Sunday, March 16, 2014

Hither, Thither and Tucson.

Old Man In The Mountains

Marriott Albuquerque. March 16th, 2014:  Now it can be told.  I had a such a party in Tucson that I didn't have time to write.  Till now.

It all started at my cousin, Dale's house.  He and Betsy threw out the red carpet and I stepped on it.  We dined at my favorite restaurant, Casa Poca Cosa, we shopped for kitchen gadgets, we talked for hours and we watched some smart guys make glass.  

What that is down there (right) is the start of a mirror for a giant telescope--one of several mirrors the Steward laboratory at the University of Arizona is making for a new facility in Chile. They melt super fine glass nuggets in that can see the furnace over my left shoulder..and spin it into a 24 foot disk that can be polished super smooth, top and bottom. and then covered  with a brilliant reflective material.  The light eventually reflected off that disc and its 6 companions will give astronomers a tremendous view of deep never possible before.  This particular set will be in a scope on a Chilean mountaintop 16,500 feet above sea level, but its view will span the ages.

 Funny thing about the Steward Lab--it's housed under the football stadium at U of A.  Hearing that quickly reminded me of the Fermi lab under the stadium at the U of Chicago.  Fermi was where the first nuclear chain reaction took place, leading to the Atomic Bomb.  

That's where the similarity ends.


John and Marsha Taylor joined us at the lab.  John's retired USAF and NASA and nothing escaped him or Marsha, who did interesting time in the military, too.  Later that night, it was a sumptuous dinner for all at Betsy's table..barbecued ribs that were out of this world.


You like art?  More specifically, Southwestern art?  The place to go is Tubac..the oldest town in North America..dates back to the 15 hundreds.  I know what you're thinking--St. Augustine is the oldest continually occupied town.  Tubac goes way back, too, but took some time out.  BTW:  You pronounce it the way it looks:  TOO-back.


Not only is there an ancient presidio there, Tubac has become an art colony.  Wonderful shops full of temptation.

I had written a note to my family on Facebook  that morning, saying "We're going to look in art galleries in Tubac today.  Pray for my bank account."

I didn't buy this..but I was tempted.  I did find a gorgeous bowl turned from Mesquite and after arguing with myself two..maybe three..seconds, I succumbed. 

Apparently, prayer didn't help this time.


The mountains surrounding Tubac look great anytime.  Here's a shot in the afternoon sun.


Ever hear of Old Tucson?  I know you've seen it a dozen times.  For instance, this bar:

They made a lot of western movies in Old was a movie studio as far back as the twenties.  They still use it that way, but visitors can come through and see it up close..and it's fun.

  Here's Main Street.  Many a sheriff has walked down there, rifle in one hand, six-shooter on his hip..and some bad guy came up second-best.

 A lot of historic Old Tucson was burned by an arsonist some years ago.  The burned section is back to looking like a movie set and it's fun to take the tour.  You can buy stuff, too.  

Of course.

To keep you entertained, there are a couple of gunfights, dancing girls in a big stage review in the Palace where that bar is located.  There's plenty of food and a western-style amusement park off to the side.  

Old Reno, a steam locomotive I know you've seen, is parked up by the community church. I think Little House On the Prairie used the church in the show.

Yup.  That's where they shot that one.

   Starmaker.                              Look closely.  See how a false front works?

 Aw, it's fun.


As sort of a followup to Old Tucson, we went out to the San Rafael Valley to see the scenery.  Take a look at the top shot on this blog.   Below is a very wide shot of the ranch where John Wayne's McClintock was filmed.  Wide open spaces with the big old ranch house a tiny dot in the middle horizon:


Incidentally, the weather vane (where he threw his hat) is still on the house.


We weren't far from the famous fence that separates the US from Mexico.  So we dropped by:

As far as the eye can see and Border Patrol can .. patrol.


Saturday, we went to the biggest dern book fair I have ever seen.  Held on the campus of the University of Arizona, it stretched for what seemed like miles..full of people.  

Anybody who thinks people don't read books anymore needs a dose of this.  The festival was their sixth..and people came from all over the country to attend. 

And why not?  That's JA (Judy) Jance on
the right.  In one day, I listened to her, CJ Box, Ann Hillerman, Larry McMurtry and Scott Truo tell about their careers and their philosophy of writing.  It was a treasure.  

Here are a couple tidbits for fans of mystery writing:  Judy Jance is turning out two books a year.  Her favorite, it seems, is her J. P. Beaumont detective series.  I also like her Sheriff, Joanna Brady, from Bisbee, Arizona.  

Anne Hillerman is continuing the characters her late father. Tony. created.  She says she knows them like brothers and sisters and doesn't think they ought to disappear. 

Me, neither.


It was a wonderful visit and one I intend to repeat as often as my cars will carry me out here..even though this little girl was very suspicious of me.  That look..which lasted a very long time, seems to be saying "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

 Dunno, Babe..but I'm having a great time doing it..