Mission San Xavier del Bac (Pronounced San Ha-veer) was built in 1797 on a site first visited by Father Kino, the Spanish missionary, in the 1600s. It is the only mission church in Arizona that is still a parish church, serving the Tohono O’Odham, on whose lands it is located. The picture above peeks through a ramada built as a food booth on the plaza facing the mission. The roof is made of ocotillo cactus branches, and the form mimics the summer homes used by the Tohono O’odham in times gone by. Continue reading Travel to Tucson for Spanish Mission and Fry Bread→
I love to confound people by describing the Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona as “lush”. They give me an odd look. Isn’t that an oxymoron? Not here it isn’t . The Sonoran Desert fits the description of Desert because of its aridity, but on the other hand, a multitude of fascinating plants, like the mesquite trees prominent in this picture, various grasses and shrubs, and cacti of amazing designs crowd the desert. Barren sandy patches are a rarity here. Even on that mountainside that looks bare in this picture, when you get closer, you will see many plants and critters.
But I”ll bet you didn’t notice anything but the flowers, right? Those are California Poppies, and we took this picture in a particularly good spring blooming year. When Arizona gets heavy rains in December, desert flowers pop in March and April. And we DID get good rains in December 2011, so you can start booking travel for this spring. To track where to see the wildflowers and when, check the Tohono Chul Park website or Desert USA (I have read that the desert poppies have already been blooming around Tucson, so come in March for best flowers.) And you can find plenty of books to help you identify wildflowers, but here’s an online flower i.d. site.
This picture was taken just off the Ajo highway on the To’hono O’odham Reservation south of Tucson–thus introducing you to another interesting part of Southwern Arizona. The To’hono O’odham, The Desert People, of course have lived here longer than anyone else. But this week we celebrate the birthday of the state of Arizona just 100 years ago. Spanish explorers first wandered into what is now Arizona in the 17th century, followed closely by missionaries. The most famous was Father Kino, who established a chain of missions, gathering The Desert People into his religion. The Spanish soldiers built presidios, and the presidio called Tucson was established in 1776.
Finally, did you notice the big white “silo” on top of that mountain? That’s one of the seven telescopes on top of Kitt Peak, a prime tourist attraction of Southern Arizona, and a symbol of the growing optics industry in our part of the state. Kitt Peak makes a fascinating visit to see a gigantic solar telescope and others. Don’t miss their delightful gift shop.
So there you have it–some of the variety that makes up Southern Arizona, a blooming desert, mountains, the astronomy industry, and an Indian nation.
This photo is my contribution to Travel Photo Thursday. To see other photos from travel writers around the world–to to Budget Traveler’s Sandbox. (And today she has a luscious photo of the Alcazar in Granada Spain).
This photo belongs to ME. PLEASE do not reproduce without my permission. Thanks.
Today kicks off Arizona’s Centennial Week, the Arizona Territory became the State of Arizona on February 14, 1912. This week A Traveler’s Library will take a look at Arizona from several different angles, starting with folk customs.
Book: A Border Runs Through It, Journeys in Regional History and Folklore (NEW 2011) by Jim Griffith [A Top Pick Selection in the Best Books of the Southwest 2011]
Jim Griffith, an expert in the culture and folklore of the pimeria alta has served as my guru on a variety of subjects regarding my adopted state, including crafts, language and foods. One of the first things I learned from reading and listening to “Big Jim” and other historians of Arizona is that I live in what the 16th to 18th century Spanish called this region–northern Pima land. They extended their southern territory in today’s Mexico into what is now northern Sonora Mexico and Southern Arizona. The Spanish dubbed the native people of those lands the Pima. Today these natives have reclaimed their own name–Tohono O’odham, which means The Desert People. Continue reading Arizona Centennial Week: Secrets of Southern AZ→