Sunday, September 2, 2012

Another Birthday in Tucson

Entrance to the WorldMark Rancho Vistoso Resort in Oro Valley, AZ.
The resort is about 8 miles north of the northernmost border of Tucson.

Last year Ed and I celebrated our mutual birthday (September first) by spending Labor Day weekend at a resort near Tucson.  We had such a nice time there that we decided to do it again this year.  There's always plenty to do in the Tucson area, so we weren't worried about boredom!

My little red car parked just outside our 1-bedroom condo on the ground floor.

As always, our condo is comfortable and lovely.  After 24 days in a fifth-wheel trailer during our New York trip in July, this condo is downright luxurious!  I find I truly am more of a resort kind of gal!

The back patio and grill of our condo.

It's a little ironic to leave our cool mountain home and come to the hot southern Arizona desert at this time of year.  We were almost the only car on the road heading south as we drove here on Friday evening.  On the other hand, we passed long, long lines of vehicles heading north toward the White Mountains, hundreds of flatlanders wanting to get out of the heat for the holiday weekend. 
I think the temperature topped out at 111 degrees for our birthday yesterday, with a touch of humidity.  It was bearable, though.  Most of the time we were in air conditioned buildings, but by 4:30 we were outdoors for most of the evening and it wasn't bad.  Fortunately, a huge bank of clouds had sailed in and mostly hid the sun, keeping it from crisping us.

The living room and the patio door inside our condo.

The fireplace, dining room, and front door inside our condo.

Our efficient little kitchen, with a full stove, fridge, and dishwasher.
We don't even have a dishwasher at home.

The bedroom has a king-size bed and a flat-screen TV.

1 Sept 2012: Ed enjoys his birthday breakfast at Jerry Bobs.

One thing we enjoy on our vacations is eating out.  The staff at the resort recommended 3 different places for breakfast, with an emphasis on 2 in particular.  Ed chose Jerry Bobs.  We knew it would be good when we walked in and found the place packed!

The WalMart in Oro Valley has a southwestern facade.
After breakfast, we headed over to the nearest WalMart to stock up for the weekend.  For food and drink, all we'd brought with us from home was some water.

These two water tanks near WalMart were painted to look like barrel cactus.

After shopping, we returned to the condo to load up the fridge and cupboards with supplies.

The Mini-Time Machine Museum of Miniatures

Our first sightseeing activity of the day was a museum filled with tiny things.  I have been fascinated with miniatures since I was a child peeping into a little white box my mom used to have filled with tiny coke bottles, miniature animal figures, and other itty-bitty things.  I would collect them myself if I had anywhere to keep and display them.

The entrance is designed to make you feel like you're shrinking
as you approach the four-times-the-normal-size entrance door.

We were stunned when we arrived and found a big sign stating that the parking lot was full.  The place was crawling with people.  I'd expected a sleepy little place with a few people moving quietly among the dollhouses, but I was wrong.

A tiny fairy scene.

As it turned out, September first is not just Ed's and my birthdays.  Yesterday was also the third birthday of the museum, and they were commemorating the day with free admission.  That's why they were so much busier than usual.  It was great to get in for free on our birthday (admission is normally $9 per adult), but we did have to go elbow-to-elbow with the crowds.

The fourth floor in a miniature 4-story department store.
Notice the hanging light fixture, the ice cream bar and stools, and on the right
the glass display case and shelves filled with tiny cakes, cookies, candies, and donuts.

I was afraid Ed would find this extremely boring, more of a girl thing, but he was as fascinated with it as I was.  Although, of course, his interest was more on the technical end, considering the exacting work and dedicated hours that go into such detailed recreations.

A cozy bedroom and living room scene.

A closeup of the bedroom scene.  Notice the tiny makeup tubes, lotion bottles,
nail polish, and tissue box on the desk, and the pantyhose on the stool. 
Also notice the scary giant with the enormous camera reflected in the mirror.

1 Sept 2012: Mary and Ed on their birthday (Mary's 58th and Ed's 52nd)
in the Mini-Time Machine Museum of Miniatures.

Another bedroom scene.  At times the work was so realistic that I felt like a Peeping-Tom
gazing into someone's home rather than looking at a simple dollhouse scene.

A makeup table is nestled into a recessed area of the room.  The tiny furniture is the star of the show,
but the architecture of the buildings and rooms is just as incredible.

I took more than 60 pictures of these miniature scenes, which was challenging since they were all behind glass and had to be shot without a flash.  I hope these few can convey how amazing it all was.

A modern living room scene.  Most of the miniatures I enjoyed best were empty of dolls.
Somehow the miniature people in the scenes evoked that unnatural "dollhouse" feeling.

In the final room of the museum, the "Enchanted Realm," this "Snow Village Under Glass"
was built under the floor where we could look down on it from above.  Very cool!

Trail Dust Town: A Museum and Good Eatin'

Ed sits outside the "train depot," which is actually The Chocolate Depot.
When we first arrived, we enjoyed orange cream sodas,
chocolate dipped Oreo cookies (him) and pecan fudge (me).

From the museum, we drove just a few miles to Trail Dust Town, sort of a miniature western town that's about two square blocks in size.  In the 1950s, the buildings of Trail Dust Town were part of a movie set for a Glenn Ford film that was never finished.  When the set was abandoned, it was converted into a little shopping mall.
A gazebo in the center of "town."

Now Trail Dust Town has a little train ride, a historical 1920s carousel and small ferris wheel (with covered wagons for the seats), a museum, a wild west stunt show, and a couple of restaurants.

The streets and shops of Trail Dust Town.
After we refreshed ourselves with some sweets that are not compatible with our diets, we wandered around to see the different shops, snap some pictures, and have some fun.  We even bought each other birthday gifts from the little shops.  Ed got me a beautiful necklace I admired in the Rita Watters Art Gallery (seen in a photo below, it was crafted by Rita herself), and I bought Ed a jar of jalapeno jelly in the Wild West Hot Sauce shop.
Ed lands in lock-up.

How do I look as the Annie Oakley type?

Ed's kind of car...not!
Museum of the Horse Soldier

Ed is interested in all things military, so we took a 30-minute tour through a small museum in Trail Dust Town, the Museum of the Horse Soldier.  This museum houses a substantial collection of artifacts related to the cavalry, both the soldiers and the horses.  There were uniforms worn by the men and the horses, including the branding irons used to label the horse "US" or "IC" (inspected and condemned, meaning not good enough for government service).

Ed with cavalry unifroms from World Wars I and II.

They also had military veterinarian supplies and artillery and assorted horse gear on display.  It was a small museum, but very interesting to see these wars from a whole different perspective.

Mary gets to know one of the museum's horses.  Okay, he wasn't really real,
but you thought he was for a minute there, didn't you?
Pinnacle Peak

Also in Trail Dust Town is a steak house called Pinnacle Peak.  Although I'd never eaten here before, I have many wonderful memories of Pinnacle Peak.  You see, there is a Pinnacle Peak in Garden Grove, California, and it was an annual tradition to eat there during the 8 years my family lived in nearby Yorba Linda, CA.

1 Sept 2012: Ed sits among the cut-off ties while we await our meal at Pinnacle Peak.

Every spring, as soon as our parents got their income tax returns, they treated our family of seven out to enjoy the delicious T-bone steaks and cowboy beans served up at Pinnacle Peak.  One of the highlights of a visit to this restaurant was their practice of cutting off the tie of anyone who had the nerve to wear one to this cowboy-style establishment!

1 Sept 2012: Mary (age 58) and her new necklace at Pinnacle Peak.
Apparently this restaurant in Tucson is the original Pinnacle Peak, and I was delighted to learn that it continues the old tradition of tie-cuttin'.  I felt very much at home among those thousands of dangling tie parts!
A cowboy leads our fellow diners in an off-key rendition of "Happy Birthday to You."

Ed mentioned to our waiter that he and I were celebrating our mutual birthday, and as we finished our meal the waiter showed up with a cowboy friend, who announced to the restaurant that we were both celebrating our 19th birthdays that day.  Soon they had the whole place singing to us.

The cowboy (a performer in the later Wild West show) and our waiter.

Not only did we get a song, but they also brought us free bowls of ice cream drizzled with chocolate syrup, candles and all.

Our free birthday ice cream.

Inside the restaurant they had the actual costume worn by John Wayne in the movie Big Jake.

Wild West Stunt Show

We ended the evening by watching a wild west show that was filled with gunfire, dynamite blasts, spraying water, and slapstick silliness.  It was good fun and a great way to end the evening.

We were safely back in our air conditioned condo by 8:30, tired but happy with a full day's worth of fun memories together.  It was another great birthday in Tucson.  I'm so glad we came!

1 comment:

Grandma Honey said...

what a fun post to read!