Friday, April 11, 2008

Day #37 - Valley of the Moon

One of the perks of my job is behind the scenes access to historic sites, whether they're open to the public or not. On Wednesday, we got to take a short tour of the Valley of the Moon. The place has been mostly closed to the public for a while now due to safety issues. Some of the folks on the tour joked that we should have brought hard hats. It's a quirky slice of Tucson history, and a funky mix of imagination and folk art. One of the highlights of the site is the large "Wizard's tower" that dominates the central part of the park. It used to be the climax to the tour, and the site owner would let the kids come up into the tower after seeing the rest of the park. It's in a horrible state now, and long since closed, but you can still get a sense for how magical this must have seemed in its heyday.

Valley of the Moon

Day #36 - A peculiar sunset

I was housesitting on the far east side of town, and happened to be driving east as a big monsoon storm rolled in. The sun was setting in a blaze of color behind me, but it was nothing but grey swirling clouds to the east. Suddenly, this otherworldly spot of color flared behind the clouds. It lasted for a couple of minutes - a bizarre trick of reflection and refraction. I've never seen its like.


Day #35 - Cat & the squirrel

I was off housesitting one morning when I heard a commotion from down the hall. The cat, normally silent, was mewling and fussing at something. I found him in the master bathroom, working himself into a snit over a group of squirrels hanging out underneath the window. The squirrels were absolutely fearless, and the cat was beside himself. This went on for an hour or so. Who needs TV when you've got nature?

Chisum & the squirrel

Day #34 - for the Rush fans

I just realized that I'm less than a month from my next Rush show. Woohoo! I've caught them on every tour since Vapor Trails (yes, I know - late bloomer), and we always make a point of catching at least the "local" show in Phoenix. We always leave Tucson in the late afternoon, then stop and find dinner on the road - usually in Casa Grande. A few streets in from the highway, we stumbled upon this sign. It's only significant to Rush fans and the townsfolk who named it, but it's become one of the places we *have* to stop and take pictures on the way to a Rush show.

Casa Grande, AZ

Monday, April 7, 2008

Day #33 - Fox Tucson Theatre

In 2005, I got to take a tour of the renovations of the Fox Theatre. The place was pretty torn up, but a few parts were starting to come together. One of the most striking features in the theatre is a massive art deco (or "southwest deco") chandelier that hangs in the middle of a vividly painted ceiling mural. When we did the tour, the chandelier was lowered to ground level for repairs. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to get so close to this Tucson icon.

Fox Tucson Theatre

Day #32 - Tucson in summer

Continuing the monsoon theme, here's a shot from 2004. I was visiting a friend and we were in the back yard with the dogs. When the monsoons are here, it's typical for the skies to be absolutely clear in the morning, then a bunch of clouds roll in by the mid-afternoon, then the rains come in the late afternoon, and things clear up until the next day. Summer skies tend to be diffuse and washed out by the strong desert sun, but during monsoon season, everything takes on a rich, sharp tone. The colors pop, and there's a kind of electric undercurrent in the air. I hate the summer heat, but the monsoons are fabulous!

Tucson in summer

Day #31 - Desert tortoise

Ever seen a baby desert tortoise? I housesit for a woman who takes care of several desert tortoises, and this was one of her younger charges. The shadow lines are from a metal grate that was over his enclosure to keep an opportunistic raptor or racoon from stealing a tortoise snack. This little guy ended up crawling out of his enclosure about a year after this picture was taken, wandered around the desert for about 6 months, and finally made his way home. He's got a tracking number on his shell, so they knew it was him when he returned. He's back in his enclosure now, and the family was thrilled he returned. He's a bit bigger now (by a couple of inches), but still quite small.
He used to stretch out to greet me every time I walked by the pen and nearly flipped himself over a few times.

Baby desert tortoise

Day #30 - Sunset

One of the best parts of monsoon season is the incredible sunsets that result from all the moisture in the air. This one was taken from my old front yard (now, sadly, a vast parking lot for an LA Fitness).

Monsoon sunset

Day #29 - Summer monsoons

I just uploaded a tremendous backlog of old photos to my flickr account, so I think I'll draw heavily from those for the next few days. This first one is a shot I took in August of 2004. I had just come home from work and the rain started pouring. We had a metal awning over the carport, and the rattle of raindrops was almost deafening. Wasn't fast enough to pull in the patio chair before it got thoroughly soaked. Whoops!
I love the way all the moisture diffuses the harsh sunlight and suffuses everything with that characteristic late afternoon glow.

Summer monsoon