We have rambled south into Arizona. Flagstaff and Prescott were our two overnights before arriving at our third home exchange in Tucson. We enjoyed staying in older hotels right downtown in those two towns. We used the services of Yelp to locate restaurants and coffee shops. If you haven't used Yelp when traveling you may want to give it a try. yelp.com will get you recommendations and reviews on hotels, restaurants, coffee shops and many other services. It is an online community where anyone can submit recommendations and reviews of businesses. We have used it a lot and never been disappointed. I've even written a few reviews.
This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.
We stopped to see a sister of mine in Phoenix who lives in Sun City. I interviewed her about her retirement and Sun City in our last Road Trip series ( http://retirementtalk.org/RT115.mp3 )Then we pushed on to Tucson.
Our home exchange is in a nice development just at the entrance to Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. Our car is always on the move.
We did enjoyed a walk around the University of Arizona after driving 35 minutes to get there. It is a beautiful place and has an enrollment of 40,000 students. They walk and they bike. They live in dorms and fraternity/sorority houses. They have green spaces and wide sidewalks plus bike trails on campus. They have a beautiful college business zone just across the street from the campus. We enjoyed some good coffee and a couple of good lunches there.
We wanted to see the downtown and some of the neighborhoods around the campus today so we took our bikes. The biking on campus was good. The biking into town was good and bad. Some trail and some busy roadways. We explored downtown or what there is of it. There are some nice things about downtown but not many. I don't want to offend the people of Tucson but their downtown leaves a lot to be desired. Especially people. They don't seem to have condos and any mass of people living down there. About the only people we saw downtown were street people, abandoned looking teens and a couple of tourist looking lost. It was sad.
I remember being in Phoenix a few years ago and we hardly saw anyone downtown there. I think it is the heat. It is to hot to walk anywhere most of time. I'm writing this in a The Crave, a great Tucson coffee shop that is a twenty five minute drive from where we are staying. What kind of life is that?
Our nearest grocery store is two miles away. We have to drive. They do have bike lanes on the road but the roads are two, three or sometimes four lanes and very busy. Not very inviting for me.
I can't imagine how they can develop a sense of community. Shopping centers or malls are their focal points. They have lots of those every few miles with strip stores lining the streets in between. I suppose people live around one Mall area or another and pretty much stay in that area of town. I don't know how they develop a sense of community. Maybe they belong to activity groups like tennis players, gardeners, bikers, car buffs, etc.
Why cities can't be more like college campuses I don’t know. Large numbers of people living in a concentrated areas. Vancouver, BC is a prime example. It has green spaces and all services necessary within an easy walking distance. I know it can be done.
Perhaps there is something about driving a car that people actually like or desire. Maybe they like the hour or two or three or four they spend in their cars every day. I just can't figure it out. Our car sits in our garage for perhaps a week at a time without moving. Maybe the jobs are here and that is what is attractive and they just put up with roads and cars.
For me, I miss the walk to the grocery story, multiple coffee shops, post office, drug store, restaurants, bike shop and books store. I long for the bike trails that can take me from my home to downtown or forested trails running for miles through parks and greenways. I miss a downtown where one can find people of every social strata visiting the Farmers Market, buying some bagels or having lunch. There is something about an empty downtown that just doesn't go down with me.
One thing about it; over a million people live here so there must be something very inviting about it. If you want to road bike in the sun then this is a pretty good place to live. If you would like to worship the sun or play golf or tennis almost every day of the year; this would be a good place. Of course, it is the climate. That is why people live here. Not really the climate as much as air conditioner. They live inside. Inside their air-conditioned cars, houses and offices or shopping centers. Before air-conditioning this was sparsely populated. Even when the weather is comfortable the car is still be a necessity. It must take a lot of energy consumption to live here; all the air-conditioning and then driving. And I don't know where they get their water.
We are here for another two full days. We may drive our car for a couple of hours to the Biosphere 2 project. Then we will head up Sabino Canyon for a walk in the high desert. I've always wanted to visit this town and now I have. And I'm glad.
This is Retirement Talk.