A Walk in the Desert.
Diamond J’s is an nice place and an odd place at the same time. “Doc” Justin has lived in this area for ever as has his family going back a few generations. But no one ever sees him. He is apparently in his 70’s. His wife (?) Christine runs the place. She might be 60, probably less. She is welcoming and very enthusiastic. We were there two years ago but she was sure we had been coming for years. She remembers everyone’s name. She put us in a nice spot which we appreciated. There are no computers, no cash registers, no Visa machines. She will take reservations over the phone, no internet, no on-line reservations, no email confirmations, no deposit. Cash or check on arrival. She writes it all down in a spiral bound notebook and some very cryptic stuff on a white board. The money just goes into a box. We think she may have come here from Vietnam or somewhere over there. No one is really sure, even the folks that have been coming here for years. So at times she is a bit hard to understand even though she has been here for a long time. What an interesting place.
And being right next to the Tucson Desert Mountain Park there are plenty of trails to walk. And plenty of Saguaro Cacti to look at. These grow very slowly. A six foot high Saguaro might be 80 years old. They generally start sprouting arms at 100 years old or so. They can live to be more than 300 years old.
The trails are pretty well marked, even with GPs coordinates if you want to know where you are.
This is an active senior Saguaro, maybe 200+ years old, 24 ft tall. And Susan.
And us with a middle aged fellow.
The trails were easy to follow, the lizards were out which we learned later was a sign that other creepy crawly things were not far behind. There were lots of rabbits, really big rabbits with long ears. You would see them dart by and swear it was a good sized dog. And coyotes too, lots of them. About an hour before sundown they started yipping and we felt surrounded, we were surrounded! Howling started at sundown.
Our friend, Bob Flagler from Duluth was visiting out in Tucson while we were there. Normally Bob is off in some odd place like Nepal teaching during the winter. This year was a stay-at-home winter so he came to Tucson. And we all went off to Saguaro National Park just north of Diamond J’s for a hike.
A nice day – warm, sunny. Lots of water, walking stick in hand and off we went. The top of the ridge in the distance was the destination. Maybe four miles round trip. And a good chunk almost straight up 😜.
Bob is an active hiker
There was a trail that wound along the ridge. And off in the distance the large pools collect run-off and water from a small river. The water soaks down into the ground to recharge the aquifer that is below this area.
And the flowers were starting to bloom. Amazing color.
The next afternoon I called SnowBirdPasties. The lady makes them at her home and then delivers them in the local area. She had just returned. I wondered if we could still get some that afternoon. She asked where we were and said we were only a couple miles from her and I could come and get them. I followed the directions and arrived at a very rural place. She came out with the pasties, $6 each and they were big ones. They had carrots in them but that is the Yooper way. No carrots in a pastie from the Range in MN. It turns out she was from MN too and had moved out to Tucson just a few years ago. She had two pretty good sized pigs in the fenced in yard that came from MN as well. Maybe a resource for next year’s pasties.
The pasties were good. Ground meat not chunk like we make them but tastey. Nice crust. We got two traditional pasties and two SW chicken pasties with peppers, onions cheese and more. These were very good too.
It is fun to explore, to follow the signs and see what turns up. We are doing our best to minimize the structure and schedule associated with being elsewhere. Each day evolves as it does. Sometimes we have to plan ahead a day or two but most of the time without external influences, we just see how it shapes up. Almost alway good.
Roger and Susan