Tucson, 1998

By Jack Welsch

Images © Copyright 1998, J. H. Welsch
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Yet another where I failed to keep a diary so there's not a lot of detail here.  This was primarily a business trip but we decided to tack on several days up front.  I had been at a conference in Orlando and flew directly from there, leaving Lin to fly by herself.  I got there in the AM and she was to arrive several hours later but her flight got messed up and she was stuck in Cincinnati for 8 hours!  I was forced to sir by the pool all day.  Poor me!

Our first side-trip was to Tombstone.  It was a long ride but definitely worth it.  The town is of course a bit touristy but also appears pretty authentic.  It's a real town but if you moved the cars and trucks, you could shoot a cowboy movie.  The OK Corral was the only part that was real tacky.  I really enjoyed Tombstone.  We continued south as far as Bisbee where we visited a copper mine, then we headed "home.

Our second outing was to Sabino Canyon.  This is absolutely magnificent. A tram shuttles up and down the main trail and there are many side trails.  If you take the tram, you can get on and off but only at the designated stops.  We took the tram to the top and walked must of the way back down.  It was terribly hot but the scenery is breathtaking and you really need to absorb it slowly. 

Old Tucson Studios was an active movie set and is now a tourist attraction.  Actually, it was rather nice; we enjoyed it.  Leaving there, we drove north to check out Avra Valley Airport since I was planning to meet my friend Jim there the next day.

.I originally met Jim Richardson through and industry association but we've learned we're very much alike.  Even though we've not spent a lot of time together, I consider Jim a very good friend.  It was Jim who changed my life by convincing me to try flying.  Jim eventually moved to New Mexico and it had been years since we'd seen each other.  When I told Jim I'd be in Tucson, he said he'd fly over so we could spend a day together.  Lin had planned on coming along as well but she didn't feel well when we awoke and she said she's relax at the hotel and let us go look at airplanes.  I was at Avra Valley when Jim landed and we were off to the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.  This place is sometimes referred to as the graveyard but the planes here are in storage and can be put quickly back on the line. The base was amazing but apparently for security reasons, we had to remain on a bus at all times.  The bus was basically a non-air-conditioned school bus painted dark blue.  Only the government would paint a vehicle dark blue in the middle of a desert!  It was damned hot in there but worth it; I've never seen so many planes!  Imagine B-52's as far as you can see!  Lots of other types in huge quantities, too.  Davis-Monthan id also a training base and there were A-10'a all over the place.  WOW!

After Davis-Monthan, we visited the Pima Air Museum.  There were not nearly as many planes, or course but we were able to get up front and personal with them.  Not surprisingly, it was hotter then Hell outside and I was glad Linda hadn't come; she'd have hated it.  We stopped for a leisurely lunch, then headed back to the airport.  Of course, I had seen pictures of Jim's plans but not seen it before this day.  While Jim was a tad pressed for time, we went up for a short flight so I could see how the Arrow flies and get a look at the countryside as it's meant to be seen.  I was sorry to see Jim go but glad he came.

 On our last vacation day, we visited the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.  An enjoyable way to spend a few hours.

Eventually, the time came to address the real reason I'd come, another convention of FCSI, Foodservice Consultants Society International.  At least in theory, time for goofing off had come to an end but I did get away one morning to go back to Avra Valley to jump out of an airplane!

In between all this, we did some wandering around shopping and, of course, some serious eating.  All in all, we found Tucson to be absolutely great.  I'm not sure I want to live there but the idea of spending winters there after I retire sure is intriquing!