tldr; sport climbing is scary. Our skin is dry.
After visiting White Sands, we headed west to Tucson, Arizona. I have fond memories of Tucson as a kid to visit my cousins and was excited to see what it was like to visit as an adult (an outdoorsy adult living in a van).
Much to our dismay, we had found that all New Mexico gym showers are closed due to COVID-19 precautions and had relied on baby wipes in lieu of showers for the past few days. The moment we arrived in Tucson, we headed straight to Planet Fitness to take advantage of our membership which gets us in to any gym (read: showers and a safe place to sleep at night) across the country.
As the sun set on our productive but not very exhilarating day of driving, showering, and running errands in Tucson, we headed to the western side of Saguaro National Park. We initially planned to take a short hike in the park but instead we just drove through, enjoying the view and taking a quick stop to point out (and mimic) all of the unique shapes and sizes of the saguaros.
After a peaceful night sleeping in the Planet Fitness parking lot (it may not sound peaceful, but it really was!), we were ready to stretch our legs and explore! We drove our way up the beautiful, winding Catalina Highway to Windy Point Vista on Mount Lemmon to check out some climbing and hiking.
We planned to do some sport climbing (climbing on higher walls with ropes as opposed to shorter bouldering) but found the 50ft+ cliffs and towers of Mount Lemmon pretty nerve-wracking compared to our short, limestone, sport climbing in Austin. (Don’t worry mom, the climbing was completely safe. It just turns out we’re both pretty scared of heights!) After one route (and about 2 hours of shaking legs and pumping adrenaline) we decided to focus mostly on bouldering for now.
Despite the scary climb, we loved visiting Mount Lemmon. The views were amazing and the drive well worth it! We’ll be back for bouldering and maybe even some sport climbing, once we get our nerves up.
After climbing, we spent the rest of our daylight hours organizing our trunk (riveting) and kicking around the soccer ball in a neighborhood park. Then it was back to Planet Fitness and time for bed!
Today was Choi’s first day of working remotely on the road. I had the day off for MLK day (thanks, employer!). We headed to a park where I made some breakfast, went on a run, and read while Choi worked most of the day. It was so relaxing to spend the day outside.
After work, we headed back to the base of Mount Lemmon to check our some bouldering. We met a friendly local and spent a couple of hours working on a fun V4 problem. Unfortunately we didn’t get the send this time but I’m confident we will on our next visit!
On our way back to Planet Fitness (home sweet home) we decided to stop off at a nearby park, Agua Caliente. It was a really peaceful place, with a lake populated by ducks and surrounded by swaying palm trees. We watched the sunset and, as we headed back to Mr. Smee, we met our first fellow van-dweller who was parked right next to us, Dorothy. Dorothy is an inspiring 78-year old woman who has lived in a van for the last 12 years! She mentioned to us that she had been interviewed for a podcast and, after a bit of sleuthing, we were able to find that interview. I highly recommend listening to her story! It was so fun to meet someone who has so much experience living the life that we are just now embarking on.
Our last day in Tucson was fairly uneventful but a good peek into what a normal work day will look like on the road this year. After both of us finished work for the day, we grabbed lunch at a tasty local chain, Beyond Bread (thanks Jeff and Mckenzie for the recommendation) and headed off towards our home for the night, a rest stop near our next destination, Palm Springs, California.
Tucson, we loved your cacti, mountain views, warm climate, and ease of parking and showering! We’ll be back later this winter for more exploring and climbing. Along We Go!