2022 Annual Skylark Club Meet

42nd Annual ’53-’54 Buick Skylark Club Meet in Tucson, Arizona

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We’re getting the gang together again this April 6th thru 10th, 2022 in Tucson, AZ for our Annual Skylark Club Meet.  That’s right, as a change of pace we are combining the Winter Meet with our Annual Meet to have a blast in the warm weather of Arizona.  The host hotel is the La Quinta Inn & Suites in Tucson.  The hotel is located at 102 N. Alvernon Way, Tucson, AZ 85711.  The hotel direct phone is (520) 795-0330.  You must mention the ’53-’54 Buick Skylark Club to get the special rate of $99/night + $16 taxes.  The rate is good for 3 days before and 3 days after our Club meet.

Tucson is the second largest city in Arizona with over a million people in the metropolitan area, just 116 miles southeast of Phoenix and 69 miles north of the Mexican border.  The city is on an alluvial plain in the Sonoran Desert surrounded by five minor mountain ranges which contribute to the city’s elevation of 2,643 feet above sea level.  Tucson has a hot desert climate with two major seasons, a hot summer and mild winter.  The weather in April, during our meet, will be sunny and dry with highs in the low 80’s and cooler nights.  The University of Arizona is the largest employer along with the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, but many high-tech companies reside in the area.

Tucson was founded as a military fort by the Spanish in 1775 as Presidio San Agustin del Tucson.  Archaeologists have discovered artifacts here of the Paleo-Indians dating back 12,000 years.  In 1853 the United States acquired Tucson along with 29,670 square miles from Mexico under the Gadsden Purchase.  Tucson was the first American city to be designated a “City of Gastronomy”.  The city is well known for its Sonoran-style Mexican food and claims to have created the chimichanga.  The famous Sonoran hot dog wrapped in bacon, grilled, and served on a bolillo-style bun topped with pinto beans, onions, tomatoes, and condiments is a must have culinary treat.  The city is also one of a few locations in the world that can cast enormous, mirrored telescopes around the world and in space. 

The Spanish name Tucson has the meaning of “black hill”, a reference to a basalt-covered hill now known as Sentinel Peak.  The city is often referred to as “The Old Pueblo”.  Tucson has several historic attractions downtown that all include the rich architecture of the southwest, including the Art Deco Fox Theatre designed in 1929, the Radio Theatre opened in 1920, St Augustine Cathedral completed in 1896, and the old Pima County Courthouse designed in 1928.

Ken & Darlene Mitson along with the Ed Battershell & Gloria McNeil, and Ron & Cyndi Carnein are planning a great meet in this beautiful town with its amazing natural beauty.  The schedule has not been finalized, but of the plethora of attractions to see in the area here are a few that are being considered.

It is easy to see that Members will have plenty to see and do at the Annual Meet.  The final schedule will be set and included in the registration form that may be in this newsletter or mailed/emailed to members at a later day.

San Xavier Del Bac Mission – is a national historical landmark.  The mission was founded in 1692 with the present building was completed in 1797 when Southern Arizona was part of New Spain.  The Mission was constructed of low-fire clay brick, stone, and lime mortar.  The Baroque architecture style features dramatic elements.  The building is roofed with masonry vaults which makes it unique among Spanish Colonial Buildings within the U.S.  Little is known about the people who decorated the interior, but it was most likely created by artists from Queretero in Mexico.

Titan Missile Museum – Visitors can journey through time to stand on the front line of the Cold War.  The preserved Titan II missile site, officially known as the complex 571-7, is all that remains of the 54 Titan II missile sites that were on alert across the United States from 1963 to 1987.  Visitors get a rare look at the technology used by the United States to deter a nuclear war.  The museum is one-of-a-kind and is now a National Historic Landmark with a mission to bring Cold War history to life.

Kartchner Caverns – Located in the limestone hills at the eastern base of the Whetstone Mountains the Karchner Caves were discovered in 1974 and kept a secret for more than 14 years.  Since unprotected caves can be damaged by unregulated use, the property owners approached Arizona State Parks to purchase the land and make the caves a state park.  After 10 years of unforeseen challenges in research, planning, construction, mining concerns, and legal issues Kartchner Caverns became a state park on November 5, 1999, and the lower caverns were opened to the public in 2003.

Franklin Auto Museum – is an ever-growing collection of classic automobiles.  Owned by the Franklin Foundation the museum includes many Franklin automobiles.  The Franklin Automobile Company manufactured 150,000 automobiles in Syracuse, NY between 1902 and 1934 with approximately 3,700 remaining today.  Franklin was also known for their aircraft engines.  Renamed Aircooled Motors the engines were very successful in aircraft & helicopters until 1975 and was once owned by the Tucker Car Corporation.  Besides the cars the museum contains an extensive library of Franklin Company research materials, and large collection of native American artifacts, and a historical adobe home.

Pima Air & Space Museum – The concept for the museum began in 1966 when the commanders of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and the Military Aircraft Storage/ Disposition Center realized that historic WW II and 1950’s aircraft were disappearing into smelters.  They decided to park the aircraft along a fence for the local community to view.  The public liked the airplanes but not viewing them from behind a fence, so planning began on a permanent home for the many aircraft.  In 1973 the museum was moved to a 320-acre plot south of the Air Force Base and in 1975 the new museum was opened to the public.  Today the museum consists of multiple hangers containing aircraft, helicopters, and missiles.  One special hanger is devoted to the 390th Bomb Group housing a B-17G Flying Fortress along with a library and extensive collection of artifacts.

Toy Train Operating Museum – This museum is run by a group of toy train enthusiasts who have amassed an extensive collection of classic and vintage trans of various scales.  The museum contains nine operating layouts inside, an outside ridable train, and a real caboose.

Tucson Auto Museum – The museum showcases the very old, the iconic, the sporty, the unique, and more about automobiles.  The museum always has between 50-60 classic autos inside a 20,000+ square foot facility in addition to lots of automobilia from yesteryear.  All the cars are roadworthy and taken to shows regularly. 

Saguaro National Park – Tucson is home to the nation’s largest cacti.  The giant saguaro is the universal symbol of the American west and are protected by Saguaro National Park to the east and west of Tucson.  Together the two parks consist of 92,867 acres with loop drives of 5-8 miles each.  Saguaros grow very slowly, only 1-1.5 inches in their first 8 years.  They don’t flower until they are 35 years of age and only when they reach 50-70 years do they start branches.  The average life span of a Saguaro is 150-175 years.  Besides riding around the park to take in the beautiful countryside both the Rincon Mountain Center and Red Hills Center have exhibits and theaters for visitors.

Colossal Cave Mountain Park – About 300 million years ago much of the American Southwest was covered by a vast sea.  Then 80 million years ago, after the water receded, limestone and granite formed the Rincon Mountains followed by water erosion that created the Colossal Cave.  The cave was discovered in 1879 and later became a valuable site to harvest bat guano.  In 1884 the cave gained notoriety for being the holdout for train robbers who made off with $72,000.  The local sheriff thought he could starve the robbers out by camping at the entrance, but the robbers discovered a rear escape.  After 18 years the lone survivor got out of jail and returned to the cave to unearth bags of money.  Today the mountain park is a favorite of visitors for its scenic wilderness with 2,400 acres, cave tours, historic La Posta Quemada Ranch, trail rides, camping sites, and of the shy gentle species of bats.

Tombstone & Bisbee – Tombstone is known as the most authentic western town left in America.  Known as the “Town Too Tough To Die!” you can walk the streets where Wyatt Earp and his brothers enjoyed the company of Doc Holiday!  Today Tombstone provides a glimpse into the past with historic attractions, many museums, history tours, mine tours, and stagecoach rides.  Bisbee is a city in the Mule Mountains and home of the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum, the Bisbee Restoration Museum, the Queen Mine with underground tours, miners’ homes of Tombstone Canyon, and the grand 19th century Muheim Heritage House.

Reid Park Zoo – The city of Tucson Zoo was established in 1967 on 24 acres of city owned property.  The zoo has over 500 animals from the southwest and around the world that seem to thrive in the clean dry air of Arizona.

Mt Lemmon – At 9,159 feet above sea level, Mt Lemmon is the highest point in the Santa Catalina Mountains in the Coronado National Forest.  The peak was first reached by horse and foot back in 1881.  Today one can drive the N General Hitchcock Hwy to the peak to enjoy spectacular views of the county.  If you visit at night you can stop at the Mt Lemmon SkyCenter which is a world-class observatory with a 32-inch Schulman telescope to explore the universe.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum – The renowned museum sits on 98 acres of pristine desert which showcases the diverse flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert region in an extensive botanical garden.  The museum has two aviaries-one for hummingbirds, wildlife such as coyotes, javelinas, mountain lions, and bighorn sheep in natural habitats.  There are two art galleries and a natural history museum.