Monday, April 4, 2011

Superstition Mountains

     We spent the first part of March enjoying the last of the winter activities at our park.  It's always a little sad as people start leaving for the summer, but fun to share plans as well.  A little different for us this year as we decide where we'll be traveling instead of working.  It looks like it will be the Northwest for early summer and then into Wyoming for August and early September. 
     For dancing we went back to Fiesta Grande, a large (800+ sites) RV park in town that has live bands most Friday nights.  Their dances are open to the public, so we try to go at least twice a month.  Besides a really good country one man band and singer the first time we went in March, the second time was a fifties group.  What memories those great songs brought back as we danced to most of them.
     We took a mini trip to our first Boomer's Rally at Lost Dutchman State Park, just outside of Apache Junction, AZ.  The Boomers are a special interest (BOF) group of Escapees that embrace this lifestyle and enjoy a variety of activities such as hiking, biking, birding, geocaching, golfing, dancing, etc. Steve and Pam, from our park, encouraged us to attend. Their gatherings are called Boomerangs and this was a mini-rang with 12 rigs.  The first evening was a Z-circle, basically a get-to-know-each-other gathering in 3 rigs.  Couples went to another rig every 45 minutes and the attendance varied, so you spent time with 3-4 different couples in each rig.  It was a great start and a good way for us to meet the others.
      Pam and Steve volunteer at this State Park every year and really know the area very well.  They led a couple different hikes over the 5 days that we had to pass on (darn arthritis), but we found other things to do.
On our way to a night geocache, Gary drove over a rattlesnake crossing the road.  The next car confirmed it was still moving and it was gone when we drove back.  A good way to see one, is from the car.  We had a closer encounter a couple days later when we were sitting outside our neighbor's rig.  We left to go back to our rig & their small dog started staring under their rig and growling.  When they looked, they spotted a rattler coiled and ready to strike.  Needless to say, they grabbed the dog in a hurry and got out of the way as the snake crawled back to the desert.  From their pictures they estimated it was 4 feet long. 
      A group of us geocached to Tortilla Flats, an old ghost town area that has a fantastic restaurant and a band playing on the patio from noon-4 each day.   Here we are celebrating  geocache find #1200!!!

The scenery there is fantastic as we drove on up to Canyon Lake.  This is a picture I took when we were there 3 years ago. 

     The next day while others were hiking we went to Goldfield Ghost Town, just down the road from the park.  There were several interesting shops and a really good museum about the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine.  A miner by the name of Jacob Waltz had supposedly mined gold in the Superstition Mountains.  When he was dying he told the location and drew a map, but it has  never been found.  Gary was especially interested as his Dad had done some gold  mining.  They  had a wall of pictures of miners who had spent several years looking in the Superstition Mountains for the lost mine, and Gary knew if they had lived in the area, his Dad would have been there.   Even today people come and look and unfortunately some die while searching.
     We bought three small cactus back to plant close to our lot and also some delicious peach salsa.  It was a fun and interesting town with a lot of history.  This is a picture looking up at the church at the end of the street. While the buildings have all been restored, they are built on the foundations of the old town.

      Of course Gary and Steve found a pool tournament for one evening.  They were really glad they entered after placing 1st and 4th respectively.  Unfortunately, they drew each other for their first match.
     Another evening we all went to Organ Stop Pizza for great organ music and good food!   Organ Stop is home of the world's largest Wurlitzer Organ, with nearly 6000 pipes.  The building housing it was built around it with 43 foot ceilings. They have an 8000 lb rotating hydraulic elevator to lift the console and organist. 
     A wonderful pot luck was held the last evening.  Temps warmed up to the 90's the last couple days after 3 great days of 80's.   Evenings were in the 50's so it made for great stargazing and evening fires.  Pam did a super star program and we all learned a little more about the sky at night.  We even spotted a satellite orbiting through the big dipper.   The last evening we all took couple pictures as the sun set on the Superstitions.

     The 1st of April we headed back to RoVer's Roost in Casa Grande.  As of now we plan on leaving sometime in May.  Usually we have to leave before the cacti are blooming or just as they start.  There are lots of buds and we look forward to watching them open.  Hopefully I'll have pictures to send next time.
Dancing on down the road in hotter weather.....................       Hugs, Katy, Gary, Rusty, and Spicy

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Missions and Missiles

     I know these are an unlikely duo, but our continued exploration of Arizona led us to these sites in early March.  A day trip started with a drive to the Titan Missile Museum in Sahuarita, AZ.  The Titan II missile was the largest missile ever built by the US and it was really huge.  We looked down at it from above ground and then walked or took an elevator down to the underground silo.  There we visited the launch control center and experience a simulated launch.  At one time 54 Titan II missiles were in place, but after the last site was deactivated in 1987,  this remains as the only site left.  There are a variety of tours available with many given by former Air Force Missileers.  You can even make reservations to spend the night in the crew's quarters, for $500.00 a person.  The Titan II was a last resort missile and intended only to be used for retalitory strikes.

     Next we headed further south of Tuscon to Tubac and the remains of the mission church San Jose de Tumacacori.  Only a portion remains standing today.  The mission was built by Jesuits in the early 1700's and then after they were expelled from New Spain (as it was called then), Fanciscans were assigned to the mission.  In the early 1770's they redecorated the church and around 1800 started building a larger church, but stopped due to lack of funds.  The occupation of the area was dependent on Indian attacks and the war with Mexico.  Following the Gadsden Purchase in 1853 the site became part of the United States.  Tumacacori was established as a National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908. 

      Our last stop of the day was north to the beautiful San Xavier Del Bac Mission, built in 1783.  It is known as the White Dove of the Desert and is located in the center of a Papago Indian settlement along the banks of the Santa Cruz River, just 9 miles southwest of Tucson.   It is the oldest intact European structure in Arizona. 

     The church's interior is filled with wonderful original statuary and mural paintings.  

     It was a great day and one that left us filled with awe at the structures we had seen, one capable of such massive destruction and the other two giving such magnificent inspiration.  
     Dancing on down the Arizona roads.......................Katy, Gary, Rusty and Spicy