Sunday, March 29, 2009

Memphis, TN - 3/22 - 3/25/09

Once leaving Texas, we headed to Memphis -- birthplace of Rock & Roll! We started in the Rock & Soul Museum that showed exhibits of the beginnings of soul music in the cotton fields, making their way into clubs and further developing with the different artists of the day.

This is Beale Street lined with many clubs and places that had live music. We had dinner at B.B. Kings place -- was delightful with the live music.

Sun Studios
This is the recording studio at Sun Studios where Elis walked in off the street one day and wanted to make a record. It is said that Sam Phillips, who owned Sun Studios discovered Elvis; however, actually it was his secretary. Sam was out of the studio that day and she had Elvis record something -- was "My Happiness" that Elvis said he wanted to record for his mother. Sam was not impressed, but the secretary liked Elvis and saw something. Elvis kept going back and eventually he recorded his version of "That's All Right Mamma". The recording was sent to a DJ friend of Sams who when he played the record, the telephone lines lit up with kids calling in to keep playing the song. As the say, the rest is history. The studio today remains the same room with the same tiles on the floor and ceiling and same worn floor. There were X's on the floor where Elvis stood with his two friends who played the guitar. There were also many other artists who started in this studio, such as Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Charlie Rich and many many more. The studio had the old equipment on display and even had Elvis' original recordings which we heard a snippet was. Visiting the studio was a highlight of Memphis!
A few blocks from Beale Street was the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King was shot. There is now a museum attached, which is closed on Tuesdays, the day we were in town.

Flower Mound & Dallas TX - 3/20 - 3/22/09

After leaving Tucson on 3/18, we headed to Texas. We drove to El Paso, TX where we spent the night at Fort Bliss, then continued our journey crossing Texas and spending the next night at a little campground in Clyde, TX. Continuing on we reached Flower Mound on Friday, 3/20 where Rene's nephew Mark and family live. It had been a few years since we had seen them and it was wonderful spending time with them.

Here is Mark, their daughter Melissa and Dana. Melissa and her mom were arriving back on Saturday from spending time with Dana's sister in FL. We picked them up at the airport and then went out for pizza. Flower Mound is a beautiful city with beautiful houses and just a nice area, which we enjoyed driving around. Had the best BBQ ribs there!

Melissa with Jake. He is the cutest puppy and is a boxer mix, who just loves everyone and has a great personality. We got such a kick out of him.

Here is Rocko with Jake -- they are neighbors and best friends. There's a hole under the fence that the dogs go under to get to each other's yard. When we were there, Rocko went to the back door and began howling for Jake to come out to play. They are about the same size and have such fun chasing each other. They always visit each other's houses and are very comfortable in both yards. Jake is a smart little fella who knows how to open the back door to get inside when he's had enough of being outside.

Saturday Mark took us in to Dallas to The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza which was the Texas School Book Depository where Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly shot JFK. The exhibits examine the life, death and legacy of JFK from his 1960 presidential campaign through his influence on current events. There are documentary films, historic footage and lots of photographs and artifacts. There are two areas that appear as they did on November 22, 1963 -- the sniper's perch and the staircase area where the sniper exited the 6th floor and a rifle was found. Lee Harvey Oswald was shot on television by Jack Ruby. Some say Less H. Oswald was just the patsy for a larger conspiracy. I remember so well where I was when JFK was assassinated -- Mr. Riley's English class, Sophomore year -- what a sad time for our country.

Grassy knoll and picket fence where some say shots were fired from and not just from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository.

Author Robert J. Groden who has done extensive research to debunk the Warren Commission Report on the assassination of JFK. Beside him is an individual who was 13 at the time and was there when shots were fired. He says he heard the shots and saw the smoke coming from the grassy knoll.

This beautiful building is the Dallas County Administration Building located in Dealey Plaza near the museum.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Presidio Trail, Tucson - March 17, 2009

Yesterday we took the historical loop walk in Tucson's historic district. It was about 2-1/2 mile walk on a very warm day. It was Lt. Col. Hugo O'Connor, an Irishman serving in the Spanish Army, that founded a fort in what is now downtown Tucson. It consisted of an 11-acre fort that had 10 foot high adobe walls and two corner towers. This for marked the northwestern edge of the Spanish frontier in Arizona.

Pima County Courthouse - Built in 1929 in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, this building features a beautiful mosaic-tiled dome and elegant courtyard.

This adobe building was named for the waife of the builder, Carmen soto Vasquez, and began as a theater that staged dramatic works in Spanish. Later it became a movie theater, boxing arena, garage, and Elks Lodge.

St. Augustine Cathedral - Began in 1896, this Spanish Colonial Revival style church has a magnificent sandstone facade. Housed within the vestibule is one of the bells from the Spanish-era presidio. There is a crucifix in the vestibule area that dates back to the 15th century.

There's a long association between the name of St. Augustine and the Tucson area, dating back to the Spanish military and missionary presence in the 1700s.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mt. Lemon, Tucson - March 15, 2009

Sunday we took a ride up to Mt. Lemon, 29 miles from Davis-Monthan, and is between 8 and 9 thousand feet high. Was a very scenic ride with many places to pull off and enjoy the view.

The Saguaro Cactus, the state flower of Arizona, is composed of a tall, thick, fluted, columnar stem, 18 to 24 inches in diameter, often with several large branches (arms) curving upward in the most distinctive conformation of all Southwestern cacti.The skin is smooth and waxy, the trunk and stems have stout, 2-inch spines clustered on their ribs. When water is absorbed , the outer pulp of the Saguaro can expand like an accordion, increasing the diameter of the stem and, in this way, can increase its weight by up to a ton. We saw many different cacti along our drive -- some in bloom.

Mt. Lemon Ski Area still had snow -- was down to 46 degrees when we were there -- 30 degrees difference below the mountain. However, along the way up, there were many beautiful flowers. Was a really nice day!

Pima Air & Space Museum - March 14, 2009

Pima Air and Space Museum, Tucson, AZ. Located about 5 miles from main gate to Davis Monthan AFB. It has over 120 aircraft from different eras. WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and Iraq war of today. Walking and tram tours are available. Once inside you see a replica of the Wright Brothers airplane. You get to tour 4 large hangers containing many planes, gliders, experimental and some were built to get into the record books. This museum is supported by donations only no government money provided to support. The only part the government has is that the different branches of the military have planes on loan to the museum. This museum is the 3rd largest of the aircraft museums, 1st being the Smithsonian then Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio.

A couple of experimental aircraft the smallest one man jet (the one on display has never flown, but a similar one did once) The other aircraft known as the bumble bee, this plane flew twice once for a check flight then the other was to get it into the records book.

President Eisenhower and Kennedy used this aircraft as their "AIR FORCE ONE". During President Kennedy's term they did upgrade to a jet and was used during the Johnson adminsitration.

President Eisenhower was the first president to use a helicopter to go from the White House to Andrews AFB.

At Pima Air and Space Museum has an additional museum there and is dedicated to the 390th Bomb Group. The admission to Pima includes this museum. It is supported by donations. The aircraft on display is the B-17G Flying Fortress and was restored to near original conditions. This museum contains a memorial room with all the names of those who were lost but not forgotten. The facility has many displays from a Ford Jeep, an Quonset Hut style orderly room, photo displays and stories of their missions. A very impressive exhibit.

This is probably one of the most impressive pieces of history on display. It is the SR-71 Blackbird known mostly for its use as a spy plane high speed and high altitude it could go from LA to NY in less than an hour and taking pictures all the way. It was retired in the 90's and about 2 dozen remain and are in museums around the country. The plane was made of titanium and the wings were the fuel tanks.

This is the A-10 probably one of the most uglies plane out there. It is a very dangerous aircraft as it has a cannon in the nose of the plane and was used in Desert Storm, Iraq for ground support and was capable of destroying just about any type of enemy vehicle on the ground with armor piercing armament. You see this aircraft today flying around Davis Monthan always in pairs as the instructor is in the rear aircraft. Very impressive to watch them practice some of maneuvers.

Davis-Monthan AFB - March 13, 2009

We are currently at the Fam Camp at Davis-Monthan AFB, which is the home to the 563rd Rescue Group that directs flying operations for the Air Force's only active duty-rescue wing dedicated to Combat Search and Rescue. It is responsible for training, readiness and maintenance of one HC-130 squadron and two HH-60 squadrons. There is a park on base with many different aircraft displayed. Above is the U2, once used as a high altitude spy plane and in the 60's was piloted by Francis Gary Powers and was show down over Soviet air space which caused an international incident. The next phot is of a B-52, which is similar to those that were at Pease, that's primary mission was a high altitude bomber used during Vietnam and to the present day in the Iraq war.

We also met up with my cousin Bob and wife, who live in Tucson. Last Friday we served lunch at the RV and had a nice visit. While staying in Tucson, we had our mail delivered to Bob's house. My sister sent me the Guilmette family "Christmas Crow", which you see Bob and Arnelle graciously posed with.
The "Christmas Crow" is being passed around the family and it's my turn with him. While he is in our posession, we plan to take him places, take pictures and keep his journal up-to-date as to what he's been doing and places that he's been. We are to keep him in a place of prominence, so he's on the dash of the RV. There's also a storybook that accompanies him called "Merry Christmas, Merry Crow". We're to have her for 6 months and then we're to pass her next to Donna - no. 3 in the Guilmette lineup.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Old Tuscon Film Studios, March 12, 2009

We visited Old Tucson Studios, which has hosted over 300 film and television productions since 1939 including Western film classics such as "Rio Bravo", The Outlaw Josey Wales", and Tombstone. John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Elizabeth Taylor and Kurt Russel are just a few of the legends who walked these fabled streets playing unforgetable roles. "Little House on the Prairie", "Bonanza", and "Gunsmoke" are just a few of the TV shows that were filed in Old Tucson. We got a lot of inside information by our guide who had played in many of the films. 50% of Old Tucson Studios was destroyed by fire back in 1995, but only about 20 - 30% have been replaced to date. It was interesting to hear that they continue to make films here.

Staged gunfight of Billy The Kid

Grand Palace Saloon where "Miss Kitty" and a couple of her girls performed for us. Was very entertaining. You could take a stagecoach ride around the studios.

Backdrop scene from "Three Amigos" and also used in Magnificent Seven.

Remember the TV show "High Chaparral" -- it was made entirely at this studio.

Our guide got the better of Rene!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

San Xavier Mission - 3/10/09

We visited the San Xavier Mission, which is just off of Route 10 heading to Green Valley, AZ. We had been there before and are always amazed at the work that is continually done to preserve this mission. There are many, many reconstruction artists working to preserve the mission and its artifacts. This was was built in 1794. It is still and active church with mass celebrated on the weekends.

Inside the mission in the sanctuary area of the church.

The desert is beginning to come alive with all the beautiful flowers. This cactus was just outside the mission.