Tucson

Tucson, AZ – March 2015

Next stop Tucson! I found a casino with free RV parking up to 7 days. I didn’t know how long I’d want to stay in a parking lot but I thought I’d give it a chance. It turned out to be better than my previous casino parking experiences primarily because there were very few semis using the lot. They tend to make a lot of noise and come and go in the middle of the night. The Desert Diamond Casino was between an airport and a train track so it wasn’t incredibly quiet but all in all it was a positive experience and I ended up staying 5 wonderfully free nights.

My primary destination in Tucson was the Saguaro National Park. Several people I had met since I started my travels had said it was not to be missed. It is divided in to two parks, one to the east of Tucson and one to the west. I visited the western side, called the Rincon Mountain District. I fully intended to make it to the eastern part later in the week but it never happened.

It was getting pretty hot in the afternoons so I set out early one morning for my visit getting to the park at 8. The sight of so many huge saguaros was very impressive.

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But the best part of my visit was that it was clearly spring in the desert and so many cacti were blooming.

I took a trail that started at the sight of some petroglyphs. There were quite a few rocks with interesting designs on them but you get the idea.

I estimated the trail to be about 3 miles based on the tiny numbers I could almost read on the trail map. It also appeared to be pretty level except for the initial climb to the petroglyphs. That was exactly what I was looking for and would get me back to the trailhead before it got too hot. It was a great hike and I would not have missed it. The many sizes and shapes of cacti were amazing and the desert blooms were gorgeous. However, it did end up being over 4 miles and the last mile was in a sandy dry wash that was difficult to walk in.   I was very hot and tired by the time I got back and my feet not the least bit happy with me.

I switched gears from nature to asphalt the next day and headed to the downtown historic district of Tucson. I parked near the Fox Theatre. There wasn’t much to see of it but a neat old marquee. Then I walked to the oldest hotel in town that is still standing, The Congress. I was surprised to find that it was still operating as a hotel. Much of the lobby appeared to be original. I also walked a long way down 4th Street. This was lined with funky restaurants, vintage clothing stores, and cool bars. It is supposed to be a very happening place on the weekends but it was interesting to visit even on a weekday morning. It was also nice to get in a few miles walking on city streets without getting sand and rocks in my shoes.

One thing I was determined to do now that it was hitting 90 every day was go swimming.   I had hoped the casino might let me use their pool as some I had visited in the past had. But that was not the case. I looked for other options. All the rivers in the area were dried up. I discovered that Tucson has several public pools that they operate year round so I headed to one after lunch one weekday afternoon. That was the best $2 ever spent. There were more lifeguards than patrons while I was there. Of course, I did miss the chaise lounge chairs and waitresses bringing me drinks but the swimming was great! And my feet appreciated the break from hiking.

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