Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tuesday at the Zoo

So on Tuesday, when we got up, we had to take the rental car back. All of us were a little sad, because that meant the end of our vacation. There had been discussions about what to do... some talk of going to the Heard Museum, but dad and DH were not interested, and we didn't want to split up on the last day. We ended up going to the Wildlife World Zoo, only about 15 miles from home.

It is a private zoo, and reminded me of the zoo in the movie "We Bought a Zoo." After getting over the sticker shock, we had a wonderful day. The ground is hard enough so that even though there are not too many sidewalks, it wasn't too hard to push mom's wheelchair.

They have an aquarium with interactive displays. I touched a starfish!


And a manta ray, but didn't get a picture of that. The starfish didn't feel like anything in particular, but the mantas were soft but muscular. Quite amazing!

These frogs are about 1 inch long! I love the colors.


There were many, many birds.


This was one of the highlights: I fed the giraffes! This guy knew his way around a feeding station, and he would wait for me to put a little food in my hand and hold it out, then he would grab my hand (with his tongue) and I would pour it on there. I don't think he dropped a morsel. I did it 5 or 6 times, because we wanted pictures on all media. We e-mailed a picture to DD2 and C and P, and heard back very shortly that C was jealous and wanted to be there! It would have been a lot of fun to have them.


DH and I went on the overhead tram. It was very nice! It was quiet, restful, and gave you a good overview of the whole park.


Can you see mom & dad in the above picture? No? Okay, here:


They are in the bottom left corner, resting and waiting for us to return. The weather was lovely, warm in the sun, cool in the shade. There was enough shade that I didn't even get sun-burned.

Here's a view of my feet and knees, above a resting kangaroo. The ride is so quiet that it doesn't disturb the animals at all.


After enjoying the animals we went to the restaurant attached to the zoo. We sat out in the patio and had this view from the edge of the patio.


And this view from the table. I kept catching something black out of the corner of my eye, so I pulled out the camera, and we discovered that the back edge of the flamingo wings is pitch black! (You can see it on the 2 pairs of outstretched wings.)


We had a lovely day! and a great vacation! We are going to have to start saving our pennies for next year! Getting 10 days of sunshine in February lifts me right up out of the blues, and that could easily become a habit.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday: Copper Mine and Arboretum

On Monday we went to the Ray Copper Mine southeast of Phoenix, near the town of Superior, Arizona. It was another mountainous road, with several stretches of 10% grade... which doesn't sound too bad but is actually amazingly steep.

The landscape looked so different from the previous Saturday! Northwest of "the valley" there has been only a trace of rain all winter. South east of the valley it was clear that there had been a little rain. I only got a couple of pictures.


Desert poppies!

First I was afraid we were not going to be able to find the mine... we did pass an open pit mine that would have been easy to miss, but we came around a corner, and There It Was! Half the mountain was dug up!

The colors were amazing, the size was incomprehensible, and the overall impression was overwhelming. The next four pictures are of the same location, zooming in a little more on each one.





The picture below shows the size of the bucket and the tires of the shovel in the picture above. That's DH and my dad in the picture, being dwarfed by the equipment. If you follow the link above you can see an overhead map of the mine.


They mine 2 kinds of copper, the metallic element and the oxide that has to be leached and electrolytically precipitated out of solution. I wonder if they give tours of the works? I think that would be fascinating as well... next time we will have to check.

This was the farthest point of our exploration. We returned to Superior, Arizona for lunch, avoiding chain restaurants. We stopped at a cute little cafe. Most of the "downtown" looked pretty forlorn; the "recovery" has not reached there yet. You could tell the cafe was just hanging on, they were very grateful for our business. I hope they make it!

After lunch we stopped at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. (I didn't realize they were affiliated with the University of Arizona.) It was a beautiful day!

The first section had hundreds of different cacti.


It is amazing how many different ways there are to cover yourself with spines. Even more amazing was the fact that one type of cactus (endangered) was protected with a chicken wire fence, because the javalinas (small wild pigs) like to eat it!


You can tell what a beautiful day it was! This is my dad, providing scale (again) to show how big these cacti are.

This is an artificial pond, but water holes used to exist in the desert before the need for water for people kicked in. I see coots!


It was only a couple of days past Valentine's when I found this heart, appropriate for a rocky relationship. LOL


There is a section of plants from South America, which surprised me a lot. I didn't know Argentina had so many cacti, including one that looks like a saguaro but isn't. The plants from South America did not look like they were flourishing... homesick I guess.

This is the upper trail, that is not wheelchair accessible. Mom did not come along today, and we missed her, but we would not have been able walk this trail if she had been along. (She can walk fine, but doesn't have as much stamina as she used to.) We had read that the trail was 1 1/2 miles long, but by the time we got back to the car we could feel it. Hairpin turns on a walking trail!


I posed in this niche.


At the farthest point of the trail we came around a corner, and faced the Picket Post house:


I am quite sure there was another way to reach the house, but it was so unexpected to see it up there on the side of the hill.

As soon as I took this picture, my camera beeped, informing me that I had no more memory in my camera... and the rest of my memory cards were in the car. So, I walked the rest of the circuit and just looked at the beauty, instead of taking pictures. There was a river with beautiful vistas opening up over the water, and an Australia section with huge eucalyptus trees (that reminded me of Argentina as well); an herb garden, a rose garden, and more.

Both going and coming to Superior we ran into a lot of traffic for the "Renaissance Fair." I think that would have been interesting, but I think we made the right choice to go look at the beauty of Arizona instead.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Prescott, Arizona

A week ago Saturday we went to Prescott, Arizona. To get there we took a winding mountain road, with very little traffic. The scenery was amazing! I took a bunch of pictures to use to make Arizona color palettes; unfortunately, I don't think my camera picked up the greens correctly. (It is either that, or my computer... DH has a bunch of pictures, and I am going to look at those too, but I have to move to another seat to do it.)

DH drove, enabling the rest of us to relax and enjoy the ride.


In Prescott we had lunch at the Palace Saloon; the food was excellent, the service was good, and it was a very cool decor. The original bar, over 20 feet long, was saved when everything else on the block burned down, the patrons moved the bar out into the park, across the street, while the fire was raging, and continued drinking. The original bar was built in the 1870s, burned in 1900 and was rebuilt then, and was refurbished in the 1970s. There was live music, guitar, bass, and accordion when we came in.

After eating, we did a little shopping (I got a cute pair of silver earrings!) and then went to the Sharlot Hall Museum, an outdoor museum where they have preserved the first territorial governor's log cabin:


This is one of the 6 (!) rooms in the log cabin. Obviously, it was not a hovel.


Elsewhere in the museum there was a display of Indian baskets, that was simply gorgeous. Unfortunately, I had trouble getting good pictures with the flash, but I will be able to see the patterns, if I need them. This picture turned out pretty good:


There was a log cabin school house, and a more usual log cabin, modeled by my dad:


I really like the wood stove. Of course, it didn't used to be a concrete floor...

They also moved the 5th governor's mansion to the property, built in 1875. It reminded me a lot of Lincoln's house in Springfield... same era.


All the beds had beautiful quilts on them.

We couldn't stay long enough to see everything, because we had to get to a party! I got to visit with 3 of my aunts, always a pleasure.