We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...

We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...
1997's Climb

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Walk

          Another near perfect day dawned on Saturday, March 3rd.  A Klimb 4 Kimmy 2 was about to commence.  We'd take the walk from Pima County Community College West, surrounded by saguaro and the Tucson Mountains.  It is a stunning vista.  There are so many saguaros you could not hope to count them.  Or want to.  You just take them in, enjoying each limb and anticipating the flowering in another two months or so.  This year's walk promised to be another beautiful one...and we couldn't wait.

        The night before, turned out to be an interesting one, as a doorway from my past blew open with hurricane force!  Tonio and I had just pulled into the driveway, coming home from school.  I spotted a white vehicle pull slowly by, waved absently, and helped Tonio down.
         Again, the car.  Slower now.  I thought the car looked similar to my neighbor's ex-wife and thought she had stopped by to pick up some of her stuff.  But it rolled by and stopped, tentatively, at the corner...
         ....the doors flew open and out burst two men.  It took me a moment to recognize them and another for my brain to process who they were...old college roomates...My first thought was to run, but they were closing fast!  So I yelled "Get inside the house Tonio!!! Dial 911!!!"
            I hadn't seen these guys in 10 years.  We'd lost touch - as sometimes happen.  Brian Duffy and Andrew Martin had slipped back into our lives, forever to become "Uncle Duff and Uncle Spike".  Brian, coming in from Denver, Co - he had come out to visit when we were there back in the early '90's, fell in love with it and there he is, a Jersey Shore boy in the Rocky Mountains.  He had brought Cody a Colorado Avalanche outfit for his 1st birthday (Cody says he does not remember that).  Andrew "Spike" Martin had flown in from Harrisburg, Pa, the armpit   capital of the state, where he owns a 200 year old stone farmhouse complete with stocked pond and 52 acres brimming with wildlife.  Spike had been in our wedding and had also come out to visit after Cody was born and then Autumn.
             There they were in my driveway.  They had just found out about Kim.  "I lost her in a knife fight." I'd told them.  How far off from the truth is that?  They decided they needed to come out and honor Kim and walk with our family.

Here's a shot of Spike, to the left of my Dad, on our wedding day (below, we stuff cake into each other's mouth...best day of my life)

We started the day off on time, after a fitful 2 hours of sleep.  Nearly all of the same crew from last year arrived, within about 15 minutes of each other in the southeast corner of the community college parking lot.  Sporting coffees to speed the waking process.
By the time we all greeting each other and helped each other get ready...it was about 8:30 a.m.  and we were the last group to set out.  Janene had to work at her salon this day, but told her husband, Brad, a Tucson motorcycle policeman, to keep an eye out for our group.  When he finally saw us, he told us that Janene had just called and he told her he didn't think we were coming this year!  And it would have been hard to miss a group our size!
Brad is a motorcycle policeman.  He escorted our group of hikers to the intersection of Pima and Anklam to safely cross us, giving us a "Kimb 4 Kimmy!" call over his loudspeaker and following us a little ways with bursts of his sirens that all of the little ones enjoyed!  It not only made it festive, but made us feel somehow more important - VIP walkers! 

Unfortunately, I did not do a great job with photos - if anyone has any good ones, please send them to me!

Autumn took a few...here's some of the walk from her perspective, starting with some wildflowers...

                                       Chloe, Lexy and Autumn ready to climb 'A' Mountain!

It was a mild winter.  I can't remember if it rained much, but the flowers are blooming all over in a kaleidoscope of color!

Kim so enjoyed the wildflowers in Tucson.  We'd often go and hike in Sabino Canyon this time of year so she could take in the color.  Today's walk did not fail to disappoint, as there were plenty of flowers lining the walk, along the road, through the desert and all the way to the top of the mountain.

Another of our favorite things about the walk, is going through the old westside neighborhoods as you find your way from Pima to the foot of 'A' Mountain.  The architecture is so different and full of character. 
Autumn and her friends particularly liked what these homeowners had done to decorate their walls.

Here's one of my favorites:

The walk used to begin downtown at Presidio Park when we first began these hikes back in 1994.  It was an 8 mile roundtrip journey.  Presidio is definitely more scenic than Pima, but, the walk today, through the neighborhoods along the way, is much more pleasant.  It ends up being 6 miles roundtrip this way.

The streets are lined with orange cones, so the over flow of walkers can be safe from traffic.  As you can see, we had no problem with either!

Last, but not least...Here come Jack (designer of the cool t-shirts!), Duff, Roshan (pushing Micah and Maleah), Spike and me...

Autumn, Lexy and Chloe making their way...

Cody and Antonio climb the "A"!!  This has been a yearly ritual...dating back to '94, when Kim, Cajun and I made the first climb.  It is pretty steep - I always expect one of the bambini to come sliding back down in an out of control surge...but, so far, that has never happened!

Duff and Spike shoot the...uh, converse with Shawn and Dawn Ball near the top.

One of Ami and Brian Bunches triplets, Colton, has captured the prize for making it to the top:  A shiny, red balloon!!  Aye, their be treasure here matey's!

Last year, Mary Montes hiked this walk very pregnant with Brinley (along with Kim, who was very pregnant with Maleah!).  As I've told you, Kim hiked in '97 8 months pregnant with Cody, in '00 she was 6 months pregnant with Autumn when she hiked and in '03, she was a mere 4 months pregnant with Antonio.  She chose to sprint that year.  All 6 miles.  And she didn't ever break a sweat.

Yeah, Duff, Spike and I made it...hard to believe!

Ami and Brian sure get extra exercise pushing the Bunchkins up this mountain!!

Roshan, Andrea, Sandy, Jack and Kim at the top!

Sandy, Maleah, Micah and Roshan.  The little ones were so good for this long walk!!

A little mass confusion as we tried to regroup for the big moment...wait for it...wait for it....

  Ta da!!  Roughly left to right, we had Andrea, Mariah, Hunter, Chloe, Lexy, Autumn, Jaimelyn, Kim, Maleah and Micah.  Sandy, Renee, Ami, Mary, Colton, Cassidy, Chris, Brinley, me.  Ethan, Brian, Jack, Duff, Spike, Shawn, Dawn and Roshan.

Kim always loved this part of the walk, too.  The group shot!!  We had made it to the top.  It was a long walk, but we were all smiling - a beautiful day - and then we went on to the food and festivities.

In the early days, the event was sponsored by Bruegger's Bagels and Eegee's.  Some years, there were hotdogs at the top and various sport drinks and waters.  The last couple of years, we have been overly blessed with El Molinito Mexican food!!

The girls went on the jumping castle and checked out the fire engines at the top, after enjoying some snacks and drinks.

At the top, they always have a banner for walkers to write something...to somebody or for somebody.  Kim always wrote something sweet for those we have known who have beaten cancer (Sandy, thank God!!) or were taken by this nasty disease - like her father, Ken, who we walked for for many years...

Cody, contemplative, takes time to remember his Mama..

The banner is full of well wishes, nostalgic messages, heartache, triumph...and, as it did last year, it brought me to my knees...fortunately, as was the case last year, I found myself alone in this moment...everything catching up to me and flooding me....after a moment, I was able to pull it all back together...the memories rewinding in my head like an old VHS tape...and rejoined the crowd...

We had made it to the top, it was Tonio's first year walking the entire 6 miles!!  Last year, Breanna and Tonio had a blast being pushed in a double jogger by Cody for most of the way!! We enjoyed the festivities and slowly began to make our way back down...well, some of us were slow...Autumn, Lexy and Chloe literally ran back down the hill, pausing long enough to snap this photo.

It was an incredible day for a walk...and to talk.  It was neat how we all got to talk to one another as we made our way up...and then back down.  The hours seemed to pass so quickly, so enjoyably.

When we finally dragged ourselves back to the parking lot - that last couple of blocks is brutal, we realized we were hungry.  Another long standing tradition our family has had, is to eat some great Mexican food on the westside of town!

And we found some marvelous Mexican seafood at the Mariscos Chiuaua!!  This is a beautiful place on Grande, just south of Speedway.  Everytime we used to pass it on our way home from the Desert Museum or Old Tucson, I'd tell Kimmy "Take me there for my birthday."  We never quite made it...

This day, we ate shrimp and fish, chicken tacos for the girls and Spike, calamari for Tonio, his signature dish "Antonio!  You cannot order calamari the rest of the time we are here!" Duff told him, as he had dined on it the night before for dinner at Viro's.
The Mariscos is decorated beach style - making you feel as though you are there...

Later that evening, we went to Kim's favorite, Zona 78, to keep the day going in her favor...Tonio ordered calamari....
....and afterward, Frost for some gelato!!

It was a long day, but a good one. What makes this walk so special?  Friends.  Companionship.  Full of new memories, we made it home late - the girls set up in our 'sports room', planning to stay up all night watching movies, while the boys set up in the living room, planning to stay up all night trading war stories...of sorts....

Near the top in '02!! A decade ago. We used to travel like we were staying for a week!! Kim thought of everything.  Snacks.  Change of clothes.  Hats.  Gloves.  Drinks.  Baggies to collect 'treasure' along the way. Here, we are holding a flag we had made in memory of her Dad....

Thank you all for joining us, making it a special day and helping us to remember all of the wonderful times....

Special thanks to Duff and Spike, for reappearing like apparitions...or maybe Kim was trying to keep me, protect me?,  from the nefarious ...

I spend my days going faster. Faster...because of what I see in my rear view mirror...

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