Didn’t We Just do This 15 Years Ago?

Monday April 9, 2012

If you caught it in the last post, I had been to Arizona before and on my trip back this year we were going places I’ve never been as well as visiting a few again that I have.  My first time in Arizona was back in 1997 when my family took a vacation here while road tripping through Arizona and California.  While we were in AZ we spent a few days in Tucson doing things like visiting mountains and getting our picture taken in an old time photo shop.  Coming back in 2012 my parents thought it would be fun to recreate those days by going back to Tuscon and doing all those things again.  So only a half a day after we had gotten back from Sedona we piled back into the truck with coolers and snacks loaded up to set off on another two hour ride in the opposite direction from where we had been the day before.

Our first stop of the day once we reached Tucson was Sebino Canyon which has trails to walk and a tram to drive you around when you were tired.  My brother Joe and I did specifically remember this place as it had large rocks over water we had dangled off before,  scaring the hell out of my mom I’m sure.  Changing pace from the cool February weather we had experienced our first time around, this day we were faced with 90 degree heat.  Unloading from the truck we all slathered on sunscreen and had personal water bottles to tote around with us.  We purchased tickets to take the tram to the top where we would then begin our descent on foot, and while waiting for the next tour to leave we took seats under the shade of an arbor while watching little chimpmunk like creatures pop their heads out of little holes and run across the ground almost too quick for you to see them.  By the time our tram rolled up it filled so quickly that we were left with the rows in the second cart, not protected by the sun.  It was already scorching hot and you could tell it by the people who were coming back on foot wearing as little clothing as possible, already drenched in sweat.  Once the tram starting moving though, there was a nice breeze and the friendly tour guide began with an explaination of all the stops along the way where we could get off and get back on with our trusty blue ticket stub and also went into detail about the canyon itself and the flora and fauna around us.  No one in our tour group felt the need  to get off on the way up and we continuted to climb up to the very last stop.  We had passed the infamous rocks along the way and figured we’d ride the tram back down and get off there.

Once we were dropped off at that stop, surprisingly the only ones in the tour group, we filled our water bottles back up at the rest area and made our way down the sandy path to where the rocks met a little pool of water.  After taking the obligatory few photos of the scenery Joe and I started climing the rocks to get back to the same spot for some ‘now and then’ photos.  The first few rocks were small and easy to jump over, but then we came up to one where a minerature stream of water ran between the two rocks to the shallow pool below.  Joe backed up a few steps and took a running leap over to the other side with minimal effort.  I was about to do the same thing when I realized that even tough it was only an 18″ gap, the rock on the other side had a higher elevation than the one I was currently on and I could see myself losing balance and falling 15 feet into 10 inches of water.  So I figured the smartest thing to do would be to take off my Sketchers and wade across the water to step on a slightly level part of the rock on the other side.  Sounded good in theory.  The new issue became, and I realized this as soon as i was in the water, that the water itself made the rocks incredibly slippery and my foot could not get traction while trying to climb up the other side.  Joe, who probably trusts my ‘climbing’ abilities about as much as Matt, instantly thought I was in peril and grabbed my arm to start yanking me up.  I should have just let him pull me all the way up while I dangled limply below and have the ordeal over with, but knowing that I only needed assistance instead of a rescue I started pulling back on my end.  I had only wanted him to steady me while I did get good footing, but each time I would start to slip and then he’d start to yank while I yanked back.  I think at one point I fully twisted around and had to try and twist myself back.  Standing back on the shore my dad knew this wasn’t a serious case of my getting hurt and was just happily snapping pictures of us from the sand, eager to share my embarrassing moment with me which I was probably just as eager to see.  Finally after getting turned back around I told Joe to wait while I put my foot up on a small indent in the rock and then he could yank me up.  This worked and just a few seconds later I was safe and sound again.  To make things worse though, a woman who was on our side of the rock came over to me to show where there was a simple place to hop over on the back side.  Of course there was.

Now that I had made all the effort to get to this particular rock I was ready to sit there in the sun for awhile and relax but everyone else was ready to get moving again.  On the tram ride up we had spotted a nice little sandy beach area next to a bridge we had wanted to see and with all the things on our list to do again, we couldn’t spend too much time in one spot.  Taking the much easier way across the rocks this time I picked up my shoes and we made our way back out to the road and began to make our way down it.  At this point the sky became hazy again which was nice for the heat but terrible for the photos I was trying to take.  Instead of getting beautiful brown and red mountains popping against a blue sky the scenery wasn’t translating through the camera and my pictures were coming out a little dull and uninteresting.  After awhile I gave up and just enjoyed the walk and the chance to be with family.  We were still surrounded by beautiful sights and the memories of when we had done this together 15 years ago.

When we made our way down to the stop that housed the beach it was overcrowed and still overcast.  The little dip in the water we had been looking forward to was no longer needed as much.  We still stopped to rest for a few minutes and made the decision to continue on our way and out of the canyon so we could squeeze in a visit to University of Arizona while we were in the area.  Since we had seen the tram pass us on it’s way up just 10 minutes before and we knew it wouldn’t be back down to pick us up for at least 20 minutes we kept walking down the foothills to meet it at a location closer to the entrance.  When we got to stop 3 we thought we’d stay and wait for the tram since it does not pick up hitchhikers along the road and they are very specific about only picking up and dropping people off at assigned stops.  While waiting to be picked up my mom pointed out where other people who I’m guessing were bored like me started piling up little rocks one on top of the other almost like a marker or memorial.  I figured I had a few minutes to kill and I would make my own art too.  Looking around the area for one of the larger rocks to place on the bottom I found one off to the side and picked it up to move to a flat location.  As soon as I stuck my hand under it a very large brown spider ran out just below my fingertips.  I turned to my dad to asked if there were brown recluse spiders in the area and he replied there were.  No more playing with rocks for me, I did not feel like losing a finger or an arm on this trip.  I was just going to sit my butt on the seat and wait for the tram to pick me up since my scraped up knees already showed that I had enough adventure for the day.

When we got back to the truck Joe took over the GPS and punched in University of Arizona for us to swing by and bascially only visit the bookstore to buy a shirt before leaving.  The monotone voice began directing us out of the park and back on the main road to town.  After traveling a few miles we hit a large traffic jam due to construction and were at a complete standstill.  We could see on the map we’d be taking a left turn a mile up the road so as soon as we got to the next light a few hundred yards ahead we decided to take the turn early.  This did not please GPS lady and she angrily told us she was recalculating.  Taking our new roundabout recalculated way there were plenty of twists and turns as we tried to follow the new directions.  Once it seemed like we were getting into a populated area again the GPS told us to take a right onto a road, and then another right which led us into a housing development.  We were all a little confused wondering if this was campus housing and we were being taken in the back way.  After following the street for a few hundred feet we could tell this definitley wasn’t right but there was no good place to turn around so we kept following the dirctions on the GPS hoping it would lead us back out.  After a few more ‘turn left in 500 feet, turn right in 300 feet’ we were dropped onto a dead end street.  Making our way to the end of the culdesac to turn ourselvles around since we knew it was all wrong the GPS proudly announced to us ‘You have now reached the University of Arizona’.  Apparently classes are now being held at Catalina Foothills Estates 7 in Tucson.  Lesson learned.  Never upset the GPS, it will get back at you.  Choosing a new U of A location on University Drive we made our way to what actually looked like a campus this time.

Finding a 20 minute parking spot by the quad we all hopped out with no real idea of where to go.  Visiting college campuses together before (ASU, Uof NC, and Duke) we knew the bookstore was usually in the center of campus.  We just kept walking to where all the crowds of people seemed to be but still ended up having to ask students for directions.  Walking into the bookstore there were crowds of people seated infront of a large screen with a potium.  It was obvious there was going to be a speaker of some kind but I was too interested in finding who and made my way to the t-shirts to find a new one for Matt.  After browsing the racks and deciding that red was not his color I opted for a dark gray shirt with the wildcat logo.  Forgoing a shirt for myself since the girls collection was pretty dismal I met my parents back at the front where we cashed out and made our way back to the truck before our 20 mintues was up.  All that work just for a shirt.  I was still happy with it though.

The next thing on the agenda for us was to go to Tucson Mountain Park.  This was another place we had visited on our trip out in ’97.  It was filled with steep mountains covered in saguaro cacti with a winding road running through it.  We arrived there in late afternoon and while we didn’t have time to take in a sunset like when we were last here we drove up to a trail head and sat on one of the benches to enjoy the scenery.  This time we were smart and packed beer for the trip so we each pulled out a can while letting the low lying sun wash over us.  (No, alchohol is not permitted in the park, but we’re big time rebels)  When the bottoms of the cans were dry we got back in the truck for our last stop of the day; old time photos and dinner at a steakhouse.  Both were housed together in Trail Dust Town, a cheesey tourist Old Western area.  I personally was excited to play dress up in one of the frilly gowns at watch my dad and Joe get old time mustaches painted on their faces.  Going to reach for the handle on the door we saw a sign with the schedule ‘Closed Mondays’.  I was a little disappointed to say the least and while the four of us were standing there wondering what to do next a couple and their dog came walking up the dirt road to tell us they’re open.  It was the owners and I guess they happened to be out walking their dog at the same time we arrived.  They opened shop and brought all of us inside.

After going through the story that we had been here before and wanted to re-create a memory my mom and I were ushered behind a curtain with all the women’s costume’s while my dad and Joe stayed out in the main area to be fitted for coats and hats.  Behind the curtain were many frilly and lacy dresses, some conservative but also many for ladies of the evening.  This was the route we were taking.  After being shown many options we each picked one out and started changing into our costumes while rolling on fishnet stockings and lacing up black boots.  We were each given a garter, choker necklace and some fancy head gear.  When we stepped out into the shop again we could see the guys were almost fully dressed as well but needed a little extra facial hair drawn on by burning the end of a cork and using the black tip like chalk.  Once we were deemed outlaws and hussies we were let to the set for positioning.  None of us could remember how we were positioned the last time even though we had just looked at the last photo before leaving that morning, so we let the experts put us in a place they thought we’d look best.  They even threw the dog into the mix free of charge.  One of the great things that did change from the last time we were here is they’ve gone digital.  Last time there was only one shot at the photo and if you had your eyes closed or were making a funny face it was too bad for you.  This time they would snap a few pictures, bring us over to the computer where we could see them and then go back to fix things that didn’t look right.  After about eight photos we decided on a winner and went back to change into our 21st century clothes while they boys wiped off their mustaches with baby wipes.

By the time we were presentable to the modern day again they had already printed off our photos and were placing them in cardboard frames for us to take home.  We thanked them for their time and told them hopefully we’d be back in 15 more years, maybe with some little kids in the mix.  The last thing on the agenda for the night was a dinner at a steakhouse right across the dusty trail from the photo studio.  It also had an Old West theme to it and as we were seated at our table I could tell there also must be a theme against wearing a neck tie to the joint because there were cut of ties nailed to all the walls.  Most you could tell were worn by people who knew they would not be leaving the restaurant with it because the ones by our table were some of the tackiest ties I’ve ever seen.  The one by me that took the prize was from the 80′s in an electric blue with hot pink and yellow accents and covered in computers and floppy discs.  Totally radical.  The menu was smaller than I thought it would be, but sticking with the Western theme I ordered a fillet mignon with beans and a glass of red wine.  Ok, the whine should have been whiskey but I didn’t think I could shoot that back.  The food was delicious with a juicy and tender steak and the beans were reminiscent of chili which was even better than the baked beans I was imagining them to be.  It was a great end to a busy day and after spending the last 48 hours of traveling all over the state and taking in so many things I was ready for a more slow paced relaxing day tomorrow.

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