A Delightful Trip to Tucson

Recent horrifying discovery –

This giant wolf spider was on the outside of the house, right on the section of the wall that one would use to gain stability while climbing the front steps. Thankfully, neither of us felt unstable during that morning's ascent.

This giant wolf spider was on the outside of the house, right on the section of the wall that one would use to gain stability while climbing the front steps. Thankfully, neither of us felt unstable during that morning’s ascent.

We needed to go to Tucson this past weekend but were not interested in our typical marathon journey where we leave early Sunday, shop like crazy, and then get back late.  We also needed more time this trip because we had three appointments at different piano dealers.  And thus, we decided to pack the dogs with us and try the overnight thing.

We were going to book through Airbnb but decided not to at the last minute because of their verification process (which, by the way, they do after they have charged your card).  They required a photo of my driver’s license, the last 4 of my ssn and a video interview.  It seemed a little overkill.

Since we bombed out of the verification process (video recording window just kept saying ‘Connecting…’), we did get our money back.  Thankfully, we were able to connect with someone who had a vacation rental and we stayed there.  It was a lovely home south of Vail (about 30 minutes outside of Tucson), with fresh eggs in the morning (CHICKENS!), two little dogs for our dogs to play with, a light ordinance that allows great star gazing and a whole wing available for our use.  Brian and I had two bedrooms (the second is setup as a nursery or space for pets), a bathroom, a living room and kitchen access.  It was awesome.

Dinner at our favorite (so far) Tucson sushi source - Fresh Suchi Pho. We had the sushi/sashimi combo plate, two miso soups and the egg rolls.

Dinner at our favorite (so far) Tucson sushi source – Fresh Sushi Pho. We had the sushi/sashimi combo plate, two miso soups and the egg rolls.

Green tea ice cream dessert

Green tea ice cream dessert.  Delicately flavored, interesting mouthfeel and certainly worth a try (according to Brian).

We visited a dealership that evening and played several Yamahas (B3, U1, and something else), an older Steinway and an older Baldwin.  None blew me away.  The Yamahas were new and thus out of our budget…plus, I’m not as fond of the Yamaha feel as I am of Kawai’s.

While out on our pre-bed dog walk, a HUGE owl swooped over us.  We have been blessed by the owl gods!  Hurrah!  We also saw three large wolf spiders (despite being dark, they were incredibly visible due to their large size and eye-light reflection properties).  We also came across two small cockroaches – probably the prey of the wolf spiders.  It was very exciting.

Overall, the dogs were incredibly well behaved during our overnight stay. They did not get on furniture and nobody picked a fight with the little dogs. (This is the guest room where we slept.)

Overall, the dogs were incredibly well behaved during our overnight stay. They did not get on furniture and nobody picked a fight with the little dogs. (This is the guest room where we slept.)

After our breakfast the next morning, we drove to a beautiful art/piano gallery north of Tucson.  This was a truly magical experience and we enjoyed our interaction with the owner immensely.  He invited our dogs inside and gave them water.  He was incredibly excited about piano stuff and spoke to us at length about manufacturing, the various companies and everything else piano.  His showroom featured mostly new pianos, a few older uprights and two contenders in our ‘used but professional height/quality’ category.  Both uprights were quite enjoyable.  One was a younger Boston and the other an older Kawai.

Just one example of the many great pieces on display.

Just one example of the many great pieces on display.

There were three of these handmade chairs - $8,600 a piece.

There were three of these handmade chairs – $8,600 each.  This one was made of 50,000 year old Kauri wood.

I'm in heavy shadow, but here I am playing the Boston 118.

I’m in heavy shadow, but here I am playing the Boston U118.  Nice art work

This is the other contender - a 50" professional Kawai

This is the other contender – a 52″ professional Kawai

We took care of our errands next and then arrived at our final piano stop, a Steinway dealership that was ‘going out of business’.  We had heard from a little bird that it wasn’t actually a going out of business sale.  It turns out the Tucson licensed Steinway dealer had lost her license which is followed by Steinway coming in and taking back all their pianos.  The ‘sale’ was actually the Phoenix Steinway dealer taking advantage of the Tucson dealer’s situation by bringing his inventory down and staging several pianos in the Tucson space.

So locals might think they’re getting a great deal from a motivated seller, but there really isn’t any sales urgency.  Something I didn’t catch onto fast enough and therefore didn’t question – the salesman working with us kept saying that he had tried to get everything tuned for the sale but that several had been left incomplete….I kept believing this.  I should have questioned how pianos situated in the store could be in such a need to tuning….but the reality was that the pianos had just been moved from Phoenix.  That’s why they needed to be tuned.

In any case, there wasn’t anything of interest there.  The guy did his best to represent the pianos and tried to sell us on a Schumann that was nearer our budget.  Even if he had gotten a Steinway down to the amount we wanted to spend, I wasn’t in love with any of them.

We grabbed coffee at Savaya Coffee, up near the art/piano dealer. They had a great map on the wall of their current beans.

We grabbed coffee at Savaya Coffee, up near the art/piano dealer. They had a great map on the wall of their current beans.  We tried an aeropress shot of both a 100% Hawaii Kona and a Yemen Mocca.

We closed our visit with a return to the art/piano gallery to refresh my impression of the two pianos.  We grabbed Freddy’s burgers on the way out and arrived back in Silver around 8pm.

Freddy's is GREAT! For $17, we can get two loaded burgers and two frozen custards. To get the equivalent burgers in Silver, it's nearly $25 and that doesn't include dessert.

Freddy’s is GREAT! For $17, we can get two LOADED burgers and two frozen custards. To get the equivalent burgers in Silver, it’s nearly $25 and that doesn’t include dessert.

We have been occasionally accused of living a 'charmed life' or being 'charmed'. Well, it seems that is the case. On the way home, we knew we needed to find a place to let the dogs stretch their legs and go to the bathroom. On a whim, we headed off the highway toward Kartchner Caverns State Park. We got to the gate and decided that $7 was too much for merely using the space as a (poop) drop zone...for the dogs of course. On our way out, we saw a short road across from the park that led to .....nothing!

We have been occasionally accused of living a ‘charmed life’ or being ‘charmed’. Well, it seems that that is the case. On the way home, we knew we needed to find a place to let the dogs stretch their legs and go to the bathroom. On a whim, we headed off the highway toward Kartchner Caverns State Park. We got to the gate and decided that $7 was too much for merely using the space as a (poop) drop zone…for the dogs of course. On our way out, we saw a short road across from the park that led to …..nothing!  (View from the ‘nothing’ parking area.)

The short road immediately terminated on a nicely curved cul-de-sac. Off the cul-de-sac was a sandy path that wound about for 1/4-1/2 mile. We walked the dogs to the end and turned around. It was PERFECT and going forward, will be our designated 'drop zone'.

The short road immediately terminated on a primitive yet nicely curbed cul-de-sac. Off the cul-de-sac was a sandy path that wound about for 1/4-1/2 mile. We walked the dogs to the end and turned around. It was PERFECT and going forward, will be our designated ‘drop zone’.

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