The door bell rings just before 7 AM on Saturday. Yes, seven A.M. on a Saturday. I know! It’s bad enough to be alert and functional (“Game On” as a friend would say) well before seven during the week, but on Saturday? This is a road trip day. We are heading down south to the “Old Pueblo” (pooh-way-blow), Tucson Arizona. We make one stop to pick up a friend and fellow GB activity participant before heading down the highway.
We have a day of sights and tastes planned, which include the Pima Air & Space Museum and the Titan Missile Museum. For those of us here at the GB office complex, an opportunity to experience marvelous feats of engineering AND enjoy some Sonoran Mexican food is an irresistible combination.
There are over 300 aircraft in five hangers and on display outdoors at Pima. Vehicles spanning decades of aviation history were everywhere! But walking around and under the SR-71 Blackbird made my day! It was the middle of the afternoon before we knew it and we found ourselves parched and famished.
For lunch we went to experience one of the Tucson culinary treats featured on the Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food” show. That treat would be the Sonoran Hot Dog that is served up at a taco stand in South Tucson called “El Guero Canelo” (ehl wed-ho khan-eh-loh). This location is literally a parked concession truck with a hut for orders and drinks with a separate grill cart. There is plenty of seating under a covered patio with picnic tables.
The place is bustling with locals. You know the fare is authentic border Mexican cuisine when you are in the minority standing in line to order. That’s right, some “gringos” found this place (note that 50% of the GB staff is Mexican-American, that means he can put this crowd at ease with a glance that communicates “These guys are cool”, “They don’t work for the Border Patrol” and “See y’all in church on Sunday”). I step up to the window and order a Sonoran Dog and a bottle of Coke, imported from Mexico, with a cup of ice.
Cokes and order numbers in hand we wade through the patrons and find a table. The speaker overhead crackles with periodic announcements that an order is ready. The numbers are called out in English and Spanish. I look at my receipt and note that I have number 279 or número doscientos setenta y nueve (dohs-see-en-toes seh-ten-tah ee nweh-veh).
My dog is ready. Fresh off the grill cart it is a bacon wrapped frank with beans, grilled onions, fresh onions, tomatoes, mayo, mustard and jalapeño sauce on a homemade “francesito” (frahn-seh-see-toh) french bread roll. The smell, flavors and textures combine to make a sublime scrumptious experience!
A bite of such a dog is usually followed by an ice cold beer. Alas, there was no beer cart or cooler at this place but we knew this going in, as their web site was devoid of any hard beverages listed. Upon sitting at the table we quickly produced a flask of Appleton Estate Jamaican rum and a plastic squeeze bottle of lime juice. With a quick glance around to see if anyone was paying attention, we combined the rum, juice and bottled Coke into the cups of ice to create “Cuba Libres” (koo-bah lee-brehs)! We are all about food and drink pairing, you know.
Next on the itinerary was the truly awesome Titan Missile Museum. The engineering effort to create this line of defense in the 1960’s (and operational for over 20 years) is amazing. The Titan II missile is 103 feet tall and had the largest single warhead deployed with a 9 megaton yield. This weapon would destroy everything in a 900 square mile area! The tour will take you down into the underground missile silo to view and participate in a launch demonstration. I highly recommend that you visit this museum if you find yourself in Tucson.
Just before leaving, we pull into “La Parrilla Suiza” (lah par-eeh-yah swee-zah), order a round of Negra Modelo (negg-rah, moe- alright, I’m DONE with the pronunciation tutorial) on draft with the “Queso al La Parrilla” appetizer; Melted cheese served on a table grill with flour tortillas. That’s right, MORE Mexican food. We reminisced, relaxed and ate. This day was great! We need to do this again.