When I googled Tucson last winter/spring after applying to the Tucson Borderlands YAV site, I learned that it is a pretty large city, there is a beautiful National park, and there are some pretty cool festivals in Tucson. When I arrived in Tucson, I was so shocked to see a saguaro cactus right outside of the airport. During the week of YAV orientation in Tucson, Alison took us all outside of the YAV house to our back yard and showed us the four mountain ranges that serve as a compass for the city.
The Catalina Mountains are north and they are right behind the house. In Asheville, locals are always complaining about the tourists that are in town all the time it seems. Tucson has snowbirds who come to live in Tucson for the winter months. At The Inn, we have several volunteers who are snowbirds but will volunteer a couple of times a week for the few months they are in Tucson! I think I prefer Tucson’s snowbirds to Asheville’s tourists just because at least the snowbirds I have met get involved with the Tucson community usually through volunteer work.
Tucson is a very warm city. It is very welcoming, sort of like if a city could give you a hug. The weather is also very warm. At least there isn’t a lot of humidity, but it is still very hot. It does still get cool. I only packed one pair of jeans and was very unprepared for the night time coolness and winter weather. One of my favorite things to experience was being out later one night in the early fall and feeling how quickly the temperature dropped without the sun!
Tucson is very bike-friendly. I was incredibly nervous about biking, but after seeing nice big bike lanes, bike crosswalks, and bike boulevards, I felt better. I still prefer not to bike on busy or main roads, but it is usually easy to avoid that because I can find a less busy street that will get me to the same place. During orientation, I took a bike safety class. That also helped to calm my nerves about biking.
I think my favorite part about Tucson is the sun. It just seems to spread everywhere. Even in the winter. I have never seen or felt sun like that. The sunsets are also spectacular. There are so many colors and you can just see the sun’s rays extend as the sun disappears behind the mountains. I have learned many things from Tucson, and can’t wait to learn and experience more.