Labor Day 2016

My daughter’s family and I were going to have a picnic on the back of Mt. Lemmon, at the Peppersauce Canyon picnic grounds.  The elevation is 4,000 feet, so this northeastern corner of the Santa Catalina greenMountains is definitely an escape from 100-degree heat, even without the forest. Beautiful sycamore trees (18 feet and more in circumference and up to 40 feet tall!1) there, with lots of shade.

But my youngest grandson was sick (germs from the jumping castle at the birthday party he went to yesterday?), with grey circles under his eyes, so he slept all day, we had our picnic lunch inside at my daughter’s, as the high was 102°, then spent the day in the pool, peppersauce-entrancealthough the water was “chilly” (below 80°).

When my children were young,  we went to Peppersauce Cave, a mile and a half up the road from the camp. It is just upstream from a stone bridge and has its own dramatic appeal1. The cave is not lovely, like Colossal Cave, which is beautiful.  (I would highly recommend it.)  You have to crawl through a small opening (photo from the Net, with opening circled in red), and the cave is pitch black, and muddy.  No marvelous looking stalactites and stalagmites, just mud and rooms to explore.  The kids loved it, but we had to have a change of clothes to get back into the car afterwards.

Next Day

Hurricane Newton was supposed to sweep up from Mexico with 75 mph winds and two months of rain in hours.  Not a drop.  But dark clouds billowed in from the west, covered the sky, and ate the mountains.  Nothing past the flat landscape of low trees but grey.  If it had been green you’d have thought that a movie was being made and the background hadn’t been added in yet.  Then a cliff poked out from the clouds and you realized, the mountains are BIG!

The view cut off reminded me of staying in an apartment my brother had rented in San Francisco, before he had a wife and kids.  It was on the second floor, and the windows looked out to a ventilation shaft, with facing windows about six feet away; most rain didn’t even penetrate.  You had no idea what the weather was like (this way before cell phones), and SF’s weather varies greatly from day to day.  So I had to run downstairs and out the front door to see if the sun were shining or if it was cold.

Day After That

Early morning (4 am?) I woke to the light patter of rain on the skylights.  Most of the day there was a mist we used to call Hawaiian mist (in Hawaii), or light rain, more like Michigan than our summer monsoons.  Good for our plants, which need daily watering in our hot, hot, hot weather, but not lasting in the sand this housing development is built upon.  (If I had been planting the garden, I’d have dug huge holes in the sand and filled them with topsoil before planting.)

My Desert

Antelope-squirrelA chipmunk in my yard this morning, but we call them Harris’s antelope squirrels.  Rarely see one in Tucson.  He was cornered (and really cute), so I had to herd him out under the gate (which may be how he got in).  I, of course, didn’t think first to grab my camera.  The photo and this from the Desert Museum’s web site2:

  • It is not unusual to see these squirrels in a plant such as barrel cactus eating the fruit. It is not know how they avoid the sharp spines of the cactus.
  • These squirrels practice what is known as “heat dumping“. When their body temperature reaches its upper limits they will get into a cool shady spot and lay down spread-eagle with their belly pressed against the cool ground. This releases the heat from its body to help cool the animal down.

1http://tucsoncitizen.com/morgue/2007/07/16/57157-it-s-cool-shady-in-peppersauce-canyon/
2https://www.desertmuseum.org/kids/oz/long-fact-sheets/Harris’s%20Antelope%20ground%20Squirrel.php

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One Response to “Labor Day 2016”

  1. Jim Says:

    European homes for hundreds of thousands of years pg evolution were caves. We have come a long way, but still instinctively love being in caves.

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