Friday, March 29, 2024

The Street Fair, Friends, and Saguaro NP - West

Corona de Tucson  

March 29, 2024

Last Saturday was the 4th Avenue Spring Street Fair.  This 55 year old bi-annual event has become a Tucson tradition.  Artists from all over the world gather here along with local entertainment.  It's a little over a 2 mile walk...well maybe a see everything.  Meeting Jamie and Andra there makes for a really fun time!      

We all enjoyed lunch at Caruso's.  This quaint little restaurant located in an old adobe home on 4th Avenue began back in 1938 and is still in the same family today.   

The manicotti I had was yummy and smothered in the best ever tomato sauce.  Of course, the best part of the day was sharing it with Jamie and Andra.  

Sunday dawned cloudy, wet and windy. Monday and Tuesday followed with on/off again showers and winds.  No complaints here !  The desert needs the rain and it's nice to have a lazy day or two. 

Jeff and Fran were in town on Wednesday.  They are headed to Ohio for the solar eclipse and are taking their time to explore and see a few sites along the way.  We were thrilled to hear from them and share lunch at El Charro.   

Jeff's favorite is the Carne Seca Poblano...and I am pretty sure I heard him say it was the best he had ever had.  We definitely think that is reason enough for Jeff and Fran to visit more often ! It was so good to see them and spend a couple of hours catching up.  Thank you for the photo Jeff and thank you both for taking the time for a visit !  Safe travels.  Until next time...

With the rain gone, the days warming up, and calm breezes in the forecast, we decided some fresh air was in order for Thursday.  My choice was Saguaro NP - West (Tucson Mountain District).  It's a bit of a drive to get there at about 30 miles one way, but once on Kinney Road I definitely have a big smile on my face!

We haven't hiked at this beautiful park since living in the MH and staying at Lazydays.   But we have driven the Bajada Loop several  times as it is a great place to find Saguaro blooms and other cacti blooms.  The loop is an unpaved 5 mile road suitable for most passenger cars.  

Since the saguaros are not yet blooming and neither are the cholla or stag horn cacti, our plan for the day was a couple of hikes on the loop we have not done...the Valley View Overlook Trail and the Signal Hill Trail.  Both are short, easy trails.   

Valley View Overlook Trail : 

Right from the get go, Joe and I loved this trail.  The trail is lined with huge saguaros... 


with interpretive signs along the way.  We had not heard of a Pencil Cholla. 



The Brittlebush and Globe Mallow add lots of color.

Did you know that the leaves on the brittlebush are covered with soft, white, matted hairs that reflect the sun's heat?  


We crossed several washes before gradually ascending to the ridge.  Along the way, we caught glimpses of the valley. 

There are several benches at the top of the ridge...

with vistas as far as the eye can see.  

We spotted one gorgeous red cholla bloom at the top of the ridge...

and spotted a stunning bloom on a tiny hedgehog cactus hiding behind a saguaro on the way down the trail.

Did you know that the Hedgehog Cactus is the first cactus to bloom in the spring?  

The down trail back to the parking lot was just as showy as the up trail to the ridge.  This easy trail just shy of 1 mile round trip might be short, but it sure packs a lot of bang for the buck.  Definitely a trail we would do again !

Signal Hill Trail : 

The access for Signal Hill Trail is at the Signal Hill Picnic Area.  There is a short road that turns off Bajada Loop Road that goes to the picnic area.  It was almost a bust as the access road was completely blocked and closes to traffic due to repairs and improvements being made at the picnic area.  Vehicles were parked along side the road and after spotting several walkers, we decided to give it a try too.  I'm so glad we did.  

From 1933 to 1941, members of the CCC improved the recreational possibilities of the Tucson Mountains.  They built five picnic sites that consisted of ramadas,  tables, benches, fireplaces, and bathrooms.  The Signal Hill picnic area was constructed in 1934 and the largest picnic area they built. There was fencing around the tables, benches and ramadas, but not around the fireplaces.  

Signage at the trail head stated that for more than 10,000 years the Tucson Basin has been inhabited by many people.  The Hohokam people lived here between 200 AD - 1400 AD.  Rock art found within the NP was created by them more than a thousand years ago and the reason for us choosing this trail.  

The trail is well maintained with switchbacks that make a sort climb to the top of a ridge much easier.   

The views were impressive...

At the top of the ridge is a "garden" of boulders covered in desert varnish which is the largest petroglyph site in the Tucson Mountain District.  Although small in size, it consists of over 200 Native American images...some can be viewed from the visitor trail.  It is believed these writings were left during hunting expeditions and there is no definitive meaning to them.  Were they made for religious purposes,  do they tell a story, do they mark a trail, or possibly commemorate a special event?  Today, when we examine these images carved centuries ago, we can only speculate what their significance was. And, stand in awe at the people who made them.  

It was hard to get photos...I didn't have the big zoom lens and the railing prevents visitors from getting too close.  A big thank you to the folks who think it is fun to inscribe modern day writings on ancient and special sites like this...I say facetiously!  It only takes a few of them to spoil it for the rest of us who really care.  

After our hikes we made a stop at the Visitor Center.  It's one of our favorite VCs we have ever visited.  I love how it blends in with its desert landscape...

has benches for "sitting a spell" just because...

has beautiful views...

and we always learn something new...

After it rains, the fragrance from the creosote bush is often called "the smell of rain" in the desert.  Did you know that the creosote fruit is a small wooly ball which separates into five segments when mature?   

We always enjoy our visits there.

We made one last stop on Kinney Road heading home...I love lupines !

Back at the oasis, things were pretty quiet.  The clouds were heavy and dark.

Mrs. C made morning visits...rain or shine.  We were happy to finally see her too.

Mr C watches her from the bush.  One morning, I saw him at the feeder and when she perched on the fence, he shelled a seed at the feeder and took it to her.  

Sally had her spring makeover.  It's a little too short, but she has to take anti anxiety meds to go to the groomers and we don't like giving it to her too often.  The shorter the better...her hair grows really fast !

Sally and I love the early morning glow.

 Until next time..



  1. Glad to read the desert is putting on a show for you.
    Maybe if you stayed with Sally during her trim, she might not be so anxious.
    Be Safe and Enjoy your Happy Trails.

    It's about time.

    1. Hi Rick and Kathy. Until a couple of years ago, Joe and I groomed Sally. She sat still and let us cut her fur, trim her nails, and bath her. Now she gets anxious and will not let us or anyone groom her. She has to have meds to go to the vets too. She is 17 years old and a bit senile we think. The desert is very colorful this time of year with the wildflowers, but the real beauty will be May and June when all the cacti are blooming! Thanks for checking in and concerns for Sally.

  2. Beautiful photos of the spring desert. Do you know the what those ruby lupine type flowers are called? We do not have them and I have seen them alongside the road with the Arizona Lupine.
    The 'Glyph Garden' is awesome!
    As always it was great spending a few hours with you.

    1. Hi Jeff…the rosy color bloom is a Penstemon. Aren’t they gorgeous? I am always in awe when I see petroglyphs…
      Always fun spending time with you and Fran too!

  3. What a wonderful time of hiking you guys have had. Family & friends time is also so special. We've eaten at El Charro but not Caruso's, another new place to try. Love your cardinal photos--we've never seen one at our place but friends who live closer to the mountains have them at their feeders. I have family coming to visit the end of April--those hikes in Saguaro might be ones we should do. You are a wealth of information in this blog post! And sweet Sally, so sweet in her new summer do! Hugs to you all!

    1. Hi Janna and thank you! We both enjoyed the two short hikes and the drive on Bajada Loop is really pretty. By the time your family comes, the cholla and prickly pears might be blooming…they are so pretty and showy dressed in spring colors. We haven’t seen one single bud on a saguaro yet and I just knew we might on the west side…oh well!