Vail, Arizona – December 2021 – Views From The New Neighborhood

Our move to Arizona has found us living in a town called Vail, at the far east end of Tucson. It predates the same named town in Colorado by about 100 years, but for most of it’s time was a small, dusty railroad stop. The Colorado town has nothing on the Arizona one, the mountains here have more vertical gain above the town – just without so much snow (thankfully).

In the last 30 years it has grown tremendously but still has that ‘outpost’ feel, being at the edge of town, next to the mountains and desert. This posting has random views of some sights around Vail and beyond.

While Route 66 is the most famous east-west route in the pre interstate days, in reality more people actually took U.S. 80 west to California. This route made it’s way across Southern Arizona, including a portion between Benson and Vail, on it’s way to Tucson.

U.S. 80 crosses Cienega Creek on a 1921 bridge, next to where two Southern Pacific railroad routes also traverse the creek. A cienega is a wetland unique to the Southwestern U.S., resulting in a landscape unlike the surrounding area because of the constant availability of water, with large trees lining the banks.

Just to the east is the ghost town of Pantano, another railroad stop in the late 1800s, early 1900s. Today only the water tower remains.

About 30 miles south of Vail is the town of Sonoita. As you cross the Empire Mountains the landscape changes yet again, with large fields of tall grasses, instead of the Sonoran Desert look of Vail.

A local propane dealer has a cool collection of decorated tanks.

While Saguaro National Park East has a Tucson address, it is in the Vail area. It was a good day to take the dog for a walk, and take a closer look at the cacti.

The Vail area, and all of Southern Arizona, have spectacular sunsets.

Note the full moon peeking through the clouds.

Madera Canyon, Arizona – December 2021 – Nature At It’s Finest

Madera Canyon is less than an hour south of Tucson, but a world away from an ecological perspective. While the base of the canyon is around 3500′ elevation, you can easily and quickly drive to over 5000′, and if you are energetic (I was not), you can hike to the top of 9456′ high Mt Wrightson.

We chose to hike around the lower areas of the canyon, which were beautiful, offer views from desert to fall tree colors.

Tucson – November 2021 – El Tour de Tucson

The Saturday before Thanksgiving is traditionally the El Tour de Tucson, a bike racing festival with numerous races for different skills. The longest, for the professional and advanced riders, is over 100 miles long and came as far east as the town of Vail, Arizona. This posting celebrates the riders, as well as the beautiful views of the area.

Many riders ‘posed’ as they rode past.

The first of many flashing the universal sign of Shaka (Hawaiian for Hang Loose/Right On)

Over the dry river and through the hills to Grandma’s house for an early Thanksgiving.

Tucson – October 2021 – From Mexico to Canada in 27 Miles (and 7,000 Vertical Feet) – Mt Lemmon, Arizona

Tucson is located at the base of Mt Lemmon, a 9300′ high mountain. The Catalina Highway goes all the way up the mountain, providing a biological and ecological perspective in the 27 mile drive, and 7,000 vertical feet in elevation gain that is the same as driving from Mexico to Canada.

The road starts in far northeastern Tucson

It doesn’t take long to gain enough elevation for a panoramic view of the city, while passing hillsides of Saguaro cactus.

For many years the road was known as one of the most dangerous in the area, but years of improvements have made it very safe, with numerous overlooks.

The appropriately named Thimble Peak is on the right of this view.

The stop at Windy Point has a large area for hiking around – a good point about 1/2 way up the mountain for an extended break.

There are numerous hoodoos in the lower elevations.

Once you go above 8000′ elevation the terrain changes, with forests of evergreens and aspen trees, with their fall colors.

The small tourist town of Summerhaven has long been a respite from the desert heat.

Mt Lemmon Ski Valley is known as the southernmost ski resort in the country. While Tucson is in the desert, with about 11 inches of precipitation a year, rarely as snow, Mt Lemmon has almost 200″ of snow a year at the summit.

A couple of miles further on up the mountain is the summit. A recent wildfire has left some of the hills burnt, but as always the vegetation returns.

The view of Tucson from 7000′ above the valley floor is amazing. This is one of the countries best drives.

The drive back down took us from 52 degrees at the summit to 85 degrees in the valley floor, as we returned back to the Sonoran Desert.

Usery Mountain Park, Arizona – September 2021 – Sunset Interrupted

An internet search of best sunsets in Phoenix suggested Usery State Park – just east of Mesa. We headed off for the short drive out, but in the end sunset was not to be as storm clouds moved in. While disappointed about the sunset, the clouds provided a great backdrop not often seen in Phoenix.

The drive back into town also provided some great shots

Before you knew it we were back in Mesa.

Virtual Travel – British Columbia

Our last province, British Columbia. As the saying goes, we saved the best for last!

2017 09 06 34 Rearguard Falls BC - Copy

 

 

We start out in far southeastern BC at the town of Sparwood. Named for the lumber that went into making spars (poles) for ships, Sparwood is a mining town. As you enter town you can’t miss Terex Titan, one of the largest trucks in the world, now retired in front of the visitor center.

 

 

Eastern BC has a number of great waterfalls including those below: Helmcken, Dawson and Rearguard Falls.

2017 09 06 50 Helmcken Falls BC - Copy

 

 

The town of Lake Country BC is home to a Kangaroo Farm! It was very cool, especially holding a baby kangaroo.

2017 09 07 62 Lake Country BC Kangaroo Farm - Copy

 

 

High above the town of Kamloops is the Myrna Canyon Trestle Trail. Once a railway, now one of the best bike paths anywhere.

2017 09 07 111 Kelowna BC Myrna Canyon Tresle Trail - Copy

 

 

In Hope BC there is another path, much lower that goes through the Othello Tunnels. Nearby is the Bridal Veil Falls.

2017 09 08 23 Hope BC Othello Tunnels Trail - Copy

 

 

The Vancouver suburb of Burnaby has a great park with these native statues. The persistent rain and fog added to the atmosphere.

2017 09 08 60 Burnaby BC - Copy

 

 

Capilano Park in North Vancouver has an amazing bridge (that bounces!) and a forest canopy walk, along with more totem poles.

2017 09 08 121d Vancouver Capilano Park - Copy

 

 

Vancouver is one of the world’s great cities. Situated on a bay, with islands and the mountains, the views are fantastic. They have height limits on the buildings so that they don’t block the views.

 

 

The Museum of Anthropology has the largest native sculpture collection anywhere.

2017 09 09 16 Vancouver MOA

 

 

Vancouver is even better from the ‘Lookout’, especially after a nice walk along the harbour.

2017 09 09 293 Vancouver

 

 

Vancouver has character!

 

 

 

Our final stop is Victoria, on Vancouver Island (which Vancouver is not). BC Ferries will get you there.

2017 09 10 25 Ferry to Victoria BC

 

 

 

The city is the capital of the province, and has a great history.

2017 09 10 233 Victoria BC

 

 

It is also home to numerous gardens, including Hartley Castle and Gardens.

2017 09 10 50 Victoria BC Hatley Castle & Gardens

 

 

 

Our virtual trips across North America has come to an end, but there is more coming – up next Chicago – History through Maps and Photos…. stay tuned.

 

 

Virtual Travel – Alberta

 

Welcome to Alberta

2017 09 03 20 Southwest Alberta

 

 

 

Where the prairies meet the mountains.

 

 

Calgary is the largest city in the province.

2017 09 03 89 Calgary

 

 

Edmonton is nearly as large as Calgary. They have a strong hockey rivalry.

Oil is the business of Edmonton, and is reflected in the hockey team’s name.  (photos of Edmonton from Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

Banff was Canada’s first national park, and remains a beautiful area.

2017 09 04 88 Banff Alberta

 

 

 

Lake Louise is renown for the turquoise water, and tourists.

2017 09 05 33 Lake Louise

 

 

 

The Icefields Parkway is a 140 mile long road from Banff to Jasper, passing numerous glaciers and waterfalls. It is one of the best drives in the world.

2017 09 05 181 Columbia Icefields Alberta

 

 

 

Jasper is home to Athabasca Falls. Tomorrow is our final stop in Canada – British Columbia.

2017 09 05 212 Athabasca Falls Alberta

 

 

 

 

Virtual Travel – Wyoming

We have arrived at the last state in this tour – but fear not there are other maps and places to visit tomorrow….

But for now we are in Wyoming.

 

2015 09 10 3

 

 

State Capitol in Cheyenne. It was completed in 1890. (photos from Wikipedia)

Wyoming State Capitol Photograph by Mountain Dreams

 

 

State Symbol

State Code of Ethics. From the book Cowboy Ethics  by James Owen.

1.  Live each day with courage.
 2.  Take pride in your work.
 3.  Always finish what you start.
 4.  Do what has to be done.
 5.  Be tough, but fair.
 6.  When you make a promise, keep it.
 7.  Ride for the brand
 8.  Talk less, say more.
 9.  Remember that some things are not for sale.
10. Know where to draw the line.
State Mammal – American Bison

 

 

Culture

1947 – Cowgirl    1955 – Cowgirl    1960 – Rodeo    1982 – Pioneers    2002 – Cowboys     2003 – Cowboys    2010 – Cows     2011 – Bison

 

While the European descendants culture of Wyoming is the cowboy, the Native American’s have been here for thousands of years. Evidence of this culture is found in the Legend Rock Petroglyphs. This is one of the best collections we have ever seen.

2015 09 10 169 Legend Rocks WY

 

 

Roads

1948 – Wind River Canyon    1963 – Giant Lincoln along Lincoln Highway    1996 – Scenic Mountain Routes    1997 – Wildflowers     1998 – Scenic Routes    2009 – Scenic Routes     2014 – Battle Pass Scenic Byway

 

 

The drive from Cody to Yellowstone is unique.

 

 

The area around Thermopolis has it’s own unique look.

 

 

 

 

National Parks and Forests

1952 – Yellowstone    1958 – Palisades between Cody and Yellowstone      1968 – Tetons     1970 – Tetons    1985 – Big Horn National Forest    2004 – Rock Climbing in Grand Tetons    2006 – Buttes – Devils Tower    2016 – Yellowstone

 

 

Arguably one of the most interesting places in the world is Yellowstone National Park.

2015 09 12 25 Yellowstone National Park WY