Arizona Summer Adventures, Ep. 1: Chiricahua National Monument

Since I'm staying home this summer to do the literature review and start collecting data for my dissertation, I realized that given my propensity to focus primarily on work (and then have no energy for fun), I was going to need to aggressively schedule some fun to make sure I don't spend three months in the office and on the couch without realizing it. And we can't have that. It's about time I explore the state I've lived in for three years! Especially since, if all goes according to plan, this might be the last summer I spend as a resident of Arizona.

So today I went to Chiricahua National Monument, about an hour past Tuscon. It sits at the base of the Rocky Mountains, the top of the Sangre de Cristos, and right between two very different high deserts. This means that the flora and fauna often feel like a grab bag of everything from our backyard in Black Forest down to the shrublands in Mexico, sometimes right next to each other. Calvin Coolidge created the monument through executive order to protect the hoodoos and balancing rocks, and the trails were basically carved into the living rock by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

(mumbles something about the results of socialist post-Depression hiring programs and the most beautiful stone steps I've ever seen)

I got to the visitor center right as it opened, and joined some other hikers in taking advantage of a shuttle service the rangers were running up to the two most popular trail heads. Easily shaved three miles off my hike, for which I was very grateful.

I asked to be dropped off at Echo Point,

and started the 8.5 mile trek back to the visitor center. Here are a few brief snapshots of this spectacular place.

"I want to be beautiful, so I'm just filling up with beauty." - Glennon Doyle

"Places are for being." - Ron Swanson

(I'm pointing to the rock formation that looks like a face, if you couldn't tell)

"If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive." - Eleonora Duse

"May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi." - ancient Jewish blessing

I sure am.

Oh hey look I found the visitor center! Time to drive 3.5 hours back home for a shower ;)