Sunday, November 30, 2008

12/01-12/07 2008

There's holiday music coming up this week. Desert Harmony, the award-winning women's a cappella chorus performs Singin' and Swingin' the Holidays a program of holiday and show tunes Saturday 12/6 at Rincon High. There will also be songs by the mens' choral group Tucson Barbershop eXperience. Call 790-1813 for more information.

If you like music, Pima Community College will host different concerts all week. Tonight it's jazz at the Center for Fine Arts Proscenium theater. This is a great venue on the west side of Tucson.

Academy Village will be the site for the Musica Sonora presentation of Christmas in the Sun King's Court on Tuesday at 7:30.

Luminaria or farolitos are the traditional Christmas lights of the Southwest. Made by putting sand in a paperbag and adding a candle, the lights are placed in rows along walkways to guide the Christ child. Tohono Chul Park in NW Tucson will begin the Christmas season with a half-million lights and luminarias, cookies and hot cider, live music, and an ornament sale. This is a beautiful park.

Tubac is also having Luminaria Nights 12/5 & 12/6.

On Tuesday you can learn about early inhabitants of the Tucson basin at Saguaro National Park West Unit. Join a park ranger as she reads some of the oral history surrounding the Mexican-American homesteaders' adventures in and around Saguaro National Park. Please call to confirm date and time.

Wake Up With the Birds at Agua Caliente Park on Tucson's northeast.
Desert meets water at this unique oasis park, providing a unique crossroads for migratory and resident birds, some of which are unique to southeastern Arizona. Spot cardinals, thrashers, hummingbirds, songbirds and raptors nestled among the mesquites and palms. Binoculars are available for use during the walk or bring your own.

Saguaro National Park east hosts a Star Party Wednesday starting at 7pm. Join park naturalists for an introduction to astronomy and a look at the desert night sky. Telescopes and binoculars will be available. Advance registration is required and can be made by calling the visitor center at 520-733-5153. Program is wheelchair accessible

Pottery Sale-Once a year the UMC Cancer Center puts on a sale of ceramics---largely functional pots---made by four local artists. This year's event will be at the UMC Cancer Center on December 5th between 9:00 and 6:00 p.m. The proceeds go the Patients Assistance Fund and are made available to Cancer Center nurses for the special needs of their oncology patients. Funds are applied to a wide array of small and large benefits for patients. Ceramics are VERY reasonably priced.

On Sunday visit Cat Mountain Station in the Tucson Mtns for a Gala Holiday Art and Craft Fair. Featuring the work of many local artists, the fair will offer a wide selection of reasonably priced fine art and hand-crafted items for those hard-to-find gifts for your own home d├ęcor. Enjoy live music and freestyle dog dancing while browsing original paintings, pottery, stained glass, jewelry, photographs and much more.

Want to honor your inner Norwegian? Have a hankerin' for some lutefisk? Check out the 27th annual Nordic Guild Fair which will feature Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish clubs and individual vendors selling ethnic foods, baked goods and crafts. Folk dancers and musicians will entertain throughout the day. Saturday at Streams in the Desert Lutheran Church 9a-3p. Uff-da!

Feel like a drive?

December 5 - 6, 2008: Christmas Apple Festival
A country crafts fair featuring handcrafted arts and crafts and quality reproductions. Baking with apples contest, entertainment, door prizes and lots of fun. Held at the Willcox Community Center, 312 W Stewart St. For more information contact Willcox Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture at or 520-384-2272.

December 6, 2008 : Christmas Lighted Parade
Kick off the Christmas season with a lighted parade in downtown Willcox. Music, free hot dogs for the kids, free hot chocolate and coffee for all. To enter the parade or for more information contact Willcox Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture at or 520-384-2272

The Seventh Annual Sonoita By Starlight Holiday Shopping Event
Friday December 5, Shops open until 9pm
Come join in the one night a year that Sonoita keeps the sidewalks
unrolled until 9pm. Holiday goodies, lights, music and unique gifts can be found at Buffalo Gals, Many Horses Trading Company, Nizhoni Ranch Gallery, Square Top Alpacas, & More You'll find local artisans and their crafts sharing the brick and mortar space with local merchants. Rain or shine, moon or stars, the sidewalks are firmly planted down for this one special night in Sonoita!
Questions, call Buffalo Gals at 520-455-5523 or Many Horses Trading Company at 520-455-5545.

Sierra Vista Sunday Dec 7:
Brown Parade Field, Ft. Huachuca. A uniformed soldier will greet you at the door of each turn-of-the-century officer's home, all beautifully decorated for the holiday season. Hours 1-5 p.m. Tickets $10 in advance, $12 day of the tour. For more details call (520) 417-6960
Note: Fort Huachuca is an active military installation and specific entrance requirements are enforced. U.S. citizens may enter the post with a Visitor pass, received from the guardhouse at the Main Gate. Required documentation includes: vehicle registration and insurance, as well as current and valid photo identification for driver and all passengers over 13.

And now for a real adventure-drive to Cascabel (5 miles beyond the pavement) a great little community of artists north of Benson. It's their annual Christmas Fair and it's never disappointing. It's my choice for my birthday!

And Jupiter Aligns with.....Venus

Look up, look up! Skies should be clear Sunday and Monday nights in southern Arizona and viewing will be great in Tucson. Those of you farther out and away from city lights should have an even better vantage. The crescent moon, Venus and Jupiter will be in close proximity and very visible in the night sky. More details here: Venus, Jupiter After Sunset

Also check out The University of Arizona's Flandrau Planetarium site for sky events throughout the year.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tucson Winter Weather

Saguaro National Park photo

When most people think of Arizona, the first thing that comes to mind is often heat. Yes, it does get hot here! Ice break on the Santa Cruz river usually happens the end of May. What's that you say? You didn't know we had ice on our rivers. You didn't even know we had water in our rivers. You're right, no ice, sometimes no water. Calling the first day to reach 100F the Ice Break is a Tucson tradition promoted by local media with contests for guessing the actual day each year. According to records, it has happened as early as April 19. Lordy, that's a long summer!

People often ask, "How can you stand the heat in summer?" My response: It's like winter in other places, you hunker down and stay warm and dry, we try to stay cool.

Those 100F temperatures can stay with us until September and we sometimes even get a few in October. The rainy season, or monsoon, is late July, August and September. Tucson gets 12 inches of rain per year on average and may get 6 of those inches during the monsoon. The storms are quite dramatic with amazing lightening shows and sometimes damaging winds and flash floods.

Tucson boasts 350 days of sunshine a year and low humidity
(you know, it's a DRY HEAT). Our most pleasant days, I think, are October and November and late February and March, into early April. These are the Chamber of Commerce days, blue skies, low humidity, temps in the 70s and beautiful sunsets. Ahhhh, this is what we came to Arizona for. But (you knew it was coming) we can have a few cold days and nights that sneak in there and we can get below freezing temperatures. We can even get snow! And December and January are the winter rainy season which is not as wet or dramatic as the summer monsoon. We natives always hope for good winter rains as that helps make an eye-popping spring wildflower show.

However, (always good when there's a however after a but) the cool and/or rainy never lasts long. When it snows, it's gone before afternoon. And we may have a week of what we think of as bad weather but the snowbirds from Minnesota will still be wearing shorts.

It's helpful to keep the latitude of southern Arizona in mind. Look at the
NOAA weather map. In grade school we all learned that closer you are to the equator, the hotter it is, right?
There are several places in the US closer to the equator, and not surprisingly they are also Snowbird habitat. In Texas, the Rio Grande Valley and Gulf of Mexico coastline will have warmer average temps through the winter. And of course, Florida will maintain 80F degree daytime temps throughout the winter save some cold snaps here and there. Tucson has cooler temperatures but less bugs, almost no humidity and a more diverse landscape. You can drive for 60 minutes from the center of Tucson up the Catalina Highway to Mt Lemmon and and pass through several climate zones. Mt Lemmon is one of the Sky Islands and there are other Sky Islands in southern Arizona. Visits for hiking or birding make great sidetrips.

So why does Phoenix, which is north of Tucson, usually have higher temperatures? Good question! Tucson has more elevation at 2400ft compared to Phoenix at 1100ft.

OK, that's the weather lesson.
Today's weather: as I look out my window I see blue skies and no clouds with an ever so slight breeze ruffling the trees. My thermometer reads 50F at 0730, which tells me it will most likely get into the mid-70s today. Beautiful! There's lots going on so get out and enjoy it. This is what you came to Arizona for.

Monday, November 24, 2008

This Week 11/24-12/1 2008

As the Holiday Shopping season begins, lots of art and craft fairs are happening. In Tucson the annual Parks and Recreation Holiday Arts and Crafts Fair is this weekend featuring over 75 vendors. It's always a great event and gives you the opportunity to visit Reid Park which feature a small lake, 2 golf courses and the very cool Reid Park Zoo. The Zoo is not just for kids and makes a fun and interesting morning or afternoon. The Fair is presented by Tucson Parks and Recreation Department, Nov 29-30, 9:30 AM-4 PM, Reid Park, 22nd and Country Club.
If seeing a presentation of The Nutcracker is part of your holiday tradition, you might like to attend A Southwest Nutcracker, the ballet with a southwestern kick. Three performances this weekend at the Tucson Convention Center Music Hall.

If you'd like to venture south a bit through the beautiful rolling grasslands of southern Arizona (Yes, grasslands-parts of the Movie Oklahoma! were filmed in this area) the little town of Patagonia is having a Holiday Walking Tour. I would go to Patagonia anytime for anything, this just adds a little extra.

Bisbee is a two-fer this weekend. If you are like me and walk by old houses thinking "I would love to see inside that house!" this is the weekend for you, my friend. Bisbee is hosting the Historic Bisbee Holiday Market and Historic Home Tour. Bisbee is also a great place to visit anytime, these events just make it more fun.

If you're not into the whole shopping scene and you enjoy folklore, cowboy songs and history you might like the Arizona Folklore Preserve Thanksgiving Celebration Nov 29 & 30. The Preserve also has shows going on throughout the year.

Wow, lots going on so don't eat too much or if you do, get out and move around, it should be a great weekend!


It's almost Thanksgiving and snowbirds will be descending on Tucson. The week following Thanksgiving has long been dubbed the beginning of the "Snowbird Season" and while this year may be a bit different due to the economy, some snowbirds will still make Tucson and Southern Arizona their winter home.

This bog will endeavor to give a Tucsonan's perspective on what there is to do here in the Old Pueblo. This will not be a compilation of everything that's happening but a sort of "Best Of". I will also focus on those activities or places that are not as heavily marketed. Many activities will be free or low-cost.

We are RVers but with 2 sons in college our trips are limited to weekends and vacations but someday we hope to join the ranks of part-timers or maybe even fulltimers.