For a person whose favorite thing is to stay in my apartment reading and writing and watching movies, I sure spent a lot of time out of it this month! Of course, this is the time of year when southern Arizona shines—literally. While other parts of the country are buried under snow and wearing parkas and boots, we have glorious sunshine and warmth. Especially this year. We’ve been running above average temperatures, so I’ve spent most of the “winter” in tee shirts.
Tucson Gem Show
In February, people from all over the world enjoy our weather by coming to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. Actually, that’s “shows” because there are locations all over the city. It’s the largest gem and mineral show in the world. On the last weekend, the big one at the Convention Center runs. I’ve never gone to that one because it charges admission and I don’t care to deal with the traffic.
This year I went to the 22nd Street Show. This is open for two weeks and has a variety of exhibits. This one, like most of the shows, is oriented toward wholesalers and dealers more than the general public. If you want to buy a box of rocks, this is the place to go. Or a bunch of beads. Or fossils. It’s interesting to walk around and see the variety of stones. And, for the public, there are a few places that sell rings and individual gemstones.
I bought the gemstones shown at the top of this part of the blog. These are obviously meant to be earrings, but they only sell the stones at the show. If you make jewelry, they had hundreds—probably more like thousands—of these little boxes with various gemstones in ones or twos you could pick up for not very much money.
I particularly went looking for this kind of gem because it’s found in Arizona, as well as Colorado and in other places in the world. You might want to remember that in a month or two.
The next week, my mother and sister flew in from Virginia for my birthday. When you have out-of-town visitors escaping from the cold, you have to take them outside and show them the sites. Yes, it was cold in Virginia, thirty-four degrees when they left according to my sister.
Reid Park Zoo
Day one we went to the Reid Park Zoo. I love the zoo. If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve already seen the picture of the mother and baby tapir. You probably also saw all the pictures and videos of Nandi, the baby elephant, two years ago. Fortunately, the elephants decided to parade right near the edge of the enclosure for us. As you can see, Nandi has grown.
Tucson Botanical Gardens
The next day we met my cousin at the Tucson Botanical Gardens. We happened to find a few red wildflowers. Although not much was in bloom, it was a beautiful day to be outside.
The highlight of this trip was the butterfly house. This is filled with exotic tropical butterflies who fly among the foliage. The only problem for this desert-adapted rat was that is was much too humid! They have to keep it that way because the butterflies are from Africa and South America, not the Sonoran Desert.
By day three, mom was getting tired from all the walking around. I’d anticipated that, so the third day we went to Sabino Canyon and rode the shuttle through it. Since it’s also at a higher elevation, it’s a bit cooler there, too.
One of the attractions there is Sabino Creek. Desert dwellers are attracted to water like a moth is to a flame. Unfortunately, in this warm, dry winter, the creek has largely dried up. We usually get significant—for us—rain in the winter months, but last I checked the total was .01”. You read that right. We’ve only gotten 1/100th of an inch of rain this winter. It’s dry.
But there’s still hiking trails and cactus and, if you’re there early enough, lots of birds. Thankfully, they didn’t have to give the mountain lion warning this year. A few years back, every tram ride began with how to deal with a mountain lion. I guess it’s too dry for the big cats.
So that’s what I’ve been up to lately. I’ll probably just stay home next month!