Goth Panda

Cross-Country Road Trip Day 6: Tucson to San Diego

I liked Tucson. Since it was late when we got in the night before, I didn’t really see the city until this morning. I looked out the hotel room window and that was enough for me to make the call. Tucson and I would get along.

I liked the sun and the palm trees. I liked the bright southwestern colors and the adobe style of the rich people’s houses in the hills. From below, it seemed like each house had its own separate hill.

We stopped at Saguaro National Park before heading out to San Diego. There are two parts to the park, one on the western side of Tucson and one on the eastern side. We chose to go to the western half, the Tucson Mountain District, because that was supposed to be the best side for cacti.

Apparently a group of saguaro cacti is called a saguaro forest, which I thought was cute. We passed many cacti coming into the park, and there were more on view at the visitors’ center.

Saguaro NP

Saguaros are around 75 years old before they started sprouting their arms. The older they get, the more arms they grow. They can live to be 200 years old. The National Parks sign said that some can be as tall as a 4-story building. The ones we saw were very tall, but I don’t think any were that big.

We drove down further into the park, and stopped at the Signal Hill picnic area to hike one of the trails there.

Saguaro NP

Saguaro NP

A baby saguaro in the foreground

Saguaro NP

They said the baby cacti frequently grow in the shade of these bushes, which provide shade and protect them when they are young and fragile

Saguaro NP

Needle close-up. No, we didn’t touch it.

Saguaro NP

Saguaro NP

I guess this guy is really old

I also took some panorama shots with the iPhone.

Saguaro NP Pano

Saguaro NP Pano

We made our way back to the start of the trail, and climbed up to see the Native American petroglyphs.



By this time, we were starving, so the next order of business was lunch. We left Saguaro and headed out to the Station Bar and Grill in a nearby Tucson suburb, where we had salads and split nachos. Fortified for the drive, we headed out to San Diego.


Pinto Beans at a Gas Station

We stopped at a gas station that sold pinto beans in 10 pound bags, and plus had a dinosaur statue!

Dinosaur at a Gas Station

Note baby dinosaur under the mom

We drove past solar panel farms…

Solar Panels

…and RV farms. When we got to Yuma, it seemed the whole city was made up of RV parks. We also passed a long line of cars for the Mexican border exit, and were stopped at two more border patrol stations.

Arizona Sunset

Driving into San Diego reminded us of the east coast. Here were the highways, the strip malls, the traffic we were used to back home!

We stayed at the Inn at the Park which we really liked. The only problem with it was that the main entrance awning did not have the hotel name on it, it had the historical name of the building. So I wasn’t sure how to get in. I ended up going through the hotel’s restaurant on the corner, and they directed me through to the lobby. The hotel also had valet parking. We had to use valet parking a few times in California and Las Vegas and it was really a pain on a road trip. There were a lot of things we had to move and rearrange each time we stopped, and the attendant usually had to wait for us each time.

I think I forgot to mention that this was Christmas Eve. It certainly didn’t seem like it between the weather and the traveling. But we were reminded when we looked for someplace for dinner. Most places were closed. We ended up in the hotel dining room, which was serving a pretty fancy holiday menu. We felt very out of place after hiking and traveling all day, not to mention we didn’t even have nice enough clothes. I was getting a disdainful vibe from the quartet of gentlemen dressed in suits seated next to us. But our server was very friendly. We were in the front section of the restaurant near the lounge area, so we got to listen in on the lounge singers performing standards to a sometimes raucous crowd. The singer made fun of the snooty suit guys as they were leaving, so that was fun too. The salads and entrees were delicious – I had ricotta and sweet potato gnudi and Mike had salmon – but the dessert was disappointing. Still, we celebrated the fact we had made it all the way across the country.

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