Walter and Sara on the road to who knows where
On Thursday February 7th, we took our friends Margaret and Dennis, who were visiting from Seattle, to one of the 48 venues of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. This is a yearly extravaganza that lasts 3 weeks and includes just about every kind of gem, crystal, mineral and fossil available for sale in the world. Vendors I talked to all said it was the largest and longest show in the world. We went to the 22nd Street Show which consists of two very long large high-end (heated) tents full of vendors selling just about everything gem and mineral. This Triceratops was available for sale or rent. Don’t you think you need one for your living room?

Triceratops Tucson Gem Show

They had a second one who leaned out into the aisle of the high end display tent. Here much of the display items were museum quality.

Triceratops Tucson Gem Show

There’s a food court in between the two big tents so we had lunch to break up our day—5 hours of rocks is a lot!

Over the weekend, Walter and Dennis went off on outings (a tour of the Asarco Copper Mine and a tour of the Titan Missile Museum while Margaret and I worked on staining the bamboo fence in the back yard. We managed to get it about 1/2 done which was a huge accomplishment.

Sunday evening Walter made Baked Chicken Tacos. They were so pretty we decided you should see them—crisp the taco shells in the oven and the fill them with refried beans topped chicken mixed with Ro Tel and taco seasonings and then top with cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted. Serve with guacamole. Yum!  

Baked Tacos

Monday February 11th, we took our guests to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum on the west side of Tucson. It’s really much more like a zoo than a museum but there are indoor displays about caves, astronomy and more rocks and minerals.

It was sunny and cool (in the high 50’s) so some of the animals were off hiding in their lairs. But the deer were out.

Deer at AZ-Sonora Desert Museum

And the cougar was out basking in the sun.

Cougar AZ-Sonora Desert Museum

Pretty kitty!

Cougar AZ-Sonora Desert Museum

At 2 pm they had a Raptor Free Flight Show off in one corner of the park. We waited in line for a while and got a good place to stand and watch (no benches here). The treat for the day was a group of 5 Harris Hawks, the only raptors that hunt as a group like wolves. The swooped in from the south and landed in the snags near by.

Harris Hawks AZ-Sonora Desert

There are volunteer handlers who stand silently around and offer an arm up now and then to see who will come and land. The little tidbits (the pink in his mouth) clearly are worth the trip.

Harris Hawk AZ-Sonora Desert

Here you can see two of the handlers each with a hawk. They wear headsets so they can communicate with each other.

Harris Hawks AZ-Sonora Desert

This hawk landed on a snag right past us.

Harris Hawk AZ-Sonora Desert

And as I was focusing to take another photo he flew RIGHT at us which was a big surprise.

Harris Hawk AZ-Sonora Desert

On our way back up the hill I stopped to take a photo of the only cactus in bloom that we saw: a Crow’s Claw Cactus

 Crow’s Claw Cactus

It’s early yet so it wasn’t a surprise there weren’t many flowers.

We swung through the hummingbird enclosure and I spied one hummer closing in on a feeder.


And this guy was sitting on a tree branch.


We had a lovely lunch in the upscale café in the museum before heading home.

On Tuesday February 12th, we took the drive up Madera Canyon. It was a warmer day so it was in the 50’s at 5,500 feet at the top of the canyon.  

View from top of Madera Canyon

Then on the way back down we stopped to watch the birds for a while at the gift shop area. The wild turkeys were out in force—someone said they’d counted 15 of them.

Wild turkeys

There were Mexican Jays hanging about.

Mexican Jay Mexican Jay
And Acorn Woodpeckers too.
Acorn Woodpecker

Margaret and Dennis had missed a whole lot of snow up in the Seattle area and flew home to clear roads on Wednesday February 13th.

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day. My Valentine was very good to me and even found some sugar-free candy for me!  

Valentine's Day flowers and candy

We had rain off and on for the next week and then on Friday morning February 22nd we awoke to SNOW when there had been no forecast for it at all. This is the view out our front door looking east. You can see that the snow was slushy on the road and was still coming down in great clumps.

Snow Sahuarita Feb 2019

Here’s the view over our side gate into the side and back yards. Look at all the snow on the trees across the way.

 Snow Sahuarita Feb 2019

Everything got a good inch or so of wet snow piled on it even though the temperature was in the mid 30’s.

Snow Sahuarita Feb 2019

Here’s a panorama of the backyard. You can see how lovely the freshly painted section of the bamboo fence looks too.

Snow Sahuarita Feb 2019

And here’s my rain gauge. We’d had rain in the night before it all changed to snow.

Snow Sahuarita Feb 2019

In the end, once the snow had melted we had a total of 1.8” of precipitation. But they had over 30” of snow up in Flagstaff (a 24 hour record) so I won’t complain.

Our neighbors across the street had a visitor from Minnesota staying with them and he came out and made a snowman.

Snow Sahuarita Feb 2019

It was wet snow, so it rolled up real nicely and he had this guy made in no time.

Snow Sahuarita Feb 2019

His comment was a classic, “How many people from Minnesota can say they’ve made a snowman in Tucson?”

As I waded through the snow melt in the street and back up onto the sidewalk on our side the street I stopped and took a photo of our mailbox. Clearly we got more than an inch (probably 2”) of snow!

Snow Sahuarita AZ Feb 2019

The snow finally stopped about 1:30 and we even had a few sun breaks that afternoon. It cleared off and was supposed to get down to 27 that night so I got the blankets out one more time and covered the tender new plants in the backyard. It only got down to 30 though because it rained and snowed again in the night!

Saturday we went over to the clubhouse to the gym since we’d played hooky the day before not wanting to slog through the wet snow in the parking lots. The view of the mountains from the porch by the gym was pretty spectacular.

Snowy mountains from Rancho Resort

On our way back home I stopped to take a panorama shot.

Snowy mountains from Rancho Resort

The whole range of mountains all the way south towards Nogales and then up north of Tucson was white and glorious.

By Sunday the last remnants of the snow were gone in our yard and it was 65 degrees when we went for a walk up the hill and out through the desert looping back past the club house. EVERYONE was out that day. There were tons of people out by the pool (and in the water) and every dog owner in the place must have been out walking their dog! It was wonderful to be out in the warm sunshine after a week of cool rainy weather (it had only gotten up to 45 on Friday after it snowed).

Monday evening, February 25th, we had a few clouds come in to give us a bit of a slow developing sunset. First we had color to the east over the mountains.


Then it turned pink to the north.


And then finally for just a few moments we had fire in the sky to the west.


With warm dry weather returning at long last, I got out and finished staining the bamboo fence. The oil-based stain that they recommend using on bamboo was pretty stinky (and took 2 days to dry) but it sure produced great results.

Here’s the fence back in late January all bleached out by the sun.   

bleached bamboo fence

And here it is just after I’d finished staining it on Wednesday February 27th. It’s a major improvement and should last 2 or 3 years before it needs to be done again.

Stained bamboo fence

Meanwhile my crazy Silver Torch Cactus has begun to bloom (even with the snow). It still reminds me of Frankenstein heading out to terrorize the villagers!

Silver Torch Cactus in bloom

Wednesday evening we had another brief sunset this time just to the southwest—the only clouds in the sky.