Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tucson . . . Here We Come . . .

A stop at the Rovers Roost Escapees RV Park in Casa Grande was not in the plans but when Fred said his back was bothering him, Rovers Roost was the right place to rest up before we went to Tucson.

We were in Tucson last year but our visit was interrupted by THE shooting (what I call the Safeway massacre) that left me just wanting to get out of there. This was our chance to come back and explore all the places we didn’t get to as well as those we wanted to revisit.

Tucson and the surrounding areas are exceptionally diverse and the inhabitants share and celebrate that diversity. It is a city built in and surrounded by volcanic mountains and desert. Even the name Tucson is derived from a Spanish adaptation of the O’odham word for at the base of the black hill - Cuk ᚢon.

Our first stop was at the Visitor Information Center downtown. Downtown is an array of colour and lines - the plazas, the buildings, the streets – and history.

They offer a special Passport that offers special attractions discounts so we stopped to pick one up.

Jewish Historic Museum

One of the places in the passport was the Jewish Historic Museum so I thought it might be interesting to see. I was quite surprised first that there are so many Jewish people in Tucson and then that the first synagogue was reform built in 1902.

Mission San Xavier

Archaeologists claim that the area was visited by Paleo-Indian people as long ago as 12,000 years and there is evidence of irrigated farming and the red and black ceramics of the Hohokam Peoples.

The first Catholic mission of San Xavier founded by Father Eusebio Kino in 1692 still stands and is the oldest intact European structure in Arizona. It’s been named a National Historic Landmark.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

There is no question that the Museum is our favourite attraction in Tucson. We spent most of the day there (we were there last year) and this time took part in the Raptor Free Flights demonstration.

The museum is spectacular . . . it sits on 98 acres with 3.2 kms (2 miles) of walking paths covering 21 acres. Much of the property is covered with natural growth and cacti. All sorts of plants line the walkways many are named and labelled for identification. There are snake and reptile exhibits; hummingbird and other bird enclosures; and large animal like Cougars and Bears that are housed in very natural settings. What with my camera and Fred’s new camera, we took over 150 photos. (So - I’m going to do a separate posting on the Desert Museum once I get the photos sorted out!)

DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun

It’s difficult to describe the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun experience. The gallery is a complex of buildings scattered over 10 acres in the hills in north Tucson. The buildings and the setting exemplifies the spirit and backdrop surrounding the entire city – natural desert with an array of plants and cacti. Impressionistic sculptures and settings are sprinkled throughout and that is even before you go into the sanctuary or gallery.

A Visiting Artist’s Studio sits to the side of the entrance. Geri Bringman was there when we visited. I love her work – she works in acrylics on canvas - her figures are colourful and delightful.

We traded our creative endeavours – Jacob’s Tails yielded a wonderful print that will find its way onto a wall somewhere in my life.

DeGrazia’s Gallery itself is room after room filled with his impressionistic sketches, paintings, sculptures of the South Arizona he loved and lived in the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. In addition to his physical environment, DeGrazia was enthralled with the Mexican Indian lifestyle and children. He was incredibly prolific and the entire complex is filled with his work. I remember the picture chosen by UNICEF for one of their Christmas Cards a few years back. But I did find a Chanukah Card there.

On our way to explore the Saguaro National Park – the RAINS started OMG did it rain!

We never made it up to Saguaro – instead we have come back to Casa Grande to spend our month retreat.

I never realized how much we actually did while we were in Tucson – our plan is to either do day trips while we are here or go back later!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Doing Our YumaThing!

Would it surprise you to find out that we are again and still in Yuma? But things do change.

Our first shock was when we turned the corner towards KOFA (the Escapees RV Park we stay at) and all the orange and lemon trees had disappeared – we thought we were on the wrong road.

Bare fields or fields of alfalfa replace the orchards. The 40 foot high wind-machines that keep the frost from the plants sit in the middle of each field as the only reminisce of the acres of bushy green growth. The lemon tree grove across the street from the Park is no more!

As we explored the area, we found all sorts of orchards in various stages of development. Various rumours contend that the heavy frost killed off a number of the lemon orchards or the price of lemons had gone down so drastically that it was not worth growing them or that the groves were just getting to the end of their productivity. I think it is probably a little of each of these factors.

This was the only field we saw where each tree was wrapped and covered with burlap – never did find out why but I am sure it is some form of frost protection.

Fred and his new camera are almost inseparable – except when he goes over to the hot-tub (or SPA, as they call it here). Thanks to a great friend (Diane), he found out about the Magic Lantern series of Dummy books for beginner photographers on specific cameras and he managed to order one from Amazon and it arrived at John & Sallee’s place in just a few days.

It never ceases to amaze me when things work they way they are supposed to. Every once in a while he pops his head out of the book or away from the camera and make an innocuous statement like “Oh that’s the way it is supposed to work”. He doesn’t seem to realize that I don’t have a clue what he is talking about.

Actually some of his practice shots have been fascinating – like:

The Cotton bolls and fields

The old car and trailer

The Hummingbirds


This internet is driving me crazy!! Sometimes it works and sometime it doesn't.

I finally got my articles and photos up for RV West - it took forever! I got the Newsletter done and have been eating too much.

We'll be off on Tuesday to
Tucson and then to Ajo or Casa Grande – we’re not sure where we’re going.