Tucson

One of the dangers of doing a blog is getting distracted. I am guilty! I was running a few weeks behind and told myself, ‘You’d better get back to it or you’ll get way behind.’ Once I got way behind, I made it my New Year’s Resolution to get back at it. So, here on March21st, you can see that my resolution turned out like most of yours.

One of the problems I had was that I wanted to continue the story from where I left off. Our long trip to Florida was devoted to getting to Key West. I wanted to share that with you, and I will. I have made the decision to start again with where we are (were), Tucson Arizona. I will go back and finish the missed trips as I make time available. For now, let me tell you about Tucson…

On our way out West, we wanted to pick a good spot to spend the brutal months of winter. Many RVers (thousands) spend the coldest months in AZ with Phoenix and Tucson leading the way. We chose Voyager RV Park in Tucson as our stop. They boast 1700 RV spots and activities galore including a par 3 golf course. Their activity schedule for the month of January was 36 pages long! If you can’t find something here that you are interested in, something is wrong with you. Many of the people we have met here have been returning every winter for many years.

One of our excursions was to Sabino Canyon. The canyon is in the Santa Catalina Mountains just North of Tucson. The canyon is the natural drainage path for all the rain and melting snow pack that falls in the mountains. In the 1920’s, the WPA built a road about 4.5 miles into the canyon. They also built a series of nine bridges that cross over Sabino Creek. During the time we were there, the creek was flowing vigorously, but it totally dries up during the heat of the summer. Also built was the Sabino Dam, which forms Sabino Lake. There are numerous hiking trails that wind through the canyon, offering great views of the vegetation, rock formations and occasionally, the wildlife. While we were down in the canyon, looking up gave us a fabulous view of a Sun Dog.

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Sun Dog

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Big Saguaro

While most people go to Tucson to get away from cold weather, we had a bit of a cold snap. The temperature dropped to 26 on night and it was accompanied by snowfall in the mountains just North of town. Tucson itself lies in the valley at an elevation of 2,300 feet above sea level. Mount Lemmon is the tallest peak in the Santa Catalina Mountains and is 9,157 feet at its peak. That allows the southernmost ski area in the United States to be a quick 40-minute drive up the mountain to Ski Valley on Mount Lemmon. It had been 18 years or so since either of us had skied. While we didn’t conquer the mountain, it was great fun doing something that neither of us thought we would do again.

 

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Tucson valley as seen from 9,200 ft. You can see the North/South roads beneath the ski trail sign. The big brown path is Davis-Montham AFB, which contains the ‘boneyard’

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The drive up (or down) the mountain is full of fabulous scenery. During the climb, you transition through three discrete climate zones. Beginning at the bottom, there are cacti and mesquite typical of the Sonoran Desert. As you gain elevation, you pass through areas of oak, juniper and pine forest. Once you transition to the North face of the mountain, you see fir and aspen trees near the summit.

The views are spectacular. The rock formations and the road itself are amazing and there are many vistas with parking available. One of our favorites was Seven Cataracts. It is a series of seven waterfalls with several forming pools. We could see some hikers that had reached the pool but we have no idea how they got there.

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7 Cataracts, but you can probably only see three

 

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After a few switchback turns, you end up down there.

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The uphill drive begins

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We learned that there had been a marathon that was run up the road for several years. 26.2 miles, all uphill with an altitude gain of over 6,000 feet. Brutal!

Food

Based on your comments, most of you seem to be very interested in what we are eating. It is one of the fun things to do as we are on the road, looking for the best of everything. Being in Tucson, we wanted to find the best Mexican food that we could. We found a lot of great food! Here is some of it…

As much as we try to research, sometimes we just hit it lucky. The best was Poco and Mom’s. We were driving by, saw the sign and stopped.

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JK’s Taco Salad with fresh Guac and a dressing of Ranch mixed with their salsa. Yum!

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Enchilada plate with shredded beef & green sauce

At the top of Mt. Lemmon, there is a small town called Summerhaven. There are only 40 full-time residents, but it swells in the summer, since the temperature there is about 28 degrees cooler than in the valley. The town has a couple of restaurants, one being the Sawmill. Great spot for lunch.

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Pastrami & Swiss with pickled onions and sweet potato tots

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JK’s salad

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Cookies & ice cream dessert

On the day we went skiing, we ate at the top of the mountain, across from the ski area, at the Iron Door. I hardly ever get out-ordered, but JK did it today. Her’s was called the Sarah Lemmon’s Favorite. Lettuce, tomato, mushrooms, olives, pineapple, cucumbers & cream cheese on Wheat berry bread.

 

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French Dip

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Sarah Lemmon’s (and JK’s) Favorite

 

Next: I will try to do better! Comments might get me motivated!

Tucson Food and Wine at the Botanical Gardens