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Old 08-14-2009, 11:42 PM   #43
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Here's some more info for tomorrow...


1. REMEMBER to bring $5 cash per car for the fee station. Due to the number of people who are coming, and the fact that you only have to pay by car, it might make sense for some people to leave their cars in the Safeway parking lot @ Tanque Verde and Catalina Highway and carpool up the mountain.

2. There's NO GAS anywhere on the mountain, so be sure to have enough before we leave the Safeway to go up the highway. It's about 50 miles round trip, so 3 gallons should be enough. There's a Chevron and a Circle K across Catalina Highway from the Safeway.

3. It'll depend on how many cars actually end up going up the mountain, but I'm thinking that the only place we should stop on the way up is Windy Point. That's the only vista, in my estimation, that has enough parking space, not to mention probably the best views of the Old Pueblo.

4. Remember, this is NOT a fast drive. It's a leisurely cruise to enjoy the scenery. The speed limit is between 35-45 the entire way up, and while there are guardrails for almost the entire drive, the outside shoulder is very narrow for most of the way. Yesterday was the first time I've ever personally seen Sheriff's deputies on the highway, but it was only a couple of motorcycle cops escorting a semitruck back down. Still, nobody should be speeding, especially on a one-lane highway.

5. With the possible exception of those of you with beefier turbos, you WILL experience a gradual (and probably unnoticeable) loss of power on the way up, almost guaranteed, even some cars that are supercharged or modestly turbocharged. Keep in mind that we're ascending in altitude from around 2400 ft above sea level in Tucson, up to 8500+ ft above sea level, and over 9000 ft for those of you who want to continue to the observatories at the very top of the mountain.

6. Best place to use the restroom will be at the Safeway at the base. There ARE working outhouses at Windy Point sans water, as well as at a few of the campgrounds, but the only public restrooms with running water are at the Summerhaven Community Center at the top of the mountain.

7. Tonight would be a good time to check your tire pressure, and rotate your tires, if you haven't done so recently. The highway is very smooth for most of the way, but steep. I recommend using engine braking (driving in a lower gear) on the way down so as not to ride your brakes all the way down the mountain.

8. THE FORECAST FOR TOMORROW IS MONSOONS, so just in case, bring an umbrella and/or rain jacket. IF IT DOES RAIN -- although it may be raining in one place on the mountain, that doesn't mean it'll necessarily be raining everywhere. I drove up to Summerhaven yesterday, and while it was pouring on the lower slopes, it was fairly dry in Summerhaven itself. Let's plan on trying to grill even if it's raining in Tucson. If we can't grill, we'll have to grab some pizza at the Cookie Cabin, or some chili at the Ski Resort, or some packaged food at the General Store. As for grilling, don't assume that somebody else will have enough food or supplies for you. Bring charcoal briquettes and lighter fluid, and food to grill. Also, bring plenty of water.

9. IF IT RAINS... visibility WILL be affected. When I drove up there yesterday, there were sections where the visibility was no better than 20 feet or so, because the highway will take you through some low-flying clouds. Those of you with foglights will be thankful. Obviously, rain will also require us to slow down to 30-35 mph. Rain WILL negatively affect the views WHILE it's raining, but after a rainstorm the view will be better than before -- it washes most of the dust out of the air.

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