Thursday, January 27, 2011

Weekend Assignment: Private Tours, Cheap!

My Dad was in town weekend before last. Guess what we did together:

Weekend Assignment # 354: Tour Guide
Do friends or relatives from out of town ever visit you? If so, do you take them sightseeing? Where?

Extra Credit: What is the most interesting place you ever went sightseeing while visiting someone else?

As I mentioned in a previous post, mid-January was a busy time for me. Not only was my Dad in town, but I had to replace my car, with all that entails, and work at both St. Michael's and St. Matthew's, both of which were getting ready for their annual parish meetings.

So getting quality time in with my Dad was a tricky thing to do. I'm afraid he got stuck sitting in a room at St. Matt's for a few hours on Friday, the same day I had to rent a car for a few hours so my "new" 2001 Kia could be worked on. (But that's another story.)

But Jason at St. Matt's gave Dad a personal tour of the church campus, and Friday evening, I took Dad to see the display of candles and signs and such outside Gabby Giffords' office, and then to Nimbus Bistro, a restaurant owned by the Nimbus Brewery, our local microbrewer of ale. It was so noisy I could hardly hear hear a word Dad said, but he sat next to John and they apparently heard each other well enough to have a conversation.

Rather than take Dad straight to his hotel afterward, I took him for a stroll in Trail Dust Town, as you can see in an entry I did for the Round Robin later that night. (Scroll down for the pictures!) This was apparently a Western movie set built in the early 1950s, but now it's sort of a fun touristy place to take out of town guests for steak, chocolate covered strawberries, a gunfight show and a kiddie train ride. Dad is a sucker for trains, so we took the train ride.

Saturday morning I had to work at both churches, but in the afternoon Dad and I had lunch at a nice little restaurant I hadn't tried before. Then I took him out to see the Boneyard, where hundreds of old planes sit out their retirement. I had hoped to take Dad on an actual bus tour, but it only runs weekdays. We ended up at the Pima Air and Space Museum, where Dad had been once before, probably at least fifteen years ago. He didn't remember the prior visit, so it was well worth going again.

After the museum I took Dad to Babad Do'Ag Vista, just a few miles up Mount Lemmon highway, and waited about ten minutes for sunset. I hadn't filled my gas tank, and Dad got nervous when it showed E for Excellent, as the family joke goes. But I pretty much coasted down the mountain and there was no problem at all. We had dinner at Kon Tiki, a place John and I both love as a midcentury relic (the food's good, too).
A gate at Mission San Xavier del Bac shows a traditional Tohono O'odham maze.

Sunday after church we made my usual stops, and then headed down to the Historic Depot downtown, where Wyatt Earp shot Frank Stanton in the aftermath of the OK Corral. The Transportation Museum was half an hour away from closing, but we made a whistle stop tour of the place, with Dad trying to out-guide the guide until the docent gave up and helped someone else. Lunch was at the historic Hotel Congress across the street from the train station. We missed John Dillinger Days at Hotel Congress, where the gangster once stayed, by a week.

From there we took the freeway down to Mission San Xavier del Bac, a few miles south of Tucson on I-19. I explained that Father Eusebio Kino founded the place centuries ago but that it was built much later, by the Franciscans. I showed off the saint statues in real fabric (silk?) clothing, and explained about milagros, little charms attached to the statue of a saint as a prayer for a loved one's healing.

We took the scenic route back, following Ajo Road to Kinney Road past Old Tucson, and drove the steep, scary drive up over Gates Pass just before sunset. The scenic outlook at the top was so crowded with cars that I could not park there at all. So we went on to A Mountain, also called Sentinel Peak, for the very scariest driving I know of in Tucson. On the way back down I got this picture:

The reflection isn't a lake; it's the roof of my car!

And that, aside from another dinner out and the drive back to Sky Harbor Airport the next day, concluded our whirlwind tour of Tucson. We didn't get in Old Tucson, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Colossal Cave or Sabino Canyon, but Dad was impressed with all that we did cram in, and my many factoids presented as we drove or walked around. He suggested, half-seriously, that I find a van and a driver and hire myself out as a Tucson tour guide!


1 comment:

John said...

It seems that you've had a very good time with your Dad. I have personally been to Sentinel Peak and I have to admit that it is the scariest driving I know of in Tucson, too. I was there last summer with a friend of mine. We stayed in one of the Tucson hotels . We managed to rent a car, and to have a look around the area. I have to admit that it worths every minute of the scary driving. Next time we go there will go camping.