Winter see-saw

For Arizona winter visitors, the prize for the journey is warm weather. This year the prize has been very elusive. By comparison with Minnesota winters or east coast blizzards, we’re having lovely weather but nights at or below freezing and mornings with frost are not exactly why we came! We’re in another patch of temperatures 20 degrees below normal and we’re pouting just a little. LeRoy and I are lucky, along with the other full timers. We have all the clothes we own right here with us. Others are lacking coats, warm socks and gloves. We haven’t really needed those this week, but sweaters and jackets have felt good. LeRoy has even put the shorts back in the closet! We keep hoping this cooler weather is about over but I guess time will tell.

Weather fronts in Tucson are accompanied by wind which, with or without humidity, cuts right through you. One such day was a planned field trip from Desert Trails to the Southern Avra Valley Storage and Recovery Project. The skies may have been the cloudless blue we associate with Arizona, but you can tell by the attire of the group that it was not a 75 degree day! Since LeRoy spent the last decade or so working on water remediation for the City of Wichita, he spoke the language of the hydrologists who led our tour. The City of Tucson has grown exponentially in the last 50 years and along with it, the need for water. When we lived in Wichita, you could have dug a well by hand and you would have found water at about 17′ then. Tucson gets most of its water by mining groundwater stored in aquifers down to 1200 feet deep in the Tucson and Avra Valley basins.

The project we visited takes water which comes in canals and pipes from the Colorado river and uses it to recharge the aquifer in here.

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According to Arizona Daily Star story: “the city this year will put into the ground 140,000 acre feet of CAP water and take out 80,000. This has raised the water table 9 feet a year at the city facility in the central Avra Valley facility for the past decade and 140 feet in the three years that a second city recharge facility and well field has existed in the southern Avra valley.”  Those are pretty amazing statistics.

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There are 10 of these recharging ponds and they rotate through them. Water is pumped in at a rate that would fill an ordinary swimming pool in a matter of minutes! It then seeps into the ground, making its way to the aquifer. I envisioned the pools quickly filling to the brim but the hydrologists told us that it goes out the bottom more quickly than it comes in, even taking into account the evaporation rate. It’s really a fascinating project of which they are understandably proud.

We’ve had some wonderful warm days for hiking in between cold snaps and one night this week, we attended a sunset worship service in the desert just between our park and the one next door.

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Until Saturday, our weather was warm and sunny, perfect for sitting in our lawn chairs enjoying the late afternoon praise service. Most of the participants were from the park next door. As we sang praise to God, we were accompanied by a guitar and an autoharp, the latter played by a blind woman. She also read our devotions from Braille pages.

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Friday we drove to Tubac again to meet friends from Kansas, Steve and Fran Sigley and Twyla Flowers from Wichita, along with Fran’s brother Dale Zortman from western Kansas. Twyla’s brother and sister-in-law, Don and Ruth Coffey, are from Benson and we enjoyed meeting them, as well. This weekend has been the Tubac Festival of the Arts and it was well worth the drive. Exhibitors line the streets of little Tubac and shoppers come by droves. Parking costs $6 for the day and we got out money’s worth. We were there when the tents opened at 10 a.m. and they were zipping up the tents when we left in the late afternoon. When we woke up Saturday morning to temperatures in the low 30s, we were glad we had chosen to attend the festival on Friday!

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We ended the day with a terrific meal at The Stables at the Tubac Golf Resort. What more could you ask for than good food and good company in a beautiful setting?

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