Hello and happy Friday!!!
This week has been a whirlwind – exciting, exhausting, and wonderful. 🙂 I completed my first week at my new job and so far so good! I was in Tucson, Arizona Monday – Thursday for orientation and training and today was my first day in the DC office. I hope you have some fun weekend plans. I plan on spending as much time with my little family as possible and enjoying the beautiful fall weather.
I had never been to Tucson before and I really didn’t know what to expect. I knew that it was “the desert” and to expect desert-like weather – hot and dry– and desert like- landscape – mountains and cacti, but other than that I had no expectations. I asked around and people who had been to Tucson before told me that it was very flat (no hills – obvi they meant the roads, not the mountains in the background!), that it could get pretty chilly at night surprisingly, and that there was a simplistic beauty to Tucson, which I totally saw for myself. And, I’ll explain more about that in a minute.
Since I had a few days in Tucson I was able to try a few eateries around the University of Arizona, mostly good, and one bust with a capital B!
I arrived Monday late-morning and since my flight was a little delayed I only had time to pick up something for lunch (read: drive- thru) before heading to a meeting. My drive-thru of choice? In-N-Out! I honestly had some slim-pickings (I haven’t eaten at a fast food place in years) and I justified my choice because these burger joints are only out on the West coast and because so many people rave about this place. I may be sparking a fierce debate, but I don’t see the hype. My cheeseburger was fine, but not the best….and I’ve definitely had better fries elsewhere. I had the same observation the other two times I’ve been. Oh well, it did the trick and curbed my ravenous appetite for a couple of hours!
For dinner, I had a work event so I only had time to grab a tomato, basil, and mozzarella flatbread at my hotel’s bar for happy hour. It was surprisingly very tasty and for $6 a steal!
When I was doing my pre-work trip research I also racked my brain trying to think who I knew out in Tucson that I could see while I was there. Well, while Meg lives in Omaha, Kevin lives in Tucson. So as usual Meg and I were both on the same wavelength and thought if it worked, Kevin and I could meet up! I was also hoping that maybe Meg would be visiting Kevin during the week, but alas she wasn’t.
For lunch my office treated me to lunch at Choice Greens, a salad and sandwich place, which was a good thing because I needed some greens in my life by then. I ordered the Harvest Kale salad.
Dinner was a complete bust. I’ll just say that. I’m not sure why I decided to get food from Pei Wei instead of trying a number of delicious pho and other Asian restaurants colleagues recommended to me, but I did. I think it was purely for nostalgic purposes – I used to get Pei Wei all the time in college with dear friends. Or my taste buds have really changed a lot since my college days. I ordered two Crabmeat Wontons, which I ended up trashing after one bite (funky flavor), a cup of Hot & Sour soup + crunchies (this too lacked flavor and really wasn’t spicy. The only reason why I finished the soup was because of the crunchies) and Chicken Fried Rice (way too greasy and too much soy sauce. I only ate a few bites of this dish). Guess I learned my lesson, I’m clearly not a Pei Wei person anymore.
I had a day full of meetings beginning at 8am and ending at 5pm so I stopped at Paradise Bakery & Cafe for a latte and an Asiago bagel with cream cheese. I found Paradise to be very similar to a Panera.
For lunch one of my colleage’s treated me to lunch at Bentley’s, a chill, hippie coffeehouse that served sandwiches and salads, in addition to caffeinated beverages, hot and cold, and a variety of sweets. It was a really cool place. I tried one of their specials, Chicken Pesto Salad with chips.
Finally, for dinner I decided not to make the same mistake I had made the night before and treated myself to a working dinner at a wine bar/gastro-pub that came very highly recommended from a number of people, Wilko.
The next morning I awoke at 3:30am to catch a 5:15am flight as I headed back to the East coast. I made sure to stop at a Starbucks at the airport in Houston on my layover. 🙂
Back to my “simplistic beauty” comment above: surprisingly there aren’t that many pretty buildings in Tucson and when there are a few, you’ll find them dotted amongst modest and slightly dilapidated buildings. I also noticed that some of the best restaurants are in strip malls and very unassuming buildings. When I asked Kevin about this at breakfast he explained that Tucson isn’t interested in being Dallas or Phoenix in that they really have no desire to boom in growth. Tucsonans are fine with the way things are – integrated and natural. I can attest that the city did feel a lot more laid back than DC in terms of how people dressed and acted. It was refreshing.
All in all it was a great work trip! So glad I got to go to Tucson.
Have you ever been to Tucson or Phoenix?