Wednesday, March 25, 2015

More March adventures from AZ.
Old Tucson located west of Tucson is a famous movie set, many old western movies were filmed here including a newer movie, "The Three Amigos". The above is recognizable from The Three Amigos, 
it is simply a wall.  

Many of John Wayne's movies were filmed here with the Del Toro being a common background. This building has an interior and filming took place inside as well. 

A favorite stop along the Apache Trail is Tortilla Flat, good burgers, walls lined with dollar bills, saddles make up the bar stools and be sure to use the bathroom as they're rather unique. Tortilla Flat dates back to the late 1800's when the location was used as a stagecoach stop.  

Sunset at the Good Sam Phoenix RV Rally. Our first rally...will probably not be our last. 
It was like a Sturgis for RV'ers. 

One thing we're learning, things don't always go smoothly, as with our neighbor as we're all preparing to leave the rally. It's raining and the slide won't go in. We've also learned how helpful people are in this RV life. As you can see a few guys (my hubby included) out in the rain doing what they can to help. (It doesn't matter how new or how old the rig is.) 

At the Rally we got a coupon for 3 nights free stay at this CalAm RV Resort in Mesa, so we thought we'd give it a try. Something we thought we wouldn't like....surprise, we liked it and had a great time staying there. Live music in the evenings by the pool. There are many park models in the park. I liked the tall palm trees lining the streets. 

 We were on a street with RV's and park models. 

A most awesome hike in Usery Mountain Park near Phoenix and the Superstition Mountains. 
The Wind Cave Trail. 

More from the Wind Cave Trail, spring is evident as the desert is starting to bloom.

A good sized lizard along the trail. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A visit to St Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, Florence AZ
After reading about this Monastery near Florence in the desert, I was intrigued. After research on the Internet, looking at pictures and reading the rules for visitors I was even more intrigued. My better half not so much, but willing to give it a try. 

Below are some of rules, there were others that pertained to buildings not open to visitors, no photos of the monks and other common sense rules, such as being respectful of their sacred place. The Monastery opens their doors to the public for a few hours each day, not as a tourist attraction but as a place to reflect and to be in a peaceful place. There is no charge but a small bookstore sells religious books and olive oil from the olive grove on the grounds. 

Proper Attire Rules:
Visitors must be properly attired to enter the Monastery grounds. In general, clothing should be modest and loose-fitting, and include the following:
  1. Orthodox clergy must wear a cassock in the Monastery. 
  2. Men must wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts.
  3. Women must wear long skirts, long-sleeved blouses, and scarves. (Please, no pants/slacks, no tight-fitting clothing, no skirts with slits, hats, low-cut blouses, or sheer or small scarves)
  4. Shoes/sandals must be worn with socks at all times. Please do not wear sheer stockings. Please wear flat shoes, no high heels, platform shoes or open-toed sandals.
  5. Pilgrims staying at the Monastery and all those attending church services must observe the order of the Monastery.

A bit of history:
In the summer of 1995 six monks arrived in the southern Arizona desert to establish St. Anthony’s Monastery, carrying with them the sacred heritage of Athos, considered to be a very Holy Mountain in northern Greece. Today there are approximately 50 monks at the Monastery.

Upon our arrival, we were surprised to see several cars in the parking area, we entered thru a stone arched gate and were met by a tall soft-spoken monk, he went over a few rules and we were off to roam the grounds. I was wearing a dress but wasn’t sure the length was long enough, I wore some over-the knee socks so my legs were covered, the monk said it would be fine. They also have some skirts with elastic waists that they let women slip over their pants if they arrive without a dress or skirt, very thoughtful.

We were totally amazed as we toured the grounds.This place makes you feel like you're somewhere else - a real oasis in the desert. There are several different chapels and one main chapel where most services take place, all with stunning craftsmanship. The grounds were out-of-the-world beautiful (and peaceful). 

We found a bench and sat for awhile just trying to take it all in. 

Beautiful stonework.

Inside the main chapel. Ornate and breath-taking.

Tall chairs where monks stand during services, if they get tired 
the seat folds down for sitting.

It was a garden paradise.

 One of several chapels.

 Proper attire.

Loved the craftsmanship in the ceilings. 

We walked up the hill to this chapel but it appeared to be new and still under construction. 

We enjoyed this day very much and found the Monastery so interesting. Would love to visit again. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Visiting San Xavier Mission in Tucson.
It’s easy to see why this mission is known as the “White Dove of the Desert.” A National Historic Landmark, San Xavier Mission was founded as a Catholic mission by Father Kino in 1692. Construction of the current church began in 1783 and was completed in 1797. San Xavier is still actively run by Franciscans and continues to serve the Native community with weekly services.

The painting and artwork in this mission is beyond description, everywhere you look there appears a masterpiece. At one time, the mission was inactive and natives in the area were allowed to live in the mission, fires from cooking and heating covered much of the interior artwork with black soot,  it’s taken years of restoration to bring it back to what we see today. 

Mission interior over the pew area.  

 Pews in the mission.

 Old saguaro ribs make up the ceiling in the mission courtyard. Large doors built in front of the church led to a walled courtyard, the worshippers would put their horses/animals in the courtyard during worship and celebrations to keep them protected from the raiding Apaches. 
A "White Dove of the Desert" indeed.

On another day we visited and toured the Titan II missile site south of Tucson. The launch control room above. I got to be the commander who along with the other crew person (our tour guide) performed a simulated launch. I sat in the chair and turned the key to launch. Fortunately in real life one of these missiles never launched. Their purpose was to serve as a deterrent and the program was a success.
This was the only Titan II used for training and never loaded with a nuclear warhead which is why it remains today. All other Titan II’s were demolished in the early 1980’s due to outdated technology and weapons reduction programs. 
The Titan missile is massive, 103 ft buried in an underground silo (8 stories). Hard to fathom something that huge could be propelled upward and reach a target on another continent.
Our tour took us underground, thru tunnels to where we could view the missle and then thru another tunnel to this launch control center. The complex was built of steel reinforced concrete with walls as much as 8-foot-thick in some areas and 3-ton blast doors that sealed areas from the surface and each other. It was fascinating to see this huge facility and all of it underground and undectablable from the outside.