Saturday, July 24, 2021

Southern Arizona Heritage and Visitor Center

Corona de Tucson

July 24, 2021

This week Joe had an early morning appointment at the eye doctor.  We don't venture into Tucson very often as most everything we need is close by in Sahuarita or Vail. 

One of the places we have been wanting to visit is the Pima County Historic Courthouse which just happens to be close to the Catalina Eye Care.   This piece of history which opened in 1929 is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  Today, it houses exhibits, the U of A Mineral and Gem Museum, a coffee shop and offices.   

In 1978 when it received its historical status, it was designated "the most outstanding Spanish Colonial Revival building in Arizona".  



The "elegant blue-tiled dome" was recorded as its most prominent feature.  It is no surprise that the iconic mosaic dome has become one of the most recognizable structures in the region.   I couldn't help but be impressed with the ornate, delicate, and strong to withstand the test of time and nature.  

In 1934, Public Enemy #1, otherwise known as John Dillinger, was captured in Tucson and held in this courthouse.  The sheriff sold tickets to the public to view the bank-robbing celebrity.  

Courtroom #1...where John Dillinger was arraigned .  The courtroom has been preserved to the 1930s Dillinger days.  

Johnny Depp pleaded guilty of speeding (93 mph in his Porsche) on I 10 in the same courtroom in 1991.  He played John Dillinger in the movie Public Enemies in 2009.

The exhibits..."storytelling portals"...are informative and colorful with details about the history, arts and culture, food, recreation, water, and nature.  The center also includes a theatre, topographical maps, and a gift shop.


We didn't visit the Gem and Mineral Museum housed there, but will return to do so.  And I want to go to the Tucson Museum of Art which is across the street.  Both buildings are in the EL Presidio Neighborhood National Historic District.  

On a not so fun note, we did get biopsy reports.  Its not good, but that was not a surprise !  My only biopsy (on my temple...yikes!) is positive for squamous cell carcinoma.  Poor Joe, 4 of his 6 biopsies (2 on his nose...double yikes!, 1 on the top of his hand and 1 on the side of his neck) are positive for basal cell carcinoma.  The doctors office will call next week to make appointments for another round of MOHs surgeries.  As bad as it sounds, it could be so much worse.  We are thankful to have a great surgeon ! 

We are still enjoying our morning walks.   We walk at a fast clip and don't take the pups along so last week when we finished, we started taking them for a half mile walk on the sidewalk.  Now they insist on going...all lined up at the door waiting for leashes !  Such creatures of habits we all are !

That is a huge hawk in the top of the tree...



We did purchase countertops for the kitchen this week.  We found exactly what we were looking for at Home Depot.  Now we wait !   Next step is for the contractor to come and measure and then its more waiting to have them made and installed.   Did I mention I don't like waiting? 

Other than that, our week might seem boring, but we prefer to call it living instead.  We aren't very motivated to start projects we want to do inside or out.  It is very rewarding (at this stage of the game) to have projects you "want to do" instead of "have to do".  Neither of us are lazy, but  after 9 years of go, go, go and then another year of work, work, work we don't want to do either right now.  We spend our days enjoying naps, reading, playing games, throwing ball with Jack, and sitting on the patio.  It has rained everyday this week except one.  As I write this post, we are under a flash flood watch until midnight Sunday.  There were signs of flooding when we went to the grocery store yesterday...road closures and even a car that had been swept off the road and landed a few yards away in a deep wash.  

The backyard continues to be enjoyable and entertaining.  Joe can't keep the bird feeders full.  

We call them (female House Finch) the regulars ! And have grown accustomed to their chatter.  We often chuckle at the occasional disagreement they seem to have as they crowd the feeder and hop along the ground.

We have awarded him (Gila Woodpecker) "The Most Polite" bird.  He never bothers any of the other birds and isn't greedy as he perches for a seed or a bite of suet...taking either with him to a bush nearby to enjoy.

Although common in the backyard, I find him (House Finch) quite colorful and enjoy his long twittering song.


The colorful male Black-headed Grossbeak has quite the voice !  He reminds me of the Robins we had in the Georgia yard.  Even though Robins do live in this neck of the woods, we haven't seen any.   

 Sometimes the visitors don't fly.  But they do run really fast ! 

And sometimes I spend way too much time doing silly things like trying to catch a droplet of water about to fall.  Unsuccessfully I might add !

Back in the mid 60s, Joe's mom and dad made a cross country trip from South Carolina to California to attend a bankers convention.  One of their stops along the way was Tucson where Joe's mom bought a roadrunner painted on a beautiful piece of linen.  

I thank Helen everyday for many of them was sharing her love of birds with me.  I had never given birds a second thought until I met Helen and visited her home.  The feeders outside their kitchen window sure made a lasting impression.   

It hung in their SC home for many years and was one of the pieces Helen brought to our GA home when she moved in with us in 1995.  I think it's awesome that after all these years, the roadrunner has made its way back to the desert southwest.

So until next time, enjoy the day and...

I took both photos at Sabino Canyon Recreation Area in December 2018.



  1. Ugh on the Mohs! Mike is having two Mohs on the 13th. We too want to just "be" these days. The air conditioning is finally running as I type this--I am SO excited! Cheers for the rain and I love both your roadrunners--the painted one and the live one! That's good to know you have found a Mohs surgeon you both like--we will have to get the name.

    1. Ugh is right Janna! My first MOHs surgery and I am so NOT excited! The dermatologist/surgeon was recommended to us by Joe’s oncologist in 2014 after chemo and we have been faithful patients ever since.

  2. I love the Pima County Historic Courthouse. I'm surprised we missed it in all of our stays in Tucson. This is the type place John usually finds to explore. We'll have to check it out during a future visit. That dome is beautiful. Just "being" is so relaxing. We both always knew we would be very good at retirement. We have alway been content with small pleasures...hiking, walking, biking, reading, puzzles, etc. We, too, have our routine here in BC. How cute it must be to have the Tan Clan waiting for their turn at a walk when you get home. Your painting from Helen is perfect in your new home!

    1. The Heritage and Visitor Center in the renovated historic courthouse only opened in Jan. 2020 to a handful of folks. It was closed because of Covid and recently reopened last May for the public. Definitely worth a stop on your next visit Pam and count on us for a home cooked dinner! 👍

  3. We totally agree....just "being" is wonderful and we're all lucky to be able to wait for a water drop to fall. Ugh to the Mohs, however. They're never a good thing, but at least you caught things early enough to be able to take advantage of them, if that's the right way to say it! Love the roadrunner on your wall, and it's story. Nice to see snippets of your sweet new home!

    1. Thank you Sue! It’s a nice feeling to be settled, safe and comfortable. I’ll let you know about the surgery….I’m a little anxious and wish they would call so I can just get it over with!

  4. Glad you have a good surgeon and the mohs were caught early. Continued best thoughts. The roadrunner was a favorite of Fran's mother, totally appreciate having the wall hanging ... looks awesome!
    Continue to enjoy your walks and those with the pups.

  5. I truly don't think I have ever read any blog about the courthouse before. That was fascinating. I had my squamous on my forehead also. Right above my right eye. The MOHS left me with two black eyes but he got everything. And Jim is like Joe. Had part of his nose removed along with several places on his back. But I'm grateful you have found someone you trust to take care of these issues. Your birds are beautiful but road runners are special.

    1. The courthouse had a small opening after renovations were made in Jan 2020 and because of COVID had to close. It recently reopened in May 2021. As much as I know you enjoy history, I think you would find it not only beautiful, but interesting as well. Worth a stop when you are in the area Sandie!

    2. P.S. I hadn’t even thought of having a black eye…yikes!