Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Old Tucson

We were sorry to see our friends Charlotte and Dan pull out of their spot across from us but it was time for them to fire up the RV and mosey back to Louisiana.  Before they left we headed to the old part of Tucson hoping to see a gunfight or something else out of the old southwest.  We were sorely disappointed when we found out the tourist trap known as “Old Tucson” was not open on that day.  The only gunfight would have to be at the sketchy Circle K behind the RV park.  But have no fear we would find something else to do….like go shopping.  The guide books alerted us to a conglomeration of shops featuring the work of local artisans located in an 1850’s adobe.  The maze of shops and galleries (called Old Town Artisans) ran the gamut from pottery, weavings, etchings, home furnishings, blown glass, to jewelry and much more.  Charlotte and Dan picked up a beautiful weaving for their motorhome and Betsy and I contemplated how one would look in ours.  While the artisans have taken over the buildings today, they once were used as a grocery store, a distillery, and residence.   Many of the shops have the original ceilings made from the ribs of saguaro cactus, packing crates, and whiskey barrel staves.  This was much more interesting than shopping at Target!

When you get tired of shopping, you can grab a bite to eat at La Cocina Cantina.
As we wandered out of the shops we came upon the PresidioSan Agustín del Tucson, the city’s’ original Presidio (or walled adobe fortress).  We were greeted by a wonderful guide, Jeanne, who led us into the courtyard and brought the place to life.  She explained the form and function of the Presidio and the unique historical structures that are preserved inside the walls.  Construction began in 1775 and when completed the newly formed town of Tucson grew to a community of 400 people living behind the protective adobe walls.  The fort remained in use until 1856, with the last standing segment torn down in 1918.  The Tucson Heritage Park has brought new life to the Presidio with the reconstruction of the 20-foot-tall adobe tower, 10-foot-high adobe walls, and a renovated adobe that serves as a museum and gift shop.  Throughout the year they host living history festivals where visitors can sample Spanish colonial food, be entertained with stories of old Tucson, and admire period crafts. 

Reconstruction of the walls and inside features began in 2006 after archaeologists found  hundreds of artifacts buried for hundreds of years.  A mural is painted on one of the walls to depict life in the Presidio.
The cannon gets fired during living history demonstrations. 
Not my ideal kitchen!                                  

The 10-foot high adobe walls give you the feeling of safety in the Presidio.  
On our way back to the RV park we took a drive through the neighborhood called Barrios Histórico.  Our guide extraordinaire back at the Presidio, Jeanne, told us that Barrios means “slums.”  This caused Betsy to give a big roll of her eyes and question my desire to drive through the area.  The historic area is an interesting mix of brightly colored Sonoran-style row houses built between 1860 and 1920 that has been regentrified and no longer considered the slums.  Of course I didn't tell Betsy that!  The thick adobe walls were designed to keep out the summer heat that sit close to the sidewalk and share an inner courtyard.  We survived our drive through the Barrio and headed back to the less-colorful RV park for our last evening of fun and good food with our friends.


  1. I wouldn't recommend Old Tucson, it's nothing like it used to be in the days before the fire. Instead, go to Trail Dust Town, split the "Big Cowboy" steak at Pinnacle Peak, wander through the shops, and take in the open-air play (with gunfights) held each evening. It's fun...and free!

  2. Great advice. The gun fights do get a little hokie. I'm sure we will find lots to do. Can't believe we have been here over a month already.


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