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Thursday, October 23, 2014 | Last updated: 6:05am

Summer in Tucson is worth the sweat



Most UA students and Tucson residents seem to fall into two categories: those who get to escape the summer and those who are stuck here — the “true” Tucsonans who scoff at their cool-weather friends when complaints are made about cracks in the pavement and snow bird drivers. It seems that the right to complain about the “Dirty T” is a privilege that comes with the Full-Time Desert Dweller badge of fortitude.

So this summer, I stayed. I could have fled home to Hawaii, yes, but I stayed. Did I think it’d be a terrible-do-it-once-to-say-I-did-it summer? Absolutely. But you know what? Summertime in Tucson turned out to actually be pretty great.

Of course, when discussing Tucson summers, the elephant in the monsoon is the heat. And thanks to said monsoons, no one can even encourage the “it’s a dry heat” nonsense because well, it’s just hot. But honestly — and maybe it’s only because I imagined myself fainting of heat stroke each day while commuting by bicycle to a predominantly outdoor job where I’d chase children around all day — it didn’t seem that bad. Wear sunscreen and eat a popsicle ­— you’ll be okay.

So once you suck it up and throw comfort out the window (then promptly close said window to avoid losing precious AC), you can begin to enjoy the many wonders of the Tucson summer. I don’t know if you noticed, but it’s freaking gorgeous out there. The desert is greener than ever, alive with wildlife and wildflowers, and some cacti are still in bloom. Monsoons bring a relief from the heat, sure, but even after the rainbows fade, rivers are left behind and waterfalls and natural swimming pools form in the surrounding mountains, beckoning hikers to come and enjoy them. Clouds, scarce in Tucson most of the year, make for especially epic sunsets.

The concepts of “crowds” and “lines” leave along with out-of-state students to California and New Jersey, where they vacation for the summer. Tucson is left with a select population of conspirators who will nod and smirk as a lone patron walks into Chipotle, as if to say, “There is no line, you get that quesarito that takes forever to make.” Reservations? Who needs them? Sharing a swimming lane? No, thanks. Walking and cycling trails are less congested, Speedway Boulevard’s not such a crawl and grabbing some chips at QuikTrip actually becomes a quick trip.

None of this is to say, however, that there’s nothing going on in Tucson over the summer. Quite the contrary, the summer population of the desert comes together to provide a plethora of social activities around town. From movie nights at Reid Park, the Tucson Bird and Wildlife Festival, numerous summer concert series around town, nighttime programs at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and ski lift rides and stargazing atop Mount Lemmon, there is no shortage of things going on in Tucson during summer sessions.

So whether you subscribe to the “do everything before 8 a.m.” motto, attempt to sleep through the days and live by night or simply choose to endure an indoor existence for an entire season each year, consider taking a deep warm breath and enjoy the summer. Yeah, it’s hot. No, it’s not even dry. But taking full advantage of the Tucson summer is well worth the sweat.

– Allison Alterman is a sophomore studying creative writing. Follow her @allie_303


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