Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Waves, Wine & Warmth (2018)

One peak, two parks, and dinner for three

Setting superstition aside, I decided that there was going to be nothing unlucky about this Friday 13th. To get things underway, I bought  a warm bagel, some cream cheese and a small cappuccino from the convenient coffee shop in the Hilton's lobby, and ate this fairly light breakfast in my room. Once I'd got myself organised, I set out to begin a reasonably full day of activities.

First up was Kitt Peak, home to a national observatory and something that to my eyes looked like it offered the potential of a scenic drive. Dressed in T-shirt and shorts, I was struck by how cool it felt as I stepped out of the Hilton's front door. I even had the presence of mind to question whether the uphill nature of my first drive might counteract the tendency for the temperature to rise as the day wore on, but foolishly I took no action.

I crossed the city, mostly on 22nd Avenue, picked up Hwy 86 (Ajo Road) and eventually made a left turn onto the 386, which would climb Kitt Peak.  There were multiple turnouts on this scenic road, and I stopped at most of them to take photos.

Eventually I made it to the summit, where it was a decidedly chilly 47F, made worse by an appreciable wind chill. I hopped out of the car to take a few photos as swiftly as possible, and an observatory worker called to me: "You're not dressed for this!" I agreed, and got back into the car as quickly as possible to retrace the route downhill. I was stopped at a federal border control post soon after rejoining Hwy 86; this was no surprise as I knew that I was within a few miles of the Mexican border.

I easily found my turn onto S Kinney Rd, having spotted it earlier this morning. This was the access road for my next pair of objectives, but first I had a fast-food lunch simply because the facility was there, and I wasn't sure what would be available where I was going. I made a few roadside stops after entering Tucson Mountain Park, to admire and photograph the desert plants. It was a relief to note that, at this lower elevation and later time of day, my attire was now perfectly matched to the prevailing conditions.

I soon came to Old Tucson Studios, a collection of old and restored film sets enhanced with some theme park-type attractions, all celebrating the Wild West. I found it all very interesting and enjoyable, especially seeing the sets of The High Chaparral; this show dated from the late 1960s, and I had reasonably clear childhood memories of it.


I returned to the Hilton realising that, despite my best efforts to be observant, I still hadn't found somewhere to buy a bottle of wine. The final part of the day was an invitation to dinner from Bruce's friends Eric and Tim, whom I had first met in New York City in 2015, and had met again in Edinburgh in the summer of 2017. I asked the friendly assistant in the Hilton's coffee shop, who told me of the existence of Sprouts Farmers Market a short distance away - it was even walkable if I felt so inclined. After sitting in the car for much of the day, I did. Problem solved!

Tim picked me up shortly before 5pm and drove me to their beautiful and spacious home, which is situated in a quiet neighbourhood on the very edge of the city, and offers stunning views of the Santa Catalina Mountains. I had a truly excellent evening enjoying the couple's wonderful hospitality, the centrepiece of which was a superb, home-made, three-course dinner. Grateful thanks to both of them for a memorable evening!

Friday 13 Apr

Distance driven: 131mi

AZ trip to date: 367mi

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