I almost didn’t go on this trip.
I was going to go while B was in airline training but his schedule kept getting messed with for factors out of his control and it ended up that he was going to have a few days off while I was planned to be out of town. Thankfully, since I was driving, we just decided to have him fly down to meet me on his off days and swap out clean clothes and extra pills/vitamins that way.
(Plus I felt a little less guilty taking a trip by myself without him. It’s been a looooong time since I’ve done a vacation without my adventure buddy …)
Thursday, January 21
I left pretty early on the 21st with the goal of getting to Flagstaff for the night.
The day took longer than expected … partially because I screwed around a bit more than I thought I did at my stops. Like in Grand Junction where I deviated off the beaten path for some doughnuts.
I also stopped in Moab for lunch and to get some crystals at the Moab Rock Shop which is one of the best around.
However, I did eventually roll into Flagstaff … where I proceeded to need to get some personal work done, check up on stuff, and help out a friend in grad school with some editing.
Food eaten: egg and oj, Starbucks, Main Street Bakery doughnuts/gas station coffee, bagel sandwich at Sweet Cravings Bistro, car snacks cobbled together for dinner.
Friday, January 22
I did not sleep well that night, but I was still out the door of the hotel in Flagstaff pretty early in order to hit Sedona and hike a bit. The ideal thing would have been to catch the sunrise, but a winter storm was rolling in so that didn’t quite happen.
The drive down 89A through Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona was just as awesome as it was in May – almost more so with the fog and mist.
The first mini hike in Sedona was to one of the energy vortices at Airport Mesa. Not sure if I felt the energy, but the views were pretty awesome.
The next hike I got to right after the trailhead opened – because I needed to – was to the Seven Sacred Pools. The hike probably would have been better a few days later after Sedona got all the snow and moisture that they did, but eh. It was still magical.
Definitely would love to come back and see it again and possibly hike even further.
Since I had goals of doing some stuff in Tucson that afternoon, I didn’t hang around the extra 20-40 minutes for most of the shops in Sedona to open. I had thought I’d be going back that way in a few days, but alas …
The signs that the aforementioned winter storm was coming started in the mountains on the drive down 17 to Phoenix. Intermittent rain and heavy fog that made visibility very very low. Stopped in Tempe for lunch and then continued on down to Tucson. I made a quick stop in the north side Bookman’s to drop off some stuff and then checked out a metaphysical store (that had a terrible selection of very over-priced crystals). I got to the hotel – tried out the Hotel McCoy – a little early, but thankfully, they were able to check me in regardless.
I had every intention of going for a run and/or a ride … but instead, I was just pretty lazy. I was on vacation, after all. I did check out more of the murals though.
The very cool pool. I didn’t go in though.
Dinner was at my apparent new Tucson staple, Cafe Santa Rosa, for another delicious frybread taco.
Food eaten: Starbucks, mini chocolate donettes from the hotel, Mad Greens wrap, Cafe Santa Rosa frybread taco.
Saturday, January 23
Woke up decently early and actually did get out on my bike – the Hotel McCoy is pretty close to the Tucson Loop trail so it made it easy. I definitely didn’t ride nearly as far or as long as I had hoped, but eh. I rode.
Got back to the hotel, showered, and then went off to explore. I finally checked out the MSA Annex and the Mercado San Agustin (since it was closed due to COVID on my trips last year).
MSA Annex. Made up of old shipping containers.
Inside Why I Love Where I Live. I bought stickers.
La Estrella Bakery in the MSA. This was only half of their case.
Clockwise from top left: concha, some custard-filled something, apple empanada, mini glazed doughnut. All delicious and cost me less than $4.
I got back in the car and started exploring (after a stop at the best Starbucks ever (nicest baristas ever) at Broadway and Randolph). Checked out a few rock shops – AZ Lapidary and Gem Rough, Ninth House (more metaphysical/witchy than rock, but eh), and Dah Rock Shop (the best). I explored Fourth Avenue a bit more and got some local books at Antigone Books (one on the Saguaro cactus and another on the Tohono O’odham people).
I found a Gila monster sculpture.
And of course went to eegee’s.
In the ice area/what would be the workout room at the hotel.
I had hoped to go to El Torero for dinner – only place to try the supposed best green corn tamal in Tucson (Lerua’s) – but they still weren’t doing dine in, despite what Google was telling me. Since the hotel had a food truck on site, I had some sliders from there (that were actually really delicious) and then went to Casa Molina for a tamal and a cheese crisp. I also missed the sunset. Dangit.
Food eaten: oatmeal and breakfast tamale at the hotel, La Estrella Bakery pastries, Starbucks, eegee’s, Stacks food truck, Casa Molina del Norte.
Sunday, January 24
The initial goal for the day was to wake up early and get a trail run done on the Saguaro Half Marathon course (… a race which looks like it’ll still go on in March …), but it was pouring outside and it’s not wise to run trails in that condition due to potential erosion.
Any other thoughts I had for the morning got thrown out as I helped out a friend on a 2.5 hour phone call (which I don’t regret AT ALL). It did, however, leave me with just enough time to get packed/checked out and then grab coffee before I got to pick up B from the airport. We grabbed some eegee’s at our favorite Alvernon location (who happily still had some retro stickers left too) before winding our way up north to the Hilton El Conquistador. Which is WAY on the north side.
B in the rain.
We waited for a small break in the weather to head over to Catalina State Park for a hike. I’d wanted to check the park out for a while but it’s never worked out. Since we were staying like five miles away, why not?
We did a short hike, but it was amazing. We got to see the resiliency of the plant life after the fires that ravaged the area this past summer. And some snow in the hills.
We went back to the hotel to shower and then FINALLY checked out El Charro Cafe (and the downtown location since everyone always suggests that location).
Not the best cheese crisp, not the worst.
Enchiladas. They weren’t bad. IIRC, B liked his fajitas.
Thought I was ordering a green corn tamal. This is not a green corn. I don’t know what this was. It was not good.
Overall, we enjoyed it. Service was a little slow and I’m not sure we’d go back, but we’re glad we finally tried it.
Food eaten: room service oatmeal, Starbucks, eegee’s, El Charro Cafe.
Monday, January 25
We woke up Monday and left the hotel for some breakfast at a little local place near the hotel on the north side, the Village Bakehouse.
They weren’t bad and we had some good conversation with one of the employees. From there, we grabbed some Starbucks and then went back to the hotel so B could pack up. We stopped at the MSA again so B could experience the awesomeness that is La Estrella Bakery.
In the MSA. Currently closed, but I loved this mural.
Cappuccino from Presta.
Coffee with more pastries.
I dropped off B at the airport and then headed off to explore more – all fruitless endeavors (Bookman’s, gem warehouses). I tried a late lunch/early dinner at La Parrilla Suiza, which friends of ours had recommended … and it was HORRIBLE.
Well, this was at least super cheesy …
Terrible enchiladas and the worst green corn tamal EVER.
I had some work stuff to do that evening so I just spent the rest of the day at the hotel getting packed and then work in hopes of leaving the next day.
Food eaten: Village Bakehouse, Starbucks, Presta Coffee Roasters, La Estrella Bakery, La Parrilla Suiza.
Tuesday, January 26
In theory, I was supposed to get on the road this day. However, that winter storm? Yeahhhhh, it was all over Arizona. I couldn’t go the northern route (like how I came in) since half the roads were closed. 10 east to New Mexico was terrible. Half of New Mexico and parts of Colorado? All terrible. I spent time stressing out with B on the phone very early that morning before we finally decided to just get me a hotel on the far eastern side of town that night and I’d drive all day Wednesday home through New Mexico.
That decision made, I went to go back to sleep for an hour and slept three. Oops.
Once I finally got back up, I packed up the car and left the hotel. I drove down to breakfast (I had free hashbrowns at Waffle House that I wanted to redeem) and into floofy snow flakes.
YES. SNOW IN TUCSON.
View from the hotel that morning. Most of the stuff in the city had melted before I got a chance to really get a good photo.
I think the last time I personally experienced actual snow in Tucson was in like 1989 when we woke to a white Christmas and snow-dusted saguaros. I know it snowed two or three years ago, too. But still. WEIRD.
After food, I tried going back to Dah Rock Shop, but alas, they were randomly closed that Tuesday. Next stop was another new Tucson thing in the De Grazia Gallery in the Sun. Both my grandma and my Auntie Sister knew Ted De Grazia back in the day and the family has some of his original work, so it was cool to see.
From there, I decided I wanted to get out and explore a little in the desert, so it was off to Sabino Canyon.
Puddles on the trail.
I did another late lunch/early dinner after that, but this time, at Choice Greens since I desperately needed some greens in my life. From there, it was all the way down Speedway to Saguaro National Park East (with a detour at a grocery store for some road snacks/veggies and some gas) to hopefully catch a sunset.
Not the best; certainly not the worst.
Then, off to the hotel to check in, get in a quick workout, and then an early bedtime to get on the road stupid early …
Food eaten: Waffle House, Starbucks, Choice Greens.
Wednesday, January 27
I was on the road around 4am and then proceeded to have probably the most uneventful, quietest, and most efficient drive home through New Mexico in the history of ever.
Which is good.
I did make a small detour when I got to the Springs into Manitou Springs to check out a rock shop, but other than that … easy peasy.
Food eaten: random snacks from the car and various gas stations, Chick-fil-a, food at home.