Tucsonian Times

When we were first off work at the beginning of the year, I didn’t really understand how this whole time off thing should go.  I felt antsy about down time, and just had the urge to keep moving.  Thankfully, we had the tutelage of Dave and Max, who were pros at the concept of multiple months off at one time.  We faithfully devoted ourselves to their teachings, and lately, we’ve done a great job of balancing excitement with the mundane tasks of everyday life.

We had to relearn the art of vacationing this week, as my parents came out to Tucson for a 2 week visit.  We’ve had a fabulous time, going to a new interesting place everyday.  (Ice cream consumption, however, has remained static….I guess we require about the same regularity of dessert regardless of the season!)

Monday, we visited with my brother, Steve, from Las Vegas.  We all went to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.  It’s a zoo, botanical garden, and natural history museum, and so extensive that you’d need a couple days to see everything.  The coolest thing was a raptor show, where giant birds like hawks and owls are in free flight around you, and fly right over the crowd…about 2 feet higher than our heads.  We also went to a city park to do some stargazing through Steve’s amazing telescope.  (Tucson is a dark sky city, with work that started in the 1970s to curb upward light pollution.  It’s amazing to look up the middle of a huge city, and clearly see most of the night sky.)  We also got the whole group out for a ice cream run.

The reasonable portion side of the table.

And the “ice-cream-the-size-of-my-head” aficionados.

My grandfather, my mom’s dad, came to Tucson in the pre-antibiotic 1940s to recover from pneumonia.  My mom saved all the letters and post cards he mailed to her, and we visited a few sites that he mentioned in his correspondence.  The house he stayed in is now a crazy-colored ramshackle rental, but we really liked the mission San Xavier Del Bac.

JJ and my dad had a RV project to work on, so I took Mom our for a day of birding around the waterways of Tucson.  We’re a pretty good pair, because I can say “hey, look, there’s some bird!”, and then she can do the work of identifying it.  She even got a couple “lifers”–birds that she has never seen before.

Mother stalking her flighty prey.

The highlight of my week was the Tucson Rodeo Parade, the largest non-mechanized parade in the world.  (And I believe it!  The parade lasted 2 hours, and I think we saw a couple thousand horses!)  My favorite participants were the contestants in the Miss LatinoAmerica pageant.

This was a life-sized version of those Barbie cakes with the edible bell-shaped skirts!

We found one of the best farm markets ever, held in Trail Dust Town, an Old West Town attraction.  There was a guy who gets his salmon from his fisherman father in Alaska, a guy roasting whole peppers and tomatoes right on site, and tons of lovely veggies.

Friday afternoon, we enjoyed Catalina State Park, in the foothills of the Coronado National Forest east of Tucson.  Mom and Dad opted for the Birding Loop Trail, and we took the Canyon Loop that followed a wash.  We were so excited (and refreshed) to find the trail right alongside the cool, clear water of the seasonal wash.

Very happy toes!

Yesterday we all moved far south, near Hereford, AZ, just about 5 miles north of the Mexican border.  For the next week, we are staying at River Ridge Guest Ranch, a guest house in the midst of 30 acres.  There’s chickens who provide fresh eggs, goats who will eat any food scraps we have, and (squee!!!) horses, yes horses!   We’re in the midst of an winter bird paradise, mountains, ghost towns, history, and nature.  It should be a fun and relaxing week!


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