|Subject: Re: Tucson and Southern arizona|
I happen to know quite a bit about the Tucson area, and you wouldn't have any trouble spending well over a week here even without special interests like caving and birdwatching.
For caving, there are two caverns open to the public, Colossal Cave near Tucson and Kartchner Caverns near Benson. Kartchner is supposed to be quite spectacular, and the state is going to great lengths to protect it. Check out http://www.pr.state.az.us/parkhtml/kartchner.html and http://www.colossalcave.com/welcome.html
I'm not much of a bird watcher but the area is supposed to be fantastic for it, particularly in the Whetstone Mountains. I did have close encounters with an endangered pygmy owl and a roadrunner while walking along in Santa Cruz River park.
There are two places to to shop for some very, very nice arts and crafts, Bisbee and Tubac. Bisbee was a booming copper mining town until a couple of decades ago whent he mines closed. it was headed toward ghostdom until the artists moved in. And it's physically spectacular, too.
Tubac was the site of the first European settlement in Arizona, but it did become pretty much a ghost town until the artists moved in a few decades ago. Now the old town is filled with galleries and shops, with stuff of a rather high calibre. It's a few miles north of Nogales so a stop there can be combined with a trip into Nogales, Mexico.
You asked about Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. It's pretty interesting, but I don't think it's worth the long drive if that's the only reason you're going there.
I do recomment the following, depending on your interests.
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (a must see)
The drive to the top of Mt Lemmon
The Titan Missile museum
The Pima Air Museum
A drive along the Boneyard, graveyard of old military aircraft Kitt Peak National Observatory, a mountaintop covered in telescopes
Shopping along Fourth Avenue (the Fourth Avenue Street Fair is the weekend of March 22d, and well worth it.
There is good Mexican food everywhere, with much of it concentrated in South Tucson, a small separate municiplity form Tucson and completley surrounded by Tucson. The only one I'm prepared to recommend out of ahnd is Mi Nidito on Fourth Avenue at 29th Street. The food is good and Bill clinton ate there; they have a Clinton special consisting of what he ate, and boy that man could eat.
Feel free to contact me for any details.
Regards, DAVE HATUNEN Tucson Arizona, out where the cacti grow