Checking In: Tucson Travels
Did you miss me? Did you notice I was a bit absent? I’ll assume some love and a giant “yes” and move forward 🙂 The past 3+ weeks have been a whirlwind of travel and hectic work responsibilities, hence my lack of recent posts. However, fear not as I plan to catch you up to speed on my travels and varied running adventures.
By the time I pulled into the driveway around 2PM this past Monday, I realized that I had slept out of a suitcase for 16 of the previous 21 days. I made my way to Tucson and San Juan for work, and to Tulsa for the amazing Route 66 Marathon. It makes fairly logical sense to start at the beginning, so let me share a bit about my Tucson travels.
I headed down on the 5th for a multicultural education conference, and was almost instantly greeted by warmer temperatures (shocking in Arizona, right?!). The highs hovered around 80 the entire time I was there, which was almost too warm, but I wasn’t complaining. I immediately started hydrating to compensate for the dry air, but probably never fully did the job. However, I managed to get in several great runs while I was down there. They only added to my love of Arizona trails, and the winter climate. Remind me again why we wait until we retire to split our time during the year between two locations?
The conference was at the Hilton El Conquistador, which was a bit out-of-the-way, and not really my style of travel, but a lovely location. If you love to golf and sit by a pool, then this is the spot for you. Alas, I enjoy neither of these activities, but I also knew I would be rather busy anyway so it was of little significance. Luckily, I arrived a day early, and the hotel offered a shuttle out to Catalina State Park. I made a few new friends on the shuttle from the airport, and we decided to head out to the park together. Once we got there, I took off on my own for some trail exploration.
It had been a year or so since my last visit to Arizona, and I tried my best to remember the impact of climate differences but the elevation and dry heat still took me by surprise! I followed a fairly well-worn trail, but I still had to keep my eyes open to make sure I wasn’t making any wrong turns. The switchbacks and constant climbing were simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting, and I loved every minute of it. I made my way down the Romero Canyon Trail towards the Romero pools, and the views were spectacular from every angle. I had a hard time not stopping every 100 feet to soak up the scenery and take pictures (as well as catch my breath a bit). At one point, I had naively thought I could have made it to the base of Mt. Lemon, but the distance was a bit far off and I dialed back my expectations, especially considering the sun would be setting soon and I probably didn’t want to get stuck out in the desert by myself at night (without a torch)! I made my way back and met up with the others to hop on the shuttle back to the hotel.
The next day, I squeezed in a shorter run out to a nearby trailhead that wound up the foothills of the Catalina Mountains. I ran into another runner out of the trail, and he gave me some great advice for the journey ahead. I love the fact that runners always seem to be ready to help one another out, whether they know each other or not. I made sure to bring my headlamp this time, and I pulled it out as the sun was setting over the mountains and I made my way back down towards the hotel. The colors were just spectacular, and it was hard not to just stop and watch the patchwork quilt of reds, oranges, and yellows unfold before me. My lack of local wildlife knowledge propelled me forward, however 🙂
On my last full day, I headed out for a Saturday long run, intent on doing as much exploring as possible. I managed to wander between several different trailheads that were connected by roads in a neighboring development. Even in the early morning hours, the sun was already out in full force, and I was happy to find a place to refill my water bottle along the way. Even though this was my 5th run in Arizona, the dry heat and elevation still slowed me down and I had to be quite intentional about tempering my expectations. Once I did that, however, I had a blast. My eyes darted back and forth, intent on taking in as much of the surrounding scenery as possible, and committing these happy moments to memory.
My five days in Tucson were jam-packed with meetings and presentations, but I was lucky to find the time to get out and explore a new area of Arizona. I wished I had more time to hike up into the Catalina Mountains, especially after reviewing all of the trail maps, but that just means I have another to-do item for my bucket list.
Next up on my travel log is a trip to San Juan, PR with the epicurean…stay tuned!