When you arrive in Tucson there’s a group of mountains to the northeast of the city that are impossible not to notice. From the city they look like they’re hundreds of miles away, but they’re only a 45 minute drive from downtown.
It was five o’clock, which felt like six to me after changing time zones, and I just wasn’t quite feeling the trip to Tucson’s Sabino Canyon. But, I was with a mate of mine travelling and I wanted to make sure we both got the best experience possible, so we started the drive out.
I’ll never, ever, regret it.
With every mile you get closer to the mountains, it seems they keep growing substantially. When we finally got 2 miles from the start of the winding drive through the overpass it started to get a little unbelievable.
There were troves of cacti (plural for cactus?) standing on the side of the mountain–almost like they were congregating to watch us. The first 30 seconds of the drive was breathtaking to say the least. You know why? Because we had absolutely no clue what to expect.
I was focusing on driving, but every now and then I got to catch a glance of the city down below. It was quiet. It started to get cooler too because we were getting elevated, and as we drove the smells changed from an airy, dry desert to that of a cool forest filled with pines. I started to see less cacti(?) and more gigantic rock formations.
This was Arizona.
And let me tell you, Arizona is absolutely stunning. Sabino Canyon reminded me of that ride in Disneyworld called Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. It looked just like it, except not fake.
We got to about 6,000 feet, stepped outside into a much cooler air than what we were used to(we had spent two weeks in Texas), and the first thing we noticed was just how quiet it really was.
I climbed over to a rock about 50 yards from my buddy and I was almost whispering to him and he could hear it.
The canyon opened up, and we were in for a show during the last hours of daylight. A few people threw out blankets and got comfortable on some of the rocks. But what I couldn’t get over was how everywhere I turned was another gorgeous view. The cars travelling the road below looked like ants, and I dangled my feet over one of the rocks to take a quick picture (sorry Mom).
There’s a certain joy you feel when you see these kinds of things–especially when they’re not exactly planned. I didn’t look this up in a book somewhere to study where I should go. I just know that a sunset can make anything look beautiful. And Sabino Canyon was beautiful with or without it.
Here we were–two travellers just making it up as they went. Every day we were seeing something that beat whatever we saw the day before. Every day was a new adventure.
I think I found what I’ve been looking for.