Monday, March 01, 2010

Last days in Arizona

[Kyle]As winter gets in its last few punches, like most cruisers, our thoughts drift to the coming first days of spring and Footprint, left to fend for herself through a very cold, windy winter.

For the most part, we haven’t been doing too much out of the ordinary during our stay in Phoenix. I usually arrive home on the long flight from work with a backlog of fatigue caused by irregular hours, o’dark thirty wake up calls and hours in the dreaded middle seat. Usually, it’s all I can do to get through a quick snack and a recap of my week before collapsing in the bed. Subsequent days contain all of the usual day-off chores: unpack, do laundry, repack, run a lot and go to the gym a lot. By the time Maryanne and I get back from the gym, a good part of the day is gone. Plus, we’re tired. It really then only takes a few unexpected errands to eat away at the rest of the day. Next thing we know, my block of days off is coming to an end and I’m dreading the uncomfortable red-eye back to work.

I have actually been pretty lucky during this particularly awful winter. On almost every occasion, the week’s blizzard would start just a few hours after my flight home left. By the time I got back to work, the storm had been gone for a day or so and things were just getting back to normal. This last big storm lingered a little bit into my first day back. Just as I was beginning to get stressed out about how I would make it to work with all of the delays and flight cancellations, they cancelled all of my flights for the day and I got to spend an extra day “stuck” in Phoenix – with pay even!

One of the things we’ve been meaning to do, but just haven’t been able to find the time for is a visit to the nearby White Tank Mountain Regional Park, only minutes away from Mom’s house. Well, we finally made the time.

We got up early, still went to the gym, of course, but then headed to the park {Maryanne: The gym was not so "of course" to me!}. In our usual fashion, we picked the longest, steepest trail we thought we could manage that would still get us in a couple of hours before dark. Our choice was a 9.1 mile loop. It took us over a steep ridge with long views of the valley. Then it descended on the other side to a dry creek bed that plunged steeply back down a canyon that eventually wound itself back to our starting point. The climb reminded us a lot of the Deshaies river scramble (see December 2008) minus the water. There was a lot of opportunity to twist an ankle that, fortunately, we missed. We were pretty tired at the end of the day, but it was nice to get out, get some dirt under our feet and spend some time together.

Scenes from our hike at White Tank Mountain Park

Kyle poses (carefully) with a Teddy Bear Cholla, and Maryanne with a Saguaro Cactus

[Maryanne]One of the things I love about visiting Arizona is the Cactus. They are everywhere, growing 15+ feet tall in peoples gardens, in the divide on the highway, and of course out in the untouched desert. The furry, harmless looking Teddy Bear Cholla (pronounced choi-ya) is a devil in disguise - any slight touch or brush against this cactus leaves you with multiple nasty thorns stuck to you in clumps, and as many pointing out as into your skin (so very difficult to remove). The much more sedate and giant Saguaro (pronounced sah-wah-roh) can live for 150 years, and can form its arms in some pretty impressive shapes. Cactus were not a sight I grew up with (obviously!), and I love to see them up close and everywhere.

[Kyle]A lot of people have been asking if we’re excited about getting back to Footprint. We are, of course, but it’s tempered by trepidation about what we’ll find when we get back to Oban and the sheer amount of work we’ll need to do when we get there to get her ready for the season. As we’re ramping up to get back, our list is taking on a new urgency. Maryanne has been spending much of her time chasing down spare parts shipments and dealing with the myriad logistical details of our return home. Next week, our big task is to do a “test pack”. We need to see if the bags we brought will be big enough to get everything back in one trip.

It is exciting to be poring over charts and guidebooks for our coming season, excited by the anticipation of new places and all the challenges ahead. Once everything’s ready to go, we’re really looking forward to our usual permavacation.

Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Good to hear from you again. Sounds like you made it through the winter practically unaffected by the nasty weather that most of the country experienced. Must be your good karma and those benevolent Arizona weather gods. Speaking of Arizona, aren’t the cacti great? Especially the saguaros… every time I see them, I keep waiting for them to suddenly come to life and start dancing, ala “Fantasia!”

With the days getting longer and Spring right around the corner, I was wondering when you’d be gearing up to get back to Footprint. Sounds like it won’t be long now, especially if you’re already talking about “test packing.” Even though you’ll probably be doing some hard labor at your reunion, I bet she’s just as resilient as the two of you are, and the work won’t be nearly as bad as you think. When is your exact departure date?

Hope the preparations go smoothly and the time goes quickly. I’m excited for you to start your next adventure and looking forward to reading the next posts. Happy trails!