Monday, February 16, 2015

Movies, Brews, Rocks, Art and a little exercise

We’re still camped at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson.  We’ve done a lot over the last few weeks that deserve individual posts.  Instead -- and to catch up -- I’ll do some bullet points.

--We’ve seen seven movies: Birdman, Cake, The Theory of Everything, Boyhood, Whiplash, The Imitation Game, and Two Days One Night.  My favs were The Imitation Game and the Theory of Everything; interesting stories about real people. Jim votes for Whiplash, period.  He said it was entertaining, engaging and just plain held his interest the entire time. Birdman gave me a literal headache because of the cinematography. I googled “Birdmand and motion sickness” after the movie, and apparently I’m not the only one.

---Brew Pub Hopping: For Valentine's Day we went to a new restaurant/pub called Yard House at nearby Park Place Mall. Yard House is big, pretty, and has 140 beers on tap and a good menu. Their house beer is Unita, brewed in our adopted home town of Salt Lake City. Jim says from now on when I go to the mall, he will happily tag along.

We also visited Sentinel Peak Brewery, which has only been in Tucson about a year -- it's in a strip mall and had good food and a good selection; Dragoon Tap house, which has a modern industrial look and fun atmosphere; and 1702, with a knowledgeable staff and an attached "bottle shop" that was closed the day we stopped by -- but they opened it just for us. And, of course, we've made a couple return trips to our favorite, Barrio Brewing, where Jim recommends their house IPA (of course) and the fish tacos.

--We’re still working out at the Air Force base rec center. Jim goes every single day; he doesn't miss unless we’ve got some all day activity planned.  Probably a good idea for both of us, considering the beer.

--Bev attended the Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase, generally called the “Gem Show.” It’s a big rocks-and-beads-of-all-kinds extravaganza held two weeks every winter in 40 Tucson locations. It draws people from all over the world.

Two years ago I wandered some aisles, purchased a packet of garnets, and almost got vertigo from all the people and stuff. This year I took a wire wrapping class.

---We went to DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun, a ten-acre historic site that was once the home, studio and gallery of Arizona native Ettore "Ted" DeGrazia. The gallery has six permanent collections and rotates another 15,000 pieces through it's 13-room gallery.  Beautiful place and worth a visit.

A few sights from DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun.  A beautiful place featuring lovely things, inside and out.

Jim wanders through one of the 13 rooms of painting, sculptures, and more at DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun.  Ted DeGrazia was born in Arizona to Italian immigrant parents; the family moved back to Italy when the copper mine where Ted's father worked closed. They returned to the US when Ted was a teenager and he started school all over again because he could no longer speak English.  He graduated from high school at age 23. Ted also graduated from the University of Arizona with a masters in art education, studied with Diego Rivera, and became a Renaissance man skilled in painting, sculpture, composing, acting, directing, architecture, jewelry design. and lithography. He died in  1982 at age 73.
Jim at Tucson's Yard House at Park Place Mall on Valentines Day.  The nearly empty glasses in the front are Bev's. (They were one-ounce samples, really.)
The pendant Bev made at a Tucson Gem Show class.  My verdict:  The class gave me some skills to improve upon. Our instructor, Rhonda Chase, provided a good internet tutorial here.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Hugh Norris Trail, Saguaro National Park West, Tucson

We (Jim in particular) needed a break from the Super Bowl Blues, so Monday we hiked a trail we’ve been meaning to revisit: the Hugh Norris Trail at Saguaro National Park.

Two years ago we hiked the first mile then turned around, as we weren't planning on a long hike that day and hadn’t taken water or food. And you need some sustenance for this hike because that first mile is a staircase.

This time we still didn't trek the entire ten-mile round trip trail either, but we did hike a four miles out and back section. We passed a handful of people near the bottom of the trail but most of the time there was no one else in sight. Nice.

Elevation at the end of the hike (Wasson Peak) is 4687 feet. When we turned around at two miles in, we'd already reached 3,600 per my iPhone ap.

The path is named after a former police officer for the Tohono O'odham Indians. If you ever go, be advised that  parking is extremely limited -- only four spaces at the trail head (we nabbed one of those) and just a few more nearby spots.   

Steps and more steps:  We read a description of this hike that said it was "like hiking a never-ending staircase" -- but the step steps cover just the first mile of the five mile one-way hike.  Apparently the last bit of the hike is also steep, but we didn't get that far. A Visitors' Center employee told us that while the granite steps match the look of nearby granite (including the crushed granite that covered all of the section we hiked), the rock is not from the park and the steps were installed within the last 20 years. 
We had views of beautiful giant saguaros, the mountains, and the Sonoran desert that surrounds Tucson. 
Close up of some newer saguaro "arms."  We didn't start hiking until 12:30 -- not usually the best hiking time in the desert -- but it was 70 degrees and there was a breeze, so it was perfect hiking weather.  
I especially like "swirly-armed" saguaros.  
And, as a reminder of the Superbowl, a "touch down" cactus. As an aside, a man from the small town where I grew up -- Wellington, Ohio -- was one of the Super Bowl refs.