Oro Valley Weekend

Posted: March 16, 2010 in photography, weekend
Tags: , , , , , ,

Man, did Bill and I really NEED last weekend.

We’d been planning on driving about an hour and a half south, to an area just north of Tucson known as Oro Valley, to spend the day hiking. The Catalina State Park offered an opportunity for the kind of poking around among the cacti (no pun intended… aww, who am I kidding, yes it was) that Bill is so fond of. On Friday afternoon, after a stupid week of work for both of us, we decided to make a weekend of it rather than just a day trip. I booked a hotel room for Saturday night and left work on Friday in a fantastic frame of mind.

We got up early on Saturday morning, showered and packed and did all the things homeowners (and pet owners) do when they’re going to be gone for a 24-hour period of time. We were on the road by 8:30 and held off our hunger long enough to find a Village Inn in Oro Valley to provide sustenance for the day’s activities.

We arrived at the CSP right at noon – which, upon reflection, wasn’t the best time of day to start our hike. The 68-degree weather was lovely, but the breeze barely provided a defense against the direct sunlight and lack of shade. Plus, the harsh sunlight is not ideal for photography. Still, we weren’t altogether miserable, were sun-blocked up, and had plenty of water. So after a cursory look at the “Wildlife Display” (which featured a half dozen various snakes, a few gila monsters, and some pelts) we addressed the trail map and set off.


We were immediately confronted with a wash in full spate, so we had to remove our shoes and socks and wade across, then dry our feet off and put our shoes and socks back on.


There were various forks and directions we could take – after a couple of false starts we ended up deciding upon the ones that didn’t require repeated footwear removal. At the top of one very steep rise we paused long enough for us to catch our breath (okay, long enough for limp-lunged ME to catch MY breath), and I took the first of the two videos I posted yesterday. Then it was onward along the wide sandy path, avoiding horse droppings and gabbing and greeting the people hiking in the other direction. We got to an overlook that looked out across a small canyon, and Bill decided to go off-trail in the direction of some running water.


We followed a game trail (that is quickly being trampled into a full-fledged path by other hikers who want to get off the trail) for a short distance, then I sat in the shade of something pointy while Bill hiked down into a gully and took pictures. That’s when I took the second video that I linked in yesterday’s entry. That was my favorite part of the hike – there were no other people around and the only sound to be heard was the breeze and the peaceful tweeting of birds. Well – mostly peaceful. The birds in the gully took turns scolding Bill as he hiked among them.

The hike back out seemed faster than the hike in, and before we knew it we were back at the wash and had to take our shoes and socks off again. I must say we didn’t anticipate as much running water as we came across that day. Streams in the desert, who knew?

The hotel we stayed at was just a short distance away. We checked in, and lugged our stuff to our room. The first thing Bill does whenever he enters any hotel room for the first time is turn on the A/C, which is when we discovered that it was a very noisy, very unhappy little A/C unit. So we got cleaned up and changed our clothes and re-packed, then requested that we be moved to a different room with a functional A/C. They were happy to oblige (despite the fact that they had to re-clean the bathroom of our original room – I kind of felt bad about that), and fortunately we pack light.

Back out the door, we went to the Hi Falutin’ Rapid Fire Western Grill that Bill was familiar with from his previous visits to the area for work. He ordered a fillet, I ordered the shredded beef tacos, and OH MY GOD, was that food INCREDIBLE. I didn’t bring my camera in, else I surely would have embarrassed Bill with all the pictures I’d have taken of our plates.

After dinner, we drove back over to the hotel, parked, and walked across to the neighboring Taste of Chicago. We occupied a table on the patio for several hours, watching the light change on the mountains.



We talked and sipped (beer for Bill, a Cadillac Margarita for me) and took pictures. I happened to be sitting facing the gully that runs alongside the restaurant, and saw a pair of rabbits go racing by. My “Oh, bunnies!” exclamation caused Bill to look in the opposite direction to see what the bunnies were running from. He leaped up from the table and said, “Holy crap, it’s a bobcat! Quick, gimme the camera!”

You'll probably need to click on the photo and view it in its original size to see him. He's in the approximate center of the photo, heading to the right.

He chased off along the fence, camera in hand, being all “here kitty kitty” while the bobcat disdained his efforts (“Be vewwy qwiet. I’m huntin’ wabbits.”) I, of course, Tweeted the event while waiting for Bill to come back to the table.

Eventually Bill stopped chasing the wild animal (I kid, he was very quiet and respectful and non-threatening – I’m pretty sure the cat would have handed his ass to him if it had been otherwise) and came back to the table, mourning the lack of a telephoto lens. Then, in a fit of wildlife photography inspiration, he proceeded to attempt to capture the flitting efforts of a bat, who had come out early to partake of the bugs.

Click on the photo to view in original size. It's actually pretty cool and a halfway decent shot for a kit lens at dusk taken by a slightly buzzed photographer.

We ended up hanging out on the patio for several hours, watching the stars come out and having conversations with the restaurant’s evening entertainer when he took smoke breaks. Paul sang old standards ala the Brat Pack era and was actually pretty darned good. I took a few pictures of him but I didn’t have the right lens for the job, so only a couple were somewhat salvageable.


I followed my margarita with a martini of some sort, and then some vodka. Bill stuck to his beer. We got more and more silly as time went on:

:: ssssip… ahhhh ::
“Gee, this heater is kicking out some BTU’s!”
“Tiff, do you even know what BTU stands for?”
“Uhh… Bachman Turner Underdrive?”
:: hilarity ensues ::

I also took a bunch of very random photos. The more buzzed I am, the more that random ordinary things suddenly become all, hello! Art!


By the time we headed back to our hotel room we were in fine, fine shape. FINE shape. IfyouknowwhatImean. AndIthinkyoudo.

We checked out the next morning by about 9:30, and hared off in the general direction of Phoenix. We came across the type of mom-and-pop breakfast place we were hoping for, the Sunny Side Up Cafe. Lots of bikers and truckers, and a packed parking lot on a Sunday morning, which was all the assurance we needed that this local place was good. The place was standing room only, so we opted for seats at the counter, which I always enjoy anyway. I like observing the well-oiled machine that is a good diner. The coordination between the prep station, cooks, and wait staff was flawless. They kept up the snarky banter the whole time, too, which was entertaining while we noshed on our corned beef hash and eggs.

We took Route 71 back to the Valley, passing the Tom Mix monument and wash. I asked Bill who he was, and he said he couldn’t remember and thought he was some sort of an outlaw cowboy. I looked it up when we got home. Come to find out he was an actor who occasionally played an outlaw cowboy. So Bill’s memory wasn’t entirely inaccurate.

We were back home by noon on Sunday, and the cats acted like we’d been gone a week. We unpacked and settled in for an afternoon of watching TV and napping. I ordered pizza for dinner and we rented Zombieland. I give the movie two decapitated corpses up! Cracked my shit up, anyway.

So! That was our weekend. To see the entire set of pictures, click here.

  1. Taoist Biker says:

    British Thermal Units.

    I only know who Tom Mix is from the narration at the end of the movie Tombstone, in which Robert Mitchum said that Mix was one of Wyatt Earp’s pallbearers, and cried while he carried the casket.

    I’ve heard bobcats in the woods once or twice, but never actually laid eyes on one in the wild. That is awesome.

    And finally, those two photos of the mountains are particularly gorgeous.

    • Tiffany says:

      Proof that you read the whole darned entry! Day-amn! Bill did fill me in on what BTU’s were, and hey, I used the term correctly in context, so go me!

      I’d never heard of Tom Mix before we drove past the monument.

      The bobcat was AWESOME with a side of RIGHTEOUS. I’m glad he was on the other side of the fence, though.

      And finally, thanks!

  2. Stella says:

    Wow. Those are amazing pics. And ditto on the Tom Mix thing, too.

    It’s finally warming up around here enough to go out and really enjoy the sunshine… I really need to get out and you’ve inspired me!!

  3. Shelli says:

    I really wish I could see the pic of the bobcat, but it tells me it’s private when I try. *pout*

    Funny that you should mention Tom Mix. One of my friends is doing genealogy for her family, and found out that she’s related to him. I wonder if she knows there’s a monument? Gotta go tell her now ….

  4. […] LOVING how Bill keeps coming up with stuff for us to do together every weekend. First it was Oro Valley, then the zoo and stuff last weekend, now this. Gosh, I just think he’s the bee’s […]

  5. […] and I went to Oro Valley, hiked in Catalina State Park, and SAW A […]

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