The road from Las Cruces to Tucson put us in higher elevations and we saw the remnants of the snow that closed the road two days ago. We enjoyed the alternating desert and mountain scenery. Tucson is in a valley surrounded by four mountain ranges. It’s a big town, over 800,000 people and lots of sprawl and smog. We pulled into the Prince of Tucson RV Park. It is an over 55 community and most of the sites are occupied by retirees and snowbirds. We have a narrow little site, jammed between two singlewide trailers. The site was so tight, with no margin for error, that they sent someone from the office to help us back in. This is urban camping at it’s worst. Land in town is at a premium so they allocate barely enough space for one trailer to slip into. It may maximize profits, but we feel like we are camping in Brooklyn.
Three days of straight driving has made us stiff and in need of some exercise so we decide to play golf on Thursday. Tucson has resort golf at $200+ a round and five or six municipal courses for a lot less. We have never found that spending $200 makes us play any better, so we opt for Dell Urich, a very nice municipal course and we walk out all our travel kinks. Afterwards we drive around Tucson a bit.
The golf course was outside of the downtown area, but it’s still a typical city with shopping centers, strip malls and fast food joints. I remember when I was young and we traveled across the U.S., each region offered unique sights, new stores to discover and a local flavor. Today national chains dominate the landscape. If it wasn’t for telling signs like palm trees, cacti or Balsam firs you would be hard pressed to know if you were in Miami, Tucson or Seattle. Fortunately we are usually in these “urban” areas because they are surrounded by beautiful country. In Tucson’s case it was the mountains and especially Saguaro National Park, a place dedicated to protecting and exhibiting the Saguaro Cactus.
They only grow in the Sonoran desert, which is primarily in this area of Arizona. They grow slowly, maybe an inch a year. They grow tall; many are over 50 feet tall. They are old; they can live to be 150-200 years old. We spent most of our stay in the National park, driving the back roads, wandering the trails and discovering all we could about this magnificent symbol of the southwest. As the sun is set over Tucson on our last day, we decided while the city may be too big for our taste, the surrounding area was worth the inconvenience.