Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Saguaro National Park

While Bob, Mike, Cynthia's husband, Robert, plus two other friends drove to Surprise, AZ (outside of Phoenix) to attend a pre-season Rangers vs Royals baseball game, Retha, Cynthia, and I had a girls day out. Cynthia is the campground host here and it was fun to hang out with her and with Retha.
We ended up at Saguaro National Park outside of Tucson and took a nice long drive through the breathtaking scenery.
The cacti were in bloom and it was a perfect day to be outside in the sunshine to see the colors of the spring desert.
After a relaxing drive we found McGraw's Cantina and stopped for lunch.
Good food, good friends, great day!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Mission of San Xavier de Bac

I love visiting missions. There's just something about the history that swirls around them...

Mission San Xavier ("Ha-vee-ay") de Bac is located about 10 miles south of Tucson, and we were very fortunate to arrive just as a tour was beginning.
The mission is a National Historic Landmark, founded in 1692 by Father Eusebio Kino, although the current building dates to the late 1700s. It is the oldest intact European structure in Arizona. Note that the tower on the right is not finished.
Outside the walls are beautifully landscaped areas, with native plants including blooming cacti.
Our guide was very knowledgable and spoke about the architecture and history of the mission and area. The church was built when southern Arizona was part of New Spain.
These are called milagros, or "miracles" in Spanish. They represent injured or diseased body parts and are offered to St Francis with prayers in exchange for recovery from ailments.
Worshippers pin milagros to the prone statue of San Xavier, seen in the photo above. There are many paintings and statues in the sanctuary, which is undergoing a renovation to preserve its beauty.
The church was built by local craftsmen who abandoned the project when the church ran out of money.  It was not quite finished. Local Apache Indians had something to do with this, as they would enter the mission area, hang around for a couple of days, and  then leave with any goods, women, or children they could make off with. It was a very dangerous place to be.
St. Katera Tekakwitha is the first Native American Saint, and the local Indians are very proud of her. This is the only statue that is not original to the church, as she was just recently canonized.   

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Pima Air and Space Museum

We have had a nice week so far. On Monday Bob and I visited the Escapee RV park in Benson that we were headed to when we broke down last November. It was nice to actually see it! The park is a co-op, which means that it is owned by the lease-holders in the park who volunteer to maintain it. We were very impressed by the facilities and the way it is run, and ended up putting our name on the waiting list for a lot. In two or three years this will be our winter home.

On Wednesday we visited the Pima Air and Space Museum. What a fascinating place!
It was a beautiful day, a little cooler than it has been lately, and with a strong breeze. While most of the planes were military, there were some that were not... this home-built plane called a Flaglor Sky Scooter, with all wood construction and covered in fabric. It is powered by a modified 1600CC Volkswagon engine. It costs about $7500 to build. It's amazing that someone could actually build their own airplane.
 Bob looked so tiny next to this behemoth transport plane.
 This cockpit was used in the filming of the movie "Airplane." "Roger, Roger. What's our vector, Victor?"
 Outside we saw a Super Guppy Cargo Transport, in use between 1965 and 1995. It really didn't look like it could fly!
 We were impressed by the variety of planes on display.
And here we have a Douglas VC-118A Liftmaster, AKA Airforce One, used by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson from 1961-1965.

We arrived at the museum too late to catch a shuttle tour or go see the Boneyard, but perhaps one other day we will be back.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

International Wildlife Museum

One of the fun things about being in a new area is seeing new sights. This can be very expensive to do, day after day. I have written before about our memberships in museums that give us reciprocity with other museums. On Saturday, Bob and I used our ASCT card from the Dale Carnegie Museum to enter the International Wildlife Museum in Tucson.
This place could aptly be called a museum of dead things, filled with dead, stuffed animals and bugs mounted in frames and cases. But it truly is a fascinating place. The first room one enters is filled with butterfly specimens, and I was taken in by the colors.

Another room was filled, ceiling to floor, with products of a taxidermist's art: deer from every continent, bears, tigers, giraffes, musk ox, zebras. It was rather overwhelming.

 There were dioramas showing the animals' natural habitats.

One of my favorites was a stuffed Passenger Pigeon, one of only a few found in a museum. I had never seen one before.
There was even a room featuring disgusting animal habits, and the poster below was the least disgusting one they had. I'll bet the children who visit love this exhibit!
There were only a few live creatures in the museum; one of them was this scorpion.
Every display featured interesting facts about the animal. What a great place to bring children, but we both enjoyed it, too.

I'm currently on the third book in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Sorry, but until I finish the series I will probably not be doing much weaving!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Tucson Museum of Art

It has been a rather quiet, uneventful week for us. We hung around the campground much of the time, visiting with Mike and Retha and doing what we could to help as Mike rested his leg. On Thursday evening Bob and I attended the campground's St. Patricks Day Potluck where we enjoyed corned beef and cabbage with loads of side dishes and desserts.  It was a really fun evening.

Today Bob and I visited the Tucson Museum of Art. What a gem of a museum! It looked pretty unassuming from the outside.
Inside, however, was a modern museum full of treasures.
There was a wide variety of art within.  Here are a few of my favorite pieces:
 Girl on a Cliff/The Abyss, wood engraving, by Virginia Johnson Fund, 1930
 Evening in the Foothills, oil on canvas by Virginia Johnson Fund, 1940
 Pima Canyon bu Moonlight, Starlight, and Flashlight,archival print on cotton rag paper mounted on aluminum by William Lesch, 1951
Poem to the Flight, hand dyed wool tapestry by Leonardo Nierman, 1971
 Lukutuwe (Fertility), wool and natural fibers encoded with Aztec bar code, tapestry by Guillermo Bert, 2012
 Conquest of the Incas, hand appliqued and quilted fabric by Patty Elwin Davis, 1996
Pre-Columbian pottery

After we felt that we had seen pretty much everything, we spent some time browsing through the craft fair that was going on in and around the museum. It was a beautiful day and the items on display were really lovely.

Bob posed beside this statue in the square.
The square itself is surrounded by historical buildings which are typical of early Tucson.

All in all, a lovely time. We hope to visit another local attraction tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Diana Gabaldon and the Tucson Festival of Books

I have been looking forward to this day since we got to Tucson. Early in the week I got through the online ticketing process (many did not, as it worked, then stopped working,) to score two of the free tickets to hear Diana Gabaldon Speak at the University of Arizona. I have read all of her books, which tell the story of Claire, a time traveling nurse, and Jaimie, a Scottish outlaw. An obvious over-simplification, if you have read even the first novel in the series, called Outlander. Or if you have watched the television series on Starz. I heartily recommend both. But be warned, the books are highly addictive, they are long, and there are eight of them to date (she's working on #9.)

Bob and I boarded a trolley to head to the unniversity, which was a very good way to travel since downtown was closed off for a classic car show and parking at UA is limited.

We arrived at the festival and went looking for the lecture hall, even though we were more than an hour early. It was a beautiful day and the crowds were out to enjoy it all.
I have to interject a big Thank You to Bob for joining me today, for he has not read any of the books. He has, however, watched the show with me on Starz and has enjoyed it. It was fun to have him share this with me.

We decided to stand in line and found ourselves in the first 25 people of an ever-growing line. Eventually, all 300 of us were there and we entered the classroom hall. Bob and I were in the third row and had great seats.
It was a thrill to hear Diana talk about the books (she told us there will probably be at least 10 before the story has been all told,) about the show and how she had a small part in one of the scenes, and about her creative process and how she writes. It will be several more months before the yet-unnamed and long-awaited book 9 will be fleshed out so that she can see the plot. Diana writes scenes, then arranges them at a later date into a book. She also read a long passage from that unfinished book. I cannot wait to read it!

After the one hour talk (which was over far too soon) Bob and I walked around the Festival, stopping to watch some Highland Bagpipers and Scottish dancers. It was highly appropriate.

Finally becoming hot and tired, we made our way to the trolley and rode home without incident. We said hello to Auggie, then left him again (to his surprise and dismay) to visit Mike in the hospital. He looked good, and was already walking the halls with Physical Therapy this morning, using his new walker. We are keeping fingers crossed that he can come home to his RV tomorrow.