November 29, Tucson


We've just finished a delightful week in the Tucson area that started last Monday with a visit to Picacho Peak. On Wednesday, following some work on the RV brakes and a much needed washing of the motor home, we arrived at Randy's home just as he was arriving with Roxanne and Jo from the airport. Already there were Eric, Lindsey, Tyler and Lindsey's friend, Anthony, who had driven over from Aptos in Eric's "new" BMW. With Ginny and Rachel that made eleven Richardsons present for the Thanksgiving holiday, as only Keith, Genevieve and Aaron were absent.

Wednesday evening much effort (mostly by Roxanne and Ginny) went into the baking of five pies (pumpkin, pecan and apple), and Thursday morning the turkey went into the oven bright and early. While the bird was baking most everyone went for a walk with the dogs (Summer and Waffles) in a nearby wash. Eric and Ginny went on ahead to a rendezvous point in Randy's pickup to shorten the hike for Eric, and the rest of us hiked up the wash looking at the various plants and watching for cottontail rabbits. Randy spent some time helping Jo (a budding geologist) spot the signs of a recent water flow due to rains, while the rest of us just appreciated the fact that the sand had been hardened which made our walk easier. Soon after we got back to the house is was time to begin the feast, which included the usual turkey and numerous delicious side dishes. We played the "traditional" Richardson joke of dropping all our olive pits on Anthony's plate after getting him briefly away from the table, but he seemed to have already heard about it and so wasn't too surprised. After the meal we all sat around and tried to make room for the pies we knew were coming, during which we had extended phone conversations with Aaron and Genevieve where everyone got to talk to them.


Randy & Ginny reading the paper

Eric & Tyler breaking from table tennis

Thursday morning Randy, Margie and I, Eric, Roxanne and Jo drove out to Sabino Canyon for a ride and hike in the canyon. (Ginny, Rachel, Lindsey, Tyler and Anthony drove down to Nogales for the day.) We didn't have to wait long for the shuttle ride up the canyon, during which we got a very informative narration from the driver. From him we learned that the road up the canyon had been built in the early 1930s by the CCC, and had originally been intended to go all the way up Mt. Lemmon. Instead, the road only goes up 3-4 miles, where the shuttle stops to let people off for a stretch before starting back down the canyon. At this stop we got off and all but Eric hiked up the hillside to access the Phoneline trail. While Eric worked his way back down the canyon (mostly walking the road but with some use of the shuttle), the rest of us hiked about five miles back down to the visitor center where we rejoined Eric. Margie and I missed this same hike last year, but were glad to manage it this year with nothing more than a couple of sore toes. We got some great views of the the canyon and the many Saguaro cactus along the trail. Late that afternoon the Sabino Canyon crew (less a resting Eric) drove out to Gates pass where the returning Nogales bunch joined us to take in the sunset (at precisely 5:19 PM). As usual, it was gorgeous, but unlike last year there were no high clouds in the sky to catch the light of the dying sun.


Sabino Canyon view


Riley & Margie resting on Phoneline trail

Multi-armed Saguaro cactus

Riley, Jo, Rachel, Ginny, Roxanne, Lindsey, Anthony & Tyler

Sunset at Gates Pass

Saturday morning Eric and his crew left to drive back to Aptos via Phoenix (there to visit with some of Anthony's extended family), while the remaining seven of us drove up into the Catalina mountains. At one point we got over 8,000 feet above sea level and found enough snow on the slopes for some play. Margie and I just gingerly walked about, but Roxanne, Jo, Ginny, Randy and Rachel all took turns at sliding down a slope on a sled. It looked like they had fun, but we didn't get any pictures of their daredevil antics. Afterward, we drove part way back down the mountain to a spot where we could take another nice hike. There was plenty of snow in the shaded areas as we went up a small canyon, but not enough to impede our progress on the trail.

On Sunday afternoon Randy took Roxanne and Jo back to the airport for their return flight to Seattle while Margie and I took off north in the motor home. After a night near Globe, Margie and I are now in an RV park near Holbrook, AZ, where tomorrow we plan to drive through the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert National Parks. Then we'll head southeast toward City of Rocks State Park in southwestern New Mexico, followed by a leisurely drive back to Houston, which we expect to reach around the 15th of December.

Love to everyone,
Riley (& Margie)


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