15 November 2014

Across the U.S., Day 39 - Tucson (AZ)

Did I say I love the desert scenery of southern Arizona? That was probably an understatement. To me, the Sonoran Desert is simply fantastic and I spent several hours in the Tucson Mountain County Park and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum today.

Tucson living right next to the Tucson Mountain County Park

With a population somewhat over 520,000 (2010 United States Census), Tucson is the 2nd largest city in Arizona, after the state capital Phoenix and the oldest city, incorporated in 1877. One of its nicknames is "The Old Pueblo" and its Spanish, Mexican and Western heritage is quite evident.

St. Augustine Cathedral (founded 1776, Mexican baroque)

Side perspective of the Cathedral's right tower

Those who had a say on the city's planning were certainly not afraid of colors and playful elements.

Pima County Courthouse

La Placita, also houses the Visitor Center

While strolling through the historic downtown, I stopped by "Urban Fresh - a vegucational experience". Their mission is to provide delicious and healthy, plant-based food choices, made from locally produced, organic ingredients. They also offer cooking classes and educational events. I had their Ginger Snap smoothy with banana, cinnamon, nutmeg, dates, almond milk and of course, ginger. Very tasty and long-lasting indeed!

Furthermore, I noticed several food lectures in Oct/Nov, presented by the University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. All lectures are free and open to the public and topics are e.g., "Food for pleasure, vitality and health" and "We eat what we are". Specifically the last one would have been of interest; maybe they have some more material online?

The University of Arizona campus also houses the Center for Creative Photography. They exhibit the work of new photographers and renowned artists such as Ansel Adams, free of charge. At the entrance the visitors are warned that some photos might hurt their feelings. Yep, there were several naked male body parts on the photos. Do I feel hurt? I don't think so. But thanks for the warning.

When I got to the entrance of the Tucson Mountain County Park in the morning, there wasn't any other person. Yeah! I went on a short hike to get closer to the Saguaro cacti and other fascinating inhabitants of the area.

Saguaro (Carnegiae Gigantea) are native to this area and all the way further south across the Mexican boarder. They can grow over 70 ft (20 m) tall. They require over 100 years to grow to a significant height. By Arizona law it is illegal to vandalize a Saguaro. It gave me a good chuckle to read about an incident in 1982, when a young idiot was killed by a piece of a Saguaro that fell on him while he was destroying the cactus for fun.

Tip of a Saguaro arm

The Saguaro survives in the desert climate by hoarding rainwater. It literally expands and increases in diameter in wet season and shrinks again in dry season.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum really has a lot to offer. It is a botanical garden, natural history museum, zoo, aquarium, ... a worthwhile place to visit and learn about the Sonora Desert and the region's history. Visiting the hummingbird house felt like being home in Sunnyvale, with those wonderful little critters zooming around me. :-)

I was the last person to leave the museum and parking lot. Trying to capture that amazing sunset simply kept me busy.

More to come.


  1. Oh, now I am a little jealous! That is sooo wonderful! Tucson and it's Saguaros is one of a few places I must see some day C'mon Markus, we have to go!!!

    1. Yes, if you can this is really worthwhile a visit. But you just had your Yellowstone and Blue Ridge Mountain and Florida trips. ... ;-) No, I understand. One can never explore enough! And life is short!!

    2. Yes, our limited USA-time is too short for us. So much beautiful and interesting places to visit. We really enjoy a great time here in the US of A!