March 13th

Joan, Norman and I walked to the local shops this morning to get some packet mixers etc to take back home and to stock up on breakfast things for all. Then late morning. once Randy had made sure his lady friend was good and comfortable he took us to a unique motor museum, here in Tucson. In the early 1900s a Mr Franklin invented and built some very special motor cars and this museum is dedicated to only this brand, in fact there is still one working model from 1905.

Two working models, a 1905 & a 1907.

Two working models, a 1905 & a 1907.

These vehicles developed from these early stages and produced some luxury vehicles until 1934 when the company went in to liquidation during the American depression.

In 1931 this model sold for over $4,000 compared with a Ford which sold for only $400.

In 1931 this model sold for over $4,000 compared with a Ford which sold for only $400.

Another beauty, which had also been beautifully restored.
Another beauty, which had also been beautifully restored.

Joan's favourite, probably because its convertible and a lovely colour.

Joan’s favourite, probably because its convertible and a lovely colour.

 

All these cars have either 6 or 12 cylinders and the engines are uniquely “air cooled” . Only one other company has ever used air cooled engines, VW.  After the company closed down they went on to develop and build aircraft engines, such a great shame to lose such beautiful vehicles and quality of build. The man who runs the Franklin trust these days has one car that he uses regularly, which he started up for us and it was so quiet and smooth running we were amazed.

Built in 1931 and running today !

Built in 1931 and running today !

 

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March 12th

There is a new cinema open in Tucson so Norman and I just had to experience it. Big comfy seats, waiter service for food and drink if needed and a huge screen with total surround sound. Joan went off to have her nails done at a salon in amongst the nearby shops and came back singing the praises of the Vietnamese staff in there and the lovely job they had done.

We were doing our own thing today because Randy had taken Mariah to the local clinic, where she was having keyhole surgery for the removal of her gall bladder. He collected her at 4 pm settled her in bed, where she was sort of guaranteed to remain for the rest of the night and then the rest of us went out to the Outback restaurant for dinner.

An early night all round because American TV is not worth watching.

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March 11th

Joan’s 75th today so we had planned a nice dinner outing for us all and Randy’s lady friend Maria is joining us. but before then the guys took us to an International Wildlife Museum. This has been set up by what are now conservationists, but previously hunters. All the animals here have come out of a taxidermists premises but all beautifully laid out.

Dont think Randy would get this close to real live Polar Bear. Huge isn't it ?

Dont think Randy would get this close to real live Polar Bear. Huge isn’t it ?

 

Very professional display work, all with stories about conservation.

Very professional display work, all with stories about conservation.

As it was quite close we were then taken to the Old Tucson film studios, where hundreds of films have been made over the years, with many favourite cowboy characters. The like of John Wayne etc have made full length films here and followed these with TV series.

Bet you have seen that chapel in a number of movies.

Bet you have seen that chapel in a number of movies.

 

Closer inspection revealed wooden cow catchers on the front of this train.

Closer inspection revealed wooden cow catchers on the front of this train.

 

Tombstones with humour.

Tombstones with humour.

 

After our visit to the film studios we all went back home to change and then went to the “Hacienda Del Sol” which is in fact a hotel complex with a very good restaurant. Because Randy had primed them in advance Joan got a guitar player to serenade her.

This guy was very good and according to the boss of the place, also quite famous in USA.

This guy was very good and according to the boss of the place, also quite famous in USA.

Now those are real lamb chops.

Now those are real lamb chops.

For a special treat.

For a special treat.

The whole gang prior to Joan's special dinner.
The whole gang prior to Joan’s special dinner.

 

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March 10th

Because I have now managed to find a way of downloaded my pics I have decided to do my updates now and back track to earlier dates. Today we set off around 12 noon, after I had been to “Quick Click” for a haircut. Nice job from a nice lady for only $11.00.

We went first to the copper mines but unfortunately we were unable to get on a tour today, so had to settle for a few pics of the outside area.

The entrance to the copper mines.

The entrance to the copper mines.

Norman showed us around some of the outside equipment.

That's what you call a big truck.

That’s what you call a big truck.

We eventually found one truck that is even bigger, this one has a capacity of 170 tons, but they tell us that the ones currently in use are almost 400 ton capacity. We were told that the tyres cost $30,000 each, last 6 months and there are 6 on each vehicle.

If I look up I can just see the top.

If I look up I can just see the top.

From the mine we then went on to a Triton Rocket silo, the one that had been saved in 1963 after the agreement between Russia and USA to disarm these massive defensive weapons. Both sides had finally realised that if they got into a war with these weapons they would anhialate the world. The one sample we saw would have had a warhead 150 times larger than the weapons actually used during the second world war and America had 54 of these in the country.

We were given a short introduction film to what the silos were about and then escorted underground through long corridors, to the control room.

The control room with 1963 computers.

The control room with 1963 computers.

A view down the silo of the 10 storey rocket with its 9,5 megaton warhead.

A view down the silo of the 10 storey rocket with its 9,5 megaton warhead.

From here we then went to visit the “Mission of San Xavier Del Bac” which is on an Indian reservation and is gradually being restored. The place is quite beautiful and dates from the 1700s and will still require many years of restoration yet.

You can see where the left tower has been done but the right needs considerable work.

You can see where the left tower has been done but the right needs considerable work.

The work yet to be completed inside will require the skills of some very professional artists.

You can see some of the extensive gilding that requires work.

You can see some of the extensive gilding that requires work.

 

Some of the paintwork has been done but the domes have yet to be started.

Some of the paintwork has been done but the domes have yet to be started.

 

On our way home we went to the Guadalajara Mexican Grill for dinner. Here we stated out with a small Margarita as an aperitif.  Apparently the restaurant had a major fire last year but has been restored with all the murals repainted.

If Joan gets through that she will probably not want a second!

If Joan gets through that she will probably not want a second!

Look at all the wall paintings.

Look at all the wall paintings.

 

 

 

 

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March 9th

Joan and I wandered across the main road to see a ladies fashion shop we had noticed. It was as good as it looked from the outside when we went to the next door restaurant last night. This place was called La Contessa and Joan enjoyed a good hour in there and came out smiling.

After this little excursion we all went to the Air Museum which is on a local Air Force base This place was quite amazing, run by volunteers and covering a huge area with a real mix of aircraft both in hangers and in a massive outside area.

Traditional American helicopter used in Vietnam.

Traditional American helicopter used in Vietnam.

One of the many fighters indoors.

One of the many fighters indoors.

A view of some of the vast outside area.

A view of some of the vast outside area.

On the way to a restaurant we were shown a Wine and Beer store that makes our local Wines of the World look like a corner shop. This place stocks 2,000 different beers and 5,000 wines.

Just a small booze shop.

Just a small booze shop.

 

We ate tonight in a place called Joes’s Crab Shack, here I was served with a very small beer whilst waiting for my seafood dinner.

Half a yard of ale.

Half a yard of ale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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March 8th

Joan and I went out for a walk around the area with Norman, who has been here many times. There is a dry river bed near Randy;’s house, which is in fact not really a riverbed but called a wash and it is designed, with a number of off shoots to take all the water that comes off the mountains at a particular time of the year. We are told, that in full flood it is a very dangerous place and in fact last year a police car with female officer was washed down, but obviously there is masses of debris coming down every year and there has to be an annual clean up.

After about an hour we had walked a complete circle and in fact come out at the large supermarket which is close to Randy’s. Interesting what is available there and of course there is the inevitable Starbucks in there.

In the afternoon we went to a nearby museum which specialises in miniatures. It was quite astounding how many lovely houses and other things the owner had collected over the years and also the way the displays had been set out.

A bit more than just a dolls house.

A bit more than just a dolls house.

This lot was under a glass floor.

This lot was under a glass floor.

From ther, Randy drove us to downtown Tucson where there was a meet of Ford car owners all displaying there pride and joy cars. Some quite new and some old restored models but all of them polished up and specially with under bonnet add ons.

Highly polished Mustangs, all in a row.

Highly polished Mustangs, all in a row.

 

Some not so new, but still cherished.

Some not so new, but still cherished.

We even found a pair of shiny blue, “His & Hers” Ford Mustangs both of them only just over 1 year old. Inevitably they were both wearing blue shirts over jeans to compliment their cars. From here we headed off to a different restaurant for dinner, the “Old Chicago”. Just as with all places here the food and service are good.

 

 

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March 7th

Late breakfast at The Good Egg, taking Julian with us. They don’t half serve up large breakfasts here in USA. Very delicious Eggs Benedict in my case and an English style breakfast for Joan, then it was back to Randy’s for a day playing with my new toy and catch up on the website.

In the evening we went around the corner to an Italian called Vero Amore where we had a delicious seafood pasta dish, a couple of beers of course to wash it down. We had agreed a kitty for expenditure and Norman is in charge. Everything you buy here in US is subject to state tax and you are expected to add 20% as a tip for the staff, makes things quite expensive.

A delicious seafood pasta dish.

A delicious seafood pasta dish.

 

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March 6th

First full day in Tucson, sun is shining so we sat out for a little while after breakfast, nice to relax after all the sightseeing in Vegas and San Francisco. The boys had arranged to go to the cinema a Sci Fi movie which did not appeal; to us so they dropped us at a shopping mall for a wander around and a later meet at Starbucks.

I had declared having trouble with my Android tablet as I was unable to download from the SD card in my camera, so they suggested that we crossed over to a large store called Best Buy who specialised in all things electronic. There we spoke with a very knowledgeable tech guy who tried a couple of things connected to my tablet, but he had no success either. We discussed alternatives and he suggested an Asus T100 which operates Windows 8 has a detachable keyboard, so it is really a mini laptop but with touch screen that acts as a tablet. Their price was $300 (£200.00) which compared very favourably with prices on for example Amazon which run at £275.00 unless you buy secondhand. Joan and I discussed the best solution over coffee and then discussed with Norman who is a bit of a techie guy, seemed like the best solution as the Android tablet is very saleable in TRNC, so now you know why you are suddenly getting pics despite the earlier problems.

The Asus tablet/laptop.

The Asus tablet/laptop.

After coffee we went back and got the credit card out, added a case and the SD card connect device at only $7.50 and it was off back to Randy’s to play. So is there anybody in TRNC who wants an almost new Android tablet ?.

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March 5th

We were picked up by the Airport Service outside our hotel at 8 o’clock and left on schedule for our flight to Tuscon via a Los Angeles. There is no direct flight by American Airlines to Tucson so we had to put up with a 1.5 hour stopover.

On our way.

On our way.

Norman and Randy collected us at the airport and we drove round to Randy’s house, unpacked and settled in before going out to the El Corral restaurant for a great steak dinner. A spot of TV and a reasonably early night.

The entrance to Randy's complex.

The entrance to Randy’s complex.

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March 4th

Last day in San Francisco so we took a bus to a large parkland area which contained  a university science museum then back to the hotel to pack and eat at one of our earlier enjoyed restaurants. The Blackwood Grill. Tomorrow is an early start for our flights to Tucson.

This science museum was dedicated to experimentation including covering the whole roof area with earth and plants.

They say it has been like this for the last 10 years and it works just fine.

They say it has been like this for the last 10 years and it works just fine.

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