Absence makes the heart grown fonder, no? (Fun fact: this is often misquoted, there’s a second half as well: “but too much waiting makes the heart wander.”)
Anyway, after being away from home quite a lot these last few years, I’ve come to appreciate all my hometown of Tucson, Arizona (pronounced “two-sawn”) has to offer.
I’m driving back home today and here are a few things I’m looking forward to:
1. The scenery
First of all, all of Arizona is beautiful. It may be a desert, but the Sonoran Desert is actually quite wet compared to a lot of desert, the only place in the world where you can find the iconic saguaro cactus and host to all sorts of amazing wildlife (more on that later). There are many trails (some even a few minute’s drive away from my house) to explore again and again. We are also surrounded by huge mountains, where snowfall is only a few hour’s drive away.
2. The up-and-coming downtown area
Downtown has changed a lot since I’ve been in high school (2013) and there’s still always something new. It’s probably owed to the steadily growing university: The University of Arizona and large air force base. With more bars, clubs, breweries, stores and more, downtown Tucson is becoming more and more entertaining.
3. The Food
Living so close to the Mexican border, it’s hard to find bad Mexican food. A local Mexican favorite is a Sonoran dog (a hot dog that is wrapped in bacon and grilled and topped with pinto beans, sour cream, salsa and the works). Other local legends include Eeggee’s (their titular frozen drink popular at parties and sports events: basically a more flavorful snowcone with hunks of real fruit) and Lindy’s (weird and wonderful burgers that have been featured on Man vs. Food, the episode features all different eats around Tucson, but timestamp 13:00 is where you’ll find the OMFG burger challenge!).
4. The wildlife
Arizona has some of the most interesting wildlife in the U.S. as all these critters are adapted to live in extreme heat with little water. The Sonoran Desert Museum is still one of my all-time favorite museums, showcases these beautiful creatures in very large enclosures of their natural habitat rather than a cage. Working for the Game and Fish Department, I got to interact with some of these animals first-hand, including tortoises, hawks, pronghorn antelope, white-tailed deer, black-footed ferrets, prarie dogs, hummingbirds and big horned sheep. We even have visitors in our own backyard including bobcats, coyotes, snakes, scorpions, javelinas (desert pigs).
5. The weather
Last but not least, while a lot of the rest of the nation is suffering subzero temperatures, Tucson stays a cool 70°F (21°C) during the day through winter. However, given the nature of the landscape, the temperatures in winter do fluctuate a lot between night and day, often getting near freezing. Although the summers are a scorcher (around 100°F or 38°C), it’s a dry heat (after visiting Thailand in the peak of summer, I try appreciate the dry heat) and I’d much prefer that to unbearable winters.
And, of course, my dog is in Tucson, so that keeps me coming back (wink wink).
This post was inspired by the lovely Kat, so shoutout to them!
What do you love about your hometown?