I’ve been to the Southwest two times in my life, and both visits were made during the colder months (in November for this trip, and in April a few years ago). The weather in the colder months must be why people move to these places: it’s just about perfect. The winter mornings are crisp and cool, the afternoons warm up, and then the cold creeps back after the sun’s slipped away. We were in Tucson and the Grand Canyon last week, and got just enough of sunny warmth and icy cold shade to make us happy, happy people indeed. There was also some good beer and food involved, which is guaranteed to make us very happy people. Here’s a post about the Tucson portion of our trip, which will be followed by a post about the Grand Canyon portion, and then a third about soups inspired by our trip. Take a look at the pictures below, check out some of the links, and start dreaming of a winter visit to Arizona …
I fell in love with the Sonoran desert pretty much at first sight, and I’d go back for a winter visit at the drop of a hat. There are trails to hike, farmer’s markets and the Native Seeds/SEARCH retail outlet to visit, a museum to explore, one fabulous food truck to revisit and others to discover. Before the next visit I’ll order a current issue of the local Edible Communities magazine (edible Baja Arizona) and plan the visit accordingly (we were insufficiently briefed for this trip). Also, next time we’ll spend far less time in Tucson proper, and more time in the smaller Sonoran dessert communities (like Bisbee).
While there are many wonderful places to visit in Tucson, on this trip we visited just about none of them. We’re like that sometimes. Here are the things we did do in Tucson:
The Mister shot at the 10th Annual Autumn Grand, held at the Tucson Trap and Skeet Club. The shoot was very well run, the shooters were pretty darn good, and the Mister recognized folks from other shoots he’s attended (as well as a few folks from his local club here in the Bay Area). There’s’ a great feeling of community at these events. I sat in the sun and worked on a few projects: I finished knitting a shawl, but I still don’t have all of the flowers finished for my fall-themed wreath. We both had a lovely time at the shoot, if for very different reasons, and thus is domestic harmony maintained …
- We saw a roadrunner run across the road on the way to the trap club. We saw a hawk catch and eat a pigeon in town. We heard coyotes singing one night by the hotel (which was right next to the Tucson airport). We saw a lizard sunning itself on a rock. We saw countless washes and dry rivers, but none with any water.
I decide that the palo verde is my favorite tree, and I wondered if I could knit a saguaro cactus (brioche rib stitch ought to do the trick). The Mister had a cholla burr catch a ride back to our hotel room on his shoe. We saw saguaro ribs jutting up like bizarre IKEA branch-like sculptures.
- We drove up to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum one afternoon – the hummingbird aviary at the museum is said to be quite marvelous. But alas, we arrived too late to get into the museum. The scenery along the road as we drove and the view from the museum’s parking lot were beautiful, though, and the food truck (El Semental) that we found en route made the drive worth the effort. I actually did a little happy dance when we walked up to the truck to order. Oooooh, Sonoran food how I love you so!
On our last day in town we drove back up to the Desert Museum and kept driving until we got to the visitor’s center at Saguaro National Park (on the west side park). We had enough time to check out the center’s exhibits and then go on a short walk. We took our cameras with us for the walk and took many, many pictures of saguaros. Saguaros are very photogenic, you see. Also, we took pictures of fish hook cacti and palo verde trees (small trees, large trees, nursery trees sheltering saguaros). We stepped very carefully around the cholla cacti (which we photographed, too). On the way back to the hotel, we stopped for another flipping fabulous dinner at the El Semental food truck.
On our first day in town, we drove around Tucson. It took us about six hours of frustration before we became (reasonably) confident about our navigating skills. Let’s be frank: Tucson is a nightmare to drive in. While there are many, many, many wonderful places to visit in Tucson, none of them are in the same neighborhood. The town sprawls across the valley floor, so it takes at least 20 minutes to drive from one district to another. There’s a great cafe in one neighborhood, a museum in another, a neat shop in a third district and another in a different district, and so on and so forth. Also, Tucsonians have no fear when they drive. Oh. My. Goodness. That being said, when we finally got our bearings we discovered that Tucson’s older neighborhoods have marvelous homes, and that there are hipster foodies opening up beer joints and hip coffee joints all over town. We wandered around and took pictures and ate and drank, and all was well.
Whew! That’s it for this post. My next post will tell of the glories of the Grand Canyon, and the following post will be about soups inspired by our recent trip to the Southwest. Take care, my pets. I’m off to join the Bad Movie Posse this evening – we’ll drink some beer and then go watch the second Thor movie. What fun!