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The Lost Dutchman State Park and Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Freedom! How sweet is the taste of freedom! Being on the road again melts all my past fear away. I encourage each of you to give yourself the taste of freedom, whatever that may mean to you.

While having my coffee just before I left Gina's house, I decided to check out the Lost Dutchman State Park on the way to Tucson. As I get closer to the park, the dramatic view reveals a range of mountains all around me, but one section is unique and stands very clear from the rest of its neighbors. They are the Superstition Mountains.

It is so beautiful that I decided to stop at the ranger station to check if any campsites are available. They are fully booked, but they have one spot on a first-come, first-served basis, so I take it.

The weather is calling for a 47% chance of rain, but my optimistic side sees 53% of no rain. Therefore, the ranger advised me to take the Treasure Loop Trail due to the chance of rain, instead of my initial plan to hike the Superstition Trail. Well, halfway as I get to the top of the trial before descending, the skies open. Rain mixes with hail, and throws in the wind, which adds an interesting flavor to my hike. I quickly put on my poncho, but it is not covering me entirely, and the wind is blowing the hood constantly. The first part of this hike was stunning, but I couldn't accurately report the other half since I couldn't see anything but raindrops on my glasses. It's cold and miserable; putting on gloves is useless. Just as I get down and enter the bathroom to dry myself off and stay out of the rain, the weather changes and the sun comes out.

I find my camping spot and park my car. It's already three in the afternoon, but the sun is so nice and warm, I decided to hike as much as the day would let me on the Superstition Trail. As I walk, a hummingbird welcomes me to this beautiful place. This mountain range definitely has its own character, and the majestic view around me melts my heart.

I return to my site just in time for a sunset performance, "The Sky on Fire."

Even though it's cold and windy, cooking dinner is so peaceful and delicious!

That night I decided my next stop would be Catalina State Park. Looking at the map, a drive to Mount Lemmon should be pretty close.

By the time I get to Catalina State Park, it's already late afternoon. Unfortunately, the luck I had the night before was not meant for this park. Getting a camping spot as I arrived in person blew away with the wind. If you read my previous post, you will know I am traveling with the wind for the next few days. I just meant it poetically, not wishing for the wind to be part of my travel, but I don't have control of the weather.

Traveling with no plans can be thrilling, but I am not sure it is the most thoughtful way for me. For example, if I did the basic research, I would know that Mount Lemmon just looks close to Catalina State Park, but the road leading to it is an hour and a half away. At this time of year, the road is often closed due to the snow.

Time to make quick decisions and change my plans, I called an RV park just outside of Tucson that Ramona recommended to me when she visited this area. I am looking for a spot with electricity to plug in my heating blanket. The weather is calling for another rainy night and it is a smart move if I can avoid boondocking on a rainy day. My safety comes before any adventure.

I still had a few hours of sun, so I headed to Saguaro National Park. The park has two visitor centers which are almost an hour apart. I chose to visit the Red Hills Visitor Center. (If you have time, watch the 15-minute movie. The surprising ending is clever.) After that, I drove the short scenic dirt road that led to several hiking trails. Since I don't have much time, I take two short hikes. One is to see petroglyphs.

Walking among the Saguaro cactus is like visiting an art gallery with the same theme presented by a different artist. The creations are magnificent!

I spent the night at El Pais Motel & Campground. What a pleasant and unique place to camp. It is more like a community type of campground. I was able to cook my dinner indoors and enjoy meeting other travelers.

I woke up surprised to find a fresh layer of snow on my car. It is so nice to know Toni (the owner) provides coffee and fresh eggs from the chicken roaming around, so I don't have to deal with making breakfast outside.

My plan for today is to visit Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Honestly, it was just OK. It is time to go and find a spot for the night to boondock. I find a semi-private spot where I feel comfortable parking for the night.

The cold weather forced me into my car by the early evening. The temperature drops to 28 degrees in the middle of the night. I don't want to take my chances and set my warming blanket on high to find out that it drains my power station. The medium setting is not enough in this cold temperate. I remind myself that it's better than a hot, sweaty night to help comfort me.

Due to the extreme cold, my morning coffee and breakfast are in a gas station. The bathroom in the gas station will be good enough to prepare for the day ahead. The things I never even considered will be part of my life, adding an interesting experience.

The main idea when I decided to go on my travel was to follow the warm weather and not let the cold fronts follow me;. Oh well...

I am now sitting in one of the libraries in Tucson, enjoying writing my journal and trying to do a bit more research for my next day's travel.



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