Climb to Mt. Lemmon

 

So today, I climbed up a mountain. No really, I did. Not the entire 9000ft, obviously, but we climbed up some really awesome places when we stopped to get out. So here’s the recap of the Mt. Lemmon adventure.

And if you haven’t been and are in Tucson- get out there. Now. SO worth it.

So this morning Matthews, Lind, and I set off for Mt. Lemmon around 9am, blasting some music and swapping some stories. It was about a 30 minutes drive to the base of the mountain, I turned onto the Mt. Lemmon highway and we set off on our adventure to the top.

Starting temp: 82 Degrees. Elevation: 3000ft

We started driving through the crazy winding curves, and I was pretty sure I would end up driving off a cliff. I have never driven on a mountain before, and I was trying to look at the scenery and the road at the same time. I failed, so I just focused on the road around the curves.

Our first stop was maybe 10 minutes into the drive, we HAD to get out because we were already blown away by the scenery. It was still desert and cactus, but it was freaking amazing. So here was the first stop:

ImageImageImageImage And onwards we went. We drove for a bit more, watching as the temp kept dropping the higher we drove. We got out again around 5000ft, pulling into a little area with a lot of parking. There was a ledge you could look out and be tourist-y, but we went the scenic route in the opposite direction. We climbed up some rocks and stood on a ledge

Image

Lind on the ledge

Image

Checking out the scenery

We kept climbing, higher and higher. Every direction we looked, we saw something cool we wanted to check out- until we ended up way high in the air, far from where we’d parked, with a spectacular view.

ImageBut we had way more to go. So we kept going until we pulled off in Palasades, which had a little store in it. We walked in and looked around, and I found the cutest stuffed raccoon- and anyone that knows me knows that I squealed and hugged it. $8? Yeah. Yeah I’m gonna buy that shit. So the lady at the counter started talking to us and asked if we were military. Why yes. Yes we are. Then we learned that military get free annual passes to any federal park, for free. No cover charges, nothing. Grand Canyon? Free. WHAT. So she gave us passes and told us about some stuff further up the mountain- then off we went.

A while further we stopped in Summer Haven at this restaurant called The Saw Mill. It was like 10:40 and we were starving already. Their food is fantastic, they have an outside deck which we sat in and talked about how much we’d kill to live here. It was in the 70’s now, with an awesome breeze. The air was crisp, the food was awesome, and the nice cars driving by were turning heads.

In a food coma, we trudged back to the car and continued on. We reached 8000ft and saw a mini waterfall coming down the side of some rocks. LETS GO. So we pulled off to the little parking area and after a failed attempt at parallel parking, Lind took over and got us parked.

We set off following this little stream that was running down the rocks. We crossed it, and I slipped and got my feet soaking. The water was freezing, but it was awesome.

Image

We found a makeshift hut

 

ImageI found some crazy crystallized rocks and pocketed them. Then we found a pretty sweet ledge with breath-taking scenery. Though we were already out of breath from the climb.

ImageWe found a cave. A freaking cave. Yeah, we sat in that shit.

Image

Cavemen!

 

We noticed some water trickling down the side of the walk and decided we were determined to find it’s source. This is when we became badass rock climbers and worked together to get to the top of this giant rock. I got a few cuts and scrapes, but it was badass when we got to the top.

Image

Made it!

 

Image

 

fWe’d been going for awhile so we decided it was time to head back towards the car and keep climbing. On the way down I found a used condom (ew) but decided that is going on a bucketlist. Sex at 8000ft? WHY THE FUCK NOT.

We got back to the car and backtracked a bit, stopped at the general store, stopped to use the bathrooms, then went to the road that led to Ski Valley- apparently in the winter you get to ski like a mother fucker down the mountain.

We passed some signs that cautioned for bears- I wish! Sadly they did not make an appearance on our trip, but the thought that they were around was pretty cool.

At last we got to the very top at the mountain- you could drive no further. We parked and set off to get to the top and to the edge. We were gonna find this shit.

As we walked we were blown away, looking through the trees all you saw was white. We were in the clouds.

Image

Oh, hi cloud

Image

White stuff? A cloud

We trekked on, going through a path, then veering off it and climbing through ferns, fallen logs, and some rocks. At last it was in sight. We fucking made it to the top of Mt. Lemmon. Not just the top. The edge- looking out at the world. Or rather, the clouds.

Image

 

Image

9000ft baby

ImageEnding temp: 62 degrees. Elevation: 9000ft.

After sitting to take in the view, and enjoying our victory, we made our way back to the car. The drive down was SO much fun, I barely hit the gas, we were flying around the curves just from the descent of the mountain. About every mile the temperature jumped a degree and we realized it was going to be hot as hell when we got back down to Tucson.

We wound down the mountain, and as we reached a curve we went from crisp mountain air, pine trees, and greenery- to desert. In an instance. and also 73 degrees.

When we got back down to the desert floor is was 94 degrees and cactus galore- I already miss the mountain top.

All in all it was an amazing experience, and I can now say I climbed up to the top of a mountain. I will definitely be going back, and anyone that’s thinking about going- go. Just start driving.

 

Advertisements

 

Today I had my first day of FTAC- which is a week long of 9 hour days full of briefings and power points and networking. The joy. Just one more step to get through before I get to my job training and work towards getting my rating- which will no doubt be the hardest part of my career, since statistically half of us wash out (from the half of us that made it this far) and at my base there’s been an 80% washout rating. So I have my work cut out for me.

But right now as I’m sitting in Crave waiting out the storm and sipping my chai, I’m feeling pretty good. Later on I’m going to go shoot hoops with some of the guys from FTAC- or rather – they’re going to teach me how the fuck to not look like an idiot on the court. Then it’s shower bed and do it again for the next 4 days.

Tomorrow I have a belly dancing class I’m going to try to go to.

Things are looking up, even though it’s currently shit storming outside do to the monsoon that happened out of nowhere. Seriously I’m driving under crystal blue skies and BAM.

This shit

Image

Then 5 seconds after this pic it was twice as bad. Damn weather.

 

Anyway the point of this blog was to say thing are getting better, and I feel like I’m really starting to settle in. I’m meeting people, joking around, I have something to keep me busy every day, things to look forward to through the week- and this fantastic little cafe I’ve been coming to every day where the owner already recognizes me.

Life is looking up

– and just in time, because the rain is letting up and the sun is peaking back out

Exploration

Image

 

 

This morning I decided it was time to explore. I have the weekend off, my own car, a full tank of gas, and some money in the bank. So it was time to discover the new place I call home. I started the day with some good old Orange Juice, and coffee, because hey- I needed to be fueled. I went to the gym for half an hour and went to town on the treadmill, only because I learned the indoor pool is closed on weekend. Little things.

I came back to my dorm and showered, because holy shit I was sweating. Then I took my time dressing up. You never know what kind of situation you’ll run into and I did not want to be in a t-shirt and sweatpants for this adventure.

I was ready, and I was going.

I drove down Craycroft road, which was familiar to me from my half-assed explorations the day before. Then I kept going. And going. I drove towards the mountains, I followed signs, I made mental notes of the little shops I saw. I stopped in a park, Udell I believe, or something of the sort. I drove around it a bit and watched some lizards chase each other beneath a giant cactus. Literally, giant. It was like 3 of me combined.

I proceeded to stop at a dollar store because, oh shit, my dads birthday is coming up and I needed to buy a card.

Pit stop over I continued, following signs that read “Down Town Centro.” Pretty sure that’s the worst Spanglish sign, ever, but whatever. I followed it until I found myself speeding down a hill with some really bad concrete. Then bam. I was in downtown Tucson, or at least a part of it. The first thing I noticed? All the art on the walls. I wished I’d been able to stop and snap some pictures like a tourist, but alas I was going 40 and wasn’t sure where I was going, let alone where I could park. So I kept driving. Roadwork took me on a detour through a less than appealing neighborhood which I promptly exited, and then I was driving again. Taking mental notes of where things were.

I looked at the time. I’d been driving around for almost an hour. Holy shit.

So I took some wrong turns and then ended up on Stone st. Which I crossed my fingers would take me back to another street I was actually familiar with. I was fully equip with a GPS…just in case. But I wanted to figure this shit out on my own.

So I drove. And drove. And drove. I was basing my direction off a certain mountain….because it’s not like I was surrounded in mountains or anything. Heavy sarcasm, by the way.

Finally I saw a familiar street- Grant. Bam, turned onto that shit. And then I drove forever.

Somehow I found myself on Broadway again, which is the Mecca of all roads to me, simply because I know exactly how to get back to base from it. And also I use that as my point of reference when trying to find something. Hmmm…how close to broadway is it?

Back on base, I bought some groceries at the commissary like an adult and then ate the fuck out of a bagel back in my dorm. Because now it was noon, and I hadn’t eaten since 7am.

Then I napped.

When I woke up I remembered that tonight is the 2nd Saturday Downtown…which apparently is some cool event in downtown Tucson. Live shows, street vendors, food, the good stuff. So I said hell yeah I’m going.

So I change out of my dress and slipped into some leopard print shorts- because I don’t wear pants, and jean shorts are too plain. Dilema- it doesn’t start til 5:30.

So here I find myself, sitting in Crave, which is a fantastic coffee bar, sipping on a White and Dark mocha, and booking myself a bellydancing class for this Tuesday. That’s right.

So as I’m doing this, I’m thinking to myself

Maybe this isn’t so bad, after all…

Arizona Bound

 

Wow, it’s been real. This time tomorrow I will be on my way to Arizona to officially begin my career. Of course, there’s still hurdles to jump through like all the On the Job training I have to get through- but I know I’ll be okay.

It’s terrifying and exciting all at the same time. I can literally take any path I want for myself to make myself into something. There’s so much I want to do, so much to accomplish. So many options. I’ll have my own suite, my own car (which I just bought. 10pts for being a financially stable adult), my job, and my own life. I’ll be alone- for the most part except a few people I met in tech school- and I’ll be on my own two feet.

So as a pre-Arizona post I figured I’d lay out some goals for myself – short term mainly

First off, I want to get my budget figured out. See how much I have to spend for me after car payments, insurance, savings, food, phone bills, retirement, and shit like that.

When I figure it out, I need to go get my safety briefing so I can do unnecessarily dangerous things

Once that’s done, I’m going to start going to the fire spinning/dance classes nearby. I scoped it out. Tucson has a huge fire dancing community

I’m going to fucking rock that shit and buy my own fans. Maybe even a staff.

I’m going to build myself some roots in Arizona, make friends, find places, make it a place I want to be. A place I’m happy to be.

I’m going to rock my OJT and become a rated Controller

I’m going to work out and lose my tech-school weight

And I’m going to be a fucking boss.

Yes. That covers it.

Arizona here I come