Mixing Things Up

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 Road Junkies 0 Comments

Phoenix to Tucson

After our dreadful experience with Phoenix traffic yesterday, we were loath to get back into the crawl even though we had planned to visit the state capitol building today.  Consoling ourselves that the building is now mostly museum rather than the seat of government, we decided to scamper southeast to Tucson rather than getting into the grueling gridlock again.
In search of a letterbox, we stopped in the historic town of Florence and checked out the original 1878 Pinal County Courthouse (pictured above).  There we met Fred, a New Hampshire transplant who volunteers at the little museum next door.  A widower, he encouraged us to visit another beneficiary of his volunteer work—a nearby arboretum, where he planted a marriage tree as a memorial to his wife. 
Tom Mix memorial marker
On the trail of another letterbox, we drove outside town to the site where Tom Mix, the greatest star of silent-era Western movies, met his demise.  In 1940, the superstar of his day was barreling across the Arizona desert in a V-8 convertible on the way to visit his son-in-law.  Failing to note warning signs, the cowboy suddenly found himself at the site where a road crew was replacing a bridge. 
The wash where Mix crashed
Going much too fast to stop, Mix sent his car flying into the washed out gully.  An aluminum suitcase in the back seat was thrown into the back of the actor's head in the crash.  Emerging from the scarcely damaged car, Mix took one step, crumpled and fell, dead of a broken neck at age 60.
Saguaro triplets
Arriving in Tucson by mid-afternoon, we took advantage of the opportunity to visit the western section of Saguaro National Park, where we learned about the Sonoran Desert and the fascinating plants and animals that call it home.  Afterward we stopped at the local Safeway and took on provisions for dinner.  Tomorrow we'll head into New Mexico.
Protective spines of a cholla cactus
Baby arm of a saguaro
Many armed saguaro
The woody skeleton of a dead saguaro