December 15 – December 31
One of our best Christmas holidays ever! Thanksgiving was a bit lonely, but Christmas was grand with Ethan and his girlfriend Stephanie in town to celebrate with us. We enjoyed time just being together, which is the best part of any holiday.
We rented a condo in the Catalina Foothills for the week so we’d all have plenty of room and a full kitchen for baking. It was a nice treat to take long showers and not worry about filling up the RV tank. We also had use of a washer and dryer with no quarters required!
Our view of the Catalina Foothills and the 15th green.
No golfers in the bunch, but we were interested in all the activity on the course. We watched the greenskeeper move the hole, and use all kinds of moving mower things to groom the grass. Roadrunners, cardinals, doves and other birds we couldn’t identify enjoyed the golf course, too.
Jackson got a segment of cholla cactus stuck on his back from walking under a tall specimen. I was able to pull it out, but he flinched the whole time. A good reminder to steer clear of the pokey things.
Meanwhile on the inside, we made Chex mix and baked dog biscotti which has Jackson totally spoiled. That’s all he wants to eat now. We also enjoyed our turkey and dressing for Christmas dinner cooked in a full-sized oven.
Our ever-changing view. Clouds rolling in, the shrouded foothills, and pink mountain sunset. We even had one morning where the hills were dusted with snow.
Jackson got a new toy from Stephanie’s mom and he promptly gutted the thing in a squeaker search and destroy mission. He’s a professional.
Stephanie got a walking, tail-wagging, snorting little pig and Jackson wanted it. Bad. She had to put in in the bedroom and close the door and he still looked for it every day.
And the aftermath.
That dog is so happy to be with his boy. And we had such fun working a puzzle. I can’t remember the last time I “played puzzle”. We all worked on the outside edge, but Ethan and I worked every day to finally finish that booger. There were the weirdest shaped pieces that confounded us, and in the end we had an extra piece. Never had that happen before.
Monopoly was the game most nights and everyone won one a round, except for me. Probably because I just want all the railroads. One night was Mexican train dominoes and we taught Steph how to play. Ethan kicked our butts in that game.
After the holiday festivities it was time for a little sight-seeing. First stop was the Desert Museum and the kids loved it. This turned out to be our favorite place we visited with a mix of scenic views and desert animals. More like a zoo with desert trails than a museum.
You don’t need to tell me. Coyotes give me the creeps and I definitely don’t want to be close enough to feed one. We heard them yipping and calling at night near the condo.
View of the valley from the Desert Museum with the sun rays shining through the clouds and Saguaros reaching out like fingers.
Steph was beyond excited by all the Saguaros and grinning ear to ear.
I liked the owl statue on one of the trails, the yellow flowers and the cactus skeleton. Ethan and Stephanie wanted their picture taken with all the big Saguaros, and we were able to each take a souvenir rock from the leftover mine tailings. Mining is big in Arizona with lots of copper, but also lots of different gemstones. Steph and I picked brilliant blue studded stones.
“Ho, Ho a Boojem” is our new fun phrase after seeing a Boojem tree, named after a reference in a Lewis Carroll poem. It’s an odd looking tree that is really a succulent. For all the fun we’ve had with the saying you’d think I’d have a picture to show for it. Nope. You’ll just have to Google up Boojem. Speaking of succulents, Ethan and Stephanie went wild for the cacti & succulent dish gardens in the gift shop and bought a nice big one to take home in a special airplane travel box.
We were also lucky enough to visit most of the animals right after feeding time. The Black bear was eating a fish and the wolves were munching on something we couldn’t make out.
We’re not sure what this lovely mountain lion had for lunch, but a lot of face washing was required.
Steph’s little pig-loving heart couldn’t get enough of the Javelinas which, by the way, are not pigs. They are peccaries. The coyote was in an enclosure so disguised that we felt like we could reach out and touch him. Then there were at least three kinds of humming birds – Rufous, Costa’s, and Trochilinae. I have a lot of photos of empty branches, since they’re so darn fast.
We also watched a training session with the bobcats. They give them little mouse treats (whole mice) to get them to go into cat carriers. The docent said this was to help them with vet visits and reduce their anxiety at examination time. At the end of the session they get a whole bird to crunch.
Hiking In Sabino Canyon
This outing was literally five minutes from the condo. We decided upon the Blackett’s Ridge trail with a good elevation change up the hillside and sweeping views of Tucson below. The looming rain turned us back when we started feeling the drops since we didn’t want to risk losing our footing on the slick rocks.
Momster and Dad with the valley below.
A few more views before the rain closed in.
Saguaro National Park
View on the east side of the national park.
The visitor center and all bathrooms were closed and locked due to the partial government shutdown, but we could still take the scenic drive and walk about.
A boy and his dad.
Posing with another big boy. So many arms on this one and likely 200 years old.
And the top of a rare cristate Saguaro. These have odd fan shapes at the top like the’re wearing a hat.
So Long, Farewell
What’s a vacation without a bad selfie? Honestly I should have let anyone else take this shot. It’s the only photo of the four of us, so it makes the cut. We’re back at the Tucson airport to bid a fond farewell to E and Steph. What a grand week it was and I think they had fun with us, too.
Time to bid farewell to 2018 as well. Next up – a recap of our 2nd year of travels and our plans for 2019. See you on the way!