Found the sun. Tubac AZ

I realised I had not actually posted any of the sketches/paintings so far. I HAVE been getting some creative work done !
just trying to stop and photograph them and get them organized for computer is one more thing (that feels too much like work perhaps…) so go HERE to see the roadtrip artwork to date.
I am also going to post another set of images – LONG SHOTS  landscape photos of some of the locations on our trip so far.

So many beautiful things to absorb along the way. No opportunity to stop and paint – Some of these are taken directly from the car as we are travelling (so the foreground might seem a bit blurred as it races by…) but I wanted to share that amazing sense of “travel”.

no matter where I travel it never ceases to amaze me that all these places exist and continue their day-to-day routine of “being” so far from our home experience. and it is only a 1/2 day plane ride or simple roadtrip away.


Day 13 Thursday/Jan 26 @ Pheonix & Scottsdale

A wonderful morning well spent at the Frank Lloyd Wright “winter house” Taliesin West. Wright spent several months each winter here to escape the cold in Wisconsin, starting with a camp, building the wings of the house in stages, starting a school of architecture ( to promote income during the depression and later 30’s) and finally dying here. Much changed from those days – the view now includes huge electical pylons and aquaducts, and the city of Phoenix has grown to the outskirts of what was once quite an isolated outlook over the valley basin.

But the house. Such great light and spaces – despite the low ceilings – and still in full use as a school of Architecture. It was a really nice and informative tour – and well worth the $.

Actually all of the things we have paid for – state and national parks, gardens and Taliesin have been SO well organized and staffed with the exceptional docents and volunteers. Very encouraging in these economic times that folks give their own time & energy to cultural and local attractions. And they are all so proud and enthusiastic…and helpful! lots of snowbirds from Canada.

We had intended to do the Art Walk (7-9pm) but after seeing most of the galleries and wonderful shop area in Scottsdale this afternoon – we headed back to the hotel to nap & lounge like lizards in the sun.

Day 14 Friday/Jan 27 to Tucson

Don’t miss the Phoenix Botanical Gardens if you are here – the cactus garden display inside the front entry alone is worth it! Masses of color and shapes, textures and dramatic contrasts. great informative signage about wildflowers, hummingbirds, bees, cactus and native plants. We spent the whole morning wandering and I managed a couple of sketches.

Down south again on the road to Tucson – with a short pause along the way to check on the car – nothing serious – and then into a downtown Best Western. I have been searching for that last minute deal on a 2 week vaction rental but EVERYTHING is booked – and prices sky high with the demand from the huge Gem show in town. but we’ll see – we are going to head to Tubac (further south) and camp for a few days, and figure something out – we may end up heading back up towards Sedona instead. A bit frustrating (for the planner in me ;-) but nice to have the freedom without plans to just change direction.

great dinner – after a couple of drinks wait in the nice character lounge – at El Charro. try the Carne Seca (Dried meat) SOOOOO much flavor it is spiced & smoked and sundried…then shredded – one of their specialties.

Day 15 Saturday/Jan 28 @ Tucson

They have trains in Tucson. And lots of Uni students – great energy and enthusiasm everywhere we go. Service is great. (perhaps this seems so noticable because of the lack of good service and the complacent attitude in the service & hospitality industry in Canada – shopping, hotels, services etc)

A morning wander in the old town center, and we caught the first day of a Frieda Khalo photographic exhibition at the Museum of Art. One of her lovers took some great shots, and it was combined with a lovely display of folk art and traditional costume (those colorful embroidered blouses…) at the gallery. The whole block is made of of small buildings surrounding the museum, with pottery studios and art spaces for students and resident artists.

Not enough time for too much else – the Tucson Barrio will need more exploring…but off to Tubac.

Day 16 Sunday/Jan 29 to Tubac

Thought we made an early start – but it was already busy at the Senora Desert museum when we arrived at 11:00. I had come here years ago with my parents (2002) but it is even better now. An AMAZING driving over the Gates Pass road (just minutes from downtown Tucson) and the road drops about 1000 ft down into the next valley basin. One of the best views so far.

We were fortunate to catch the interpretive sessions for the “live” birds and got to see this shy little Owl up close. Again such fabulous volunteers made the place very pleasant, informative and accessible. The cactus, valley and mountains – well as usual – I will let the photos speak for themselves. What a different world it is here. Great Roadrunner, hawks and the cactus wrens all over today.

Drive down to Tubac and written directions (the GPS is wrong) for the back roads to the Flying W Ranch. Not the flat wasteland of RV’s and pavement that you see everywhere…in fact just the opposite. Just grassland some old mesquite to give a little shade. We have all the camp gear that we need for comfort (folding table, chairs, air bed and our great tent + vestibule) but the addition of a flush toilet, shower, electrical and wi-fi have made this the perfect camping break.

the inviting lights of the Cantina were a welcome sight after a long day – and the sunrises and sunsets are fabulous in either direction. More on old town Tubac at later date.

Day 16 Sunday/Jan 29 to Tubac

Our camp neighbors rolled in with 2 horse trailers and 3 lovely ponies (sorry Oscar – Horses). they are from Montana – and it sounds like a few folks got caught by that big storm on their way south. We were SO lucky to depart the coast on Sat and not Sunday (thanks Art).and the coyote song, burros and rooster next door – kind of balance the train whistle from the nearby crossing. And the stars. And half moon is brighter than our full moon!  No light polution here. Not as cold as Joshua Tree for camping – but it still has a variation of temperature of almost 40 degrees!!!! Warm sandles and T-shirt weather by late afternoon – and mittens, touque and long underwear by 7 pm. Astounding. I did invest in a great little “cooking” electric kettle/pot. I can make up a big batch of chai tea, cook oatmeal or heat up the soup – the best appliance ever!

Day 17/18 Monday/Tues Jan 30/31 Tubac

The morning spent painting at the Tumacacori Mission (pronounced tumah – KA – kory) while Brian did the local De Anza trail – 4 miles easy walk along the cottonwood river valley – from the ranch to the mission.

We discoverd the great salad bar at the local market (VERY upscale) and had a nice dose of greens and refreshing Arizona green tea (ha ha – IN arizona) and after the Mission headed along the road to check out one of the vacation rentals I had seen listed. It was REALLY nice and after grabbing the owner we secured our stay from Feb 1-10. it will get busy here in a couple of days – with the Tubac Arts Festival starting on the 8th of Feb.

Our Flying W Ranch camp hosts Jennifer & Danny put on a steak (grilled over mesquite) and tortilla BBQ at the patio for all the guests and some neighbors. The fresh local tortillas about 16 inches in diameter! with homeade salsa and fresh cheese. a nice evening treat around the fire with good company.

Day 19 Wed/Feb 1 TUBAC

So here I sit under the mesquite tree in the courtyard, looking over the geodesic dome house, with the sapsucker whacking away at the tree overhead. (seriously – wood chips falling on the keyboard…) there is a little path the Danny clears around the fenceline of the property that I walk each morning. The sunrise on the western mountains is SO lovely, and this morning saw an antelope and quail along the way. Cardinals and waxwings and little chirpping things in gangs throughout the low trees. (sorry Dad – can’t even guess at what they are) Javelinas (boar/pigs) cougar and bears are all local – and fortunately the tarantula is sleeping for the winter…or at least I like to think so (ground/hole/web very near our camp)…we keep all the tent well zipped up and food stored.

Sun just rising – and the clear day promises a warm afternoon.
I SOOOOOOO look forward to the next 10 days of no driving – kitchen and space to relax.

Day 20 Thursday/Feb 2 TUBAC

Here at the Santa Gertudis Casita  and loving it. The cottonwoods, creek bed and De Anza Trail are right next door – and we can see the mountains and the Tumacacori Mission from here. Several buildings in a compound on the property with a huge pool and cabana shade patio, gardens and views. You can see the original water tower and there are mesquite “branch” fences and gorgeous stone walls that add to the rustic ambiance – but the unit newly renovated and modern. Huge old mesquite, cottonwood, walnut and beautiful white skinned sycamore trees on the property.

The owners have a local gallery in Tubac  Zforrest as well as a thriving wholesale woodwork business. Beautiful inlay work on small and large timber pieces – I think we will need to rent that U-Haul to get all the great stuff home!
I have an art commission from the campsite owner (in trade for massage…always welcome!) for an entry sign – and may have another from our neighbor here at the casita. Never a dull moment. and here I thought I was on holiday!!!



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