I coordinated my trip to Arizona to coincide with my son’s family visit to Tucson, where we recruited the expert guiding services of my good friends Jeremy and Sarah,  for a hiking trip into Coronado National Forest – Madera Canyon.

Patty and Jeremy in Madera Canyon - Santa Rita Mountains, Coronado National Forest, Tucson AZ
Patty and Jeremy in Madera Canyon – Santa Rita Mountains, Coronado National Forest, Tucson AZ

The weather was beautiful, sunny and in the low 80’s.  We were coming from the frozen tundra, so had to adjust a bit to the heat, which kind off kicked our butts, but it sure did feel wonderful to be in the warm sunshine.

Hiking in Arizona, Andrew, Brea, Lola and PK

The hike was maybe 4 or 5 miles round trip, with some elevation gain and some exposure.  I was worried that the hike might be too difficult for my 6 year old granddaughter, but my fears were quickly put to rest, when she took the lead like an old hiking pro, not even hesitating at the “exposure” and barely breaking a sweat throughout the entire hike.  She is a born hiker!  It was the adults who were most affected by the heat and elevation.  We kept taking “rests” for Lola, but I’m pretty sure it was the old/out of shape folks who really needed it.

Jeremy and Sarah took us to the location in the canyon where they had their wedding and we were honored that they shared that special place with us.  It was a beautiful spot, and we were grateful that they took the day off of work to share in our adventure.  It has been about 5 years since I spent time with Jeremy and Sarah and it was great to catch up with them.

Andrew, Lola, Brea, Jeremy and Sarah enjoying Sonoran hot dogs
Andrew, Lola, Brea, Jeremy and Sarah enjoying Sonoran hot dogs in Tucson

After the hike we were rewarded with some AWESOME Sonoran hot dogs (hot dogs, wrapped in bacon with some spicing mayo dressing, topped with a bunch of condiments, hot peppers, etc. – how could that NOT be delicious) from a Mexican food truck in Tucson.

What I learned from this trip:

It is great to have the opportunity to spend time somewhere warm and sunny in the middle of winter!  Meeting up with family and friends made the adventure 100 times better.  The desert is beautiful and has wonderful hiking and camping opportunities.  We were only about 30 minutes outside of Tucson and were able to hike a trail with a true backcounty feel.

Andrew Brea and Lola in Madera Canyon
Andrew Brea and Lola in Madera Canyon

I also know in the deepest part of my soul that it is my job to make sure my grand children learn to experience, respect and gain renewal from being in the natural world.  I fully embrace this role and am excited about all the adventures to come with my grand children.

What I learned about myself:

It is really great to hike with family and friends.  I was amazingly lucky to be able to be in Arizona at the same time as Andrew, Brea and Lola.  Most often I visit them at their home, in the midst of their busy, working lives.  It was wonderful to spend time with them while they were “on vacation” too.  A great time was had by all!!!

Andrew, Lola and Grandma in Madera Canyon, Tucson AZ
Andrew, Lola and Grandma in Madera Canyon, Tucson AZ

And it is great that I have friends who live there that really know how to show you a good time (Andrew, I added that for you); love to hike, are funny and interesting and truly generous.  Thanks so much to Jeremy and Sarah for being such great friends, and thanks to Andrew and Brea who took time out of their vacation to go hiking with this old lady!  I love you guys.

Some thoughts for you:

Think of your friends that live in interesting places and plan an adventure with them.  Every part of this country has beautiful and natural spaces that can renew your spirit.  Your friends will be glad to show you the wonderful adventures available in their neck of the woods (or desert, or mountains).

Remember —  Get out there and have fun!!!!

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