“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.
Some 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′.
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.
El 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.
(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 and 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.
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.