Monday, February 13, 2017

Natural and Spiritual Beauty

February 10-12, 2017
Tucson, Arizona

We are loving the sunny skies and warm weather, but Friday's expected 90 degrees is too much of a good thing, so I figure a trip to 10K feet is the perfect option.

I thought that my mother and I made the drive up Mt Lemmon during the 12 years she lived in Tucson. However I'm sure I would have remembered - and then I would have planned more time for this adventure. Leaving the valley at noon, and needing to be back for happy hour at 4:30, we definitely didn't give ourselves enough time. 

On both the trip up the mountain, and the trip back down, we comment on the extreme change in eco-systems. From the low-growth desert of the valley we pass first through a Saquaro forest with the tall beauties covering hillsides for miles. Then they completely disappear, replaced by Chapparreal with Yuccas and Ocotillo. Next comes our favorite area where the amazing rock formations out-shine the Manzanita, oaks and huge green shrubbery. We are steadily climbing from 2500 feet to about 8500 feet. There are dozens of view points and parking spots to stop and see the huge vistas below. Finally, we start seeing snow amid a thick pine forest just before getting to the tiny ski-town of Summerhaven. I imagine in the heat of summer the name is true for lots of Tucsonians! The gate is closed above the ski lifts where a few folks are skiing on fully covered slopes. We must have said Wow! a million times :-))

Magical forest

The wonder of water in the desert.


We spend a lot of time playing among the boulders at Morino Basin - here watching bugs swim under the water.


After getting her feet wet in the creek, Tessa dries off on a warm rock.
There's no need to get so close to the edge. No. Need.


The formations are spectacular.

Wonderful views. I can see fine from here.


My favorite. A thin slab with small arch.


So much Wow.
Big views from the snowy top.

The tall run is closed, but the smaller run to the right is open. 

One of many view points.
While at the top, it's 59 degrees and a bit breezy. Back in the valley it's still 91 degrees. Definitely a good day for Mt Lemmon! 

We're back in time for happy hour at John and Pam's with Sue and Dave as well. We first met these four in the Fall of 2015 after following each other's blogs for almost two years. Now we count them among our favorite friends. We look forward to meeting Gay and Joe who are also here but unable to join us this evening.

Saturday morning we're up and out the door to meet our high school friend, Reggie. Yes, another one! Reggie makes 50 friends from our high school we've visited on the road - not including those we've seen at our Laughlin, Nevada, reunions. So much fun!!


Reggie has been in Tucson for over 40 years.
Saturday evening we're so happy to meet Gay and Joe at Sue and Dave's! Another delightful couple who we already feel like we've known forever :-) John and Pam are here too. It's getting dark when one of us remembers we haven't taken a photo - we'll just have to get together again!

The expected clouds are here Sunday morning, and it's noon before we wander outside. Neither of us are feeling particularly adventurous so we make the short drive to see Mission San Xavier del Bac. Bill mentions it's Sunday as we pull into the driveway.....so we're not alone. 

This oldest existing European structure in Arizona was completed in 1797. Numerous restorations have maintained the ancient beauty of the multi-domed church.


Large grounds.
There is a deep history here and you can feel it as soon as you step inside what is a surprisingly small congregation space. The hand painted ceilings and arches are muted and soft with age. Even with the crowd it is a peaceful house of spirit. Unfortunately the camera is back home and my phone struggles to capture the beauty.


Imagine all the stories that have entered here.


I love this muted but intricate detail.

Popular on Sunday. The last Mass is held at 12:30 pm.

Windows, doors and ceilings are adorned in delicate design.

Very narrow seating for services.

Three large alcoves with domed ceilings have incredible artistry.

In addition to many Catholic saints are Native American statues and paintings. 

So much to take in. The bronze lions are kind of weird :-)

The Teacher is a lovely piece in the little museum.
Cloudy skies add to the quiet.



A very happy cholla in the large garden.
At the church entrance is a sign reminding people to be quiet. Who has to be reminded?? As I'm walking in the front I hear loud laughter just outside the door. Who would be so irreverent?  I turn around to see who.....it's three nuns :-)) I have to try very hard not to join in.

We return home and succumb to the call of the nap. And wake up to loud thunder with just enough rain to spot our nice wax job. Oh well......



21 comments:

  1. There is so much to see in the Tucson area. We love it down there. Our favorite park in the area is Diamond J's.

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    1. We've stayed there twice and really like it. This is a great city with so much to see and do.

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  2. We spent Feb in Tucson last year and enjoyed it very much. We do need to get back up to Mt Lemmon again.

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    1. Have you tried Mercado San Agustin in Tucson? We used to stop after a bike ride.

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    2. We even did another run part way up today ;-) We leave Wednesday but will see if we can give it a try - thanks!

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  3. We definitely are going to have to check out Mt. Lemmon. So beautiful!

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    1. So far it's our favorite place in the area!

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  4. Mt. Lemmon is the best place to head when it gets too hot down here. I had to laugh at all the spots you saw from a great distance. No you couldn't see well from there:) The Mission is beautiful. Love The Teacher!

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    1. :-))) those views were just fine. We even went back to the Hoodoos yesterday, we like that drive so much!

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  5. Mike and friends rode motorcycles up Mt. Lemmon when we were hanging out in Tucson a lot but I've never been up there. Love that mission--we've never been that there wasn't scaffolding outside marring any photos.

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    1. There was some restoration happening on the lower part of the front I was able to photograph around, unfortunately some of it was to cover graffiti :-( When you're in the area again you really must make the drive - you'll love it!

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  6. Love your trip up the mountain through the different ecosystems. For sure that would need more than 4 hours. I think your phone did a great job of showing the gorgeous detail on the mission. Amazing that the 8 of you??? it is 8 right?, are all in the same place at the same time or was someone the coordinator??

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    1. Yep, we went back for more yesterday :-) Some coordinated, we jumped on a couple months ago. Unfortunately we're leaving before four more blogger folks arrive, but it is a great place to gather with something for everyone to enjoy.

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  7. We haven't taken the drive to Mt. Lemon. Its on the list to do before we leave ! We were also impressed with the Mission a couple of years ago. It is beautiful.

    It's been so awesome meeting you, Bill and Tessa ! Joe and I look forward to many more visits as our paths cross in the future.

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    1. We feel the same way! Great to spend some time with you guys and can't wait to do it again!!

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  8. So nice to have Mt. Lemmon to escape to when it's 90 degrees in the valley! The rock formations are beautiful, and so are the views. I can't believe that in all our trips to Tucson we haven't visited the Mission. It's so gorgeous—definitely on our list for our next visit. I like your story of the nuns laughing. :-))

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    1. You'll love the vintage beauty and historic spirit. Take cash and get some fry bread from the little native vendors out front.

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  9. Elevation is the definite answer to heat. Again you tease me to check out the area. The church looks fabulous. Sure is nice to know people all over the country.

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    1. With the two sections of Saquaro NP and Mt Lemmon there's lots of natural beauty to see, even though there's a big city right here. We're continually surprised by the number of friends we have found in almost every state :))

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  10. We have not gone up Lemmon yet. I don't know why? If we make it to AZ with enough time, we're definitely going to make time to get there. Did you notice if there is any boondocking up there?

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    1. Definitely didn't see any. There were side roads closed that might have a couple places available when the snow threat ends.

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