After the conclusion of the show opening, we enjoyed a scenic ride through part of Saguaro National Park, with dear friends, artist DeVere Burt and his sweet wife Pat. The beautiful home of our gracious dinner hosts, Glenn and Martha Thompson’s, could barely be seen, as we drove down their lengthy driveway through the native desert landscape. Arriving at the front of their home, we were greeted by gorgeous native flora and fauna and an inviting brightly colored adobe style home. The inside was alive with the voices and laughter of numerous artists who had already arrived and were enjoying themselves to the hilt already! We enjoyed a quick tour about their home, and then enjoyed some delicious appetizers, including an assortment of Mexican desserts. We spent most of our time before dinner was served in their beautiful backyard, while visiting with friends and watching the occasional hummingbird coming to drink nectar from the numerous flowers throughout the landscape.
While talking and enjoying a gorgeous view of the surrounding mountains from the yard and patio area, we saw that a mariachi band had arrived and was coming to the backyard. “Really” I told my friend Pat, “This party just keeps getting more amazing!” as the band was also dressed in festive costume for the occasion. Within minutes they stared playing and what talented musicians they were, playing many of Herb Alpert’s past hits as well as a myriad of other great Spanish-style music. Before long it was time for dinner and we were treated to a scrumptious assortment of authentic Mexican food, all homemade by a local caterer. It was all so delicious, from the fish tacos on homemade corn tortillas to the authentic Mexican rice milk drink, called horchata. It was amazing, as it tasted like a thinned down milkshake, with hints of nutmeg and cinnamon! We enjoyed a wonderful group of friends at our long dinner table, where we all had a great time swapping stories and doing lots of laughing!
At the end of dinner, it was time for our fun presentation to begin, where our wonderful expedition director and show curator, Dave Wagner, was kindly roasted. It started off with Wes and fellow artist John Pitcher doing a skit portraying Dave getting stung by the stingray while in San Carlos two years ago. Then some awards were given to Dave, which was followed by a song with me as one of the backup dancers. This was followed by a presentation made to hosts Glenn and Martha, for their gracious generosity to us all. This “not the greatest show on earth” ended with fellow artist Andrew Denman singing his version of “I Did it My Way”, while artist friends, Sue Westin, Kim Diment and myself were the talented backup dancers. I think we all did more laughing than anything, and made a wonderful memory while doing so! All too quickly the night had come to an end, as it was time to thank Glenn and Martha, and drive back to the hotel.
Now let me set the scene for our next adventure for you, in words. So sit back, relax and imagine that you’ve been walking across the cacti-studded desert since very early this morning, with the bright sun above bearing down on you. With no relief of a cool shady spot in sight, you’re hot . . . dry . . . and very thirsty, and it takes all the energy you’ve got to put one foot in front of the other. You’re covered in dust from head to toe, and the relentless heat is making your parched skin sweat. So you reach back and take the handkerchief from your pocket, drop to knees for a moment of rest, and as your mopping the sweat off of your brow, you look up and see what you think must surely be a mirage, as it appears to be an oasis of some sort, a small body of water surrounded by palm trees!
Now I know that some of you were thinking I was going to say that in the distance you see a horse with its mounted rider, sitting high in the saddle, and as they quickly approach you, he pulls tightly on the reigns, causing his trusty horse to come to a sliding halt. Then with his hand, he reaches up and tips his hat, as he looks down at you with that John Wayne smile and says “Well howdy there partner!” And with one fell swoop of his large hand reaches down grabbing your arm and swiftly pulls you up into the saddle behind him, thus saving your life, as you ride off into the sunset. But . . . alas that is not how this story goes. So back to the real story . . . You muster all the strength you’ve got left, causing yourself to rise to your feet and begin the arduous journey of heading toward the glorious mirage. Sometime later you finally reach it, and alas it was not a mirage after all, but Agua Caliente (Hot Springs), and with great relief you make your way over to the edge of the cool refreshing small lake and submerse your head into the life giving water!
Okay, so that’s not exactly how we found it. Our dear artist friend Cathy Ferrell was told about it, so she, Wes and I spent our Sunday morning there exploring this amazing place in the middle of the desert landscape. And amazing it is!! A gorgeous oasis, consisting of several ponds and a stream, is all supported by a perennial warm water spring. There were ducks swimming near a small waterfall part way down the stream, and a stunning grouping of gorgeous California Fan Palms, and huge Date Palms surrounds it all. It makes you feel as if you’ve just stepped onto a fantastic movie set! Needless to say, I was totally impressed and mesmerized with this gorgeous setting. As well as the ducks, there was a beautiful Great White Egret, Gila Woodpeckers and several turtles lying on logs, soaking up the generous rays of sun. During the winter months, more than 11 species of ducks can be seen at different times there.
Surrounding this oasis is a more typical desert landscape, filled with numerous native species including an abundance of Mesquite Trees, all with the beautiful Santa Catalina and Rincon Mountains serving as the background. While walking about the trail winding through the outlying areas, we were treated to several bird sightings, including that of the amazingly bright red Vermilion flycatchers. One male in particular obviously privy to the fact of how stunningly handsome he was, kept flying right above our heads, in a series of acrobatic feats, all backed by the brilliant blue sky! “Oooooo and Awwww” kept escaping our lips as we watched this flying jewel perform for and wow us! Walking around other parts of the park, we were treated to sightings of several bunnies and little round-tailed ground squirrels, as well as several different birds species, and some Pack Rat nests. What a treat the entire experience was, and reluctantly we left this magical place to head for some lunch before making our way to the airport, to begin our return trip home.
Currently On Our Easels: I’m continuing the very slow process of painting my miniature which is part of our admiring the masterpiece series. Wes is working on a couple of bird paintings. One features a male Cardinal in an icy tree from a few weeks ago in the yard while the other is a Blue-footed Booby we saw during our expedition to the Sea of Cortez back in 2011. He also finished three tiny one square inch miniatures of wolf portraits this past week.
Come See Our Paintings This Week:
Annual Spanish Moss Miniature Art Show at the Mobile Arts Council Gallery, in Mobile, AL
Until March 29th
Until June 2nd
To view all our upcoming exhibits: http://www.artofwildlife.com/exhibitschedule.html
Have a loved one or a beloved pet you would like captured in miniature? Contact and commission us!
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Until next time ~ Rachelle