A Visit to The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Josh unexpectedly had the day off yesterday so we spent most of the day at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, close to Saguaro National Park (West). We bought the family membership last year when we first moved to the area and it is definitely worth the $125 a year for all 8 of us! The single-use admission tickets would have cost more I think.

The Desert Museum is a unique experience: a zoo, botanical garden, an aquarium, natural history museum, and art gallery all rolled into one. We loved every minute and even though it was our second visit, we still were not able to see everything. We will have to come back again to see the aquarium, art gallery, the raptor free flight and walk the full desert loop trail. The museum’s high rating on TripAdvisor is well-deserved!

This was Josh’s first visit to the Desert Museum. It was actually quite busy today because of the federal holiday (Martin Luther King, Jr.) but the park is so large that everyone filters through and it wasn’t too crowded once we were inside.

Because the Desert Museum covers so many different areas of interest, I will be focusing on mostly the animals in this post.

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Treasure Hunt at Homegoods

Josh and I first went to Homegoods in San Diego and loved it, especially the specialty food section. Today, we went looking for photo props to use in pictures for the blog and ended up in the specialty food section of course. The kids were all good sports during our shopping trip. Don’t worry; they were rewarded with Culver’s custard for their patience! Our fourth boy’s birthday was last week and he had a free sundae to get.

This was our first time in this particular location. It is a little smaller than the Homegoods that was near us in San Diego, but it was still full of interesting finds. I would definitely return.

My favorite treasure was a bottle of Mount Mansfield Organic Maple Syrup. It was so neat to find it at Homegoods. I used to buy quart jugs of their syrup from their online store. That was a few years ago though, when we could afford it. Hopefully soon, we will be able to order from them again.

If you are looking for Christmas gifts, their maple candy is excellent as well as their maple syrup! You actually can’t go wrong with anything they sell. All of it is high quality and we have always enjoyed anything we have bought from them!

We did find some photo props at Homegoods too! One of them is in the picture of the maple syrup: the wood trivet. We are looking forward to using them with our bakes!

-Lynn

The New Geek Homestead – Part 2

I mentioned in my last post that we had news to share.  If you follow Josh and The Geek Homestead on Twitter though, you probably already know this.  About a month ago, we moved to the Tucson area of Arizona from California. It took us a while to get here, and there is quite a bit of backstory to our move. Hope you are ready for a bit of a read!

When we moved from Washington, D.C. to San Diego back in 2008, Josh and I stopped in Tucson overnight when we drove cross-country (We only had two kids back then! And they were already with our family in San Diego.) I don’t know what it was about Tucson that appealed to us, but when we left the next day to continue our drive, I remember thinking that we needed to come back someday for a vacation.

We finally did make it back to Tucson for that vacation in November 2016 for Thanksgiving. We found that we liked the area even more and thought about trying to move to Tucson.

Five of our kids at the Saguaro National Park in 2016. Now we live about 30 minutes from here (and have six kids lol)

In November 2019, we began packing to move out of our house so that we could prepare for selling it. In March 2019, we moved in with my parents while waiting for our house to sell.  Two weeks later, we accepted an offer on the house and then closed escrow the end of April. By this time, Josh had already moved out to Tucson.

In July, we opened escrow on a new house in the Tucson area. At the end of July, we walked from that house because of some appraisal issues. A couple of days after we walked away from that first house, Josh went to an open house for a place that I had noticed on the market in June but it had been out of our price range then. When I first saw it, I mentioned it to Josh because it seemed like the perfect house for us. It dropped in price in July (while we were still in escrow with the first house). After the open house, Josh was sold on the house, we put an offer in, and we closed escrow the end of August. And we have been living here for about a month.

We went from a 1,300 square foot house on about half an acre in San Diego to a 2,700 square foot house on 4 acres in Marana (about 20 miles outside Tucson). God has definitely blessed us because we were not expecting to be able to find a house quite like this one that was in our price range. We were expecting to buy a 2,000 square foot house with maybe a garage. Instead, we found not just a larger house, but a house with a 2-car garage, a workshop for Josh, an observatory shed, a greenhouse, a rainwater harvesting system, beautiful landscaping, 3 porches, and gorgeous sunrises/sunsets and night sky viewing.

Our new home surprises us almost every day with something new. We live in a rural area now that is about 20 minutes from the freeway. Even though it takes a while to get anywhere, we still love it.

We have seen roadrunners, bunnies, woodpeckers, doves, ground squirrels, and vultures, but fortunately no rattlesnakes or scorpions (yet!)  We have so many interesting plants and cacti on the property that I couldn’t possibly name them all.

A few nights ago, I stepped out of our van after church and looked up at the stars… And had a hard time going in the house because the stars seemed to go on forever.

We are loving living in Arizona so far and look forward to sharing our new adventures here on The Geek Homestead.

-Lynn

The following pics are of our new home. Some are from the house listing and the others are ones we took in the past month. Sadly, monsoon season is mostly over so we probably won’t have much rain for a while.

View from the front porch
The observatory shed. We’ve only been in here once. I need to pick up our telescope from my parents’ house and bring it out here to try it out!
Flowering barrel cactus
Mexican bird of paradise
Flowering Fishhook pincushion cactus. It took me a while to find out what this was! A visit to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum helped me out. But that’s for another post!
Two of the saguaros in our backyard at sunset.
 

The Santa Cruz River Flows Again (Sort of)

A few days ago, I started to see news stories pop up about the Santa Cruz River here in Tucson. I think Tony Davis of the Arizona Daily Star wrote the best one. I recommend reading his story. He tells quite a bit of history of the river, and there are a number of historical pictures.

In short, the river has been “dead” for quite some time. The region uses a lot of ground water, and that has caused the river to be dry except when there is rain.

Tucson Water has started the Santa Cruz River Heritage Project, and will be releasing reclaimed water into the river. There will not be enough water released to totally revive the river. They estimate there will be about 5000 feet of the river that will have the reclaimed water.

Yesterday, there was a sort of release party for the project. There was a large crowd that came to see the start of the reclaimed river. Various local politicians and dignitaries gave speeches, then people went down to the water.

It isn’t a vast amount of water, but any flowing water in the desert amazes people. People were walking and splashing in the water. Some people even planted native plants along the water edge in hope they will take root there.

This included this Anemopsis californica, common name Yerba Monsa, that I was given to plant.

I took some pictures of what the river looks like now. I hope to take comparison pictures in future days to see just what this project does for plants and wildlife.

My favorite picture I took was this one of a cowboy riding his horse in the river with downtown Tucson in the background.

I think this is an interesting project and one that will provide much enjoyment for people and life for nature. There are paths on both sides of the river bank that will provide easy access for people to observe and enjoy the life that this water brings for years to come.

-Joshua