We had a busy day once again. We had plans. We were going places.

This was the day to get Cathy’s car back to her. She was planning on being in Tucson and so we planned on being there, too. South of the city is a mission. Mission San Xavier del Bac, also known as the White Dove of the Desert, was our first stop. The Mission’s website doesn’t have photos up (yet – it is under construction as of this writing) but the website where you can donate to the restoration project has photos of the latest restoration venture. They are here. They are slideshows of the interior and exterior restoration.

Fortunately, I took some photos myself. Who knew?

Mission San Xavier del Bac exterior

Pam and Aunt Babe looking at the east wing

Ceiling above the altar

Father Kino first visited Wa:k in 1692 and laid a foundation for a church here. He died before building anything. Other priests came and first built a church at the mission in 1756. It was hoped that a larger community would grow with the mission but it didn’t. The current church was built between 1783 and 1797. It has survived both an earthquake and a lightning strike.

The gnome at the mission

And if yesterday was any indication, it has survived the baking of the sun for centuries as well. Now, for those people who know me – you know I don’t whine much (just constantly and all the time so if it can be summed up in one word, it can’t be all that much). But I began to whine about the heat. It was hot. I know it was a dry heat, but honestly, when the temperature reaches degrees seen on an oven thermostat, it is what everyone would consider “hot”.

Rumors abound, with the Weather Channel saying it was a mere 112⁰ F. For people who have average temperatures instead of failing temperatures, that’s 44.4⁰ C. The car thermometer said it was 117⁰ F which is 47.2⁰ C. I personally registered temps in the 325 to 350⁰ range. It was hot.

Mark and Cathy met us in the parking lot and we gave Cathy back the keys to her own car, Mark drove off in the car they arrived in and we headed off the San Xavier Reservation, home of the Tohono O’odham people.

We headed toward Tucson and food and drink. The drink was becoming more and more important to me and my fellow passengers in the broiling pan sometimes known as “car”. We found a shopping center and hoped to find food. We found shopping and more shopping. I believe the mall ran on for at least an mile and possible for six or seven. Finally, we spotted a restaurant and arrived safely.

As we sat down, we asked for water. It arrived shortly thereafter and we all sucked down the huge class of ice water. We got refills right away and those disappeared, too. We were at the Red Lobster and Pam, Cheri, and I each got a pasta dish while Aunt Babe got fried shrimp and a baked potato. We were too full for dessert.

The gnomes at Red Lobster

We went from there to the outlet mall in Casa Grande. Pam handed me the Garmin to try to find which exit was the appropriate off ramp. I tried any number of ways to find shopping in Casa Grande. None of them worked quite the way I wanted. It finally dawned on me – I had seen a Liz Claiborne at the mall on the way down. Since Casa Grande Outlets didn’t work, I tried putting in an individual store. (We ended up at the Outlets of Casa Grande – computers are so literal.) That did work and we knew where to turn off. This took the better part of ten minutes because I also kept hitting something to make the GPS restart itself.

It was a nice large mall, not quite as long as the Red Lobster mall. We had seen it on our trip down south before. We pulled in and there were almost no cars. There were a few open businesses at the south end and a few more at the north end. More than half of the stores were empty. There was a Wendy’s there and we were already dry again. The three sisters got huge drinks from there and were trying to get un-poached (love you Heather) but were glad there was ice for us for later consumption, too.

Our first stop was at Kitchen Collection. Cheri had already explained to us about crop dusting. It seems a coworker had offered a way to fart with impunity. Being teachers in a room full of students gives one a bit of cache. The kids don’t believe you are capable of such mundane things as flatulence. So, if you need to let one rip, walk up and down aisles and spread the joy. This technique is called crop dusting.

Aunt Babe was standing in the store holding her nose. Cheri asked her if she was crop dusting. We all laughed so hard, we were crying. We would get calmed down a bit and then burst out laughing some more. It seems Aunt Babe was just trying not to sneeze.

Fortunately, two of the remaining businesses were Izod where things were only $8 each (from the sale rack) and I got four bottoms and one top. I then managed to find two bottoms and one top at Liz.

We got back into the oven car. We headed for home but wanted to stop one more place. We wanted a gnome for Aunt Babe. Pam purchased them long ago at Jo-Ann Fabrics. We found a store and searched and searched. There were no more tiny gnomes left. It was very sad.

We stopped at Jen’s house on the way home to show Aunt Babe all the amazing stuff Jen has been doing. Necessity is the mother of invention. Jen has learned carpentry and plumbing as well as finishing work and is now learning how to put up tiles. It is amazing what one can do when one has to.

We kept sucking up the melting ice and getting re-hydrated. It would be less irritating if I didn’t know better. You should never leave the house in Arizona without having water with you. Really. This is a necessity. We got back to the house with empty cups and I made my second gigantic cup of half-caffeine coffee for the day.

Cheri and Aunt Babe looked at a bunch of pictures of Cheri’s family using Facebook as a picture album. Pam went off to grade papers. Pam’s program wasn’t working well and even when forced to behave, the grading is onerous and time consuming. But she, too, will do what needs to be done.

Cheri and I played a couple games of Scattegories. She won the first game – highly disconcerting. Good thing I’m charming and not too competitive.