Huachuca Mountains, Arizona – May 2022 – Dusty Trails

With the acquisition of a high clearance vehicle it was time to hit one of the ‘off pavement’ routes I have been looking forward to, Montezuma Canyon Road through Coronado Pass.

This route took us past Parker Canyon Lake and up to the pass, with an extensive view of the San Pedro River valley and the multi billion dollar boondoggle fence. This route was 24 miles of dirt and gravel road up over the mountain pass, resulting in the dustiest car I have ever had (which of course I forgot to take a photo of before washing)

One of the more interesting features is the riparian desert features of the San Pedro River. Retaining water year round (a bit), you are instantly in a wooded area with huge trees, literally next to the dry grasslands.

The day ended with a beautiful ‘Blood Moon’ lunar eclipse.

Tucson – May 2022 – Butterflies

Amazing as it may seem the Tucson area is home to 3 very impressive botanical gardens. The smallest is the Tucson Botanical Garden, based on 5 acres in the middle of the city.

After taking the car in for service on a Saturday morning I was looking for something to do and found the gardens was a short distance from the garage. So off to the gardens!

Amongst the floral and fauna was an indoor space for orchids and butterflies (complete with humidity). The butterflies were amazing, and very tranquil. And don’t let anyone tell you differently – 80 and humid feels far worse than 95 and not humid, as we stepped back outside to the comfort of no humidity!

Tucson – May 2022 – A Close Look at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum was established in 1952 as a zoo, botanical garden, natural history museum and art gallery.

While there are a few animals in enclosures there, the highlight of the grounds is the botanical gardens. Most of the shots here were taken with a 400mm Canon lens, showing the amazing detail of the blooms of the desert vegetation, as well as close ups of the birds and butterflies.

Mescal, Arizona – May 2022 – Old West Movie Studio

For many decades when Hollywood wanted to make a Western movie, they came to Arizona, with Tucson alone having over 1500 location credits on IMDB.

About 40 miles east of downtown Tucson is a small dusty town of Mescal. Just north of town, with a perfect backdrop of the Rincon Mountains, is the Mescal Movie Studio.

Originally built in 1968 for the movie Monte Walsh, it was one of the settings for a number of famous movies including Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, Tombstone, The Quick and the Dead, as well as many TV shows including Little House on the Prairie.

Over the years it had fallen into disrepair, until recently when a local family purchased it and began restoring it. Each Friday, Saturday and Sunday they are open for tours, which include volunteer actors.

Our docent lead us on a very informative 1 hour tour. While not a fan of western movies in general, the tour, and the history of the place makes this a great stop – far better than the tacky touristy setting of the actual town of Tombstone.

One of the clock faces from the movie The Quick and the Dead – a key to the movie’s plot.

Tucson – May 2022 – Pima Air and Space Museum

The Pima Air and Space Museum is one of the largest non government sponsored airplane museums in the country. While much of their collection is military, with a mix of commercial, I (as usual) focused on the abstract views, rather than document the collection.

Part of the collection has been used as blank canvases for ‘The Boneyard Project’, where they used the old planes for their art.

Patagonia, Arizona – April 2022 – Birders Paradise

The small mountain town of Patagonia was named when Welsh miners who had gone to Patagonia in Argentina migrated to the area to work in the silver mines of Arizona. They thought (correctly) that it resembled the area they came from in Argentina so they named it after their former home.

The entire area is well known as a birders paradise, with Patagonia Lake, a creek and a hummingbird sanctuary drawing people from all over the country. We stopped by for a brief visit, and was entertained by the birds, and the people.

Tumacacori National Historic Park Arizona – April 2022 – Oldest Mission in Southern Arizona

The Spanish Colonial Jesuits missionaries established numerous missions throughout the area that is now Arizona in the late 1600s. The Mission San Jose de Tumacacori was established in 1691, with the existing church’s construction being started in the 1750s.

The grounds are now owned by the National Park Service.