Monday, November 26, 2012

Tucson continued

November 24, 2012

Another Monday morning campground meeting. They are kind of special, everyone here shows up for them and the free coffee and donuts.  These meetings are really very entertaining, the owner is very witty and funny and it's almost a comedy show.  At the same time, these meetings are super efficient and organized, people volunteer to do stuff and issues get resolved, everyone is happy. I've never seen such productive meetings !  

Time for another oil change on the truck, I have been taking it back to GMC for these, even though it is more expensive, but don't want any issues with the warrantee.  I am pretty impressed with the Buick/GMC dealers so far, very efficient, pleasant and usually a free wash job.  The truck continues to get looks and comments all the time, the other day at the campground, I'm sitting outside and this guy comes by walking his dog and comments on the truck. I tell him it's tough keeping it clean and he says, "well that's the price of being the big guy".  Twinkles was greatly amused by that comment !

On dogs, practically everyone here has at least one dog and some of these people seem to be do little but walk them around.  The dogs here are mostly quiet, so far, but there are other area dogs that bark at lot, especially when desert critters are stirring or the coyotes start howling, in other words, every night.

Now that we are at this RV resort for an extended stay, all plugged in and comfortable, getting soft and lazy, I am starting to long for the wild open places again. As a result, I started thinking about the Honda generator sitting in my RV that I haven't used at all up to this point.  I don't feel comfortable running it in the quiet campground, so here I am in the open field behind McDonalds running my generator to exercise it.  We really need to go somewhere soon where I have to use it ! 

On Tuesday night, the Tucson High School Steel Drum band performed at the campground, outside at the Bocce ball pit area, it was a big hit. 

We found the Pool Hall, very well equipped, no one seems to ever be there, and the WiFi works really good, my spot to update the blog now. 

This campground was formerly a water park.  The water park slides and pool area are still visible, but pretty deteriorated.  It sort of looks like ancient ruins now, but it must have been quite the area attraction in it's day.

There are reports that a rattlesnake was in the sewing room a couple of nights ago, so Twinkles is nervously only going there in the daytime ! This is the time of year when they look for warm places at night.

A big Thanksgiving meal was put on at the campground, the campground paid for the Turkeys and cooked them, with volunteers pretty much doing everything else.  Twinkles, of course volunteered, such a happy camper ! 

Twinkles went on a geocaching activity on Friday morning, but seems to have learned most about what are the best local restaurants and bars.  

On Friday evening we went to a campground concert to see Johnny Bencomo, who is advertised as a pioneer of the western 18 string guitar. He was great, lived up to his billing, told endless stories between songs, took requests from the crowd, could play everything and mostly play it well.  

We skipped the "oldies dance" on Saturday night.  

On Sunday, we are signed up for a hike at Saguaro Park. It is a park ranger lead sunset hike to a ridge top with a return under the light of the moon.

4th Avenue street art

4th Avenue sign

Exercising the generator

Pool Hall picture

Hiking view from the trail

Another hiking view

Building Mural in downtown Tucson

The same building

Another Pool Hall angle

Pima County building mural on Speedway Avenue

Another doorway

Danger of smoking and drinking mural in downtown Tucson

And more, real cactus in front

Saguaro cactus with open wound showing the skeleton

Tiny's bar and family restaurant near the campground

More murals off Speedway Avenue

The remains of the campground water park

Another view

View from campground deck looking out over the desert

Johnny Bencomo last Friday night at the campground

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tucson adventures

November 20, 2012:

We had a campground breakfast activity on Friday at 9 AM, Twinkles made a fruit salad, we met several new campers and ate too much (it was good).  Afterwards we went for a hike at the Saguaro National Park for about 5 miles. The first part of the hike followed a dry Canyon Wash (stream bed) to an area with old indian petroglyphs.  The trail then climbed up into the back country with great views in all directions.  On the return back down, we took a side trail (Gould trail) that took us past the old Gould mining area.  There was a large open pit covered by a locked steel grate cover with deathly warning signs.

It was a partly cloudy day, then it got dark and it looked like we might have rain, but then it passed and the sun broke through again.  I would like to be here to see a good rainstorm to see these dry river washes instantly turn into ragging torrents and waterfalls, it must be a spectacular sight (as long as you are out of the way.

On Saturday, we went to San Xavier del Bac Mission (The white dove of the desert) just outside of Tucson.  It is only a few miles from our campground and we went primarily to get some Indian fry bread made by the indians in the parking lot, the old fashioned way over wood fires, really good stuff !  I think this is my fourth time there, so I am getting a little jaded about the beauty of the old mission, but every time I go I see something new and inspirational.  On this visit, we went into the small museum with it's historical exhibits on the native Tohono O'odham people, the spanish /mexican takeover of the region, the establishment of the mission, the influence of the church and then the United States takeover of the region.  

We then took a ride into Tucson to the 4th Avenue area to walk around, walk off the fry bread.  The 4th Ave area is loaded with restaurants, bars, a great bookstore and a weird, fun mix of eclectic shops. A favorite area of mine from previous Tucson trips.
Many downtown Tucson streets are torn up for construction of a new light rail system. As a result, it's a little tricky getting around, haven't figured it out yet, in other words we got lost getting out of town !

On Sunday, we visited the "DeGrazia gallery in the Sun", a national historic site, in the Catalina foothills.  Ettore (Ted) DeGrazia was a famous Tucson visionary artist of the southwest.  The studio itself and the art on display were fantastic, never enjoyed an art museum so much, anywhere !  The man was a real character, right down to his easel with the "Red Man" chewing tobacco, old metal tool box for his paints, his old cowboy hat, boots and his bottle of vodka.

Our first week here was interesting and we decided to extend another month to mid January. 

Canyon Wash Trail

Petroglyphs on the rocks at the end of the wash trail

Sun breaking through on the Gould Trail

The old Gould mine site

Mission San Xavier del Bac with indian food vendors in foreground

Mission San Xavier del Bac

Mission details are incredible

Even the door handles are special

Interior details

ceiling details

I loved this tile work done by the local indian school kids at the mission

Ettore "Ted" DeGrazia incredible artist and Tucson folk hero

A portion of the DeGrazia studio in the sun

Interior of the "Lady of Guadalupe" shrine at the DeGrazia studio

Rare crested Saguaro Cactus at Sabino Canyon trail

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Tucson activities

November 15, 2012:

Tuesday we went to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum a few miles away, it is a huge complex, part botanical garden, part research facility and part zoo that you can easily spend a full day doing. We really liked it and ended up becoming members, it pays for itself if you go twice.  Then on tuesday night I went to the Hotel Congress in downtown Tucson, or as the locals say, the "Congress" which is one of the coolest places on the planet !  I have stayed there on two previous trips to Tucson, it's unique in all ways.  The rooms are vintage 1930's decor, they have a resident ghost and John Dillinger stayed there just before he was captured.  Also the rooms over the bar are very noisy when a music event is going on.  I went on Tuesday to hear Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band in concert.  I had never heard of him before, but he sounded interesting and he definitely was worth the trip!  It was sort of a Hillbilly/ Blues fusion if you can imagine that.  He had a large black beard and when he really got his high powered guitar riff going, the beard got to rocking.  

Wednesday AM we went on a hike with the campground hiking group.  It was a nice 6 mile hike through the desert to a couple of old mining sites.  It was different going on a group hike, you can't just stop when you feel like it, or if you're tired, or just want to look around.  It doesn't really fit my hiking profile , I like to stop often and take photos, smell the flowers, look around at the landscape, but there is plenty of time for solitary hiking. It was a good way to meet people at the campground, many of which have been coming here for years and know good things.   Back at the campground, we were pretty tired, I checked out the hot tub, it felt real nice.  

They have a campground library here and Twinkles is so excited, she can't wait to volunteer.  Meanwhile, Slick is not volunteering for anything. 

Today, we went into Tucson to the "Sprouts market" to buy some produce and by chance came upon a "Trader Joe's", we stopped there also and stocked up on a few goodies.  

On the way back, we missed the turn for the highway and in turning around ended up in a Mexican area, saw a place advertising famous Chili hot dogs.  We stopped and had a couple of them for lunch and saw several other small restaurants and a bakery nearby that may be possibilities for another time?  

Thought for the day:  Sometimes a wrong turn can end up being a "Right turn" !

Someone has painted and placed these rocks along the hiking trail

The trail behind the campground with a chain fruit Cholla in foreground

Twinkles on the trail

Barrel Cactus

View from the Saguaro Park visitors center

Saguaro cactus

Prickly Pear Cactus

Fox at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

Thrasher bird on cactus

They do have nice red dragonflies in the desert

Big Horn Sheep at Desert museum

 I couldn't get a decent hummingbird photo, but the big grasshoppers were cooperative 

Organ Pipe cactus spines

Organ Pipe cactus

First time I've seen this sign