Quick Trip of the Day: Tonto National Forest

Getting away from it all is not always necessary: sometimes there are little respites to be had without venturing more than an hour from one's place of residence. Today Pattie and I took advantage of awakening early (thanks to our cat, and those of you who own cats will require no explanation beyond that) to visit Tonto National Forest.

The "forest" is quite large, and a section of it borders on Mesa. The flora varies, I learned on a previous and more extensive visit, from saguaro cacti, hills, and desert in the lower areas to Douglas firs in the higher areas (the latter are called the "Canadian Zone"). We got to the forest in half an hour from our home in Mesa and spent half an hour driving through a fraction of the lower areas to Arizona Highway 87, which allowed us a convenient return to our usual stomping grounds afterwards. "Doing the circuit" is always our first choice when getting somewhere and getting back, because it speaks to the kind of "efficiency" we prioritize: rather than getting somewhere and back as soon as possible by taking the same route both ways, we maximize our travel-per-gallon ratio by not confining ourselves to "rerun scenery" on the return trip.

The drive was invigorating because of the scenery, which is especially noteworthy because of its proximity to a major metropolitan area. It isn't quite on the level of having Yellowstone Park in your back yard, but it does keep with the metro Phoenix motif of working "green spaces" into the picture without being perfunctory about it. (The "green spaces" are rarely green in this part of the world, but I expect that the actual colors on display are not the issue. :) )

We have had a "Travel Begins At Home" sort of theme recently. We love the grandiose journeys (ask us about our Yukon trip sometime). We also love to discover what is nearby and take advantage of it as gratefully as if we had had to come a long way for it. There is a unique feeling that comes with realizing that something one wanted was there all along, and we cherish it when it finds us.


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