We have friends who spend every winter in Tucson and they have been raving about the place for years. I'm not a huge desert landscape fan but this year we were ready to escape the Virginia winter and go anywhere warm.
It was time to give Tucson a try and boy was it worth it! The Sonoran Desert is spectacular and it's particularly spectacular in this region where they actually get some regular rain. I am now totally fascinated by the saguaro cactus and I really love that we don't know a lot about them. Supposedly, if they have arms they are over 100 years old, but they don't know for sure. There are no tree rings to count.
Before I get into the vacation week I want to tell you about my two celebrity sightings! The first was when we left Richmond on a 6am flight. We were standing in the Delta check in line and we saw a man and woman get in the Sky Priority line. The man looked like an aging rapper and I didn't recognize him at first but as soon as I heard his voice I knew it was David Bromstad from HGTVs My Lottery Dream Home. No one bothered him and he seemed as nice as he is on TV. I assume he was in Richmond filming.
The next one was at Tanque Verde Ranch. We went horseback riding one evening and our friends were showing us around the ranch before our ride. I was surprised to see that there was some sort of quilting event going on there. As we walked through one area there were 2 men sitting at table talking with some of the quilters. It was Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably! I had not paid to be at the conference so I didn't feel it was appropriate to speak to them but I thought it was funny since I had just finished the blue quilt top that was from one of his books. In case you are interested, the retreat was sponsored my Madeline Island School or the Arts. They have retreats in Arizona, Minnesota and Maine.
Back to the trip. We had 4 absolutely fabulous sunny days with temperatures in the upper 70's and we took full advantage hiking every day. There are so many hiking opportunities in that area. We hiked in the Ventana Canyon, Sabino Canyon and East and West Saguaro National Park. This photo was in Ventana Canyon. That was out longest hike of about 6 miles, straight up and straight down. It was a great workout.
The last 2 days were cooler but still lovely and a nice break from gray Virginia. Today, though, Virginia is bright and sunny and almost 60.
We went to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum and got to see the raptor show. There's a hummingbird exhibit there too but we saw more hummingbirds at our friend's condo than we saw in the Museum enclosure. I expect that we were there at the wrong time of day.
At the Tanque Verde Ranch we went horseback riding. I haven't been on a horse since I was about 9 at 4H camp so I was a little unsure. I had a chat with Cimarron beforehand to explain that the ride was all on him and that I was just going to focus on not falling off. Laurie had Elvis and he was a little more of a handful so I was grateful for Cimarron. He's very comfortable leading ignormat riders around. It was a beautiful ride and I got over my apprehension very quickly. By the end I was hardly paying attention to the horse and just enjoying the great views. That was the day we saw Kaffe Fassett.
During the down times we played a lot of tug with our new friend, Jammer. Jammer is an incredibly well-behaved dog. She doesn't beg or counter surf but we learned that she apparently has a jones for ear plugs. I sleep with earplugs and I put them on a little tray by the bed in the mornings. One night I noticed one missing but didn't think anything of it. I assumed it got accidentally thrown out, but just in case, I tried to keep the bedroom door closed. I opened a new pack and then I had 3 earplugs on the tray until the day we came home and all three were gone. I had accidentally left the door open. Then we were pretty sure that Jammer had developed an addiction. I was worried that it would cause her trouble. Bill and Laurie were not. Sure enough, over the next 2 days were were relieved by reports of fluorescent orange poo pellets.
While we were there we also visited Biosphere 2. I didn't get any photos, the weather was awful and, frankly, I didn't think about it. The whole Biosphere 2 experiment fascinated me when it was going on and when it all collapsed so I was excited to actually see the place. If you are interested, the Wikipedia article on it is pretty darned entertaining. Today it's owned and managed by the University of Arizona and there's one significant experiment going on there, Landscape Evolution Observatory (LEO) where they are studying how volcanic rock evolves into fertile soil. All of other experiments referenced in the tour seemed to be halted. You can actually download the Biosphere app and take the tour virtually. What struck me the most about it was the size. It's not nearly as big as I expected and the idea of putting something like a dozen different plant and natural ecosystems inside, in essence, 3 buildings seems ill-advised in hindsight. Of course, we know it didn't really work but I'm sure there were good lessons learned for science anyway. The tour really glosses over the Biosphere experience for the residents and doesn't actually reference any real research that they were doing while living there. I think they were having enough trouble surviving and producing food. It was worth the trip though. I've always wanted to see it. The drive around Oracle was beautiful and we stopped by Catalina State Park. We would like to hike that area someday too.
I did get to visit a local quilt shop and a yarn shop. I bought some cactus-themed fabric to make some memento placemats. I forgot to photograph the fabric but I'll get it later this week. During the flights and little down time, I worked on chemo hats. Hats are the perfect travel project and I finished the 4 chemo hats on the front. The dark blue one is a hat I finished a couple of weeks ago when I was at a doctor visit with Mom. All of these are made with a really soft polyester yarn, Feels Like Butta by Lion Brand and whatever the Hobby Lobby equivalent is.
It's good to be back home and to have humidity again! I've never been so constantly thirsty and dry but we really enjoyed it and are looking forward to going back.
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I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.