Always nice to have a hiking buddy and because my dad’s bum knee rules him out for this trip, I was especially pleased to hike with my neighbor Amahia from Des Moines who happens to be here on sabbatical. She hadn’t been to Catalina State Park about a mile from my dad’s house in Oro Valley so I showed her the Loop Trail, an easy and lovely scenic hike into the valley dotted with saguaros and bordered by high jagged mountains.
We had a really nice lunch outside in the garden at Tohono Chul, the lovely estate and desert garden nearby. For the first time ever, in my experience, we waltzed right in and were seated — perhaps a benefit of being here in January rather than our usual February or March. The weather was perfect, high 60s and low 70s, although quite cool at night.
Lunch yesterday with my old friend from London, Mary, who is a longtime U of Arizona professor, at a good Italian place called North in the ritzy Encantado shopping center. Excellent grilled artichoke, bruschetta with asparagus, cheese and proscuitto and even better company!
We have tried many Mexican restaurants in Tucson over the years and rarely remember them. Rosa’s (on East Fort Lowell at Campbell) we will remember. There’s a reason it’s been around since 1970 and why it was packed during lunch on a Monday. The food is really good and although I’m no expert, I’m told its quite authentic too. I rarely find carne seca – which I associate with the famous El Charro restaurant here – but Rosa’s made a darned good carne seca. It’s different than El Charro’s – with grilled onions and peppers that gives it a slightly different flavor and makes it a little less dry beef. The refried beans were different than others I’ve had too – starting with the color, a rose-colored red. Creamier. Good flavor. And the guacamole was also creamier, paler, more seasoning. The salsa was runny but packed a punch. Good limeade too. And tacos that have deep-fried shells. We’ll be back.
For years, we have hiked at Catalina State Park (the photo above with my son Noah and sister-in-law Heather is from around 2008, the one below with my husband is from around 2009) which has a very easy, very scenic loop through classic dessert terrain (I can still hear my mom’s voice telling us which plant is saguaro, agave, ocotillo, pale verde or cactus paddles). Sadly, a young guy from Minnesota was missing when we arrived – he hadn’t been seen since the previous morning when he set off on a solo hike. Television trucks were camped out in the parking lot and an occasional police van drove past us on the trail. A helicopter flew low above us. Last year, I hiked at the park on my own for the first time and remember being a bit nervous. I stuck to the main loop trail which has lots of hikers and ended up meeting a woman who I hiked half of the trail with. We woke up this morning to the welcome news that the hiker had surfaced north of the state park and was ok. Today returned to the park and took a four hour hike to Romano pools. Classic dessert scenery.
Filed under Arizona, Tucson