We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...

We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...
1997's Climb

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Old Tucson

      Saturday...the bambini's slept in...Autumn until 7:30, Tonio until 8 and Cody, who slept at Jesus' (yes, we missed him!), texted me at 10 to say he had just woken up!  We had decided to go to Old Tucson today...Jaimelyn's (Barnes & Noble) husband, Scott, had been a stunt man there for many years and they have graciously hooked us up over the years with free passes.  Scott recently found a better job, as an sculptor and gave us the last of his passes :(  
         And what a gorgeous day for it!  We hit a high of 80 today, blue skies, no clouds.  We picked up Lexy and headed out (minus Cody, who opted to stay with Jesus today).  It is a beautiful drive to Old Tucson, through the towering saguaro cacti, thick as a forest as far as the eye can see...The Tucson mountains are pretty, too, many of them showing up in old westerns that were filmed at Old Tucson.
        As we approached, I remembered our wedding day...when we took our wedding party to Old Tucson after the ceremony at San Xavier Mission.  It was much hotter that day...and Old Tucson looked significantly different...a few years after our wedding, most of Old Tucson burned to the ground.  The night we heard it was burning, Kim and I drove out there, parked in the desert and watched it burn, in each others arms, tears streaming down Kimmy's cheeks..."we were there on our wedding day..." she cried.  And many others, too, as we had quickly become members and went often.
       They did not have adequate water on site to battle the blaze...it took several years to rebuild Old Tucson, but, the owners had a decision to make.  Should they rebuild as a movie studios, or a theme park.  Unfortunately, they chose theme park and rebuilt using a lot of cement, instead of the old wood planking that gave the original Old Tucson the old west charm and authenticity.  They also reduced the number of shows, and pretty much eliminated the audience participation.  Kim and I had been selected for many shows when we'd go out and they'd have you go into wardrobe to put on old west clothes.  Kim was in a great skit on Main St. one year, where she got to throw a big punch and knock a bad guy off his feet (I'm sure it was a thrill for the stunt man to take a dive for Kimmy!). They also had a movie set inside, where you could watch shows and participate, too.  I once was in the production of  'The Good, the Bad and the Dumb' and still have the VHS that Kim had bought of the skit to surprise me.
       Sometimes, after work, Kim would pack us a dinner and we'd head out to Old Tucson with Cajun, our lab/border collie pup. 
    We would sit at this very picnic table, in the shade of this mesquite and eat.  I remember one time, she packed spaghetti in some sort of warming bag.  We'd put Cajun right up on the table, so she wouldn't run off and wouldn't get bitten by ants (she suffered a few red ant bites on time on a hike we took in Avra Valley along some water they have down there) and we'd share our dinner with her.  Afterward, we'd all ride the train.  You can't take pets there anymore, sadly.  We found out the hard way, shortly after we got Bella, we went out to enjoy the park and they wouldn't let her in!  The kids were so dissappointed, so Kimmy stayed in the car with Bella, so I could run through a few rides with the kids - that was Kimmy, always sacrificing for our family.
     One year, we had Cody's birthday party at Old Tucson.  He had a huge Scooby Doo pinata that we hung from a large tree for his friends to hit.  We had food and the cake in one of the restaraunts there that had been named after 'The Three Amigos' ('80's film starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short that was filmed at Old Tucson and is a Conca family favorite!), that is now called Vaqueros.
      Old Tucson hosted concerts for awhile.  We went to see Blue Oyster Cult there one time and Eddie Money (not sure why, but we had fun!), who was pretty funny, although I'm not sure if he was trying to be.  Cody must have been one or two for that concert and seemed to enjoy the music.  We saw America and Three Dog Night there, too - I guess on of the guys from Three Dog Night lives in Tucson.  And they also used to hold rodeos there - we saw several, including a college one.  Good times...
      Now, most of the old rides are closed or have been altered.  Like the Iron Door Mine, used to have mine cars that took you through a haunted mine.  Now, you walk through with a guide.  Lexy, Autumn and Tonio enjoyed it today, our guide had some good stories and the kids had a couple of scares, too.

          Without a doubt, their favorite ride was the motor cars.  There were no lines, so they would ride, get off and run back to the front to ride again...this was Tonio's first time he was tall enough to ride himself...so I got plenty of photos, as I know Kimmy would have - she would have teared up to see our little one finally able to ride alone...
          And we road the train...it circles the perimeter of the park and the mountain views are stunning...

            This locomotive was a real working train built in 1897 and carried presidents and celebrities.  It has shown up in 100 movies, including Joe Kidd (classic Clint!) and Tombstone.  The kids were able to climb up into it and had fun playing with all of the controls.  We saw a couple of good gunfights, locked the kids up in jail and checked out every inch of that place!

         Finally, it was time to leave...we were there about four hours!  I took the road through Gates Pass on the way out and the kids thought it was so beautiful, twisting up through the Tucson Mountains.  And, we were pretty hungry!  Being on that side of town, I thought I'd take the kids to El Rio bakery for some food.

           Ahh, some great food!!!  Everyone ate a ton (Lexy had carne asade, Aut a chicken tostada, Tonio a bean and cheese burrito bigger than his head and I had the chile relleno) and they all saved room for desert!
          As we drove down Speedway towards home, I realized that I had made a location error a few blogs ago...Rosie's Cantina had been on the corner of Speedway and 6th, not Euclid...now there is a preschool there...so where Kim and I once dined and dance, toddlers are crawling across that very floor...
          We stopped at a Redbox on the way home and the kids picked out a movie to watch tonight...but now, Lexy and Autumn are having a 'dance party' in our hallway!  They choreograph dances to their favorite songs and put up posters advertising their big show...pretty cute. 
          We sure had fun at Old Tucson today and it brought back good memories.  We had actually made it out there as a family back in early October, just before Kim went into St. Joseph's...Tonio brought it up as we explored the set of High Chapparal, the '60's t.v. show filmed there.  He suddenly said, 'Dad, we were just here right before Mama went into the hospital, I remember her talking to a lady who had known some of the t.v. stars..'.  He was right.  There had been a lady on one of the sets who fondly remembered working with the cast of the show while it was being filmed and Kim had been fascinated...
          'Nother good day, ending a pretty darn good week...next week:  Back to work!




  1. Dave,
    We remember that birthday party of Cody's at Old Tucson, it was so fun! Just wanted you to know that we are still reading and enjoying your blog. Good luck with work next week.

    Love, The Hoffman's

  2. Love the pictures. Looks like you all had a wonderful time!