Leaving Tucson is always hard. Honestly, leaving any place is hard, but since Tucson (and the surrounding areas) is the single place where we spend the most time, it’s exceptionally hard to leave behind. We have friends, we have the city figured out, and it’s the most beautiful desert there is.
But it was getting hot, and we had play dates in the north. So, after day of errands in town, we towed the Scamp up to Picacho Peak State Park, just south of Phoenix where we were able to sneak in a quick hike up the peak (Trails closed at sunset, 6:59, and we finished at 6:57) and grab a shower before calling it an early night for an early departure the next day.
I like to use the arrival and departure from Tucson as an event that involves reflection on the past summer/winter. A chance to look back on the things I did, the goals I accomplished, and the things that I didn’t get around to.
This year, winter in Tucson flew by much faster than past. We did arrive 19 days after our usual arrival time of November 1st. We did leave 13 days early from our usual departure date of May 1, and I did spend 10 days in Boulder over Christmas, a week there to take Sparkles up there, and another 2.5 weeks there dog sitting, but still, mid-April came up so fast it felt like it smacked me in the face.
So first I think back to what I didn’t get a chance to do. The running traverse of the Catalinas. Hiking the Huachuca Crest. A silly trip up Tumomoc Hill. I didn’t ride Bugs/Prison Camp/Millie, or at Sweetwater, or Ridgeline. I also didn’t ride Fantasy Island, but I haven’t ridden Fantasy Island since moving to Tucson.
And then I think about the things that I did get around to. I got to run Agua Caliente twice. I ran Wasson countless times. I bikepacked in the Gila. I showed many people from out of town around Starr Pass. I went running on the Starr Pass trails that I have no interest in taking a bike on. I ran my Tucson Mountains Traverse and didn’t die. I learned many of the common birds in Southern Arizona, got to see three Elegant Trogons, a Green Kingfisher, and can now identify a handful of birds by their song alone.
We bought the Scamp. This was a lifelong dream come true. And we pared down our belongings to fit into said 13-foot Scamp and our minivan.
And I found a stray dog and found her a new home. If I think back to what I’ll remember the winter of 2015/16 for, it’ll be the Sparkles dog, and all of the stress, heartbreak, and eventual happiness that she caused.
We rolled out of Picacho at sunrise the next morning, hoping to beat the heat to the big hills leading up to Flagstaff. We were leaving the Sonoran Desert behind, and while I was sad to bid farewell to the final saguaros north of PHX, I was unbelievably excited about what lay ahead.