What I Love About Tucson

“Like” might be a better word to describe my view of Tucson (The Old Pueblo) because it has taken every second of our 6+ years here to appreciate this part of Southern Arizona. In keeping with my current sunny outlook (me, sunny – snort), I am focusing on the positive aspects of living in a red-neck, gun-toting more conservative state. Actually Tucson is known for being fairly progressive as befitting a university town. That is one of the positives – The U of A.

university of arizonaSome folks would tout the men’s basketball team (NCAA champs 1997). I like the women’s softball history with 8 NCAA championships and 21 appearance in the Women’s College World Series. More important than sports are the cultural events, museums, and jobs that the UA brings to the decent sized community (~1,000,000 in the county).

The environment was what brought us here from the glorious Gulf Coast of Texas (not being sarcastic). The combination of mountains and warmth and amazing biodiversity within short distances is hard to top. We live at 2700′. Behind us are the Catalina mountains at over 9,000′.

catalina mountains

Driving home

Traveling from our green Sonoran desert to the top of Mount Lemmon in 1.5 hours is equivalent to traveling to a Canadian climate zone. We do have the most southern ski area in the U.S., assuming there is snowfall. What about that heat? It is hotter than hell. Despite our average June temp of 101º, step into the shade, add some mist and breeze – ahhh. It really is not that big of deal unless one plans to do heavy outdoor activity May-September. Intense hydration and acclimation are a must. Two healthy adults died in May while hiking this year already. The trade-offs for the heat are the views; the desert critters that surround us (bobcat, coyote, quails, birds, bats, snakes! mountain lions!); amazing greenery year round; eating out doors at Thanksgiving; wearing sandals all year; moaning because 60º feels cold; running in the rain storms; watching lightning dash through the clouds. Our budget has to include bird food and extra water for the irrigation system that keeps our native trees going when nature falls behind.

Along with environmental factors I must include the low pollution (excepting dust storms) because of the emphasis on tech, tourism, and the university. There is little light pollution. The number of observatories on surrounding mountains has resulted in regulation of night lighting. I had forgotten that one could see the Milky Way! Hiking – wanna hike, just go find a canyon or mountain. Trails galore exist for all levels of hikers. Biking – Tucson is one of the top cities for bikers.

Biker riding El Tour de TucsonEl Tour de Tucson is one of the best organized perimeter races in the U.S. – just ask our tourist promoters. Come next November and ride with 9,000 others along a variety of routes. Oh my, how could I forget golfing! There are so many resorts, but the best deals are found at the public courses that are as nice as many resorts in other states.

The population is diverse though the city is very segregated. Over 35% of Tucsonans are Mexican-American, which accounts for our great food! I had to become accustomed to Sonoran style Mexican food after a life of Tex-Mex.

eating Sonoran hot dogs

My family eating Sonoran hot dogs

(We just found a wonderful place where I can eat my “primal-ish” method and top off fajita meat with an outstanding salsa bar assortment.) I thought there would be many Native Americans here – nope. Only 3% of the Tucson population is Native American. The Tohono O’odham Nation and Pascua Yaqui Tribe have the closest reservations, and they do have casinos in town.

Lots of festivals to attend from the largest Gem and Mineral show, semi-annual street fairs that close down half the city (exaggeration), Tucson Meet (Eat) Yourself, Festival of Books, Mariachi Conference – oh, go see the tourist site.

Lastly, we are close to many wonderful places, for instance, the Grand Canyon, Sedona, the White Mountains, Flagstaff. And, yes, there are rivers and lakes in the desert state. Just don’t ask me to discuss regional politics.

grand cabtib

Finally, it’s a pretty quiet town. I hadn’t realized what a big city gal I was until we moved here. A few bars are hopping all night, and I’m certain life nearer the university is more active, but there are not 5,000 restaurants or grocery stores open 24 hours. For this reformed fatty, that’s a really good thing.

16 thoughts on “What I Love About Tucson

  1. I am glad you have found things to love (like) about my city. I do miss my Catalinas, and my Sabino Canyon! And the Desert Museum is one of my favorite places.

    • The Sabino Canyon is so wonderful and so close to our house. I’m looking forward to working up to hiking some of those long trails – in cool weather of course. For now I’ll just ride the tram and stroll around flat ground.

  2. One of my few regrets of my western tour was spending only one day in Tucson. I loved the Desert Museum, and the breath-taking scenery. I hope to visit again someday. (And you’re right, it gets DARK there. I didn’t know why until I read this post! :) )

    • The Desert Museum – how could I forget to mention it! Truly one of the wonderful attractions here; well, kinda west of here. “Y’all come back.” We have room and promise you won’t have to pet sit the critters though they would probably sit all over you.

  3. Wow, you make me want to visit Tucson now! I’ve actually only been to Yuma to visit a friend, and driven through AZ on the 10 between Texas and California. One of these days, we’ll have to be a little more adventurous.

    • Yuma – Date Land! We do get those fabulous fresh dates here. It’s hard to appreciate the beauty of the mountains and desert on I-10. The desert changes from Sonoran (green) to typical West Texas Chihuahuan close to the New Mexico border and turns luscious brown :-)

  4. Your Grand Canyon photo is really beautiful. I’ve always wanted to see the Grand Canyon, but it seems that other trips always take precedence. Hopefully, one day.

    It’s good you can appreciate where you’re living… even if it took you a while.

    • The Grand Canyon is worth the trip. No picture (even professional ones) can do it justice. We are headed to North Rim (much less visited and more rustic) next week.

  5. We’re taking the kids by the canyon on our long trip this summer. Can’t wait to see the looks on their faces. Glad to hear you sounding so upbeat. Take care!

    • Can’t wait to hear about that trip! Let me know if you are anywhere near Tucson (like zooming by on I-10), and maybe you can make a pit stop for coffee or Mexican food.

  6. What a grand ambassador you are for Arizona. I would love to visit Tuscon some day. So many good things to like about where you live.

    • Arizona is a great tourist destination. So many places to visit no matter your interest, unless they run to grand opera. So much history of America’s recent past is still alive. (Real cowboys, real Native Americans.)

  7. I think a college in town always makes the environment better – socially and politically. I can’t imagine living in AZ for those political reasons you won’t discuss, but what I have seen of it (Sedona, Phoenix/resort areas) it is beautiful and the desert is a very special environment.

    • It is beautiful for such a hateful place politically, but most of the folks are extremely nice. There is actually a group that is actively seeking to secede the southern part of AZ as a separate state, calling it Baja Arizona.

  8. I lived in Tucson for two winters back in the 90’s as a travel nurse…I heart Tucson. I lived near Sabino canyon and worked at tucson med ctr. My favorite place to eat Chuys! Faborite thing to do -watch the sunset from the desert floor, watching the bunnies at the edge of my apartment complex parking lot, and looking at the stars.

    • Thanks for sharing your Tucson memories! Chuy’s on Wilmost went defunct for some reason :-( We have met plenty of traveling nurses on our travels RV’ing and when we first lived here in an RV park waiting to buy a house. Still lots of opportunities!

Comments are closed.