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!  

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