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Sunday, March 18, 2001

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Flowers and saguaros

Yesterday I decided that I needed to check out the flowers since I'll be unable to for the next few weeks, so I picked up the guide for the Saguaro National Park 10k volkswalk. To get to it I left the house at 8:00 to catch the first bus, transferred downtown to a second bus, took it as far east as I could then rode my bike out to the park, about six miles. This is basically uphill and I always feel tired before I finish. I don't do uphill well. It was 10:30 by the time I got to the park. I do get my reading in when I do this but I also get very frustrated.

I was noticing what bicyclists and walkers say as they pass each other. There are the non speakers and the perky good morning people. Most of us fall in between and get out something between "goomonng" and "mrning". There are those who are surprised and only manage a "mng". I start thinking about something and get surprised or don't say hello because people don't look approachable or just forget, but it is nice to say hello to people as we pass, never to meet again. I have walked and biked the Rillito often enough that I do recognize some people but I've never talked to them except for "hello" or "good morning".

I parked my bike, put water in my bottles and took a breather in the visitor center before I headed out for the walk. I debated on getting a year pass but that's $50.00 and it's only $3.00 her for bikes or walkers and the entrance to the Grand Canyon is reduced since I take the bus in and they get a group deal, so I don't think I would reach the $50.00 in one year. When I drove around the US in 1994 the pass was very useful but I visited several major national parks so it more than paid for itself.

I walked along a road for the first part but the traffic was light and it wasn't too far. Then I walked along the Cactus Forest Trail within the loop road. It was so nice. I only met four people which is amazing since this is usually a fairly busy trail. It goes up and down but nothing too bad so it's just enough to make you feel you've done something. It passes by an old lime kiln and the reamains of a house, where I had lunch.

There were flowers everywhere but most weren't that showy, just beautiful. Lots of little yellow and white flowers then some nice purple ones. I saw some larger purple ones and a few patches of poppies, which are lovely and showy. There were flowers everywhere, just not the kind that people come across the country for. I seems that there are more poppies along the highways, maybe because of the runoff. I took a couple rolls of pictures because there is something about flowers that makes me think I am going get a gorgeous picture out of this. So far I haven't. I've gotten good pictures, even a few very nice, but no gorgeous. I keep wanting to put in too much context and that doesn't seem to come across well in pictures.

The last part of the walk is my least favorite part of this volkswalk. I walked for a long way along the loop road, back to the visitor center. It goes up and down and winds around and is narrow so while it's one way and you walk facing traffic, it's still tiring and irritating. The hills are steep and once I was at the bottom, looking up at a motorhome bearing down on me, taking up most of the road. This part needs to be changed somehow. Even retracing our steps would be an improvement.

I went through three pint water bottles and drank deeply when I got back to the visitor center. I stamped my heritage walk card and my National Park passport then just sat and enjoyed the cool air. It was in the mid 70s today but it is always so much harder when I'm used to cooler temperatures. The visitor center was getting busy when I got back at 1:30 so I was glad I did my walk before traffic was heavier.

I talked with some other bikers at the shelter by the bike racks then rode out again. I needed to go to Tanque Verde and Sabino Canyon to stamp my volkswalk cards and the bus schedules suck on Sunday so I decided to ride there since the valley slopes down from Saguaro national Park. Trying a different route I went north on Houghton to Tanque Verde and west on Tanque Verde to Sabino Canyon, which is about ten miles. Houghton crosses both Tanque Verde Creek and Agua Caliente Wash with a flat area between. The road is raised due to flooding, I suppose. I realized that Tanque Verde Creek and Pantano Wash join to make Rillito River. Why wasn't the Rillito called either Pantano or Tanque Verde?

I was very tired by the time I got to Sabino Canyon and stamped my books. I just sat at the bus stop, enjoying not doing anything. I'm always so tired after doing things like this but I feel good cause I could do it. Sometimes I feel old and worn out so it's nice to see that I can still do stuff. I do it very slow, but I can do it. I can already tell my legs are going to be sore tomorrow because of the steep hills on the last part of the walk and the bike ride to the park, but that's ok, I'll have something to complain about.

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Rachel Aschmann 2001.
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