Monday, September 14, 2009


From Los Angeles we drove about 500 miles southeast to Tucson. We stayed with Lou and his wife Nancy, old friends of mine I used to know when I lived in Vermont. It's really beautiful here. Although it's very hot during the day (above 100 every day) there are frequent storms, and it even rained for a couple hours one night. We saw many lighting storms in the distance.

We spent two relaxing days touring around Tucson. We went to Saguaro National Park, which although beautiful was a little underwhelming when compared to the other National Parks we've been to. But we did see huge fields of Saguaro cacti, as pictured on the right. They grow extremely slowly, taking maybe 60 years to grow to a height of six feet.

Our hosts were kind enough to give us guest passes to the Desert Museum which was actually more like a zoo. We saw bobcats, wolves, prairie dogs, all sorts of birds (there were two different aviaries, including one just for hummingbirds) and other animals that I didn't know lived in the desert, like beavers!

We also explored downtown Tucson, which was a very strange place. Apart from the University of Arizona area, which seemed busy (we went by right before a football game), the rest of the town was pretty low-key. We wandered around on a Saturday afternoon and most stores were closed or out of business. I don't know if it's that there are so many half-time residents (who aren't quite back yet for the winter) or that so many older retirees don't visit downtown (even though there is free parking on the weekends), but it had a very ghost-town-like appearance. The only thriving businesses seemed to be Mexican barbershops and taco stands (that's two different stores).

Here's the full slideshow of our Tucson visit:

We had a great visit, catching up with Lou and Nancy, whom I hadn't seen in over 10 years. Tucson is a very interesting place, both culturally and geographically. Now we're heading north to Flagstaff. We've arranged to stay with the couchsurfing "ambassador" of Flagstaff and apparently there are guests from England staying there as well, so it should be a full house. Our plan is to climb Mt. Humphreys tomorrow. Stay tuned for the full report.

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