From My Travel Bucket List

I’m one of those people who like to read travel books like “1000 Places to See Before You Die” or “The Geography of Bliss.” Book CoverSometimes I find myself planning my next vacation when I’m not even done with my current one. Well, not really planning but dreaming. Where will I go next?

There are so many places I feel I should go – places I’ve read or heard about all my life. Places like Venice, Rome, and Florence; Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville. I’ve never been to Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Vienna, Oslo, or even Prague. Then there are the places which intrigue me, the activities or people which sound more than just interesting – exciting, challenging, and even educational.

Map

Here are just a few of those places I’d like to go, in no particular order, taken right off My Travel Bucket List!

The items may change as the years go by, whether by necessity or choice, but I look forward to dreaming about each trip in the days to come. What’s on your Travel Bucket List?

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Where Can You Find Good Mexican Food in Tucson?

When searching for good Mexican food last June, we went to the oldest Mexican restaurant in Tucson, Arizona, El Charro Cafe.

El Charro 1

We arrived early and were seated quickly inside. Northern Sonora-Mexican food choices and a few Tucson ones fill the menu with the typical Mexican items of burritos and enchiladas plus grilled asada, hand-made tamales, chilaquiles, and ribs. There are gluten-free options and vegan ones, and plenty of cervezas. Overwhelmed, I gave up the opportunity to eat my usual Mexican food standby, fish tacos. Instead, I elected to sample many of the menu’s flavors by sharing a taco platter and a plate of tamales with my family.

The “Charrocuterie” a la Plancha includes a large vintage platter of carne asada, carnitas ranchero, grilled chicken, grilled peppers and onions, guacamole, pico salsa, sour cream, queso casero, applewood bacon, salsa, arroz, frijoles refritos, and corn or flour tortillas.

El Charro Tacos

The tamales looked good, too, so we added an order of three handmade tamales: pork carnitas, chicken tomatillo, and fresh corn.  The flavors were rich and deep, with just enough spice. 

El Charro Tamales

El Charro opened in 1922 and is the oldest Mexican restaurant in continuous operation by the same family in the United States.

Trip taken June 2015.

How to Find Gluten-Free Food on the Road

My daughter doesn’t eat gluten, not because she doesn’t like it or prefers not to, but because it makes her sick. She has celiac disease. So when we travel, we often use the Find Me Gluten Free app to discover places she can eat.

On a recent trip to Tucson, Arizona, our friends took us to a place for lunch called “Beyond Bread.” While the name sounded like it might be a good source of gluten-free food, just by walking in, we knew it wasn’t. Beyond Bread is all about the bread with a few salads and soups thrown in. While it may be fine for those who choose to eat gluten free, anyone with an allergy to gluten should beware.

After the rest of us got our gluten fix, we checked out the Find Me Gluten Free app and made a slight detour. Just a few miles down the road, we entered a green building with a cornucopia of gluten-free food – breads, sandwiches, cookies, even beer.

gluten-free options

Gluten-Free Bakery

Gourmet Girls Gluten-Free Bakery/Bistro is open for breakfast and lunch, Monday through Saturday and for dinner on Friday and Saturday.

Trip taken June 2015.

When Is a Zoo a Museum?

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona, is not just a museum. It’s a place to learn about the desert, to see desert animals in their natural habitat.

Arizona-Senora Desert Museum

I dragged my family to the Desert Museum on a sweltering day in June. The heat may have been dry, but it was heat all the same, at least 100 degrees. But we all agreed it was worth it. The museum was every bit as interesting and enjoyable as I remembered from my previous visits. 

It was late afternoon and the museum closed in just over an hour. Although the museum recommends at least 2 hours for a visit, we didn’t have a choice and knew that in the heat, we wouldn’t last much longer than an hour and a half anyway. So we paid the $19.50 adult admission fee, and entered.

Lizard

We walked along the 2 miles of trails, discovering various animals along the way. 

Big Horn Sheep

We cooled off in the gift store before leaving, hoping to return on another, not so hot, day, in the not too distant future.

Trip taken June 2015.

Back in Time near Bisbee

In Lowell, Arizona, you can go back in time for just a quick visit and just as quickly return to the future. In June 2015 we did just that.

IMG_6077

With its 1950s gas stations, Coke machines, and cars, Erie Street is just about all that is left of what was once a booming mining town in the late 1800s. Located just southeast of Old Bisbee, Arizona, Lowell was taken over in the 1950s by the Lavender Pit, an open pit copper mine.

Gas Pumps in Lowell

Now with its 1950s paraphernalia, you’ll think you’ve gone back to the 1950s, even if you’ve never been there before. 

Car in Lowell

Trip taken June 2015.

Sampling Bisbee

Visiting a farmer’s market while in Bisbee, Arizona, gave us a chance to talk to the locals and try some of their products. We saw solar ovens at work, baking banana bread and cooking a stew.

Solar Oven

We tasted salsas, cheese, and almonds, buying some chili powder and corn and cactus tortillas to bring back home. We learned about mesquite flour, a flour made from the pods of the mesquite tree.

Bibs Farmers Market

Hungry for lunch, we moved on to Old Bisbee, a touristy part of Bisbee with plenty of interesting and touristy shops on its winding Victorian streets. After salads and sandwiches at Cafe Cornucopia, we tried on hats, talked to beekeepers, looked at jewelry, and sampled more salsa before heading back to our hotel, wishing we could stay for the outdoor concert to be held that evening.

Trip taken June 2015.

What Did You Do This Summer?

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted any of my travels. Here’s my answer to that childhood ubiquitous question.

Spring blurred into summer, beginning technically on June 21 but really on June 2 when I traveled to Tucson for an outdoor family wedding. The weather was hot, we wore shorts and ate blizzards from Dairy Queen in the town of Sierra Vista, Arizona (stay tuned for more details on Bisbee and Tucson).

Dairy Queen

In June, we took a trip to Provincetown and walked Boston’s Freedom Trail. We said good-bye to our Chilean exchange student, wondering when we would see her again, glad of the excuse for a future trip to South America.

In July, my family was consumed and overwhelmed with learning about and planning for my daughter’s through hike of the Long Trail. We explored Vermont – Manchester, Waterbury, and Stowe and hiked through the Green Mountains.

In August, we recovered from our Vermont travels with trips to the beach on Boston’s North Shore, bike rides, kayaks, and swims in local ponds. We listened to music at outdoor festivals, visited farms, ate lobster and pizza, and grilled. We picked flowers and basil and went for a ride in a plane.

Watermelon

Now that fall is quickly approaching, I’m scrambling to get a bit more summer in. I need at least one more trip to the beach, and many more kayaks, bike rides, and outdoor swims. I need to shop at more farmer’s markets, eat lots of tomatoes, fresh corn, and peaches, grill vegetables, make fresh salsa, gazpacho, and zucchini bread.

Farmers Market

When the hot summer days cool off, I want to be ready. Ready to say good-bye to the heat and welcome sweatshirt weather and apple picking season, when I can still ride my bike and make apple crisp, and slowly get ready for fall.

Trip taken Summer 2015.