I had intended to attend several seminars and demonstrations offered by the AGTA and USFG. But I pretty much failed. It seemed I was always at the wrong place immersed in something else when it came time for the interesting seminars. I did make it over to the USFG a couple times, but did not stay long in either case. I wish the location used by the USFG for its symposium (OPLC) was not so far away from everything else since it runs the same days at the AGTA and GJX shows.
People and Places
One of this year’s highlights was the GO dinner meet up at the El Charro. The group was smaller than the past few times I attended so we were placed in a small room by ourselves. The situation was perfect — everyone could hear about the finds that had been made in the course of the shows as well as listening to some tall tales of other gem adventures.
Part of the magic of Tucson is that it brings together so many people with common interests. Folks who had been only names in an online forum or mentioned as experts in various articles are there and most often share their expertise. Business relationships develop with dealers and new friends are made. It is also fun to unexpectedly meet up with others from home while wandering through the shows. I’ve almost come to expect meeting up with one of our local jewelers at AGTA — only this time it was at GJX. Another surprise this year was to hear someone saying hello to me in one of the Pueblo dealer rooms — another SLO area person that I had not seen in years.
It took several days before I finally got to the point of doing an early morning hike around the paved loop at Sentinel Peak (“A” mountain). The first was a day where I needed to scrape the frost off the car windows to see where I was going. I was glad that I had gloves and appropriate clothing for the chill. From the highest part, one gets a terrific view of Tucson. The scale and number of the freeway show tents is impressive. I tried to take a lot of photos of the city and show area as well as the sunrise (unlike previous years where I seemed to be focused on the cactus).
The other two mornings I managed to do the walk were warmer — but still more than cool enough for me to appreciate gloves. Only a few others were out walking that early.
This time I noticed more how the gem and mineral shows seemed to overwhelm the resources in Tucson. Along the freeway area, there was a definite shortage of places to eat (other than food trucks at the shows.) A google map search for restaurants had nearly all its suggestions greater than 4 miles away. The hotels hosting the shows were showing their age and at least two in that area seemed to be closed.
As I drove around town, I found myself amused by some of the traffic engineering decisions. Or annoyed by them as in the case where I was heading for the freeway needing to go in a direction to my right only to discover too late that the freeway entrance on that side of the road was going the other way and I should have been in the left lane for the direction I wanted. (Not sure if it was north and south or east and west.) Another one was the traffic “circles” that were created by digging up the middle of an intersection. These were typically combined with speed bumps halfway between intersections.
The freeway entrance and exit ramps tended to be very long. That should have made things a lot easier for drivers — except that the distance provided to merge into traffic was way short. This also applied to merging on to the appropriate lanes of the frontage roads when exiting the freeway. If you needed to make a right turn at the next intersection, you might need to cross two or three lanes very quickly.
Instead of a sign at an interesting with a one way street saying “right turn only”, I noticed that they had “Do Not Enter” signs placed where they would only be seen after the driver turned heading the wrong way into the street.
My favorite oddity were the intersections of two major streets where instead of a normal left turn lane and signal, the drivers had to go past the intersection to a U-Turn spot and then cross two lanes of traffic to make a right turn. And I thought New Jersey’ jug handle approach to left turns was odd.
And finally, the car hurdles (speed bumps) at the Tucson airport were some of the biggest I have encountered. Slow down all you want, but it will still be a big bounce as you drive over them.
The ratio of chairs to tables at the 22nd street show food court continues to puzzle me. This is not a new situation. In 2018, when my lunch was finally ready at the food truck, there was lots of table space, but no free chairs. Why so few chairs?