From Tucson, Arizona, to Anaheim, California

On Wednesday, March 21, 2018, we left New Mexico behind and began our trek back to California to meet up with family at Disneyland. First, the fifth wheel and truck needed a good bath after 52 days on the road, so we stopped in at Rincon West RV Resort in Tucson for four nights. Mid to late March seems to be a great time to travel in southern Arizona. The weather was great and the resort had plenty of sites available, unlike what we found in February the previous year.

Tucson, Arizona

IMG_1878-2
Tucson always feels like home. We need to spend more time there.
IMG_1880
Can’t beat the Tucson sunsets.

After our cleaning day, we rewarded ourselves with a trip to an RV show at the convention center and an early dinner downtown. At the RV show, we took a good look at motorhomes to compare to our rig. We didn’t see anything that would make us switch at this time. The thought of having to deal with maintenance on a motorhome plus a vehicle towed behind put the kibosh on a new rig. On the other hand, the walk around town and an early dinner was a hit.

IMG_1888-2
The chili pepper design is appropriate for a bus stop in Tucson.
IMG_1887-2
The Rialto Theater, named after Ponte de Rialto in Venice. I grew up in Rialto, California, where the town’s logo includes an image of the bridge.

Obon Sushi Bar Ramen served up a Salmon Poke and Tonkotsu Ramen that matched our taste and left us wanting more even though we were full. In between lunch and dinner is our favorite time to grab a meal at a restaurant because they usually are not too busy. With only a few customers, our server checked on us frequently to make sure our food tasted good and we had everything we needed. We topped off our meal with a scoop of the most flavorful green tea ice cream I ever tasted.

IMG_1883-2
Obon Sushi Bar Ramen

The next day’s forecast called for 80-degree weather and high winds in the afternoon, so we got up early for a hike on the Douglas Spring Trail that leads into the Saguaro Wilderness Area. Parking is limited so it’s a good idea to arrive early.

IMG_1889

As we walked up to the trailhead, we heard a coyote howl behind us. Then another coyote responded. I love it when nature comes out and lets us experience their lives. Several hikes ranging from .2 to 12.4 miles are accessible from the trailhead.

IMG_1893
Carillo Trail

We opted for the 1.5-mile Carrillo Trail cut-off and then returned thinking the strong winds would begin roaring through the canyons by early afternoon. We found a well maintained, easy to moderate trail with no signs of litter, which was remarkable given the number of hikers we met along the way.

IMG_1896

The trail starts out as a botanical garden of sorts with several specimens of the cactus such as this blooming ocotillo and saguaro.

IMG_1900
Blooming Ocotillo and Saguaro Against the Sky.
IMG_1905
Teddy-Bear Cholla
IMG_1914
View from Carrillo Trail
IMG_1917
Barrel Cactus
IMG_1895
The damaged saguaro lives on.

The trailhead is at the end of a road near the entrance to the Tanque Verde Ranch. Our curiosity about the ranch led us down the road to see what there was to see. Turns out Tanque Verde is a dude ranch/spa type place that goes for an all-inclusive $409 per night. At this price three meals per day and access to all of the activities are included. Only want to stay the night and eat breakfast in the morning? The price is $149.

Since finding a site in Tucson was easy peasy, we risked fast-forwarding the rest of our way to Anaheim without reservations. After a quick stop in Yuma at Carefree RV Resort, a night at Banning KOA, and a night in the Inland Empire on the street in front of Jon’s brother’s house, we arrived in Anaheim on Wednesday, March 28, 2018.

IMG_1920
Yuma also puts on a good sunset show.

Anaheim, California, and Disneyland

Anaheim RV Park was the perfect place to stay while exploring Disneyland. Not only are the sites spacious with concrete patios, the hibiscus, dwarf citrus, and cell towers disguised as palm trees were a pleasant change of pace from the desert scenery of City of Rocks, Tucson, and Yuma. Best of all a shuttle bus ran between Disneyland and the RV Park every 20 minutes for a small fee.

IMG_1922-2
Anaheim RV Park has wide sites and plenty of greenery.

When grandchildren have special moments in their lives, Papa and Nana must do what they can to be there. So it was when our granddaughter Maya’s middle school band and honor guard was invited to parade down Disney’s Main Street.

IMG_1937-2
My lovely family from the left: Jon, Laura, Jackson, and Chris. Maya was with her school group. We’ll get a glimpse of her later.

Jon thinks The Happiest Place on Earth is the most Frustrating Place on Earth because of the long lines and overcrowded conditions, so spending two days there wasn’t his idea of a good time.

IMG_1947
The Tiki Room is always fun.

During this trip, however, our daughter Laura served as our personal Disney guide, scheduling the rides to avoid the long lines and planning where to go for our meals.

IMG_1948
Disney is hard at work on the Star Wars: Galaxy Edge opening in 2019.

With the Disneyland App in hand, she had all the information she needed to make our visit as painless as possible.

IMG_1953
The Swiss Family Treehouse is now Tarzan’s home.
IMG_1955
Tarzan Treehouse
IMG_1963
Submarine ride and Matterhorn
IMG_1967
Tom Sawyer’s Island is still the best place for kids to get their wiggles out.
IMG_1970
This was the first time I saw this ship moving in the water.
IMG_1977
We paid extra for a spot on the concrete to see the Fantasmic Show. It was worth it.
IMG_1966
The Silvey’s waiting for the Peter Pan ride.

And here comes the band and color guard.

IMG_7070
Wells Middle School on Parade Route
IMG_7088
Maya in the middle.
IMG_7100
Wells Middle School parents and fans cheer the kids on.
IMG_7112
Jon’s favorite attraction at Disneyland is Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, no line and a quiet cool place to rest. The fire truck looks like a fun ride, too.
IMG_7115
Stop in at the Emporium for gifts.
IMG_7123
Jon attended the flag retreat, which honors current and veteran military personnel.

We all had a great two days at Disneyland. Even though Jon said he had a good time, I’m sure he’ll say no the next time the opportunity arises.

Four more days in Anaheim. Hmm, what will we do?

Safe Travels

Tucson AZ – Part Two

After our trip to the Titan Missile Museum, we stopped at Mission San Xavier del Bac, a historic Spanish Catholic mission on the Tohono O’odham San Xavier Indian Reservation. Architect Ignacio Gaona designed the mission under the direction of Fr. Juan Bautista Velderrain. Franciscans continue to run the church to serve the O’odham native community, whose ancestors built the mission between 1783 and 1797.

 

IMG_1400
Mission San Xavier del Bac

 

We joined a tour group in progress when we arrived at the courtyard outside the doors. The docent pointed out specific art pieces and explained their symbolism, but I had trouble hearing at the back of the crowd, so I stuck with taking pictures. I could have stood there for hours finding all the little details in my camera’s viewfinder.

IMG_1404
Balcony over the front doors. Note the shell over the window, a symbol of baptism, pilgrimage, St. James the Apostle, St. Augustine, and the Blessed Mary.
IMG_1403
One of the many carvings in the facade.
IMG_1401
I wondered what was behind the door.
IMG_1406
Jesus Christ Monogram
IMG_1407
Aesop’s Fable The Lion and The Mouse?

Walk through the carved mesquite doors and enter a church rich with bright colors, paintings, carvings, frescoes, and statues.

IMG_1410
From Ceiling to the Floor, Art is All Around.
IMG_1411
Ceiling Paintings
IMG_1412
One of the Numerous Angels in the Church.
IMG_1413
I like the way this resembles fabric and trim to give the appearance of a valance or drape.
IMG_1414
Handwriting on the Wall from Daniel 5?
IMG_1417
The depiction of the Last Supper. Note the dark figure at the edge of the drape on the right side of the painting.
IMG_1416
The Devil in the Details
IMG_1420
Flying Angel
IMG_1421
One of the Saints?
IMG_1424
Prayer Candles are Purchased at the Gift Shop
IMG_1425
Red, Orange, Blue, Green, and Shades of Brown.
IMG_1426
The Docent Said the Dots Are Thumbprints

Back outside are different views of the exterior, bell tower, hill, and plaza.

IMG_1433
Exterior Walkway
IMG_1427
Side of Church
IMG_1429
Bell Tower
IMG_1431
Archway to Hill Trail
IMG_1432
Hill Trail with Lions Standing Guard
IMG_1435
San Xavier Plaza

We’ll have to visit San Xavier again some day to enjoy more of the art and symbolism, meet the local vendors, browse their wares, and grab a bite to eat.

We thought we had allotted enough time to see everything on our list, but we needed at least a couple more days. Fortunately, Rincon Country East accommodated our request for two more nights.

Off we drove to Biosphere 2, the research facility owned by University of Arizona (UA) since July 2011. UA scientists conduct several large-scale projects at the facility originally built to “research and develop self-sustaining space-colonization technology.” One such project is the Landscape Evolution Observatory (LEO), a large-scale laboratory used to explore how the evolution of physical and biological processes of the landscape affects “water, carbon, and energy cycling within the landscape, and between the landscape and the atmosphere.” In other words, research on global warming.

IMG_1229
Biosphere 2 in Oracle, Arizona

The visitor center alone has plenty to keep a person busy for up to an hour, including a film presentation, exhibits, and multimedia displays. A bookstore and café are also on site. The best part is taking the under-the-glass tour. Led by a docent, the one hour and the 15-minute tour includes the tropical rainforest, desert, and ocean environments; the LEO; as well as the basement “technosphere” and the “amazing lungs.” The tour also includes the scientist’s living quarters, or human habitat.

Tropical Rainforest Environment

IMG_1207
Tropical Rainforest in Biosphere 2
IMG_1203
Tropical Rainforest in Biosphere 2

Aquaponics project explores how fish, bacteria, and recirculating water is used to grow plants at a faster rate using less water. It looks like something we could have in our backyards.

IMG_1209
Aquaponics Project

Desert Environment

IMG_1215
Desert Environment at Biosphere 2
IMG_1213
Desert Environment at Biosphere 2

Basement technology

IMG_1220
The Basement Includes Pipes and Equipment of All Sort that Serve as the Organs and Circulating System of Biosphere 2.

The Amazing Lungs. There are two on site, this one is included in the tour. Air expanded as the heat of the day rose causing the lung to rise. At night, the air contracted which lowered the roof—made of galvanized rubber—to the floor on its metal legs. Although the Biosphere is no longer self-contained, fans are used to simulate the expansion and contraction.

IMG_1221
Inside One of the Lungs of Biosphere 2

The LEO Project is enclosed within the three arched glass buildings. Each section contains a bed 30 meters long and 11 meters wide at a 10-degree slope. The beds are filled with 1 meter, or 500 metric tons, of basalt rock. Approximately 1800 sensors and sampling devices are installed to collect data which the scientists analyze.

IMG_1225
Exterior Glass Enclosure of the LEO Project. The Domed Shaped Building to the Left is One of the Lungs.
IMG_1227
It’s Difficult to See From This Angle, but the Dark Area Above the Green Frame is the bed of basalt rock.

Human Habitat

IMG_1228
Human Habitat Contains a Kitchen, Living Area, and Apartments that the Scientists Used During their Stay.

For our last day in Tucson, we packed a lunch, and headed to Tucson Mountain County Park and found a great place to have a picnic in the Ironwood Picnic area. After a quiet meal among the mesquite, palo verde, and teddy bear cholla we drove to Old Tucson Studios. Expecting a cheesy sort of place that would extract money from our pockets, we were surprised to find the old movie and television sets realistic and the entertainment professional and amusing.

 

IMG_1442
Teddy Bear Cholla

 

IMG_1444
Old Tucson Studio Souvenir Shop

The music, singing, and clapping attracted us toward the Grand Palace Saloon. Jon was glad we were standing at the back of the bar when the dancers came out and selected men to come up on stage, dressed in can-can outfits, of course. Don’t look too long at the out of focus print, you’ll get dizzy.

IMG_1445
Grand Palace Saloon

We wandered over to the Mission next and laughed at the actors who insulted the audience members as they walked into the arena and took their seats. Then we enjoyed a slapstick routine involving a gun fight, explosions, and falls from high places.

IMG_1456
Watch Stunt Shows at the Mission Arena
IMG_1459
Stunt Show Actors
IMG_1472
Uh Oh. Now, What Do I Do?
IMG_1476
I’m Having a Really Bad Day.

Next, we strolled through the town to see the sets where filming of over 400 movies and television productions took place since the Audie Murphy days.

IMG_1447
Peek Inside the Hotel Del Toro
IMG_1446
The Marshal’s Office
IMG_1451
The School House Exterior
IMG_1452
Bilingual School Room
IMG_1450
Phoebe’s Has Good Fudge For Sale
IMG_1449
Chinese Alley
IMG_1448
Saloon and Card Room

We felt we got our money’s worth at $18.95 a head. We took Gates Pass Road back to town and stopped at the overlook. As I stood on the hill the Tucson Valley and Rincon Mountains came into view through the V of the rock formations. It was then that I realized why I felt at home in Tucson. It’s the mountains.

IMG_1522
Gates Pass Overlook. Through the V on the Left is Tucson Valley and the Rincon Mountains in the Distance.

The San Bernardino Mountains towered over the valley where Jon and I grew up, and hills surround the valley where we live now. There’s something comforting about hills and mountains standing tall and strong ready to protect the inhabitants that live in the shadows.

Next stop, Casa Grande.

Safe Travels.