2012, November 27-20, Arizona part 2

Well the first post ended before I was done.  Improvements will be forthcoming.

Saturday we said goodbye to Joyce and Lou and dropped Kathy off at the Phoenix airport.  We continued via scenic route 89 and 77 to Tucson, arriving at Mt. Lemmon Sky Island drive around noon.  THis is a scenic drive up 24 miles that starts at desert level and ends up at 10,000 feet.  It is billed as the equivalent of driving from Mexico to Canada in the ability to view  the varying vegetation one would encounter in a drive from the Sonoran desert to Canada and the Rockies. It was a beautiful drive.

INSERT hyper link and shutterfly link.  We got off the mountain just before sunset and drive to our hotel over by the Tucson airport.  While the hotel, Towne Place Suites, was very nice, I will just say the area around the Tucson airport is not as built up and upscale as the MSP airport area.  Lots of pawn ships and vacant lots.

We tried to find a nice restaurant but were hampered by two things.   Some roads that supposedly were through street were not.  Second, Tucson while not as dark as Flagstaff  (which is a dark sky community for the Lowell Observatory was still very dark (Kitts Peak Observatory) and the subdued lighting made it difficult for us to find stores.  THe ‘normal’ street lighting we are used to is not seen here.  We ended up at Wendy but did eat nutritious meals.

Sunday we went to downtown Tucson and made it to the 8 am mariachi mass spoken in Spanish and with great mexican music.  Then we headed out to the Desert Museum.  We liked the Phoenix desert museum better that we saw when we, Jude, Bernie and Tony visited last year.  I think that may partly be because we were there in the spring when more plants were blooming.

BUT , we saw a great raptor free flight exhibit.  Four types of raptors, owl, peregrine falcon, Harris hawks and one other flew over our heads.  In fact the Harris hawks landed in a tree behind my head and were fighting over food.   Of course, my camera battery died after the owl and you will have to take my word for it.  I replaced the battery with a spare before we headed out to the Saguaro Desert national park west side.

THe saguaro and other cactus were great and we only had time for a brief walk before the park closed at sunset.  We made it to the El Charro restaurant, the oldest continually operating family owned Mexican restaurant in the US and written up in numerous reviews around the country. Great food and we bought two bottles of their salsa to give to Bernie and Kathy-only to lean later we can’t take such food on our plane.  SOOOO, one became our lunch on Monday and a gift to housekeeping.

Monday we drive over to saguaro desert -east division and drove this area and a two mile hike before we had to  head back to check out.

after checking out we made it to Mission San Xavier del Bac. The mission was started in 1692 and the church built between 1783 and 1797.

and Piccaho Peak state Park.  Picacho Peak was a rush and we made it in time to see a sunset there-gets to join our previous last minute sunset rushes to Death Valley, Key West, San Francisco and lake Tahoe.

Some impressions. Drivers seemed to speed less and go thru less red lights than in the Twin Cities.
As a Midwesterner, I tend to forget the Mexican and Spanish heritage of the Southwest. Not only did the Spanish and Mexicans settle most of this area, we purchased – took over this area. Gadsen purchase added Tucson area to the US.

Categories: road trip, travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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