Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tucson Botanical Gardens continued...

Old Pueblo Grille, Tucson, AZ 12-11-08 by Kathie

The howling winds and heavy gray skies that greet me this morning are a far cry from the calm sunny day Mom and I spent at Tucson Botanical Gardens just 12 days ago. On that Thursday morning we paid out admission fee...

...then wandered through sun dappled paths to visit Butterfly Magic, a display hosted every year during the cooler months and contained within a small green house where one can wander freely among the fluttering butterflies. After spending almost an hour inside we are examined by a volunteer for hitchhikers before exiting through a small room with a mirror where we re-examine ourselves to make sure no butterflies escape. Once outside the warm winter sun greets us and Mom finds a cool spot in the shade of a Ramada to rest. Nearby a fountain trickles and a pyrrhuloxia flies in for a drink.

We wander down the garden paths past this blooming agave. Mom stands nearby to give perspective to the height and squints in the bright afternoon sun.

We wander farther into the garden past various cacti and desert plants. Where we find a saguaro entangled with a mesquite tree as if the two were one.

Most saguaros grow in the shade of a nurse tree and it takes over 60 years before they even start to form "arms." By then the nurse tree is often dead, but this saguaro and its mesquite nurse have grown together in a tangle, as if leaning on each other for strength. It seems it would be difficult to separate them now after all these years.

As with most gardens, the birds find shelter in this small acreage of greenery in the center of a busy city. While most broad-billed hummingbirds have flown south for the winter, this little fellow is lingering here at the far end of the garden in deep shade.

There are other birds about also. I find a thrasher deep in the thickets and then this mockingbird high in a tree. In a few months there will be even more birds retuning to this oasis in the city. The humans will flock here too, to enjoy the sights, sounds and shade in this garden of delights.

Meanwhile, Mom has found some fiberglass friends to be photographed with. It is well past lunch time, so we head out of the garden...

...wandering past this Cristate saguaro with its funky fingered crown, an unpredictable mutation sometimes seen in the desert.

A Komodo dragon sculpture bids us good-bye as we walk to our car and we drive the short distance south on Alvernon Way to the Old Pueblo Grille for lunch.

The Old Pueblo Grille is a favorite place of mine to dine in Tucson. It's local offerings are affordable and the atmosphere is perfect for that southwest experience. Since the weather is so nice we decide to dine on the patio under an orange tree ripe with fruit. The stucco walls, various palms and numerous fountains drown out the sounds of the busy traffic rushing by.

For us all is peace and beauty as we await the delivery of our delicious meals. Mom has southwest pot roast of tender spicy meat. I choose a combo plate of chicken enchiladas and beef machaca, a new experience for me. All is delicious but we want to save room for the tempting desert offerings. We each ate about half our meals, then boxed them up to bring home.

(If you scroll to the bottom of the menu you will find the address and phone number of the restaurant with a link to mapquest.)

And who can blame us with Irish Cream Creme Brulee and Double Chocolate Obsession Mousse Cake for desert! I had the creme brulee while Mom had the Chocolate Obsession. Though I love chocolate, I usually don't go for something like that, but after a bite of Mom's I was hooked. Her serving was so large we brought half of it home, then shared it later on!

As we leave The Old Pueblo Grille the bougainvillea blooming everywhere catches our attention as it climbs the stucco walls...

...and reaches for the sky with scarlet paper petals. You gotta love a place with flowers in winter. It is a perfect end to one of Mom's last days in Tucson. On Friday we stayed home and prepared for the long journey to Flagstaff, where she will catch the train home.

Blogger's note: Mom is safely back in Connecticut now making her own preparations for Christmas. I have one more post to write about our trip to Flagstaff, AZ where Gus and I encountered snow for the first time in a year and a half since moving here. I'll publish that post after Christmas. For tomorrow you can read about "The Best Christmas Tree." I wrote it the other day when I was thinking about how much fun we used to have searching for a fresh cut tree and the memory came back so crisp and clear I had to write it down before it slipped away. By the way, all of today's photography is by me, Kathie.

And Many Thanks to Doug Taron of Gossemer Tapestry for identifying the numerous butterflies seen at Butterfly Magic, part of MY World Tuesday. You can scroll down to read about it, or click on the link!


Kathryn said...

Kathie, as I sit at my desk looking out the window only to see more snow falling, I really enjoyed seeing you and your mom enjoy the sunshine! Amazing photos in this post as well as the previous one with all the butterflies! Amazingly beautiful.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Wow,thanks for the senic pictures and explanations about your visit.This must be a gorgeous place,I'm so glad you and your Mom could soend some quaility time together in such a lovely setting.

Anonymous said...

The colours of the broad billed hummingbird in your photo are fantastic. Yet another bird I have not experienced. Absolutely beautiful. Thanks for sharing these gardens. They are always fun to visit and to see what catches our attention.

Deborah Godin said...

Oh, so bright and warm and full of color - love the little hummer, too! I feel like I've been posting drab snow and ice photos 'forever'! I'm going to dig up some old shots with color for an antidote after seeing these!

Vickie said...

Lovely view for your dining. And I love the hummingbird photo. I look forward to their return in the spring.

Powell River Books said...

Just what the doctor ordered, pictures of sunny warm locations. We have had our share of snow this last week and your post was a cheery change. Maybe you need a little snow to round out your day. I invite you to come visit Powell River, BC. - Margy

Gaelyn said...

The botanical gardens are beautiful. Love the idea of removing hitchhikers. What a sight to see saguaro and mesquite entwined. Never seen this hummer before. Is it lost? The grille sounds delicious and I'm drouling over the dessert. Can't decide which is more beautiful, your Mom or the bougainvillia. Glad she made it home OK. Look forward to the Flagg story. Thanks for the continued story.

Happy Holidays!

Kathie Brown said...

Kathryn, you are welcome whenever you need a break!

Ruth, thank you! We did have a great time!

Natural moments, it's never the same twice,is it?

Deborah, glad the colors cheered you up!

Vickie, it was lovely all around!

Powell River Brooks, I will stop by. Thanks for coming to visit!

Gaelyn, the broad-billed hummingbird is common in Az but most of them migrate south for the winter. We usually do have a few who over winter here. Apparently this guy found a great place to do just that!

Mary C said...

Kathie - that bougainvillea is so stunning and such an intense red. Wow! I'll have to keep Old Pueblo Grille in mind should I ever get back to Tucson. Those desserts are to die for - but instead I probably gained 10 pounds just looking at them! ;o) A very merry Christmas to you and Gus.

Larry said...

That was nice of mom to let you make her the focus of you post.-Looks like a nice place to visit!