As you can see below, the road to Portal over the Chiricahua mountains was a bit rough but my RAV4 had no problems.  In some areas, it was interesting to see large numbers of trees with blackened bark from previous wildfires coming back to life with new growth.

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After I checked in at the Portal Peak Lodge, I went for a walk into ‘town’ – one short street with the library, post office and several houses. The welcoming committee was there having a drink at a very large puddle. These javelinas are part of a larger herd of about 20 individuals that live in the area.

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One of the houses in town is owned by friends of the group and we were invited to visit their yard where they have multiple bird feeders and a large number of feathered visitors.

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Happy Hour was as sumptuose as usual and gave us time to share our experinces of the day.

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After we had our fill of goodies, you may notice that there is not an inch of empty space on the table, we went to dinner, and then on to our search for critters of the night. The drive was not very productive this year.

To be continued . . .


After more than 6 years of living in Tucson, I finally got around to doing something I had wanted to do since I got here – explore the Southwest.

The idea for this excursion came about as the annual ASDM Friday Docents and Friends trip to Portal, AZ was scheduled, so I thought why not extend the trip a bit more. Since I was already going to the SE corner of Arizona, I decided to go North from there.

I left Tucson early on Monday, and instead of driving to Portal with the group, I struck out on my own and attempted to visit Fort Bowie National Historic Site and actually visited the Chiricahua National Monument.

The trip to Fort Bowie was a disappointment because I could not find the road in!!! One is supposed to park at the trailhead (did that) and hike a 3 mile loop that would take you to various historically interesting places (did not do that). Since I was alone, basically in the middle of nowhere, and the only living things I saw on the way in were a couple of cows, a raven and a couple of unidentified raptors, I decided that hiking alone was not a good idea – just in case.

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I looked for the ADA accessible road (at my age, I am entitled to use that road) that takes you to the Visitor Center, but I could not find it. Also since it was Monday, and the VC is only open on Saturdays and Sundays, I could not call them (even if I had a cell phone signal) and get directions.  I decided to call it a day and head on to the Chiricahua National Monument.

I drove south on SR186 with the Dos Cabezas mountain range and eventually the Chiricahuas on my left, and open grassland to my right. Magnificent scenery! 

Chiricahua National Monument is a fee-free park and right next to the former fee booth at the entrance is a very small and charming old cemetery.

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The drive to the Visitor Center was lovely, but my goodness, the drive to the Masaai Point, even in the rain was incredibly beautiful and impressive. I had seen pictures of this area before, but none of them did it justice, don’t even know if it is possible to capture how incredible the stone formations are. No pictures – it was raining! 

The view from Massai point is quite sensational. I had a picnic in my car waiting out the rain and watching a thunder and lightning show south of my location. After the rain, I managed to get some images.

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When I left the Monument, I headed south then east over the Chiracahuas on the mountain road to Portal.  The road was a bit rough, but passable.  My trusty RAV-4 had no problems fording streams and bumping along in order to reach Portal in time for our famous Happy Hour at the Portal Lodge with my friends.

To be continued . . .

(ps – no matter how artistically I arrange the images in the draft, they have a mind of their own and rearrange themselves when the blog is published)


Only if you expand the definition of ‘garden’ to encompass a few green thing growing in pots on a large patio, is the above title appropriate.

I have never had, and never will have a green thumb.  Combine that fact of life with the fact that there are hungry, herbivorous creatures living just outside the walls of my house, but not outside the walls of my patio, does not make it promising for me to grow anything.  The Tucson Mountains are very dry, there is no permanent water anywhere on them, we are at an altitude of about 2,800 feet, and that get less rain than the rest of the area makes it a challenge for anyone to grow anything here – except cactus. This little herb garden did not last long.


Enter the term ‘desert landscaping’ and my expanded version of  ‘natural desert landscaping’.  My very good real estate agent, who lives in the center of town and has an absolutely magnificent lawn in her front and back yards, could not understand why I wanted to live ‘so far’ out of town.  One of my requests to her, was that she find me a house with no lawn to water, no trees to take care of, no bushes to prune, nothing along the lines of gardening.  She was somewhat appalled, I think, but that is exactly what I now have, and I am very happy.


This is my pride and joy – a blooming torch catus! I have found out that I can actually, most of the time, not kill cacti.  Why?  I don’t have to remember to water them or do anything to them, and they are extremely grateful when you actually pour some water in their pot.

LEXI 2012 06 16 3 playing hide and seek most recent image at 9lbs 2 oz Lexi today

A little over a year ago, I adopted a scrawny, 7 pound little dog with some matted hair even after the Humane Society had cleaned him up.  I now have a 9 pound 2 ounce, silky haired, mischievous little dog that has given me a lot of joy and a few heart attacks.

I am delighted to show you Lexi’s progress over the last year. 

The top image shows Lexi the day he came home from the Humane Society, a little leery but very self assured.  He came in the door and without any hesitation, marched into the house and inspected every inch, nook and cranny.  However, he spent weeks glued to me, wherever I went, he went, nose no more than 2 inches away from the back of my leg.

Eventually, he started getting some confidence, and would not have to be in the same room with me.  He not only started playing with his toys, but he was initiating play with me.  He now brings me his toys, drops them at my feet, and expects me to throw them to the far end of the house.

That independence also gave me a few heart attacks, proof of which is in the second image.  I called him to go out for a walk, and he had disappeared.  Where could he be, could he have gotten out of the house? 

 After searching and calling for quite a while, I went into my bedroom, and there, between the pillows on the bed I could see a little black nose resting on the bolster.  The image shows him coming out from his hiding place. 

The most notable one was when the car port door did not close properly when I went out,  the wind blew it open, and this black and white blur came running out.  He sat in the cul de sac, looked down the hill, took off chasing something and disappeared into the desert across the street. 

Now, in my neighborhood we have among others, coyotes, rattlesnakes, bobcats, javelinas, a huge feral cat and a report of a mountain lion seen on top of the hill – all of which could make a meal out of him very quickly. 

About 45 minutes later, with the sun going down fast, and after 3 of my neighbors and I had walked and driven up and down the development calling his name, he came out of the desert, then jumped into the car when I opened the door looking very satisfied with himself.  It was one of those occasions when you first kiss them and hug them, and then strangle them!

The third picture shows him a couple of months ago and the last one was taken today.  This is my silky haired, sweet, happy and mischievous little dog after one year of good food, long walks, playtime, and lots of belly scratching who again got a clean bill of health when we went for his annual checkup.  And the tail on the last picture is blurry because it is always in perpetual motion.

Other things have happened over the past year, but those are stories for another time.

What a difference a year makes!

Meet Lexi!

No, he is not a desert tortoise, that is still on the back burner.  

I visited the Humane Society a couple of months ago and came home with Vesper, promptly renamed Lexi.  The Society had named him Vesper for some unfathomable reason, but it was clear, at least to me, that he did not care for that name – he never responded when I called him Vesper.  I thought a change to something that flowed from the tongue a bit better was in order.  So Lexi it is, and he does come when I call him.

According to the Humane Society, Lexi is a Papillon mix – I should also add that there seems to be an awful lot of Chihuahua in that mix.   He has turned out to be a very sweet, friendly little dog that thankfully came home already housebroken.  There have been no accidents at all.    :-)     Lexi is already friends with the Yorkie next door, the dogs (5 very large ones and a Silky terrier) that we occasionally go with on early morning walks in the park, and every other dog and human he has met.  What a pleasure!


For the first few weeks, wherever I went in the house, there was a little cold nose bumping into the back of my calf – he did not and still does not really like to be left alone. Things have improved, and he now ventures alone to all parts of the house.



One interesting thing he did is that when he thought I was not looking, he would pick up a toy and literally tiptoe out of the room.  But as soon as he got to the hallway, he would run with the toy and I could hear him thrashing it and playing with it out of sight.  Did he once live with other dogs/kids/adults that would steal his toys?  Guess I will never find out.  But I am happy to say that he now feels comfortable enough to play with this toys in places where he knows I can see him.

Lexi weighed 7 pounds when I adopted him.  Living on the streets (he was found roaming the streets) even for what I guess was not a very long time does take a toll, specially on a small animal.  When we visited the vet about 2 weeks after adopting him, he had already gained .8 pounds, but the vet thinks that weighing between 9 to 10 pounds would be appropriate for him.  He is now up to 8.4 pounds and seems to have stabilized at that weight.  An increase of 1.4 pounds does not sound like much, but it is a 20% increase in weight from when I first got him.  Other than that, the vet gave him a clean bill of health and it was a relief to hear him say “see you next year”. 






I do not want to say this too loudly, just in case I might jinx myself, but it appears that the plumbers finally finished all their work.  It only took from the beginning of January through the end of March to replace the broken main line running under the bedroom floor, a couple of return trips because the main line had not been properly cleaned of debris further down from the break and the drains were again not draining, and restore the saltillo tile that had to be torn up.

To say that this experience was traumatic would be a big understatement. The original plan was to dig up a 3’ by 3’ hole to reach the area of the main line where the suspected problem was located.  Everything was going along just fine, until I heard the very loud voice of the plumber calling me to come take a look.  They had reached the suspected area and found a large crack in the main line running in both directions beyond the area they had uncovered.

At this point, the restoration people had to be called in because there was a strong possiblity that the damaged pipe extended under the bathroom floor.  If that was the case, the cast iron bathtub would have to be taken out and the bathroom floor dug up.  Luckily, the pipes under the bathtub were in good shape and the bathroom floor remained intact.

The original insurance claim went out the window at this point, and another claim covering the additional work had to be filed.  What originally started as a 3′ by 3′ hole to reach the area where the suspected problem was located evolved into the excavation of a 10′ trench running from one end of the bedroom almost to the other end.   Suffice it to say that it took 2 tons of dirt to fill up the hole.


Now, after being told by the restoration crew that they could match the new saltillo to the one that was in place, they said they were unable to make the match and would have to tear up the entire bedroom floor and replace it with a larger tile that would NOT match the rest of the house.  At this point, I called the company that installed the floor when I moved in and they agreed to do the repairs.

Although they did find the right tile and it does match the rest of the floor, the color of the original grout had been discountinued.  The new grout is much darker and was very obvious, so the new grout had to be stained to come close to what it should have been.  Getting that accomplished was an interesting experience.

In the middle of this upheaval, very dear out-of-town friends came to visit.  It was great to see them and a welcome break from the surrounding chaos. 


Wrote an entire post about the snow we had to celebrate both the State of Arizona’s 100th birthday and Valentine’s Day, both on February 14th. 

Unfortunately, WordPress ate my oh so very insightful comments and I am not inspired to write them again. 

So for your enjoyment, without too many words to distract you from the beautiful scenery, here are some images of the Tucson Mountains viewed from the Visitor Center at Saguaro National Park West.