While we have been here in Tucson for a little over 1 month, there are things we have noticed that are a little different from what we are used to seeing back home. I though you might enjoy hearing about what we have observed.
While we were in the hill country of Texas we would often see signs on the side of a dip in the road advising us not to enter if flooded. We see the same thing here in Tucson along with many sings indicating we are going over a Wash. Well a wash is nothing other than a dried stream or river bed. I understand Arizona has a monsoon season, go figure. I have read that they can get crazy rain storms in May and June and it is a good thing to avoid these “washes” as they can flood very easily and quickly if it is raining. In the first two picture of our last post you can see the dried Santa Cruz riverbed or wash.
Colour in the desert:
As you can see from a prior post, the cactus are blooming. Not only are they blooming in the confines of our RV park, but they are also blooming in the city. We haven’t been out on any hike to see if they are also blooming in the wild or not. If they aren’t they soon will be. The colour is a nice change from the drab gravel.
The Hills Around Us:
Tucson is located in the foothills of the Santa Catalina and Santa Rita mountains. We are in the valley. Everywhere you look there are mountains or large hills. Aside from the every present Saguaro Cactus, on our arrival, they reminded me of the hills that were seen on the television series M*A*S*H* which aired from 1972 to 1983. M*A*S*H* was filmed in Malibu State Park in California, just 550 miles northwest of Tucson.
I know in the past the City of Saskatoon has struggled over the implementation of bike lanes. How to protect the cyclist, how to keep the lane clean along with the altered traffic flow. Boy, those things didn’t seem to bother the City of Tucson, there seems to be bike lanes on every street. They aren’t protected with a curb or plastic pylon, but they are very wide. Almost as wide a vehicle lane.
Left Turn at Lights:
This was something I noticed right away, drivers don’t seem to want to enter an intersection while they are waiting to turn left. No, they stay back. I originally thought this was kind of strange until I noticed that at all the major intersections, the ones with traffic lights, there is always a left turn green arrow after the through traffic light has turned red. What a great idea. I am sure it is much safer turning left if you know you will get a green light if you wait long enough. I wonder if it has resulted in a decrease in vehicle accidents?
While we are still on the street, it seems to be legal to make a U-turn at intersections with traffic lights. We see this happening quite often. Some of the intersections will have two lanes turning left with signs indicating the far left lane can either turn left into the cross street or make a U-turn. Of course the streets are wide enough to allow a smooth change in direction.
Over / Under Passes:
In New Mexico as well as southern Arizona there is usually some sort of art work at and around overpasses and other major intersections. You could see a mosaic along the guard rail of an overpass. You could see a mosaic, colourful tiles or textured concrete along sound walls and other barriers. On the ground surrounding the over / under pass there will often be a geometric design with selective cactus plantings. The design will incorporate different colours of aggregate. There is even a spot on the meridian on a road we have been on a few times that has a huge colourful Gila Monster. These designs sure break up the drab desert colour.
Driving At Night:
There have been a few times when we have been out driving at night. It is a little crazier around here when the sun is down as there are few street lights. Because of a local ordinance there are strict limits on artificial light pollution. The Washington Post published an article explaining why, it is quite interesting. Saying that, I still haven’t gotten out to take some photos of the stars, but I still have a few days (nights) left.
Tucson averages 286 sunny days per year compared to 205 for all of the United States. Now that’s a lot of sun, especially when the average high temperature in July is 100 degrees. You certainly want to get out of the sun with those numbers and you can. All over the city we have seen cover parking structures. They are at local businesses, public parks and even a local RV park has a section of their spots partially covered. With the amount of sunshine Tucson gets, most of these overhead structures also support solar panels to create electricity. We are also noticing private homes with solar panels installed on their roofs. Panels to create electricity as well as to heat water, what a great idea.
You don’t see a lot of chimneys on the houses around here. You don’t see a lot of asphalt shingles either. The residential roofs are generally made of tiles and are a sandy colour. I notice that most of the park model trailers here have a metal roof. Now air conditioning is a must with most of the units sitting on the ground beside the homes but there are a few homes where you will see with huge air-conditioning units on their roof. They look kind of odd. I know how much noise the air conditioner makes in our RV, I wonder if it is as loud in a home?
Well that’s the end to our random thoughts, hope you enjoyed getting a taste of Tucson.