Tucson is home to the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures, which by the name gave me the impression that it would be a slightly interesting, but kitschy Roadside America type of a place. I was surprised to find the building, and contents to be a high quality museum.
The museum is a result of the passion of Patricia Arnell and her husband Walter. Pat started collecting miniatures as a small girl in the 1930s, up until she passed away just last year.
The collection, stated to number more than 500, including some from 200 years ago, and features a fantastic collection of displays over the years, hence the name Mini Time Machines.
The details are amazing – notice the tiny loom has an actual rug being weaved.
Many of the displays feature well known people or items. When close up’s are taken it is difficult to realize these items are just a few inches tall.
As an Addams Family fan, I spent considerable time checking out the entire family, each in their own room.
It is only when you see a collection of them with people in the background do you get a sense of the small scale, and intricate detail.
The collection is wide and varied, all with great detail – note the bottles on the table.
The artist and his collection of tiny paintings.
A library full of individual books.
The Mini Time Machine Museums of Miniatures is a highlight of Tucson.
Sadly about 2 weeks after our visit a lightning strike set fire to a large grove of the trees, resulting in significant destruction.
As with any catastrophic event people are looking for blame. While it was nature that set the fire, one view is the palm trees are not native to Arizona and shouldn’t be left to be wild, with the extensive ‘beards’ you see in the first photo. Many believe this exacerbated the fire.
Regardless, the damage is done. The parks department removed some of the most damaged trees so they wouldn’t unexpectedly fall and hurt someone, but amazingly as you can see there is still growth at the tops of the trees.
The other good news is not all the trees caught fire, so the park, while hurt, is still a beautiful place to visit.
It may take time, but hopefully nature eventually restores the damaged trees to their prior glory. And yes the beards are still there.
Arizona school children have long been taught the five C’s of Arizona – Cotton, Cattle, Citrus, Climate and Copper. As you travel through the state you will eventually go past the giant open pit mines for copper.
One such mine is located in the hills above the town of Sahuarita.
Copper demand today is as high as it has ever been as it is essential to a variety of products including electronics like your phones and computers. Almost 70% of the copper mined in the USA is right here in Arizona. The company that owns this mine has a small museum and offers tours.
After watching a promotional video on the virtues of copper, a professional tour guide led us to the bus for a trip up the mountain to see the pit and smelter.
The equipment that is used is huge.
Copper mining uses an immense amount of water in the processing. The guide said that these ponds are used in something known as tailings, and that they are safe and have a high percent of recycling of the water. History however shows that virtually every mining operation has some sort of environmental impact, either from spills or seepage into ground water.
As you make your way to the top you go past miles of terraced hillside, both for the mining itself and additional tailing ponds.
There are many mines in Arizona that are significantly larger than this one, but the scale of this one is still impressively huge.
As we made our way back down the hill we stopped by the facility where they do the smelting and refining.
Being like most people in the world today I like my phone, computers and cars, but there is a cost to all of this. Scientists and engineers have way to mine for minerals in a more environmentally friendly way, but the investment cost is significant. One would hope that as a society we would find these would be worthwhile investments compared to others and find ways to continue to use the resources needed but leave this world in better shape.
There is a group of aviation enthusiasts that have an organization called the Boneyard Safari, some of whom are located in Tucson. On a monthly basis they offer tours of a facility known as Aircraft Restoration and Marketing. This facility is located next to, but definitely not part of, the famed Davis Monthan Air Force Base boneyard.
The tour started early on a cold Saturday morning. Our docent Ramon lead us around the facility where most of the aircraft are not in flying condition, but this was expected.
With the early start we were there as the sun rose providing interesting lighting.
We wandered around some old Boeing 727, C130s, DC3 and others.
Many weren’t even complete aircraft anymore.
They will sell any part of an airplane to anyone with the money. This included some company that makes luggage tags out of old airplane skins, hence the plethora of small rectangular cutouts on the fuselage.
This cross section clearly shows the makeup of the tube that is an aircraft.
What happens to the cockpit of a 747 that sits in the desert for years? It becomes home to a bunch of weeds (and likely pack rats, snakes and other critters)
A poor effort to mask the tail number.
In addition to the aircraft there were other varied and sundry items around the facility.
A few more looks at the aircraft. While Ramon was an excellent docent, and it was amusing walking around the boneyard, the cost seemed excessive for what was there (compared to the numerous other types of events like this I have attended).
If you are really into aircraft, or quirky photography, this could be an event for you.
On the far west side of Tucson is one of those fantastically quirky shops that is a must stop. Just driving by says STOP.
The store and museum has been in Tucson for over 50 years. They advertise they have over 100,000 minerals and gems in the store. They were more than happy to let me take some photos, which I have done my best to identify here (no guarantees on accuracy of the identifications). In addition looking up the details on each has given me an education (thanks to Wikipedia and others).
Amethyst – A lilac variety of quartz.
Citrine – A yellow quartz thought by some to have self healing and inspirational qualities.
Quartz – The second most abundant mineral in Earth’s crust.
Malachite – A copper carbonate hydroxide mineral most often found deep underground.
Hyalite – An opal with that can have some color to it.
Yellow Muscovite – A hydrated phyllosilicate mineral of aluminum and potassium. More silicate.
Azurite – A soft deep blue copper.
Scolecite – A tectosilicate mineral in the zeolite group. To go further a tectosilicate is a silicate that have three dimensional framework of silicate tetrahedra.
Rubellite – A red or pink variety of tourmaline. Tourmaline is a crystalline silicate.
Pyrite – An iron sulfide, aka – fools gold.
In addition they have a number of unique pieces of art. If you are in the area you must check out this place, it is a hoot. And they are just down the road from Tucson Mountain Park and Saguaro National Park West.
The history of post season college football games have grown over the years. In 1940 there were 5, by 1970 the number was up to 11. From 1990 until today it has grown from 19 to a stunning 41 today.
Tucson was one of those 19 games in 1990, and have continued, for the most part, until today. The current bowl is sponsored by some group called Barstool Sports, resulting in a logo with a red barstool with the Arizona Bowl name.
The open space on the University of Arizona campus held the tailgate festival. There a number of events were happening, including a very talented Latino band playing.
The game featured the University of Wyoming Cowboys against the Ohio University Bobcats. The Wyoming team, and band, had a strong contingent in town to support them.
To give it a true Tucson feel there were a number of mariachi bands playing outside, and around the concourses of the stadium before the game. All were very talented.
The festivities continued as game time approached., with Air Force sky divers and planes flying over.
The Wyoming team was lead onto the field by a horse and rider.
The Ohio University band had an impressive display of dancing while playing.
Oh – and there was eventually a football game. After more than 4 hours the OU Bobcats prevailed in overtime.
With an early morning flight home the decision was made to spend the night at the Hilton Hotel in O’Hare Airport. A 9th floor roon facing the runways was great for checking out the terminals, plane watching, and enjoying the sunset.
The control towers were literally just outside our windows.
The train between the terminals alternated amusingly from empty to packed.
The underground walkways between the terminals, the CTA station and the hotel had a number of murals.
With sunset coming before 5 PM local time, the airport was still busy as the sun set, providing great shots.
The great thing was the commute to the terminal took about 10 minutes to walk over, scoot through security and it was off to Tucson! But not before one last sunset photo.
With an afternoon to spend before heading to O’Hare Airport we wandered the Chicago suburbs of Oak Park and River Forest checking out the plethora of FLW works. Doing this tour in the winter, with a recent snow, gives a very different look to the area, with more of the homes exposed due to lack of leaves on the trees.
We start with the George Smith House at 404 Home Avenue in Oak Park. As an early example of his work this home is in a variation of a Queen Anne style known as Shingle. The rooflines and overall cladding gives the home an unusual look.
As we move north through Oak Park we reach the commercial Lake Street, home of Unity Temple. Home to a Unitarian Universalist Church, the building was completed in 1908. It is considered by many to be the first modern building in the world.
Unfortunately we were unable to view the interior.
There are so many FLW houses in Oak Park the neighborhood has been designated as the Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District. Our tour of this area starts at 540 Fair Oaks Avenue – the William Fricke House.
This house was completed in 1901 in a 3 story Prairie style.
Just down the street at 515 Fair Oaks Avenue is the Rollin Furbeck House. The large open porches and front tower modifies a typical foursquare looking home. The cost of the lot and home in 1897 was $8250 – less than $300,000 in today’s money – a real bargain.
The house was a wedding present to the Furbeck’s, who only lived in it for a year before selling and moving to New York.
Next stop is the William Martin House at 636 North East Avenue. When William’s brother Darwin visited from Buffalo, New York, he engaged FLW to design a number of building there.
534 North East Avenue is the Harry Goodrich House. Restoration in the 1990s returned it to it’s original look, which as an early FLW work is very different than the later Prairie style homes.
Just down the block at 520 North East Avenue is the Edward Cheney House. With only 1 level above ground, and a large brick wall, it is barely visible from the street.
Next stop is 710 Augusta Street – the Harry Adams House. Completed in 1913 it was one of his later houses build in Oak Park, thus incorporating more of his famed lineal lines. One of the features we often spot when looking for a FLW house is the large concrete planter, which is evident near the steps (being December in Illinois it is void of any flowers).
North Euclid Avenue is another street with multiple FLW homes on it. We start with 321 – the Charles Roberts House. This house was completed in 1879 with FLW remodeling it in 1896.
Dating from 1897 the George Furbeck House is at 223 North Euclid Avenue. In a somewhat unusual look for FLW the front features two octagon shapes. The rooms in front were originally an open porch that was enclosed in 1922.
FLW became infamous for abandoning his family and going to Europe with his mistress in 1909, staying there for an extended period. This home, the Oscar Balch Home at 611 North Kenilworth Avenue was the first home in Oak Park he designed upon his return, completing it in 1911.
This home was one of his first flat roofed designs.
Making our way back down to Chicago Avenue we find 1027 – The Thomas Gale House. This home, as well as two others on the same block, are known as FLW Bootleg houses as they were designed independently by FLW while he was still in the employment of Louis Sullivan – eventually being fired for doing so.
The other two bootleg houses are 1031 and 1019 Chicago Avenue. On this trip missed 1019 – below is the Walter Gale House at 1031. These homes, while not quite the classic FLW look, are very different than most of the other homes of the time, both dating from 1892.
A block away is the corner of Chicago Avenue and Forest Avenue, home to the FLW Home and Studio. The FLW foundation offers numerous tours of the location and neighborhood, so if you are in Oak Park and want a more in depth knowledge of him I recommend stopping by for one or more of the tours.
Forest Avenue has numerous FLW homes on it, starting with 333 – the Nathan Moore Home. Completed in 1895 in a Tudor Revival style, FLW never liked it but did what the client asked (something he became famous for ignoring later in life).
A fire in 1922 gave him a chance to do significant modifications more to his liking.
318 Forest Avenue shows the significant change in FLW’s design style, having been completed in 1902 as the Arthur Heurtley Home. Situated on a large lot, with large overhangs, arches and the ubiquitous planters, it is classic FLW.
Just across the street is 328 Forest Avenue – the Peter Beachy House. An extensive update to an existing cottage, the house features a gabled roof and heavy frames around the windows – very un-FLW.
Another remodel at 313 Forest Avenue is the Edward Hills House. This house has undergone numerous changes from it’s original 1883 construction as a Stick style house. FLW redesigned it in 1906, with subsequent modifications between 1912 and 1965. In 1976 there was a a major fire that destroyed much of the house, leading to a reconstruction and restore.
It does contain rooflines similar to the first house featured on this posting, the George Smith House on Home Avenue.
A small street off of Forest Avenue, Elizabeth Court, is the location of the Laura Gale House. This home was built for the widow of Thomas Gale, the owner of one of the bootleg FLW houses on Chicago Avenue.
This home is considered one of the first small home, prairie style houses that he designed.
As we move to the next suburb over, River Forest, we find the 1893 William Winslow house. As one of Wright’s early designs, it reflects the style of Louis Sullivan, his employer at the time, with the graceful arches and the overall symmetry of the design.
The Ashland Avenue home of Arthur Davenport was a result of a collaboration with another architect, Webster Tomlinson. Dating from 1901 it is a very early Prairie style.
Edgewood Place in River Forest has two FLW homes. This one is known as the Chauncey Williams Home.
Dating from 1895 it has a much higher pitched roof than most FLW designs.
It does utilize the octagon shaped front room, as well as a liberal use of large stones gathered from the nearby Des Plaines River, blending the house into the surrounding landscape.
The second home on Edgewood is the Isabel Roberts home. Ms Roberts at the time was the office manager for FLW at his studio in Oak Park.
Ms Roberts later relocated to Florida where she started an architectural practice, despite no formal training. A number of former Wright draftsmen later occupied the house.
Our last stop on this tour is the James Kibben Ingalls House at 562 Keystone Avenue in River Forest. This was one of his last designs before he took off for Europe with his mistress.
It is indicative of his later works with the clean lines and cantilevered balconies.
If you are a fan of architecture in general, or more specifically the Frank Lloyd Wright styles the Chicagoland area is the center of the universe. I have excluded the numerous other homes that were done in this style by proteges of him, as well as those of him that were located outside of Oak Park or River Forest. There are over 70 existing FLW works in Illinois.
Normally a trip up the Red Line to Addison Station means it is baseball season. But not today, with snow on the ground.
For the past few years the area around Wrigley Field has held a Christmas Market. This year they expanded it to include events on the field inside the stadium, calling the festival ‘Winterland’.
The concourses were decorated for the season.
But it was when you popped out of the tunnel onto the field that the real magic happens. We are standing (on plastic flooring) in left field of the best baseball stadium in the world (sorry Boston). Even though it is dormant in the winter, we are next to the famed ivy covered outfield walls.
The giant baseball in front of the equally famous bleachers was for taking selfies.
For enough money you can rent one of the luxury chalets in front of the out of town scoreboard.
There were a number of activities available to participate in.
It was surreal to watch a small kiddie train run around the infield.
A giant Cubby Bear watched over the scene.
A carousel was located outside the stadium in the Christmas Market area.
Least you forget it is still home of the Chicago Cubs!