I’m not a great traveller. I don’t jump trains, I don’t court Death, & I don’t know another language. I want to shower. I want to brush my teeth. I want to poop in a receptacle that I did not have to dig from the ground with my bare hands. But the biggest hurdle for me in travelling is cost – I am perpetually broke. Always. Forever. So while some places (Mars Cheese Castle) are within my budget, more thrilling destinations (not Mars Cheese Castle) remain out of reach. Sigh.

In tackling Assignment #11 (Spend time in a state you’ve never been to), I decided to do the truly American thing & head West. On credit. With the help of my soon-to-be-destroyed credit card, I bought myself a round-trip ticket to Tucson, Arizona, home to saguaro cacti, El Tiradito, and the set of Young Guns II. It is also where many old people go to die. I’m really excited because the only time I’ve ever gone any direction that wasn’t east I wound up at a fraternity formal in Davenport, Iowa. I’m thinking this might be something of a more authentically western experience.

I’ll be staying with my friend Judy, who I haven’t seen in almost three years. Three years! Three years is long enough for babies to be born & grow & walk & kill every last shred of their parents’ independence. Legions of pet hamsters are laid to rest over the course of three years. It’s a crazy amount of time to go without having physically seen someone – lucky for me, Judy is the pinnacle of awesomeness. She’s one of those people who you can be away from for ages, then you’re back together for about two seconds & already you’re laughing over inside jokes & turning up the radio & shrieking in that wonderful, obnoxious girl way. She’s out in AZ working at the University, where she is a scientist, like a for real scientist with lab coat & computers & notebooks filled with cryptic equations on how to stop global warming/giant lizards. She is probably going to save the world. I’m excited to visit her.

Judy’s warned me that it’s been averaging about 100+ in Tucson, which, after dealing with Chicago Winter, will be AWESOME. She’s also hooked up a loaner bicycle for me. Apparently Tucson is a tremendously bike-friendly city – probably because everyone there is enjoying their air conditioning or driving a golf cart. I’m wondering, though, if anyone has any suggestions on what to do while I’m out there. I’m on a budget, but I’m pretty open to trying everything & anything & taking lots of pictures. I’m not above ridiculous tourist traps, though I lean a little more towards nature & all that granola-ish stuff. Oh, & you needn’t bother suggesting a visit to the set of Young Guns II – I am so on it.