Saturday, April 1, 2017

First Flight on United - Home to Tucson and Yuma

When Kyle Kincaid called to tell me he was giving me a year of free flying I was stunned and so grateful.  A year to fly as often as I chose, anywhere in the world that United flies.  Yes, it's standby, which can get a bit tricky but still.  The freedom.  The choices.  When Kyle called, I was preparing to leave for Bangkok for six weeks.  I left December 31 and returned February 16, 2017.  On China Southern, ironically...a Skyteam member.

After six weeks away, waiting with my friend Lori for the arrival of baby Eileen Claire while Lori's husband Matt was teaching in Mandalay, I wasn't anxious to leave home immediately.  The 30+ hour flight home and horrible jet lag from the 12 hour time difference didn't help.  But I used the time to figure out where to go.

Heading home to Tucson was a no-brainer.  Friends, family and the best Mexican food ever.  I flew into Tucson, spent a couple of days there then drove 3 1/2 hours to Yuma to visit my cousins.  I hadn't been back to Yuma, where I was born, since the 1980's.  It has changed.  I was too busy talking to my cousins to take many pictures of Yuma but hope you enjoy all the photos of Tucson.

The standby thing did cause a change in travel plans.  I was planning to fly home on a Thursday but a massive east coast storm caused thousands of flights to be delayed.  Rather than sitting in airports with everyone else hoping to get a seat, I opted to stay in Tucson until Saturday.  More time with friends and more Mexican food.

Known as the "White Dove of the Desert", San Xavier Del Bac is a functioning Catholic church on the Tohono O'odham reservation, close to the Tucson airport.  When I was a kid we went there often to eat fry bread and pick up fire wood from a friend of my dad's.  I have no idea where my dad met Justin but they became buddies and our wood supplier.
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The next photos are from the Tucson Botanical garden.  Ironically, my first visit there.  I highly recommend it but get there early, there's limited parking and it fills up fast.  This day was perfect weather and as you can see, many of the cactus were in bloom.

This is known as a chile ristra.  We always had one hanging outside the front door of our adobe house growing up.  Ours was purely for decoration, not to dry the chiles.

The next photos were taken in the small butterfly enclosure at the Botanical Garden.  People were groaning about the high humidity as they walked in.  My skin breathed a sigh of relief after the dry Arizona air.

I liked this wall and would love to do to the wall next to my pool.

They use the fruits, like these grapefruits, in the cafe at the Botanical Garden.

One morning I met my friend Mark at a Waffle House.  His first visit to one.  Mark and I worked together in Mandalay,  If you've been masochistic enough to read this whole blog, you'll know Mark.  He's the guy who got his by a truck and I went with him to Bangkok so he could get medical care.

Not a lot of people know that Yuma is a major agricultural area.  I didn't know they grew artichokes.  

I love to see well maintained fields.

You know that fancy, tiny colored lettuce you get at high priced restaurants?  Here's where it comes from.  

Virtually all the work is done by Mexicans.  Expect your vegetables to be harder to come by and much more expensive during the next four years,

Back in Tucson, a not-great photo of the Rincon mountains.  I don't know how I left Yuma without a photo of any of my cousins.  First time we'd been together in about 40 years and it never occurred to us to take a photo together.
I did get a picture of my friend from high school, Aletha.  She and David have been married for about 47 years.  Most of us thought it would never last.  Proof that love and being best friends first makes a marriage.

The next photos I took at the Saguaro National Park (East).  This isn't far from where I grew up.  Back in the 1950's when I moved to Tucson, our neighborhood was on the outskirts of Tucson and looked a lot like this.  That neighborhood is now in the middle of town.

That's a saguaro on the left and an ocatillo on the right.

That's a creosote bush in the foreground.  The smell after a rain storm is wonderful.  In 1996 my dad was ill.  My brother and I flew in to Phoenix, then drove down to visit him.  It was evening and there'd been a brief shower.  We stopped to just enjoy the smell , the stars and the silence.  Then we started arguing about where to have dinner when we got to Tucson.  I miss my brother.

This is a dry creek bed, or what we called an arroyo (the Spanish word for it) when I was a kid.  We had one behind our house and my parents were adamant that we not play in it during monsoon season.  May look safe here but literally in seconds it can be filled with a 10 foot wall of water.  During dry season we used to play in the arroyo a lot.  We collected "sand rubies" (garnets) and iron filings, which we collected with magnets.

This is a cholla or "jumping" cactus.  I can't describe how many of these I had stuck in me as a kid.  Best way to get them off is to use two sticks.  If you try to do it with your hands, they will "jump" to stick you there, too.  I think my brother spent more time picking these off me than playing.  We fought about that, too.  Big brothers.

I do not recommend stepping on one of these in rubber flip flops.  They will be impaled onto your foot and your brother will hurt himself laughing at you as you hop home, crying.  I really do miss my brother.

Having grown up in southern Arizona, I consider myself a connoiseur of Mexican food.  Which is why, when I tell you that Jack in the Box has the best greasy tacos in the world, you should believe me.  Jack, come on, move back to Florida! 

This cute kid was happy to have his photo taken as he handed over my JitB tacos.

Breakfast - cheese enchiladas with beans and rice from a 24 hour drive-through place.  Tucson has lots of them.  Good, cheap food.  If we had one in Lake Mary I'd have to buy a bigger car.

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