March 2006               



            March came in like a lamb in Tucson.  It has been sunny nearly every day since we have been here, although not as warm as we would like. 

            The first weekend of the month found us looking at trains.  The Tucson Garden Railroad Society held an open house of 8 garden railroads and we purchased tour tickets.  We began our tour on Saturday at the sites on our side of town.  You just never know what folks have tucked away in their yards!  We keep saying to each other that it is a good thing we no longer have a house and yard because we would go broke with hobbies.  We do enjoy seeing what other folks have done.

            The following is a brief description of the railroads.

  1. The Hart to Hart Railroad – Built by the Mary Hart and her late husband, Loyal.  Began in 1996 and images Mary and Loyal’s lives and family. 
  2. The Caliche and Saguaro Railroad – Began in 2002 by Jim and Madelyn Cook. This railroad covers about 35’ x 100’, with 4 tracks and a trolley, over 60 buildings and 200 figures.
  3. The Cloud Mountain Railway – This was the tiniest railroad, measuring only 10’x 22’. It has two separate loops.  Jay and Sallie Sanders are the owners of this little jewel.
  4. The Eagle Mountain Railroad - This is one of the largest in the state with well over 1000’ of track.  It contains mines, lumber camps, towns and an open pit copper mine.  Owners are Gary and Peggy Martin.  (We visited this one twice; there was so much to see!)
  5. The Turtle River Railroad – Is a western narrow gauge railroad.  The buildings are a combination of scratch-built and kits.  By Glenn and Janet Mitchell.
  6. The Tucson, Piedmont and Sonoran Desert Railroad – This is a mythical railroad set in 1926 southern Arizona.  Structures are scratch-built.  Nick Buchholz and Mary Ker.
  7. The No Name Railroad – This is a medium sized railroad with completely scratch-built buildings and a water feature. Owners are Bruce and Carolyn Lynn.
  8. The Railway at Castle Rocks – Unfortunately we were unable to find the address of this railway and therefore didn’t visit it.

We have created an album in the photo section on garden railways with more pictures.

            Kartchner Caverns are located about an hour east of Tucson.  This state park opened in 1999.  We had wanted to tour the caverns last year when we were in the area, however one of the “rooms” was closed for the bat maternity season (April-October) and we wanted to experience both tours so we decided to wait until this year to go.

            The caves were discovered in 1974 by two amateur cavers.  They kept it a secret for 4 years, and then told the land owners of their discovery.  It was another 10 years before the secret was made public, as the family wanted to ensure that the cave was protected and developed in a responsible way. 

            Visitors to the cave are restricted in number and rules are very strict, you cannot take anything in the cave with you.  No cameras, backpacks, purses, fanny packs, food, water, gum, candy, etc.  A warning is issued that you touch nothing but the handrails.  After the last tour each day, all the walkways are washed down to remove any lint, hair, etc that may have fallen.  This protects the cave from fungal growth and mold.

            The entrance to the cave is made by going through a tunnel with air locks.  This cave has an ambient temperature of 70 and a humidity level of 99%.  The air locks help prevent the dryer air of the desert from entering and causing the formations from becoming dormant.

            Kartchner is an active cave and is the most beautiful one we have ever been in.  Due to the care it has received, all of the formations are intact.  There are formations here that are found only in a few caves around the world.  We were in awe at the beauty.  The caverns are well worth visiting.  Reservations are recommended. 

            The weather turned cool and on Saturday the area finally experienced a measurable rainfall.  We had rain most of the night and when we got up on Sunday morning, the mountains to the north had been dusted with snow.  It is really strange to think of it snowing in the desert. 

            Tucson is the spring training home for three major league ball teams, The Arizona Diamondbacks, The Colorado Rockies and The Chicago White Sox.  We like baseball and purchased tickets for games the last two weeks of training. 

            We attended two games at Tucson Electric Park, home of the Diamondbacks and the White Sox.  This is the newest park here.  It was fun to get out to the park and enjoy a game in the sun. 

            Hi Corbett Field is the older park and home to the Rockies.  We also attended 2 games at this park.  We were able to see games involving the above three teams, also the Oakland Athletics and the Texas Rangers. 

            The rest of the month was spent just hanging around the park.  Millie joined the Nimblefingers group for lunch at Marie Callander’s one Friday and on another Friday the group held a pot luck lunch.  Millie is still working on the Preemie sets for the group. 

            Millie also finished the Sunflowers wall quilt she has been working on.  We did laundry and shopping and our usual Friday night dinners out.  The weather has been nice for the most part, although windier than we would like at times.  March went out as it came in, like a lamb. 

            Next month we will exercise our tires and hit the highway again.  At this time, it looks as though we will be heading back to Houston to help out with Ann, who has been experiencing some health problems. 


(Lots of new photos in the gallery, take a look.  We couldn't link to all of them.)