Monday, January 17, 2011
Agua Caliente park...Kimmy's favorite...nestled towards the base of the Catalina mountains in NE Tucson, we found ourselves in this desert oasis several times a year. There used to be a series of three ponds, linked by a small stream of pristine water, abundant with all types of wildlife - including a kaliedoscope of birds, fish, turtles, bobcats and deer. We would often stroll the paths between the ponds and found it so relaxing, especially after work. We once startled a trio of deer eating just off of the path and they stood frozen, for us to enjoy, before taking flight into the mesquite woods.
This is the spot, we would often come to, to celebrate holidays and special occaisons. Mother's Day - Kim would like to grab some Subway sandwiches (we'd split a turkey, w/ everything, including jalapenos), take a frisbee and a soccer ball, bring the dog and spend the day. We'd eat, hike the grounds, let the kids feed the ducks and then play in the large grassy area near the main pond.
Just off of this grassy area, is the place that the water originates. In a cluster of huge palm trees, there is a small pool of bubbling water. A natural hot spring - the water is typically 76 degrees. It has small fish in it and there is a stream that runs parallel to the grassy area, followed by palm trees, until it reaches the main pond, some 100 yards away. That main pond is so incredible, with cat tails clusters and wildlife - and let me tell you, you know that our sunsets are spectacular, catch one while looking out over this pond - it is beyond my abilities to describe, especially when a Great Blue Heron comes in for a landing with the burning red sky in the background...
This natural bonanza has been her for centuries. In the late 1800's, it was a mental health rehab. In the early 1900's, it became a getaway for the stars. There are a series of buildings that have been erected over the years. The main building is so eccentric, having been added onto so many times over the years, that it is hard to imagine what it originally looked like. They have turned it into something of a museum and have old photos of its history. One of the other buildings is used for class field trips to teach the kids about the animals and fauna that they will enjoy around the park. We went on a field trip with Cody's class years ago, Kim pushing bambina, Autumn, in her stroller.
There are grills there, and we used to bring burgers and dogs to cook while the kids kicked a ball around. And, we've been caught in several downpours there, always looking for a rainbow over that beautiful park. Lightning storms are surreal to observe from this sanctuary.
Today, the bambini's had another fun day. We celebrated MLK day by having a dress as your favorite African American day! I won, showing up as Frank Robinson, one of my favorite Orioles from back in the day, who helped pave the way for African Americans on the field and in the front office. The kids claimed they didn't have anything to wear - Tonio wanted to be MLK and Autumn, Harriet Tubman, but I let them off the hook and made them a big breakfast with potatoes, bacon, eggs and vanilla iced coffees. Mario dropped Lexy off in time to feast with us. Later, we went down to Angie and Mark's and picked up Breanna, headed to Walgreen's for drinks and snacks (I made sure to do a head count after that excursion!) and then to the Park Mall to meet Janene and her son's, Brandon, Bryson and Caison and their friend, Jackson, to see Yogi Bear, well, the older boys went to see the Green Lantern instead. Yogi was pretty good, staying true to the old cartoon. Afterwards, the girls talked me into walking up the mall to the store Justice...Tonio was pretty silent walking into this girls paradise, but soon discovered a section of Webkins and was happy again. I took the girls and Tonio with me, while Janene stayed to take Cody and her boys with her.
Oh, back to Agua Caliente park...budget cuts over the last year or so, have seen the park shrink...there is only one, main pond left. So if you have not made it out there yet, get there sooner, rather than later and hopefully, the main portion of the park will be protected for many years to come. The others are just dried up holes that the kids actually enjoy running down into and finding old snail shells. The gurgling, connecting stream has since dried up. But the main portion of the park is still beautiful and we hole dear to the memories that we have of our times there as a family...and we'll go there again, soon to see its beauty....
"Darkeness cannot drive out darkness...only light can do that" Martin Luther King