Friday, October 9, 2009

A Drive up to Mt. Lemmon

My daughter Kasie moved to Tucson a couple of months ago and we don't see each other as much as we used to. Fortunately I recently moved about a half hour closer to Tucson and today we got together just to hang out. We didn't make any detailed plans and I thought a drive up the Catalina Highway (now known as the Sky Island Scenic Byway) to the top of Mount Lemmon would be a nice way to catch up.

Mount Lemmon is one of the tallest peaks in southern Arizona and overshadows the city of Tucson. Unlike Mount Wrightson (the tallest peak in southern Arizona), there is a road that winds to the top of Mount Lemmon. Amazingly, we saw several bicyclists riding up and down the highway. At 27 miles and an elevation gain of 6,000 feet, it is a very steep and long climb!

On this fall day it was in the mid 70s when we left around 10:00 a.m. and we passed through a forest of saguaro cacti. We stopped at the first pullout a couple of miles up and already you can see how tiny Tucson looks in the distance. By the time we made it to the top, Tucson was almost invisible and we could see for at least one hundred miles. As we climbed, we passed into oak and juniper and then into tall ponderosa pines. By the time we reached the top, we were in mostly fir and aspen with a few maples thrown in for good color.

I am usually a decent planner and like the good boy scout I never was, I am usually prepared. For some reason that all deserted me today and not only did I forget my water, I forgot warm clothes. Kasie and I were planning on hiking once we made it to the top, but as you can see, she was no better prepared than I was. I knew we had goofed when we got to the top and saw two guys outside in heavy coats. Ever flexible, we changed plans and settled for a hot pizza in front of the fireplace at one of the few restaurants at the summit.

The pizza was absolutely scrumptious and although we hated to leave the comfort of the fire, there was only one way to top it off - gourmet fudge and fresh coffee from the general store that looked suspiciously like a log cabin. I bought a pound of the heavenly stuff and got four kinds: plain chocolate, chocolate caramel peanut, chocolate pecan, and cappuccino. They were all so good, but the cappuccino was definitely the best. And just to throw out ill planning in our faces, it started to sleet on our way back to the van!

We wound our way back to Tucson and after a quick stop at the grocery store, I dropped Kasie off at her apartment. The best part of the day was when she said over lunch, "Dad, hanging out with you is like being on vacation. It's always so laid back and fun and I hate to see it end. I love you so much."


  1. Sounds like you had a great time. The fudge looks so yummy!

  2. It is magnificent fudge and I am still picking away at it!

  3. "Hanging out with you is like a vacation" may be the best compliment ever! You should get it on a T-shirt.....