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TUCSON

Tucson is south of Phoenix, about 110 Miles on Highway 10, and about 60 miles north of the U.S Mexican Border.

When most of the northern states are being hit with snowfalls and freezing in winter, Tucson is enjoying the sun just as it does 360 days of the year. The city has a population of over 750,000 people and is home to the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, the University of Arizona and a lot of high tech electronics, optical, healthcare and other businesses.

Downtown there is a Sun Link Streetcar that runs from Main Gate Square along Fourth Avenue to the Mercado San Agustin – a four mile journey through the center of the City.
The Tucson area has a history dating back thousands of years to the time of the Paleo and Hohokam people, and prior to the first Spanish travelling here in the 1500's, by the Pima and Tohono O'odham Indians, who called the village where Tucson is located 'Stook-zone', meaning "water at the foot of black mountain".

Spanish conquistadors and missionaries travelled through the area in the 1500's and 1600's with the founding of the first mission, San Xavier del Bac in 1692 by Father Eusebio Kino, and almost a century later construction of the current church in 1783-1797. The mission church still stands and can be seen on San Xavier Rd – exit 92 off Interstate 19, about 9 miles south of downtown Tucson.
In 1775 the Spanish Army began construction of a garrison fort using Adobe clay mud to build 'El Presidio de San Agustin del Tucson', with the fort expanded over the following years with high defensive walls and watchtowers encompassing an area of around 11 acres. The year '1775' is viewed as the birthdate of the City of Tucson, and although the Fort no longer exists, the Tucson Presidio Museum at the corner of Washington and N. Court Streets has information and historical documents from that time.

Tucson is set in the Sonoran Desert and surrounded by the desert and mountain ranges, with Mt Lemmon 9157 feet in height, where there is a ski field in winter, the most southerly ski field in the USA. (See www.skithelemmon.com Tel: (520) 576 1321.

There is a lot to see in Tucson, where there are many hiking and bike trails, art galleries, boutique shops and cultural events, the Tucson Opera company, Symphony Orchestra and Ballet Company, but perhaps the most interesting attraction to see is the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base 'Aircraft Boneyard' – where 1000's of old aircraft are parked in the desert – the hot dry climate making it ideal to store them in the open, with less likelihood of them rusting and deteriorating. Officially the 'Boneyard' is called AMARC – the 309th Aerospace Maintenance & Regeneration Center – and you can take a tour of it, with tours organised through the Pima Air & Space Museum which also a number of famous aircraft on display too, with 300 of them spread out across their 80 acres of grounds and in hangars. The Museum is located at 6000 E. Valencia Rd (See www.pimaair.org Tel: (520) 574 0462). Even if you have never been interested in aircraft this is an amazing place to visit, and if you want to take a bus tour of the 'boneyard', be sure to book early.

Happy Travelling!

I hope you have a great time in Dallas and Fort Worth.

Geoff Stuart

Happy Traveller

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