Across Arizona – June 2022 – Freeway Art

As you drive around the freeways of Phoenix and Tucson one of the first things you will notice is the artwork along the roadways. With little vegetation growing the Department of Transportation took the approach of incorporating artwork either within the concrete structures or with stone along the banks.

Much of the artwork is based on native cultures. It definitely adds to the usually boring aspect of a freeway.

A big thank you goes to my wife who (wisely) was the photographer for all of these photos, as well as many other ‘moving shots’ on the trip.

The Department of Transportation has a website called ‘The Art of Transportation’ if you would like to get more information and photos. https://azdot.gov/tags/art-transportation

Eastern Arizona – May 2022 – Leaving Town

At long last it is time for a long road trip. This trip will take 16 days, and go as far north as Montana, always taking the scenic route, providing interesting views for a series of blog postings.

We started out by leaving Tucson on a sunny Friday morning.

Our route took us up Arizona Highway 77 north towards Globe. The route follows the Gila River for a few miles.

Anywhere there is water there is vegetation in the desert, with this view showing an interesting mix of the desert landscape of the saguaros next to the riparian landscape of the riverbank.

As we made our way through Pinal Pass, just south of Globe, we came across a burn area. Nature however is resilient, and the spring flowers are in bloom next to the burnt trees.

At Globe, Arizona 77 merges and runs along with U.S. 60 towards Show Low. About 40 miles northeast of Globe you descend down 2000′ vertical feet into the Salt River Canyon. The drive, and views, are spectacular.

Once the river is reached there are two bridges – the original bridge is an Art Deco masterpiece built in 1934, built as part of the New Deal initiative. It is built in a design known as steel two hinged girder ribbed deck arch.

Today it is a pedestrian only bridge.

The newer bridge, built in 1993 carries the traffic. While not nearly as interesting, they at least added some native symbolism incorporated into it.

Two more views on the north side of the canyon show the dramatic walls, and the river below.

North of Holbrook you go through areas of the Painted Desert. While not as colorful as the areas near the Petrified Forest National Park, it still added interesting views to the drive that lead us to the next posting stop – Canyon De Chelly National Monument.

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.

Tucson – March 2022 – Old Pueblo Trolley and Bus Museum

There is a garage in Tucson that hold a labor of love for the volunteers who work on the equipment that make up the Old Pueblo Trolley and Bus Museum.

But it take more than love to restore them. It takes time and money.

Some arrive looking like this…

Some are in a bit better shape….

But with effort they end up looking brand new…

Well done to the volunteers of the Old Pueblo Trolley and Bus Museum