679. Tucson, Pima County (AZ04)

This is the Commissioners’ Building. As best as I can tell, the county commissioners work out of here, doing the business of the county and the yadda yadda hey hey. Some of you can probably guess what I think of this building, but on the off chance you can’t, it sucks. It’s boring. It’s not even an interesting office building. This looks like a hotel from the 1970s. This is baffling to me because why would you want that when right next door …

… is this beautiful creature? Stucco with a tiled dome? I thought of Roswell, not because the two are terribly similar, but because they both boldly stand out in a way you don’t quite expect. It’s stunning, and while they state that it’s the “historic courthouse,” I don’t know if any actual activity goes on there. That’s a shame because this is a building that generations to come will remember and treasure.

To be terribly honest, I’m almost a little amazed that I even made it here. There were three wrecks on I-10 on the way here. I kept getting routed and rerouted around them, and it felt like a miracle that I wasn’t in one myself. That said, downtown Tucson seemed kind of hip, like a college town: lots of young people/students, art and murals, interesting shops… Could this be some kind of destination that I didn’t really know about? Do I really know about destinations in the first place? If we consult the Magic 8-Ball, I’m sure signs point to no. Something interesting was going on there. The tracks and electrified cables for the streetcars caught my eye. And then I found myself at the reason for all the youthful bent: the University of Arizona. There are many caches in Tucson, but only one would do. You see, U of A is also the academic home of James C. Wyant, Professor Emeritus of Optical Sciences. As fate would have it, he keeps a webcam pointed out of his office window. I snagged a slightly illegal parking spot that nobody would care about at 5 p.m. on a Friday afternoon and went looking for a particular patch of the grounds. I couldn’t figure it out from the maps, so I asked someone who was kind enough to point me at the right building. A homeless man asked me why I was carrying an umbrella, and I responded politely because being homeless doesn’t eliminate basic human dignity, but I paid a social cost, though. He kept talking about how he couldn’t carry one because whenever he does, “they get him in trouble.” He kept going on and on about it and obviously wanted to talk, but I had to remove myself from the situation. I had other things to do and, quite honestly, I field the problems of the world and our reality when I’m at home. On the road in a faraway land, it’s not a problem I want to have to contend with. Not a great outlook, perhaps, but I have learned the hard way that that when one gives an inch, others are more than content to take a mile in the same way that this guy just wanted to monopolize my attention. There’s my shame, perhaps my sin. My point here (and I do have one) is that I worked my way down the mall, past the dancers and hacky sackers and frisbee throwers, until I found the right spot and got a picture, umbrella unfurled.

Ladies and gentlemen (or however you identify—I don’t mean to be gender assumptive), I give you your humble narrator, captured in Arizona’s only Webcam.

With the shadows growing longer and my work here finished, I set off again. I topped off the gas tank and made my way north. Unbeknownst to me, I made a routing mistake in my worries about how far I could and couldn’t get, but I wouldn’t realize that until long after I had reached…

4 thoughts on “679. Tucson, Pima County (AZ04)

  1. I don’t travel much, but I went to Tucson a few years ago for work and had the same surprised reaction at its youth and hipness. I applaud your acknowledgment of basic human dignity, and am sorry you got a little roped in.


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