Friday, March 28, 2008

Tucson - Week 3

March 16-20. Some random info: The mountains surrounding Tucson are: Tucson, Santa Catalina, Rincon, Santa Rita, and the Tortolita Ranges.

Pima cotton was developed by the University of Arizona and named for the Indians here. The Pima Indians cultivated the crop which was originally developed in the 1700's.

Tucson is really a lovely city in which to drive. It prides itself with lots of art along the roads. They have art on the overpasses, interesting artwork on some highway walls, and even artwork on corners like this.

Sunday was a very cold day, cloudy, a little rainy and only in the 50's!! It actually snowed at 5000' and higher. That was cool to see. We had lunch at Gloria Conover's and Lucas Macri's house. Gloria is the granddaughter of our family friend, Marge Conover, whose 90th birthday we attended in Michigan in September. We had such a nice time, delicious food and great conversation. They have two adorable and engaging children, Nico, age 6, and Valeria, age 4.

The Ruopp's recommended that we go to the Arizona State Museum on campus to see the Paths of Life exhibit. The museum is beautiful and the exhibit was excellent! It covered all the southwest Indians including those tribes in Mexico on the Sea of Cortez. We'd never seen anything about them before.

Tohono Chul Park is a museum of native plants laid out in separate gardens with some attractive to hummingbirds. There's also a tea room. The small gardens are really beautiful. It was an absolute joy to walk through this park!

Amherst and Ft. Myers only have the ruby-throated hummingbird so it was fun to watch these others: the broad-billed and the black chinned.

We really loved this tree which looked from a distance like a lilac bush. It's called a Texas Mt. Laurel. The flowers here were amazing!

The flowering barrel cactus, silver torch cactus and agave were also beautiful.

Here is one of the lovely courtyards and a ramada (a brush shelter). (Some ramadas have roofs made of ocotillo branches. We had no idea that the Ramada hotels were named after this!)

And more amazing saguaro. (We wish we could see them in bloom but that's not until mid-May to mid-June.)

One great hike was in Saguaro National Park East. We took the Tanque Verde Ridge hike, about 3 hours round trip. There was lots of rock climbing which is really more fun than just a flat path. There were great views and more wildflowers. We also saw twin saguaro and twin yucca. We returned about 5:30 and the moon was just rising.

A couple of people told us we should hike Picacho Peak north of Tucson. We didn't really know what we were getting ourselves into. It was by far the most difficult hike we've ever done (Hunter Trail to the peak at 3,374' el). It was so steep in places that they had to put in steel cables!

It was a beautiful view from the top but we don't really want to do it again. In the picture from the top you can see a long train. Someone told us there were about 15 trains a day through here from California.

Did you know that most of John Wayne's westerns were shot at Old Tucson Studios? In most westerns there are a few token saguaros and the mountain in the backdrop is Golden Gate Peak. (See picture.) They still film here a few times a year but every day it's a place to relive westerns. We went on an interesting tour with a guide who was also the historian. He had even been an extra and been "killed" a few times. He spewed lots of facts about in this western so-and-so met up with so-and-so, etc. If you're really into westerns you'd love this place. There were some hokey stunt shows, a staged bank robbery, and some pretty decent musical shows, one with can-can girls in the saloon. The girls went into the audience and picked 2 guys to help them out. Well, Sandy got picked and was a great sport about putting on a silly dress and trying to do the can-can! They had the set from the old TV show, "High Chapparal" and the house and some of the stores from "Little House on the Prairie." The little museum of the films shot there was interesting.

We attended an excellent production of "To Kill a Mockingbird" put on by the Arizona Theatre Company, a professional theater group.

Office work!! One day we got a month's worth of mail from June McNiven (where our mail is being forwarded now) so had to take time to sort through that and deal with a couple of things. We finally got all the necessary forms so Sandy could do my mother's taxes.

We can't believe we have only one more week here. There are so many places we haven't seen or hiked!

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