Some more high points on this trip, and Bob gets his new shoes!
26.05.2014 - 27.05.2014 40 °C
Tuesday, 27th May 2014: Room 711, Doubletree Hotel, Tucson, Arizona
Today has seen record temperatures in the Arizona desert. It was 103F at Tucson airport. And forecast hotter tomorrow. Getting us acclimatised for home but 40C is hopefully more than we'll be getting this summer in Spain!
Anyway....we were just settling into the far-from "Grand" hotel, just outside Tombstone, when last we saw you. Actually, despite it being jammed with kids, we heard none of the noise in our room so it must have been well built.
We mosied into Tombstone for dinner and most of the daytrippers had gone. This is a historic little town which manages to make a living from its history. All of the businesses are pretty genuine and the buildings are either original or rebuilt as they were. The whole town dresses for the "act" and they are all pretty friendly. It could be really tacky, but it isn't and it's not a ripoff either.
We ate in the Longhorn Saloon and Bob fancied a steak (he had a bad cold, since dispelled with some magic pills from a Walgreens Pharmacy - must buy some more of those) so.. "feed a cold" and the day's special of a rib eye steak seemed a good idea. And it was excellent. John's pop shrimp and fried sweet potato was good too. "How is evurrything?" "Good, thanks"
We got up early next day, trying to recreate our last visit when we had breakfast in a little cafe with only the locals as company. And it worked. We got into the little cafe early and only the locals, most of them in costume, were there. The town was pretty quiet too and it was great to enjoy it all-but on our own with the exception of a coach party of excited Japanese who ran round photographing every inch but, mercifully, keeping out of our way.
We then drove to our target for two nights, Tucson (pron. "Toosawn") via the army town of Sierra Vista, right on the Mexican border.
We had the afternoon in Tucson for a bit of exploring and retail therapy. Bob found some shoes that fit and are comfortable and were in the "Memorial Day Sale" plus we got another 15% off with a coupon printed from the Internet.
We then headed out of town to revisit the Western section of the Saguaro (cactus) National Park via a place we did not visit last time "Old Tucson Studios". This was far, far better than expected. What's more we got in for free. Not quite sure how, but the girl at the desk seemed to have two tickets in front of her (returned) and, as it was late in the day, most of the crowds had already left. Much of it we had to ourselves.
The High Chaparral was filmed here and, if you have seen a Western movie or other movie set in the West, the chances are you will have seen the sets that we saw yesterday. We had a free train ride too, all included in the entry price (of nothing). Also, fans of the High Chaparral (like John) will recognise the set and those Saguaro cactus. Manolito and Buck would always go into Tucson and get drunk.
For dinner, for lack of anything more inspiring, we drove to a local Denny's but did not fancy the area and the place looked a bit run down. So we went to one nearer the hotel, a "Denny's Diner" which we had driven past before. All seemed well, though there seemed to be quite a few waiting for food. Much shouting between the waitresses and the guy in the kitchen was going on. After about 35 minutes, with frequent apologies from the waitress, Bob's avocado and bacon omelette arrived but John's Senior Chicken Fried Steak had turned into one scrambled egg, one sausage and a piece of bacon (Senior Breakfast?). More apologies and shouting went on before, after another 20 minutes or so, and long after Bob had finished his, John's SCFS arrived, by which time he had lost his appetite. Anyway, the "manager" who did not involve himself in any of this and who John had thought was the Kitchen Porter, deducted John's meal from the bill. You can't win all the time!
Today we had a bit of a lie-in. Breakfast in the hotel, then headed for historic Downtown.
And then we visited the excellent, inspiring Museum of Arizona in the very smart and well heeled Arizona University campus. There were two photographic exhibitions. One by Edward S. Curtis's: photographs of American Indians. He was working in the early part of the 20th Century and was cricticised for "staging" a lot of his subjects. But it is a photographic record of its time.
Then we saw some staggering photos by Adriel Heisey. He was originally a commercial pilot and was obsessed by the land he was flying over. Eventually he built his own microlight and spent his time flying low over Arizona and New Mexico and photographing the history and geology he saw.
Finally we spent a happy 40 minutes walking threw the history of the multitudinous native Indian tribes. An amazing and, at times, very sad and shaming story. The Mexicans and the Americans seemed to be competing as to who could treat the tribes the worst. We think the Mexicans won that by a narrow margin. Neither seemed to be satisfied until a particular tribe had been all-but eliminated.
On the way, we put the car through a manned "auto" car wash which was much like one of those Ghost Train rides:-
Tucson seems to have grown enormously but it is still a nice town. When we were here in 1998, it seemed a compact little town. We remember driving from the airport straight into the desert for a few miles before getting to the Eastern section of the Saguaro National Park. Today, when we repeated that drive, the sprawl went right up to the boundary of the Park.
We wondered why there were fewer of the big multi-armed Saguaro and were told there was a frost a couple of years ago which killed off a lot of the older ones (they live for up to 150 years). They only grow in this region and nowhere else in the world but wondered if we could grow one at Bag End? A bit difficult getting one into the case, though.
A car number plate we though Don & Ian may consider:-
Tonight, Bob is packing again and, after dinner, it will be an early-ish night. We are headed for Yuma, via Organ Pipe National Monument. We still like Tucson!