Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Tucson, Arizona

Getting a feel for the area

Before retiring, I had contracts to work in Tucson at Tucson Medical Center (loved it) and University Hospital )not so much). The city continues to draw us back and has grown along with the traffic. I can't imagine how it would be with Canadian snowbirds. Far Horizons RV Park is less than 1/3 full for this winter season.
Celebrating Dia de Los Muertos

The Heirloom Farmers markets in different locations several days of the week  have many farm to table offerings that keep us returning. We found such a diverse choice of foods to choose.  Many restaurants have closed but have a good turnout at the markets to keep them going and us returning.

Salvadoran pupuzas were a tasty grilled corn masa filled with seasoned meat, vegetables and cheese served with a cabbage slaw and a dressing. 

Tucson is an interesting and diverse sanctuary city. It is the only place in the United States designated a City of Gastronomy by UNESCO. A half-dozen years ago, the international agency began including food as a part of cultural heritage worth protecting, recognizing the importance of things like Armenian 
lavash, the Mediterranean diet and the gastronomic meals of the French.

It all starts with the deep and multicultural food history with so much innovation in all parts of the food system, including sustainable agriculture and ranching, plus the development of an urban agriculture scene. Tucson recently amended the land use code to make it easier to do agriculture within city limits and to sell those products.

Tucson snagged the UNESCO designation because of the wealth of food-related accomplishments, from the ancient O’odham mountainside settlement to the many local organizations striving to help battle hunger, like the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona and Iskashitaa Refugee Network ( a refuge agency). And then there’s the food itself: The city is packed with restaurateurs, chefs, farmers and ranchers who nurture a vibrant food scene.

This swath of Sonoran Desert has one of the longest food heritages on the continent, nestled at the base of the Tucson Mountains is where the O'odham people settled, planting crops of maize, tepary beans and other produce amid a landscape with prickly pear cacti and sagebrush. The towering Saguaro is native to Arizona's Sonoran Desert and its juicy red fruit, which locals use to make jams and syrups, ripens in June. 

Local restaurants incorporate local ingredients like tepary beans, a drought-resistant legume native to the American Southwest, into dishes like a Cholla bud meat dish served alongside a green bean and 
tepary bean salad and drizzled with a jalapeƱo-orange vinaigrette or pickling some Cholla buds or add some purslane into a dish, since it grows wild in Tucson’s dry riverbeds,

Turkish flatbread with stuffing or just olive oil and sesame seeds.

II will have to try the Green Chile Lemonade next time we visit.
We were lured in by the French lady's "oui oui" and indulged in her pastries.

The freezer is full of roasted green chile.

Hiking in Sabino Canyon

At the base of the Catalina Mountains lies Sabino Canyon not far from the RV park. The canyon between steep rock cliffs has been closed to traffic since 1978 making a great place for walking the 30 miles trails or up the road. Or take the tram the 4 miles up and walk back or meet the next tram at one of the nine stops on the return.
The trails give the quads a work out.

This confused saguaro must be confused. They usually bloom in May. 

Cycling The Loop

Loving "The Loop" bike path.

Resort living

Loving the food.

It is good to spend time with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 2, 2020

Being responsible


Driving our home on sometimes rough can cause damage. Our grey tank (dishwater) developed a leak that was getting worse while dry camping. We to got an appointment for the middle of October and took it even though it was still hot.  The temp was 102F degrees but we were relieved to get the crack taken care of before the leak got worse. It was also a good time to have a condo as the temps were heading down to the 90s F.

We weren't sure how long it would take for a fix and made reservations for a week in hopes that the fix would be done by then. If not we would move to another Airbnb or hotel until it was ready. I pulled up our requirements for an airbnb (a kitchen and parking) settling on a place in Fountain Hills putting us 20 miles from the doctor appointments we had. It also put us in an new area to ride our bikes. The term hills in the town's name came into play.

While booking Airbnb, our $40 per night rate increased when the fees and taxes were added on. Karen Hill had given us a referral code, giving us a $40 discount and there was also a discount for booking a week. Once that was all calculated, our rate was $50/ night. We were pleased with our little studio condo that had a small kitchenette area. You can see the place by clicking here.

This was our first time using Airbnb. But it helped us determine what would be important for us in the future. We need an outdoor sitting area for mornings and evenings. This was a studio condo which gave us an efficiency kitchen and the outdoor area was by the pool but no chairs. Good thing we carry chairs with us. We pulled them from the back of the truck to use by the pool.

In the past we loved the nearby McDowell Regional Park but it was too hot to hike during our stay. We did take advantage of the walking paths around Fountain Park and through neighborhoods and enjoyed dinner out one evening. It was fine for a place to stay for a short time but Fountain Hills is basically an expensive housing community. 

The trailer wasn't ready after our week was up. This time we found a different type of rental that sounded like it would meet our needs that you can see here. It seemed a little strange to stay in someone's yard but we liked it. We had the entire backyard to ourselves and a much better kitchen. We were used to riding our bikes in this area and knew the routes.

We did spend a little time playing "what if" the trailer isn't worth fixing and then let it go until we had the details.

Camping World found the leak after we agreed to $140/hour for at least 4 hours of labor if the warranty didn't cover the repairs. We lucked out and the warranty covered the repair of the tank and rubber seal on the slide. After 5 years in this trailer, the warranty has more than paid for itself. Also, the treatment we have received from Camping World in Mesa has been better than we could have hoped.

Next we had to wait a replacement tank to be built but were later informed that one had been located and would be delivered in 2-3 weeks. Once the tank was delivered, we contacted our second airbnb host for a place to stay for the week again.

We road our bikes on the Bush Highway which is a favorite of ours during our stay.

Both hosts were quick to respond to our questions and allowed an early contactless check in. We hope to be able to travel to other countries in the future and stay for a month in different locations in other people's homes. This turned out to be a good trial run. The monthly rates vs nightly or weekly for Airbnbs can be significantly more affordable as they often are in RV parks. Now to stay healthy and get out of the US.

You can claim your discount and if you find yourself looking for an Airbnb experience, feel free to use this code for a discount for you and us here.

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