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Wandrin 2006

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by Lloyd Treichel





Dateline: March 15, 2006 -- Tucson, Arizona

[To view photos full sized, click on the thumbnail photo]

Catalina State Park... is about 15 miles north of downtown Tucson. This is a good place to park for big city shopping.

Photo on the far left is a sunset capture from my campsite. The three remaining photos were taken when I headed up Romero Canyon to the pools. From the campground this is just under an eight mile round trip hike. Considering that I have not been doing much hiking this was a serious trek for me to undertake. Due to the very dry winter that Arizona is experiencing, the pools were almost dry. In a previous year's visit to the pools there was enough water to take a bath. This year there is hardly enough water to wash your feet. This year's stream flow (actually lack thereof) is shown in the third photo.


It has been over four months since it last rained in many nearby areas. That is a record. The dry air continues to suck moisture out of many plants making them crumble to the touch. Most cactus seem to be handling the lack of moisture with the possible exception of the prickly pear.

Gilbert Ray Campground...After a stay at Catalina State Park, I headed to Gilbert Ray for electric hookups since it was going to be a rainy and cold weekend. This Tucson Mountain campground on the west edge of Tucson has always been a favorite stop for me. The outside perimeter sites have great views of desert and mountains and sunsets. Coyotes are heard every night and there is an occasional spotting during the day. There are also lots of birds -- mostly quail and mourning doves. After a rain, the smell of the desert has a uniquely clean smell.

The campground is very near Saguaro West National Park and along with hiking trails in the Tucson Mountain Park, there are lots of hiking possibilities. Kings Canyon was one of those that I chose to hike. Geocaching is another pass time that will give me an excuse to do some hiking. There were three caches that I found and the trail heads for each were within two miles of the campground. That also provided some much needed exercise.

The Sonora Desert Museum is also located very close by. This a must see if you are in the area. Here is the place to learn about the saguaro, the Sonoran desert, the javelina and all things related to this desert location. Since I had visited in previous years, I passed during this stop.


Photos left to right: one of the many saguaros found on a hike; a sunset from my camp site; a light rain storm moves across the desert.


Photos left to right: a mountain view from my camp site; the "don't touch" is obvious on this cholla; a saguaro skeleton provides this great photo.


More photos: At Gilbert Ray Campground, I had opportunities to snap a pictures of the bird life all around me. The cactus wren is building its nest in the location of choice -- a cholla. Most times the Quail are on the ground feeding, but this male was perched in an ocotillo. This is the first winter that I have been in Arizona and not seen most of the ocotillo leafed out and in bloom. It's been a very dry winter.

Found Money...The next stop was at the Desert Diamond Casino on Pima Mine Road south of Tucson. That is where I met up with some other nomadic acquaintances. While walking around the parking lot taking pictures I was able to capture the bee on the flower.

However, more importantly, I found two one dollar bills under this "sword" plant. In the process of getting the dollars, I managed to stab myself and drew a little blood. The right thing would have been to put the two dollars in my pocket. I've not been known for doing the right thing. Instead, I headed to the casino where I left the eight quarters in a video poker machine.

Camping Note: If you're just passing through the Tucson area and looking for a place for a night or two, the Desert Diamond Casino allows dry camping in their parking lot for up to seven days.

Vanity Plates...

WELEAN -- Support vehicle for motorcycle racing team

SWEED -- Swedish ancestry with a spelling problem?

O2FLY -- Someone who would rather be in a plane

WAN2RD -- Want to read?

MYROLS -- On an mini-van

GIDDYEP -- Of course it was on a Mustang

and a few more: "COOL CHK" "SWT PZS" "BLISSSS"

On the Subject of books...

This is a plug for the best deal around.

Bookman's is a used bookstore chain in Arizona which deals in used media such as books, CDs, videos, DVDs, magzines, etc. With three stores in the Tucson area, this is a stop each year as I pass through. Since I started traveling five years ago, I have carried considerable ballast in the form of about 200 CDs that I rarely listened to. Bookman's took about 75% of them and gave me a $360 store credit. That will be a lot of used books over the next several years. Hopefully, the books that I "purchased" with some of the credit will last my reading needs for the next several months.

Recent Read...

One Man's Wilderness...By Sam Keith based on the journals and photographs of Richard Proenneke.

With the subtitle of "An Alaskan Odyssey", the story is of the first 18 months of Proenneke as he built his log cabin and became accustomed to living with rare human contact. His love of his wilderness life is apparent through his journal's words of daily living. He also relates the many opportunities to see animals living in a beautiful but unforgiving natural world.

To me, this was a chance to live vicariously in an Alaskan wilderness away from the usual bustle of cars and cities. With no mass media available and the mail and food arriving monthy by plane, I am not sure I could have coped.

Education of a Wandering Man... by Louis L'Amour. Years ago, I had read many a Louis L'Amour western as I was on business travel. This is an autobiography of the author's life and the struggles that he manages to eventually become a successful author.

He left school at 15 to travel the world. Fortunately his passion was reading and that became his education. The book is written with an excitement similar to a "page turner" as he relates his wandering as a young man working aboard ship or across the country looking for day jobs. He relates the stories of the people and the places of his travels. Many of these experiences eventually become the plot line in a book or the place may become a background and scenery.

As I read the book, I applied sticky notes on far too many pages. Throughout the book, the author has related his observations of people and life. Here is just one of those: "Only one who has learned much can fully appreciate his ignorance."

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