Let me start by saying what an absolutely amazing convention visitors bureau Tucson has developed. Jalyssa from Visit Tucson was an absolute joy to plan this trip with and she showed me several sites I would not have bothered to check out if not for her insistence and they were great. Thank you Jalyssa for loving your job and your town and helping others love it as well!
If you are headed west before you even arrive in Tucson you must take a 30 minute detour to visit a bit of history. The infamous city of Tombstone, AZ lie off the highway and is worth the trip. If you have not seen any of the movies about the town it is most known for the shootout at the O.K. Corral. The 30 second shootout between lawmen and outlaws encapsulates so much of the intrigue of the Old West. Here we find real life legends like Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and the Clanton Brothers.
The town is also known for it's unique cemetery, Boothill Graveyard. Here lie several famous figures such as the three men that died at the shootout: Billy Clanton, Tom McLaury, and Frank McLaury. Also laid to rest are Al Lum aka China Mary, and the perpetrators of the Bisbee Massacre. In order to attract tourist fake gravestones were also placed such as Lester Moore whose placement reads, "Here lies Lester Moore, Four slugs from a .44, No Les No more."
They actually have reenactments and a lot more to see in Tombstone, but it was the afternoon in July and so I didn't want to be outside for the rest of it.
Moving on to Tucson.
Tucson, AZ has so much wonderful history, art, and culture to offer. It has has wonderful natural beauty. I was there right before the wet season began so everything was extremely dry. The first location I checked out was the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area in the Coronado National Forest.
The canyon was once significant land of the Hohokam people and the U.S. Forest Service began care for it in 1905. During the Great Depression the Works Program Administration began building the Sabino Dam, nine bridges within the canyon, and a 4.5 mile road. The road was meant to reach the top of Mount Lemmon. The road was not completed due to the steep nature of the mount. You can hike, walk, or take a tram through through the canyon. You can guess how I just to explore it.
There is a great deal of wildlife in this area, but I did not see any this except a deer that blended in extremely well to the canyon walls.
My next stop was not what I expected at all. I was really blown away though and so glad I went. Before this trip I had no idea who Ettore Ted DeGrazia was, but I am now a huge fan of his art after visiting his home at Gallery in the Sun. This is where he built his home and his own chapel and created amazing art honor Native American people.
DeGrazia was born in Arizona in 1909 before it was yet a state. His family had immigrated from Italy in 1898 and returned for a time in 1920 after the Morenci Mines closed. It was while they were in Italy DeGrazia fell in love with cathedral art. The family would move back to Arizona in 1925 when the mines reopened. Due to these move DeGrazia had forgotten how to speak English and at 16 was placed in the first grade. He did not graduate high school until he was 23. Then with $15 to his name he enrolled in the University of Arizona. He would perform with a trumpet in the evening and work on the University's landscape during the day to pay his way. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts and then a Bachelor of Arts Education in 1945 at the age of 36.
In 1941, Arizona Highways magazine began publishing DeGrazia's work. DeGrazia became world famous in 1960 when UNICEF asked to reproduce his painting "Los Niños" for their campaign. The painting of children dancing in a circle became his most famous piece.
In 1976, DeGrazia became furious at the idea that on paper the federal government declared him a millionaire and could take his children's inheritance from them. To protest, he rode to the and burned hundreds of his own paintings.
Ted DeGrazia died in 1982 and is buried at his Gallery in the Sun.
My final stop in Tucson was the Pima Air and Space Museum. I was supposed to do a tram tour, but I was late and they did not offer afternoon trams.
Pima Air has 300 aircraft spread out over 80 acres and is home to the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame.
Personally, my favorite party of the museum was the flight attendant outfits throughout the decades.
Tucson, AZ was a fantastic journey. If you make it out that way check out the Sheraton Tucson Hotel and Suites or the Courtyard by Marriott at Williams. Both were wonderful hotels.
One more time, thank you to Jalyssa from Visit Tucson for being so amazing.
If you are interested in planning a trip to Tucson for your school group or other tour group please make sure to touch base with the Blue Ridge Tours office team.