Things That Are Awesome About Southern Arizona

by Tori S

Tori is a teacher transplant — from the Midwest to the Southwest. Her personal blog is over at Anytime Yoga. She also regularly blogs for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.

[Editor’s note: We are taking inspiration from Tori’s post and are hoping to make “Things That Are Awesome About ________” a regular feature on the site. If you live some place that most people know little to nothing about and you want to share why you love it there, please let us know: submissions[at]flyoverfeminism[dot]com. While Tori’s post has lots of wonderful images, you don’t need to provide images for your list.]


With election season coming up — it’s started for us, with a bunch of contested primaries happening on August 28 — there are a lot of in-my-face reminders of what’s not awesome in Arizona right now. The state could use some positive press right now — and frankly, I could do with a few reminders myself.

So, things that are awesome about where I live:

1. The drive from Tucson to Bisbee:

Panoramic image of a large, grassy plain that meets up with some rocky hills in the background. The sky is clear except for a few puffy clouds.

Though the picture is awesome, as far as I’m concerned, this isn’t even the prettiest bit. That is the part between Tombstone and Bisbee, which is awesome in the “I am an insignificant speck in the universe” sense of the word.”

2. The Tucson teachers (and students!) who unfailingly offer to carpool and/or drive me to my bus stop. Because — Regional Transit Authority, I am talking to you — bus service sucks on the south side.

Image of a city bus in a parking lot.

Note: While I truly appreciate all the students who offer to drive me places, I want to state for the record that I do not and have not ever accepted a ride from a student.

3. The Space Age Lodge in Gila Bend. Ask me about the time my partner and I — when we were living 250 miles apart — thought it would be a good idea to meet for lunch on the Fourth of July. Because, you know, we both had the day off and could be back in our respective homes by early evening. Ask me about how my car’s alternator broke about 40 miles from Gila Bend, on the Fourth of July, with almost every place in town closed — and no mechanic to fix it until the next day. Guess where we stayed?

4. The Ben’s Bells Project [note: link discusses death].

5. Rancho Rossa Vineyards — Well, pretty much all the vineyards in the Sonoita region.

This image shows a white wine glass with white wine.

Rancho Rossa gets to be my favorite, though, because they have: a) a good balance of red and white wines; b) an awesome yet pretty affordable Chardonnay right now; c) Basset hounds.

6. All of the teachers in Yuma, who — every Thanksgiving, every Christmas, every Easter — open their doors and tables to any teachers (Yuma gets a lot of single transplants from the Midwest and Pacific Northwest) who otherwise might not have a holiday place to go.

This map shows the incorporated areas and unincorporated areas in Yuma County, Arizona. Yuma is highlighted in red. Incorporated cities are shown in gray and unincorporated communities or CDPs are shown in white.

I started out as one of those “lost” (I say that because I definitely was) teachers and ended my time in Yuma as one of those doing the inviting.

7. Oranges, and the time of year when they — and other citrus fruits — are literally falling off a lot of neighborhood trees:

Image of a cluster of oranges on a tree branch.

Also the Arizona Statewide Gleaning Project (to be fair, this is one thing that is awesome about all of Arizona, not just the southern bit), which harvests a lot of food — where I am, it’s a metric fuckton of citrus — that would otherwise go to waste and distributes it to people in need.

8. The Free Baja Arizona movement:

Image of Arizona and New Mexico that shows the area purchased by the US in 1853 in what was part of the Gadsden Treaty. The people who live there often refer to them area as "Baja Arizona."

Now, the article paints a too-pretty picture and glosses over some very real shit that still happens in southern Arizona. (Like, hi. We have racism here too. See: bus service is shit on Tucson’s south side or the mere fact that references to that portion of town have specific connotations regarding race.) Forming a new state is not at all likely to happen, nor is it even my preferred way of dealing with the shit that is here. But it is one very visible way of saying, “The decisions that are coming out of the state legislature? The laws that the governor is signing? Do. Not. Represent. Us.”

9. Nimbus Beer:

Image of a Weissbier in a glass. The top half is head, bottom a rich brown beer.

Because after thinking about the legislative and executive branches of the current state government, who doesn’t need a beer?

[Originally posted at Anytime Yoga, cross-posted here with permission from the author.]

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3 Responses to “Things That Are Awesome About Southern Arizona”

  1. Amber

    As an Arizonan toward the center of the state straddling the Maricopa/Yavapi border it’s always good to know that things aren’t all bad across the board. There is good to be had here, even if we can’t all benefit from it.

  2. Jessica

    Hey, that’s not an Arizona Bus! 🙂 I recognize the intersection – it’s a bus in Kitchener ON. And I am totally jealous of your citrus trees.

  3. Ev

    I left Tucson in 2006 to come home to southern Illinois. Thanks for the reminder of how beautiful southern Arizona is!

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