Archive for the ‘Spring’ Category

What You May Not Know about the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show

March 20th, 2015 by valerieosborne

Gems

Tucson has many treasures, but the Tucson Gem and Mineral show may be the crowning jewel.  Since the 1970’s, gem and mineral professionals, enthusiasts, collectors, and major museums from all over the world come together in little ol’ Tucson in the beautiful month of February.  So how did it come to be that all these folks, including miners from Mali, Morocco, and Switzerland, ship themselves and their most precious rocks and fossils to the deserts of Arizona?

The roots of this legendary gathering reach back to 1954 in a Tucson elementary school parking lot.  On this blacktop a group of mineral collectors and rock hounds under the name of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society created a free exhibition open to the public.  The society’s intent for themselves and the show was to further the knowledge and appreciation for the hobby of mineral collection and lapidary that was just beginning to grow.

vintage parking lot

The exhibition was so successful the organizers decided to make it an annual event.  Over the years the show grew considerably.  Today this “main show” continues to be held by Tucson Gem and Mineral Society volunteers at the Tucson Convention Center.  As a result of the powerful popularity of the main show, many spin-off shows have sprouted up all over the greater Tucson area, bringing even more fun and variety to the scene.

Tucson Gem Mineral and Fossil Showcase from above

Some say the main show gained its global reputation due to the variety and quality of specimens on display including prominent gem, mineral, and fossil displays from museums such as the Smithsonian, the London Museum of Nautral Hisotry, and many more.  For example, one year the Hope Diamond attended the show!  Yet, this does not fully explain how the show became an international phenomenon…how it attracted such special exhibitions.

hope diamond

The main show is philanthropic in nature.  In alignment with the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society’s mission to encourage interest and study in geology, mineralogy, lapidary, and allied earth sciences, all of the proceeds are invested into mineral collections with local organizations such as the University of Arizona, and the Arizona Sonora Desert museum, which further mineral knowledge and appreciation.  Proceeds from the show also go to scholarships in the Geosciences Department at the University of Arizona, and to the Boys and Girls Club.  The Gem Show’s philanthropic orientation helps attract world-class museum quality specimens, but the attraction of this show goes even deeper than that.

If you visit the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society’s website you will find the true magnet.  It is the simple, no-nonsense, and singular passion of the members of this Tucson society that makes the Gem Show what it is.  They are so passionate about mineral collecting and lapidary that they do their best to share the best of it.  Their enthusiasm is contagious, and The Gem and Mineral Show is just one facet of the riches they offer to the public.

tucson gem and mineral society

The Tucson Gem and Mineral Society offers meeting on the first Monday of each month (except September).  These meetings present gems and minerals from many perspectives with the intention to excite adventurers and collectors alike.  In the summer the Society holds potluck dinners.  The Tucson Gem and Mineral Society also offers classes and field trips to broaden the knowlege and skills of members.  Visit their website to find out more! www.tgms.org

The story of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show reminds me of the amazing feats a small group of dedicated people can achieve when we pool our passion together.  So, I invite you to come to the sunny Sonoran Desert, sit on a rock, and ponder a while.  What are your passions? We’d love to host you here at The Inns at El Rancho Merlita.  Maybe you’ll come take a class such as “Everything You Need to Know on Gemstones.”  Perhaps you will even make it to the fabulous 2016 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, “Shades of Bule – Minerals of the World,” February 11-14, 2016.  Until then, shine on you crazy diamond!

All the best,

The ERM Family

Desert view

Desert view with the Catalina Mountains

Spring Activities!

March 4th, 2014 by pattiebell

Although Spring does not officially arrive until later this month, it has definitely sprung early in Tucson this year. Wildflowers blooming, milder than average temperatures and that certain something in the air make it a great time to get out and enjoy the many activities being offered around town!

Did you know Tucson hosts the 4th largest Festival of Books in the country?  March 15 and 16 on the University of Arizona Mall brings us 300 presentations, 200 exhibitors, and tons of opportunities to meet authors, poets, screenwriters and journalists participating in signings, panel discussions and book sharing. http://tucsonfestivalofbooks.org/

Tucson’s proud and lively Irish community throws their 27th Annual St Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival in Armory Park in Downtown Tucson on March 15th. Guaranteed to get your green up! http://www.tucsonstpatricksday.com/

The Historic 4th Avenue Shopping District is home to the 4th Ave. Street Fair twice each year and this Spring’s event is Mar. 21-23.  Hundreds of juried artist and crafts persons, plenty of food and refreshing beverages, live music, kid’s activities and street performers. http://www.fourthavenue.org/fairs/general-information/

Are you a train enthusiast? Tucson has a very special transportation museum at the Tucson Historic Depot.  On March 22nd The Silver Spike Festival celebrates the 134th anniversary of the railroad in Tucson! http://www.tucsonhistoricdepot.org/

Theater buffs will be happy to know that the Arizona Theater Company presents “Around the World in 80 Days” through Mar 22. Boasting incredible sets and productions, our theater company makes its home in the beautifully restored Temple of Music and Art.  http://www.arizonatheatre.org/our-shows/around-the-world-in-80-days/

And Broadway in Tucson brings us “I Love Lucy: Live on Stage” March 25 – 30. This acclaimed show puts you in the seat at the studio where the famous TV shows were taped and includes plenty of the original music from Ricky and the band. http://www.broadwayintucson.com/shows_lucy_prices.html/

What says Spring more that fluttering butterflies? Experience a live tropical butterfly exhibit everyday through April 30th at Butterfly Magic at the Tucson Botanical Gardens.  http://www.tucsonbotanical.org/

The Arizona State Museum on the campus of the University presents “Edward Curtis Reframed: The Arizona Volumes” through July 30, 2015. The exhibit will display 20 of the famed photographer’s portraits of the American West at a time, rotating every 6 months, to show a total of 60 works. The State Museum also houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of 2000 years worth of Native pottery making in the Southwest – that’s  over 20,000 whole vessels. http://www.statemuseum.arizona.edu/exhibits/index.shtml

This is just a sampling!  Visit http://www.visittucson.org/events/calendar/ for more.

 

Music of the Monsoon ~ the amazing Spadefoot Toad!

July 13th, 2013 by pattiebell

Couchs_spadefoot_toad_frog_detailed

Found primarily in the Sonoran Desert, the Couch’s spadefoot  is named for the elongated, sickle-shaped, horny tubercle on the underside of each rear foot, which it uses to dig itself into the ground. There it remains buried in the soil for 8-10 months only to emerge at the onset of the summer monsoons.


During the first night of or after the first significant summer storm, Couch’s spadefoots move to rain-filled temporary pools for a night or two of frantic breeding and foraging, and then may remain active for as long as moist, warm conditions persist, often traveling far from the breeding ponds. Although most breeding is timed to the first summer storm, occasional breeding congregations can be found throughout the summer. Eggs are usually laid the first night that ponds fill, and are deposited on submerged vegetation in small masses that hatch within 36 hours.  Tadpoles can metamorphose in as little as 7-8 days. Drying of a pond stimulates rapid metamorphosis and smaller toadlets. The call, given by males as they float in the breeding pond, is a plaintive “wah! wah!”, suggestive of a bleating sheep. The call carries well on humid summer evenings and is a sure sign that the often long-awaited summer monsoon has finally begun.  

Couch’s spadefoot will eat anything that moves and fits into its mouth. Winged termites, which are high in fat content, also emerge with the first monsoon storms, and often make up a high percentage of the spadefoot’s diet. A Couch’s spadefoot can eat enough termites during one or two nights to survive and breed for a year. Tadpoles are carnivorous; cannibalism has been documented.

This species has benefited from construction of berms, cattle tanks, and other ground disturbance that promotes collection of rainwater. It is relatively long-lived; some live as long as 13 years in the wild.

Spadefoot ToadYouTube

First Gambel’s Quail chicks of the season!

April 20th, 2013 by pattiebell

Early birds!

Early birds!

This morning when I popped out of the dining room door I scared up a covey of 5 Gambel’s quail chicks and their chattering parents. I don’t usually expect to see them until well into May, so I was a bit surprised and pretty excited. Chick sightings are one of those things Arizonan’s brag about like the number of fish caught, or the size of bears encountered.

Gambel’s quail primarily move about by walking and can move surprisingly fast through brush and undergrowth. They are a non-migratory species and are rarely seen in flight. Any flight is usually short and explosive, with many rapid wingbeats, followed by a slow glide to the ground.

In the late Summer, Fall, and Winter, the adults and immature young congregate into coveys of many birds. In the Spring, Gambel’s Quail pair off for mating and become very aggressive toward other pairs. The chicks are decidedly more insectivorous than adults, gradually consuming more plant matter as they mature. Gambel’s Quail are monogamous and rarely breed in colonies. The female typically lays 10–12 eggs in a simple scrape concealed in vegetation, often at the base of a rock or tree. Incubation lasts from 21–23 days, usually performed by the female and rarely by the male. The chicks are precocious, leaving the nest with their parents within hours of hatching.

Here’s a link to some great video of  chicks in motion: Gambel’s Quail chicks emerge from their nest – YouTube

 

 

Giant Sunflowers!

November 7th, 2012 by pattiebell

Our assistant extraordinaire Molly and the tallest wild sunflowers we have ever seen!   One gallon starters the spring before last, they die back in the winter only to explode in the Spring and bloom again when Autumn rolls around.

Fruit from our Peruvian Cereus Cactus

September 4th, 2012 by pattiebell

 

 

While we leave most of them for the birds, we enjoy tasting the light, slightly sweet crunchiness of these amazing fruits!

Possible Coatimundi sightings at the Ranch!

August 11th, 2012 by pattiebell

We have had reports from several guest about an unusual looking visitor to our water bowl.  The description fits. Here’s the lowdown~

The Coati is a raccoon-like omnivore, but is more slender and possesses a longer snout. It is a nosy, busy little creature with an insatiable appetite. The Coati is gregarious and noisy as it travel about in groups of from 6 to 24, holding its tail almost erect and chattering with others.

This grizzled gray-brown mammal grows 30 to 55 inches long and stands 8 to 12 inches high at the shoulder. It can weigh from 10 to 25 pounds. Males are almost twice as large as females.

The Coati has a long snout that is white near the tip and around the eyes, which often have dark patches above. The Coati has small ears, dark feet and a long, thin tail (as much as 2 feet long) with 6 or 7 dark bands.

Coatis are diurnal, spending most of the day foraging for food, which includes insects, lizards, roots, fruits, nuts and eggs. They are very fond of fruit, especially the manzanita berry.

Coatis mate in early spring and deliver a litter of 4 to 6 young after a gestation period of about 11 weeks. The female educates and feeds the young from the den site, usually a rocky niche in a wooded canyon.

The only other member of this species, the Brown-nosed Coati (Nasua nasua) occurs only in South America.

Young Cooper’s Hawk at his favorite watering spot~

August 4th, 2012 by pattiebell

Owl Visitor Playing in the Sprinkler

June 27th, 2012 by pattiebell

Thanks to Prescott guest Judy McCormick for catching this rare moment!

Zebra-tailed Lizards

June 1st, 2012 by pattiebell


This morning on my 2 mile walk along the Tanque Verde Wash I saw dozens of these distinct lizards. I have never seen so many of them in one outing – they were all over the place!  With their rapid movement and tails curled up high, they reminded me of big scorpions scurrying about. It is the beginning of the season and I guess their numbers are high until Mother Nature pares them down by attrition.

1924 North Corte El Rancho Merlita, Tucson, AZ 85751-1017
Accolades | Press Room | Sitemap
Website Hosting and Search Engine Marketing
by InsideOut Solutions.
»