Friday, December 16, 2016

Road Trip - Life Through A Different Lens

Our trip south is winding to a close and its soon time to head north and home where wishing for snow isn't part of my reality.  Christmas, except for one strange year, is always white.  The escape south has  been a good time.  It's a vacation but not really - more like a change of view from my office window.  My work day has been flexed around having fun.  That means getting up well before sunrise, which I regularly do but now it's just a bit earlier on almost every morning.  By the time the lights on neighbouring houses go on, I've already gone through a cup of coffee and a few hours of work.

The other day was different.  I was up early, the other houses, as usual, were in darkness.  But  I wasn't up early for work but for a road trip.  And as we pulled out of the driveway with the other houses in darkness excitement ran through me.

Our first stop was the Desert Museum just outside of Tucson.  This is a place we've wanted to see since our first trip down here over a handful of years ago when our trips south began.  They began because we were feeling landlocked as our Irish Terrier, Rourke,  was no longer young and we couldn't hit the road without him.  That limited our choices and had us come up with the plan for a road trip south.  Year one we arrived at the Desert Museum with the temperature perfect to leave him in the car for a short period of time.  We always made sure that we checked on him regularly and only left him when the temperature was well below seventy - and of course warm enough in the other direction.  But the signs clearly stated that no dogs should be left in the car no matter what the temperature - they'd break the glass to get them out, or so the sign threatened.  Frightening that such drastic measures had to be considered.  Who would leave their dog in hot weather - and no matter the weather, for any length of time?  Anyway, sometimes they have temporary kennels on such tourist sites but there was none of that.  The Desert Museum was a go no that year  and in a number of years that followed.  Until this year.  Sadly - we lost Rourke last fall.

So this year we arrive - me with a bit of trepidation.  I know there are animals here and i'm not sure how or what they're living conditions will be.  I'll be truthful, I don't like zoos.  So I was a little hesitant about what this might be about.  And while there were aspects of it I didn't like, what I did was that the animals all came there because they were injured and required rehab.  Once that was complete they remained there in habitats where a lot of effort had been made to make them as natural as possible.  Here, the mountain lion was majestically relaxed and clearly in his element.

The high point was the raptor demonstration
where the birds flew free on the command of their trainer.  It was amazing to see these birds flying just over our heads, catching prey and then returning to their handler on command.

Then it was on to Tubac, Arizona population 1,191 in the 2010 census.  The size alone and the few reviews had us expecting not a whole lot but it was on the way.  We were completely blown over - there was so much more than the little we'd expected.  The place was small but so eclectic and filled with artists and their work along with boutique shops bringing in unique and good quality crafts, clothing and accessories.  It was a shoppers dream  There wasn't enough time and one day I'm going to have to go back.  An hour and a half was all we had.  Way more in the day than hours in the day allowed - this will be a place marked as check it out again, spend an overnight.  Check out the funky cafes, the amazing art and the culture that ran like a live wire through this small town.

Next, we had planned
to see San Xavier del Bac but there wasn't enough time before it closed at five.  So there was another heritage site right outside town - Tumac├ícori is an older but smaller site.  We headed there.

By the time we left the site, it was dark but the freeway was crowded with rush hour traffic as
Peas and carrots from a can - winter memories!
we reached downtown Tucson.  After an hour of bumper to bumper traffic we hit open road once again and stopped in Coolidge in a little cafe - best described as a hole in the wall.  The counter and stools were not only reminiscent of fifties or sixties era but the worn linoleum confirmed that this cafe had aged in place.  The chicken fried steak and huge clot of gravy only completed the whole ambience.  Add to that, that it's been a long time since I've had canned peas.  I remember now, as a child, why I disliked peas that didn't come straight from the garden and was reminded of winter and canned peas.  But despite that small gripe, it and all the experiences of that day were invaluable.  They are what paint the layers on life and make it a rich and intense experience.  It might not have been a good meal but it was filling and the ambience was priceless rather like road trips!


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