stillhowlyn's travels 2011 travel blog

The view from our window!

From atop our hill!

Indian Art Festival at UA!


Finished products!

Another incredible artist!

Friends Rodger & Sharon!

Zapotec rugs from passion!

Hiking in Tucson Mt. Park!

Howard among the Giants!

Facebook friends, Debbie & Jeff at Caruso's!



Hummer nest on bicycle chain at Debbie & Jeff's..Amazing!

That would be Tucson, AZ, where these majestic, enormous cacti are only found in a small portion of the US. The Saguaro National Park protects some of the most impressive forests of these sub-tropical giants, right on the edge of the city. They fascinate me and are great photo fodder while hiking around Tucson Mt. Park. They wave and gesture, multiple limbs bent and intertwined, displaying personalities open to interpretation!

Our site near Tucson Mt. and Saguaro National Park is on the far western edge of the city and borders public (Bureau of Land Management) land. The price is right though we do pay the adjoining mobile home park, and believe me “park” is being very kind, a small fee for garbage, water & tank dumping. Much garbage has been collected from the otherwise beautiful surroundings sadly used for refuse disposal. We borrowed rakes and shovels and filled many large black bags! Our views are spectacular; mountains, sunrises/sets, Palo Verde, prickly pear, cholla and, of course, the giant saguaro. We have numerous trails so jeep and legs have received a fair workout. The weather has been moderate, mid 60s to 70, with a couple days of cold and a morning of snow thrown in for good measure.

Within a few miles is the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, a world-renowned zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden, all in one place! We have visited often when in the area and always look forward to going back. Gilbert Ray County Park and Campground is a lovely spot where we have previously camped until Pima County imposed a tax on RVers to support Tucson's new stadium. Apparently this stadium has not been very successful with no teams wanting to call it home.

Across town is another favorite hang-out, the University of Arizona campus. As a public research university serving this diverse population the curriculum ranges from planetary science to medicine and the arts. Last weekend we attended the Annual Southwest Indian Art Fair at the State Museum on the campus mall. Top-quality handmade art including pottery, Hopi katsina dolls, paintings, jewelry, baskets, rugs, blankets, and much more were on display. Artist demonstrations, Native food, music, and dance performances rounded out the two-day celebration.

And we have friends….Roger and Sharon, from MN to Benson, now live here in Tucson Mt. Estates, at least for the winter months. They have wined and dined us in grand style and we have somewhat reciprocated, and so enjoyed their company, with the possible exception of a few games of cutthroat Mexican Train! They are among our many friends met while on the “road” during the last 15 years.

A very special first “Facebook” friend meeting also occurred here in Tucson. Debbie is a friend of a friend of a friend. A bunch of us, mostly “virtual” friends, have our Girls’ Groups where we share experiences and unload our complaints and concerns, health and diet issues…you know, just girl stuff. We met up with Debbie and husband Jeff, at Caruso’s, a great Italian Restaurant south of the UA. They have both been dedicated teachers in the local school system for many years and just hearing how budget cuts have affected the educational process in general was heart-wrenching. They have also enjoyed some impressive world traveling adventures which had us both enthralled and a tad jealous. Birding is one of their passions, especially hummingbirds, and I hope Debbie won't mind me posting one of her great pictures.

One of the concerns of traveling, which thankfully we have not had to address often, is health care out of our “home base”, which is CA. I have had 5 days of pretty intense neck pain, most likely brought on by doing some aggressive stretches and yoga exercises after a long hiatus. After spending most days in bed with ice packs and heating pads, ibuprofen and muscle relaxants we decided to seek help. Kaiser suggested finding a reputable Urgent Care facility; I did a bit of online research, and came up with Northwest Medical Center which has several locations around the greater Tucson area.

I called first and was immediately impressed with the level of concern and compassion, and received directions to their facility closest to our location. The paper work was nominal, my wait no more than 5 minutes. A nurse took history and vitals then showed me to an examining room where the doctor arrived within minutes. She was knowledgeable and thorough, quickly ascertaining the pain was muscle oriented rather than bone or spine. She then explained her methods for treatment which included several shots of Novocain in and around the affected area to dull the pain, and then an East Asian procedure called Gua Sha. This involves palpation and cutaneous stimulation where the skin is pressured, in strokes, by a round-edged instrument that results in the appearance of small red petechiae (bruises) called 'sha', that will fade in 2 to 3 days.

Raising Sha removes blood stagnation considered pathogenic, promoting normal circulation and metabolic processes.The patient experiences immediate relief from pain, stiffness, fever, chill, cough, nausea, and so on. Gua Sha is valuable in the prevention and treatment of acute infectious illness, upper respiratory and digestive problems, and many other acute or chronic disorders.

This was not a pain-free experience, though more tolerable after the Novocain, sort of like a deep tissue massage. But it worked, and quite quickly. Northwest's motto, "Exceeding the expectations of the people we treat", sums up my experience completely.

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