Saguaro/Tucson

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Apr 9th, 2014, 08:03 PM
  #1
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Saguaro/Tucson

Link to my photos
http://share.shutterfly.com/action/w...0IatW7FqybsWt3
Sorry---Lots of food pics


Even though our quick weekend get away started out on the wrong foot, we ended up having a great time in Tucson. We arrived at American Airlines Fort Smith Arkansas(this is only about 15 minutes from our house, but we rarely fly from there because it is usually a lot more expensive or if we are using points, it is nearly impossible to get a seat with them). As we walked in the door I received a text on my cell phone saying our flight was on time. This is a super small airport and we were the next in line, literally 1 minute after walking in the door. The agent told me the flight had been cancelled and the next flight, which was the last flight for the day was full. At the same time, the entire track team for the University of Arkansas arrived behind us. They had been sent from XNA(Northwest Arkansas Airport) as that airplane had been cancelled too. The only thing the agent could come up with was for me to drive to Tulsa(a 2 hour drive) and he put me on a United Flight. Of Course, I arrive at Tulsa to find that flight was full and the American Airlines Agent at Fort Smith had made a huge mistake. My father had dropped us off and already left, so we were stuck. So, American paid for our hotel and gave me a $200 voucher and didn't charge me for my luggage. I had prepaid my hotel and car rental, so I did lose that. So much for the agent @ FSM. They did suggest that I write customer relations and I would likely get a bit more $$/voucher from them, so I will try.

The only other negative encounter was with Mount Lemmon Night Sky. There was apparently to many clouds, so they cancelled for the evening. No big deal,, but would have liked to have been able to do the tour.

Restaurants: (we did more eating than anything on this trip really). Surprisingly, very good food at Tucson.
Beyond Bread--Awesome Sandwiches, Salads, and Pastries
Baggins Gourmet-Similar to Beyond Bread-very good but one notch below Beyond Bread
Scordato's Pizza-Had a very good Salad and Pizza here. Would go back.
Farmers Market & Food Festival-Had a very good Tamale here from Tucson Tamale Company, Very good Chicken Crepe from Planet of the Crepes, sampled tons of other good items. Most things priced $3-$6.
Frost Gelato--Best Gelato Ever!!
Allegro IL Gelato--Good but not nearly as good as Frost
Eegee's--Local slushie drink-I thought was great, wife was underwhelmed
El Guerro Canelo --a must do in Tucson, Wife wanted to go back. We had the sonoran hot dog, a couple of tacos, and a torta. Outstanding!
AJ's Fine Foods--Had Breakfast and bought some salads for a picnic-very very good
Very similar to a Whole Foods. Great cup of mocha here.
Octillo Cafe in Desert Museum--probably the best meal we had--SUPER!
Cup Cafe in Hotel Congress-Cast Iron Baked Eggs were very good here. Enjoyed Cup Cafe!!

Tours:
Sabino Canyon-8.5 mile walk to Seven Falls. The falls were a trickle, but still a nice hike and waterfall at the end. Signage is TERRIBLE. It is really frustrating to me when trails(especially a super popular one like this) isn't properly signed. Huge crowds on this one, but that really doesn't bother me. I would do this trail above anything else in Tucson as really they all look exactly the same. I find this one to be more diverse than the rest. Frankly, do this hike and skip the rest. Everything just looks the same to me.
Desert Museum-This is really a zoo. Very good. Raptor Flight was awesome!
Best Drives are Bajada Loop and Catcus Drive in the West and East sections of Saguaro NP.
Kartchner Caverns--Very good Tour and Docent here. Only gripe would be that you aren't allowed to take pictures. This is a pristine, but small cave. It is decorated, but not as heavily as I thought it would be. Not anywhere near the same category as Carlsbad Caverns.
Mission San Xavier Del Bac--Enjoyed this tour and docent was great! Free and they ask for a donation, but repeatedly tell you to not feel obligated to do so though. Most people would leave $5-$20 I would imagine.

We stayed at Embassy Suites Paloma Village. Very good-it is not upscale. I'm not sure there is really a good location in Tucson to stay. Everything is super spread out to us. Free Breakfast there was the best freebie I've encountered. This is really the kind of lodging I like in a city.

This is my 35th national park. Hot Spring is my least favorite of all time. I would rank Saguaro and Petrified Forest next to that tied for the next to last position. However, certainly worth doing once and we were very happy to have seen it and really did enjoy the trip despite American Airlines foul up(there were no issues on our return flight home).
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Apr 10th, 2014, 09:48 AM
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Thanks for the report, sorry your trip got off to a bad start.

I've also just returned from the Tucson area, and perhaps because I arrived from the endless winter we were having in the northeast, I found the area fascinating and beautiful.

The woman at the counter at Sabino canyon talked me out of the 7 falls hike...she said the main route was more interesting. No idea if that is true, but I did enjoy it, and the sandwich I picked up at Beyond Bread to eat on my hike.

Not sure I could rate the NPs I've been too--they all have their special beauty. Can't think of one I wouldn't go back to.

~Liz
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Apr 10th, 2014, 09:49 AM
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Glad you had such a successful. FYI, Eegee's a popular Tucson
establishment was founded by a Rhode Islander. The frozen drinks are based on Rhode Island's famous Frozen Lemonade.
They're popular with kids.
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Apr 10th, 2014, 12:05 PM
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Glad things worked out for you. I'm with elberko, I haven't met a NP I didn't like, and some of the ones that others find the best did were not favorites for me. I love geology and history, so petrified forest with all its petroglyphs in addition to the rock, was interesting to me too.
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Apr 10th, 2014, 08:01 PM
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I have fallen in love with Tucson, love the tram at Sabino canyon.
Favorite foods were the original Marisco's on Grand and Frost Gelato.

I am not a fan of the desert museum, but love Tohono Chul.

We have booked for a month next winter.
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Apr 10th, 2014, 08:03 PM
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My friend Mac stated working for the USFS at the lookout tower on Mt. Lemmon last Sunday. On his days off he has the best lodging in Tucson (free) at a Forest Service owned apartment building. On his work days he lives in a 14X14 L4 fire tower.
It is a bit cooler up on Mt. Lemmon than down in the city.
A couple day this week the temp was in the 90's with humidity in the single digits.
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Jun 14th, 2014, 09:22 AM
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spirobulldog, what are your top 5 NPs?
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Jun 14th, 2014, 10:34 AM
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#1 Yosemite for me. In June when waterfalls are rocking
#2 Yellowstone-My wife and daughter rank it #1--amazing place
#3 Arches-My daughter and I love this place. Wife say its ok
#4 Mount Rainier-Awesome Mountain and Wildflowers
#5 Sequoia-Best Trees anywhere

Kenai Fjords is probably the prettiest one I've been to

Olympic and Glacier National Parks are somewhat like Yellowstone. Very diverse and a lot of different things within a few miles of each other. Really liked both of those. I think had I been to Glacier a couple of weeks early when the waterfalls would have been going better, it might have made my Top 5.

Least Favorite is Hot Springs National Park.

All Time Best Moments-Canyoneering in Arches, Wild Cave in Carlsbad Caverns, Bears in Yellowstone Lake Clark and Glacier, Calving glaciers in Kenai, backpacking in Guadalupe Mountains and the night sky there(night sky is awesome in Utah too)

Best Hikes--Mist Trail in Yosemite, Angels Landing in Zion, The Narrows in Zion, Iceberg Lake in Glacier, James Irvine Trail connecting to Fern Canyon in Redwoods, Lassen Peak

Parks that surprised me how well I liked them--Death Valley, Mesa Verde, and Lassen Volcano.

Favorite State Parks-
Custer State Park
Goblin Valley State Park
Petit Jean State Park

Best Off The Beaten Path--Buffalo National River in Arkansas-specifically-The Upper Buffalo region when the waterfalls are going nicely


Trips I have planned-- Camping in Great Basin the end of this month. Returning to Mount Rainier end of July. Acadia in October. Returning to Yellowstone June 2015-On that trip going with some friends. We have never traveled with friends, so this will be different experience for us.
I don't have any of the following actually booked-- Hope to go to Channel Islands in 2015. Might camp at Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Great Sand Dunes, and/or Rocky Mountain NP in 2015.

I've traveled to most of these with my wife and daughter(now 20 years old). I went to Canyonland and Capitol Reef with my neighbor who is in college. Went to Lassen, Redwoods, Carlsbad, Smoky Mountains with my nephew when he was age 10-14. Had a little boy who lived next to us that I reunited with last year and backpacked Guadalupe. He is now 30. Part of it is who you spend time with in National Parks. I never go hiking by myself, for example. Although, I know a lot of people that do that sort of thing.

I always try to go at the very best time of year for each park. I also try to do something really good in each park-raft the Grand Canyon, or best hike in the park, etc. I think the more time I spend in each place I like it that much more.
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Jun 17th, 2014, 09:26 AM
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Thank you so much for the detailed answer, I really appreciate it! Yellowstone is number one for me so far. With Sequoia being up there as well.

Need to go to Olympic and Glacier NP as soon as possible
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