My Trip to Tucson, Part 1

A while ago, I blogged about a trip I took to Tucson, Arizona, where I scooted around in a cute rental car and took pictures of cacti—in between interviewing for a job. A company generously flew me out there and I had a great time. Unfortunately, I didn’t get an offer…

…so I applied again and was again offered a trip out to Arizona. Of course, I took it. I wanted to interview because the job sounded great and I really, really like Arizona. So I went at the end of August 2017 and promised to blog about it, but then didn’t.

Well, here is that promised blog entry. There will be two blog entries, actually: one today and one tomorrow. It was that amazing of a trip. The only thing that would have made it better was having my mom out there with me. It was still a great trip, though, so here we go. This is what happened on Days 1 and 2, a lovely Sunday and Monday in August 2017.

I had to take two planes to get there, of course. There are barely any nonstop flights nowadays anyway, and I don’t live near a massive airport. Even one of the larger airports that’s somewhat near me, Atlanta, doesn’t have a whole lot of nonstop flights out to Arizona. They exist, but they’re expensive, and I don’t think the company would have wanted to pay that much when they could just stick me on a cheaper flight with connections.

So I flew United to Denver and hung out in the Denver airport for a while. Then, I boarded the plane to Tucson and made my first mistake: I’d asked for an aisle seat.

I usually sit aisle because window is hard to get out of and middle—well, the less said about middle seats, the better. When I booked the flight via the company’s concierge service (it sounds way fancier than it is, I promise), I’d requested aisle seats on both flights. That was a big mistake! Next time I fly to Arizona, I’m getting a window seat. The view from the window was gorgeous.

I got lucky because the lady next to me in the window seat let me lean over her a bit to see what was going on outside. That’s how I took this fantastic photo of some Arizona scenery about half an hour before we landed. It’s one of my favorite photos that I’ve ever taken.



We landed and I got my rental car. I’d requested the same hotel I stayed in for my prior trip to Arizona since I knew where it was—and that was my second mistake. This hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn Tucson Airport, was having major renovations done. I walked in and they were in the process of jackhammering the lobby. It was bad, people. The lady at the front desk gave me earplugs as I checked in. I went to my room and the fire alarm went off three or four times, after which I checked out and canceled my reservation and went to another hotel. (Shoutout to the Marriott Courtyard Tucson Airport for being friendly and nice and quiet!) The company reimbursed my stay there, thank goodness. Even if they hadn’t, I wouldn’t have regretted leaving the horrible Hilton Garden Inn. I’m sure renovations must be done by now, but I have zero desire to ever stay in that hotel again.

I then went for a drive around Tucson. I drove up I-10 West towards Phoenix (as much as I wanted to check out Phoenix, I refrained) and ended up at some luxury apartments I wanted to check out. On the way, I had to stop to take pictures of the beautiful scenery. I pulled into a random parking lot and just started shooting photos.

I don’t know how people in Arizona get anything done. I’d just be gawking at that scenery all day.

The apartment complex visit was a success. It was cheaper than what I pay now and more luxurious, so that was a win. Or, a hypothetical win assuming I moved there. (Spoiler alert: I didn’t move to Arizona, I’m sorry to say.)

I don’t remember what else I did that day. I think I got dinner in the hotel and then went to bed. I need my beauty sleep, especially the night before a job interview.

My interview was the next day, but not until late afternoon. I wouldn’t have chosen that time if they’d asked my preferences. I’m pretty sure all the interviewers were interviewing candidates all day long, so I doubt they were at their best at the end of the day. It was just bad luck for me that I was assigned a late afternoon slot. Oh well.

In the morning, I drove up to Oro Valley, a nice area north of Tucson. I drove by the Santa Catalina Mountains and Catalina State Park. As you can probably guess, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of it, so I stopped to take photos.

I swear, if I lived in Tucson, I’d be at that park every weekend!

The interview happened—it wasn’t bad, but I also didn’t get an offer (boo). It was exhausting, as interviews tend to be, so I treated myself to a nice dinner afterwards. Well, actually the company paid because it was an expenses-paid trip. I went to La Encantada, an upscale shopping center in north Tucson. It’s really, really nice and well worth checking out if you go to Tucson. I mean, there are beautiful mountains behind it! That just blows my mind.

I ate at a restaurant called North Italia. It’s an upscale chain that seems to be more out west than in the east. I’d never heard of it—but it is delicious. I got some noodles in a bolognese sauce and it was outstanding. I didn’t have a refrigerator in my hotel room, so I just stuffed my face with this pasta. It was great. If you haven’t eaten at North Italia, I highly recommend you try it. The food is amazing. It is pricy but well worth it, if you ask me.

After dinner, I wandered around the mall. It’s very fancy. Then I went back to the hotel to pack since I had to fly home the next day. That’s the subject of tomorrow’s post—and while you may think that post will be a great deal less exciting than this one, that would be wrong. Unfortunately, there was a lot of Airport Drama I had to go through on the way home…

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7 thoughts on “My Trip to Tucson, Part 1

  1. Oh I love that area. Tucson (and points south) was my anti-cabin-fever getaway for a few years when the upstate winters were getting to me. Kinda wish I went this year.

    1. Oh, you should have! It’s fantastic. I also went in October once and the weather was SUPER nice. I actually didn’t mind the heat in August… but by October everything had cooled off enough to be pleasant, but obviously it wasn’t super cold. Plus the desert is so beautiful!

      1. Cool! Yeah October sounds about right.

        I drove thru my first time in southwest in Sept ish, but further north and didn’t explore much. Slept outside the one night in AZ that time. Was comfortable w/ minimal gear.

        The other times I went in the dead of winter, based mostly on it being the warmest spot on the national weather map at the time. Days were perfect (w/ sunblock), nights were -cold-, but the stars! Nighttime desert was spooky-amazing in a really cool way.

        I think it would be a pretty different experience to live there, just normal life vs to visit. I experienced it as a this exotic spiritual healing space.

      2. That sounds amazing! So the weather isn’t bad there in December, right? We might be spending Christmas there this year.

        Yes, living there probably would be quite different. I used to live in Florida. A lot of people vacationing there would like it so much they’d move down—but living there is SO different from just visiting. Many of them didn’t realize that until they’d already moved and then they found out they didn’t like it so much.

  2. Cool! Sounds like a great time.

    My winter trips were Jan-Feb I think, and it was probably 90% sunny. There were a couple of cloudy days with highs in the low 50’s, but mostly 70ish. I did make a special effort to time it and went on short notice each time tho, so definitely do research the climate more, if that’s important to your trip. Also FWIW, almost everyone I spoke to said there is more interesting stuff to visit in northern AZ, but that’s not what I did.

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