Sunday, January 25, 2009

More Gem Show

If you're planning to visit the Gem Shows over the next couple of weeks here are a few suggestions.

1) Look at a map of the shows and scope out the sites you're interested in before going. Parking will be scarce and people get pretty particular about their parking lots during the show. You may want to begin at a place that has plenty of parking, such as Tucson Electric Park. and go from there on one of the shuttles. Driving in Tucson can be a pain in the best of times but during big events, it's even worse. Taking the shuttle allows someone else to get the headache and the benefit of hand gestures. It looks as though the shuttles have everything covered and believe me, it's so much easier.

2) Remember where you park your car!

3) Wear comfortable, layered clothing and shoes made for walking.

4) Take snacks and water to drink. Food and drink will be priced as they usually are at these types of events, ridiculously high! Use the shopping bag you're bringing to carry home your treasures to carry water bottles; as you buy things you can drink the water which will decrease the weight in the bag, or not, depending on how much you buy.

5) Be aware, watch your purse or wallet. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged.

6) If you own a business, bring your business license. More info on that here.

7) If you hate crowds and/or shopping, do your partner a favor and STAY HOME!

8) Read this article: 5 Reasons to Go to Tucson

9) Have fun!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Rob Banks fo a Living. What Do You Do?

Apparently John Dillinger's pickup line. While most people think of Tucson bad guys as gun-totin', Stetson wearin' desperados, one of the most famous is the 1930's gangster John Dillinger. Dillinger and his gang were captured in Tucson in 1934 after a fire at the Hotel Congress. This weekend the Hotel Congress and downtown Tucson will be celebrating the capture with a variety of events. In addition to a 1930s-themed gala, re-enactments and historical presentations, the Fox Theatre has scheduled two showings of "The Gay Desperado," a 1936 black-and-white movie filmed Tucson about a Mexican bandit who kidnaps an opera singer and an heiress. The showings will be at 2:45 and 5:45 pm.
Just to make it more interesting, Johnny Depp is starring as Dillinger in a film to be releaseed later this year. For more info on the events go here.

There's also a collector car show in Tubac on Saturday, the 15th annual show put on by the Car Nuts.

Not a lot shakin' this weekend so, go have an ale. You might want to check out Nimbus, (warning, mute your speakers) a local brewery that's been around since 1996, growing every year. You can now find it in local stores and bars but it's fun to raise a glass right there where it's brewed. Try the Dirty Guera (now, now, I mean the ale but maybe that's what brought Dillenger to Tucson). This weekend talented singer-songwriter Amber Norgaard will be performing.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Hit the Dusty Trail

If you've been around Tucson much, and are in the least outdoorsy, you've probably found the Summit Hut. It's a Tucson institution for hiking, camping, climbing, biking equipment. The owner and founder of Summit Hut, Dave Baker, has started a helpful blog about Tucson outdoors and things that might improve your outdoor experience. Hey, he sells stuff so he should have a good idea of what works and what doesn't. Bookmark this blog: Trail Talk

No matter where we are, I'm always attracted to these outdoors outfitters type stores. I especially like the home grown kind because they usually have folks working there who actually know about what they're selling and it keeps local money, local. There's a Babbitt's in Flagstaff, San Juan Sports in Creede, CO, Headwaters Outdoor Equipment in Salida, CO and Manzanita Outdoors in Prescott. You can find cool stuff you didn't know you needed and you can usually pick up a copy of the Mountain Gazette which has interesting writing from those who, when in doubt, go higher. I could spend hours in those stores but then, shouldn't I really be outside, actually doing something. Anyway, I digress. Check out Dave's blog and then actually get outside and DO SOMETHING and then DO MORE!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Today was the official start of Wings Over Willcox. If you've never seen migrating birds in large numbers, check out the Sandhill Cranes on the Playa. There are tours, seminars, souvenirs and everything BIRD.

If you like quilts or fabric arts, don't miss the Quilt Fiesta at the TCC. The Tucson Quilters Gu
ild puts on this fabulous show every year and it just gets better and better. If you haven't heard, quilts have gone from just something to keep you warm at night to high art. The Fiesta runs Fri, Sat and Sun so don't dawdle.

This is also the weekend for the A
nnual Indian Arts and Crafts Festival at the TCC.

When I see an interesting home I'm try every way possible to peek in windows just to get a glimpse.
I'm not a voyeur and don't care to see the people, I just love to see the layout, the colors, the furniture, how it's all put together. If you're like me, get your self down to the Tubac Center of the Arts Home Tour. There will be 6 homes open from 10am to 4pm on Saturday.

And those of you searching for the Elegant Trogon, you're not alone. Check out this video.

Temps are supposed to hit the 70s all this week, don't tell your friends and family back east

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What is this Thing You Call the Gem Show?

This thing called The Gem Show is actually several shows. There are gems, fossils, rocks, minerals, beads, jewelry findings-if it has anything to do with gems and/or minerals, you can find it somewhere in Tucson during the weeks of The Gem Show.

This all started back in 1955 at a school where local rockhounds displayed their best finds. An immediate success due to the quality of specimens, the show has grown every year and is now held at the TCC Arena. Dealers from across the world bring their best to the show. A different mineral is showcased each year, this year being devoted to Mineral Oddities. The dates for this show are Feb 12-15. Most of the satellite show run from Jan 31-Feb 15.

Due to the success of the official Gem Show, small shows sprung up around the main show and for me that's the real fun. Driving around Tucson last weekend, I could see the tents going up and the signs of vendors coming to town. It's like a world flea market with the most interesting things at really great prices. Besides the gems, minerals and fossils, you can find rugs, furniture, clothing, jewelry, statuary, junk, junk and more junk. It's all here!

One of the most popular shows in recent years The Whole Bead Show at the Windmill Inn. This show boggles the mind at the variety of beads available. Here you will also find artists selling their wares as well as all the supplies needed to make your own art. This is a do not miss for the beading crowd.

And there are also beads available at the other shows so don't think this is the only venue with beads in town. Almost every show will have some beads; here's how to get a bead on beads during the show.

Anyone who's been to an event like this knows you must have a strategy or you will be easily overwhelmed. Let's face facts, this is major sensory overload. Study a map of the venues-here's one that may help. Some shows are only open to wholesale buyers and require credentials in order to enter. Registration for these shows can usually be done before or at the shows, but needs to be done separately with each show promoter. Bring your business license and some business cards.

Most of the gem and mineral shows around Tucson are free and hours vary. Google Tucson gem show or go to your favorite vendor's web site and you will get lots of info.

Parking can be a problem, so again know where you are going and where to park. In the downtown area there is a Gem Show Shuttle which is handy.

Take snacks, lots of water, maybe even pack a lunch but remember to pace yourself. Wear comfortable shoes and layer you clothing, it can be 35 degrees in the morning and 70 at 2pm; it could even rain. Bring a collapsible bag to carry your treasures home. Be careful with your money/purse, this is a perfect opportunity for opportunists.

Above all, have fun!

Volunteer Camp Host, Anyone??

Suzi at Camping With Suzi has a post about volunteer positions in the National Forests of Arizona. If you think you might like to spend more time in our lovely and diverse state and get a free site in exchange for some work, check it out.
Volunteer Campground Hosts Needed
That post will link you to their other site with great information on National Forest Campgrounds.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Jan 5-Jan12 2009 Tucson Gem Show is Coming!

OK, it's the after-holiday lull... but there's still plenty to do. On January 10th you can find out what it might have been like to live in Tucson in the 1700s at Presidio San Augustin de Tucson. There will be cannons firing-how can you resist? This is a free event and gets you into downtown Tucson, take one of the walking tours while you're there.

Both units (Rincon-east and Tucson Mtn-west) of Saguaro National Park are taking advantage of the full moon this week and leading evening walks. The desert looks much different in the dark and you can see animals and insects that only come out at night. And a brisk evening is always a good excuse to stop for coffee and pie on the way home (on the east side check out TTT Truck Stop). It looks like reservations are required for the walks, so get more information at the web sites: Rincon Tucson Mtn

If indoor evening activities are more to your liking, there are a couple of movie events coming up.
The 18th Annual Tucson Jewish Film Festival begins Jan 10th. This has grown to be a huge event screening films from around the world. See the schedule here.
The Loft will present, Gentlemen Prefer Marilyn. As the add says, unbottle your inner blonde and speak to me Harry Winston!

Rincon Valley Farmer's Market happens every Saturday. Here you can find arts, crafts, dog food, produce, beef, coffee, plants. It makes for a fun morning with a drive through beautiful (but disappearing) desert.

Don't forget this is prime Sandhill crane and snow geese veiwing time. Get out to Whitewater Draw or check with Wings Over Willcox to find the best viewing areas. Also, check out the Sweetwater Wetlands, constructed from effluent from a wastewater treatment plant (gotta love the name). This is a place that you would never know was there but is worth the drive. Here's a flikr photo set by Lance and Erin (fulltime RVers), just to prove it. Also see their post about the Sweetwater Preserve and hiking there.

Wow, from Marilyn to effluent, to Jewish films to TTT Truck stop, now that's variety. I'm going to run a few posts on the upcoming Gem and Mineral Show from a Tucsonan perspective. In the meantime, have a great week.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Picacho Peak

We attended our first camping rally! We have a 1987 23' Airstream Sovereign and belong to the WBCCI, (Wally Byam yadda-yadda). The rally was organized by the 4 Corners Unit. The event was fun and we met great people, but the real star was the campground at Picacho Peak State Park.

We've lived in Tucson over 20 years and have visited the park on day trips several times. We even drove through the campground one time and thought we'd be back, we just didn't know it would take so long. The Park has been undergoing improvements and currently a new visitor center is being built. The camper restrooms are large and very clean. The showers are huge with plenty of room for all the shower necessities and to keep your clothes dry. There was also plenty of hot water. Sites are large with both back-in and pull-through sites. Electric sites are $20/night, no h/u, $12. There is a pull-through dump station with water.

The beautiful views are the best thing about the park but there are also hiking trails and plenty of opportunity to just sit in your chair and watch the changing light on the volcanic rock that is Picacho.

The most unfortunate thing about the Park: I-10 is just a couple of miles away so there is freeway noise but not so much that it marred our stay. The railroad also runs along I-10 so occasionally the you can hear the train horns but I kinda like that.

Picacho Peak was the site of the most significant Civil War battle to take place in Arizona. This is re-enacted annually in March. Picacho is also one of the best places to see our beautiful wildflowers in the spring.