Trekking Tumamoc

In a nutshell:

  • Local favorite, social hike of 3 miles (out and back)
  • Steep incline, gorgeous view (out and back)

Lucy Agave:

Walking up Tumamoc Hill has always felt to me like a Tucson rite of passage. I have yet to meet someone from Tucson who hasn’t “done Tumamoc” at least once.

Tumamoc hill is located just west of Sentinel Peak er “A Mountain” (another Tucson icon). The parking situation is not ideal but the real trick at Tumamoc is not appearing too winded when the group of elderly ladies passes you on the trek uphill.  

The trail up the hill can sometimes be crowded but people keep their distance. It’s nice if you know what you signed up for. (Don’t go to Tumamoc expecting an isolated experience in nature, it is a pretty busy trail). That said, Sam and I enjoy the odd combination of people-watching and a pleasant walk “alone” in the desert.   

The amazing views of the city are reason enough to brave the steep walk up Tumamoc but the convenience of being less than 10 minutes away from the city is also pretty great. Sam and I reward ourselves with a brunch at one of our favorite downtown breakfast spots after climbing up and down the hill.

Sam’s notes:

Lucy and I completed the 3 mile hike in about 33 minutes (that’s with me slowing her down). We thought it would be fun to try to beat our record on future visits.  Another interesting fact is that Tumamoc is an ecological preserve through the University of Arizona and they are currently conducting research through this site. Definitely a top spot for exercise in Tucson!

Our interview with Mike, Owner of Harbottle Brewing Co.

“I’m convinced that everybody loves beer… they just need to find the right one…”

Why should people have a drink at Harbottle?

Because of Kayla (Mike gestures to the wonderful lady next to him who had just served me a beer) and because of the people we have here. We want to give people a great experience because it is about more than just the beer. We are also really big on education. Everybody behind our counter is pretty knowledgeable and there is a lot to learn! I’m convinced that everybody loves beer, they just need to find the right one. And we love what we do here, we’d love to help people find the right one.

What is your favorite beer here?

Now that’s an unfair question. I love so many. It’s like asking me to pick my favorite child!

(After much goading…)

I guess on the top of my list right now would be the Harbottle IPA and the Pilsner we have coming out next week.

One of the coolest beers we’ve ever done was probably an Imperial hazy sour IPA. It was brewed with lactose, persimmons, and tamarindo. It was so weird but it was one of our best. It won a People’s choice award and we were really proud of that.

Could you list some other awards or pats-on-the-back that you’re particularly proud of?

We don’t really enter into a lot of competitions but we’ve consistently been #2 in everything we’ve entered. It became a fun inside-joke around here… but there was one time we won in the Tucson “smashed in the desert” festival where we partnered with 1912 Brewing Co.

Any fun story related to the start-up of the brewery or just in general that you’d like to share?

Easy. I caught my beard on fire making a beer. I was literally brewing a beer, the Kentucky Sunglasses, a sort of intentional misinterpretation of the Kentucky Common (another great story by the way). It was the first sour I ever made and I got a little too close to it on brew day and the alcohol vapors set my beard on fire. That was probably my most memorable brewing story… by a long shot.

  • We adored interviewing Mike! His hilarity and knowledgeability is yet another reason to visit Harbottle Brewing Co.


Touring the Town Too Tough to Die

In a nutshell:

  • Travel back in time to when gun-slingin’ cowboys roamed the streets
  • Attractions for the whole family
  • Splurge a little: Take the old-timey, sepia photos in costume! Play the carnival-like shooting games! Buy a cowboy hat!

Saguaro Sam:

We rolled into Tombstone, AZ (lovingly nicknamed “The Town too Tough to Die”) late one summer morning. We started our adventure searching for locally-mined gemstone jewelry at The Wizards Workshop and after much success we headed straight for the main tourist drag… Allen Street. 

Callie, front and center at the famous Bird Cage Theatre

Our first stop was The Bird Cage Theater which is the only original structure that’s still standing on Allen Street… impressive considering it was an operating theater in the 1880’s! Inside you’ll find a museum with all sorts of interesting artifacts like letters, playbills, and posters from the theater’s past. There’s even an authentic piece of art from the 1800’s… it has bullet holes and stab marks from when the cowboys got a little too drunk. The Bird Cage Theater felt special, like a piece of living history, like any moment cowboys in full Wild West garb could burst through the front door. (Which, to be fair, does happen frequently seeing as costumed performers continually roam the streets of Tombstone. ) 

We continued walking down Allen Street and visited a few shops admiring leather goods, sandals, and moccasins along the way. The night before we had booked a Wild West Gunfight Show online (a must-do for anyone new to Tombstone). We got to the show early and were pleased to find more fun activities to fill our time. There was a mini ghost town with fun photo props where we took pictures in old-timey jail cells and propped up coffins. There was a simulated shooting gallery which Callie (my 8 year old) tried (rather unsuccessfully) after the show. Lucy enjoyed an ice cold beer in the old cantina. 

Finally it was time to pile into the bleachers for the show. One thing I will say is try to get in line a little early because only half the bleachers had a cover over them. (Which seems like a cruel joke… only letting half the people sit in the shade on a super hot, Southern Arizona afternoon.) The show was a lot of fun. It involved all sorts of audience participation to include cheering for the good guys with the blue bandanas and booing the bad guys with the red bandanas. There’s just something satisfying about a good, clear-cut good guy/bad guy cheer and boo situation, don’t you think?  Another bonus…there was humor in the show, we laughed A LOT. I also laughed at the fact that my daughter jumped at literally every gunshot noise, she never got used to it or figured out you could tell when it was about to happen. Ok, that might sound mean but it did add an extra level of entertainment for me.

We left the gunfight show having laughed and smiled for almost 35 minutes straight and in great moods. Next we ventured off Allen Street just a little ways to visit a beer-lovers paradise, Tombstone Brewing Company. Lucy and I tried out their sampler flight and Callie enjoyed a sarsaparilla (it’s like a Wild West root beer). 

Another classic Tombstone activity is dressing up and getting an old-timey photograph taken. We had a lot of fun with this one. All 3 of us agreed we didn’t want pretty dresses or umbrellas/fans, we wanted to be bad-ass, gun-slinging cowgirls who ran all of Tombstone. The end result did not disappoint!

After all the walking around, gunfights, and general bad-assery we had worked up an appetite. We decided to give Big Nose Kate’s a try. This saloon is a sight to behold, decked out in Wild West themed art and stained glass fixtures. It’s named after a prostitute who was Doc Holliday’s common-law wife.  Lucy, Callie and I shared nachos, chicken tenders, and fries while we relaxed and listened to live music.

The last thing we did in Tombstone before leaving was Callie’s ONE request, the haunted hotel attraction. We weren’t quite sure what to expect as Callie gave Lucy and I a fearful and sacrificial push through the entrance and into a completely dark room. It ended up being a tour through about 4 different exhibits led by the dead and decaying spirit of Doc Holliday. The tour included some of the dark and haunted history of Tombstone, and had a few special effects along the way. It was a little cheesy and didn’t last long. If I’m being honest I think it was probably worth about half of the $10/person entrance fee, but it made the kiddo happy and was a fun and positive way to end our Tombstone tour.  

So come, step back in time to the late 1800’s… where gun-slinging cowboys roam the streets, Wild West gun-fights are a daily occurrence, and vigilante justice still prevails. Whether young or old, local or visitor, Tombstone is sure to delight and entertain!

Lucy’s notes:

This one-day trip to Tombstone was a favorite of ours this summer! So much so, Sam and I wrote a couple more glowing posts about Tombstone Brewing Company and the Wizard’s Workshop. There was just so much to do and still some that I have to look forward to on the next trip. 

For example, there are horse drawn carriage tours (and van tours if you prefer the AC), a Wild West mini golf course, and of course the famous OK Corral… where they reenact the legendary gunfight multiple times per day.

Also, if you’ve never seen the movie Tombstone I recommend you watch it before your visit… it’s a good movie and I think it will enhance your overall experience.

The Wonderful and Weird Bisbee

In a nutshell:

  • History, Shopping, and Entertainment in quirky Bisbee
  • Refreshing town with hidden gems and things-to-do: unique shopping, mining tours, etc.

Saguaro Sam:

Bisbee prides itself on being weird and quirky. As you wander in and out of the stores that line Main Street you’ll see t-shirts that say things like “Keepin’ it Weird  in Bisbee” and “Bisbee, It’s like Mayberry on Acid.” 

I have always appreciated this vibe… Bisbee, a small, mining town is now a super fun getaway for Southern Arizona residents and out of town guests.

Lucy and my daughter Callie and I arrived in Bisbee around lunch time and began our adventure by getting lunch at Bisbee’s Table. It’s located in an old building that also houses a coffee shop and other small shops. Lucy and I shared a basket of truffle fries and a San Ramon salad, both of which were delectable. 

After lunch the three of us walked down Main Street for some shopping. We bought perfume and lip balm at Bisbee Soap and Sundry, checked out cool clothing at Classic Rock Couture, and admired quirky art and brightly painted furniture at Art Home. 

Before arriving in Bisbee we had decided we were going to get a psychic reading. We figured it was the perfect Bisbee trip activity. Unfortunately, we were never able to find a psychic. We tried calling one woman who had left her number on the door of her business only to learn she was out for the day due to a small car accident. (We did voice our hopes that she wasn’t seriously hurt and, we couldn’t help but muse wonder-eyed: did she see that car accident in the cards? How far ahead in advance had she closed up her shop for the day? Mysteries…)

After unsuccessfully searching the streets of Bisbee for a psychic we had worked up a sweat (it was sweltering outside). So we decided to cool off with a scoop of gelato from Pussy Cat Gelato. We ate our gelato on a leather couch, in a 70’s themed space (with AC), while watching Hanna-Barbera cartoons. 

Next we visited a Bisbee favorite of mine, Bisbee Olive Oil.  This place sells all kinds of goodies. My favorites are the flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars. You even get to sample them in the store. I’m a sucker for fruity balsamics, I drizzle them over fruit/fruit salad. This time around I got a white coconut lime balsamic, it was great over cut up peaches and berries.

While at Bisbee Olive Oil we got to meet a famous local, Magic Kenny Bang Bang.  He performs paranormal themed magic shows at the Bisbee Seance Room (across the street from Bisbee Olive Oil). Magic Kenny was very amiable, he even performed a couple quick tricks for us. When he went to pay for his olive oil he opened his wallet and it caught on fire! Whoah!  Lucy and I are DEFINITELY planning a trip back to Bisbee so we can see his show (which is performed Thursday-Saturday nights).

Before leaving Bisbee for the day we decided we were going to take fate into our own hands and we weren’t going to give up on our psychic plans for the day. We purchased a set of palm reading cards from a local store and settled into the coffee shop we’d seen earlier to begin our readings. 

So what did we learn about ourselves from our palm readings? Everything (and kind of nothing). By the time we got through the entire deck just about every word that could be used to describe a person was used to describe each of us. It might not have been very enlightening, but it was a fun and fitting way to end our trip to the weirdest little town in Southern Arizona.

Lucy’s notes:

  • This was my third trip down to Bisbee and I have to say the shopping is usually my favorite part. The cutest nifty-gifties are everywhere and often I find myself buying something amazing that I had no intention of buying when I arrived (here’s looking at you Bisbee Olive Oil! That stuff is great).
  • Sam and I desperately wanted to do the mining tour on this particular visit but we were both wearing sandals and they don’t allow you to participate in the mining tour with open-toed shoes. As mildly disappointing as that was, it does make me realize something great about Bisbee –there’s really always something new to try out! I think you could spend an active weekend there and still feel like you might have missed something great and need to come back…. a sentiment Sam and I shared multiple times!
  • Bisbee prides itself on various annual events including a garden tour, the great stair climb, a munster masquerade, and (the one event I’m personally looking forward to…) a “Pirates of the High Desert” three-day event where residents and guests dress like pirates! For a detailed list of some of these events click HERE. I guess Bisbee isn’t exactly the place you’d peg to have a night-life but (as with many things in Bisbee) visit and prepare to be delightfully surprised.

Our interview with Matt & Marsha, Owner and Manager, respectively, of Tombstone Brewing Company

“..they love the beer, the rustic atmosphere, the great weather, and the friendly staff. Everyone needs to try the brewery where it all started. It’s the OG, as the kids say”

Why is it worth the drive to get some Tombstone brews at location / Tombstone Brewing Company?

Matt: You’re never going to get a better selection or fresher beers than at the brewery, especially on canning days. We try to curate a really nice balance of styles for our Tombstone tap list (a few hoppy beers, at least one lager, something easy drinking and low ABV, something fruity and sour, something big and/or barrel-aged), and we sell our cans literally as the come off the line on canning days. Nothing is better than a 10-second-old IPA!

Marsha: For me personally, I live in Tucson and commute to work (a 1 hour 10 min drive) because the beers are worth it! They are THAT good. What I often hear from our customers is that they love the beer, the rustic atmosphere, the great weather, and the friendly staff. Everyone needs to try the brewery where it all started. It’s the OG, as the kids say.

What is your favorite beer on the menu?

Matt: Right now it’s Tombstone Lite. It’s perfect for a hot AZ day and strikes just the right balance between easy-drinking and flavorful.

Marsha– My all time favorite Tombstone is Beer Nerd. Matt shared a bottle with me during one of the barrel society parties the brewery had during the first two years. I had not started working at the brewery at that point but still made the drive for, you guessed it, the beer!

Could you list some awards / recognitions / pats on the back that you’re particularly proud of?

Matt: For us, the best recognition is hearing good things from our customers. We don’t do much formal competition, but it’s awesome every time someone posts in an online beer group asking for best AZ breweries and we see fans throwing our name out there.

Want to share a story about the start-up of the brewery? How did this happen?

Matt: The brewery wouldn’t have happened without my daughter Ada, who was not quite two years old when I started it. My wife and I wanted to be closer to family (she’s fifth generation Cochise County, and her great-great grandfather – whose picture hangs in the brewery – was a judge in the courthouse a few properties down from the brewery back in the time of Wyatt Earp) and she came down for a job interview. While she did that I was toddler-wrangling Ada in the Bisbee Mercantile and saw the brewery property for sale as I chased her past a realty kiosk. I called, toured the property that same day, and within a few weeks owned it and started work. We brewed our first batch less than six months later. In the photo (below) you can see Ada in front of “Daddy Brewery” just after demolition but before the start of major construction back in 2016.

  • For a list of places in Tucson or Phoenix that you can find Tombstone beer click HERE
  • Click HERE to read about OUR experience at Tombstone Brewing Company!

Tombstone Brewing Company: Too Tough to Pick Just One Favorite Beer

In a nutshell:

  • A must-visit in Tombstone
  • Amazing beer! Worth the Drive
  • Our favorite beers: Helles Dorado Lager and the Spawn of Earp

Lucy Agave:

As ironic as this might sound coming from a travel blogger, I’ll still readily admit that my favorite trip suggestions tend to be the old-fashioned, word-of-mouth recommendations from the people I trust. I’m sure you know exactly the types of friends I am talking about too… the ones whose stamp of approval carries a lot of weight in determining your next dining experience, day trip, vacation, or -in my case- local brewery. 

So, although I’d already sampled a few of their canned beers, I decided to trust my fellow beer aficionados and make the trip down with Sam to get a flight for ourselves at Tombstone Brewing Company.

I must reiterate, we didn’t stumble on this brewery on a trip to Tombstone. We went to Tombstone specifically to sample a flight there. And let me tell you now, it did not disappoint. 

The brewery itself is a hop, skip, and a jump away from Allen Street in the Historic District, which makes it a convenient location if you wanted to incorporate a trip to Old Tombstone. The brewery offers indoor and outdoor seating and the knowledgeable staff will happily point you in the direction of a beer you might like if you are new to craft beer. (For our interview with the Owner and Manager of Tombstone Brewing Company and yet more reasons to visit this place, click HERE!).

Intentionally or not, the ambiance of the brewery echoes the town’s roots. It was easy to imagine being in the Wild West, relaxing at a good saloon in a dusty corner of the desert, especially with the good company, an excellent brew in your hand, and your horse -I mean, car- parked somewhere outside.

Sam’s notes:

Tombstone Brewing Company is a great stop to make while visiting “The Town too Tough to Die.” I recommend getting the sample flight, it’s super cute looking and would make a great prop for your pictures.  I also love that this brewery is so close to all the Tombstone touristy action, you can easily have a couple beers and then walk to restaurants, shops, and entertainment (like their famous gun fight shows). Two thumbs up for Tombstone Brewing Company!

I need great jewelry, so I’m Off to See the Wizard!

In a nutshell:

  • Exquisite jewelry with locally-acquired precious stones
  • A family business in Tombstone with a great start-up story
  • Wonderful Service in a welcoming town
  • What we bought: Gaspeite cactus-shaped earrings (because Sam loves all thing cactus-related, remember?) and a dendritic opal agate ring (photo below!)

Lucy Agave:

“I’d love to send you some interview questions via email!” I gushed to Kathy Paonessa in her jewelry store, The Wizard’s Workshop.

“Oh, that won’t work,” Kathy laughed amiably, “I just got rid of my computer!”

Sam and I couldn’t help but chuckle at her admission. Her store, like much of Old Tombstone, already made us feel like we were transported back in time.

But, in any decade, this much is true: Kathy, the co-founder and owner of The Wizard’s Workshop, has some interesting stories to share. For one thing, she has made and sold jewelry with her husband Don for 44 years, working with many stones Don had mined himself. (Kathy’s husband Don mined and prospected for a little over 35 years!) At one point many years ago, the Paonessa family house burnt down and they slept on a bar floor in Gleeson while their family business was first growing. “In some ways, we started this business from below the ground up,” Kathy commented.

Sam asked Kathy what her favorite piece was and with very little hesitation Kathy showed us a ring on her hand with a gorgeous fire agate stone. Her statement ring seems to glow green and yellow. It is no wonder her store is called “The Wizard’s Workshop”, her ring (and several others in the store) appears like something out of a fantasy world.

“You can really only find Fire Agate here in Arizona and maybe some places in Mexico” Kathy reminded us as she tapped the gemstone in her ring affectionately. Kathy gushed also about the local material she works with from Bisbee and Morenci and the talented Navajo craftsmen that she has worked alongside for thirty-plus years.

A lot like Fire Agate, the store “Wizard’s Workshop” is also precious. The quaint store is located on the corner of a street less than a block away from Allen Street in the Tombstone Historic District. The selection of jewelry is truly beautiful and my only qualm with the visit was the difficult decision in picking one piece of jewelry to take home.

  • Note that the unique black markings on the Dendritic Opal Agate stone are formed by plant/tree material
  • Sam’s notes:

    My family has been shopping at The Wizards Workshop for over 20 years so I was excited to take Lucy to check it out.  They specialize in gems local to Arizona, my parents have often shopped there for gifts for out of town friends, family, and guests.  On this visit I got a pair of sparkling labradorite and silver dangling earrings. I fear that some tourists might miss Wizards Workshop (which is not located on the main drag of Allen Street). I would recommend that anyone visiting Tombstone make Wizard’s Workshop a part of their trip (whether shopping for themselves or others).  They have a huge selection of locally sourced, handmade jewelry and their prices are great to boot. 

    Family-friendly Fun at Triple Play

    In a nutshell:

    • What chain restaurants like Applebees can only simulate, Triple Play does organically and authentically… it has provided a family-friendly place for the community to come together
    • What I always order: the hamburger with the sweet potato fries

    Lucy Agave:

    I’ll begin by admitting that I’ve got more than a handful of great Triple Play stories (which, of course, is fun to say with or without some context). When I coached Cross Country, we hosted the sports banquet at Triple Play. Multiple times, when my coworkers and I had a long week and were looking for a place to celebrate the end of it, we’d go to Triple Play. When my husband and I went out on a double date on a weekday, we mini-golfed at Triple Play.  And, more recently, when Sam and I met for lunch to discuss this very blog, we met at Triple Play.

    Triple Play is close to home for me (literally and otherwise) just off Duval Mine Road in Sahuarita, south of Tucson. It serves many purposes for the community…to name a few: it is a place to watch a game, it is a place to eat good food, it is a place to host an event, it is a place to play minigolf, it is a place to play cornhole, and it is also a place that hosts fundraising events for the community.

    For the record, my husband and I don’t have kids. That said, there are two things worth glowing about Triple Play. Firstly, my husband and I love date night at Triple Play because we can have a great meal and a good time when it is just us. Secondly, because many of our friends do have kids, Triple Play allows for our friends-with-kids to join us for a great time in a venue where they know their children will be just as entertained as they are and it will not cost them an arm and a leg. Heck, it is exactly that sentiment that inspired the owner to establish the place. (Check out our delightful interview with Joe Rieman here).

    I’m fond of saying this, but I feel that many chain restaurants have to try very hard to give off the homegrown, family-friendly vibe that Triple Play just has.

    Sam’s notes:

    Triple Play has cornhole, arcade games, mini golf, and batting cages… lots of fun options for young and old.  My favorite dishes are the gyro platter and BLT.  

    Some people may think there’s not much going on in Green Valley (it does tend towards the side of sleepy, retirement community) but Triple Play is an exception. Whether you’re just passing through the area, or you live in Tucson, plan a fun night out at Triple Play (and support an awesome, local, educator-owned business in the process)!

    Our interview with Joe Rieman, Owner of Triple Play

    “Honestly, I feel like the community owns this place…”

    So where did the idea for Triple Play come from?

    About fifteen years ago this accident near the school sparked a conversation in the community about how there is nothing for kids to do out here (in Sahuarita). People would comment on how they have to go down to Tucson or Nogales to do anything. At the time, I was coaching little league baseball and another one of the coaches and I got to talking. He said to me “Hey, I own this little sliver of land in Sahuarita and you’ve always talked about starting up some batting cages, how would you like to do something like that?” And you know we talked about it and nothing came of it until after another one of those little league games, we went to a Pizza Hut or something, and our kids are running around and we were basically told “we don’t want your kids running around” and we got to talking about those batting cages again. We said we wanted to create a place where, after a game, parents could just sit around and have a beer and let their kids have some fun. And my friend said “let’s do that”. A month and a half later we were breaking ground.

    Well, it’s definitely a lot more than batting cages now. How did this all happen?

    When we first started, we put in the golf course. That little kiosk out there? (Joe gestures to a building outside the size of a closet). That’s what we worked out of. And that’s really all there was out here. People would come and golf and when we got some money from the golfing course, we started building the batting cages and then when that was taking off we started constructing the building… and then while we were literally building the building, with some help from my former students, you know people just wanted to help… Anyway, as we’re literally constructing the place, I thought to myself, if I’m gonna be here all the time I want to have some TVs up to watch my Buffalo Bills play. So, then you know, we’re showing games now! And we thought, you kind of have to have beer for people who are watching their game so we got a liquor license. And then we were selling snack food and we thought to ourselves we should probably be making some real food too and then we started constructing the kitchen area. This whole thing really just built on itself, you know? I mean, then we had this area (Joe points to the cornhole boards outside where dozens of people are playing) that was just dirt and we put in only two cornhole boards… only we got lots of people who wanted to do that and so then we brought in a couple more cornhole boards. It was still super popular so at some point we thought we better take down the horseshoe pits and put in some more cornhole boards and places to play. We put out there what the people want, you know?

    That sounds fantastic. Like this place really grew out of the community. Tell me about the Banquet Room! I haven’t reserved that in a while…

    The Wildcat room, that is our banquet room, that’s for end of the year parties and banquets and people can just reserve it and use it. See when we were doing all this years ago, I was really involved with all of these little leagues for football and soccer, and so it was really important to me that we provide a sort of headquarters for all of that in the community. So, now, any team that needs a sign-up place for registration or a place to hang out or after-season parties, we really just open our doors and just do it. We don’t overthink it. My daughter and I own this place and we do what we want to do.

    We rent it out for $30 an hour. But we just like to keep it full. We do allow people to bring their own food. We’ve done tons of baby showers. So you know, people will bring their decorations and their own food. We just ask that if you do bring your own food that the food stays in that room and we do charge a $25 clean up fee but then, you have to buy your alcohol through us. I mean it works out for us, when parents host a birthday party even if they bring their own food they usually buy wristbands for the kids so they can play.

    Would that (Wildcat Room) be rented out through a website?

    I don’t mind if they call our number and talk to me.

    I’ve only ever mini-golfed here at Triple Play but I’ve heard so much about the Cornhole tournaments. Tell me all about them. Can anybody sign up? How much does it cost? Tell me everything.

    So many answers to that. The main point of the cornhole tournaments is really the fundraising, that is our bread and butter here. Those fundraising drives are excellent. I mean, the more money we give back the more money we make and so that is our business model. And with the cornhole, we do that five nights a week. On Saturdays, we normally reserve that for fundraisers and whatever the organization wants to charge. Most people charge like $10. We also have a Tuesday night, that’s just a $5 drop-in and great for beginners. You could show up on a Tuesday at 6:30 and sign up and you’re gonna play four games and you could go as high as six or seven. And we teach people how to play. So many people have started out not knowing how to play but there is such a great “cornhole community” and they love to teach people how to play. And all those $5 entries really go back to prizes for the winners and the people who are participating. We don’t really make money off that. Monday we do a competitive night for $10. And people come with their own partner, and people really battle for that title. Some people will come over just to watch.  Friday night, we call it Family night, it’s only $5, but there you get new partners every round, so you know you don’t just get two people who are gonna win at every round. And we like the little kids to play. It really is just a big family night.

    I love the sweet potato fries here. Tell us what your favorite menu item is?

    The wings! I’m from Buffalo so my buffalo wings, I love them. I eat them religiously. We’re pretty good. Wings are hard too you know? Because there’ll be like a huge shortage on chicken wings and the prices will jump but maybe this is why I’d make a terrible businessman, I won’t raise my prices. I feel like, I don’t want people to feel like I’m gouging them, because eventually the prices (of the chicken wings) will come back down you know? And I’d rather people just keep coming here and eating our wings.

    And your favorite event / fundraiser that you’ve hosted ?

    We started a non-profit here and it is called “Bags, Boards, and Blessings” and so basically, we run cornhole tournaments throughout the year and we raise money and with that money, at Thanksgiving, we feed whoever wants to come in. On Thanksgiving Day, we open for four hours and whoever walks through the door- we feed them for free. We open up the golf course and the batting cages for free and anybody in the community can play and eat for four hours. And so we use that money for that, but we also try to give out around $4000 and $6000 worth of gift baskets and stuff for Christmas. We try to help out as many families as we can. And we keep our ear to the ground, someone will tell us that ‘hey this family is going through a hard time’, or this person is unemployed, or this mother is not sure how she’s gonna get through Christmas, and we just help out as best we can.  Over the last two years we’ve been able to give some families a used car. One of our mechanics that plays cornhole here works on the cars and makes sure it’s in good condition and we donate the car to a family who needs it. This year, we filled up the car with gifts for a family of six. And it was wonderful. It gives me goosebumps remembering that, and that was probably my favorite fundraising event. We keep it pretty informal you know? We find out someone needs help and we do our best. And we do this year round too we don’t just do it around the holidays, I mean just recently this mom on the Rancho page posted that she was upset someone had stolen her son’s bike, and she really just hoped someone would return it to her, and well she showed up to one of our cornhole tournaments we just brought out a brand new bike and gave it to her.

    Now, odd question for you, considering that your business started as creating something for families here in Sahuarita so that Sahuarita families didn’t have to go up to Tucson. Let’s play on that a little. What does Triple Play have that places in Tucson don’t?

    Honestly, I feel like the community owns this place. People who live here buy into that. I mean, I have people here today (the day of the interview) from Tucson who have never been here before and a lot of them are like “why haven’t we heard about this place?” and they’re impressed. Probably the biggest thing for them is we don’t gouge people. For $10 you can come here with your kids all day long. A kid can bat a hundred times out there for that. A kid could putt around the golf course eight times if he wants to. You know, meanwhile you go into Tucson and you pay as you go. So, when my kids were young for example, I’d take ‘em someplace in Tucson and they’d eat through nine bucks worth of entertainment in twenty minutes and then they want to play again and I‘m like… when I was thinking about what I wanted from this place…. I thought a parent should be able to spend eight dollars and spend an hour or more out here. One of the guys today even noticed I left the remote controls out too, and I was like well yeah (laughs) so if you can’t hear you can turn up the TV or if you want to change the channel, change the channel, and that’s something I don’t think you have in so many places in Tucson. We’re kinda like a handshake agreement, you walk in here and you’re gonna respect our place and I’m gonna respect you to do that. I don’t gouge people and they don’t gouge me. And if they don’t honor that, I mean, we’ll deal with that when we have to but …. man, the community really delivers. The kids can come and play all day.

    One time -you know how we do everything through internet nowadays- well one of our guys who comes out to play cornhole noticed that the internet outside kept cutting out on us and three days later, he takes half an hour and he installs a booster for us out there and tells us “you won’t have an internet problem again”.  And he just did that for us! Another guy who comes in and plays cornhole pointed at our cornhole boards and told us, they’re great you know but they’re all different… we’re gonna come out and make some new boards for you. He only billed me so much, he was great… and three weeks later I had brand new boards.  And some other guys in the community noticed adults would kinda just hold their beers and he said it’d be cool if you could put those on a stand, he goes home and two weeks later comes back with stands and beer holders for the cornhole area. Everybody just buys into the community feel. I come here when I come home late from school…. And these people have already come here and helped me set up the boards. It’s so homegrown and just so cool. I really feel like I could be gone for a week and this place would be just fine.

    • We loved interviewing Joe! His down-to-earth and quick-to-laugh personality are another reason to visit Triple Play.
    • Click here to read more about our own experiences at Triple Play!


    Tacos and Troubadours

    In a nutshell:

    • It’s OK if your boyfriend won’t serenade you, we found someone who will!
    • No such thing as too many appetizers at La Chingada Cocina Mexicana

    Saguaro Sam:

    The same night that Lucy and I completed the Haiku Hike we decided to check out ANOTHER new Tucson event… Troubadour Thursdays.  I’m hoping this one becomes an annual Tucson Spring tradition. It involves a troubadour traveling to multiple Tucson restaurant patios to serenade guests over dinner. I don’t know about you, but I sure have missed live music during this pandemic. Troubadour Thursdays offers a much needed opportunity to experience live music outdoors in smaller, socially-distanced settings (and eat some stellar food in the process).

    We chose to try a new Tucson restaurant called La Chingada Cocina Mexicana.  The boyfriend and I were curious as to just how dirty/inappropriate the restaurant name was, we got different answers depending on who we asked.  Either way, I do love a good use of the F word so this restaurant started off with automatic bonus points. 

    We made a reservation but because our party was on the larger side (7) we ended up having to sit inside, rather than on the patio.  We ordered an unruly amount of fried appetizers (a great start to any night). Birria nachos and multiple types of mini chimichangas filled the table. We enjoyed the fried food over fun conversations with friends. 

    I didn’t order an Agua Fresca and I still regret it to this day… they looked amazing! Lucy got the Mazapan Horchata and her S.O. got the Agua de Sandia. (Watermelon with a tajin rim… so good!) 

    Even though most of us felt full after our drinks/appetizers we powered through and ordered dinners as well. Everyone loved their dishes, which ranged from enchiladas to chile rellenos to soups. 

    La Chingada had a fun atmosphere. It was a little on the loud side so by the time we had finished and paid our bills (without noticing any performances) I was convinced we had missed the Troubadour. I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed with our Troubadour-less Troubadour Thursday. Then, just as we stepped out into the cool night air, we saw him approaching… THE TROUBADOUR! We hadn’t missed the performance after all! We ended our evening on a high note, figuratively and literally. (I had to.) Go check out Troubadour Thursdays in downtown Tucson while you still have a chance… it’s great fun.

    Lucy’s notes:

    • If you want to eat at a different restaurant/bar but you’re still interested in catching the troubadour tour, check out this link for a more detailed list of musical stops!
    • If you want to follow in our footsteps and eat La Chingada Cocina Mexicana while you listen to the troubadour, consider bringing just ONE other person with you so that you can sit out on the patio and better enjoy the music!
    • As Sam mentioned, we were in a party of seven at the restaurant and we all ordered different plates…. and I must reiterate that EVERY PLATE was SO DAMN GOOD.