Tuesday, September 15, 2015 : San Xavier, Desert Museum, Saguaro West


The day's program is packed, even if mileage is light.

 

Mission San Xavier del Bac, Tucson, AZ

Mission San Xavier del Bac

 

Our first visit is at Mission San Xavier del Bac, a franciscan outpost south of Tucson, AZ. The mission was originally in  Colonial spanish territory. It became Mexican at independence in 1821, and American after the Gadsden Purchase, which fixed the border in 1853.

 

The Franciscans used the mission to evangelize local population. It was also a well-known school.

 

Like many churches of the time, the inside style is heavily loaded with artworks, quite rich in paintings and sculptures.

 

Restoring the church looks like a full-time assignment. At the time of our visit, the West tower looks in pristine condition, while the east tower is in dire need of some work.

 

Coyote, Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, AZ

Coyote, Musée du Désert de l'Arizona

 

We proceed to Old Tucson Studios, where many westerns have been shot. Too bad, the studios are closed for the whole month of September.

 

We then visit Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, at the same time a scientific exhibit (geology, paleontology, biology) and a zoo. Animals, more sensible than humans, have decided to stay away from the blistering afternoon heat. We cannot see the mountain lion and the javelina, a curious wild peccari that really looks like a small black hog. Good news, the coyote is there, as are bobcats, foxes, spiders, snakes ...

 

Vegetation is also skillfully shown.

 

At the end of the day, the Museum is a safe way to experience the vibrant Sonoran desert life in a small space.

 

We proceed with a quick visit of Saguaro National Park western district which, as its name shows, is mostly populated by giant cacti. We see one that clearly exceeds 20 ft.