Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Tubac: Arizona’s Little Secret

When you think of visiting a small town in Arizona, Tubac (pronounced Tu-back) will not be first on your list, but should be or near the top.  I just spent a weekend in this interesting place and had a wonderful time.  Why doesn’t more people stop to visit and why isn’t Tubac on the road signs?  I am not sure about the signs, but I can give you reasons to visit.  I will put in this post some general reasons, and in posts to follow (here or on my Julie Ferguson Designs blog), I will break down the various B&B’s, restaurants, shops, and must see historic sites nearby.

Tubac can be found along Highway 19, between Tucson and Nogalas.  It is only 40 minutes south from Tucson, and 20 minutes from Green Valley.  It is also a short drive west from Patagonia.  Many people pass it by because they may think it is just a resort and golf course, or they just don’t see it because it is not right on the highway.  In other words, those who have plans of visiting know exactly where to look.  The one thing Tubac can boast is the largest artist festival in February.  The Tubac Festival of the Arts draws thousands of people from all over who pack this tiny town to enjoy all the activities and various arts.  I hear it is something not to be missed.

Only 9 miles south of Tucson, and on your way to Tubac on highway 19, you can’t miss the imposing white figure of the San Xavier Mission.  It was built in the late 1700’s and stands as “the oldest intact European structure in Arizona”.  Another historic mission you must see is only 4 miles south of Tubac.  The Tumacacori (pronounced tuma-cock-cori) mission was built in the 1700’s by Father Kino.  These missions have amazing art and carvings found on the walls and ceilings of these massive structures.  I will do posts on each of these historic sites.  Another historic site in Tubac is the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park.  Inside the visitor’s center is a 7 minute video of the history of this location and on the grounds is ruins, other structures, and a museum.  Another worthy place I will do an individual post on.  Also, about an hour and 15 minutes south of Tubac is the ghost/mining town of Ruby.  Many of the old mining structures are still standing.  I wanted to visit Ruby, but we were told that we had to have an appointment.  They let you wander through the town, but you must do volunteer work in order to do so.  For every hour you work, you have that much time to check out Ruby.  I was willing to pay money to see the town, but not work for it.  It was 95 degrees that day, so I am sure you can understand why.  Maybe, someday a group of us will do the work and be able to have a ghost investigation in this well-known haunted location.

Historic sites are not the only things you can find in downtown Tubac.  They offer many, many varieties of shops, galleries, and different varieties of food venues.  If you are a shopper like me, you will love it.  If you are not, I think you will love it anyway.  Along with the shops and restaurants, they have a few places to stay.  My sister-in-law and I stayed at the Poston House Inn B&B.  We had a lovely experience there, so look for my post on the place.  That should be one of the next I write about.  Not only will I have several posts on my visit to Tubac, but I took lots of pictures for you to enjoy.

Looking down Plaza Road, Tubac.

San Xavier Mission

Tumacacori Mission

Monday, March 30, 2015

Timeworn Arizona UFO Stories

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Arizona has had millions of UFO sightings all over the state for decades.  While researching some of the areas where most of the reports were witnessed, I came across these old stories from the 1940’s to the 1960’s.  I found them interesting and decided to share them with you.

On July 7, 1947, a Phoenix man, simply called Rhodes, was walking in his yard and heading to his garage when all of a sudden he heard the roar of a jet.  It sounded like it was traveling towards him, but when the 30 year old gazed to the sky a few seconds later; he noticed a gray disc hovering over the horizon in the northeast section of the city.  He described it as being “elliptical in shape, 20 to 30 feet in diameter, and appeared about 5,000 feet in the air.  The disc seemed to have a cockpit and a tail.”  He noticed thingamajig had swirled towards Earth to approximately 2,000 feet, and then shot straight up at a rate of 400 to 600 miles per hour.  Rhodes did manage to snap off a couple of pictures of the object as it zig-zagged in the sky.   After only 60 seconds, the disc-shaped flying saucer vanished in the western skies.

On April 28, 1949, a Tucson florist and a couple of friends, witness a “sausage-like object” above the edge of the Catalina Mountains.  It was dusk and the sun was bright so the florist could see the silver tint off the body from the item.  The form appeared to be a sausage with no wings, windows or notable gaps where a being could get in or out of the object.  It gave the impression that it was revolving, or as they put it, “a hot dog cooking at Circle K” and hurried along at a speed of 500 miles per hour while hovering about 5 to 10 miles over the ground.  This episode lasted roughly 12 minutes.

On May 9, 1949, a Tucson Air Force sergeant, saw not one but two unexplainable silver discs in the sky while relaxing at his home located in the northeast portion of Tucson.  He reports that “the objects were flat, silver, reflective and perfectly round” and figured them to be about “10,000 feet in the air”.  They moved towards the northwest, then zipped left, quickly right, and then disappeared over the Catalina Mountains.  He also reported them flying at speeds of 750 to 1,000 miles per hours, all with no visible haze and in dead silence.  He has labored with all types of planes for many years and has never seen anything like this.

On January 27, 1953, a Cottonwood man was standing outside his house and observing a plane flying above.  As the plane vanished in the east, he saw something a bit unusual.  He noticed a bright yellow-orange light appear in the dark skies.  He was curious to see what it was so he went in the house and retrieved his binoculars to get a closer look.  The object was moving south and created of two lights, the more brilliant one in front and dimmer light in the back.  “It moved too fast for a blimp and emitted too much light for a jet”, he said in his letter.  “The lights never blinked, and he never heard a noise.”  He followed the object for 5 minutes before it disappear in the darkness.  Air Force conclusion: probably an aircraft. (Previous to this report, the Air Force did not include conclusions about the possible origins of the sightings.)
On April 8, 1958, two 20 year old men witnessed an UFO hurtling across the sky from north to south while they were cruising through Mesa.  This disc shape object had a strange orange light shining from the windows.  Their first thought was it seemed to just be a falling star, and from their viewpoint appeared to be the size of a grapefruit.  It moved at an incline of 1,500 feet, ascended at a sharp scale straight up and continued to increase its speed.  This show lasted about 10 seconds before it disappeared.  Air Force conclusion: It may have been a military aircraft on a classified mission, according to a report.

On November 26, 1965, a husband, wife and son in Phoenix noticed what they thought was a flare-up in the sky.  They equated it as “Fourth of July fireworks”, but with a “perfect circle of blue star-like objects”.  Shortly afterwards, they spotted a collection of 30 to 50 objects headed south over Phoenix.  They then witnessed, around 10 to 15 seconds later, an assortment of lights started.  They described it as “swarming like bees, resolving into two undulating ‘V’ formations”, before merging into one V shaped object while moving south and vanishing in the night.  The husband was an astronomer and a teacher of aircraft identification during World War II.  His qualifications helped him to summarize the events of the night.  Air Force conclusion: The officer submitting the report wrote "Other (BIRDS)" in the conclusion box on the record.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Tubac, AZ

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The minuscule settlement of Tubac in southern Arizona was established in 1752 and the initial European settlement in Arizona.  The town is situated in the Santa Cruz River Valley and contains a 250 year old Spanish past with Juan Bautista de Anza has its first Presidio.  Father Kino followed him and was the one who engineered the numerous missions built adjacent to the river.  One of the best well-kept structures, Mission de Tumacacori, is a short distance away.

Today when you visit Tubac, you will find several things to do to keep you busy.  It has 80 galleries and shops with amazing sculptures, paintings, clothes, Arizona items, and much, much more.  You have lots of choices of restaurants from casual burgers and BBQ to chic dining.  The town has several places for you to stay from B&B’s to fine hotels.  Some of the other activities that a found around Tubac are hiking, off-roading, mountain biking, golf, bird watching, and tours to the many historic sites. 

I am going to Tubac at the end of March and will have a few posts on what I see, and to show the many photos I will be taking.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ancient Boulder Writings

Petroglyphs have been found on rocks and boulders all over the southwest. A petroglyph is an ancient drawing carved by primordial man. They are pictogram and logogram images done by wearing down or chafing impressions in solid rock. Some say they are astronomical markers, maps, or some type of symbolic communication telling stories of life many centuries ago. This ancient rock art is one way to study how the pre-Columbian civilizations may have once lived and where they mysteriously disappeared to.

These rock carvings can be found all over Arizona as well as other places.  I have seen some of the writings and pictures and am fascinated by what the symbols possibly mean.  I am sure they tell fascinating stories of how life was like for the ancient Native American people and the unusual things they encountered.  Here are just some of the Arizona sites:

Painted Rock Petroglyph Site
Painted Rock Petroglyph Site is one of the many sites found in Arizona and is 18 miles west by northwest of Gila Bend on the Painted Rock Mountains. This site has over 800 images which are engraved in basalt boulders. Many of the imprints can be found on the eastern side of the mountain’s rim. Other people who came upon this site have left their mark on the boulders too. Along with the petroglyphs and dotted throughout the landscape are traces of ancient Hohokam ruins. Some historical and famous events happened in close proximity of the site such as Juan Bautisa de Anza’s expedition. He originated the city of San Francisco. In 1989, the Painted Rock Petroglyph Site was now under the authority of the Bureau of Land Management.

One of the most prevalent sites with petroglyphs is located in the Verde Valley between Sedona and Flagstaff. The V-Bar-V Heritage Site is well preserved and was obtained by the Coconino National Forest in 1994. The location has approximately 1,032 etchings on 13 panels and is a wealth of information about the beliefs in each era of the Hohokam people’s existence. The distinctive approach of the drawings is identified as the “Beaver Creek Rock Art Style” used by the southern Sinagua between AD1150 and 1400.

Rock Art Ranch is privately own near Winslow with a chasm full of petroglyphs. The profound gorge has a brook flowing inside its mighty walls and stairs leading inside the ravine along the rim to an observation area built by the ranch’s owner. This space has an incredible view and is a nice place to have a picnic. The ranch also has a museum for your pleasure.

White Tank Mountain Regional Preserve
White Tank Mountain Regional Preserve mountain range is located west of Phoenix near the city of Surprise.  They get their name for the white granite near the base of the mountains and its many depressions also known as “tanks”.   The mountain range has numerous petroglyphs found scattered around the peaks and may predate the Hohokam people. Approximately 11 archaeological sites were recognized along with 7 Hohokam villages.  There are various trails leading to these sites and villages dispersed and marked for your interests.  You can take as many pictures of the sites and petroglyphs, but all they ask is that you don’t touch them.

South Mountain Park is just south of Phoenix and is another place to find petroglyphs. This park is about 1600 acres and has several different trails where the etchings can be found. Also carved by the ancient Hohokam people, the drawings are believed by the Pima Indians as having a mystical importance. No one really knows exactly what this prehistoric tribe was thinking when each drawing was carved.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Best Places to Urbex in Arizona

Whenever I take road trips with my friends, we always look for abandoned sites to photograph.  Sometimes we will spot the structures along the highway and turn around to see if we can get near it.  We may have a particular place as a planned stop.  We also check for "No Trespassing" signs or possible signs of people squatting there.  If all is well, we will shoot every inch of the building, its surroundings, and the inside if it is possible to enter.  I look for every different angle to get that perfect shot.  Although Phoenix and its surrounding cities have plenty of abandoned places, I find the smaller towns are my favorites.  Here are some of the best places I found to urban explore in Arizona.










Abandoned Places: Abandoned Memories (Desert Edition) contains photographs and psychic reads from 12 abandoned sites in the Arizona desert. Follow Julie Ferguson's photography and Sharon Day's psychic reads on an adventure into the past, the present, and all the murky boundaries of the two worlds.
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