San Diego and Tucson

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January 22nd 2018
Published: January 24th 2018
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Settling in on VA7Settling in on VA7Settling in on VA7

Looks comfortable for the next 13 hrs
17 Jan 18

We arrived at the long term car park 3 hours before our flight only to discover I had forgotten to book a place for the car. I remember I had priced it but failed to continue through to actually booking a space. We were lucky we were able to leave the car there. We continued our run of luck with a rather nice driver who dropped us off to the airport and we made our way to the lounge to wait for our flight. We boarded the 777-300ER and found our seats; they were very comfortable. After our lunch we found the bar. It was pretty good. We chatted to a few other passengers for about an hour or so. One of the passengers was Jane Davenport from Byron Bay who is an artist. Having this bar is a great extra for business class as it lets you get up and mingle a little. Unfortunately I was not able to sleep but I was able to lay flat and rest which is pretty good really. Walter got a few hours in though which turned out to be a real God send.

From landing to
The bar on Business ClassThe bar on Business ClassThe bar on Business Class

Enjoying a drink on the way to LA
exit from the airport was about 90 minutes. The plane pulled up to a place quite some distance from the main buildings and we boarded a bus to be taken over to where we would pick up our luggage and move through immigration and customs. We had quite a wait to get through immigration. Firstly, as we had an ESTA waiver we did our self-check at the kiosk. Then we were directed to wait in the line, a very long one, along with most passengers from the various aircraft that had been landing at the same time as us.

After about 30 minutes we went through the routine we had gone through in the past, when we did not have an ESTA. Although the staff were friendly, I would say that the system is not really good enough. No gold stars here I am afraid.

We picked up the shuttle to the car rental company and very quickly chose our car (a KIA Soul) and headed off. After about 2 hours heading south we decided to pull up for a rest and look at the Pacific Ocean from the other side. Our lucky run was over. We got
Entrance to the Gaslamp QtrEntrance to the Gaslamp QtrEntrance to the Gaslamp Qtr

One of San Diego's interesting places to wander through
ourselves a flat tyre, and you guessed it, no spare. There was a repair kit in the spare tyre space. Neither Walter nor I knew how it worked. We called for instructions and after 50 minutes on the phone (yes on my mobile using my data roaming Australian account) we agreed to having a tow truck pick us up and we would swap cars! We went to the first car rental place – they had no cars. Then to the next car rental place who could only provide us with a Frontier dual cab ute! By this time I was so exhausted I simply did not care about anything. The good thing about this is that we kind of blended in with most of the other traffic on the I-5 which seemed to be utes and trucks

San Diego

We headed off to San Diego after this 2 hour delay. We found our AirBnB accommodation and settled in. The unit was quite comfortable and met our needs. It had a real Mexican feel about the entire area. A lot of San Diego has this look and feel.

18 Jan 18

We spent our first day in San Diego swapping the rental to a Toyota Corolla. This process was surprisingly easy. Great Work Alamo Car Rental. From here we went onto the Gaslamp quarter of San Diego. Our luck came back when a lady was leaving the car park we had entered, offered us her parking ticket that was valid until 8pm that night. This was 10am. She had paid $30 for the ticket. After checking out the ticket I gratefully accepted this very kind offer. We enjoyed some tacos from a stall in a Food Market in Horton Park and wandered about the Gaslamp Quarter.

We then decided to take the trolley (cross between a tram and light rail) down to the border. Took about 25 minutes. Then back on the trolley and headed back to our unit.

19 Jan 18

The San Diego Zoo is one of 2 activities planned for today. The other is the Tequila, Taco and Tombstone tour of Old Town.

We took public transport to the zoo. Used the trolley to the city and then the bus to the zoo. Took about an hour. The day was quite cloudy and never
Border Control US-MexicoBorder Control US-MexicoBorder Control US-Mexico

This is as close as we got.
really warmed up. We were freezing (and wet) by the end of the day. Picked up a hoodie each and some umbrellas at Old Town later in the day.

The zoo was absolutely amazing. I can honestly say that outside of the safari experiences (which are hard to beat), this zoo is the best example of getting to see the animals in what looks like a comfortable environment. The area of the zoo called “Africa Rocks” is superb. My favourites were the Pandas and Polar bears (which were not in the Africa Rocks area obviously).

Unfortunately I dropped my phone while taking pictures and from 3 separate occasions I cracked the glass front. Worried I would do more damage I stopped taking photos until I can arrange a better system to keep the phone safe from my clumsiness.

The Tequila, Taco and Tombstone tour was pretty good and lived up to its name. We had plenty of Tequila (in the form of Margeritas), soft tacos of varying types and walked through the cemetery of Old Town. We did not go through Whaley House which was a bit disappointing for me (as I thought the tour included it)
San Diego ZooSan Diego ZooSan Diego Zoo

but we stopped outside and we heard about the history of the building and what is alleged to have been seen and heard in the building. We finished the tour with a root beer float and listening to some music. We caught an Uber home after this really great day.

20 Jan 18

We set out for Tucson at about 7.30am. It was a pretty good drive. Stopped a few times along the way and enjoyed the moments. About 30kms outside of Tucson it started to rain and didn’t stop until late that night. Tucson boasts of 350 days of sunshine. Clearly we managed to arrive on one of the other 15 days.

The hotel here is lovely. We are planning to focus on the areas outside of Tucson in the next couple of days. Looking forward to Bisbee and Tombstone, Saguara national park and the Sabino Canyon.


21 Jan 18

Headed off to Bisbee this morning. It seems this little town has maintained a small town, local approach to business. No franchise companies or multi-nationals. Rather refreshing really not to see fast food outlets or chain stores like
Bisbee ArizonaBisbee ArizonaBisbee Arizona

Very quaint village
Walmart or Walgreens and so onWe had a wander and found some lunch. Very pleasant little place.

We headed back to Tucson and stopped at Tombstone. We learned quite a bit about the shootout at the OK Corral in 1881 with Wyatt Earp, his brothers Virgil and Morgan and Doc Holliday against a local cowboy group from the Lanton ranch that included Tom and Frank McLaury, Ike and Billy Lanton and Billy Claibourne. Reading between the lines I would suggest that both groups were not particularly law abiding.

From what I could tell, having all the information right there in front of me, Earp and his cronies had the judge in their pocket and the cowboys had the local Sheriff. If this were set in today’s world it might be called gang warfare. It was possibly a case of the town's people versus the ranching people. It seems the City vs Country divide is an age old conflict

This is the best part of travelling. Getting to see more than one side of the story. What was quite telling about this incident, was a photograph of the 3 cowboys the day after the shooting all dressed up in their coffins and on display before the burial. It was clear that someone thought that these men deserved respect in their deaths. It was interesting to note that the Earp group was charged with murder and put in jail. The Judge let them off a month later.

22 Jan 18

Today we headed out to Sabino Canyon. This is only a few kilometres north east of Tucson. In fact it is just on the city limits. The canyon services was closed due to the stoppage of the funding supply through congress. The car parks were closed, as was the trolleys that would take you into the canyon and the toilets. Basically it was shut down, but we entered the area along with a lot of others and walked into the canyon. It was about 3kms in and then we went on for another 1km. The sign that warning us of aggressive bees was noted as we walked further into the canyon. This was additional to the ones about mountain lions and rattlesnakes. When the road turn a steep uphill turn we decided to return to the car. I had already passed my 10,000 steps before we got back to the car.

When had a lovely lunch in a diner called "Eclectic Restaurant". Very good food, great service and excellent prices.

Then we headed off to Saguara National Park - about 30kms south west of Tucson, right on the city limits on the other side of the city. Was rather spectacular looking across at the terrain that has been largely untouched for millenia.

Additional photos below
Photos: 23, Displayed: 23


Saguaro cactusSaguaro cactus
Saguaro cactus

A lot of these big boys around
Beware the mountain lionBeware the mountain lion
Beware the mountain lion

I kept a look out for these critters while I went to the loo behind the bushes, Walter kept look out for passersby. I think my mission was much more dangerous

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