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My velvet escape travel tip“ is a guest series about what the name ‘Velvet Escape’ evokes and what that would be in the hometown of the guest writer. With this series, I hope to uncover travel tips from places around the world to help visitors have a truly local experience.

Tucson , Arizona, encircled by mountains, occupies a patch of desert. So naturally, I choose an oasis as the spot for you to unwind and escape.

Courtesy of Vera Marie Badertscher, all rights reserved
Courtesy of Vera Marie Badertscher, all rights reserved

On the northwest side of town, a forty-acre patch of the beautiful and lushly vegetated Sonoran Desert contrasts with surrounding highways, malls and office buildings. Nearby Santa Catalina Mountains play games with sun and shadow on ridges and arroyos. A clear blue sky arches overhead.

The short drive from civilization through the gate and to the parking lot of Tohono Chul Park will help you slow down and adapt the energy-conserving lessons of the centuries old Saguaro cactuses that welcome you. Their arms stretch to the sky like cartoon bad guys caught by Wyatt Earp. An adobe building, once a home, serves thirsty and hungry humans at the Tea Room, while out back on the patio, fountains, birdbaths and hummingbird feeders take care of the birds. Lacy palo verde and mesquite trees shade the paths meandering through the park. The profusion of red and purple penstemon, yellow poppies and exotic shrubs confound your idea of “desert.”

Courtesy of Vera Marie Badertscher, all rights reserved
Courtesy of Vera Marie Badertscher, all rights reserved

Tohono Chul means Desert Corner in the language of the Tohono O’odham (Desert People) who were here centuries before the Spaniards founded the Presidio de Tucson in 1776. You can opt to have brunch and a glass of prickly pear iced tea on the patio of Tohono Chul Tea House and watch the cactus wrens trying to unthread the umbrella covers and lizards scurry for cover of shade. It’s my Velvet Escape in Tucson.

About this week’s guest writer
Vera Marie Badertscher, a 40-year resident of Arizona, is a freelance writer who specializes in travel with an emphasis on culture.

image159-2 She also blogs about books and movies that inspire and inform travel at A Traveler’s Library.

Read the first velvet escape travel tip: Toronto.

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