Catch-up: Insurance

Fixing it all..

Home today recouping from a root canal. This was a perfect time to take on travel claims as the 800 mg. of Motrin every 6 hours certainly dulled the two pains – one in the mouth and the other in the a–. 🙂

I started with the travel insurance company and found their process a simple, on-line approach. One customer support call was all that was needed as the gal stayed on the line while I traversed their web site.

The next call was to my favorite travel company of which I am a gold member. When I placed my rental car order for my Arizona trip the pick up address was an Air Force Base. Never thinking the office was on base I completed the order. Well, the office was on base and since I lacked military clearance I could not enter the base.

Incurring $38 in Uber fees traveling back and forth from airport to base and back again, I wanted reimbursement for their error. But more than this I asked they amend the site to reflect this information. Others should not have to go through this angst, however, I had forgotten – no good deed goes unpunished.

On this, the fifth call, I totally lost my cool and was an ugly American. By the end of our conversation I had received a $200 credit, a migraine headache and was thankful it was time for more Motrin.

Moral of the story: Get the rental car at the airport.

Phoenix, the Friendliest Airport?…

Rather than route through Texas today American Airlines took me from Tucson to Phoenix. From here in 3 plus hours I will be catching a flight to Orlando. As I traversed Phoenix Airport I was surprised at it’s size.

Throughout the airport there are signs exclaiming they are the friendliest airport. Nice to know, however, I always questions these claims. How do you establish this? What is the criteria for the best or the tastiest or the most comfortable?

When I visit places I do research to test these assertions. For my research on friendliness I smile at folks, say hello and make small talk when in retail, grocery, or airport lines. As I was in the City of Phoenix 6 months ago and Tucson this past week my research is complete for these 2 cities.

SCORE: 50%

Let’s hope theses scores improve.

It’s Kathleen and if you don’t like what I say it’s still Kathleen.

Tucson: One Extra Day

Yesterday I received an email stating my flight was cancelled. I never received such a culprit as usually the email states the new flight information, however, this was absent. Grateful I checked my emails early in the day I scurried to the airport and deposited my rental car in the garage.

The line for the attendant and kiosk were both long and since the kiosk was faster I elected to use it. Upon accessing my new flight information I realized they had the wrong date for my flight . I flagged over an employee and showed her the screen. She broke the news my flight was rescheduled to the next day and I could speak with an agent.

On to another line to wait for assistance in getting a departure date for the current day. Upon speaking to the agent I learned Houston had a problem and this time it was bad storms. There were no other seats available. Since I was unaware if Tucson Airport was open 24 hours I selected a nearby hotel with shuttle service.

Which brings me back to my idea about the pod or short term hotel sites in airports. I am told they have them throughout Europe and know they are in Beijing Airport. With flights being cancelled at increasing frequency due to weather concerns this business would be a goldmine. Any entrepreneurs out there? I’d love to buy the stock.

Day 6: Tucson Caves, Lunch, and Zoo

Interesting Rock Formations

Started at Colossal Cave Mountain Park in Southeast Tucson today. This cave is over 10,000 years old and has been in use since 900 AD first by animals, then Indians, and explorers. It is a dry dwelling with a 70 degree temperature.

For those wishing a more exciting visit the cave offers supervised climbs. Call for further information or check out their website colossalcave.com.

Down the street from the cave horse rides are available. The ranch house adjacent to the horse ride venue is currently under renovation.

Next stop… lunch

Pretty in Pink

The Arizona Inn appears on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in the 1930’s by Isabella Greenway, who served as Arizona’s first State Congresswoman. The property is a finely maintained work of art. Besides being a senator Mrs. Greenway established a furniture making company for disabled veterans. Some of these pieces remain in the hotel. She was a personal friend of Eleanor Roosevelt and both Eleanor and Franklin visited her in Arizona when he was campaigning for president.

Off to the Zoo…

The guy…

The Reid Park Zoo was a pleasant surprise. It has a fine collection of animals and things to entice children with more intended in their Zoo Master Plan.

While there is much to see I was enticed by the story of the Andean Bears. A 26 year old 347 pound male has been brought a 5 year old female to mate with from a Switzerland zoo. While there is some chemistry it is too early to tell as she only arrived in the habitat in January. As I observed she was coy hiding in the mulberry tree while he lounged elsewhere. However at one point she attempted to get his attention by banging on his door as he continued to snooze under his tree. Aren’t relationships a bear? On to others and their stories.

The giraffes and peacocks reside together in their habitat. At 10:30 a.m. all peacocks splayed their feathers. What a site! Here are front and back versions.

Another interesting story…

Simone at 23 is an elderly female jaguar. The life span of a jaguar is 15 years. For a senior she certainly looks good. Must be that Arizona sun!

In closing here are a few other pictures of zoo inhabitants.

Lions, Great Horn Bills, Flamingos, White Rhinoceros, Elephants, Turtles and White Crested Cockatoos all await your visit to this fun-filled zoo.

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This concludes my stay in Tucson. Hope you’ve enjoyed journeying with me and consider a visit to this jewel of the Southwest.

Preferably not in a stage coach.. but wouldn’t that be a hoot?

Day 4: Tucson History, Vintage Cars & Copper Mines

Women lived with husbands and children at the fort.

Today I began my day with history at the Presidio San Agustin Del Tucson Museum. This is a re-creation of a fort from 1775 reflecting the Spanish influence of the area. This fort showed actual living conditions of the times.

Military Bunks

Inside the fort walls a 2400 year old pit was discovered during archaeologic digs. Fascinating to see. Post tour there is more area history available in the museum adjacent to the gift shop .

And across the street from the museum is the Old Town Artisans which features shops and intriguing food venues. Even if not hungry for food or retail the building is a must see. They have music and even a koi pond center stage.

For anyone who is a lover of vintage cars stop by the Franklin Museum. This museum was beyond my every expectation. Luckily, I caught it on the last open day for the season.

A docent who had restored many of the vehicles displayed gave an hour long tour. Franklin’s were an upstate New York company which were in business from 1906 to 1934. They are known for air cooled engines and aluminum bodies. 400,000 were made and 200,000 remain in existence. The docent stated many of the vehicles have required no maintenance except for a valve job. Here are a couple of my favorites.

1908 -The only Franklin truck ever made.


Wise owner..

This is a 1910 touring vehicle with 6300 miles on it. During WW II when metals were being reclaimed for military purposing the owner hid this beauty in his Cazenovia, New York barn under bales of hay.

There are 3 garages of these gems. It is a marvelous collection. Maybe Jay Leno needs to do a show here?.

Great Food

Finally ready to eat I stopped by Tacos El Tinaco, a taco truck next to the car wash on Navajo and Fort Lowell Road, Tucson. What a tasty fare. Amazing caramelos. Note my smiling chef.

Final stop for the day was the copper mining plant of Asarco Mineral Center in Sahuarita, AZ.

Main Processing Plant



Here I saw how copper is mined from ore and all the items which need copper for construction. Besides wiring, musical instruments, glasses (yes, the eye ones), copper is also in many kitchen related items.

Vehicles that carry ore have 11 foot tires.

The first step in the process is locating the copper among the ore. Samples from drilling sites are given to geologists who examine these samples and make decisions as to locations to dynamite. Once the area is dynamited gravel is taken to be ground via enormous trucks. After grinding a filtering of the ground particles occur via a water bath to remove the copper and other elements.

Filtering the copper from the ore via a water bath.

The copper is then formed into several hundred pound sheets and sold to vendors for use in their products.

Now I was wondering what happens to the land around the pit? The good news is it is reclaimed and planted over to make a more aesthetic area.

Land in the process of recycling

Stay tuned..

Day 3: Tucson Wild West and the Desert

Gate Pass Road

Do you recall the spelling of desert and dessert? I was taught there is one “s” in desert since you only want one, however, for the Sonoran Desert there truly is only one.

Driving to Old Tucson, (Wild West), was a feat on Gate Pass, a road filled with curves and dips. The draw of the scenery while driving was mesmerizing. Stop frequently, take pictures at the pull offs, and breathe in the beauty as bicyclists abound on this road.

Grand Palace Hotel and Saloon

Old Tucson was a familiar site having been a “town” for over 400 movies, television shows, and music venues. It remains active and a recent episode of Chops is one of their latest additions.

High Chaparral was filmed here as was several episodes of Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and some John Wayne movies. Three Amigos with Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Chevy Chase were also filmed here. They ran 300% over budget with their antics, but one can understand with that cast.

Movie star dynamos from Shelley Winters to Liz Taylor, to Michael Landon to 50’s teen idol Ricky Nelson shot here. Recently, Angie Dickinson, now 87, an alum from 50 plus years ago revisited the town.

Gunfight with Sheriff

There is much to see and do throughout the day with gunfights, live music venues, stage coach and train rides. Don’t miss the videos and live explanations of the saloons, mercantile stores, and sheriff law. My favorite was the stunt man show. Be camera ready for excitement at the show’s end. Surprise! Surprise! It’s Hollywood…………

Put this spot on your calendar as the venue is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. All ages would enjoy. There were many seniors in rolling walkers reliving their memories. The site is flat and has several places with air conditioning for reprieve.

The Desert Museum is a neighbor to Old Tucson on Kinney Road. Here lives the animals of the desert, mountain lions, lizards, snakes, along with butterflies and hummingbirds. Many of the animals are rescued and retired which was wonderful to see recycling in action. Walk through the replica cave with its mineral exhibit and visit the aquarium.

Note bird to left

There are many docents who give free tours, guidance and work with the children. From one of the docents I learned the saguaro flowers at certain times of the year. Their flower provides nectar for birds and these flowers have a hard rim for the bird to perch on as they take in the flower’s nectar. The wonders of nature!

Take a moment..

The children seemed to enjoy the butterfly exhibit and had many questions regarding beekeeping. I enjoyed walking the Labyrinth, a meditative walk of concentric circles with a bench to rest at the end of the walk. The museum grounds have many cool spots to sit and rest.

The site opens at 7:30 am and has special evening events and talks. Check their site for specifics, http://www.desertmuseum.org.

For those who wish to see more of the desert, Saguaro National Park, is a short jaunt from this Museum.

Tomorrow will continue with some history, old cars and copper mining. Stay tuned.

Day 2: Tucson Faith and Flowers

Mission San Xavier del Bac

Started my day early visiting the Mission San Xavier del Bac. This church mission began in 1692, however, the actual church was built in the 1800’s. There are free tours given which are fascinating and stop by to see the PBS documentary narrated by Linda Ronstadt explaining the church renovation.

Altar

The church is a masterpiece of Baroque architecture and on the outside there are statutes of Saint Barbara, Lucy, Cecilia, and Catherine above the front door. Inside the Marian church tributes continue to other female saints with statutes of Mary and St. Katherine Tekakwitha, the first native North American Saint. The craftsmanship of the altar will leave you in awe.

From here I journeyed to the Tucson Botanical Gardens. Here was the finest butterfly house I have ever seen. These delicate creatures are on display through the end of May. In the exhibit there was a running stream with cichlids or “rock fish” swimming among the rocks. These fish are a bit larger than goldfish and could be a wonderful way to fulfill one’s koi desire, (mine), yet lack space for a pond. 🙂

Next on the agenda was the Tohono Chul Gardens. This garden held many specialized gardens and trails. Of particular interest to me was the Saguaro Discovery Trail. Here enormous cactus loom with placards explaining how they assist the desert ecosystem. Some fun facts:

  • Saguaros at 10 years of age are only 1.5 inches in height.
  • They grow 40 to 60 feet.
  • Weight several tons.
  • Live 150-200 years or more.
  • Provide haven for many creatures of the desert.
There are yellow flowers on top of the boughs.

There is also a gallery and greenhouse at this garden. The greenhouse had a fine selection of desert plants at reasonable prices.

Both gardens are a delightful visit and must see if you are a gardener visiting Tucson.

My favorite.. does anyone know it’s name? Forgot to photo the sign..

See you tomorrow when I visit the Wild West. Stay tuned…

Touch Down Tucson

After hearing all day from pilots that turbulence was expected it finally occurred on the Tucson touchdown. And what a touchdown it was with massive extra points. I even had to use the barf bag for re -breathing. This I’ve never done in my 50 years of flying.

My first layover on this trip was in LAX for 5 hours. It was wonderful to see the new airport under construction. Delta has donated 1.9 billion. Glad some of that tax break to companies we are paying for is being used to some good. Maybe they can do roads next?.

Now I am in Tucson at a ritzy spa and have to pinch myself to believe I’m here. You never know what Expedia comes up with. After a snobby greeting at the desk from a pretentious 20 year old male and his 18 year old female counterpart I paid my $230 resort fee. A supersized golf cart then took me to my room. Being left off at the elevator I realized the guy probably thought I wouldn’t tip so got rid of me quick. Later as I watched him schlep others directly to their rooms and open the door I grimaced, then laughed. Guess the Motel 6 demeanor never leaves you, however, his loss as I probably tip better than those “classy” customers he took to the door.

The pools, of which we have 7 at this “spa,” and the views are to die for. The sunrise and sunset in the desert is spectacular. Have to go as I am off to see the garden sites today and a Mission Church. Keep in touch.

AM in Tucson From the “Spa” Sliders