Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Sky Islands

She's back (making very few disconcerting noises) and today, she climbed 9,000 feet without breaking a sweat. Go Buttercup!

The Catalina Highway, officially known as General Hitchcock Highway, has been compared to a trip from Mexico to Canada. From the saguaro-loving lowlands of the Tucson basin, to the mixed-conifer forest at the peak of Mt. Lemmon, the road is just under 30 miles long.

Aslin had to give up her Mad Libs leadership, directing her full attention out the window in an attempt to ward off the queasy-stomach syndrome brought on by 10 miles of switchbacks.

At 5,500 feet, we stopped at Middle Bear Canyon for a quick romp through the pines. That's right, pine cone dropping evergreens unlike we've seen or smelled since we left Camp Ocean Pines. Ahhh. "I know this air," Aslin inhales and spots a young oak.

Further up, the picnic tables at Loma Linda overlook a mountain side recovering from a massive fire. In less than an hour, we felt the temperature drop 20 degrees. The jackets and sweaters we usually keep in the van have vanished in the Tucson heat, and Ukiah sat eating pita and hummus, shivering.

We heard there was pie at the top. Pie and fondue. Genuine "Swiss Fondue" with apples, broccoli or bread. But it's the pie we heard about. Not so much that it was extraordinary, just that it was there. Sure enough, at the end of the road, just past ski valley , the Mt. Lemmon Cafe serves up $6.95/slice pie. A'la mode, $8.95. The paper menus were greasy, the seating in and outdoor- sticky, the pies in disposable tins wrapped with foil. Did my shallow pockets and rotten first impression mean keep us from experiencing the greatest pie in the world? It doesn't really look like it, but we'll let you know.

Rock scrambling Green Mountain on the way back down, we passed the "Do not sled" signs and Aslin hoped for a bear sighting. Someone had a party up where the Rockies meet the Sierra Madre Mountains. Between the broken glass, my loss of footing and the deceptive "easy" looking peeks and crevices, I wished I'd found the pocket 1st aid kit before we left the house. What goes up, must come down. Though not always along the same path.

The sky island visit was a nostalgic review of our life on the road, familiar at every stop. And as Ukiah was quick to point out, "so relaxing compared to our last hike."


Anonymous said...

Good flower photoos. Excellent narrative. You have a way with words! Amen to youur Peace to the people of Virginia Tech.
signed, an occassional readerof non-poli blogs

owlhouse said...

Thanks, Mom!