Tucson, AZ. Feb 2017, Part 4

My sister, Judy and her husband, Bruce were in Green Valley at the same time we were in Tucson. Green Valley is about 30 miles south of where we were at Diamond J’s.  They went with us to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum and a few other places as well. It was nice to see them and share these places with them.

Tumacácori National Historical Park.

Tumacácori National Historical Park is south of Green Valley. It is a small area that protects the ruins of old Spanish missions in the Santa Cruz River valley. The Jesuit mission was established in 1691, the oldest one in Arizona. The goal was to convert the indigenous O’odham people to Catholicism and to organize them into a working commune that could help support the community and the church the missionaries had them build.  It remained a Jesuit mission until the Pima Rebellion of 1751 when the Jesuits were forced out and the Franciscan monks took over.  Most of the Jesuit mission was torn down and replaced with one that was more in the Franciscan style.  Their increased demands on the O’odham people to contribute more agricultural products, money and labor led to it’s eventual abandonment.  It fell into disrepair until it was named a National Historic Monument in 1908 by Teddy Roosevelt and stabilization and restoration efforts began.

Today you visit the grounds, the remains of the mission and a museum.  And of course a gift shop.

This was the funeral chapel.  The holes in the walls are where the scaffolding poles were inserted. The building was not completed. If it had been the holes would have been filled in.

The interior of the mission church was pretty substantial and much cooler inside than out.  There were drawings that showed what it might have looked like.  The roof beams and roof were part of the stabilization and preservation effort.  Without a roof the building wouldn’t have survived very long.


This is the Franciscan version of the mission. 

The grounds were interesting.  There was a large lime kiln.  They would pile chunks of limestone on a big iron grate over a fire pit and roast it for days and then crush what was left, mix it with water and sand to make white stucco which preserved the adobe bricks.  There were wells, cisterns, irrigation canals, orchards and fields to grow food.  There was a picnic area where we had a picnic lunch. A local person was baking scratch made corn tortillas over a fire and serving samples with a chili sauce.  Yum!

We also went to Tubac. It was established in 1752 as a spanish fort and was the first Arizona State Park and now hosts an artists’ colony with gift shops and restaurants.  There was a kitchen shop. We found a very nice 8″ saute pan that was just what we had been looking for.  I am pretty sure it wasn’t made by any local artist.

Kitt Peak National Observatory.

Kitt Peak National Observatory is about 50 miles west of Diamond J’s.  It is on the top 300 feet one of the most important mountains in the cultural heritage of the Tohono O’odham Nation. This area was identified as a candidate for a National Observatory in the 1950’s.  There were careful negotiations with the Tohono O’odham elders for permission to build on the top of the 6,800 foot mountain. They finally agreed and the site is respectful of the cultural heritage.

Kitt Peak is home to the largest array of optical and radio telescopes in the world.  There are more than 25 telescopes on the mountain operated by different Universities and coalitions.  There is a 4 meter telescope, the biggest one in the world when it was built in the 1960’s.  There is also a 3.5 meter telscope, several radio telescopes and one of the biggest solar telescopes in the world.  This telescope looks directly at the sun to study sun spots and solar flares.  

We went on three docent led tours to three different telescopes and had a picnic lunch high up in the sun.

This is the 4 meter Nicholas U. Mayall Telescope.


It was quite cool (temp) inside. The big blue ring holds the yellow reflector.  Both rotate to aim at the desired object in the night sky.  All of this is highly automated today.  In 1960, not so much.  This is a very busy telescope in use almost every night.  The scientists who are using the telescope stay in dormitories on the mountain sleeping during the day and working at night. Time on this telescope is scheduled out for years in the future.


This was the McMath–Pierce solar telescope.  Most of the telescope is below ground.


The radio telescope on the right is part of a string of radio telescopes several thousand miles long that are all coordinated to point at the same place in space at the same time.    Looking west, you could see a long way from up here.


Tucson Botanical Garden.

We also went to the Tucson Botanical Garden (on a different day).  This was more in the middle of Tucson.  There was a Frida Kahlo art exhibit there as well as the gardens to see.  Pretty amazing gardens. Interesting art too.


This was a family owned farm and ranch back in the 1930’s and then a garden center up until the 1950’s when it was donated to the city. Now there is a gift shop.

The Tucson Garden Railroad Club has a model railroad here. There are many outdoor garden railroads in Tucson. A sign gave a schedule of tours of these railroads.  This was pretty detailed and the trains were running.


And a butterfly house.  Here is an amazing one who just sat there, wings spread, waiting for me to take its picture. It was about 4″ across.

Tucson Jewish Community Center.

We also went to the Tucson Jewish Community Center to see a quilt show.  These were all done by a woman whose focus was on homeless people. Her own son was a homeless person that she could not find.  The quilts were cotton, hand painted with fiber reactive dyes and then quilted.  None of the quilts showed any facial features.  Nameless, faceless, homeless.

They were also selling a homemade twisted Jewish Challah bread.  We just happened to be there on Friday when they had it.  The lady at the counter said it sold out quickly.  So I bought one, it was sweet and very good.
Kind of a rainy day today.  Good day to try to catch up on blogs.

More later,

Roger and Susan

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s