Top 10 Reasons Why I Love Tucson

I have a really hard time with scary movies. I can’t watch the local news, especially certain channels because they are SO negative and seem heartless when they relay news of something awful happening in my home town. Maybe I’m a complete wuss, but I take them too personally, putting myself into those situations almost immediately, wondering what would I have done?

That’s right. I’m going there. The Tucson shooting. I lived in Tucson for three years, the hubs & I moved to the Old Pueblo right after we got married. Tucson is an AMAZING town. I am stricken with grief over this tragedy. Hearing about the little 9 year old victim especially made me squeeze both of my daughters a little tighter. I feel this way after hearing about any tragedy, but this happened in a town I called home for 3 years of my life. A town I love. Knowing the exact area that it happened in Tucson freaks me out. The hubs & I hung out in that area all the time. Our friends lived near that particular Safeway. I’m pretty certain the hubs & I purchased beer on several occasions at this store. My heart is broken.

How does one deal with such a tragedy? We all need to deal somehow, and please, find some way to deal with negative aspects of your life somehow! You don’t need a gun to do so! My therapy these days is found right here, so I’m writing about it. Instead of filling your head with MORE Tucson Tragedy updates, I’ve decided to throw a positive spin on this story and use this as an opportunity to share some of the things I love and miss about the unique and incredible city of Tucson, Arizona.

Catalina Mountains

1. The Santa Catalina Mountains. These gorgeous mountains surround the city of Tucson, and made it almost impossible to get lost. Huge help for newbies to the area who are getting to know their way around the city. Most days are sunny in Tucson, but the shadows on the mountain range change throughout the day. During Monsoon season, and occasional days in the winter, the clouds cover the mountains and change the entire feel of the city. In the winter, when the clouds dissipate, they reveal snow-capped tops. We often wondered if someone could ever tire of the mountains, because they amazed us daily. This mountain range is so majestic, the hubs & I almost named our 2nd daughter Catalina (“Lina” for short) but decided on Sedona instead.

Vehicle climbing Mt Lemmon
Molino Canyon

2. Mt. Lemmon. Maybe this should be 1a, but oh well. Mount Lemmon is where the hubs & I would go when we missed Michigan. I realize that when many people think of Tucson, they think of it as a barren desert, I know I did. But if you drive north on the Catalina Highway, in 30-45 minutes (depending on how aggressive you take some of the turns!) the temperature will drop 30 degrees and you will be transported from cacti to pine-trees… and in the winter: SNOW! Toward the lower-half of the mountain, there’s a spot called Molino Canyon that fills with water after a storm. There’s an amazing waterfall and a fun swimming-hole that’s fills with about 5-6 feet of water and is just incredible. We lived in Tucson for 3 years, and I don’t believe we went a month without driving up Mt Lemmon.

3. Sabino Canyon. The hubs & I lived about a half-mile away from Sabino Canyon. We knew we could never afford a home in the NE Tucson foothills, but thankfully, at least back then, apartments were essentially the same price no matter where you lived. This breathtaking natural desert oasis is restricted to foot, bike, horse & tram traffic and includes many trails to explore the area. We did all of the above during our time in Tucson. So happy we did.

4. Roadrunners & Quail-families. I could make a general statement about all of the wildlife in Tucson, from javalinas to coyotes to lizards & tarantulas, but I didn’t make a positive connection with many of those creatures – although the lizards were fun! I love birds. I will never “own” a bird — I feel they are meant to fly free, not trapped in a cage. That being said, I fell in love with the Roadrunners & Quail-families in Tucson. Maybe because I hadn’t seen them during my time in Michigan. The roadrunners were just awesome. Very fast, and I rarely saw them fly, they generally ran. One of the coolest things to witness. Simple, but fun. And the quails almost always traveled in family units. It was rare to see a quail without their mate & several offspring. It was very comforting to see, even if I didn’t have children yet.

5. Restaurants. Oh the restaurants in Tucson. I don’t know if it was because of the heat (my GOD, the heat!) that made more people want to eat out instead of in, because it wasn’t just and endless array of fabulous Mexican food. We had our favorite Italian, Steak, Pizza, Sushi, Buffalo Wing, Mexicanetc place to eat. It was here that we learned just how important local restaurants were to the community of Tucson. We rarely ate at chain restaurants once we got to know our way around the city of Tucson, and now that we’re in Grand Rapids, we seek out the best local places here too. I think it’s safe to say the endless variety of restaurants in Tucson is the main reason I put on about 20 or so pounds while living there. Ya know what? Totally worth it. No regrets. I could go on for hours about each of the places I’ve linked above, but trust me. If you’re visiting Tucson — follow those links and don’t walk, RUN to these establishments!!

6. Agua Caliente is one of many great secrets that generally only locals know about in Tucson. This NE Tucson park has WATER year-round! Yeah, to us Michiganders, these were glorified ponds, but they were still fun, and easy to get to if you just wanted a place to relax, without a ton of heavy-hiking. I babysat a little boy while I lived there and took him to Agua Caliente often. I believe it’s a place I’ll take my own kids to see when we can finally afford another trip to Tucson… along with the rest of the fun on this list.

7. Gates Pass is yet another best-kept secret in Tucson, but on the other side of town — the SW side. It’s unique mountain range formed from volcanoes and make for an incredible sunset viewing spot. We watched many sunsets here; Gates Pass has a very special place in our hearts.

8. University, 4th Ave & Congress. The hubs & I moved to Tucson just after we got married. We were in our early 20s, and our first order of business was finding the bar scene. Momma needed a beer long before I became a “Momma”. There’s something for everyone in this area of Tucson. College bars like Maloney’s to hole-in-the-wall bars like The Buffet & Bison Witches. If you want to hear some kick-ass music, O’Malley’s, 7 Black Cats & Club Congress almost always have bands playing.

9. The weather. It may be one of the first things that draws people to Tucson; it’s sunny about 300 days of the year. I’m a 4-season girl and I really missed the change in seasons… I mean, the weather fluctuated a degree a day, if that. Until… monsoon season. Monsoon season was one of my favorite times of year in Tucson. Between August & September, a storm would roll through Tucson on a daily basis. It would change the entire look of the town. Clouds would hover over the mountains, you could see the entire storm coming & going; thunder & lighting would fill the sky, then it would rain and cool off at least 10-15 degrees. Pretty spectacular. The hubs & I actually chased a couple storms right out of the city of Tucson once upon a time. The fun things you can do when you don’t have 2 kids in tow.

10. The People. *deep breath* As I learned about the devastating events that occurred in a town I once called home, I wanted to reach out and hug the city of Tucson like the mountains do every day. The people of Tucson are among the friendliest on the planet. And no, I haven’t met the entire planet, but trust me on this one. The diversity of the town is embraced, unlike the segregation you can feel in certain parts of Michigan; the people of Tucson are ALL unique. Many come to Tucson from all over the world… most of the friends we made were also transplants. The Old Pueblo is full of laid-back people just looking to have a good life, with good people. When we went back a few years ago, we visited IBM, where the hubs worked. They missed him, they missed us, and told him they would always have a job for him. How many people can say that about jobs they left years ago? It’s just how the people are in Tucson. Giving & open.

I miss Tucson quite a bit… but this week, I’m missing it more than ever. I know we made the right decision to move back to Michigan. Without any family in Arizona, we would be spending all of our time & money travelling back to Michigan to visit. If you haven’t been to Tucson, I highly recommend finding your way there someday. There is much more to this town than the black mark that was put upon it over the weekend.

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