Odd I did not think to check out the sunrise until our next to last day here. It was awesome! I arrived at the beach a couple of minutes before and enjoyed the scene and then....
Channel Islands in the distance, a few drilling platforms and kayakers stream by.
Water is still flowing from the mountains, into the ocean. Jack has had a great time at the beach, including some off leash time, romping in the waves.
We headed out for a 40 mile route I put together using Strava Heatmap. I've ridden several times in Santa Barbara but always up Gibraltar or a road that roughly parallels it, Painted Cave, always staying above the city. So.....
....the route included an extended distance on a bike path through UCSB. Interesting but wouldn't do that again. The path did have an actual roundabout, a first for us.
Unfortunately, I had a flat. Fixed it easily enough but I don't like riding without a spare tube so we cut the ride to 31 miles. The temperatures have been in the low to mid 60's for the day time highs and it's been a great visit.
Olivia, I and our designated driver, Amy, got on #154 to go over the mountain, into Santa Ynez Valley and the Denmark inspired town of Solvang. Hard to believe but this is a premier cycling destination with many miles of lonely country roads and challenging climbs. Today though, it was about wine tasting and the scenery.
We walked through Solvang, doing some shopping and then....
....no, not wine tasting, yet, but lunch! The Big Bopper is a not to be missed lunch destination. Olivia demonstrated a novel way of applying catsup to her fries. All these years, I've squirted catsup and then dipped but opening the broad side of the package and dipping is the way to go.
I set our schedule to visit wineries spread over a broad area so I could show the sights and wine tasting. We first stopped at Kalayra, then Blackjack and then....
....the newly renovated Fess Parker winery.
They recently invested $2 million+ into this and it shows.
We went through Los Olivos and got on the beautiful Ballard Canyon Road. We were all kind of running out of drinking energy so capped our winery visits at only three. On to more cycling!
We got a mile into today's ride when Amy discovered she was under dressed so as she returned to the hotel, I lingered close to the beach.
Our hotel, the Mar Monte is nice but kind of quirky. The nightly rate for this time of the year is $350 but my daughter arranged for a very steep discount. Still, even with that, the quirkiness is not enticing. We headed away from the beach and enjoyed a lot of good pavement on our climb to....
....the corner of Gibraltar & Mountain. The climb to this point had some steep pitches, one at 27%! I've climbed Gibraltar a few times and was anxious to do so again but alas, a stop at Fastrack Bicycle shop confirmed the road was officially closed due to storm damage.. Unofficially, you could go part way but some cyclists had been cited, others turned around by workers so we only went up a short distance.
The evidence, lol.
An estate had some mud slides damage.
Amy went higher than I did. Previously, she had not enjoyed the high traffic and lack of bike lanes but in this environment, she enjoyed it very much.
I talked to a local who described massive ravines wrought by run-off from the storms. Too bad.
We rode high enough that we got some great looks at the Pacific. Much of the climb zigs and zags with these awesome views. Once turned around, most of the balance of the ride was down hill!
We rode about half way on a wharf as part of our route and throughout....
...enjoyed the views. We finished with 31 miles and 2500' of climbing.
Daughter Olivia set us up in a nice room with a STEEP discount off the $350 usual nightly fee. OK, not a view of the ocean but that's fine with us as we have a good view of the mountains. Some great climbs in there, San Marcos, Painted Cave and of course Gibraltar.
We rode around the north side of SB with a nice climby route through Hope Ranch.
Jack the Dob loved the waves. We let him off the leash and he entered the surf over and over.....
....for anything we threw out there. We also....
....walked up and down State Street to look at the many retail and restaurant options.
Typically, each evening includes a visit to a local eatery and this time to a very good place named "Janes".
We head west via I-8.....
....drive through Yuma and to the west, the sand dunes on which there were dozens of vehicles surfing the sand.
We go north to reach I-10 but while doing so.....
.....snow capped mountains come into view, which border Palm Springs.
We pause at the Saulton Sea which has a very interesting history...you could look it up!
We continue on I-10 with the San Bernidino mountains in view.
We hoped to reach the coast before sunset but missed it by about 30 minutes. However,....
....we were on the beach the next morning. More to come.
Now that was an unusual rain event for southern AZ!!! Alas, all that rain flows down from the mountains, enters the network of washes and flows into the desert. Of course, some water recharges the aquifers and the one below Tucson is in good shape.
I've posted this perspective many times but so beautiful. On Wednesday....
....I slotted in with a group for a 41 mile ride. How bout that!?! Second consecutive ride with an average over 18mph. Unfortunately, the route spent one mile on a bike path that had a long section of mud. The slopes were too steep so just had to walk through. I'm puzzled why I did not carry my bike and my reward for being thoughtless was a mud caked bike.
From the west side of the Catalinas, another great view.
Our very unusual cold winter continues. Like wtf??? I've been forced to begin rides with the temps in the mid 40's!!! The next day I inspected a couple of washes to see by how much the flow had diminished.....not much.
A serene scene though.
Traffic was now getting through some washes but the county is not quick about removing the mess.
At the end of our road on Bonanza, the water was of course flowing but check out the depth of the sand/mud that accumulated. It was at least 6" and very broad. As Jack and I walked him, a small car passed, headed toward the wash.
Yet another stupid driver. He became stuck as he followed the tire tracks of a high clearance vehicle. Ordinarily I'd help but I had signed up for a group ride and did not want to miss. We head to Santa Barbara tomorrow! The rains have passed and we appear to have a good week of weather.
It began raining around noon on Sunday. There was a pause on Monday morning with a partial lifting of the clouds as I visited Oro Valley.
Snow levels had dipped to the front range of the Catalinas and farther up, heavy snow had fallen. Before the rain restarted.....
....newly trimmed Jack and I headed out for a walk but a strongly flowing wash thwarted our advance. The rain resumed until Tuesday morning.
Perhaps 2' of new snow was on Mount Lemmon as I drove around to....
....check some washes and all had strong water flows. At our place, we had 2.5" of rain since Sunday.
Beautiful scenery as always with the mix of clouds, mountains and sun.
Another beautiful day in southern AZ. The high today was forecast to be in the low 70's and it....
....coincided with a group ride. Our group of 14 did a loop to the south of 32 miles and I ended with an average of 18.3mph. Been awhile since I visited a number above 18 so I was pleased that my uptick in cycling miles is paying off. Unfortunately, another system approaches that will deter me from jumping on the bike for a couple of days. However....
....the rain held off long enough on Sunday so I headed to Sabino Canyon. The Rincons in the distance will have 8-12" of additional snow by the time the weather moves through.
I did a short hike at only 2 miles but it was good to get out in the great outdoors!
A long dead saguaro stands as it begins to lightly rain. I returned to my SUV just before it began to rain in earnest.
I headed south for a 42 mile loop with nice views of Rincon Peak as I chugged up Old Spanish Trail and then Pistol Hill as part of the route.
The sunsets are frequently magnificent and the.....
....sunrises too. Jack and I went to see if the washes were still flowing and.....
...they were. Rain runoff is gone but snow melt has taken over. Geez, the forecast for this weekend is another round of rain, could be significant with a lot of snow up top.
What a pleasant surprise. My daughter, Olivia, called from Santa Barbara. She works with an entity that manages hotels and resorts around the US. When one of the properties has "issues" she is sent in to manage a solution. If you're single and young, it's a great job. With only a day's notice, she was sent to SB and so we are going to visit her. We'll drive, take our bikes and for sure, climb Gibraltar Road. Really long time followers of this blog may recall my many spring visits to Santa Barbara and the neighboring Santa Ynez Valley. Gibraltar is a classic climb having a profile similar to France's Alpe d'huez. California is getting hammered with rain but our visit on the 21st should coincide with a dry period.
Another system moves through, dropping 9" of snow on Mount Lemmon. The clouds being to lift but can't get a look at the snow, yet.
The washes are flowing and the stupid drivers are out. A black truck on the right being pulled out of the wash by a white jeep. Meantime, a guy driving a white, 2 wheel drive truck, observing this mess, decides to give it a try. He becomes stuck too. Geesh.
Oh wow. The clouds have cleared and snow clearly visible. The ski lifts and slopes up there opened after this latest snow.
The rising sun the following morning, casts light on the mountain.
I joined the Cactus Club group ride and during a regroup, got a view of the mountain from the west side. The ride was only 30 miles but it's worth the drive over (about 30 minutes) from the east side. After waiting a day, the water in the washes diminished so....
.....I took Jack back to the aforementioned wash where he had a great time running after a tennis ball.
Another system arrives in southern AZ, bringing significant rain (by our standards) and mountain snow (9' on Mount Lemmon). I'm always infatuated with the mix of clouds and mountain views.
Previously I mentioned a preserve if I walk south a short distance but walking north and making a left into a wash brings me to another wooded area with a large pond. I think that's a giant eucalyptus tree. Landscapers have piled many fallen branches near this tree and I've begun carrying some home, cutting them with a hand saw and burning in the outdoor fireplace. Still thinking about buying a chainsaw.
The well behaved Jack poses for me.
I arrive at Sabino Canyon for a short hike. I'm focused on improving my cycling fitness for the near term. Getting blasted out the back of groups during a ride is nothing new to me but when it repeats itself too frequently and is due to my lack of fitness rather than the strength of the group, it's motivating.
I park in the overflow lot and head up with a neat view of Thimble Peak in the distance.
Sabino Creek has a strong flow of water and now with the snow melt, will flow for quite a while.
I'm on a loop and heading back to the parking lot and I pass this open mine. I'm surprised there is not a barrier in front. I walk to the entrance and peer into the gloom. Yeah, probably a bad idea to go farther.
I finish my 2.25 mile hike, always accompanied by grand views.
Jack lets me know it's time for the morning walk.
I made the short drive to Oro Valley to get in a 40 mile ride. Tucson is rightly maligned for the generally poor quality of its road conditions for cycling but the pavement in OV is really good.
We had a few days of highs in the 70s but a front moved through and as always, the clouds mixed with the mountains creates dramatic scenery.
We have a couple of gaps to fill in the backyard so visited an impressive nursery that had a variety of plants we had previously not seen. I thought after all the trail miles, I would have seen every plant that grows in this environment but no.
We bought "Tombstone Roses" which are supposed to grow vigorously so.....
.....into the ground they went, along with a trellis which we hope will be filled sooner rather than later.
I participated in a kind of short, at 30 miles, group ride with the Cactus Club. We paused at the Aqua Caliente park. Beautiful place with fine examples of mature palm trees. Great way to spend the morning of New Year's Eve. And it was a gut wrenching end as Buckeye fans know. Up 14 points in the 4th quarter over heavily favored Georgia. Last second field goal for the win, missed. Ugh, just ugh.
Close to where we live, there is a preserve. It's a great place for walking Jack or flat hiking or trail running. Really fortunate it is so close.
Green grass is growing from recent rain. Many mature trees and if only I could get in here with a chainsaw to clear the dead branches!!!
Jack poses for us.
Christmas morning, I walk Jack with the Catalinas greeted by a rising sun.
We exchange gifts. I totally unselfishly, got her a Park bike stand. Honest, I got it solely for her use.
A nearby neighborhood that goes crazy for Halloween also does a good effort for Christmas decoration. Some home owners leave their large skeletons up to use for Christmas too!
ha, ha, ha.
The above is a common way to apply lights to the local trees. Merry Christmas everyone!
Marsh Station Road is a newly paved road, south of Tucson, close to Vail. It's an enjoyable, 25 mile, rolling, out and back route.
Among other interesting sights is this ranch gate. Close by....
We reach the end of the road and turn around for a wind in our face, return.
There are some decent climbs as Amy tops one with Rincon Peak in the background.
We pass this open-spandrel arch bridge, the oldest of its kind in AZ, built in....
....1920. Finishing we had 25 miles and 1000' of climbing. Fun route and ride.
I drove toward I-10 to participate in a group ride, observing the snow on the Santa Ritas. The forecast was good but cloudier than expected.
I was the first to arrive at the parking lot of a saloon long ago closed. Whoa, it began to rain. Twenty other people arrived, all sitting in their cars. The temperature was around 45. Had I been in Ohio, I would have begrudgingly headed out with the others but here.....pft. I can ride tomorrow so I spit the bit.
I was at Amy's sister's house a few days ago with a visit to her shed. Water had been leaking through the roof so I checked it out. Shingles were in bad shape so a day later, I stripped off the old shingles and tar paper. The plywood underlayment was ok so got going on installing a new shingles.
It's been more than a few years since I last did this type of project so watched a few videos to remember all the steps and I was pleased with the outcome. I enjoy this type of project and was kinda disappointed the plywood didn't need replaced. That would have been fun replacing too.
I parked in the Sabino Canyon overflow lot to begin the hike. I think this a much better route into the interior of Sabino Canyon rather than start from the main parking lot. That slog up the paved road is kinda boring. This route puts one on the trail immediately.
Great views of Thimble Peak and Blackett's Ridge to my right as I ascend toward the ridge above Cardiac Gap. There are more difficult hikes around but this is one of the harder, short hikes in the area.
I pass what must be one of, if not the highest, homes that border Sabino Canyon
Recreation Area. I'd love to know what was the cost to put in that cement road.
In short order, the views to the south and the Santa Ritas open. The trail brings me....
....close to a wall and a neat looking cave. Would seem to be a good home for a creature which deters me from exploring it. Rationally, no lion, bear or bobcat would locate so close to a fairly active trail but still...
More monsoon inspired grass growth but that didn't make following the trail difficult. Enough people had been through here to keep the trail mostly easy to follow.
I reach the saddle and "Geronimo Meadow" is in front and to my right. I met a family of 5, very fit hikers and suggested they hike the remaining mile to Bridal Wreath Falls and so they did.
I could hear water running in the canyon below me.
A spur trail headed west, toward the above rock formation and I followed it for a bit. It appeared the formation was the intended destination so maybe there is a route to the top. Worth a future visit.
I lingered to enjoy the views but needed to get home and entertain Jack. I finished with just under 6 miles and 1800' of climbing. Good, quality hike.
I also had to get ready for a birthday party at a neighbor's house. It was a small gathering and I wished Amy had returned in time to attend. She's so much better at these events than am I. The host had ordered a.....
...."cake". Very impressive presentation and yes, it's edible and I consumed a small piece. Clearly the cosmetic demands took precedence over taste.
A good rain has ended and the system likely headed to my friends in Ohio. The clouds lift and the beautiful Catalinas remain.
The Amester is in St. Thomas with girlfriends so Jack and I are being bachelors for a week. I had heard about a hike I'd not previously completed, Ringtail Ridge so headed over Gates Pass to a small parking lot to access the Yetman Trail. I begin my hike beneath Golden Gate and Bren mountains.
Information about this hike is limited so I was unsure where exactly I was to leave the Yetman. Reaching a saddle, I can see Little Cat and Bobcat Ridge on the left. Clouds made the scene look awesome.
Bren Mountain was on my left and I did not think the ridge to it's right was my destination but it was. The Yetman Trail, off of which I was to find a use trail to the aforementioned ridge, led me close to Bobcat ridge so I realized I had gone too far and turned around.
Beautiful with or without the clouds!
I returned to a trail junction, realized Ringtail was off a saddle to the right of Bren, rooted around for a bit and found the use/social trail.
I climbed and looked back at the Yetman Trail, off which I departed.
The climb has a couple of false summits but eventually I reach the final segment.
Great views and I found a register in an old ammo can, signed it and began my descent.
During my ascent, I found an animal deposit on the trail. I tool a pic of it with my foot for size reference. Later, it was confirmed as mountain lion scat. I heard this is a rare find. I finished with 5.5 miles and 1200' of climbing. It has been an unusually cool late fall and....
....with the passing of the weather system, even cooler temps arrived that required cactus to be protected from the threat of freeze. We have an inventory of large drink cups and they are placed over the tips of cactus and other plants, covered with sheets. The low actually got to the upper 20's!!!!!
Sixteen people from "Hikers Hiking Hikers" Meetup group drove from Phoenix to do a 7.5 mile hike, in the Tucson Mountains. I joined too and we headed to Little Cat Mountain as our first of 3 peak visits.
Reaching the base of Little Cat, it's kind of an arduous climb to a saddle where the ascent then moderates.
The morning conditions created great views.
We regroup at the saddle. The level of fitness varied some but most of the attendees were quite fit and young. In fact, looking back, I'm sure I was the oldest!!! Glad I can still, more than keep up.
Then, we make the final push to our first peak. We didn't linger and soon....
....began a very sketchy descent. I'm glad I brought a pole. Then, we headed toward Bobcat Ridge.
More great views from there too.
Santa Catalina Mountain peaks will be covered in snow in a couple of days. The next destination was Ringtail Ridge but the hiking would be much the same as what we already covered. Plus, Amy is out of town for a few days and I didn't want Jack to be bored for too long so I bugged out, finishing with 4.5 miles and 1200' of climbing.
I joined a group ride yesterday of 42 miles and an 18.1 average speed. Didn't want to do too much today. One of the milder hikes in the area is to Seven Falls, a magnificent destination when water is flowing. I took the shuttle to the trail head, reducing the hike to 5.8 miles.
I enter Bear Canyon and what a beautiful setting. The trail parallels the wash for the entirety of the hike with multiple crossings. Some of the crossings required careful reconnoitering before selecting the series of rocks that would allow me to cross without soaking a foot.
The size of some of the boulders that have fallen from the canyon walls are huge.
I arrive at the falls and find only one other person there. What a beautiful sight. The image doesn't do it justice.
I drop my pack and carefully scale the left side to the next level.
In the opposite direction, there is another series of falls.
On this second level, water thunders from a third level so I climb it too and can see....
....the water cascade over. I look at the climb to the fourth level but decide it best to return to the floor.
There is a broad expanse of slick rock with multiple pools. I take a seat and have a snack before beginning the return hike.
This is one of the least "climby" hikes in the area and perfect for what I wanted out of the day. The elevation gain is only 800'. Going to take a short recovery ride tomorrow and then join a group hike the following day. It's been a very cool late fall period and on Monday, a front will come through bringing mountain snow and highs only in the 50's!!!!!
The weekend rain finally passed with almost 3" measured on Mount Lemmon, about 1" for our area on the east side....that's a lot of rain for this region! We decided to visit Sabino Canyon and hike to 7 Falls but....
...the shuttle to the trail head wasn't running and the volume of water so great, crossing the creek 6-7 times didn't appeal to us so we instead....
....wandered and enjoyed the views of the mountains as the clouds broke.
A very healthy flow of water and note the leaves are turning. Fall has arrived, early December.
A strong flow of water in Sabino Creek, over the dam.
Amy posed to give perspective to the height and width of the waterfall.
We got on a trail and hung a left on Sabino Canyon Road, newly paved too.
Great views as we finished our 2+ mile hike.
Amy's 60th birthday party! I had plenty of help from a neighbor who has plentiful party planning expertise. And so at 6pm.....
...friends arrived to eat and then at some point, lights were dimmed, a champagne toast, "Happy Birthday" sung and....
....the candles extinguished.
99% of our good mood was due to the birthday party but fellow Buckeye fans, Tim & Theresa, were somewhat pleased it appeared that OSU had made the 4 team playoff.
Rain began Saturday morning and pretty much continued non stop through Sunday morning and into the afternoon. We drove to Oro Valley to check out an arts and crafts fair.
Typically, the event draws about 20,000 attendees but attendance was much lighter. What are the odds? A weekend rain event in southern AZ on the weekend of this event.
Jack the Dog says hi!
Saturday morning and after 50+ days, we're getting some rain. Maybe as much as 3/4" and based on what I witnessed so far today, it sure looks like a reasonable forecast. Amy's birthday is today so helping a neighbor prepare for a party.