TUCSON ARIZONA Daughter Account

After El Paso, we headed for Tucson, Arizona. So, this is our Tucson Arizona daughter account of the visit. I thought that once we got past the one-way streets and raised highway of El Paso, we would be in good shape. Dad isn’t exactly calm when he’s confused and driving, so I was looking forward to a reprieve from him yelling at Myrtle (our GPS). Tucson Arizona daughter

The trip was going smoothly until we noticed on the GPS just how close we were to Mexico. The road we were on was in the US, but I’m pretty sure I could see the border just a few cacti away. On the GPS, we were driving toward a segment of Mexico that spiked up a bit. If the road was dead-straight, we’d have to cross in and out of Mexico to continue on our way. Obviously, that was silly. A major interstate isn’t going to randomly kick you out of the country for 2 miles. But, we didn’t have our passports so I was getting a little worried. Then, we came up to an ominous toll booth. Tucson Arizona daughter

Only, it wasn’t a toll booth. The building to our right said “Border Patrol”. Yikeseronies. Dad, who was driving, was trying to figure out how to do a gentle U-turn and get us the hell back to New Mexico. I was considering hopping out and leaving him (sorry dad!). Tucson Arizona daughter

When we got to the front of the line, a lovely woman in a border patrol uniform (think sheriff’s khaki suit) asked us to roll down the window. She asked us a few questions about where we were from and where we were headed. Then she waived us on our way. Before leaving, my dad sheepishly asked, “ma’am we aren’t, um, heading into Mexico, are we?” Tucson Arizona daughter

“Yes, now go ahead.”

For a full two beats, we were all frozen, eyes locked. I’m not entirely sure my dad didn’t wet himself a little. After the pause, the ranger began laughing. She explained that this was the border between New Mexico and Arizona and that we were fine. Dad cried a tear of relief and I closed the car door I’d been trying to sneak out of. Tucson Arizona daughter

Apparently, several states, including Arizona, set up internal border patrols to deter illegal immigrants and drug smuggling across state borders. I was previously unaware of this fact. I had never seen an international border patrol station before, much less an inter-state one. We were less concerned the second and third times we came across these. Though to be fair I don’t think we risked crossing an international border between California and Oregon (unless my high school geography really let me down). Tucson Arizona daughter

Eventually we got to Tucson and dad was only shaking a little. After the traumatic events of the day, he asked that we blow off my detailed research into the best restaurants. Instead, he wanted to go to a local Mexican restaurant recommended by the hotel. Reluctantly, I accepted. He looked like he needed a win. Tucson Arizona daughter

The restaurant was in what seemed to be a local Mexican sub-community. The architecture was distinct and all of the stores and signs were in Spanish. When we arrived at the restaurant, we were greeted with the same “wtf are you doing here” looks that I liked to give obvious tourists back home (I grew up in a rural area near a lake, so we had tourists and they did not know how to navigate the roads). Noting the obvious confusion around us, we persisted because we were hungry and thought it could be a good opportunity to experience authentic food from the area. Apparently, my stomach is too accustomed to Americanized Mexican food and was not prepared for the real deal. Tucson Arizona daughter

I don’t remember exactly what I ordered, but it had chicken and cheese (pollo y queso – I took some Spanish and I know I like both of those). But when it came out, it didn’t look like anything I’d had before. It was kind of a grey-ish lump with some sauce. The taste didn’t set quite right with me, but I was hungry and didn’t want to offend the host, so I persisted. When we got back to the hotel, I was rewarded with a night in the bathroom. I blame my dad. Tucson Arizona daughter

The next morning we were meant to visit one of the sites my dad was most excited about: the Titan Missile Base. Now, sure I had been food poisoned and we had skipped my food stops in Arizona, but I’m a good sport (and he was whiney) so off we went, in the triple digit heat, with very little sleep, and still a bit queasy. He was a kid in a candy store. Tucson Arizona daughter

We joined a tour group and were led down an industrial elevator, down a corridor, and into a control room. During the cold war, soldiers would sit down there for days on end, in pairs of two, waiting for a call on the one phone – a direct line – telling them to turn their keys. The keys were far enough apart that they couldn’t be done simultaneously by one individual and they had to be done simultaneously. That and the overall bomb-shelter-bunker quality served as the main protections. Tucson Arizona daughter

The soldiers didn’t know where the bomb was targeted and had no communication with the outside world while they were down there. If they ever received a call (which, thank god, they never did), they would have no way to know who they were bombing or what countries or states were left standing. They just had to turn their keys and wait to see if there was a world above to return to. Tucson Arizona daughter

Apparently, there were several of these missile silos throughout the American desert. Some were sold privately (imagine building a house out of a government bunker), some decommissioned, and this one was turned into a museum. Tucson Arizona daughter

After that, we got an underground tour – complete with one disarmed missile – and an above ground tour where we could look at where said missile would have shot out were it ever used. Tucson Arizona daughter

I was hot, nauseous, and ready to go home. Dad was history-geeking out.

Eventually, I got to go home and sleep. And he still talks about that museum today to anyone who will listen.

If you liked this blog, you will most likely also enjoy our new book MURDER BY ROAD TRIP, inspired by our actual road trip. There’s a great mystery to solve (you have to, since our amateur detective tends to miss obvious clues), and lots of laugh-out-loud comedy. It’s available on Amazon https://amzn.to/2HauHCg Barnes&Noble https://bit.ly/35lISh6 and Indie Books https://bit.ly/2I95at8