Sunday, February 28, 2016

Light rail and rising moon

Public transportation has always been a good way for us to find our way around. It beats driving and trying to find a parking place and which way to go to get to who knows where. Tucson invested in its light rail two years ago with grants and has been such a success that they plan to expand.

The area around the university has some great parks. We have found that college students know good places for food and beer. They definitely have plenty here.

We stopped in for lunch and should have shared our order.

Two nights of beautiful moon risings while we were house sitting.

Such a beautiful place to housesit and watch a sweet dog, but it was nice to get back to our little casa after trying out the mountain biking in Sweetwater Preserve just around the corner. We did come home with each of us having a flat. Mike's  inner tube was totally blown out. I don't know what he hit. We were just glad we made it back before it blew.

Yes, you have to walk back up here after you get done cooking.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Road and mountain biking in Tucson

Pima County has more that 100 miles of bike trails and lanes. A huge effort has been made to get grants to pay for them. We have met several cyclist from Canada and the US that return to Tucson every year to ride them. 

Since we had ended our last long bike ride at Julian Wash, why not start there and see where we ended up.

 The clouds were appreciated since it has been so warm here in Tucson this winter.

 After riding 18 miles, we ended up at Saguaro National Park on the east which has an eight mile loop with a few kickers to keep you awake. Then we headed a different way back to where we started.

Love these smooth paths. Some are chip seal but this was smooth as ice.

The bike path has all sorts of interesting art along the way.

We found the mountain biking area that we had heard about along the path and decided to return the next day.
Looking at this trail map, we thought no problem. It looked like each loop came back to the middle. Boy, were we wrong. We know better than heading out without a map or GPS in a new area. Many of the trails did not have directions posted and we found ourselves going the wrong way a few times. Good thing is was a Saturday with a few people there to set us straight.

I was glad to see these chairs which meant we were almost back to the truck.

My new bike handled the washes and dips so much better without jolting my head. Sometimes on my old bike, I would feel like I was going to knock a tooth out. I guess I should have listened to Mike and gotten a new mountain bike sooner. Looks like I might be as hard headed as he is.

Many of the flowers are blooming and we look forward to seeing the cactus in bloom before we leave in April.

The Mercado is a public market a couple of blocks off the Santa Cruz bike path and there is a constant flow of cyclists stopping here. The line to Seis where we decided to have tacos was a constant 8-10 people long. It was fun to watch the kids play in the middle and flow of cyclist visiting while they ate something from one of the shops.

Tucson is such a dichotomy in so many aspects as you go from one section, street or building. It keeps things interesting.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Saguaro National Park

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a public work relief program  that operated from 1933 to 1942 for unemployed, unmarried men from relief families particularly devastated by the poverty of The Great Depression. Young men ages 18–23 many with 8th grade education, it was a major part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal that provided unskilled manual labor jobs to help with conservation or development of natural resources in rural lands. In the Tucson area alone, CCC workers lived in temporary camps and created improvements in dozens of public land areas, including Saguaro National Park
They would work during the day and get an education in the evening with Sunday evenings for church.

I have spent the past few days going to classes to prepare to start working at University Medical Center for 7 weeks starting next week. During a break, I went for a walk. A lady at the front entrance did not speak English very well. She asked me to help her call a taxi while handing me her phone. She is from Syria and has been in Tucson four months. There is a large refugee community here in South Tucson.
A neighbor we had for several days would do volunteer work with the local refugee organization.

One of the CCC picnic sites that is still available for use. This day was a bit toasty to be in the sun for too long. 

The petroglyphs on the hill side. I kind of wonder what they were trying to say with the circles.

This national park is on the west side of Tucson with another section of Saguaro National Park on the east. 
With so much to choose from to do, we just pick something and go. I hope to spend and evening at the Kitt Observatory and do some volunteer work in Nogales before we leave. St Andrews Episcopal Church does free medical care once a month for children from Mexico. I will fill you in more on that in future posts.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Tucson Gem and Mineral show

We decided to sit at the community table rather than wait the 30 or more minutes for a private table for a Sunday morning breakfast. You never know what you are going to get when you sit there. the first couple ignored us. That was fine. The next lady seemed a bit grumpy but turned out to be delightful once she got her coffee and ordered here meal. She asked if we were snowbirds while starting up a conversation. They looked like they were in their 80s, from Indiana and full time RVers for 20 years.

The 1,200-mile Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail connects from Nogales, Arizona, to the San Francisco Bay Area. Much of the Santa Cruz bike path runs along this trail.
The local gem show has ended. We were amazed at the size of many of the geodes. The law enforcement watches for smuggled fossils and gems from all over the world. They caught quite a few people bringing in illegal items this year. 

After dinner we usually take a walk. Last night we ran into a group of people looking at the sky, waiting for the International Space Station to fly over. We joyed the wait and watched through a light cover of clouds and waved at the astronauts as we watched it pass in the sky. Then stopped to listen to mariachis that were playing in the auditorium for a while.

Amazing fossils


We had no idea that amethyst geodes could be so huge.

Had some great fish tacos. El Charro has been here since 1922 in the old Tucson area.

Great fish tacos here.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Tumacacori and Tubac Art Festival

It has been three weeks since I finished my last contract in Mesa, AZ.  We had planned to visit the art festival in Tubac and decided since Tumacacori was just a couple more miles down the road and 19 miles north of Nogales, why not stop in.
The docent was interesting as she shared the stories about the Hohokam and Apache Indians and Jesuit missionaries from Spain.
As we entered the sanctuary, a recording of monks singing was playing and softly echoing through the sanctuary.

The cemetery and house with an open roof where the dying were brought.

Wishing well in Tubac.

 Located in the Santa Cruz River Valley, Tubac, AZ has a 250-year-old Spanish history. In 1752, Juan Bautista de Anza was appointed as the commandant to the Presidio at Tubac after leading a group 1200 miles from Mexico to  San Francisco.

Mike liked the Dirty Redhead Beer from a local brewery.

I wish I had the artist's names to give them credit but they were amazing.

Cool road signs

We find ourselves shaking our heads that we have been fortunate enough to be able to see all of these wonderful places and taste so many different food. I don't know how we have managed it but things just seem to work out for us. I am so glad that we started our adventure 14 years ago instead of waiting for someday. We know many people who have not been lucky enough live this many years or have the health to live the life we have. I know it will end or at least change someday. For now I am enjoying every minute of it.

Another amazing artist.

Cuenca, Ecuador

An Expat Destination The morning after returning to Quito we boarded an hour-long flight to Cuenca. Driving up the winding roads would have ...