Tucson – January 2023 – A Revisit to Agua Caliente Park

In early September 2022 we stopped by the beautiful Agua Caliente Park, to find the grove of majestic palm trees, detailed here https://rdzphotographyblog.com/tag/agua-caliente-park/ and the photo below.

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.

Sahuarita, Arizona – January 2023 – A Necessary Evil?

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.

Tucson – January 2023 – Tucson Mineral and Gem World

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.

Tucson – December 2022 – Snow on the Mountain

One of the great things about living in Tucson is you can have a nice warm 60 degree winter day and make the 25 mile drive up Mt Lemmon to snow!

This particular snow has not yet left enough snow for skiing, but it is getting close.

The road to the very top is always closed off for the winter, but it makes a great sledding hill.

The town of Summerhaven does a great business when the snow flies, and the road crews clear the road up the mountain.

As you make your way back down the mountain the snow gets less and less, until once you are under 6000′ elevation it is gone.

And before you know it you are back in the desert and 60 degrees.

Arizona and Beyond – December 2022 – Favorites of the Year

With another year of travel and photography, with the first full year living in Arizona, it is time to highlight my favorites for the year.

Living in Arizona and the west resulted in far more nature photos than in previous years, but well worth it. But of the thousands of photos taken, I have narrowed it down to 23.

Amazingly two came from the same time in Saguaro National Park East in Tucson as the sun was setting on a January day.

A trip in April to the Petrified Forest/Painted Desert gave us a chance to stay at the campy Wigwam Motel along Route 66 in Holbrook, Arizona for another sunset photo.

The final sunset photo in the series is the classic Grand Canyon shot. What isn’t shown is the 40 MPH winds that were howling in the chilly April evening.

East of Tucson is the small western movie ranch in the town of Mescal.

A bird’s nest in a cactus at the Tucson Botanical Gardens.

Monument Valley – it doesn’t get any better than here for dramatic scenery.

Western Wyoming in late May with snow still gracing the tops of the mountains.

Grand Teton National Park at dawn.

Oregon Highway 3 in the far eastern part of the state during a very rainy Memorial Day weekend.

Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah.

Antelope Canyon, Arizona in Navajo Territory. It was a structured tour, but well worth it.

Palm Springs, California with a classic mid century home and an even more classic vintage Mercedes.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

Late September fall colors in Beaver Canyon Scenic Byway, Utah.

An owl at the Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City, Utah.

A receding Great Salt Lake, Utah.

Hoover Dam and another fast receding lake – Lake Mead.

Franklin Auto Museum in Tucson.

Dia De Los Muertos – Tucson.

A sculpture in a courtyard at the Tucson Museum of Art.

To finish off the year with one from back east – Millennium Park in Chicago the day after Christmas.

Here is looking forward to an even better 2023.

Tucson – November 2022 – A Visit to the Nursery

One great thing about living in Arizona is the winter time brings lots of activity at a plant nursery. We made a stop at a large one known as ‘Green Things & Zocalo’s, sort of a free trip to a botanical gardens.

They have a large collection of pots and vases.

With thew chilly nights (in the lower 40s, and sometimes upper 30s) the new growth on the cactus need their ‘hats’

With some protection from summer heat, and lots of watering you too can have Arizona bananas.

The greenhouses are ready for the Christmas season.

November roses!

While there are plenty of chili peppers grown around here, these are glass. All in all, far better than a cold northeast November.

Tucson – November 2022 – Franklin Auto Museum

As the city of Tucson grew it often took over large areas of the desert that were ranch lands. Today some of ranches still exist, often being surrounded by suburbia. The Franklin Auto Museum is in one of those areas.

Thomas Hubbard became a collector of Franklin Automobiles in 1950, and brought them home to his ranch in Tucson. The ranch consists of an adobe home, along with numerous out buildings.

One great feature of this museum is being able to tour the home.

The collection of automobiles are housed in 4 different buildings.

The Franklin Auto Museum is a hidden gem of Tucson.

Tucson – October 2021 – Late Afternoon on the Mountain

An afternoon trip up Mt Lemmon to check out the leaves.

The late afternoon drive offered numerous shadowing shots.

A climber near Windy Point made her way to the top.

The views towards sunset caused dramatic effects.

We reached the valley floor just before sunset.

A quick trip through Saguaro National Park as the sun finally set.