Living in the desert in the summer can be a form of sensory deprivation. The sky becomes so pale it’s almost white, the brightness of the sun is unrelenting and all the colors are muted. Nothing has scent in the desert until it gets wet and our blessed summer monsoon season hasn’t yet begun.
Tucson is in a valley surrounded on all sides by mountains and in less than an hour, you can be in a pine forest 30 degrees cooler than the desert floor. On Saturday, we took a drive to up to Mt. Lemmon, a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
It doesn’t look like much of a mountain from here. You would never know from this view that there’s a pine forest up there.
The road is twisty but it’s an amazing view if you don’t get car sick.
As you make the climb, the landscape starts to change from desert scrub…
to pine forest! And if you do tend to get carsick, you can always let your 5-year-old take the pictures.
The Catalina Highway is so steep that bicyclists use it to train. Better them than me.
Before you know it, you’re in the forest listening to the sound of the wind through the trees and remembering what green smells like. It’s an easy place to find God.
There’s lots to do in the forest…
So much to explore…
My daughter got some sap on her hand and freaked out because she didn’t know what it was! We need to get out of the desert more often.
Then, we drove up the mountain a little further to explore the little town of Summerhaven, which was decimated by a forest fire 11 years ago. You can see how long it takes a mountain to recover.
We went straight to the Cookie Cabin where a family of 4 can split one cookie (as long as two of them are under the age of 6).
See, they have small mouths.
And I couldn’t forget to take a selfie to remind myself what I look like when I’m refreshed, rejuvenated and satisfied.