Tucson Spring 2017

If that “live where you vacation” thing is accurate, we’re probably going to end up moving to Tucson at some point. Probably when we’re old. When we can handle the 100+ degree temperatures in the summer. Probably. Maybe.

This trip was originally hopefully going to be in early May and comprise of a training camp, but then we kind of took a month off of training and we realized the May dates weren’t going to work but we still really wanted to go and long story short … we went in early April, instead, when we were originally in theory supposed to be in Chicago for the Frozen Four.

I think we were both happier in the desert sunshine as opposed to the rainy Midwest.

Tuesday, April 4:

We knew it was probably going to snow the day we headed out of town, but we didn’t realize it was as bad as it ended up being. I’m pretty sure the storm I was supposed to hit on the first driving back from Albuquerque got delayed and combined into this one. That meant that the three hours it normally takes to get across the border into New Mexico? Took over five. Walsenberg to Trinidad should take maybe a half-hour. It took us double that.

From home to probably just before Santa Fe, N.M., we were driving through snow and ice. Southern Colorado after Colorado Springs through the border was us going 20 to 25 miles per hour (35 if we got lucky), seeing multiple cars off the side of the road, seeing a car spin out in front of us heading up Raton Pass, feeling us fishtail at one point.

All in all, it meant a good seven hours of white-knuckle driving. It was TERRIBLE.

4-4drive
Front of my car. Photo taken in Las Vegas, N.M., where it was thankfully just rainy.

We rolled into Tucson right around 8pm Tucson time so really 9pm our time. A 12.5 hour drive (usually) turned into a 17 hour drive.

Wednesday, April 5:

We were staying at the Hilton Tucson East, more on the southern (and obviously eastern) end of town.

Wednesday was actually fairly chill, just driving around and exploring. We stopped somewhere if we felt like stopping – like at the La Encantada shopping center – but it was mostly just enjoying the fact that we were finally on vacation.

We went for a short bike ride that afternoon and played some cards by the pool, but all in all, it was a very chill, agenda-free day.

Thursday, April 6:

Thursday was an earlier wake up call due to where we wanted to hit breakfast (food post coming later this week) and then we went trail running up at Sabino Canyon.

4-6hike4

After the run, we went back to the hotel to shower and then went off to Tohono Chul Park to go look at cactus and use our botanic garden reciprocity. Because we like “free.”

4-6tohono12

It was awesome and peaceful, just like any good botanic garden should be. We explored almost all of it, except for one of the longer trails because we were both getting hungry at that point.

4-6tohono
Crested saguaro! With a face!

4-6tohono3
Tucson life goals: see a blooming saguaro done!

4-6tohono7
Gorgeous blooms.

4-6tohono9
Accurate.

We hit lunch and then were so stuffed from lunch that we spent a super lazy afternoon flopped at the hotel. Dinner really ended up not being a thing that night.

We did venture back out to Sabino Canyon to try to get my elusive sunset shot, but once again … fail. I finally did my version of one of B’s standard photos, though.

4-6sabino2

Friday, April 7:

Friday morning saw us head to Saguaro National Park where we ended up purchasing the annual national parks and federal recreational lands pass. Since I’m quitting and we normally try to get a Rocky Mountain National Park pass, we figured the nationwide pass was a smart idea. As long as we do five more visits to parks/rec lands (easy as we need to hike a lot this summer), it’ll pay for itself. Seemed like a no-brainer.

We went to Saguaro mostly to hike around. And obviously take pictures.

4-7snp
B and saguaro.

4-7snp3
Dinosaur perspective.

4-7snp5
“These are my people.”

4-7snp6
Hehe, it’s wavy.

4-7snp8
Dead saguaro.

4-7snp11
Desert.

4-7snp12
All the blooming ocotillos were stunning.

On the drive back … Tucson life goals: see a gila monster in the wild done! Almost ran the little bugger over with my car so unfortunately couldn’t get a picture.

We hit up lunch after Saguaro and that afternoon, met up to shop at SMASH HQ so I could try on some things before I bought them. Plus lots of time spent chatting with Hillary and Maik is never bad.

Dinner that night and then a way less stressful drive home on Saturday.

Arizona Trip, November 2016

Way back at the end of November, I road-tripped down to Arizona. This was ostensibly to volunteer at IRONMAN Arizona, but I also spent a few days in Tucson at either end, because why not.

Thursday, November 17:

The drive. Very long, very windy day. Worst gas mileage I have ever gotten.

11-17drive2
Sunset.

Friday, November 18:

11-18hotel2
Dinosaurs at the hotel. Stayed at the Comfort Suites at Sabino Canyon.

11-18car
I may have killed many tumbleweeds the day prior … My car still had one in its jaws.

11-18tucson
I wandered the Fourth Street District a bit, trying something new in Tucson. I came across this guy, a remnant of the ancient old Magic Carpet Golf mini golf course, i.e. the best mini golf EVER. R.I.P.

11-18tucson2
Lunch was all-you-can-eat sushi at Sushi Garden. I technically should have been charged for some of my food, as I didn’t quite finish it, but the waitress was awesome and let me slide. Much appreciated!

11-18saguaro3
I spent a bit of time that evening trying to get the elusive awesome sunset saguaro shot. As you can see, I didn’t quite get there. Someday …

11-18saguaro4
I am so thankful that I can, because I know so many people who just don’t get the desert’s appeal.

Saturday, November 19:

Drove up to Tempe. Saw this guy on Mill:
11-19tempe

Hung out at the IMAZ expo, both simultaneously experiencing some FOMO and also VERY glad to not be racing. Ran into my friend Simon, because why wouldn’t I run into someone I know. Picked Brandon up from the airport.

Sunday, November 20:

Spectated IMAZ.

11-20tempe2
Got the hardest high-five ever from Simon here at the bike turnaround.

Mostly spent most of the evening volunteering at the TriSports.com aid station, having a blast as always.

Monday, November 21:

Drove back down to Tucson.

11-21tucson
Got lunch at delicious Lucky Wishbone.

Checked into the J.W. Marriott Starr Pass.

11-21hotel2

Went to Casa Molina for dinner.

casa_molina_cheese_crisp
Mmm, cheese crisp. Weird Sonoran thing, but delicious.

casa_molina_dinner
Dinner, with a demolished green corn tamale (the only tamale I will eat).

Tried out the Screamery for ice cream.

11-21tucson2

screamery_ice_cream

I tried the Mississippi Mudpie, which is an “infused coffee ice cream with hand-made dark chocolate cookies and chocolate swirl.” It was … okay. Not sure we’d return. We’re both really realizing that we don’t like “fancy” ice cream.

Tuesday, November 22:

Went to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, since we hadn’t gone in several years.

11-22dm
Rare crested saguaro!

11-22dm7
Creative and funny.

11-22dm11
Standard “Brandon hugging a cactus” photo.

11-22dm12
Saguaro.

11-22dm13
Squeaky (Gustave) on a cactus.

11-22dm14
All the frogs!

11-22dm15
Cranky roadrunner.

11-22dm16
Dinosaurs in the desert.

11-22dm18
Brandon’s ideal backyard.

11-22dm20
The Desert Museum has sting rays now!

11-22hotel2
Chilling back at the hotel.

We tried out the Catalina BBQ Company, one of the (off-site) hotel restaurants for dinner, partially because we had heard good things about it.

catalina_bbq_co
I had the pulled pork; it wasn’t bad. Fries were pretty terrible, proving my theory that fries at barbecue joints just aren’t good.*

catalina_bbq_co2
Brandon had the pork, wings, and the macaroni and cheese. Everything tasted okay buuuut …

Wednesday, November 23:

… we think the wings gave Brandon food poisoning, as he was super sick for the drive home.

11-23drive

Not a fun time. Except for the food poisoning, though, overall a good trip down to the desert with a few new experiences.

* Notable exception being, of course, the Germantown Commissary.