Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Arizona Vacation and REAL Saguaros!

As promised (or threatened, depending on your point of view), this is a post about our vacation to Arizona earlier this month. We left a day late because of a nasty snowstorm that dumped a foot of snow in the Salt Lake Valley. We had to make a few last-minute arrangement shuffles, but it was no real problem.

On the way driving down through Utah, part of Nevada and the length of Arizona, we had nice weather. Cool, but clear. On the second day, we stopped in an area of saguaros to get a glamour shot of Saguaro Sunset, the quilt I made for DH’s sister Annette and her husband Glenn.

Saguaros are HUGE!!  Did you know that Saguaro is pronounced Sa-WA-ro? The G is silent. Also, the saguaro’s scientific name, Carnegiea gigantea, is named after Andrew Carnegie? And the final interesting fact is that saguaros don’t grow their first arm (if they grow one at all) until they are 75-100 years old. They can live to be 150 years old. Saguaros are by far my favorite cactus, and so iconic and representative of the American Southwest.

Another photo to share is the picture of the McCartney Road turnoff on the highway just north of Tucson. Is it THE McCartney (Paul), you ask? Yes! Remember that Paul and Linda had a horse ranch out there - Linda had attended the U of Arizona in Tucson. And then there are the words in the Beatles’ song “Get Back”

Jojo was a man who thought he was a loner

But he knew it wouldn't last

Jojo left his home in Tucson, Arizona

For some California grass

That’s enough trivia for today, LOL, so let’s Get Back to the trip.....

The annual Tubac Arts Festival is a big thing in southern Arizona. It’s been going on for decades. But this year the weather was lousy (cool, windy, rainy) on Wednesday and Saturday. We arrived on Friday and did visit all the booths and vendors, although I didn’t buy anything this time. I was saving my money for the regular shops in Tubac, which we visit the week after Festival concludes. However, I did take a picture of one booth.

Just thought these old records made into wall hangings and clocks were a cool idea. And below is a picture of a large new statue in the sculpture garden in town. There are lots of them there - I had more pictures last year HERE - but this was my favorite this year.

One day we took a drive south to the border, all of 20 minutes by highway. We just went south on Interstate 19 - the only metric highway in the USA - to Nogales. The distances are in km, but the speeds are in mph so as not to confuse people. HA!!  

Anyway, the sheer number - acres and acres - of produce warehouses along this I-19 corridor from Rio Rico south to the border at Nogales is mind boggling. It is one of the major transportation arteries between the US and Mexico for produce. My desire was to see the border wall in Nogales - the one that has recently had concertina wire added to it that I read about in the Washington Post. The wall wasn’t difficult to find.

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In this next section, I’m going to rant. I don’t usually espouse my political views on my blog, and I promise not to make it a habit. But our visit to Nogales really affected me. 

Quick backstory: When I was a teenager, I spent the summer of 1970 in Europe and had the opportunity to visit Berlin and the Berlin Wall. I remember walking to the wall one evening with two friends from our hostel in West Berlin. There was a viewing platform we were able to climb, and we did. We couldn’t see much over the wall in the dark (although there was a street lamp), but we could see the backlit silhouette of an armed guard in a tower, watching us. It was silent, eerie, soul-draining. 

That same feeling struck me as I viewed this scene in Nogales.

Other visitors were there too, on foot and in cars, to take pictures. A Border Patrol vehicle was parked down the way to watch us. Actually, I had no problem with that - the agents are just doing their job. So I waved. At least they were on our side of the fence and presumably had no rifle trained on us.....

Don’t get me wrong. I understand why countries have borders and checkpoints and immigration protocols, and why we need to fund customs agents and technology, etc. etc. But somehow, dividing a city in two (probably a century or two ago) and then adding insult to injury by heaping literally tons of wire on the steel barrier....... REALLY?

I think this is not only SHAMEFUL, but WASTEFUL. Just how much frickin’ concertina wire do they need? The scale of the wall that divides Nogales, Arizona from Nogales, Mexico is massive and grows from a concrete base that is already up to a person’s thighs. Look at this young lady standing next to it (pic taken from our car). 

There was and is no logical reason, other than some bully show of machismo, to resort to this. But then that is the method of the current Administration. God help us all.

End of Rant.
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I did get some sewing done on our trip, but I’ll share those pictures in another post. Basically, I made about 60 elephant-themed Happy Squares (10”) and started some string blocks. But we also visited family, went out to dinner, hosted a family dinner, shopped, basked in the sun at the Beer Garden, did puzzles, read, watched a couple movies, stargazed through Bruce’s new telescope (wow! we could see craters on the moon!) took walks, etc. So relaxing. 

The house we stayed in belong to Bruce’s sister Annette and her husband Glenn. It is their second home. They obtained it (and all the contents from the previous owner) about a a year and a half ago, and have been working diligently to fix it up (new roof, new electrical, plumbing fixes, a new shower) and haul out over 8 dumpsters-ful of trash and years of previous-owner detritus. It was built in the sixties as a ranch - hacienda style as befitting the Arizona landscape.

The home was owned by “Amy”, who was a photographer who moved from North Carolina but lived in NYC most of her life. It is all of her and her family’s possessions that were given to Annette and Glenn - three generations worth. 

The front had a circular driveway with a fountain (not operational) in the center front. 

There was a large saguaro cactus at each intersection (entrance/exit) of the driveway to the front road.

See the holes in the saguaro below? Those are made by birds. Yep, saguaros often house birds and it’s not uncommon to see these holes (you can click to enlarge).

Inside, you enter into the massive living room (the door is at extreme left).

See the sofa in the picture above? That is the sofa upon which Madonna (the singer) posed nude for photographs taken by Amy and her partner. There are actual copies of the photos in the house (and on the internet, I might add).  We didn’t use this room at all except for egress. The furniture is all antique. 

Below: looking from the front door through the living room and the doors leading into the back area of the house (which was added later).

In the kitchen, you can look back through the doors and this 2-way hutch into the living room. That little round table was where I set up my sewing. Through the arched doorway is a butler’s pantry with a skylight.

Annette and Glenn have done so much to this place since we visited it last year. Glenn’s latest project is waxing and sealing these beautiful Mexican floor tiles. This is the view of the working area of the kitchen. So pleasant to look out these windows in the morning! The only thing we had to bring was our coffee pot and coffee grinder and beans (we’re kinda-sorta coffee snobs).

And this is the view in the other direction, looking through the large dining area to the sitting room. It’s where we spent the most of our time.

So many odd things about this house!! This is a little room built in the middle of this great dining-living area. In it is housed a lot of electrical stuff, cleaning supplies, etc. It was covered (as are a few other walls) with barn wood brought from North Carolina.  You can see some of the curiosities in the cubby cabinet to the right and the faux (non-working) fireplace to the left. Oh, I guess the cattle skull, branch wreath and wooden bowls are rather curious, too!

A view from the dining area to the back outside. You can see the covered patio, trees and an outbuilding (including dumpster!)

Same room looking back toward the kitchen. Here, you can see doors (left) that lead to a central enclosed atrium area. Amy used it as an office. It has a skylight. I used it for a well-lit daytime place to work on puzzles! The whole floorpan is rather circular in nature.

This was once a master bedroom. Right now it houses an amazing amount of vintage Victorian furniture; bed sets, armoire, chests, trunks, chairs, tables, etc.  and isn’t really ready yet for guests.

We stayed in the lovely guest room. The antique bed was as sturdy as the day it was built! Lots of antique furniture in here, too, but I’m only scratching the surface with all these pictures.

Outside in the huge yard (this house sits on about 4.5 acres), this is the view beyond the back fence.

Side yard.

Along the back patio. Remember, it’s still a work in process. But doesn’t it have great “bones”?!?!

We enjoyed staying here, and hosting a dinner (I made my family-famous Hungarian goulash) for the whole fam-damily and taking in all the beauty and antiquity. Annette and Glenn were so kind and generous to us, and we loved spending time with them. It felt like going from the outhouse (AKA the Bates Motel - the old family trailer) to the penthouse!

Annette has a fun sense of humor, just like Bruce. When she told us that the only thing we’d need to bring was a coffee pot, I jokingly lamented that I would miss not having to dodge the frozen snake meat in the freezer (Bruce’s brother Dennis, who owns the Bates Motel family trailer keeps snake meat specimens in the freezer there. Don’t ask; I don’t know why. It’s a well-known family fact).

About halfway through our visit, Annette asked me if I’d found anything interesting in the freezer there at Amy’s house and mentioned she’d left some frozen Key Lime Pie there if we wanted it (we didn’t). But when I went to look for it, I saw two other small containers. I opened them and just about died laughing. Annette had wrapped toy snakes in the containers!

That’s it for the vacation pictures! I’ll be back soon with an update on my quilting projects. Thanks for dropping by, especially if you read this novella all the way through!  xo


  1. I don't do politics either--but I HAVE to totally agree with you--this is crazee!! The whole shebang is nutso...totally bigoted and and medieval...nuff said...;(((
    Your lovely saguro quilt looked so perfect against that cactus...As you know i love that quilt a lot...Glad you had a great time...hugs, Julierose

  2. Cathy, what a house! It sounds like it was a fun place to stay! I also love the saguaro cactus. When our kids were little, we often drove down to Grandma and Grandpa's in Mesa, and driving down from Payson, AZ, we always had a contest to see who was the first to spot a saguaro. They are pretty amazing! I'm so glad you got a picture of your quilt in the wild with a saquaro! So interesting that you drove down to Nogales to see the barbed wire wall. We completely agree with your feelings on the whole crazy business - so ridiculous. Thanks for sharing - so glad you had a wonderful time!

  3. What a lovely vacation! I think we're heading to New Mexico/Arizona in early May. I'm making a list of places to see, and the Saguaros are on my list! And for the record, I tend to agree with your political rants.

  4. I showed your quilt to my Dad, who's currently in the hospital, and he really liked it! Cheered him right up :)

  5. Loved seeing your quilt in front of the real thing. Thanks for all the house pictures. I enjoy seeing all those country style antiques, like the whole wall of cast-iron frying pans. Lucky you and Bruce having such a restful and fun vacation, which you certainly deserve.

  6. Thanks for sharing the photos taken near Nogales. We lived there for a short time in 1971 and 1972. It looks so very different now. It was fun seeing the area around Tubac. Thanks too for the “rant”! 👍🏻

  7. I don't suppose that I will ever see that area of the country in person. This was an interesting post. I am wondering how much dust accumulates in the house. This is a great house. The picture of your quilt in front of the Saguaro is pretty cool. I had to laugh about the snake meat kept in the Bates Motel. When I was young I babysat for my brother's kids. Once I went to the freezer to find something to make for supper and found his dead parakeets wrapped in foil. What the What!! Guess he really loved those birds, lol.

    No comment on those wall pics. I won't rant on YOUR blog.
    xx, Carol

  8. Hi Cathy! What a fun post. I'm glad you got a picture of a real saguaros with your quilt. Did Annette and Glenn like the quilt? I am 100% sure they did. It truly is beautiful, and it certainly goes well with their beautiful home. Who knew that about McCartney Rd?!! How cool! What a gem they found from Ann the photographer. It sure does have good bones. And your rant didn't fall on deaf ears with me; I find the whole situation sad and a huge, huge waste of money. It's not bad enough that we have billions of dollars in a budget deficit but then to waste money on a wall. To keep out who? The bad guys always find a way in. Always. Anyway, I enjoyed your post very much. ~smile~ Roseanne

  9. If not for added wire they would push thru very quickly. Believe me I know, we live just a bit north of Nogales. The extra wire just slows them down a little. There are thousands more headed to the border right now.
    Be glad your trip was earlier, see my post today.

  10. Lovey post - rant and all! I'm totally trying to teach my tongue not to say the "g" in saguaro any more. Perfect beauty shot of the Saguaro quilt in front of its namesake! Annette and Glen's home looks like a treasure! I want to find a house with that kind of character for my retirement home. The toy snakes in the freezer were a hoot! As for immigration - all I can say is why aren't we enforcing the laws that hold employers responsible for verifying the status of their employees? The hypocrisy is amazing.

  11. I too Visited Germany though in the summer of 85. My companions and I rode from Luxembourg to hamburg and back down through France, It was glorious! though we went to the north sea to the beach one day and encountered "The Wall" it was sobering. same beach where holiday goers were doing their thing, 20 feet away past a flimsy chain link fence on our side, was total eerie silence and concertina wire, a MINED no-mans land (there was a warning sign), two patrolling guards with Kalashnikovs and a guard tower with 2 more guards and more ordinance. Very chilling.
    It should Never happen here. but what do I know. they could be colluding with the aliens pence warned us about......o0..;p!


  12. How wonderful to get a photo of the quilt inn the wild and that for the pronunciation lesson. The house is a great WIP and quite the upgrade from the Bates motel. I agree 100% with your rant. There are so many other needs we should be addressing.
    Sympathy to all on the death of annette and Glenn's son mentioned in your next post.


  13. What a great post Cathy! So much to see and ponder and marvel at. Most amazing was to see the actual size of those cactus and to read about them. Of course I'd seen pictures of them before but didn't have any concept of their actual size. Your quilt in situ looked perfect! And that house you stayed in - what a treasure (even tho' I know it's a work in progress!). You must have felt as though you were in a palace. And...regarding the rant....God help us all indeed.


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