Toasty Tucson: our 2015 holidays in the land of saguaros

Alive in Tucson: we spend 6 weeks in Tucson, Arizona - a place we knew nothing about!

Toasty Tucson: our 2015 holidays in the land of saguaros

Posted January 02, 2017 by Bailey Mareu

When we arrived in Tucson, we had just spent three days traveling - the most we had ever done at once with the pop up camper. Three days of tear down, travel, setup, repeat. Before that, we had been sleeping in the pop up camper in sub freezing temperatures. It had been a rough week, basically.

As we traveled on Interstate 10 west from Las Cruces, the sun was shining and quickly warming the car. At some point, Phil got so hot from the early afternoon sun beating down on the car, he hung up the sweatshirt in the window to block the sun. Reminder: this was December 3rd and we were ecstatic to be thawing out. 

I called some places as we traveled to Tucson, trying to figure out where we would stay; our plans totally thrown in the air because of weather, we were winging it. One park, just southeast of the city, was $500 for a month and the nicest lady told me they did have spots available. The website photos looked pretty good - and there was a pool! 

We arrived and took a look at a spot they had available that was still also close to the bathrooms (it’s nice to not have to walk too far to use the toilet!) The spot was spectacular. It was on the edge of the park and overlooked open land full of cactus and - we would come to find out - the occasional cattle herd.

We set up, marveling at the warm sun and 70 degree day. We had finally realized a perk of our lifestyle - snowbirds escaping to warmer temperatures!

RV Park

The Adventure Bound Cactus Country RV Resort was an oasis. The people were nice, the bathrooms were clean, the views were awesome. The monthly cost was unexpected - just $500 when one week is $200+ - as was the free cable and daily trash and recycling pickup. 

The park has a media room where we can plugin to the internet that ended up being MUCH faster than their wifi. The wifi was sometimes fast enough to stream shows (we watched a lot of The X-Files in Tucson - a lot of season 3, 4 and into 5) but if we were doing heavier data upload or other web heavy things, it lagged quite a bit. Plugging in to the internet in the media room gave us 20 times faster speeds. Phil spent a lot of time in there working and I did if I needed to download images, schedule a lot of social media posts or upload to YouTube. 

The essentials

Every time we set up in a new place there are a certain core things we need to figure out:

  1. Where is the closest grocery store?
  2. Where is the closest coffee shop?
  3. Where can we find good beer?

Sometimes we figure these things out quickly and sometimes much more slowly. Our first night in Tucson we went to Wal-Mart about 5 minutes away. Our 2nd grocery trip took us to Safeway which is not our favorite. It took about a week for me to figure out that not much farther past the Wal-Mart was a Fry’s which is just like the Dillon’s we were used to in Lawrence (both owned by Kroger). We could use our Plus account and we could rack up fuel points to get discounts at the gas station in the same parking lot. The brands at Fry’s were almost identical to what we were used to at Dillon’s which decreases time spent deciding on grocery purchases. 

One of the things I picked up from Fry’s were tortillas from the local La Estrella Bakery which were just delicious. We ended up taking a trip to the bakery itself: in addition to four types of tortillas, the bakery sold baked goods, donuts and ingredients for cooking some delicious Mexican cuisine.

Exploring Tucson

Our first weekend in town, we stumbled upon Arizona Beer House. A large, airy warehouse space in Central Tucson about 20 minutes from our RV park, it serves about 20 local beers on tap and has additional coolers full of local and regional beer to purchase to go or drink at the bar. We tried several beers since they offered build-your-own-flights and took some bottled beer home. We ended up returning about four times during our time in Tucson. One trip to ABH was a $5 yoga and beer event (even Phil can get on board with yoga if there is beer) and we found out yoga at breweries was a thing in Tucson. 

Downtown Tucson

The second weekend in town, we decided to head to downtown Tucson and see how many of their many breweries we could try. We hit Barrio Brewing and grabbed dinner and proceeded to Thunder Canyon Brewery and Pueblo Vida. At Pueblo Vida, we ran into a couple of fellow full-time RVers, also from Lawrence, who we had met in our last few days in Lawrence in November.  We had no idea they were even IN Tucson - super crazy coincidence. They invited us to Public House (more brews to try) and there we met one of their friends who had also attended KU. Just like that, 5 Jayhawks, having a good time in Tucson.

The next day, we headed back downtown to experience Tucson’s yearly arts festival. It was a cool day for Tucson - 50 degrees and cloudy - and the lack of sun made it definitely cooler than what we had been experiencing. We weren’t in the market for anything - we live in a pop up camper, remember? - but it was fun to window shop and see some incredible art. We were a little chilly in only our sweatshirts and decided to walk a few blocks over to Exo Roast Company - a coffee shop that roasts their own beans. The coffee was delicious and I was glad I ordered a mocha since they also make their own chocolate sauce. 

Over the following weeks, we returned downtown to visit Dragoon Brewing Company (not far from the Santa Cruz disc golf course), Taqueria Juanitos (the best Mexican food we had in Tucson), Lindy’s on 4th twice (with burgers of Dinners, Drive-In and Dives fame), a Sonoran hot dog stand and Pueblo Vida Brewing Company again (which we decided was our favorite brewery in Tucson). 

Part Two of a winter in Tucson coming soon! Until then, enjoy some photos!