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

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Lind on the ledge

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Made it!

 

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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.

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Oh, hi cloud

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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.

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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.

 

Two Weeks of Goodbyes

Two Weeks.

That is exactly how long I have left until I leave this chapter of my life behind and start my new journey as an American Airman.

The thought of this is still unreal to me, and I’m waiting for it to sink in completely. I walk into my very empty room and look around at the few decorations and photographs I’ve left up
and think to myself “this isn’t my room anymore.” Of course, in ways it will always be -my- room, but for all intensive purposes, it no longer is. I wont be coming home to this room, I wont be covering the wall in more photographs or posters. I wont curl up in my bed after a long day and sleep. I wont have these comforting walls to run to when I need to escape the overwhelming reality that might be facing me. My safe haven, my room, my belongings- I have to part with.

As I go through my things and wonder what I should keep for my future self and what I should part with, little voices inside tell me that there is a good chance I’ll never use these things again. Not for several years. Sometimes, this is a depressing thought. I’m sentimental, I want all of my pictures, letters,  knick-knacks, and presents with me all the time. If I miss someone I want to be able to touch some sort of physical reminder of our relationship, friendship, or a memory we shared. It keeps me connected with people, it keeps them near to me even if they are thousands of miles away.

But in other ways, it’s freeing. I have a new start, a way to start from scratch. Build my own life, and then when I’m settled, bring these pieces from my past back in. I waiver back and forth between sadness and excitement at my future constantly.

Then I stop to think- I’m not the only one affected by this. I’m saying goodbye to all of these people that I hold so dearly- but at the same time, I’m forcing them to say goodbye to me. I worked into their lives, and then suddenly I’m leaving for an unknown amount of time. Yes, it’s life. But it’s also painful.

Which is why for the next two weeks, I’m going to dedicate my blogging to letters to individual people. Thanking them, reminiscing of our memories, and letting them know why they are so special to me. I want everyone to know what they mean to me, and what they’ve taught me.

With that said- I’ll begin today with my first letter letter.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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My mom, dad, sister, and me at my dads graduation.

Dear Mom and Dad,

  I know I need to start this letter with a thank you. No matter how many fights we’ve gotten in, how many times we’ve butt heads, disagreed, and so on- I’m still grateful for both of you. For a lot of reasons. Even if I don’t act like it, I am. the older I’ve gotten the more I recognized the things you did for me, the things you tried to do for me, and the intentions behind your actions. Even if you didn’t know how to respond to things I did or said, and even if I didn’t turn out to be the daughter you envisioned I would- I know you both still tried, and a lot of what you did- you did for me.

My teenage bitterness and anger turned into appreciation and gratitude when I saw the things you did for me, and the way you’ve raised me. I’m forever grateful that I was raised with the manners, respect, and compassion that I have. It has gotten me far in life, and I know it will continue to do so. You taught me to work hard and always do my best at everything, you taught me to be kind to people even if they weren’t kind to me. You taught me how to be respectful and grateful. You taught me so much that I didn’t realize- until I realized that not everyone behaves the way I do. My attitude in the outside world is a reflection of how I was raised. And while their may have been faults in my childhood, they only served to shape me. And I thank you for that, because I know I could have been so much worse off.

I know there are things that I do and paths that I’ve chosen that you don’t necessarily agree with, and some that possibly even disappoint you. But I hope that throughout my life I still manage to do things that please you and make you proud of me, as well- and I hope that down the line when I’m living my dreams and doing what I love, you’ll be able to smile and proudly say that I’m your daughter.

Thank you for everything you’ve done for me, and everything you’ve given to me. And thank you for taking care of my beloved babies Quinn, Halo, and Azera- while I’m away on my trips, and off to the Air Force.

Love,

   Your Nena, Iiae.

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My dad and I, when I was around 1yr.

My mom and I this year, when I took her to see Pat Benatar, Journey, and Loverboy

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My dad and I at the Emilie Autumn concert this year

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My mom and I at my Great Grandmothers house