We took our time leaving the hotel in Phoenix, ran a few errands, and were back on I-10 heading east towards Tucson. We’d planned to spend two nights there (Tuesday and Wednesday), exploring Saguaro National Park (pronounced suh-WAH-row), and possibly camping in the backcountry. However, when we arrived in the 100°+ mid afternoon heat, we decided to forgo camping and just find a hotel. We’d been moving non-stop for several weeks, and the exhaustion finally caught up with us, particularly for Stephanie. She needed to rest. So I took the time to update my blog, respond to email, and find some place for dinner while she slept.
That night we went to Guadalajara Grill, famous for making salsa to order at the table in the same way another chain-restaurant-that-must-not-be-named makes table-side guacamole. It was very good—I ate a lot of it. I ordered a Molcajete Camarones, basically a giant basalt mortar filled with tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, peppers, cheese, and shrimp, and heated so hot that it simmers at the table for a long time. It was impressive. Stephanie was still feeling a little under the weather, so she nursed a bowl of tortilla soup. I would definitely go back to try more, if I could.
On Wednesday I went to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, which Adam and Eveline happened to visit with Zacharie a few months back. They raved about it, and since it was on the way to Saguaro, I figured I’d check it out. Suffice it to say, I never made it to Saguaro. During the hot summer months (what they call the monsoon season, when it often rains in the afternoon) the museum (it’s more of a zoo, really) closes at 2:30pm. I got there a little after 11:30, so I didn’t have much time. Of course I arrived just before a demonstration of venomous reptiles, where I got to see a Gila monster and a western diamondback rattlesnake up close. Note to self: do not get bit by a rattlesnake.
Afterwards, I had about an hour to see the rest of the place, almost all of which was outside. I have to admit that walking around in the Southwestern desert in August (coming from San Francisco) makes me a little nervous. It’s so oppressively hot, I worry about heat exhaustion and sunburn, even after slathering myself with sunscreen and bringing water along. That said, I really love the desert environment. It’s so surprisingly lush and alive, contrary to every stereotype of the desert as dry and dead. And the Desert Museum does a wonderful job of making it both accessible and real.