Tucson, Arizona was once just a dot on the map for us, but after this past weekend, it’s quickly becoming a favorite. With its breathtaking Catalina mountains, darling historical district just adjacent to a thriving downtown and home to the University of Arizona, Tucson has a fantastic mix of arts, music, food, and sport. It’s a small enough city that the local endeavors stand out but large enough to find your own niche subculture. If there is one word to describe Tucson, it would be artisan.
We had a few performances in Tucson, including an evening at Monterey Court. A formerly an old run down motel, owners Kelly McLear and Greg Haver redeveloped Monterey Court into an artisan enclave.
The stage was lovely, the food was amazing, specially for a reuben fanatic like me, and Greg was a very gracious host. We had a small but kind crowd come out despite the cold temperatures. And the icing on the cake was a little treasure of a vintage camper Christmas ornament that one of the local venders left behind.
We also performed at La Cocina, Tucson’s venue with a menu. La Cocina sits in the heart of the historic district and has a warm, festive, communal feel. In fact, the reason we wrote them about a performance was because of their self-proclaimed sense of community.
Liz, our server and bar tender for the night was especially welcoming and made us feel like part of the family. A few more faces came out, as it was a little bit warmer than the night before. One kind face stayed through the whole show and introduced herself after. She had heard of us through our friend and comrade, Seth Martin! I immediately hugged her and invited her to dinner at our campsite the next night. What a pleasant surprise to find kinfolk in this fantastic city.
We parked at the Catalina State Park for three nights. We paid $27 a night and had water and 50 amp electricity. The park was well cared for, with friendly guides/officers, hiking trails, and the bathrooms were pristine.
Our friends Jamie and Max stayed with us for the weekend, as Max joined us on bass/guitar at our shows. It was truly the highlight of the weekend having guests on the bus again. We actually met Max two years ago our first time through Bird City. He was living at the Kineo Community House and jammed with us during our impromptu performance at the house. Max married Jamie 10 months ago and it was so refreshing having newlyweds on the bus. Two hands are better than one and the Perry’s work well together. They added a sense of balance to our first weekend back in the saddle, so to speak. We shared story, meals, hikes, a fierce game of Settlers of Catan, Ticket to ride and made music.
A second highlight to the weekend was our hike in the spectacular Saguaro National Park. We actually started in the State Park and hiked on the border of the National Park, but the Saguaro Cactus were everywhere. The beauty of this area was found in breathtaking mountain range with its the subtle greens and browns, and an occasional orange hue thrown in. There were horse trails as well, which made the hiking even more romantic.
At one point the sun was wafting between the clouds when I noticed a large Saguaro at the base of a massive rock wall, above that was the mountain range. As the clouds moved the sun would cast a light rolling up towards the large cactus and hold like a spot light for just a moment, and I imagined a tenor singing a ballad of love and passion. The sun would continue to elevate up the rock face and a golden hue would shine, continuing on the sun beams rose up into the mountain where a choir of smaller Saguaro sang the final verse. I sat and watched about three rounds of this movement, before our group lead on. I’ll take that memory to the grave as it was a little taste of heaven.