The Wild West
"Tucson Arizona is where I long to be..."
The old west is alive and well in Tucson Arizona. The anarchistic attitude about smoking in bars and the drinks available by noon warms the heart of this former New Orleans resident. You see there are not many places that have escaped the California-transmutation, uniformation, hyper-capitalization, in the west. It seems California ideals have swept across the west leaving behind politically correct rulebooks and bureaucracies that would even disgust the most socially conscious citizen. These laws leave little room for individuality, creativity, and humanity. And yet, the shackles just may open the door for rebellion!
Knowing the conservatism that has encroached upon the west, my partner and I were a little worried about our visit to the southwest. So, when we walked into the Hotel Congress in February for a week long vacation, and having just left the Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras celebrations of New Orleans, we were dazzled by the rebelliousness of this place. We bellied up to the bar where old-timers and newly tattooed folk sat side-by-side listening to Elvis Presley on a jukebox. The cigarette smoke was thick and the beer was fresh. We had found an oasis!
The Hotel Congress, while noisy at night with the live music in their downstairs club, is by far the best place to stay in Tucson. There are no TV’s in the historically decorated rooms; only dial in radios of old. The squeaky iron framed beds add a great ambiance! (Yee-Haw). Also, the Congress has a nice little breakfast restaurant called the The Cup where you can find solace after a late night. http://www.hotelcongress.com/
Other attractions that we discovered include Fourth Street shopping, just a few blocks from the Hotel Congress. This streetcar-jeweled avenue is a funky shopping district of thrift stores and western paraphernalia. Fun and quirky, the street is a dynamic mix of low-end eccentricity and high art gallery-like shops.
The outdoor Desert Museum, which requires a car to get to, is another scenic delight. The meandering footpath through the desert (including into a cave) with guided information about plant and animal life is educational and fun. We were there in February and the weather was just right. We even dined outside at the Desert Museum restaurant with the desert bees (they don’t sting) humming about while we enjoyed the nectar of a Cactus Margarita. http://www.desertmuseum.org/arts/
We enjoyed the food in Tucson just as much as we enjoyed the desert landscape and the rowdy ruggedness. If you’re looking for the best tamales in town for a reasonable price, then El Charro Café is the place to go. This little Mexican restaurant is walking distance from the Hotel Congress and will take you into a cute artsy historic neighborhood with a few galleries, and well – margaritas and tamales that will knock your cowboy boots off. http://www.elcharrocafe.com/
Desiring a little something fancy after our wonderful day at the outdoor Desert Museum, we discovered the Hacienda Del Sol resort and restaurant. This dazzling gym in the Tucson desert foothills is sure to inspire a romantic escapade for anyone with an imagination inclined to the old west. With dinner options like “grilled buffalo flank steak with pecan grilled vegetables, sautéed arugula, and blue cheese demi-glace - grilled crab stuffed swordfish – seared medallions of veal – and one of the most, if not the most, extensive wine lists in the west, AND a view of the western sunset that is to die for, you are sure to find your heart del sol. But don’t just take my word for it… http://www.haciendadelsol.com/.
Just a last little FYI before I bid the Tucson trip ado…for those lesbian couples interested in venturing to an open and friendly town, Tucson is definitely on the list. My partner and I felt incredibly comfortable! We even found a lesbian owned club called The Biz http://www.thebiztuc.com/.
…So it is the sky is dark and the end of the journey has led me here. How I long to stay and count the stars, to stay and see the sunrise over the endless horizon… No, I know that I must go on. Farewell all ye cowboys and cowgals – remember to rise up against the California-invasion. Ride into the sunset without your clothes on! Giddee-up!