My A Team did an admirable job of watching over me during my stay in Southern Arizona.
Thanks Sid and Clara!
Nothing catastrophic happened, physically or emotionally.
Tucson hadn't changed much in 18 months and neither have I. The Old Pueblo still seems to be a city living from paycheck to paycheck. In 2011, it had the dubious distinction of being the 6th poorest Metro area in the US. In a recent survey by WalletHub, Tucson ranked 143 out of 150 cities as far as recession recovery is concerned.
As I drove the main drags in town, I couldn't help but notice the over-abundance of pawn shops, tattoo parlors, trailer parks, thrift shops, used car dealerships, check cashing businesses and billboards announcing "We Buy Ugly Homes!"
Transients huddle up at major intersections facing the cardinal directions holding handmade cardboard signs. The signs don't resemble the one I made.
Clearly, the city center doesn't scream "We are a thriving Metropolitan!"
There's fits and starts of pockets of prosperity. There's a shiny new trolley system, a well-developed bicycle trail along the dusty dry river beds and a few new tony restaurants and pubs Downtown. Tucson is a slow work in progress.
It's not all negative though. Tucson is a great place to whip your body back into shape with its abundance of hiking trails. After being a reluctant Beach Bum in Hawaii, I needed to move!
It's a fine place to sit still for March Madness.
University of Arizona baseball is the lovable bastard child of Tucson sports too.
Tomorrow morning, I'll partake in my all-time favorite Tucson activity. I'll get in Barley the Van and leave the Old Pueblo behind.
The road trip starts!