Camping At Catalina State Park

Second adventure: My Honda Element “camper” camping this time was to see how comfortable I would be sleeping with my bicycle and that gear also packed into the back area of the car. Plus, I wanted to determine if the additional thermamest I added did provide more cushioning under me for my sleeping comfort. So off I went to Catalina State Park, north of Tucson, AZ.

I arrived in the late afternoon, walked to other campgrounds for RV’s and see the park layout, checked out the very clean restroom and shower building, walked the bridle trail to other hiking trails, talked with bicyclists who pedaled in, and then set up my sleeping area in my car for the night. I added a 3/4 length thermamest to my bed padding since the last time sleeping out the bed reminded me of the very hard ones I slept on when in China! 

After eating my dinner and talking with my neighbor who kindly offered their chili, I walked up the ridge behind my car overlooking our campground. As I looked down on the vehicles, in this no water or electricity per site and/or tenting area, I had to chuckle as I searched for where my car “camper” was located. My Honda Element was dwarfed by the vans and trailers, all self-contained vehicles. Across the campground most tents were in a grassy area. Since I was not setting up a tent and wanted to park near my picnic table this was my best spot.

A few of us were standing on the ridge as we watched the sunset. People always find my story interesting in how I sleep in the back part of my car, even with a bicycle, and still can pack all my gear in the car too. The sunset was beautiful and we all stayed awhile and talked. The group of eight were from northern Arizona and pleasant people.

Camping always has its challenges, but the good news: my sleeping area was more comfortable with the additional Thermarest layer and I can also use it in my tent when I sleep there. Being outdoors all day with no protection from the wind left me truly wind-blown! I was glad it was not raining, but I could not keep my stove’s flame efficient in the wind. Fortunately I had other food needing no cooking to eat for breakfast. 

Most fascinating observation: at the top of the ridge there was a huge rock to sit on, yet one could not miss the perfectly-ground hole in it. I believe grain was ground in this hole at some point in time.

Next camping trip, working with my new stove and an idea I will try out for doing my laundry while driving! Hmmm… wonder which direction I will go next? Plus, I would like to sleep in my tent too so it seems it will be to a location or two where I will spend sometime, maybe birding also! Are you taking advantage of the outdoors? I hope you can!

What’s In Your Backyard?

Often we live in an area and do not spend time discovering what is nearby. We hear people talk about living in a town for years and not realizing an interesting or beautiful place is just down the road. I always find this tragic as people miss opportunities to learn or enjoy places right in their backyard!

Catalina State Park was one of those places for me so I took time to visit it and actually will return in a few weeks to camp there. This state park is located within a national forest: Coronado, where we had a horrific wildfire burning here a couple of years ago. Many acres of land were burned, forcing wildlife to flee, and still some trails are closed due to the potential of flood waters carrying forest debris down the streams causing mudslides onto trails and roads. But the hiking I did was on three one-mile open trails: an interpretive trail, birding trail and nature trail and fortunately all accomplished with few rain drops.

The Romero Ruin interpretive trail is a loop through the site where a historic ranch and Hohokam village once stood. The signage along the trail helped one understand the advantages of the site’s location, the housing, ball court and trash mound so all the fallen rock walls we saw made sense as we walked the trail.

On the birding trail you see many remaining charred trees with grasses and shrubs growing back. Few birds were seen, yet I did get a chance to photograph one, a northern cardinal.

On our way out of the park we spotted a red-tailed hawk.