Romero Pools, Catalina State Park

Are you looking for a challenging hike? Romero Pools should be on your checklist! This out and back hike will get your heart pumping with the estimated 1,000 foot elevation gain in only 2.5 miles. Talk about your stair-master! The payoff? Romero Pools.

Montrose Pools

Here’s the low down on this up hill climb. It is a mile from the parking lot along Romero Canyon Trail toward Montrose Pools. This is a great stop off before you attempt the rest of the hike to Romero Pools. Montrose Pools are dry much of the year, but during the monsoons and in the spring you will be treated to a wonderful “mini-Romero” experience.

Romero Pools

Now, on to the hard part (it’s worth it, trust me). Some people claim that this is a moderate hike, but in my hiking journal this is a bear of a hike. For 75% of this trail you will be stepping up and scrambling over rocks. It took two attempts before I actually made it to the pools. When we got there we were pressed for time and weren’t able to spend any time there. The cooler temperatures kept us out of the water as well. With that said, the pools are amazing. The water tumbles over huge boulders then crashes down waterfall. I could have stayed for a couple of hours.

Made it to Romero Pools!

There are a few things you should note before you head out.

First (and most important) take plenty of water. Seeing people with a single bottle of water makes me worry. Desert hiking is DEHYDRATING. Your body will lose more water than you can imagine and fast too. We don’t head out with less than 2 liters (about a half gallon) of water each, along with at least a quart of hydration water. If the temperatures are going to be above 80 degrees we take even more.

Second, leave Fido at home. This is a wildlife management area for the big horn sheep. You can have Fido with you up to the turnoff point of going up to Romero or right to Montrose, but no further. You’ll see the signs.

Third, you have to cross Oro Canada Wash which will have foot soaking water in it about half the year. You can take off your hiking boots to cross barefoot, or bring a couple of bread bags to put over your shoes to keep them dry.

Getting here is easy. Just take Highway 77 (Oracle Road) to Oro Valley, AZ. Catalina State Park is well marked. There is an entrance fee. The parking lot is large and the road also has room to park along when the lot gets full (usually in the spring on weekends). The trailhead is right off the parking lot. Total out and back is 7.3 miles.

Happy Hiking!!

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Quire, Quiddity, Quixotic, Qi, and Qat

Words that have the letter Q in them are worth the most in Scrabble (Z ties it). I went online to see what the value was (it’s been a while since I played the game) and I found some interesting trivia about Scrabble and the letter Q.

First off, there are lists upon lists of words to aid you in your quest for the high value tiles. If you have a Q on your rack you actually do not need a U to succeed. But, only 5% of the words that have a Q can live without the U. If you pop over to you will find several lists of using the letter Q without a U. I haven’t heard of most of these words, but if you are a Scrabble Queen you’ll want to keep this link handy. Want a full list of words with a Q anywhere in the word? has you covered.

Now if you want to learn from a pro about each letter in the game, head over to Will Anderson’s You-Tube channel (I linked to Q, but you can browse his channel for other letters). After watching his seven minute video (OK, I actually skimmed it), the biggest takeaway came in the first 60 seconds. Spoiler alert! Mr. Anderson rates the Q as the absolute worst tile to have out of all of them. I may have to agree.

I did find that Q is worth 10 points so if you have one, play it early. If it is left at the end of the game your opponent will gain 20 points. OUCH! If you find yourself stuck with a Q just remember two simple words: Qi and Qat. Either that or just trade it in and hope for an E.

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Prickly Pear

For today’s post I am going to dive into the Prickly Pear (Opuntia). It is large cactus with paddle like leaves. They grow abundantly in Arizona and across most of the hot, arid states of the southwest and Mexico. They are easy to propagate and grow. The well known prickly pear fruit is used in jellies, syrups,

Thornless Prickly Pear

In my own neighborhood there are hedges made exclusively of thornless prickly pears. One neighbor’s hedge is over 8 feet high. Interestingly, the thornless variety was born through careful breeding by Luther Burbank in the latter part of the 1800’s (you can read his entire story here). He had hoped that the spineless breed would give grazing cattle a supplement for their water needs. As it turns out, he could not permanently breed out the thorns. If a cactus faces stress it will push out a most prickly pin cushion.

One of the wonderful aspects of prickly pears is the fruit. The easy part is knowing that all species of prickly pear fruit (and the whole plant!) is non-toxic and quite delicious to eat. The hard part? Harvesting them. A woman here in Arizona uses a set of long hot dog tongs and a plastic bucket.

My personal favorite way to harvest them is at the store after all the thorns are removed. I have an aversion to wandering off the beaten path, into the desert, with scorpions and rattle snakes. I like to stay far away from the things that are poisonous.

Bonus! These beauties are good for you too! They aren’t classified as a super food, but they should be. High in fiber, antioxidants, and carotenoids they rank right up the with the best of the green foods. It is promoted for treating diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity and hangovers. It’s also touted for its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. I think I’ll start eating these by the basket full and live to be 110! Before you go too crazy munching on these, be aware that your stomach may need a little bit of time to get used to the fiber.

The prickly pear cactus is also a nice place for pack rats and other rodents to build their homes. It is a great place for them to nestle in for the winter months and find a protected place from their various predators.

Although this plant looks intimidating it is worth getting past that and discover all that you can do with it. Whether you make smoothies from the fruit or toss a salad with parts of the paddles, you will have a plant that just keeps on giving. Just beware of the thorns. They are sharper than you can imagine.

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Oracle State Park

What a find! This is one of the quietest hiking areas I have been to here in Arizona. Not only is there no traffic noise, but there is little foot traffic.

When arriving to the park you are greeted by the Mediterranean style Kannally Ranch House built in the late 1920’s. It is open to the public to wander through the rooms which have the history of the building on display. The smell of old paper and the creaking of the wood plank floors will take you back in time. My suggestion is to enjoy one of the many hikes throughout the park then wander through the ranch house after. With tables in the shade, and a lovely garden on a lower level it is the perfect end to a great hike.

The hikes are under a wide open sky varying between easy and moderately easy. If you are looking for a challenge you may want to head over to Catalina State Park and do the Romero Pools Trail. What I like about these trails is the length of the trails which range from the simple 1 mile Nature Trail loop to 10 mile out and back trails. Our personal favorite is the Windmill Loop. Until we found our bearings, it took a few trips to actually get to the windmill.

On occasion, the park is open after dark for Night Skies. The night shy has a little bit of light pollution out of Tucson, but not enough to interfere with the beauty of the Milky Way. Call ahead to see when the park is open for star gazing.

The shade there is limited so be sure to wear a hat and have plenty of water if the day is hot. Oracle State Park is at 4500 feet so the temperatures are a little cooler than down in Tucson. To reach the park take Highway 77 (Oracle Road) north out of Tucson to Oracle, AZ. Follow the signs to the park entrance.

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Nelson Lake, Illinois

Nelson Lake is a tiny spit of a lake nestled in a quiet corner of Kane County, Illinois. It is a marsh nature preserve with an easy walking trail that circles it. Last year I visited my sister who took my husband and I to enjoy the perfect weather, fall vibrancy, and the large number of water fowl that enjoy the lake on their migrations south.

If you are ever in the area, this is a lovely place to take a break from the hustle of daily living. You will enjoy the rustle of the breeze sifting through the grass and the call of geese, swan, and heron.

Nelson Lake is about 35 miles east of Chicago near Batavia, Illinois. We accessed the park from the small lot off Nelson Lake Road. The path leading out is easy to find. Everyone of any age will enjoy this flat, 2.5 mile loop.

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A Flash Fiction Story

Beerus’ mother stopped giving him the medication months ago. Synthetic inhibitors were Satan’s work. She knew he would be better off to come into his power as the Goddess had meant, naturally. It is a mother’s choice to see her son grow to be a strong god. The inhibitors only suppressed his potential. Besides, he was just a child. What’s the worse that could happen?

“Your Highness, I am sorry. I didn’t know.”

King Everclear sighed as he watched the bits of Earth float around the sun, “I warned you about the dangerous game you were playing. Putting power in the hands of a child was a temper tantrum waiting to happen.”

A note to readers:
Beerus and King Everclear are a part of the Dragon Ball world. I am not a follower of the Dragon Ball stories and games, but I needed characters who would fit the bill on this story of a mother who goes against her husband’s wishes by allowing her toddler to have too much freedom (the medication is a metaphor for the suppression of freedom and freewill) leading to the inevitable, planet destroying temper tantrum. After all, as every mother knows, toddlers invariably throw them as if their world is collapsing.

This flash fiction story is brought to you by the letter M and…

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Lately I have been languishing over the letter ‘L’. It is a simple little letter who, when not capitalized, is just a line. L, l, line.

So many lovely words begin with ‘L’; like, loyal, lucky, laugh, luscious, lavish and so many more. ‘L’ is also the first letter for some less than loathsome words; lost, lame, lonely, licentious, livid, lousy, and listless are just a few.

L is not quite the middle of the alphabet, but it is only a single spot away which leaves the poor L not the center of anything very lavish unless you’re talking about helix, agley, folio, igloo, or zilch.

As I ponder this lost little letter I am reminded that without it, there would be no lions, only ions, and any luck would turn into uck.

So, I am thankful for this little fellow of a letter.

It is as lovely as a lilac on a lonely road in Louisiana.

This post is brought to you by the letter L and…

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The other day a friend posted that one of their favorite words is kerfuffle because it was a party on her mouth to just say the word. So today, I give you:


Say it with me: Kerfuffle.

Say it four times, really fast: Kerfuffle, Kerfuffle, Kerfuffle, Kerfuffle.

Straight from Merium Webster

kerfuffle: noun

ker·​fuf·​fle kər-ˈfə-fəl 

plural: kerfuffles

a disturbance or commotion typically caused by a dispute or conflict

It’s not the only school with dress code issues; almost every week there’s a local story about some kerfuffle over what kids wear to school.—Belinda Luscombe

The Evolution of Kerfuffle

Fuffle is an old Scottish verb that means “to muss” or “to throw into disarray”—in other words, to (literally) ruffle someone’s (figurative) feathers. The addition of car-, possibly from a Scottish Gaelic word meaning “wrong” or “awkward,” didn’t change its meaning much. In the 19th century carfuffle, with its variant curfuffle, became a noun, which in the 20th century was embraced by a broader population of English speakers and standardized to kerfuffle, referring to a more figurative feather-ruffling. There is some kerfuffle among language historians over how the altered spelling came to be favored. One theory holds that it might have been influenced by onomatopoeic words like kerplunk that imitate the sound of a falling object hitting a surface.

Synonyms of kerfuffle Just click back there on that there kerfuffle link.

Here are a few of the synonyms that I thought were fun:
Be sure to check out the entire list of 95 synonyms. You’ll be glad you did.

I hope your day is not filled with actual kerfuffling, but if you say it enough times, really fast, as you walk through the mall, I’m sure the looks you get will make you laugh all day.

Today’s post is brought to you by the letter K and by:

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Art Journaling

Journaling is something I have tried to do, but whenever I got started it seemed to slip away. I’d find the book months later with two or three entries and a hundred blank pages. It seemed daunting to have to think of something to write about every day (and here I am doing a daily blogging challenge LOL).

Recently I discovered Art Journaling. It was a game changer.

Art journaling is a visual diary that lends itself to a vast array of creative possibilities. It is a very relaxing way to shed some of life’s ups and downs. It is a way to express the day with a variety of art choices. What I really like about it is that this is a place to scribble, scratch, or freely draw, paint, or paste anything and everything. There are art journals I have seen that are a combination of drawing and writing. The possibilities are vast.

My first Art Journal. I glued mages on that I found online to the cover.

My first journal was small (5×5 inches) and filled mostly with sketching and watercolor. I like the smaller journal because I don’t put self inflicted pressure on myself to draw big. I am able to do smaller works that are finished in a day. Having the internet at my finger tips also opened a whole world of art tutorials. You-tube has an extensive library of art lessons that even the most beginner art journalist can follow. If you do a search on Art Journaling on You-Tube you will have a long list to choose from.

Happy Mistakes everywhere! This is the first journal page I did. All of the sketches are done by following a step-by-step tutorial.

The biggest lesson for me to learn is to allow for all those “happy mistakes”. Everything in life is a learning process and art is no exception. Those happy mistakes are perfect in an art journal because this is a place you can be free of judgement. The only person you will share your journal with is yourself.

If you decide to start your own journal remember to have fun. This is play time not real life. Allow yourself to let go. Breathe. When you are done with your first sketch it is OK to laugh at yourself and be proud of the fact that you just finished your first masterpiece.

Today’s post is brought to you by A to Z Challenge and the letter J.

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The I in the EYE

“The I in the Eye” (c) 2022 KJ Scrimgeour

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