San Xavier del Bac Mission

The San Xavier del Bac Mission has been under (partial) restoration for several years. On January 9 (Happy Birthday, Tanna and Hailey) they had an "unvailing" of the finished restoration of the west tower, when they invited photographers to come and take photos of it. We took the opportunity to pretend I'm a photographer (I guess for this purpose only a camera was needed - and no one was stopping anyone at the gate without a camera). Be that as it may, I did take some interesting pictures. Here is a shot with the restored west tower in the foreground with the unrestored one to the right (that tower was never finished). Backing off and moving to the right, this shows more of the unrestored part. Just focusing in on the right tower, it really does look spectacular. Here is a closer view and a detail of the ornamentation above the window. In contrast, here is a shot of the unrestored left side window and balcony. Here is the bell tower just to the west of the Mission. The moon was just over a day from being full, which led to some nice moonshots. Here's one of the moon just above the cross at the top of mound just east of the Mission. And here is one with the moon peaking through an arch of the east tower.

Backyard visitor

On January 11 we had an unusual (but not unheard of) visitor in the backyard. It was (we think) a Goshawk (well, maybe it was a Cooper's Hawk), who stayed around around for several minutes, changing from one position to another.

Nebraska visitor

In Mid-January we had a visit from my nephew Kent. He arrived Friday morning and we immediately took him to the first stop (or at least should be) for all visitors, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. And here he is, just inside the entrance. After lunch we did our favorite thing, which is to watch the raptor demonstration, which now includes raptor stops on the overlook. The next day Kent and I went to Tombstone where we saw numerous commemorations of life (and death) in the old west. Here's Kent in front of the OK Corral and here he is holding up a stop sign in front of a slightly less sinister place, the Courthouse. After a visit to Bisbee, I dropped him off at an old (aren't we all?) high school friend's house near Sierra Vista. I headed home in time to get some nice sunset pictures east of Sonoita. It stayed pretty pretty for quite a while.

Santa Cruz Carnuts Car Show in Tubac

Of course, I have to show you a few (well, put out there for you if want to look) shots from the car show in Tubac. Only a few of the more than 500 cars there, ones that attract me for one reason or another. First, a 1956 Dodge Custom Royal four door sedan like the one Dad and Mom used to have, and being a young driver also enjoyed on occasion. Theirs was three-tone, light blue, dark blue, and white, though. Then, a twin-H power 1954 Hudson Hornet. I threw the clutch (or maybe the rear axle, I forgot) out of a Hornet that was two or three years earlier and belonged to an uncle. A very unusual car to see anywhere is this 1952 Cunningham C4R racecar. It was built by Briggs Cunningham with the idea of trying to win at LeMans (he did finish as high as third), and was driven by some of the best drivers at the time, Phil Walters, John Fitch, as well as Cunningham. (For you ocean racers, Cunningham had a career as a yachtsman, too - he won the 1958 America's Cup). Except for his first cars, powered by Cadillac, he used the then new and powerful Chrysler Hemi, suitably modified for racing - there we see the 8 carburetors. In another vein, here is one of the last of the Edsels, a 1960 Ranger. I have no personal history with that one. Here's one I sort of do. It is a 1951 Plymouth Suburban, which I believe was based on the Concord model, the two door fastback version of which (same color, about) my Grandfather had, and which I took to graduate school over the hill to Salt Lake City and back a number of times. Back to ones I have no connection to, here's a 1947 Studebaker pickup that is certainly not in the color it was when it came out of the factory. Here is a unusual car/engine combination, a 1934 Ford with a 392 cubic inch Chrysler Hemi (that would be a 1957 or 1958 engine, I think). Note the bulge on the hood to make room for the valve cover. No personal experience with this one either, but here is a 1910 IHC delivery. Finally, here's a 1911 Model T, which won it's class.

Popcorn time

On February 5th, the "people that know how to do it" came to take down the popcorn ceiling everywhere in our townhouse (except for the closets, bathrooms, and kitchen, which the builder had the good sense not to do in the first place). Needless to say, not only did I not want to do it myself, I didn't even want to see it. Consequently, we took off for a visit around southeastern Arizona, some of which we had never seen before. Our first stop was at the Singing Winds Bookshop, an out-of-the-way shop on a cattle ranch north of Benson. Amazing collection of books, many I've never seen anywhere else. After that we headed south to Benson for a quick lunch and some browsing around. After that we headed to Douglas, where we had never been before. Just outside of Benson one can look at the old copper mine. Here's another shot around a bit to the right, and close enough to the sun angle to make the picture look hazy. In Douglas we only took a quick drive through the town and then it was time to head north to our primary target of the afternoon, the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area to see if we could see some wintering sandhill cranes, and other birds as well. We weren't disappointed. We saw quite a lot of sandhill cranes on the shore and later some flying. There were nowhere near as many as we have seen at the Bosque del Apache near Socorro, nor do they seem to fly in and out here at reliable times as they do at the Bosque. We also saw a number of other birds, including quite a few hawks (but too far away to identify) and a vermillion flycatcher. On the way back to Sierra Vista, where we stayed for two nights, we saw a nice sunset and as you well know that wasn't the only picture I took. The next morning we took off for a lengthy trip over some gravel roads. First stop was going up the road toward Coronado Peak, where we stopped off at the Coronado National Monument headquarters. A bit further up the road, here is a shot back toward the east-southeast showing San Jose Peak. The line going off in an easterly direction in the center-left side of the picture is the US-Mexican border. Further up we came to the pass below Coronado Peak, where we took a break and I got a picture of Amelia with our destination (kind of) in the background. A bit further on we saw this interesting rock formation. After another 20 miles of gravel roads, we eventually reached Parker Canyon Lake. We had a picnic lunch there. We took the easy way out, going back to Sierra Vista through Ft. Huachuca. The next day (Saturday) we went back to climb Coronado Peak. The trail up the peak is basically easy, with much of it being rudimentary steps Here's a shot of the road coming up from the east. On the top, there is a ramada where one can rest in the heat of the day (or even when it's cold, actually). The background is in Mexico. Here's another "Mexico in the background" shot, me with San Jose Peak in the background. Here's another rudimentary step shot I took on the way down. Finally, here's Amelia and one of her favorite trees.

Sabino Canyon

Last Saturday we took a drive to Sabino Canyon. The road to the end had been closed for several years, but is now open. Open to the trams, that is. One can walk, ride a bike (some times), or take the tram. Since we had never been to the top we rode the tram up. Here's a shot along the way. Here's an interesting rock formation. Here are more big rocks. About a third of the way in from the left one can see a "hole in the rock". Partway down (most of the way down) we got off the tram and took a hike through the canyon. Along the way we had a picnic. We saw this deformed saguaro along the way (it has a name - maybe I'll think of it later). We saw quite a few small butterflies we had not seen before. They were sort of small and hard to get close to, but I finally got this picture of one, which I haven't figured out the name of yet. Pretty one. Down a bit lower there were a few saguaro. Far and near.

The skies

Earlier this week I was up early and Saturn and Mercury were in the eastern sky. I tried to get a picture, but if you seen Mercury below Saturn in this picture you have a better imagination than I. Tonight the moon and Venus were close in sky and I got this one, which shows both of them and some hand shake.