Thursday, June 30, 2022


Corona de Tucson

June 29, 2022

Life is always better when family comes to visit.  Our oldest daughter Jill and the love of her life, Bill,  and grandson Henry and the love of his life, Jenna came all the way from North Carolina for a week long (well it didn't seem very long) visit...arriving at noon on June 22 for six nights.  Our little home was quite full of good things that life has to, laughter, adventures, beauty, family meals at the big table, silly stories about years gone by, sharing future plans and goals, and some really nice weather.

Bill and Jill at Madera Canyon



Henry and Jenna at Madera Canyon

Day 1:

For Jill, Henry and Jenna, this was their first visit to the land of the saguaros.  So the first order of business was a visit to Saguaro National Park East.  

I chose the Garwood Trail.   

We were up and out the door just after the crack of dawn.  I love the desert and couldn't wait to share it.

After our hike, we made a stop at the Visitor Center for t-shirts and did the Cactus Forest Loop drive before heading to lunch.  After dinner that night, we had the most beautiful sky.  

And then, the clouds began to if someone was flipping a light switch on and off with lightening bolts thrown in for dramatic effect.   The video I took will not download to blogger, just trust me, it was a sight to behold. 

 Day 2:

The day started off with a walk on the cart path in our neighborhood.   

Our destination for the day was Tubac Presidio State Historic Park.  Tubac is the oldest town in Arizona...established in 1752 as a European settlement.  The old Tubac schoolhouse was built in 1885 and has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.  

School kids...Henry is a sophomore at North Carolina State and Jenna starts there this fall.

The very first Arizona newspaper "The Weekly Arizonian" was printed in Tubac.  The adobe walls that housed the press are long gone, but somehow, the Washington Hand Press that was used to print the paper survived.  What a tedious job that was.  The tiny letters are written backwards and each letter of each word is placed in the case.  "e" was the most frequently used letter.

There is a stairway to the underground exhibits that demonstrate the real history of Tubac.  Signs explain the archeological excavation done in 1974. The excavation not only reveals multiple structures, but also the cultures that occupied this space.  

There are several other structures listed on the National Register of Historic places in the park.  Otero Hall which houses the restored 1850s wagon called  "The Jackass Mail".    The highlight there for me wasn't the wagon, but an exhibit by a renowned  western artist William Ahrendt (born 1933).  He begins a painting by mixing and applying a batch of egg tempera as a foundation.  Later he applies layers of oil paint and the result is a painting that glows.     

A road race from Los Angeles to Phoenix called the Cactus Derby was held annually from 1908 to 1917. Barney's - Oldfield's Stutz Bearcat came from behind to win the Cactus Derby in 1914 earning him the title "Master Driver of the World".

After lunch at the deli, we meandered thru several shops.  Tubac is not just a historic village, but is also considered a destination for the arts.  We have never been to Tubac in the summer and were surprised to find some shops closed until winter.  


Day 3:

Jenna is quite the artist and Jill has a great eye for photography.  I was happy when it was decided we would visit De Grazia's Gallery in the Sun.  As you know, Joe and I have been several times and we always find something new every time we visit.  It was fun sharing a place we love.  Even if art is not "your thing", the buildings (designed and built by DeGrazia) are beautiful.  

DeGrazia's collection of Native Dancers is on display.  The collection of drawings, watercolors and oil paintings (date 1948-1981) depict Apache, Navajo, Yaqui, Santo Domingo, and Tohono O'odham dancers.  

Feather Dancer...oil on canvas 1975

The courtyard at the gallery has never been a reason to visit the gallery, but this day, there were many varieties of cacti blooming.  These prickly, magnificent, and sometimes painful beauties sure know how to steal the spotlight  and I loved watching as Jill snapped away.  There is a yellow glow in the center of this bloom...

...the dainty little hedgehog was wearing a crown... 
...and this cacti was in its full splendor.  I counted 24 flowers  with more on the way. 

Henry and Jenna found Gambles Quail eggs...

and a few lizards.

We sure love this young man !

If you visit the gallery, be sure to see the Mission in the Sun...also designed and built by De Grazia.  It is the first building he constructed on the property in 1952.  It is open to visitors 365 days a year.

By the time we were ready to leave, our tummies were letting us know it was time to eat.  Mexican is a favorite and a late lunch at El Charro was our next stop.  El Charro just celebrated its 100th birthday and claims the most impressive title "the oldest Mexican food restaurant in the country continually operated by the same family".  It is a treat not to be missed in Tucson ! 

Day 4:

Sunday had us lacing up the hiking boots again.  Our destination was in Madera Canyon (a National Forest Recreation Area)  to hike the upper end of Proctor Trail from the Amphitheater to the picnic area at the end of Madera Canyon Road.  


We walked back via the road to the Santa Rita Lodge to check out the birds.  I was excited to add a new bird to the list...a Magnificent Hummingbird. It is the second largest hummingbird north of Mexico and lives in mountainous pine-oak forests and shady canyons between Nicaragua and the extreme southwest United States.  
His throat is a bright aqua shimmering color...quite pretty...but I didn't get a good focus.  They visit this area during the spring and summer so maybe another day.  

A picnic and sunset at Gates Pass was planned for late afternoon...after naps.  The drive on Kinney Road thru Tucson Mountain Park has long been a favorite for me.  

It was a wee bit cloudy to say the least, but we remained hopeful that we would see the sun set.

It wasn't the dramatic sunset we had hoped for.

But, none the less, we all had a great time.  I am pretty sure our East Coast family was most impressed with the beauty, the ruggedness, and the never ending view.  

The sunset was just mediocre, but the night turned out to be a most memorable night . Bill had asked me to take a picture of them.  Much to everyone's surprise, he proposed.

We enjoyed the cool night air outside until we all said our good nights.

Day 5:
I guess everybody who comes to Tucson has already heard of Tombstone.  Founded in 1877 by Ed Schieffelin.  Stories are told that he was part of a scouting voyage to ward off the Apaches.  But he spent most of his time in the wilderness looking for rocks.  The soldiers told him he wouldn't find stones, but rather find his own tombstone.  Fortunately for Ed, he did not find his own tombstone, but did find silver.  In the mid 1800s, Tombstone was between San Francisco and St. Louis as the fastest populating city in the west. The Town Too Tough To Die was our destination.  

I am guessing most visitors come here in the winter as the town was almost empty.  Yep, the cowboys lined the streets, the gun fight at the O.K. Corral is still a daily show, the horse drawn stagecoach still makes its way up and down Allen Street, and thank goodness, Big Nose Kates is still open for lunch.  It was almost like a private tour of this historic, dusty little town where the Old West is still alive and well.  We perused the shops, skipped the gun show, had burgers at Big Nose Kates, and enjoyed the smell of leather in stores with leather crafters.


I think we would all agree, the best part of the day was visiting in the backyard.

It was such a nice visit. The time flew by.  And we miss them bunches !  Until next time...


Saguaro National Park East

Tubac Presidio Historical State Park

Gallery in the Sun

selfies at Madera Canyon

Gates Pass