Disclosure: This story about my weekend getaway in Tucson was created in collaboration with Enterprise Rent-A-Car who provided me with a rental car and compensation. As ALWAYS all opinions in this story are my own.
This spring was a busy time for the Misadventures family. We had my mother-in-law from France for 3 weeks, and we went to Brittany for 10 days and it was a sprint, we packed a lot in – Dinan, Saint-Malo, Cancale, Fougeres, and more. I came back home to run a successful collaboration event in Scottsdale. We did a backroad-offroad camping trip and on top of all that it is the busiest time for my real day job. Whew!
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Mama needs a Staycation!
Does it count if your staycation is 2 hours away? I feel like it does. Tucson is in our own backyard and so under the radar. Hey, all you folks coming into Phoenix and heading to that grand national park to the north, head the other direction and see what you are missing!
Since arriving in Phoenix 2 years ago, we’ve visited Tucson every few months. We’ve done a couple of weekend explorations (here and here) and since we’re members we’ve gone to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum at least once a quarter if not more and we’ve got camping reservations for the fall in Catalina State Park.
So when Enterprise approached me about helping me find my weekend self, I said:
“Enterprise take me away!” and “Here we come Tucson!”
For the longest time while living in the San Francisco Bay Area, we only had one car and whenever I needed an extra car I rented from Enterprise. I commuted into San Francisco on public transportation and getting to the airport or rental car office wasn’t convenient, but Enterprise had a program where they would pick you up and bring you to their office, a service I used quite a bit while working in San Francisco!
However, I first learned about Enterprise a few years before that while working at Logitech. I worked at this Swiss-American company for over a decade in corporate marketing and during the last couple of years of my time there, the company began developing a Customer Experience program and department with a mission to approach everything they did from a customer’s point of view.
Because of my role in the company I was on the initial task force to work on the initiative. At the time one of the most important factors of customer experience was NPS or Net Promoter Score. A score that companies are ranked against by a few factors but the most important one being: would you recommend us to others?
We studied companies with high NPS ratings. My bank was one of them and Enterprise was another. Enterprise offers outstanding customer service. They have a total transportation solution with an extensive network of convenient locations and affordable rates. But so do other rental car companies, the difference always comes down to the service!
I could go on and on about the experiences I’ve had with Enterprise, like when I flew into Portland last year for my Oregon coast road trip. I learned that I accidentally had 2 member numbers. The manager offered to take care of it. Not just to do it on the phone while I stood there, but she sent me on my way and said she would take care of it and email me when it was complete. I got an email that same day, job done!
For our most recent trips to France, we rented a car at the Enterprise office right down the street from our house and drove to LAX before flying to Paris. We’ve found that it’s less stressful than worrying about delayed or canceled flights.
Okay, enough of the background and why I love Enterprise, on with the weekend!
As I mentioned I really needed a bit of refueling so we planned for a “light” weekend rather than our usual jam-packed don’t stop until you drop kind!
We started our day with lunch at Senae Thai Bistro (sadly the restaurant is now CLOSED). I fell in love with Thai food in college – I ate and studied at a small family-owned Thai restaurant 3 to 4 nights a week! I met my first husband who I didn't realize was Thai (he was oddly tall for a Thai person) while bragging about how much I loved Thai food at a company picnic.
His family moved to the US from Thailand when he was in 5th grade and while we were dating (and married) I ate at my mother-in-law's house many, many nights during the week, and love good authentic Thai food. I have been dying for an excuse to visit Senae Thai Bistro because of its chef, Dee Buizer.
In 2015, Tucson was named “City of Gastronomy” by the United Nations, the first in the U.S. Tucson is a UNESCO Creative Cities Network for gastronomy! Part of the reason is people like Chef Dee who is one of the 32 chefs chosen by the Thailand Ministry of Commerce to be a part of a very special program called Thai Select whose mission is to promote authentic Thai cuisine.
We were blessed to live in Berkeley where Chef Dee opened her first restaurant, Sweet Basil and now we have had the opportunity to experience more of her food at Senae Thai Bistro.
We’re still following a low-carb lifestyle but rarely do cheat days, so I was very much looking forward to indulging in a few carbs, but I actually 3 of the 4 dishes we ordered were fairly low-carb.
I didn't feel deprived as 3 of the dishes I ordered are long-time favorites: Lab Gai, a salad with ground chicken (or pork) red onions, cilantro, mint, and roasted rice among other things; Neurh Nām Thok (or waterfall salad) with beef which is almost exactly the same as Lab Gai; and Gai Kra Prow, minced chicken and long beans, fried onions and garlic in a basil chili sauce. We also had Mu Yāng which is grilled pork with cilantro.
The thing I love about Thai is the layers of flavor you get from the spices and various preparations of the individual ingredients. It was the tastiest meal we've had in a very long time! If you want to make Thai food at home, it can be done, my friend Renee of Thai Caliente recently shared her recipe for Nue Nam Tok and I can't wait to try my hand at it!
We left the restaurant in downtown Tucson thrilled that our weekend was starting off on such a good note. We hopped into the car and headed to our home away from home for the weekend of unwinding.
I became intrigued by the Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort when I chatted with their PR rep at an Arizona media event held at Mountain Shadows Resort. I loved the history surrounding the property, a former all-girls school, a Hollywood hideaway (Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracey fell in love here!), and a lovingly restored architectural showpiece with good bones (it is one of the oldest examples of Swiss architect Josias Joesler's work in the Southwest).
Our Catalina guest room facing the Santa Cataline mountains did not disappoint and we enjoyed a quiet evening on the terrace taking in the sunset and watching the fascinating play of bird dynamics in the giant saguaro next to our room.
I'm not going to go into all the details of our stay, I've written a post dedicated to the hotel, but needless to say, our stay definitely helped me transform into my weekend self and refuel and recharge for a new week!
I was able to do one of my favorite things in the world, reading a book. A real book, not my Kindle. I carried it around in the hotel, and at the pool and I really enjoyed sinking my teeth into Ruth Reichl's latest gourmet memoir, Save Me the Plums.
After indulging ourselves in a peaceful respite at the resort we decided to prolong our return home by taking the long way. We headed towards Pipe Organ National Monument with the intent of visiting the part we missed last May but were pleasantly surprised to find the road to Kitt Peak National Observatory open early (there are gates blocking the entrance between 4 pm and 9 am) so we headed up the windy road to the top of the mountain.
At the top, we found the largest accumulation of telescopes in the world, 24 in all. We did 2 of the 3 tours and learned so much. The space geek in us was thrilled. Tucson is the astronomy capital of the world and the mountain ranges surrounding the city are dotted with them.
It was the perfect way to top off our weekend and I can't thank Enterprise enough for suggesting that I take the time to refuel and have a weekend getaway and for providing the means to do it!
How to Find Your Weekend Self
- Take a little trip. Your location should be a short distance 2-3 hours by car or plane away from home. Or a Staycation at a local resort. Come to Phoenix or Tucson in the summer it is low-season and there are FANTASTIC deals to be had!
- Rent a car. If you're flying pick up an Enterprise rental car at the airport. If you are driving, give your own car a break and rent something fun!
- When you get to where you are going, unplug, I know it's hard, but it feels amazing!
- Take a moment to reflect on all the good things in life and remember to take refueling breaks every month or so.
If you’re ever looking to rent from Enterprise in the Surprise/El Mirage/Sun City/Sun City West area consider the office in El Mirage on Grand Avenue and say “Bonjour” to Rochelle she’s a fellow Francophile and offers exceptional customer service!
And for more road trip inspiration check out some of these trips on the Pursuits with Enterprise site!
More on Tucson:
Visit Tucson Arizona
Weekend Explorations in Tucson
More Weekend Explorations in Tucson
Locals Guide to Tucson Bike Trails
Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort – A Romantic Tucson Weekend Getaway
The Downtown Clifton Hotel
If you want my FULL Phoenix and Tucson Phoenix and Tucson Activity + Day Trip List with day trips and things to do in Phoenix and Tucson, it is available for $4.99.
How about you? How would you find your weekend self? Where would you go to recharge? Do share!
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