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10 Must Pack Items for the Desert in Tucson, Arizona: Don't Forget these Essentials Like I Did!


10 Must Pack Items for the Desert in Tucson, Arizona: Don't Forget these Essentials Like I Did!

What to pack for a trip to Tucson, Arizona in March? I have the list for you-- after I learned from all of my mistakes while visiting Tucson's Sabino Canyon.

We pulled into our parking spot at Sabino Canyon's car park at 2:36 PM. 

With the air conditioning blasting, I was eager to run out into the desert on a long hike. I couldn't wait to see the Saguaro cacti and the waterfalls I'd heard about!

Right after I turned off the car, Arizona’s heat didn't hesitate. The temperature started rising in the car. We jumped out to escape the creeping heat. 

I snagged my backpack from the backseat. In the seconds standing at the backdoor, I could already feel the asphalt's heat radiating up my calves.

"Man, the sun is brutal today!" I commented looking up to the sun blinding myself. 

Then, I looked at my backpack.

All I had was a small water bottle. No sunglasses, no hat, no sunscreen, and not enough water. 

The road runner was running to shade, too!

The road runner was running to shade, too!

My senses immediately started responding to what they knew they'd be feeling soon enough in this heat.  A headache started creeping in, my mouth was now thirsty, and I had visions of myself in pain in bed from a scorching sunburn. 

Shoot! We did this all wrong. I was totally unprepared for the desert and we made the terrible decision to romp around in the desert in the heat of the day.

I confessed first-- "Adam, I can only handle 30 minutes out here."

"Me too!" 

Well, at least we were in agreement.

A long hike was off the docket today. We weren't going to see any waterfalls. 

Our visit to Sabino Canyon was going to be a quick in and out.

If I had only packed four essential items, it would have transformed our experience and I would have been able to adventure further into the canyon to see the beautiful waterfalls out there. 

We do suggest going early in the morning or more toward sunset--- not 2:30 PM in the heat of the day!

To see more pictures of our Sabino Canyon experience, click here

Sabino Canyon's 1/2 Mile Nature Trail- no shade here!

Sabino Canyon's 1/2 Mile Nature Trail- no shade here!

To prepare yourself to have fun in Arizona's desert, pack these items.

10 Must Pack Items for Arizona's Desert

Be prepared for the heat of the day and the cool nights with this gear:

  1. Hat

    1. make it a big hat providing lots of shade!
  2. Sunglasses

  3. Sunscreen

  4. Water- lots of it!

    • How much is enough?
    • Here's a suggestion from the Grand Canyon: Drink one-half to one full quart of water or sports drink each and every hour you are hiking in the heat. 
    • Carry your water bottle in your hand and drink small amounts often. 
    • By the time you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
  5. Buff

    1. use this for covering your neck, pulling your hair back, or wiping sweat:)
  6. Short sleeve shirt

  7. Long sleeve shirt

    1. to cover your arms, chest and shoulders during the day and to keep you warm at night
  8. Shorts

  9. Long pants

    1. to cover legs from the sun during the day and to keep you warm at night
  10. Hiking/running shoes


Have fun out there!

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5 Shocking Facts about Arizona’s Saguaro Cactus. Did You Know These?


5 Shocking Facts about Arizona’s Saguaro Cactus. Did You Know These?

What's your favorite state?

For me, Arizona is in my top five. I love Arizona's dry desert! It's probably because the landscape is so different from what I grew up with on the east coast.

So when we got the chance to fly cross-country to Tucson, Arizona two weeks ago for an RVer’s Escapade, I couldn't wait! I was pinning desert photos weeks in advance. 

I was so excited to be beneath AZ's glorious pastel desert sunsets. And, be in the midst of cactus forests!

But, when we raced into the desert in Tucson's Sabino Canyon, I was shocked.

Look how big these cacti are! We're so tiny in comparison!

We hadn't seen these big guys in other parts of Arizona before. So, I did some research. 

Sabino Canyon National Forest, Tucson Arizona,, Saguaro Cactus, Desert

Here are five shocking facts I learned about Arizona’s Saguaro Cactus.

Did you know these?

1. It’s the largest cactus in the US and it can grow to 70 feet tall!

That’s taller than a 5 story building! 

Sabino Canyon National Forest, Tucson Arizona,, Saguaro Cactus, Desert

2. They can weigh up to 6 tons!

Okay, let me do some quick calculations. 

1 ton = 2,000 pounds

Our camper (Bernadette) = 2,000 pounds

1 Saguaro cactus = 6 Bernadette's!

That means one of these cactus’ can weigh up to six Bernadette’s! 

Sabino Canyon National Forest, Tucson Arizona,, Saguaro Cactus, Desert

Now, that's a heavy load!

3. They only start growing arms or branches when they’re 50 to 70 years old.

In even drier areas, they may not grow arms until they’re 100 years old!

Here are some young bucks in the front right without arms and there's some old geezers in the back left with- let's count them- at least five arms! I wonder how old those old ones are?

Here are some young bucks in the front right without arms and there's some old geezers in the back left with- let's count them- at least five arms! I wonder how old those old ones are?

4. They normally live to be 150-175 years old!

Some are as old as 200 years! That means they’re almost as old as the United States of America (we’re 240 years old!)

More calculations: So, 200 years multiplied by 365 days per year...

That means, the oldest of these cacti have been standing in the same spot for 73,000 days! Can you imagine?

I wonder how old these two are?

I wonder how old these two are?

The left one seems to have extra growths.

The left one seems to have extra growths.

Sabino Canyon National Forest, Tucson Arizona,, Saguaro Cactus, Desert

Side note: Talking about old...

Tucson Arizona San Xavior Mission del Bac Sonoran Desert

When we were in Tucson, we also visited San Xavior Mission del Bac. It's the oldest intact building in Arizona. The mission has been standing in the same spot since 1797 and has been a part of three different countries since then! Now, that's some history.

Okay, back to the final cool cactus fact. 

Sonoran Desert, Tucson Arizona, Saguaro Cactus

5. You can only find Saguaro Cacti in the Sonoran Desert. 

So, get plans going to adventure Tucson. Make sure to visit these three awesome Tucson spots while you're there. 

You can also see the Saguaro Cactus in Southern California or Northern Mexico.


These facts are crazy right? I had no idea! I kept telling whoever I could find around me- "Did you know...?" and "Did you know...?" 

Share these facts with your friends and see if they're surprised, too!

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3 Places You Gotta Visit in Tucson, Arizona


3 Places You Gotta Visit in Tucson, Arizona

It's 4:46 AM on a Tuesday morning and here I am standing in Hartsfield- Jackson Atlanta International Airport snaking my way through the security line. We were preparing to get on a cross-country flight to Tucson, Arizona for a 48 hour trip.

It was a mad dash for us. We had so much fun!

Here’s 3 places in Tucson, AZ you have to visit!

1. Sabino Canyon

5900 N. Sabino Canyon Rd., Tucson, AZ 85750

Sabino Canyon is a 30 minute drive from Tucson’s airport at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains. There’s no shade in this desert. Our suggestion: only visit in the early morning or go at sunset.

We went midday and it was so hot we only lasted 30 minutes. Those thirty minutes were awesome, though!

We took the 0.5 mile nature trail and saw awesome cacti and wildlife.

Here's a packing list of 10 essential pieces of gear to have with you.

2. El Charro Cafe

311 N Court Ave, Tucson, AZ 85705

El Charro Cafe, Tucson, Arizona, Best Place to Eat, Best Restaurant in Tucson, Arizona, Near Sabino Canyon

El Charro Cafe was a yelp treasure we found and glad we did! 

We got in on a 95-year-old tradition by ordering the Carne Seca Recipe platter. For ninety five years, the restaurant has been solar cooking the carne on top of buildings in downtown Tucson in cages over several days to be served in your burrito.

Tucson has the perfect arid environment for the meat to be cooked by the sun. The owners won’t even do it at their Phoenix location. Pretty unique!

Ask for a sample before you order, though. Our waitress Bridgett said you either love it or you hate it. We loved it! We were so stuffed, we didn’t have room for their flan. Bridgett said they have the best flan. Our suggestion: save room for dessert and order the flan. We missed out. 

3. Mission San Xavior del Bac

1950 W San Xavier Rd, Tucson, AZ 85746

San Xavior is a thirty minute drive from Tucson's airport. The architecture, the surrounding views, and the history make it an awesome spot to stop! 

San Xavior is the oldest intact European structure in Arizona. The building has belonged to three different countries since it was completed in 1797. This was when Southern Arizona was a part of New Spain!

Then in 1821 when Mexico gained it's independence, the mission became a part of Mexico. Then, with the Gadsden Purchase, the mission became a part of the United States. Crazy history!

Mission San Xavior del Bac, Tucson, Arizona, Things to do in Tucson, Arizona, Things to See in Tucson, Where to Go in Tucson, Places to Visit in Tucson, Arizona, Desert

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10 Fun Facts About Our World I Learned While Writing a Children's Book


10 Fun Facts About Our World I Learned While Writing a Children's Book

If you were handed a ticket to go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Wouldn't that be an awesome surprise to get? The little girl in my children's book gets this chance but with three different tickets. So awesome, eh?

While we were in the midst of our international travels, I had a children's book idea. It was all inspired by one white pup we met in Bali. Her name is Putih (Poo-tee). I was still writing the travel guide How to Buy a Campervan in New Zealand at the time, so when it was done I jumped on this children's book idea. 

Well, it turns out, the little girl decides to go to three countries I've never been to before. So, I've had to do some research on these places.

Photo by Leo Rivas- Micoud from

I don't want to spoil the story, because I think it'll be a fun book for you to read. To know when it's ready, you can sign up here and I'll keep you posted:)

It's been so much fun writing it! I've learned some fun facts I never knew. 

While some friends are reading the next draft and I'm waiting for their feedback, I want to share these fun facts I've learned this week. Maybe they'll shock you, too!


10 fun facts about our world- did you know these?


1. English is not the most spoken language in the world.

Kanji by Niketh Vellanki from Kanji is a form of Japanese writing with Chinese characters. 

What? I know! It's terrible that was my assumption. English is actually the third most spoken language. There are two languages spoken more than English. Guess which ones. The second most is Spanish. The first is Mandarin! Makes sense with populations.


2. Did you know India has six seasons instead of four?

Photo by Tim Gouw from

I never thought having more seasons than spring, summer, autumn and winter was an option. India has an extra season between summer and autumn: monsoon season. They also have another season between autumn and winter, the pre-winter season called Hemant Ritu.


3. Did you know in Spain, they don't have the tooth fairy- they have a tooth mouse!

Photo from

His name is Ratoncito Perez. He's a Little Mouse that exchanges your teeth for a gift. I don't know how I'd feel imaging a mouse with a long tail jumping under my pillow in the middle of the night. However, I don't know if the kids put their teeth under the pillow. Anyone know?


Photo by James Douglas on

4. In India, toe rings are a symbol of marriage. 

We have a "finger ring" as a sign of marriage. In India, toe rings are the symbol where they're worn on the second toe of both feet. Girls who aren't married don't wear toe rings. Interesting! I think it's cool! Source


5. Did you know the Amazon Rain Forest creates one third of the earth's oxygen + holds one fifth of the earth's fresh water reserves?

I had no idea either. We gotta protect that space. It helps us all. Source

Photo by Eutah Mizushima from


6. Did you know Brazil holds the most species of monkeys in the world?

Me either! I would expect it to be somewhere in Asia. Source

Photo by Joshua Stitt from


Photo by Toa Heftiba on

7. If you like throwing your peanuts on the floor at Texas Roadhouse, you'll love going to Spain!

It's customary for people to throw their food down on the ground at restaurants. The dirtier the floor usually means the better the food! More people eating= more food on the floor. Source.


8. The lowest temperature ever recorded was -128.5 F in Antarctica.

Can you imagine the cold? Yikes! Source

Photo by Bethany Legg from


9. The average thickness of Antarctica's ice is one mile deep!

Whoa! That's 5,280 feet deep. Now that's thick ice! Source.


10. My all time favorite fun fact: why can't penguins fly?

I'll give you a second to guess.

Their bones are solid instead of hollow like other birds. They're too heavy to fly!

Source: I learned this interning at the Georgia Aquarium. 

Photo by Eamonn Maguire from unsplash,com

So, you can guess which countries my character travels to:) That's spoiled. But, it's the awesome #nuventures she has in each country that makes the story so special! To know when the books ready, you can sign up here and I'll keep you posted:)

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