Things That Are Awesome About Southern Arizona

With election season coming up — it’s started for us, with a bunch of contested primaries happening on August 28 — there are a lot of in-my-face reminders of what’s not awesome in Arizona right now. The state could use some positive press right now — and frankly, I could do with a few reminders myself.

So, things that are awesome about where I live:

  1. The drive from Tucson to Bisbee:

    Dragoon Mountains-27527-1

    Though the picture is awesome, as far as I’m concerned, this isn’t even the prettiest bit. That is the part between Tombstone and Bisbee, which is awesome in the “I am an insignificant speck in the universe” sense of the word.”

  2. The Tucson teachers (and students!) who unfailingly offer to carpool and/or drive me to my bus stop. Because — Regional Transit Authority, I am talking to you — bus service sucks on the south side.

    GRT Classic

    Note: While I truly appreciate all the students who offer to drive me places, I want to state for the record that I do not and have not ever accepted a ride from a student.

  3. The Space Age Lodge in Gila Bend. Ask me about the time my partner and I — when we were living 250 miles apart — thought it would be a good idea to meet for lunch on the Fourth of July. Because, you know, we both had the day off and could be back in our respective homes by early evening. Ask me about how my car’s alternator broke about 40 miles from Gila Bend, on the Fourth of July, with almost every place in town closed — and no mechanic to fix it until the next day. Guess where we stayed?
  4. The Ben’s Bells Project [note: link discusses death].
  5. Rancho Rossa Vineyards — Well, pretty much all the vineyards in the Sonoita region.

    White Wine Glas

    Rancho Rossa gets to be my favorite, though, because they have: a) a good balance of red and white wines; b) an awesome yet pretty affordable Chardonnay right now; c) Basset hounds.

  6. All of the teachers in Yuma, who — every Thanksgiving, every Christmas, every Easter — open their doors and tables to any teachers (Yuma gets a lot of single transplants from the Midwest and Pacific Northwest) who otherwise might not have a holiday place to go.

    Yuma County Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Yuma highlighted

    I started out as one of those “lost” (I say that because I definitely was) teachers and ended my time in Yuma as one of those doing the inviting.

  7. Oranges, and the time of year when they — and other citrus fruits — are literally falling off a lot of neighborhood trees:

    Arancia di Ribera 2byFigiu

    Also the Arizona Statewide Gleaning Project (to be fair, this is one thing that is awesome about all of Arizona, not just the southern bit), which harvests a lot of food — where I am, it’s a metric fuckton of citrus — that would otherwise go to waste and distributes it to people in need.

  8. The Free Baja Arizona movement:

    Gadsden Purchase Cities ZP

    Now, the article paints a too-pretty picture and glosses over some very real shit that still happens in southern Arizona. (Like, hi. We have racism here too. See: bus service is shit on Tucson’s south side or the mere fact that references to that portion of town have specific connotations regarding race.) Forming a new state is not at all likely to happen, nor is it even my preferred way of dealing with the shit that is here. But it is one very visible way of saying, “The decisions that are coming out of the state legislature? The laws that the governor is signing? Do. Not. Represent. Us.”

  9. Nimbus Beer:

    Weissbier 1

    Because after thinking about the legislative and executive branches of the current state government, who doesn’t need a beer?


I'm here. I like stuff. Some other stuff, I like less.

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6 comments on “Things That Are Awesome About Southern Arizona
  1. Caitlin says:

    I love hearing about the reasons why people love the places they live, especially when those places are not New York City.

  2. ordinarygoddess says:


    Is that via Tombstone or Sierra Vista? I used to travel from Tucson to Sierra Vista pretty frequently. SO. PRETTY.

    The Baja Arizona Project: awesome. (I pretty much agree that it’s much more useful and interesting as a thought experiment and awareness raising tool than as an Actual Goal-Oriented Agenda.) If something like that, and the discourse around it, had been on my radar when I was fifteen and caught between my working-class friends and their families, and my middle-class, very conservative relatives, my own political identity might have coalesced a lot earlier, with a much different life course. But of course the subversive, subversive Internet was not around to feed ideas to baby progressives in 1987.

    And, oh, the citrus. Sadly, I left when I was too young to appreciate good wine or beer (but, uh, not too young to drive out in the desert with some friends and drink someone’s dad’s tequila in the back of a truck). Something to remember if I ever go back to visit…

    Thanks for the midday nostalgia detour. 🙂

    • Tori says:

      Via Tombstone, though I’m starting to feel like all that area — Bisbee, Tombstone, Sonoita, Tubac, Douglas (haven’t quite been to Sierra Vista) — is equally beautiful.

  3. Anna says:

    I’d have to add a few things to the list, including monsoons, saguaros and other cactuses, desert spiny lizards and other lizards, easy parking when going to rock shows, and the strange propensity of Tucsonans to leave couches on the side of almost every road in town.

    • Tori says:

      Definitely monsoons, yes. In fact, I could see them as two separate items on the list: 1) watching the clouds and wind and lightning roll in (or roll past — curse you, Catalinas and Rincons!); 2) the actual rain part of the storm.

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