hike I did not start the Mount Bigelow trail head but the one above it near the Palisade Ranger Station.

The Hike: The trail starts off in the shade with towering Ponderosa pines and Douglas fir. After ascending over a small ridge the trail enters a landscape that is recovering from a fire in 2003. This part of the hike is not shaded and can get hot in the afternoon make sure to wear a hat and sunblock.  In this area the Crystal Spring trail departs at a well-signed junction. After three miles the trail reaches a ravine with a creek that flows during the monsoon period. An unmarked trail takes visitors to a waterfall and beautiful lunch spot. At a point where the trail ascended precipitously to Mt Bigelow Nathan and I turned around. Throughout the trip I saw a profusion of columbine in the creek beds as well as Daisies and Corral bells along the trail. Views were predominantly of the San Pedro Valley and distant Mount Graham. Total Mileage was about 7.4 miles with 1500 feet of elevation gain.

                                           Arizona columbine


                    A Horned toad

                           Lunch spot under a falls

                                     Moth on a plant