We try to get away from some of the short and bitterly cold New England winter days. In past Januarys, we've biked in New Zealand, roamed the streets of San Miguel d'Allende in Mexico, watched giant tortoises in the Galapagos and more. But we decided to do something less hectic this year and chose to spend twelve days in Tucson which promised blue skies, a desert experience, a large university and reasonably-priced condos for rent.
A phone call from the kids back East asking if we were OK was not part of our plan. We were visiting Tucson's spectacular Desert Museum when they called. It was only when we turned on the TV back in our condo that we learned of the tragedy's toll. Memories of Kent State, Columbine, 9/11 had us glued to the TV just like everyone, filled with sadness.
The following day we went to visit Tonhono Chul Park, a botanical garden, and as our GPS led us past the corner of Ina and Oracle, we saw the yellow police tape, the FBI jackets, the giant TV trucks, just 100 yards from our destination. We passed Ina and Oracle four times that day, just ten minutes from our condo, a Safeway we could easily have been shopping at.
Almost a week later, while we were looking a bit lost on the giant University of Arizona campus, a girl in a golf cart stopped and offered to show us around. She drove us to University Medical Center where we walked among the candles, balloons, posters and teddy bears of the memorial to Congresswoman Gifford and the others injured or killed at the Safeway.
That sad event was the defining moment of our Arizona vacation.