ifindkarma. elegance is refusal.

April 15, 2010

Top 10 things on the 10s: Tucson and New Mexico.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — ifindkarma @ 9:48 pm

We woke up early on Day 2 of our On the 10s Tour, and headed out from Phoenix to Tucson for breakfast and a visit to Saguaro National Park. The rest of the day was spent uneventfully racking up the miles through New Mexico and a little bit of Texas, which we drove into this morning at midnight.

This post is dedicated to the thousands of bugs who gave their lives to decorate our windshield

1. Saguaro National Park was resplendent and full of life, but as we suspected it does not meet the criteria for a national park because it is not unique or irreplaceable. If Yosemite or the Grand Canyon disappeared one day, the world would be bereft; but if Saguaro NP did not exist, I suspect the slack would be filled just fine by the adjoining state parks and the Desert Museum — plus half of Arizona has saguaros in their backyards anyway. So it’s enjoyable if brutally sunny, obviously one of the easiest National Parks to visit since it’s basically in the city limits of Tucson, and has VERY short nature trails that should be accessible for anyone… but a legit national park it’s not.

2. Things we learned about the Sonoran desert:
* It is one of the most complex and spectacular of the desert ecosystems
* Desert Museum (pwns) Saguaro National Park
* Javelinas are not piggies
* Bats pollinate saguaro flowers with their tongues!

3. Green chiles are ubiquitous in New Mexico and Arizona. You can get them on everything: stew, burgers, chicken sandwiches, cornbread, cheese fries. And green corn tamales! Teresa’s Mosaic Cafe in Tucson makes them fresh and delicious with strips of green chile. And the best huevos rancheros I’ve ever had. We were so impressed we named our Googlephone’s voice navigation system after her.

4. Teresa (our aforementioned from-the-future-to-save-our-lives Android HTC Google Nexus One voice nav system) is teh awesome and a Garmin killer and one of the main reasons Android is so great! She shouts out directions as you need them!! Now when she says, “In a quarter mile, turn right on Main Street”, we say “Thank you Teresa” and think subconsciously of Teresa’s Mosaic Cafe’s handmade tortilla station.

5. Google Maps directions on AT&T iPhone are unusably slow, buggy, and always failing at just the wrong time. Sprint Mobile Hotspot + Nexus One voice nav is 1000 times better. Teresa gives just as bad directions, plus she doesn’t give much advance notice — but she recovers very well if you miss a turn, and updates the new directions in real-time. As calming as a Teresa’s Mosaic Cafe green-chile corn tamale.

6. On every road trip there is a moment when you are tired, hungry, and your plans fall through — and for us it was last night’s attempt to eat dinner at a place in Las Cruces called Nellie’s diner. Nellie’s hours weren’t on Yelp, Roadfood, TripAdvisor, or Google. (We have since posted them on Yelp.) We tried to call but got a busy signal, so we didn’t discover that they close at 2PM until we arrived at 8PM. This is when your mobile smartphone can save your bacon. Joyce and I raced to find a new
dinner spot using our favorite local websites: I tried Yelp + Foursquare + Gowalla, but Joyce handily won with Google Local and the search term “green chile”. High Desert Brewing Company turned out to be across the street and had much better food than you’d suspect from the somewhat rowdy bar ambiance.

7. Sprint was no good in the big empty stretch between Tucson and the middle of Texas. Without EVDO, Joyce could not get email, use the web, or upload photos on her Palm Pre — just voice and text. And we still haven’t gotten 4G anywhere.

8. Car chargers saved our asses several times yesterday. Get one for every critical mobile device you’re road-tripping with or your gadgets will sleep at the exact worst moment.

9. Trying to find a last-minute motel room on the road, coupons in gas station pamphlets still get you far better deals than real-time searches on your mobile. And make sure to have your AAA card with you at all times! Because you never know when your car is going to omit water and Twitter will only get you so far.

10. Most smart phones still suck as phones — especially with Bluetooth pairing (via Jawbone and Blue Ant, which are the two very best) contributing to lag, ??dropped words, and garbled sentences. Phone calls to family and friends have been so frustrating! When will there be a great mobile phone that works well for voice? Palm and Android offer the most hope… but for now they’re just OK. And make us very happy we’re hauling so many devices on our road trip!

I’ve got my customized “On the 10s”??Zazzle shirt on, and next up is Day 3: driving through Texas on Tax Day (which is also Joyce’s birthday!). Unexpected torrential rains and expected OMGwtfBBQ to come…

See also: On the 10s Tour / Day 1: LA and Phoenix / LA Times article

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