There are two SOWER couples (including us) here for the project term. So far the men have built a chain link fence to provide safety for the young children by making it more difficult for them to wander away from the playground area. The ladies have done data entry as the school is switching record keeping software. During the fall break week that school is off we will be doing painting and installing partitions and doing other repair and remodeling work that would be difficult to do while the classrooms were occupied.
One evening we met with other SOWERS for a pot luck at Pusch Ridge Academy, a SOWER project on the north side of Tuscon. There were several other area SOWER couples in addition to the couple working at Pusch Ridge. It was especially good to visit again with Von and Karen Edge. Von and I had worked together pulling fiber optic cable at our very first SOWER project at ALERT Academy in March 2006.
Titan Missile Site
There were Titan missile silos in several clusters around the United States from the early sixties until the late Seventies.All have been decommissioned. One of the eighteen that had been near Tucson is a museum now. The two SOWER couples toured the facility. Juanita even got to "launch" the missile launch simulation.
Copper Mine Tour
The other SOWER couple and we toured a nearby copper mine. We watched some videos on the mining, milling and smelting process and the uses of copper. Then we took a bus ride to a viewpoint overlooking the mine and back down for a tour of the mill. It was interesting to see equipment that was similar to that I had worked on in the oil sands plant recently and some which was similar to that which I was responsible for in the pulp mill. The 48% copper concentrate from this mine is shipped by semi trailer to Texas for smelting into 99.9% pure copper.
Friends & Family
We met and were married in Tucson in 1975. Juanita grew up there. We still have a few friends that we have more or less kept in touch with over the years. Working at Sahuarita gave us the opportunity to visit with some of them again.
Meet Yourself - Tucson
After touring the Titan missile site and the Sarco copper mine we headed downtown to the annual Tucson Meet Yourself festival, checking out the ethnic booths, the low-rider car and trucks displayed and, especially, the food court. We sampled Turkish, Thai, Native American, Italian and Chilean food and drink. There were lots of other choices, but even my stomach runs out of room eventually.
We did a quick tour of the Pima Air and Space Museum. It needs more time to do it justice than we gave it, but what we did do was information overload territory so maybe the best thing would be to go several times, at intervals.
Travel To Texas
During the October SOWER project we all worked an additional Friday while the kids were on break. The last work day was a Wednesday, rather than the usual Thursday.
We left right after work and drove toward Texas.
The first night we dry camped in a Flying J truck stop at Lordsburg, New Mexico. As usual, we ate at their restaurant and fueled up while there.
Very early the next morning we were on the road and we made it as far as a truck stop south of San Antonio. I hate traveling through San Antonio, but we passed through shortly after the evening rush hour which meant the traffic was bad instead of very bad, but also meant that we could cut across through downtown instead of trying to make a long slow loop around.
On Friday we got to the Rio Grande Valley, the location for the November and December SOWER project at Way of the Cross and got Juanita settled in for the period when Paul flew back to Powell River for his mother's one-hundredth birthday.
On October 31st my mother, Edith Alton, celebrated her one hundredth birthday with a number of family and friends.
I flew back a few days early to visit friends and family then to celebrate that occasion with her. I tried renting a car at Rent-a-Wreck (Don't look at me that way. You know how cheap I am), but they had rented all their vehicles. My niece Kelly graciously loaned me her van and drove her husband's new truck while he slept off his night shifts. Tried telling her how I had left the gas cap on the roof of the van while re-fueling and drove off and it fell off somewhere and I was unable to find it but lucked out and found one that was even better since it was a locking cap and I put that on. She has too good a filter to swallow that joke.
Being the baby of the family seemed to work for me growing up, but puts me last in line for accommodation when everyone is in town. Claudio's mom, Vicki Trevisanutto took pity on me and let me sleep in her spare bedroom.
The family in Powell River had done a lot of preparation and set things up so it was a come and go format. This meant that although a fair number of people passed through her home, Mom was not overwhelmed by an overly large number at any one time.
Edith's grand-daughter Deanna had put together a collection of old photographs from Edith's life and some sample catalog pages from the year she was born. Sure have been a lot of changes. I was particularly taken by one of my mom and aunt singing and dancing in a musical from a Sulphur Gulch performance in the early 1950's. I sang the lyrics to that particular number and everyone asked "How did you know that?" Well, I guess sitting in Dwight Hall as a toddler watching them practice must have imprinted the lyrics.
There were letters from politicians, the Lieutenant-Governor of BC, the Governor General of Canada, The Queen and the Prime Minister. And cards from all of us. Being a small town there was a limited selection of Happy Hundredth Birthday cards so rather than risk a repeat I gave her a 60 and a 40. Not much you can give somebody who is a hundred so a number of us gave her gift certificates for a pedicure. She seemed pleased.
I flew out on the 5:30 plane to Vancouver and connected to Seattle where a red-eye flight took me to Houston in time to catch a morning flight to McAllen. Juanita met me at the airport and we carried on to the church service at the Way of the Cross, the site of the November SOWER project.