scenery in Arizona

I’m currently sitting on my bed in Serendipity, listening to the sound of the rain on the skylight, with a muddy dog curled up next to me, literally on my pillows. Why, why, why does Sophie think that having mud on her feet means she should make a nest in the pillows? Also, why, why, why do I not clean my dog’s feet off when I come inside, before I get distracted and move on to other things and forget that she’s muddy?

I don’t know the answer to either of those questions, but the sunshine of Arizona feels like it was a long time ago. The only traces left of my delightful week in Tucson/Phoenix are 1) my incredibly chapped lips, 2) my fantastic LL Bean thrift store blue jeans (also two shirts and a purse), and 3) the five pounds or so I gained from a week spent eating desserts at nice restaurants. The BBE and I did go on some good hikes, including one morning on the above trail, but the calorie count of the hiking did not counterbalance the calorie count of the mesquite flour churros, the creme brûlée, the cinnamon muffins, and the raspados. Also the pulparindos and the Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups. Ha. Ironically, when I started writing this blog post I thought I was going to write about making healthy food choices while traveling. Or healthy food choices just in general. 

Mostly we did make healthy food choices. My favorite meal was a rice bowl with mixed grains, yucca fries, Mexican street corn, and mesquite salmon, which was so delicious that we went back to the restaurant, CharroVida,  three times. Three times! That’s a lot when two of those meals could have involved trying something new, which is usually my first choice when traveling. But it’s also relaxing to eat at a restaurant that takes gluten-contamination seriously. I nearly got burned at another restaurant that had items clearly marked gluten-free on their menu that were not actually gluten-free. I didn’t write a scathing review because the waitress was so nice, but I would have been really annoyed if she hadn’t warned me that the menu was wrong.

Other nice meals: an ahi-poke rice bowl; a rice bowl with sorrel pesto, kale, eggs, and sweet potatoes; GF pizza with an arugula-avocado salad with lemon vinaigrette; and tacos, the best of which was carnitas, I think. We also had sushi one night, which was fine but not as inspired as my own sushi; hotel scrambled eggs one morning; chilaquiles another morning. I kept claiming I was going to make the BBE take me to a really nice (read: expensive) restaurant, but as it happened, an interesting rice bowl or taco place always won out for me over $45 prime rib. Back when Suzanne and I went to Bend, I mentioned wavering over my food choices: feeling like vacation is the time to eat whatever you want while simultaneously thinking I should make healthy choices. This time, I realized that healthy food *IS* what I want. I’d rather have a good veggie-heavy rice bowl than steak and potatoes. Although I guess I also discovered that I want my healthy food plus dessert, and maybe next time I should go a little lighter on the desserts. 🙂 

Apart from hiking and eating, we took advantage of the hot tub at our hotel, as well as braving the heated pool once for about ninety seconds on my part, a bit longer on my brother’s part. Even a heated pool feels cold when the outside air is barely breaking into the 60s. Still, if we’d tried to make it to Sedona, we wouldn’t have gotten there (the roads were closed) and we would have been trapped in many inches of snow, so we weren’t complaining about sunshine and 60s. (Much.) We nearly got to experience snow in Phoenix, which apparently happens about once every 25 years, so would have been automatically cool. If it did snow, though, it happened at 4AM and was gone by the time I woke up at 6 or so. 

We did some touristing, too. On our first full day in Tucson, we went to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, which had been recommended to us, possibly by the friendly Montanans in the hot tub the previous evening, possibly by in-laws of the BBE.  Possibly by both! I can’t remember tbh. Unexpectedly to me, the desert museum turned out to be a zoo, and not one just for desert animals. I took some great video of an otter eating fish and some less great photos of hummingbirds and a bobcat and a mountain lion. We also went to Old Town Scottsdale, which is as thorough a tourist shopping strip as the pier in San Francisco or the inner harbor in Baltimore. I don’t have any objection to tourist areas when I am, in fact, a tourist, but I did appreciate our Linda Vista hike and the two other hikes we took rather more than either of our tourist attractions.

We also dragged one another to our respective shopping interests: thrift stores for me, coin stores for the BBE. Arcata has plenty of thrift stores: at least three within easy walking distance, and I rarely go into them. But I love going to thrift stores while traveling, because it’s so interesting to see what sorts of things wind up donated in different places. Also, Arcata is a college town in a rural community, which means our thrift stores get thoroughly picked over very quickly. In contrast, the Goodwill in the northern part of Tucson held bargains. I got a couple $3 t-shirts, including this purple one with hummingbirds, and the aforementioned LL Bean jeans, which look new, for $8. The thrift store in the college part of town, unsurprisingly, not so good. Ditto the Phoenix thrift store. But if I ever make it back to Tucson, I’m definitely checking out the Goodwill store on North Oracle Road again. 

It was a fun escape, enough so that basically the moment I got home, I started planning our next adventure. Oregon, because the BBE really *needs* to try Brazilian cheese bread and oyster tacos! First, though, I should write a book. Time to get right on that!