Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Arizoning Out, part 3: Tucson Family Time

Woke up only a little fuzzy from too much Mexican Moonshine and shenanigans at the show. In search of a Breakfast Burrito, Doug did some internetting, and found a place to eat called Snooze on the campus (or very near to it) of ASU.

We were literally the oldest people in there until another mom and dad pair and their student/kid came in.

The place was hopping, ping pong table and cornhole games going on at the patio. We sat at an 8 seater high-top table with kids younger than my daughter, probably same age as my son.

And the Breakfast Burrito was outstanding. Way too huge - I had to have Doug help me finish it. The quest for Breakfast Burrito happiness was achieved.

On to my aunt and uncle's house in Tucson.

A long time ago, my dad's sister moved to California with her husband and two kids. We all kind of lost contact. My cousin Deb was always good at keeping in touch, and my aunt came back to visit when my other aunt had cancer and was getting treatment but I think at that point I was already living up here, and rarely connected with much of my dad's family.

In the past couple of years we've kind all reconnected, and I have had the pleasure of getting to know my aunt and uncle all over again.

We got to their house Sunday afternoon and soaked up the scenery from their backyard, looking down from the Catalina Highlands to the city of Tucson in the valley below. My uncle's birthday is February 29th, so we went out for his big "21st!" which was a great time.

We then sat around the living room enjoying some after dinner drinks.

What a great day.

We had planned a couple of things to see while in Tucson. Doug wanted to drive up the Sky Islands Scenic byway to Summerhaven and Mount Lemmon, and he wanted to go to the Pima Air Museum.

My aunt told me if we went there that we should stare into a space that has nothing in it while a crowd is around and yell "Wow! That Stealth Bomber is really cool! You can barely see it!" It's guaranteed to get a laugh, and I think she figured us out pretty quickly that we'd be the type of people to do just that.

We got a slow start out the door that morning and enjoyed our ride up to Mount Lemmon. The elevation change from being at sea level on Thursday to 9100 feet there that afternoon was having an impact on both of our brains.

Doug started to feel it at about 7000 feet and it hit me around 8000 feet. It felt like all I wanted to do was curl up and take a nap. My pace was slow, my brain kind of pulsing but not in pain.

We ate a great lunch at the Iron Door but passed on having a beer with our burgers. Doug took it easy driving, and we had fun driving down the mountain back to feeling normal again.

It was crazy, crazy beautiful, and you should go look at the pictures in Flickr to check it all out.

We didn't make it to the Air Museum. So we drove around a little while and got back to my aunt and uncle's where she had made a lovely dinner. We had initially planned on leaving in the morning but between chatting with my aunt and uncle about all the things we didn't see yet, and the hospitality and joy we were feeling, Doug suggested we stay another day and enjoy Tucson a little more.

So that was our revised plan. My aunt made Cadillac Margaritas and we enjoyed another evening together.

My aunt thought it was funny that Doug liked "stuffed animals," after we told her about Curious Nature in Tempe.

So she suggested we go to the International Wildlife Museum to see more stuffed animals.

Now, Doug isn't really a bona fide fan of trophy taxidermy. Neither of us are. I would say we're both fans of "weird things." Peculiarities, your Oddities style taxidermy. Animals with two heads, you know. That kind of thing. We definitely aren't fans of trophy hunting where an animal is minding its own business somewhere in Safari Land and it gets shot in the head just for being big and there... I mean, it was done for a long time, and the "trophies" that exist, well, they should be well cared for in museums and  the like - so people can see them.

But people who currently go hunt on safari like this? Big game hunters are big losers in my mind. That is a hobby that needs to be retired.

My aunt was so excited to share this with us, that we didn't stop her.

The museum is great - lots of history on taxidermy and how it is done, and then there is a giant lodge style "trophy" room filled with all kinds of animals. None of them are recent animals - these are all donations from collections and some of them are extremely old.

I sat under the bears and thought of Mike Birbiglia and his greatest fear.

We then went over to the Saguaro National Park West (Rincon) District to go see the majestic Cacti. My aunt was telling us about the "So-wahhhhhh-ro" cactus, over and over.  Doug turned to her and said "I think you're saying that wrong, because there is a "g" in there.

She punched him in the arm. Again, I think she totally gets us.

It was beautiful day. We got a short hike in, nothing too big as my aunt and uncle were in the rental car. So many cacti. So, so many.

We went to the San Xavier del Bac Mission, and got there a few minutes after closing time. I got to walk around and take some pictures of the White Dove of the Desert. It was magic hour, the sky was lovely. And it was time for dinner.

Dinner. Because my uncle was turning 21, we also agreed to celebrate again. My aunt told the lady at the front desk of the restaurant about John's birthday and ordered desert in advance. More margaritas, a funny hat, and a lot of laughs.

Another amazing day.

Next stop, part 4! Tombstone!

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