A Week in the Desert

This past Monday was the final official travel day for the “Spamalot” tour! Because we have a lay-off coming up next week everyone will be coming in to Costa Mesa from different places, so the travel to Tucson was the last time we were all (for the most part) traveling together. It was sort of bittersweet, actually, as much as I hate the air travel and airports and the hassle of travel day. You couldn’t ask for a better-natured group of people to travel with. We always have a lot of fun, even in the most tedious of travel days.

Vanessa Sonon at the airport

Vanessa Sonon at the airport

We arrived in Tucson late in the afternoon on Monday – I picked up my rental car and headed downtown to my rental apartment in the Armory District. It is an old apartment building – built in 1903 when everything in that area was military housing. It is charmingly decorated and bright and cheery. I have been very happy there this week – so much better than staying in a hotel! Tallulah has slowly been getting used to not having her LA patio. She has been very happy lounging in the sun room and has not been crying at the front door (like she did in San Diego).

Tucson living room

Tucson living room

Tucson bedroom

Tucson bedroom

I really didn’t do anything on Monday evening except go to the grocery store. I was so tired after the travel day that I crashed early. Tuesday was load-in. The theater, the Tucson Music Hall, is part of the big convention center, which is conveniently located only a couple of blocks from my apartment. The theater is spacious enough, although the dressing room space is quite cramped. There’s not much theatrical work in Tucson so our local crew has been quite a mixed bag. There were a few melt-downs during the opening night performance, and our two local prop guys still have not learned their cues (as I type this on the day of our closing performance), but otherwise the shows have been smooth and uneventful. This marks Christopher Gurr’s final week as King Arthur (he has been filling in for John O’Hurley who has been on hiatus from us for the past three weeks. He rejoins the show in Costa Mesa) – Christopher has played Bedevere since the tour started and has been covering the King all that time as well. We are extremely lucky to have had such a strong, dependable cover who has stepped in for many a vacationing or ailing King.

We had a little opening night party next door at the Hotel Arizona. The flyer for the party reported that there would be “heavy hors d’oeuvres”, so you can imagine the surprise and delight when we discovered that full-on turkey legs were provided. It was hilarious watching everyone gnaw the meat off the bones – all decorum just went right out the window.

On Wednesday I walked around downtown for a bit and took some photos. I love the Southwestern architecture, especially against the blue, blue desert skies. I followed the Turquoise trail for a while, which runs by many of the landmarks downtown. I saw the St. Augustine Cathedral and the Presidio – then I headed over to 4th Avenue, which is just south of the University of Arizona campus and is filled with funky shops and restaurants. I had lunch at a little cafe, and then went over to the college campus to the Center for Creative Photography, to see a Robert Mapplethorpe portrait exhibit (which was very good).

St. Augustine Cathedral

St. Augustine Cathedral

The Presidio

The Presidio

On Thursday I got up early and drove out to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, which was kind of a mix between a botanical garden and a zoo. I was pretty awestruck as I drove out of the city into the hills, at the shear number of Saguaro cacti everywhere. They are so alien! And they are just everywhere – hundreds and hundreds of them. I enjoyed walking around the Desert Museum, seeing all the animals and plants, and just taking in the very different and unique environment. After that, I drove south to the San Xavier Reservation and visited the San Xavier del Bac Mission. The mission is such a beautiful, beautiful building – and the whiteness of it against the blue sky made for some very dramatic photographs.

Saguaro cacti at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Saguaro cacti at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Flowers at the Desert Museum

Flowers at the Desert Museum

Saguaros

Saguaros

San Xavier del Bac Mission

San Xavier del Bac Mission

Chapel

Chapel

In the chapel at San Xavier del Bac Misson

In the chapel at San Xavier del Bac Misson

On Friday I picked up Suzanne at 8am and we drove out to Saguaro National Monument for some hiking before it got too hot (Ha! It was still 90 degrees!). We did a five mile round trip hike to Bridal Falls, which were, of course, dried up – but it was still a beautiful hike and we saw some jack rabbits and deer.

Taking a break with Suzanne at the base of dried up Bridal Falls

Taking a break with Suzanne at the base of dried up Bridal Falls

That afternoon we met up with all the girls on the tour for a goodbye lunch for Jen Mathie, one of our ensemble ladies who is leaving at the end of the week to go to India to study yoga. It was so nice to spend the afternoon with such an amazing group of women – I will miss them all when the tour is over.

Jen's goodbye lunch

Jen's goodbye lunch

On Saturday between shows I drove to the airport and picked up Ryan who flew in to hang out with me for our lay-off next week. We went out to dinner and then Ryan came and joined me after the evening show for Shot Night. He is off today on a rental Harley-Davidson to explore the area. We leave Monday for Sedona, where we are spending two nights, then we meet up with Suzanne on Wednesday at the Grand Canyon for a few days. Then we go to Las Vegas for the weekend. Should be fun! Its my last “vacation” before the tour is over and I have to tighten up on the spending 🙂

It was a great week here in Tucson – I looked at the calendar last week and realized that this is my first “new” city in four months (and my last of the tour) – all the places we have been since Spokane have been familiar to me. It was so nice to get back to a new place and feel the excitement of getting to explore again. It sounds weird, but Tucson reminded me a lot of Anchorage in a way – except of course it is the desert as opposed to tundra. It is a city in the middle of the frontier though, and you don’t have to drive very far to get to the wilderness. I think the heat would kill me if I lived here, but it is definitely beautiful country and I really enjoyed my week here.

So, onto my lay-off adventures, and then my final city of the “Spamalot” tour – Costa Mesa! I can’t believe after three years that it is all ending. I wonder what my next adventure will be?

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