Tucson

 

Well I had high hopes of posting everyday on this trip but unlike a cruise, there is no real downtime. If we aren’t touring, then I am driving. When we go on a cruise, the captain drives and I have time to post. Evenings have been full of just downloading and processing photos so those get taken up as well.

Today we are in Sedona and I don’t have anything to do while a wonderful young lady cleans our room. Got a bunch of photos processed and now I can tell you about our adventures in Tucson, where we spent three days.

We got down to Tucson just before noon and met up with Lee who used to live in our condo complex in Redmond. He and I were on the condo board together for a few years. He sold his place about three years ago and moved down here where he bought a beautiful home. We stopped and saw his place and then we were off to lunch with him at a great restaurant called Wildflowers. It’s one of a big conglomerate of unique restaurants that started in Tucson and now stretches all over the place. I did a link to the restaurants because during our stay we would end up eating at three of them and they were all outstanding…and fun. You should check and see if they have one of them near you.

_8100103After lunch we headed into our Tucson AirBnB (I need to do an entire post on why we are now using AirBnBs most of the time) which was in the University district of Tucson. It was a very funky, cool, bungalow and it was huge. One of the best parts of AirBnBs is that you get an entire place for a great price. So we had a living room, dining room, almost gourmet kitchen, TV room, bedroom and bathroom for a lot less than the price of a hotel.

I covered the rest of that day in my last post which you can read here if you like so on to the next morning. Our good friends Bob and Judy from Chilliwack, BC headed down the next morning to meet us and then we were going to take a long “tootle” as Bob calls it (a nice long drive) to Tombstone and Bisbee even further south in Arizona. Bob and Judy arrived around 10:00, we swapped cars and headed south.

_8109956Had a great drive and a great time yakking away at each other for most of it. Just about every topic in the world comes up when the four of us are together. It took us about 90 minutes and we arrived in historic Tombstone, home of the OK Corral. Bob had been there a few years back (I think he said 1984) and back then then did fake gunfights out in the streets. Today they do them all either indoors or in outside areas that you have to pay to see them. I am sure this is because of two things. First to make some money on them them and second because of the proliferation of mass shootings around the world. The idea of having everyone in town shooting at each other is not really a good one.

It was cool and very windy so we decided we weren’t going to stay very long. We had lunch and walked around a little as well as doing a little shopping before we headed further south to Bisbee, a cute little copper mining town and scene of an entire series of books by JA Jance that came up a bunch that day. I just wanted to see all the places I had been reading about for years. Got to take some pics, we stopped at an old copper mine and then headed back by way of Sierra Vista (also in the books).

After a quick stop to get refreshed at our place, we were back out looking for Barrio Historico in downtown Tucson. We didn’t have a clear idea of where it was because the books and websites we had read about it only gave us streets that bordered it, not really great directions. You can’t put a street without a number in your GPS. After driving all over the place and never finding what we were after, we gave up and headed for dinner at another of the restaurants that was part of the Wildflower family, Culinary Dropout. Totally different than Wildflowers in a big way and totally cool. Had a great meal before heading home and sending Bob and Judy off on their way to a hotel and then the next morning, back to Sun City where they are staying with friends.

Our Saturday started with me taking a long walk around the University of Arizona. It reminded me of my walks around Oregon State in Corvallis or Auburn University in Alabama in that it is a actual campus, with a gate and an entrance. It has spread outside of the original place but it still feels like a “real” college as opposed to a commuter school like the one I went to (Cal State Fullerton).

Around 10:00 Kathleen and I decided to take a stab at finding Barrio Historico again because we wanted to see some of the doors we have photographs of in our home. If you have ever visited us, you know that we are cuckoo for door photos (we have almost 50 hanging in our place) and some of them came from this famous barrio. This time we found it and spent about an hour driving through and taking door, window and gate shots. Some of them will be in my Flickr feed later on. My favorite is in the group a the top.

IMG_1645At 11:30 we met my old high school friend Randy again for lunch at her son’s restaurant, Reilly’s Pizza. (That’s her with us at right.) If you are ever in Tucson, it’s right downtown in an old, completely refurbished mortuary. The food is amazing as is the decor and service. Of course it helps if you are eating with the bosses Mom. We had eaten there four years before (to the very day) and had a wonderful lunch and the food was still just as amazing. Truly with a visit to downtown.

After lunch Randy took us to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum high in the hills west of the city. It’s much more than a museum and definitely worth the 30 minute drive and admission price. Not only is it a museum, it is also a zoo, aquarium and more featuring desert animals, fish and birds. We spent almost two hours roaming the grounds and of course with me taking pictures. I have included a few above and the rest are (or will soon be) on my Flickr feed (at right). After a wonderful day with Randy, she headed off to meet her husband for a business dinner and we went to our third restaurant related to Wildflowers, Blanco way up in the foothills above Tucson. Great food, atmosphere and service one more time. The Fox Concept Restaurants are outstanding and we will look for them again as we travel. Guessing we will get to try both of them in San Diego on our next trip down.

And that concludes day two and three in Tucson, the next morning we were up early and headed to Sedona on the backroads with a stop at Biosphere 2. More about that later.

 

In Arizona waiting for warmth.

As I mentioned last week, we are in Arizona for some sun and some warmth. Well, we have the sun. The sky is blue without a cloud but when I went to walk this morning, it was below freezing. Having only packed shorts and short-sleeved shirts to walk in, that’s just too cold. If I was at home, no problem. Just put on some sweats and off I go.

So far though many parts of this trip have been superb. We are doing the first two segments of this three-city trip in AirBnBs. We started using those in 2017 and have had pretty good luck so far. Only one was just so-so (needed a good cleaning) but we have since done at least 10 and they are a super value and in many cases, better than hotels. The place in Phoenix where we spent the first two nights of this trip is a great example. You can see it by clicking here. We would highly recommend it for two-four people. It’s a really nice condo that is centrally located. The host was outstanding and super responsive. We would stay there again in an instant.

Our stay in Phoenix included meeting up with our best buddies from BC, and then visiting and having lunch with some old mutual cruising friends. After that we took in a nighttime Mariner’s spring training game which was so cold and windy we barely lasted three innings. Just sad. We originally were thrilled it was a night game because we had sweltered in the hot AZ sun at previous games but we were longing for some of that heat by the end of the second inning.

Yesterday we moved down to Tucson. Stopped on the way to have lunch with an old neighbor who had served on our condo board in Redmond with me in the past and then we checked into our Tucson AirBnB where I am sitting and typing this while we wait for the BC crowd to get down here from Phoenix so we can tootle off to Tombstone and Bisbee. This AirBnB is a very quaint bungalow with lots of really cool features. It’s older than the condo in Phoenix but so far, we really like it. You can see that one by clicking here.

After we had checked in (that means getting a key out of a lock box) and dropped our luggage we headed out to tour the Tucson Botanical Gardens. A very cool place with lots of cacti as well as a really nice butterfly house. Spent about an hour there and it almost warmed up while we were inside. Luckily the butterfly house is kept at a constant 88% humidity and about 85 degrees. So we warmed up for a few minutes.

After a quick return and a change of clothes we were out to dinner to meet my best friend from high school, Randy. She and I have known each other since sometime in elementary school and no matter how often I see her, it’s just like we are back in the old times. Kathleen did her best to not be bored while we talked about this person or that person that she had never heard of. Randy took us to El Charro Mexican Restaurant which is a Tucson landmark. Kind of the king of Mexican restaurants in a town full of great Mexican food. It was quite the place and the food was superb. My only problem was the noise level and hearing Kathleen or Randy half the time.

We are meeting Randy again on Saturday at her son’s pizza place where we had the world’s greatest Brussel’s sprouts the last time we were here. Can’t wait to have them again. Then we are heading to the Desert Museum (which we are told is so much more than a museum.) I’ll give you a report tomorrow.

PS: If you would like to see more pictures, check out my Flickr feed at right.

Just a quick heads up

IMG_4095Starting on Tuesday, you will be seeing a lot of posting on this site as we are off on a one-week trip to Arizona. No, we aren’t there yet. The photo above is from our 2015 trip which is the last time we were there.

We fly out around noon from Paine Field in Everett, WA. This is remarkable because this is only the second week that this airport has been open for commercial flights. Previously it was just used by private aircraft and Boeing as it’s the site of the world’s largest building where they manufacture the Boeing 787, 777, 767 and 747. Pretty much all of Boeing’s aircraft other than the 737 which is made in Renton.

As we tour Arizona, I will be trying to post every night with a little bit about what we are doing and how we are enjoying the traveling. We will be in Phoenix Tuesday and Wednesday, Tucson on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and Sedona, Sunday and Monday. We fly back a week from Tuesday.

So, watch for my updates. No cruises this time. Just a great little road trip around the southwest.