Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tucson 1/2015

I thought it was a great idea to start off the new year with a trip, and when a friend wanted to check out Tucson, I jumped on the opportunity. I've been there a few times now, though it's been a while. It's a great town with a lot to see and do.

We drove the two hours on Saturday morning with his adorable little chihuahua, Molly. We checked into our place, Hacienda del Sol and even though we arrived at check out time at 11, our room was ready shortly after we arrive. There is extensive construction in the lot and front of the hotel as they are adding 32 more rooms, but once you get into the property, it's like you've stepped into a desert oasis. The property is gorgeous. The staff is very friendly and helpful. Our room was adorable-- beautifully appointed with a window looking out to the mountains behind the hotel. The rooms on the main property are around a central courtyard with lots of gorgeous desert plants and flowers.

We grabbed a quick sandwich at an AJs nearby then headed south to the Mission Xavier del Bac. I have been before but never tire of seeing it-- it's gorgeous! It's a Spanish Catholic mission on the Tohono O-odham San Xavier Indian Reservation, founded by Padre Kino in 1692. Construction began in 1700. It's gorgeous inside and outside and very well maintained. There is a path that winds up a nearby hill overlooking the mission, with a large white cross at the top, and offers a gorgeous viewpoint.

We then drove down to the Titan Missile Museum, which I have never seen before. It currently houses an inert Titan II intercontinental ballistic missile. There are three floors all located on levels underground, within several feet of concrete and steel and supported on huge steel springs to help sustain a localized blast if needed. It's hard to believe or remember the cold war, but here is a really interesting reminder. We took a tour and learned about the operations and service this, and the two other similar facilities, provided. People were required to move about the facility in twos, both for safety and for security, to always keep an eye on each other given that a nuclear missile was housed here. There were lots of processes and systems in place to ensure no accidents. It was really interesting and worth seeing.

Next we drove up to downtown Tucson to the St. Augustine Cathedral. I have seen it before, though never went in. It's gorgeous on the outside though the inside isn't overly impressive.

We drove around a bit, past the Presidio, and decided to head over to 4th Ave, which is always fun. We parked by the Hotel Congress, then walked a ways down 4th Ave. I love this street, and it reminds me a lot of where I went to school in Amherst Massachusetts (Northampton, actually.) There are a lot of musicians, restaurants, tattoo parlors, interesting shops and even more interesting people. We then headed back to our dinner destination in Hotel Congress, The Cup Cafe.

Hotel Congress is a historic place built in 1919, known for the capture of bank robber, John Dillinger, in 1934. It's beautiful, interesting and just fun to go to. The Cup Cafe is always wonderful with the trifecta of what every restaurant should offer: great food, wonderful service and spectacular ambiance. I have always enjoyed it here, and almost always go whenever I'm in Tucson.

We headed back to our beautiful hotel and soaked in the hot tub for a bit. They said the pool was heated, and perhaps it was, but not enough! The view of the mountains was gorgeous and the stars were all sparkling in the big sky.

We decided to eat brunch at the hotel and wow, was it impressive. A huge display of food including an omelette bar, eggs benadict, breakfast meats and potatoes, blintzes, italian meats and cheeses, grilled veggies, fruits, olives, shrimp, smoked salmon, sushi.. and so on. wow. Oh, and very mini tarts that were such a pop of flavor. Yum! Blood orange mimosas and a lovely view of the mountains. Ahhh...

We checked out, grabbed Molly and headed to the Pima Air and Space Museum, which is dog friendly. Amazing! There are several hangars with planes built over the last hundred years, as well as close to a hundred outside. It was so interesting and so much fun to see them and read their history. Towards the end I heard that you can download a QR reader app and read even more about each plane, which was so interesting! I really loved the planes with the faces with wide smiles and teeth, and the ones with the pin ups and other pictures on the door. There was also a building with space information on the US space program, as well as information on some of the vehicles and the planets. I have never been to this museum and it was so much fun!

We headed back to Tucson to grab lunch at Beyond Bread, took Molly for a quick walk through Bookmans, a used book and CD store, then headed back north home to Phoenix. What a fun time, and a wonderful adventure seeing some great new things and some favorites in a great little town.

Pictures from the trip: