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Tucson Trip 2016

DEGRAZIA – GALLERY OF THE SUN
Tucson, Here We Come! Starbucks coffee stop. A cream filled danish for my delightfully, brave sister-in-law. (DBS), We discuss my brother’s passing; death in general. Enjoy the hot air balloon sighting. Little mist in the air. A full farmer’s market at Queen Creek; we’re on the Ellsworth Loop. Cotton balls on the stem. Skinny heifers. The cotton looks like roses to me.
Acreage after acreage. Lots of new happening. Hunt Highway through the San Tan Valley. I see the hawk and the Gun Show sign. DBS sees Rock and Gem Show sign. I have birds on my mind and she says, “Bird Brain”. Bathroom stop helps the cause. Just before 8 am pass through Johnson Ranch. Prison or a school, we can’t tell. Fields ready for the next crop. Runners getting their morning exercise.
Rehashed the week; the tennis barbeque; re having a beer after morning golf not great for rest of the day; the silversmithing; potential for gifts; the past weeks slashing rain after weeks of 100 plus temperatures. Naps in the afternoon.
We are in the country now. Merrill Ranch, Pima County, Signs for Florence, Pigs for sale. A pyramid shaped formation on top of a mountain. I am reading a book: A Place In The Country. Now I’m in it and here is a prison for sure: State prison in Florence. The historic part of town; love the colors; the architecture.
Cacti Desert Garden with Cholla, Barrel, Saguaros and Mistletoe. DBS fills me in on Tom Nix ; the original cowboy star. Blue Mountain Vista in the distance; hues of color only in Arizona. Little squirrel with its tail up runs across the road and we are seeing more birds all the time. Pear cacti and yellow grass. The aquave plant (tequila). Another Rest stop. Oro Valley and we’re on Oracle road. Sign on car: “Have a wonderfun day.”
“That’s magnificent,” I say about the trees someone planted here. “Here come the mansions,” says DBS. And then there’s a ballroom next to a gunshop, lots of dental offices, homeless shelters, family life, radio places. DBS has been seeing lots of homeless people. For a place you can be outside so often and walk, ride, bike; there are many fitness centers. Guess like our northern winters; they need them in 140 degree heat.. We are in a unique, posh, area of city with cream colored mansions with a hummer behind us. “Jewelry flaunting country,” comments DBS. I see a fancy temple. Upscale. And we are here.
The Degrazia Art Gallery. One acre of art. I guess he owned 10 and sold 9. We met a woman who showed us his grave with angels in the trees and rosaries hanging. Art all over. Flowers out of pop cans. Creativity galore. Tucson Art Co-operative is showing their art in the original smaller gallery but the rest is DeGrazia all over. Beauty all around. DBS saying “could come everyday and see something new.” How true. Found out First Nations allowed the burial here on sacred ground as they considered him a brother but did not allow his two wives the same honor. A unique cairn added our pennies in what feels like a sacred place.
All so au natural: mosaics, sculpture, paintings of every medium, oil, pastels, stained glass, books, furniture, curtains, benches, jewelry, lamps, doors. So much focused on Our Lady of Guadalupe. DeGrazia in the video we watched; said he wasn’t a church man but was a religious one. Built a chapel in her honor in 1953. We toured the home he built with his own hands. He did the same with the galleries saying had to as no one wanted to show his work. There are prints of his black Madonna and children around the world. This DeGrazia acre of art is worth an internet look if you can’t get there. Two and a half hours didn’t seem long.
We drove through a sketchy part of town; a couple of yard sales with no finds but then went on to find the downtown. What a place we found. Hot burning Mexican food. Maybe the marguerita helped us breathe. Found the Olde Towne Artisan Shops; lots and lots within a block; a harpist serenading us as we were able to browse, fill up on color, art and the sound of happy people enjoying a warm afternoon. A great day!

TO A COUSIN’S
Walked out of church five minutes after it started so could make our commitment to sing in the choir and yet get to Tucson by noon to see our cousin. The half hour to get out of Mesa was like circling a feedlot or a shit farm as my brother in law put it. Out in to open country. Seeing up scale developments and then desolate areas of brush. Discussion how forty years prior, three of us were hunting in bush and saw a white deer. Unforgettable experience.
Stop signs say All Way instead of Four Way. Casa Grande outlet stores are history. Years ago they were a big thing here with tour buses stopping and now no tenants in the whole mall.
We’re in the Gila River Indian Nation according to our new GPS. Seeing lots of sand today. Reddish peach colored sand with greeny blue brush looking shrubs. As if driftwood sitting on the sand. Must be from the wind or sand storms that move through. Passing a power station to the left and the airplane graveyard to the right.
Yellow grass has now overtaken the sand. A field of pumpkin; then sugar cane, cotton, corn and a green grass looking field that we are not sure what it is. Through Tucson and past the Pima Air and Space Museum which we toured a few years ago. We’re learning how to make u-turns at lights. Driver saying “assume the crash position” must be from the thousands of planes on the ground all around us. We did the u turn to find a desert we’re going to provide.
Three and a half hours of fun and laughter at our cousins house over pizza. The dementia discussed often so was not like the elephant in the room.
Long, long train with many cars saying “Yong Ling” as we move through Tucson heading home. Saw my first cotton bales. Also the Little Red Rock formation which is actually quite a unique large red rock formation and is about where saguaros start and end again soon. They are always magnificent to me.
And then we see cotton being combined. Saw the truck’s hydraulic lift and a load of cotton coming out sideways of that contraption to form the bales before plastic placed over them.
We go on to see prison after prison; through the tough parts of the town of Palmas. Coolidge is doing better and then we see the Casa Grande National Ruins Monument. (worth an internet search).
Went on a new route using Gilbert Road through Chandler Heights. Nothing wrong with the economy here compared to when we were first down in 2009.
Found the feedlot again.
Exit 36 on Power Road is where West Jet now has flights from Canada into Mesa Gateway Airport and it’s only ten minutes from our home!!!!

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