Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spring Swing Southwest Part 4: New Mexico!

PART 4: New Mexico!
Friday, March 20
Tucson to ShowLow, Arizona
196 miles

West end of Catalina Mts. north of Tucson
            We are ready to depart sunny Tucson and it is a beautiful morning!  We saw goodbyes to Ted and Elinor, Josh and Abi (doing a little extra CHRPA work today!)  Abi said she was ‘so excited to see you were still here’ when she rode in on her bike!  Two final hugs!  We are finally ready to head out at 8:45 am. 
            The drive today was everything we hoped for: different and scenic.  We took Dan’s suggestion and followed Alvernon north to where it turned into River Road which wound around to meet up with Highway 77 heading north toward Oracle.  We literally skirted the edge of the Catalina Mountains and then around the tip.  To see those mountains up close from a different perspective was great.  Some very sharp cliffs up there! 
Is this not a classic Arizona photograph?  Taken from moving car....hence a bit of reflection on bottom. 
            I can’t tell you how many times my ear popped today from the constant up and down.  We climbed up and then we headed down….over and over!  Gradually we lost our saguaro cactuses by the time we got to Globe.  We stopped in this central town of 7500 to gas up and lunch up!  The drive over the Mescal Mts. was filled with cuts and strata, bluebonnets aside the road, fields of yellow and orange.  White fluffy clouds and dark storm clouds.  We even had a few drops of rain during the day. 
Salt River Canyon
            From Globe we climbed another 1500-2000 feet, only to descend steeply down into the Salt River Canyon, a spectacular mini Grand of proportions.  We stopped at a viewpoint enroute down to see some sweeping views both east and west.  Gorgeous! 
Desert mallow at Salt River
            As we neared ShowLow we entered a Ponderosa Pine forest!  Finally what I consider merits distinction as a National Forest!  ShowLow is a popular summer home town for the communities of Phoenix and Tucson – or any hot place in the south!  Its elevation of 6400’ means cooler temps in the heat of the summer months.  We passed multiple affluent housing developments and mini resorts.  Fool Hollow Recreation Area lies just a couple miles north of town and it is a beautifully maintained and managed campground, lake, fishing area, etc.  Campsites are meticulous.  Cement pads, sturdy tables, campfire rings.  We were lucky and able to get into one of the few remaining unreserved sites.  Full hookups for only $30.  Not bad. 
Beautiful old building at our turn in ShowLow. 
Fool Hollow Lake
            Afternoon spent relaxing, reading, and I took a short walk around the two loops nearest us and along the lake.  Got a presunset picture down near the boat ramp. 
            Tomorrow morning we will zip into New Mexico, hoping for a Socorro arrival around noon….just in time to take a hike with our son! 
            Stars tonight were ‘stellar’ – such a dark sky, no moon yet.  High elevation and clear.  Wow. 
Campsite at Fool Hollow Rec Area
Panorama of Salt River Canyon
SATURDAY, March 21
ShowLow, AZ to Socorro, NM
205 miles
San Lorenzo Canyon Hike

Typical flat land view
          Brrr! It cooled right off last night – temperature showed about 28 this morning out on the picnic table, and the front window of the truck was definitely frosted over.  That made packing up a challenge as everything was STIFF!  But we got ‘er done and on the road by 8:20ish.  And then….we got a little disoriented in getting back to Route 60 and made a little detour through a ShowLow subdivision.  Missed the Circle K we intended to gas and coffee up at, but found a Giant heading out of town that did the trick! 
Quemodo's touch of class
          And then we climbed some more!  Between ShowLow and Springerville, AZ (near border) we passed a roadside elevation sign of 7500’ – almost as high as the 7700’ at the Continental Divide in PieTown!  Mountains to the south had patches of snow on them.  This is such a high plateau area – golden grassland, small juniper trees, and wide vistas! 
Snow on the road!
Into New Mexico shortly before 10am.  We have driven this section of road before, but never coming from the west TO Socorro, always leaving.  In late summer, after the monsoon season, these grassy fields are lush and green.  Right now they are pale yellow and brown!  We realize it might be pushing it gas wise to get clear to Socorro, so we stop in Quemodo (practically the ONLY option along the way at this point!) and put 3 gallons in to assure a safe arrival.  Tiny town at a crossroads out in the plains – 140ish residents, but they have the nicest restrooms in their gas station!  And Grant Wood’s American Gothic graces a sign just down the road!  Culture!  Just after Quemodo we discovered snow alongside the road and then….snow ON the road!  Just a little patch where it had probably drifted. 
Datil Mts and pine trees!
  It is always a fun ride over the Datil Mountains – the road curves through the pine trees – a nice diversion from the plateau.  Then we drop down onto the Plains of St. Agustine and the VLA Radio Observatory setup.  The disks are in tight right now, I can count all 27 of them, 9 in each arm of the array.  As we near Magdalena Ridge, I finally spot the white and silver dome of the observatory atop the mountain to the south.  Hard to see against a white cloud background and while sitting in snow! 
VLA dishes
Jed pulls up at the campground to show off his new car!
         We arrive in Socorro around 12:40, get set up at Casey’s (we’ve stayed here before), and Jed brings us breakfast burritos from Sophia’s to tide us over until dinner.  We had suggested going out, but Jed had just finished eating a big breakfast!  Admire his new Scion car that he bought from Jack Ho….Grandma will appreciate that the TXM ‘Taxi McLean’ license plate is still proudly showing under a spoiler on the back!  He thinks his new roommate Will is going to buy the old Corolla.  Hopes to seal that transaction soon so we can get it off the insurance. 
Route A... or
          Jed thinks the Scion (which has little clearance!) will be fine on the dirt road into San Lorenzo Canyon, so we don our hiking shoes and take off north on the freeway for about 5 miles.  Sun roof down and I love the image from the back seat of their hair flying upwards into the opening!  Another 5 miles of frontage road north and we head west on a washboarded but otherwise good dirt road.  The canyon is tucked back into the hills and you wonder who ever discovered it was even there!  An upper and lower area, the road winds through the lower section and deadends.  Campers were enjoying the last of the New Mexico spring bread along the way.  We stopped a little before road end and hiked up part of the lower canyon and then up a side canyon trail. 
Route B?  Neither was
But we made it to the top of the mesa!  

          Great hoodoos, cliffs, weathering lines and cracks, and sculpting by the elements.  Fairly dry right now, but new growth is emerging on the shrubs.  Junipers and salt cedars (the latter not native and considered invasive).  A few wildflowers.  Pockets of cottonwoods which would be beautiful in the fall, but not leafed out yet this year.  We hiked up the various trails of the side canyon, sometimes losing touch with Rick as he was slightly ahead and we didn’t always pick the same route!  We eventually wanted to get to the top for a view.  Had heard the trail went up.  Not sure we found THAT trail, but with a little help from my guys, we got up there!  Loose rock in many places.  A good adventure, although Rick came back with a little blood on the side of his leg from a slip.  We came down by a different route! 
Cottonwood leaf beauty
          I found a cottonwood leaf (very distant from the trees) at the base of a tiny slot canyon.  When held up to the light filtering through, it was beautiful!  Rick discovered some sand patterns on the face of a cliff which were fascinating.  All of us discovered some random prickly pear bushes, usually by a prickle! 
Twister Chili
           Back down to Socorro and a meal at the Twisted Chili, down in the OldTown Plaza.  Jed had eaten here before and said it was different, but good.  And it was!  Afterwards, a wander briefly through the plaza.  Socorro’s is very nicely done with public artwork, a veteran’s memorial area and children’s playground with a military theme.  GREAT playground.  I climbed on some of the equipment!  Socorro is so old – established in 1598.  It is one of the oldest continually occupied cities in the country.  Amazing.  Then up the hill to the MRO offices and a chance to see Jed's new digs.  Big desk with big boy computer toys!  
At home in his office!
          To Jed’s house….to discuss plans for his graduation party, take measurements for the ordering of his doctoral gown, and FIND the missing registration stickers for the car in the old Toyota glovebox!  Thankfully I remembered I had given them to him in Salt Lake City at the concert last summer and there they were!!!  Details! 
          8:30pm and we were ready to crash!  Plenty of sunshine, a hike, a drive, and a good meal for the day! 

SUNDAY, March 22 
Socorro to Edgewood, NM  via Mom’s in ABQ
110 miles

            A good lazy morning in Socorro.  We are both fighting colds and sore throats, so a quiet morning was good.  We would have had to unhitch to attend church, so I’m afraid I spent the morning drawing prayer pictures instead.  Hope God understands! 
A quick snapshot at Red Lobster
            We left Socorro around 11:30 to head up to Albuquerque.  We called last night to let Mom know she would get a visit today instead of Monday!  Jed is driving up himself for his volleyball matches, so is going to meet us afterwards for dinner with Grandma! 
            Arrival at Mom’s around 1p and a quiet afternoon visiting.  I run over to Wal-Mart to pick up a few basics for our breakfast menu while out at Randy’s.  Jed arrives around 4:30.  Our hope was to dine at Azuma’s Grill, but there was going to be a 45 minute wait, so Grandma’s second choice?  Red Lobster, of course!  (Azumas was Jed’s hope!)  Good meal as usual. 
            We drop Jed and Grandma off at Three Fountains and then head out to Randy’s.  Arrival just as it was fully getting dark, but we get backed in around all of the cars parked here and into our ‘slot’ by the garage.  Hour of visit time with Patty, Rach, Reg, and little Jaxon before heading out to bed. 

I'll been having internet connection problems at Randy's - mostly with the phone, so it isn't uploading my photos to Dropbox so I can access them!  So I shall post this much and catch up as I go this week!!   

MONDAY, March 23
Chillin’ with Mom
            Nothing too exciting today!  Rick didn’t get up until nearly 10:30 (trying to sleep off his cold!), so we visited with each of the kids during the morning and didn’t move too fast!  Jaxon is going to the doctor today for HIS cold (Dominic is really sounding bad!)
            Got to Mom’s around 1.  Lazy afternoon just being together.  Mom and I went over to JoAnne’s Fabrics and Walmart for a little shopping time.  I managed to talk my way into the WW meeting at 5 even though I can’t find my tracker weight guide.  A good weigh-in! 
            Mom made ham loaf and taters for dinner and I added a tossed salad (naturally).  I drove us back out to Edgewood around 7pm, in time for Regan to cut my hair! 

TUESDAY, March 24
Santa Fe! 

St. Francis Cathedral
            Had to get moving today a little quicker as we are heading up to Santa Fe for the day.  Rick went down to the basement at the Fountains to retrieve the wheelchair so if Mom gets tired she can just ride!  It is a really light-weight chair so easy to move around. 
            Hardest part of the day was finding the parking lots for the downtown sector.  Not that well marked and we didn’t do our homework ahead of time!  Shame on me!  I’m finding no internet out at the trailer is hard, and I can’t get my phone to connect to Randy’s wireless, so I am using up tons of data to transfer high quality pictures! 
Rick and Mom R at La Plata 
My yummy grilled sandw
Silversmith and armor he restored.  Reminded us
of Mike Braymen

            Weather in Santa Fe was sunny, but a cool breeze blowing!  We ambled around the plaza shops, poking in some stores.  Hard to keep up with Rick cause unless Mom said she wanted to go in, they just peeked in windows.  I got a few more gifts for kids. 
            We ate lunch at La Plata, a very quiet restaurant that used to be attached to the St. Francis historic hotel, but is now unaffiliated with the hotel.  Regal austerity for the d├ęcor.  Menu was reasonable (by Santa Fe standards).  I had a grilled cheese sandwich to die for: filled with cheese and avocado and tomatos, plus an artichoke-tomato soup (I couldn’t taste the artichokes, though!)  Grandma had a stuffed sopapilla and Rick a chicken fillet sandwich he couldn’t get his mouth around! 
Statue to first Native American
woman to be a saint. 
Forsythia blooming near Prayer Garden
            Poked in a couple of the old mission churches, admired the flowers budding and blooming, including forsythia, and in general spent a relaxed day (once we found that parking spot!)  We got a downtown map of the city that will now STAY in Mom’s car! 
            Home around 5 and Rick put a razzleberry pie in the oven for his ‘dinner’!  I had salad and a sliver of pie.  Stayed in later to watch NCIS with Mom and then back out to Edgewood for a SHORT visit with the gang before bedtime. 

Laundry and Ho Ho Chinese Restaurant
        We are really getting into 'laid-back' mode now.  As everyone leaves the house one by one, we are finally the only ones left around 11pm.  Doing our laundry so we can make it through the final week of travel.  Once we hear that Reg, Jax, and Dom will come back over on Sunday afternoon, we decide to spend the night at Mom's so we don't have to get up so early on Thursday to take her to the doctor.  
       So, it is a windy 3pm when we finally get everything ready to go and head into town.  Mom has a coupon for the Ho Ho Chinese Restaurant, so dinner is on her tonight!  Mostly a take-out type place with just styrofoam dishes and plastic silverware, so we take our entrees back to the apartment to dine.  Good meal, and plenty left over for tomorrow.  
       Lazy evening with Mom and around 10 we pull out the new hide-a-bed and crash for the night.  (Wish I could say it sleeps better than the old one, but IS a hide-a-bed!)

THURSDAY, March 26
Eye Appointment

          Up early as the sun floods the room rising over the shadow of the Sandia Mts.!  But we need to get up early as Rick and mom leave at 7:15a for Mom’s 8a eye appointment.  I work on a few computer issues while they are gone, and draw and write Friday’s devotional (a fast from computer media day!) 
          I can’t say the rest of the day was that eventful!  Mom was a bit tired, so Rick and I went to pick up water, etc. from Wal-mart.  I ran over to Jo-Anne’s again to get some yarn.  We did a couple little chores around the apartment – adjusting some new sheer drapes and magnets on the cupboards.  We ate spam spread for lunch and leftover Ho Ho for dinner!  Watched the first game of March Madness basketball before heading out to Edgewood. 
Sunset at Randy's

FRIDAY, March 27  Happy Birthday, Ryan!
Albuquerque Old Town!

          Our agenda for today was a visit to Albuquerque’s Old Town, a historic plaza that we actually enjoy more than Santa Fe.  The shops are more reasonable, it isn’t quite so crowded and squeezed together.  We don’t get there until nearly noon, however, so only a few stores before we find the Backstreet Grill for lunch.  Good dining, although my chicken salad was just a touch too spicy for me.    We poked around in some new shops, visited old ‘friends’, and made some purchases!  Mom bought a new shirt and a gift for Jax, I bought a shirt and a new nativity from Indonesia (love the Christmas Store!)  Happy Birthday to me! 
      The San Felipe Mission Church was absolutely beautiful with its white spires against a deep blue sky today.  Add the blossoming trees, the warmest day of the year in Albuquerque, and we had a wonderful time!  To top it off, the pan flute ‘band’ Amauta was playing in one of the little courtyards as we were ready to leave.  We have bought their CDs before, so today we just stood and listened to about three songs.  So beautiful!
Amauta Band
          After our big lunch, Rick just ate Scotcheroos for dinner.  I finished up the salad.  We again watched the first game of basketball and then headed out to Randy’s. 
          No birthday celebration for Ryan today.  Randy comes home late Sat night.  They will do their traditional family bowling party next weekend.  But Patty was making cookies (for church on Sunday) so Ryan was enjoying them! 

          Patty, Ryan, Rach, and I enjoyed a trivia game of Bezzerwizzer (or something weird like that), which I was winning until Ryan make a dramatic come from WAY behind victory.  Oh well, it WAS his birthday, after all!  
St. Felipe Mission Church, Albuquerque Old Town
SATURDAY, March 28
 Weekly Shopping for Mom
          Big shopping day on the agenda for Mom!  Actually, just her weekly stock up that she usually does when Ran and Patty come into town to shop each weekend at Sams, etc.  We decide we need sustenance first and Mom has a coupon for Olive Garden she wants to use!  So….off for a little Italiano!
          Always like Olive Garden.  We ask for the lunch menu (they didn’t give it to us even though it was 1pm on Saturday – good to know – it pays to ASK!)  I seriously consider the soup and salad all you can eat, because I love their Caesar Salad and a vast array of soups!  (Not to mention the breadsticks!)  But Rick points out a portabella ravioli on the ‘light’ menu and that sounds very inviting, especially with the endless salad to go with it!  Mom had angel hair spaghetti and Rick lasagna.  A good meal.  A very good meal.  J
Our little spot by Randy's shop, from back balcony of house
          Then it is across the street to Hobby Lobby – Mom rarely gets a chance to just peruse the aisles of such stores.  I think she left empty handed, but I didn’t!  Found a few fun quilling and paper flowers kits and instructions, plus a fun gift for Kaila to honor her new little brother. 
          Finally in to Walmart to let Grandma do her grocery shopping.  Rick and I pick up a couple items and I make one last trip to Dollar Tree for a few birthday cards. 
          A late night at Moms as the Kentucky-NotreDame March Madness BB is on the TV and no one is at Randy’s anyway tonight.  They are in town and picking up Randy at 10 pm at the airport!  So we stay to watch the end of the game and arrive out in Edgewood shortly after 9:30pm.  We are still up when we hear the car pull in around 10:45 from the airport, but will save our hellos until tomorrow! 

SUNDAY, March 29
Regan, Dom, and Jaxon
Covenant Presbyterian Worship
Family time in Edgewood!
          Up a little earlier today to be ready to leave for town shortly after 8:30 to have Grandma to church on time!  The service has been moved from 10:30 to 9:30am!!  But Mom is ready to go and we just pick her up and head to the church.  I like this church – largely on the surface because of all the rainbow colors!  They are Covenant Church and the Rainbow covenant with God is evident everywhere!  A nice service for Palm Sunday.  Mom had a palm to wave! 
Jed and Jaxon meet!

 Straight out to Edgewood and the Walmart to pick up some roasted chickens for dinner plus potato salad.  Nothing fancy on the menu, just EASY!  Patty now has the cold, Randy is tired.  No one wants to cook, just chat!  Patty pulled out some baked beans and I made a tossed salad, plus some cut pineapple (especially for Jed!)  Mom is spending the night and Jed will take her home in the morning when he heads back down to Socorro. 
Mom and Jaxon

          Everyone joked about when Jed would arrive.  He said between 3 and 5 and I suggested  closer to 3, but hadn’t heard anything back.  Patty and Randy said we would see him at 6 then!  But….Jed surprised everyone by pulling in 5 minutes BEFORE 3!!!   Amazing! 
Jax checks out his
new birthday book
      Ryan and Rachael got home from work around 4:30 and we ate dinner!  Regan and Dom back with Jaxon around 6:30, just after we all returned from a walk around the ‘block’ (about a long mile in this area!).  Good time playing with Jaxon.  We gave him his birthday present – a shirt and book, both with geckos. 
          Ry, Rach, Jed, and I played a game of Galaxy Trucker. Ryan was the eventual winner.  A strange game as both Jed and Ryan and Rach all lost
Rach, Rand, Patty, and Ry
their ships during one round or another.  Fun time, however.  I think Grandma just plain enjoyed being in the middle of all the chaos.  Randy and Patty are leaving on Monday also for a three day vacation over to Arizona country. 
          This will wrap up the New Mexico portion of our Southwest Spring Swing blog for 2015!  Tomorrow night we will be in Colorado and homeward bound! 

PS.  This will be a little slow in getting posted as I don't have good enough internet to process the pictures on the way home!   

Saturday, March 7, 2015

SPRING SOUTH SWING: Part 3 - Tucson Weekend Travels

Friday, March 6
Relaxation/Chore Day

            This will be a relatively brief entry!  We spent a rather lazy morning and then tackled the laundry for the week.  Actually took the time to hang it out on the line today in back of the MVS house.  Once the laundry was done, it was time to venture forth in the truck to find some thrift stores and the grocery store! 
            Not wanting to repeat thrift stores, we headed up toward Savers on Broadway with the plan to visit it, then three more on Speedway and Craycroft.  However, we never got beyond Savers!  Rick found two pairs of pants, I got a new long sleeve work shirt (just in case I don’t get the one I left at Albert’s on Thursday back!), AND we hit a bonanza of bi-lingual books for Andi and Dan and Amilio!  It took awhile to work through all those books, but we got a pretty good deal on them eventually (had to haggle just a little!)
Walter grins in front of the
finished puzzle!  
Sunset 3/6
            Grocery shopping at the Neighborhood Walmart and then back to the trailer (it was 5pm by then!) to cook up pork chops for dinner.  I made a great fruit salad with some of the citrus fruit from Walter plus the last of our Bountiful Basket kiwis.  After dinner I went over to the SOOP lounge to put a few puzzle pieces in.  Walter was there and an hour later, we had the puzzle done!  Walter was worried about what he would do on Saturday! 
            Another gorgeous moonrise as the full moon poked over the horizon as I was walking back to the trailer. I tried to take a picture, but it was a white dot in a solid black frame!  

Saturday, March 7
Mt. Wrightson Hike

            Rick did a little research yesterday and suggested we head south of Tucson toward Green Valley and the Santa Rita Mountains for a hike up on Mt. Wrightson.  We had no intention of going all the way to the top, as it is a 10.5 mile climb of 4000’ – more than my legs are in condition for!  But it is to be a beautiful day and a hike sounds perfect! 
            We left around 8 and headed south on I-19 toward Nogales, Mexico.  The town of Green River is about 30 miles south of Tucson, and our road to Madera Canyon just a few miles south of the town.  Another 12 miles into the heart of the Santa Rita mountains and the trailhead.  We took the Old Baldy Trail about 2.5 miles up to Josephine Saddle, then continued on Old Baldy another .5 miles to a viewpoint and a perfect spot for a snack.  At that point we had climbed nearly 2000’ and my legs were done! 

            You transition from desert to Ponderosa Pine forest and finally to the sub-alpine zone at the top.  It was sweet to see the first big Ponderosa next to the trail and begin to find cones along the trail.  In one point I photographed a redbarked pine with a yucca right next to it!  We had difficulty identifying many of the trees, but they include a variety of M’s! (In Madera Canyon, no less!)  Mountain mahogany, madrone, Manzanita?  Also a type of oak and lots of junipers.  The alligator juniper is a fun bark to see. 
A leaf with fuzzy surface!
            I picked up a pair of really nice sunglasses along the trail just past Josephine Saddle, stuck them on my hat, and figured I would leave them near the trailhead if no one claimed them otherwise.  About 5 minutes later, a redhead came running down the trail, ‘Did you see any sunglasses?’  I flipped them off my hat and handed them over.  I thought he would kiss me – very grateful and gregarious! 
Rick grabbed the camera!
     The skies clouded over for much of the trip which meant it wasn’t nearly as hot as I had anticipated.  In fact, I never took my new shirt off until we were about a half mile from the truck at the very end!  A good cool breeze was blowing the further up the mountain you climbed. 
View of Wrightson from our lunch site.
            We talked with a couple from Germany who are traveling the US and hoped to make it to the summit.  They had started a little late in the day, but maybe!  When they heard we were from Oregon they wanted to know if there was too much snow to visit Crater Lake!  We assured them if ever there was a year to visit the Cascade Mts earlier than normal, this would be it! 
We asked another hiker to take our
picture - I couldn't balance the camera!
    Parts of the trail wound through a ten year old burn on the mountain.  I remember Luke saying he went through a fire area when he hiked to the top in 2010.  
            A good hike.  I am out of shape for climbing, but it felt good.  Will probably be a little stiff by tomorrow night!  As we passed through Green Valley we thought again of the Dodsons, so I pulled out the phone and gave Shirley a call.  Sure enough, she was probably less than a mile away from us when we made the call!  We decided to stay in touch and perhaps get together next Sunday – she and Dale want us to come down to Green River to have dinner at their place. 
            Back to Tucson (we took the Old Nogales Hwy back north) and straight to El Sur!  We figured we earned the right to dine again at our favorite Mexican place.  Rick tried a new beef dish and I had shrimp taquitos.  We splurged and got drinks this time also.  The sangria was excellent and Rick had a Mexican beer. 

  Home around 4pm to watch the sun go down in a blaze of fiery clouds.
Rick goes under an arch of trees along the trail. 
Josephine Saddle campsite.  Trails from all over converge at this saddle. 
Memorial to 3 Boy Scouts who died on Wrightson in 1955 when caught in a freak arctic type storm that dumped FEET of snow suddenly on the mountain.  
View back toward Green Valley
Our only wildlife of the day...wild turkeys near the Visitor Center!
Panorama from stop point of Santa Rita ridge and Wrightson

And finally....our sunset this evening.....

Sunday, March 8
Shalom Mennonite Fellowship

            Oh, what a beautiful morning!!!  The skies cleared overnight and it is a crisp clear spring morning in Tucson!  As it warms up I head outside to draw in the sunshine as people begin to gather around the church. 
            We thought worship would be poorly attended, but at the last minute most of the seats filled and there was a pretty good crowd.  Music today was violin and piano, and I had to laugh when the piano dropped out after the first verse and the second two verses were sung acapella in four-part harmony.  Sooooo sweet.  Rick once again really enjoyed the sermon and I went up and asked the preacher if we could get some copies of this week and last.  Today was on ‘What’s in our library?’; and concentrated on the Bible, various interpretations and mis-interpretations and the dangers of ANY religion taking a single story or verse out of context without reading the entirety of the message.  Well done. 
            After church Peter and Viola, SOOPS from Winnepeg, Manitoba invited us out to lunch with them.  We went to Beyond Bread and enjoyed a great meal and conversation.  Peter was a secondary teacher and volleyball coach as well, but I also learned that coaches aren’t paid extra in Canada.  After lunch we all went to Bookman’s – a huge new and used book store in the same mini-mall.  Several good ‘finds’ there in terms of puzzles, bilinguals, etc. 
            Rest of afternoon cleaning house (ok, that took all of 10 minutes!) and then phone calls to Moms, Luke, etc.  I went over to the lounge around 5 to make some paper flowers to leave as gifts on the desks of the CHRPA office gals, with a simple note saying thank you for all they do.  We also resupplied the freezer with more ice cream treats this weekend as it was almost empty.  Just trying to do a few little things anonymously that might make a small difference. 

            Sunday night SOOP get-together – I played a round of Tucson! (Monopoly) with Lorene, Peter, and Don while Rick actually put together a whole side of the new puzzle!  Way to go Rick!  

FRIDAY, March 13 – SATURDAY, March 14
Bisbee Birthday Bash
125 miles Friday-90 miles Saturday   215 total

Not the best map - print screen
wouldn't work on computer!
            This weekend we are celebrating my birthday with a trip to Bisbee, AZ and the Second Saturday After 5 Art Walk!  An adventure!
Tough to talk these two into
a picture, but...
           But first, we begin the day taking Walter and Lorene Good out to breakfast!  Rick had picked out a little Mom/Pop diner on Broadway and Wilmont, but we couldn’t find it…so we went up to Beyond Bread instead!  A little more confusing for the two of them to order, but a good meal and a great chance to visit with JUST them which we haven’t really had.  Lorene is definitely ready to leave.  She hasn’t been doing much volunteer work and is feeling cooped up in the little trailer they are using (belongs to Scott’s sister).  Walter putters a few hours each day in the shop and then heads to his puzzle in the SOOP lounge.  They are probably going to take off sometime next week. 
            We finally take off from Tucson around 10am.  I have picked a rather indirect route down to Bisbee, but we really want to explore some new roads.  We head down Rt 83 to Sonoita, then east on 82 toward Sierra Vista.  We could go directly to Bisbee via 90 out of Sierra Vista, but opt instead to take 92 which travels within 3-5 miles of the border.  The whole trip today was about 125 miles.
Mt. Wrightson and Santa Rita Mts. to the west
            We climbed over a small pass enroute to Sonoita, with the Santa Rita Mts and Mt. Wrightson to the west of us.  Sonoita is a big vineyard area.  We were shocked to travel out of the desert vegetation and pass through a huge grassland region.  The Whetstone Mts. are to the NE of us (Kartchner Cave) and the Hauchuga Mts. to the south.  Fort Hauchucha, a US army post, surrounds Sierra Vista, a town of around 45,000.  You can pretty well find any box store you want in the area.  We slipped into Wal-Mart long enough to pick up some RV supplies we needed (toilet paper!), saw a big blimp in the sky for awhile (The border eye in the sky?), and then headed south. 
We didn't expect such grasslands near Sonoita!
            We were a little apprehensive about Hwy 92 because it was a gray road on the map, but our concern was quickly relieved.  It was 4 lane for the first 10 miles or so out of Sierra Vista with housing developments to the east!  Even the two lane portion was rimmed with well-kept ranches and homes.  I told Rick if the turn-off to Coronado National Memorial said it was less than 5 miles to the Visitor Center, I wanted to go.  We found the turn and it was exactly 5 miles!  We head south to within a mile of the Mexican border. 
Garbed in Coronado
gear!  I didn't put on the
metal mesh armor!
       This is NOT one of the more heavily visited places in the National Park system!  It is a memorial to the impact the visit of Coronado had to the development and the blending of the Hispanic and Native cultures in this region.  His expedition was ill-fated; he didn’t find the fables Seven Cities of Cibola (or gold for that matter!).  But his travels inspired future settlement of people from the south.  I got a passport stamp, picked up a couple of postcards, and bought another Spanish-English book for Andi! (Tres Javelinas Pequenas!)
We stopped to look into the huge open pit copper mine southeast
of the historical district.
            From the Memorial it was only another 30 miles into Bisbee, much of it within 5 miles of the border.  We could see that most of the mountains south of us were in Mexico. 
The Copper Queen Hotel - our room was third floor, same
as the green balcony we enjoyed a couple times!
   Bisbee is one of the artsy-fartsiest towns I have ever seen!  The historic section (which ONCE boasted 25,000 residents – where they put them I can’t imagine!) is nestled in the bottom of several intersecting canyons.  The HUGE Copper Queen Open pit mine, with its three sprawling holes, is southeast of town.  There isn’t more than a quarter mile of level ground in the city.  Most of the roads are narrow one lane passages (but considered two-way!) that no one in their right mind would want to drive on!  Parking is an absolute nightmare!  We drove through, found the hotel and several parking lots, all of which were full.  We backtracked.  We headed up OK Road which was a big mistake.  Narrow, one way, little passing room.  Scary.  We went back down (finally) and decided it was well worth the money to PAY for a spot in the Conference Center area.  As it turned out, when we went to pay and said we were at the Copper Queen Hotel, she said NO CHARGE! 
Our tiny room. 
Our old fashion key and
complimentary cookies!
            We checked into the hotel. This is a turn of the century historic building, complete with resident ghosts (or so they say!)  I’m hoping the ghosts will stay on the fourth floor where they reportedly reside MOST of the time.  We are in room 303, a TINY little room with barely the space for a double bed, a small desk, and a little dresser.  Small bath with shower.  It is just fine.  There were cookies on the desk and the room keys are REAL KEYS – chunky gold square keys!  Victorian floral wall paper and antique furniture everywhere.  The lobby had a St. Patrick’s tree in the corner! 
Presbyterians got here early!  1903 church sits right
next to Copper Queen in the heart of downtown
   We had heard of golf cart tours of the hilly city terrain and that seemed like a fun idea (plus they were reasonable!)  We went back down to the parking lot where the tours originated and found we had just missed one leaving a few minutes earlier with only two passengers.  Room for us.  So we got a deal to hail down the driver as she came past the Copper Queen Hotel and pay half price for the rest of the tour!  We took it as the next tour wasn’t until Saturday. 
            The gal driving the golf cart and narrating the history of the town was a local girl and she knew her stuff.  We wound up streets that were lined with stair-step homes, tiny little yards, and parking under the house in some cases.  Some homes were built on stilts on top of the rain aqueduct that runs through the canyon.  We saw churches, artwork, historic homes, schools and shops.  Up and down the hillside.  Many homes are painted with a rainbow of colors.  There is local artwork scattered all over.  Rick and I were on the back of the golf cart and I wished I’d had a seat belt going up some of the hills!  Hard to hold on!  More of the tour pictures of town will be posted at the end of the blog.  
Central School - now a multi-purpose art center. 
            After the tour (a big $20 total!) we went out walking abit before dinner.  Covenant Presbyterian Church, built in 1903, is located right next to the Copper Queen Hotel.  We heard there was a huge pipe organ inside, but the building was locked.  Hopefully it might be open at some point on Saturday because I would love to peek inside. (We forgot to try!)
            Near the church is the old Central School, one of the original elementary schools that is now repurposed as art studios, local theater, etc.  It is open most of the time and we explored a little of the building, but most of the artists were gone.  Tomorrow it will be busier.  Then a walk up Main Street which houses most of the small shops and galleries for the city.  Many closed at 5pm, but we found a few open; enough to allow for a little exploration of what might be available. 
Dinner at the hotel cafe
  By 6pm my stomach was saying it had been a long time since breakfast (and lunch was half a banana and a cheese stick!)  We headed back to the Copper Queen and went into the dining room.  As it was cooling off we opted NOT to head out to the patio area, but took a table next to the window by the church.  Rick had Chicken Asiago and I had the Copper Queen Chicken Quesadilla.  Good meals.  A fancy place and a really nice waiter. 
Peace sign lit the night sky at the
upper end of Brewery St. 
            After dinner we walked up Brewery Street a little ways and then up one of the multiple sets of steps throughout the city.  Midway to the top we found the City Park!  Shelter area, bandstand, bleachers, basketball court, and multiple 'games' painted on the concrete.  There were even a few trees!   We could see a lit peace sign on the hill and also discovered the B is lit at night on the upper hillside!  
Each section of stairs is marked with
the number of steps, the stair number, and
Bisbee 1000 as part of the route!
            Bisbee hosts a 5K run every October called the Bisbee 1000.  Many believe that 5K feels more like a 10K because it includes all the steps in town, for a total of ..... one thousand!  Our tour guide this afternoon told us that people dress up, the stairways are decorated, and it is quite the festive event!  
            We grabbed a cup of decaf coffee from the 2nd floor lounge area and went out on the 3rd floor balcony to sit in some wonderful old rocking chairs and watch the town come to life.  Stars in the sky, lights of the city, voices, singing, and a gentle breeze.  Very peaceful hour chatting quietly. 
            Back to our little room where Rick chills with some basketball while I write and draw.  A good start to the Birthday Bash….I check out some of the art offerings for tomorrow on the computer.  G’night!

Bisbee morning from balcony
We started our walk down around
the museum entrance
Saturday.....I am up shortly after 6 and sneak out of the room with my book, coffee cup, and phone to head down to the lounge and hope the coffee is ready!  It is!  Read and catch up on a little correspondence until 7:15, listening to the hub of people around me as the hotel comes to life.  Muffins for both of us and more coffee.  We even went back out to the balcony for a little while to enjoy the morning sunshine (and the wind that has come up!)  Stores begin opening at 10 and we are off!
          Basically our day involved trips back and forth up Main Street, checking out our options and then around 2:30-3pm, going back to make our purchases!  All sorts of quirky shops line the narrow avenue - galleries, gift shops, specialty shops, thrift stores and antique shops.  Some of a blend of all the above!  
Nosa creating my patch
My finished Bisbee Birthday Bash patch
The bike that powers the sewing
      The one thing I really wanted to catch was P Nosa, a fabric artist who is making the rounds of art fairs on a grant from the Arizona Art Commission.  He 'draws' small fabric patches with his solar and bicycle powered sewing machine.  The customer gives him a 5 word phrase and he creates the patch from that.  I decided last night my words would be Bisbee Birthday Bash to commemorate the weekend.  He had trouble at first with the metallic thread for the 'disco ball', but then got going and created a cute patch complete with filled wine glasses.  I don't drink red wine usually, but I'll pretend it is sangria!  Since no one else was in line, Rick told him a phrase I find God hiking in mountains.  The result is something akin to the Creation picture from the Sistine Chapel, only on top of a mountain!  It was fascinating to talk with him and watch the picture emerge.  

Museum wall flies
God and Rick in the mountains
          I have forgotten to mention the 'flies'.  I started to take a picture describing a contest in the early 1900's to swat the flies (evidently they were being a nuisance!)  Realized I had no media card in the camera, and after fetching said card from the truck, forgot all about the picture!  But the display did explain why they are giant fly sculptures in front of several buildings, and these three flies on the wall of the main museum.  Milton Freewater has frogs, Bisbee has flies!  
         We grabbed a quick lunch at Cafe Cornucopia, a tiny little eatery on Main.  Quiche, soup, and a slab of bread.  It was good!!  All in all, we bought gifts for at least 6 people, plus a few momentos for ourselves!  I had to limit myself, as we still have shopping we can do in Albuquerque and Santa Fe!  
St. Patricks
      By 3:45 we were about walked out!  Time to hit the road.  But before we completely left Bisbee, we drove up to St. Patrick's Catholic church to take a peak inside.  This church will celebrate its 100

Back window of cathedral

Inside cathedral
anniversary in two years and the party is already starting.  The stained glass windows are breathtaking, but I was especially struck by the simple purple cloth and object 'banners' marking the stations of the cross (I think).  There was a crown of thorns, a rooster, a flogging whip, large dice, etc.  Very effectively done.  
Sample of Lenten decor:
crown of thorns
          The road drops on a steady grade heading north from Bisbee on US 80 and you realize how much it climbs to reach this mile high city (the most southernly miler in the country!)  We stopped in Tombstone, but it was a zoo in the historic district and I decided I didn't want to shop any more that badly!  On to Benson, I-10 and back to Tucson!  
Sunset upon return to Tucson
           Arrived back at Shalom Resort right as the sun was sinking into the west and the sky lighting up again.  Welcome home!  

More photos from the Bisbee Golf CartTour....
As we head up the hill, looking down on Brewery Street and OK St, the narrow dead end we started up!

Colorful stripes in the right center is the Copper Queen Hotel

The old high school - boasts ground-level entrances to all three floors!

Random public art is scattered all around the streets of town. 

This is the Copper Man statue which sits just below the Cochise County Courthouse and the Catholic Church.

One of the prettier murals on a building wall. 

This historic home was moved from its location on top of a section of the open pit. 

Bisbee boasts some pretty colorful homes. 

The Royal Theater and Cafe was once the Baptist church.  It is also built on top of the water canal. 

Castle Rocks mark a major curve in Main Street and the end of most of the shops. 

Another residence which spans the flood canal.  
Sunday, March 15
        Another beautiful sunny Sunday morning in Tucson, although blustery!  The wind blows for much of the day.  We attend church at Shalom - a good crowd because the pastor candidate is preaching.  She seems like a personal lady, but overly demonstrative.  I felt somewhat like she was preaching to children perhaps.  We didn't stay for the 'second hour' questions and answer time with her.  At noon all the SOOPS, there were 12 of us in the group, went to lunch together at U-LIKE Asian buffet.  Quite the spread of options, ranging from sushi to mongolian grill to salad bar to dessert bar.  Ate way too much, but it was all very good.  Walter and Lorene are leaving on Wednesday so this was a goodbye farewell to them. 
        A quick trip to Wal-Mart for some groceries for the week and Rick got a call in to his mom before we left for downtown Tucson and 4th Avenue to meet with Mike Virga.  Mike had called last night to apologize for not getting together again with us.  He was leaving for his next job on Monday.  So...a rendezvous at 4pm on 4th Avenue.  
      Wow - a much busier place than I expected on a Sunday evening!  Fourth Avenue is a wild area of Tucson - hippie, Bisbee, 'anything goes' type of place!  People had just finished with a St. Paddy's parade downtown and were in good spirits.  We met at Cafe Passe and just got some various cold drinks (ice tea, italian soda, and I'm not sure WHAT Mike had!) Good conversation for an hour or so.  
       I went over to the SOOP lounge for the Sunday evening gathering, staying longer than planned, but the puzzle was making progress!  Said goodbye to Viola who will fly out this week and Kathy.  We will see their husbands this week at CHRPA, but not the gals.  Ted and Elinor brought ice cream to celebrate Walter's departure!  
       Conversation with Mom and Marg finished off a busy Sunday!