Darcie Maranich

Darcie Maranich


We have been enjoying some gorgeous weather here in Southern Arizona as of late, wouldn’t you agree? We all know, though, that these mild temperatures are fleeting so we best enjoy them while we can. With that in mind, here are five things you can (and should!) get outdoors and do before the mercury creeps up.

1. Pack a picnic dinner – There are several great parks to choose from, but I’m especially fond of Agua Caliente Park, located at 12325 E Roger Rd in Tucson. There are very few parks here in the desert as lush as this one. With its pretty palms and soothing water, it’s a perfect spot to picnic. Casual summer dinner picnics are the perfect excuse, er, I mean, opportunity to turn crackers and cheese into a meal, don’t you think?

2. Take a hike – There are hundreds of trails to choose from locally, so why not round up the family and head outdoors one Saturday morning? My family enjoys hiking the trails of Madera Canyon. The kids hop from rock to rock and scurry up, around and over boulders and fallen trees. The hiking trails at Madera are well-marked and beneath the canopy of tall trees, we’re kept cool and shaded. There are a number of picnic tables around the park, too.

3. Tour the canyon – During select months of the year (May included) visitors to Sabino Canyon can try an evening tram ride up the canyon. Three rides are offered per month. For reservations or for more information, call 520.749.2327

4. Head downtown – The second Saturday of each month brings free entertainment to downtown Tucson. You can go for the entertainment and stay for the food and shopping. The event is completely family-friendly and, best of all, free! Visit www.2ndsaturdaysdowntown.com for more information.

5. Go wild at the zoo – Starting May 24th, the Reid Park Zoo will begin offering Summer Safari Friday Nights from 5:30-8:00pm. It’s the perfect opportunity to wander the zoo during cool evenings. You can even grab a bite for the family at the Zoofari Market. Find more information by visiting www.tucsonzoo.org/event/summer-safari-nights-15/.

(1) comment

John Flanagan

I also love the outdoors and the beauty of the desert, however, being from New York, I have a second instinct that sits continuously near the front of my brain. I consider it the red flag zone.
When I take evening walks, prior to dusk, I always carry a four foot bamboo hiking stick, my ever close cell phone, and my flashlight on a key chain. It is a small but powerful light source in case I stop to gab with a local neighbor and wind up finishing my walk home in the dark.
I am often amazed to see couples and families walking near dark in sandals and carrying no flashlights or sticks,considering the heavy numbers of rattlesnakes in my neighborhood and in Oro Valley. Also, often before dark we see herds of 10-15 Javelina in our area and on la Canada rd nearby, and coyotes as well.
I have seen a young father walking on La Canada and one or two of his young children, about 4-5 years old lagging about fifty feet behind on the sidewalk which borders the desert side of the street. I stayed nearby and thought to myself, "This guy is a bonafide idiot! A coyote could easily snatch this toddler and run off, and he wouldn't have a clue. He is in his own world, 50-70 feet away, and his kid is vulnerable to Javelina, rattlesnakes, coyotes, even a bobcat." His attitude, I believe, is not that uncommon among some people living here. A lapse of thinking about the dangers of living in the desert could prove fatal, as I am sure some have experienced in times past.
We also have a big problem with Africanized killer bees here, and you need not do very much wrong to provoke them to attack. As for me, it does not cause me to hunker down in my house. I still enjoy the outdoors, like everyone else. To me, the issue is one of using common sense and being continuously aware of one's surroundings. And it is not just important, but crucial, to teach one's children about the dangers.
When I was a child and we were visiting my father's relatives in a crime ridden Bronx neighborhood, I walked next to my father and we saw a drunk sprawled on the sidewalk. I asked him what should we do? He looked down at me and said, " Just walk around him." He taught me always be alert to your surroundings. Ask any city kid about life, and you find out they learn quickly about potential dangers, and this attitude helps you to survive.
In Arizona, we live in a beautiful outdoor state, but to enjoy our parks and mountain trails, we need to have a Bronx attitude.

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