We made our way to the desert again – this time Southern Arizona – to visit our long-time friends Heidi & Bob and do a little hiking. Heidi and I go back almost 50 years – she was a “big sister” to me back in the day when I didn’t have, but sorely needed, one. She was a much admired middle and high school science teacher in the old mining town of Bisbee. Bob will be 99 in May! 😀 He’s squeezed a lot into those years – cowboy, hard rock miner, WW2 bomber pilot, Korean War fighter pilot, and city communications director. He also collects Victorian glass salt dishes. While staying with them south of Tucson, we took a little time to go a little farther south to visit Tumacacori National Historical Park.

This park protects the ruins of three Spanish mission communities which were first established here in 1691. The center piece of this part of the park is the old church. It was partially completed by 1823, abandoned in 1848, fell into disrepair, and then was partially restored beginning in 1921 (same as Bob 🙂 ). The area was originally protected as Tumacácori National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, then re-designated as a National Historical Park in 1990. As usual, the National Park Service did a balanced job of interpreting the complex, intertwined, contentious, and controversial history of this little piece of the Southwest.

It was a good day for our visit – sunny but cool, with the blue sky and clouds contrasting nicely with the beige and ocher colors of the old mission buildings and ruins. So we wandered around for an hour or so and then headed back to drive Heidi into Madera Canyon for a little bird watching.

The 1823 church
The façade of the church (The half circle of the espadaña, or pediment, is a 1921 reconstruction)
The nave
Detail of the carved main door
The round mortuary chapel
Outer wall of the storehouse
Storehouse interior
Storage pots
The convento (priest’s quarters)
Fireplace in the convento
Convento windows
The bell tower arches were never completed and are the same today as when the church was abandoned in 1848