It was amusing for the first couple of snowfalls this winter, with an inch or two of snow, enough to add a topping of white to the cacti of Tucson. This time the weather got serious and dropped up to 7 inches in the foothills where we live! The good news is by late afternoon it had all melted.
Amusingly the official measurements at the Tucson Airport for this winter shows more snowfall there than in Washington DC or Philadelphia, each of which has had essentially no snow so far.
The local weather people called it ‘generational’, something not seen in a couple of decades.
It was however beautiful while it lasted, and didn’t stick to the roads. All those snowbirds in town are probably asking for a refund.
I headed out at first light. While you could get into part of Saguaro National Park, the 8 mile loop road remained closed greatly restricting the initial views with the heaviest snow.
It had snowed heavily overnight, and by daylight the clouds were beginning to break up and the morning sun was illuminating a mountain visible from ~25 miles away.
At nearby Agua Caliente Park the palm trees also had snow toppings, as well as some fog rising off of the pond.
The drive back past Saguaro National Park showed more of the heavy snow on the vegetation, as well as the snow free roads.
A quick visit back to Colossal Cave Park, where we had played in the snow last Sunday.
The cave has enough elevation where you had great views across the valleys to the nearby mountains, with the valleys even having snow.
A brief stop in the neighborhood.
It was late enough in the morning that Saguaro National Park had finally opened the loop road. While some of the snow had already melted by mid day, there was still plenty for some amazing scenes.
While it is beautiful, enough is enough – time to get back to Arizona March – sunny days in the 70s.
Colossal Cave has been a tourist destination for 100 years, but most people come to go into the earth for touring the caves. Today everyone came to enjoy the highly unusual snowy landscape.
Not too often do you see Agave plants with snow on them.
The historic building had a ski lodge feel with the snow.
There is a short nature trail that normally cautions people to make sure they take plenty of water to deal with the heat. Today’s biggest challenge was the slick footing, but well worth the brief hike.
Bits of ice on a saguaro cactus.
The snow really stuck to the cholla’s, but then again, most anything will easily stick to a cholla if you are not careful.
The brittle bush has blooms from the recent rains, and now snow.
Another beautiful snowy cholla.
Yesterday it was 75 degrees and sunny. Today snow, Tomorrow will be 65 and sunny! Gotta love Southern Arizona.
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.
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.