“I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name, it felt good to be out of the rain” – America
Miles traveled: 0.0
Today was a great day in the desert! I slept in this morning, caught up on a few emails and AC repair estimates before heading over to Saguaro National Park. The park has two sections – an east side and west side. I already had plans in the east side of the park for later in the day, so I headed over to the west side, which is the Tucson Mountain district, to do some hiking and rattlesnake avoidance training. Kidding about the snakes. If I had seen one, I’d already be at my next stop in San Diego!
Finally made it to the park and got a few suggestions from the park ranger and was on my way. I drove the ‘scenic’ road – which means it was not paved – and took 2 separate hikes, totaling up to just under 6 miles for the morning. The park is home to quite a few varieties of cacti, but it is the only place in the country where you will find the Saguaro cactus. It is the largest cacti in the nation, the symbol of the American West, and some are over 350 years old. Hard to imagine something surviving for that length of time is such a dry place. While hot, the hikes were great and one even led me through rattlesnake country (ew) to a few petroglyphs, which was pretty cool to see. Arizona desert really is a beautiful landscape, and it was a beautiful morning to be outdoors.
After my hikes, I finished up the scenic drive and headed back to the hotel to change for my next activity. Next up on the agenda was a horseback ride in the east side, the Rincon Mountain district, with Houston’s Horseback Riding. Houston’s is a family run business, led by a 3rd generation Tucson native by the name of Bobbi Houston. I had emailed Bobbi the day before to see if they had any space for the afternoon ride today (if you recall, my plans were changed and I spent an extra day in Tucson). She was kind enough to squeeze me into what was already a fairly big group for the day, especially given the time of year. I pulled up to the property, which was a great piece of land near the National Park, and walked up to meet my date for the evening, Neil. I was ‘warned’ that Neil was a big snacker on the trail and to do my best to prevent him from eating, which of course reminded me of Lucky, a handsome and sweet, slow-moving horse that I used to ride at the hunt club. Lucky was a huge fan of some sugar cane, and on some rides we spent more time snacking on the sugar cane than moving in a forward direction. I was hopeful that I would be able to prevent Neil from doing too much snacking on the trail!
We took off on the trail (total, I think it was a group of 14 people) and headed out on a 2-hour trail ride through the Sonoran Desert and Rincon Mountain side of the Saguaro National Park. It was a beautiful evening, and I witnessed one of the most incredible desert lightning storms (and thunderstorm – it’s monsoon season in Arizona) off in the not so distant distance. Truthfully, the storm was miles away. And it was quite a sight. We did get a tad bit of rain on the way back to the property, but I barely noticed it, and much cooler temperatures than the 100 degrees I experienced on my hikes earlier in the day. You will not hear me complain at all about that! After the trail ride, I had the opportunity to talk with Bobbi to learn a little more about the property and the business. Family businesses are great, especially those that are started very organically. She has a passion for horses, and said that years ago some folks began asking her to teach their kids to ride, and the horseback riding business evolved from there. I loved the piece of property and only wish I had arrived earlier than I did so I could get some pictures of it. There were quite a few old trucks and vehicles on the property that had weathered and aged perfectly – Bobbi explained that her husband was a bit of a collector and always brought new items home (she laughed and said she thinks he may be a bit of a hoarder)! She was a super kind person and I had a blast on the horseback ride! So friends, if you are ever in the Tucson area, look them up, Houston’s Horseback Riding – worth every penny!
Until next time…