How To Beat The Heat In Tucson This Summer

Tucson is on the Eastern edge of the Sonoran Desert. This means, Tucson gets hot during the summer. With an average high temperature of 99 degrees in June, living in Tucson during the summer can seem like a nightmare.

Luckily, Tucson is a transportation hub. You can easily drive, fly, or train to multiple “cooler” destinations. If you can’t travel, there are still a lot of ways to beat the heat in Tucson this summer. Here are our top five ways to beat the heat this June and maintain cool all summer long:

  1. Visit Mt. Lemmon

With highs in the 60s and 70s, you’ll feel like you’re in a whole new world once you make the short 45 mile drive up Mt. Lemmon Highway. Mt. Lemmon has tons to do during the summer.

If you are a foodie, check out the Mt. Lemmon General Store’s fudge selection. My personal favorite is the Mint Chocolate Swirl, but Cookies N’ Cream is delicious as well. Actually, I don’t think you could go wrong with any of their flavors. The fudge is made fresh in-house every day. It’s also only $11.89 per pound

To burn off all those extra calories from fudge, try hiking. Mt. Lemmon has more hiking trails to shake a stick at. Ranging from easy to super-duper hard, everyone should be able to find a trail that suits their needs. Even if you don’t want to hike, you can take the sky ride to the summit. The ride takes about ½  hour and covers approximately 1 mile. You depart the base of the ski area near 8200 foot elevation and climb to 9100 feet. There are more hiking trails available from the top of the peak as well.

By the way, did you know that Mt. Lemmon got its name from the first white woman who dared to climb it? It was in 1881, when the US Cavalry still pursued Apaches and gunslingers fought it out at Tombstone’s OK Corral that Sara Allen Plummer Lemmon, a slender, dark-haired woman of 45 challenged and then conquered the mountain that loomed over the old Spanish Pueblo called Tucson. To read the full history click here. (http://mtlemmon.com/how-did-mt-lemmon-get-its-name/)

  1. Take In Some Of The History Of Air & Space At The Pima Air & Space Museum

The Pima Air & Space Museum is one of the largest non-government funded aviation and space museums in the world! Featuring over 300 historical aircrafts, from a Wright Flyer to a 787 Dreamliner. Over the past forty years, the museum has grown immensely and today encompasses five indoor exhibit hangars (two dedicated to WWII).

You can take part in guided walking tours and museum ground Tram Tours daily. The museum is the exclusive offeror of bus tours of the 2,600-acre “Aircraft Boneyard”/U.S. military and government aircraft storage facility, Monday-Friday. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day and for the low price of $15.50 a day for adults, you can cool down in this MASSIVE museum anytime you want.

The museum features over 100 indoor panoramas and 150 indoor planes. These range from old fighter jets to space suits. If you are daring to face the heat, the museum has over 150 planes on 80 acres outdoors.

The museum has been featured in movies like Transformers and Can’t Buy Me Love, it has found its place in Tucson already.

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(Transformers)

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(Can’t buy me love)

To read the full history of the museum to start planning your visit click here: (http://www.pimaair.org/explore/history)

  1. Learn About Your Home At The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Maybe you want to learn a little bit about why it’s so hot here or about what kind of wildlife can actually survive a summer in Tucson. The Desert Museum is ranked on TripAdvisor.com as one of the Top 10 Museums in the country and the #1 Tucson attraction. However, you won’t be super cool at this museum. Unlike most museums, about 85% of the experience is outdoors! The 98 acre Desert Museum is a fusion experience: zoo, botanical garden, art gallery, natural history museum, and aquarium.

Open on Sunday – Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., you’ll be able to find a nice cool time to visit the museum. For only $20.50 for adults, you can explore the  21 interpreted acres with two miles of walking paths through various desert habitats, 230 animal species, 1,200 types of plants — 56,000 individual specimens, and one of the world’s most comprehensive regional mineral collections.

The Museum was founded in 1952 and is dedicated to the interpretation of the bi-national Sonoran Desert region. The newest addition, The Warden Aquarium, opened in January 2013. It’s a freshwater gallery focuses on the region’s rivers, native fish and conservation efforts while the salt-water gallery showcases marine life from the Gulf of California. A hands-on touch tank offers twice-daily interpretations for visitors. Currently, you can pet live stingrays. Something I bet you never thought you would be able to do in Tucson.

  1. Reach For The Stars At Kitt Peak National Observatory

While it’s a good drive away, Kitt Peak is located 56 miles southwest of Tucson in the Schuk Toak District on the Tohono O’odham Nation, Kitt Peak National Observatory has been voted the most romantic Tucson location.

Sharing the mountaintop site with the National Solar Observatory, Kitt Peak National Observatory was founded in 1958. It operates three major nighttime telescopes and hosts the facilities of consortia which operate 22 optical telescopes and two radio telescopes. Home of the largest array of optical and radio telescopes in the world. The Visitor Center is open from 9:00 AM to 3:45 PM for daytime visitors and tours. Admission is free to the Visitor Center, but they do charge fees for daily guided tours and programs.

The nightly programs are awesome though. You can take part in the “Nightly Observing Program Your introductory” a family-oriented stargazing program, or the “Dark Sky Discovery Program” a small-group observing program for people who have already begun their astronomy adventure. There are also guided tours of telescopes.

However, the real beauty is up above. You won’t find a better place to star gaze in the state. If you dream of visiting outer space or just want to contemplate life, Kitt Peak is a beautiful place to do it.

  1. Take A Hike In The Water Of Aravaipa Canyon

Aravaipa Canyon is one of the most beautiful hikes in Southern Arizona.

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It’s a nice hike through a pretty canyon along, and in, a stream. With no maintained trails, this is a perfect hike for explorers. Whether you want to frolic in the stream or explore a side canyon, you’ll have a blast in Aravaipa Canyon. It’s a beautiful desert canyon that has water flowing in it year-round, but be careful of flash floods during monsoon season.

A permit is required even for a day hike into this canyon and must be booked ahead of time from the BLMs Safford Field Office, (520) 348-4400. Fee is $5 per person per day and is limited to 50 people per day. Plan on hiking about a mile per hour due to the ever-changing terrain.

Also plan on leaving early, it’s not an easy place to get to. It’s about a 70 mile, 2 hour, drive from Tucson to the West Trailhead and a 148 mile, 3 hour, drive from Tucson to the East Trailhead. However, the canyon and it’s beauty are worth the time taken.

Whether you want to visit the cool top of Mt. Lemmon, star gaze at Kitt Peak, or just learn about your desert neighbors at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, you will find a way to cool down this summer…..or you know, you could always just sit at home and watch Netflix. Your call.

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Tucson Margaritas: Three Unique And Awesome Options For Cinco De Mayo

Written by: Layton Cox


Let me start this off by saying; I’m not a tequila guy.

Just like everyone, I have an experience that “killed” tequila for me. The first time I drank tequila, I did too many shots of Jose Cuervo Gold. To say the least, I didn’t feel good the next morning. A few years later, I forgot and made the same mistake. After that, I swore off the stuff. Tequila is the alcohol portion of the margarita cocktail. While I’m sure the majority of people can say they enjoy margaritas, the same majority can say that they don’t enjoy tequila.

I learned more about tequila doing the “research” for this article than I ever imagined I would.

For example, Jose Cuervo Gold is a horrible tequila. There are many better tequilas for nearly the same price. There are also many delicious mezcals for even less. The difference between a tequila and a mescal is all in the location. Just like Scotch in Scotland and Champagne in France, Mexican laws state that tequila can only be produced in the state of Jalisco. Everything else is a mezcal. One isn’t better than the other, they both have their pros and cons, but most people have had tequila and few people have had mezcal.

Another fun fact, the reason you lick salt before the tequila shot is because salt naturally opens up your taste palate to enjoy the tequila. The reason you bite the lime afterwards is that it naturally cleanses the palate after the shot. However, if you are drinking a good tequila or mezcal, you don’t need to take it in a shot.

However, let’s talk margaritas.

There are a lot of ways to make a margarita, but they all somewhat resemble this: tequila, sweetener (usually agave syrup, simple syrup, or in-house sweeteners), lime juice, and ice. Some mixologists will add orange juice to the mix as well, but that’s the general idea. As you can see, these aren’t super fancy ingredients, so the bartender has to put their unique twist on the drink by either selecting a particular tequila or by making their margarita sourer (with more lime juice) or sweeter (with more sweetener).

Quick, Efficient, Drunk: Illegal Pete’s Margaritas

Illegal Pete’s started its Tucson home after some turmoil. However, the two-story bar located at Main Gate by UofA is now a growing success. Tucson’s Illegal Pete’s is the first non-Colorado location of the seven-store chain, and it’s killing it. Joe Kaley, the manager, said that the Tucson location sells roughly 2x as many margaritas as their University of Colorado location. #ThisIsTucson There are no longer any protesters blocking the door, and it’s easy to see that the students at UofA have quickly started enjoying the new bar’s atmosphere.

The margaritas aren’t bad either. Made from an in-house recipe, one of Pete’s personal recipes actually, these were by far the strongest margaritas I sampled. Consisting of 2 shots of Sauza Silver Tequilla and ½ shot of triple sec, these margaritas had roughly 4 ounces of booze. However, they taste pretty good as well. Their margarita consists of fresh lime juice, orange juice, their margarita secret mix, and the tequila, the margaritas are on the tart/sour side of the scale but still go down easily. If you aren’t a big fan of the sour margaritas, they have strawberry, mango, and prickly pear margaritas that are on the sweet side.

If you want to get drunk quick for cheap, Illegal Pete’s margaritas are your best bet. On Cinco De Mayo they are doing $4 margaritas all day, their typical happy hour pricing. Even if getting drunk on Thursday isn’t your thing anymore, Illegal Pete’s has happy hour every day from 3pm-8pm and a late night happy hour during the weekends from 11 pm to 1 am, but don’t worry; the kitchen stays open until 2:30 am. You also get free chips and salsa with a purchase of any drink during happy hour. It’s a great deal.

While its location close to campus draws a younger more rowdy crowd, it’s still somewhere a young professional can fit into quite easily. Their food is solid, and their drinks are strong.

PencaAuthentic, Well Made, Simple: Penca’s Margaritas

Penca is a smaller bar located downtown. It has a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Bryan, the bar manager and local Tequilla guru, said Penca serves as an informal happy hour or a great starting bar for those late nights. I couldn’t agree more. Penca takes their tequila and mescal seriously. Bryan was on his was to Oaxaca to test some potential new product, talk about a fun job. Bryan has been making this trip once a year for the past three years. He says he learns something new every time.

Penca’s margaritas had one of the most complex creation processes I’ve seen. Using a “small batch” tequila called Arette, in-house and freshly made triple sec, and freshly squeezed limes their margarita was delicious. Balancing perfectly on the fine line between sweet and sour, it was the easiest margarita to drink. Penca doesn’t believe it’s the bar’s job to tell their patrons what to drink, so they are happy to custom make you any variation of the flavor of margarita possible. With over 42 different Mezcals and ten different Tequilas, the options are high. They salt only about ¾ of the margarita rim, which is perfect for someone who hates licking salt before every drink.

These margaritas are easy to drink and don’t pack the booze-filled punch that many margaritas have. If you want a relaxing post-work happy hour or to start your night off with some of the best tasting tequilas and mezcals around, you want to head to Penca.

ReformaTequila, Craft, Delicious: Reforma’s Margaritas

Reforma is a tequila-focused bar in St. Phillips Plaza. They have over 285 tequilas and 20 mezcals. These guys know their stuff. I spoke to Marcus and Steve for about an hour. They sold me on tequila, even after I told them about my Jose Cuervo experience. Marcus had the quote of the day when he said, “We have all killed tequila, but there is something here for everyone.” These guys taught, and showed, me that you can make tequila taste like nearly any other spirit, but nothing tastes like tequila. They also taught me that Patron isn’t worth the money and people who order it are just trying hard to look cool. However, their margarita is what got me in the door this time, and it’s what will bring me back next time.

Reforma has seven margaritas to choose from: House, Skinny, Blood Orange, Tamarindo, Prickly Pear, Mango Habanero, and Cucumber Mint. Each of them has an entirely different flavor profile and taste. While I wish I could dive into each of them, I’m just talking about the house margarita today, but I can promise you the rest are just as delicious.

Reforma is one of a kind in that instead of salting the rim of the margarita glass they use “salt air”. Salt air is like sea foam that is placed on top of your drink. It’s delicious. With every sip, you get a little bit of salt followed directly by your margarita but you never actually lick salt. This made the house margarita one of my favorites. Reforma’s house margarita has lime and orange juice, which makes it a little bit more sour than sweet. They also use the Suaza Blue Tequila and 100% agave sugar for sweetener. It’s a straightforward and delicious combo. If you want a margarita on the sweeter side, go for their Prickly Pear, if you want a more sour margarita, their Blood Orange is their most popular margarita on the menu.

I will be 100% honest with you; you shouldn’t go to Reforma for just the margaritas. The margaritas are fantastic (especially during Mondays when they are only $5), but you should go to Reforma because you want to learn how to like tequila. Just by telling them what kind of booze and non-tequila cocktails I like, they were able to get me three tequilas that I could sip on just as easily as sipping a coke. I was blown away. Reforma is Tucson’s best tequila bar.

Hola Cinco De Mayo

If you want to have a huge blowout day with very little memory of it afterwards, head to Illegal Pete’s for their $4 margaritas.

If you want to tip your hat to tequila and the margarita but still want to make it into work tomorrow at 7 AM, head to Penca and talk mezcal with the staff.

If you want a tasty and top-of-the-line margarita to end your long day, head to Reforma and don’t be afraid to ask the bartender what kind of tequila is right for you because there is a tequila out there for you.

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Three Easy Ways to Get A Summer Beach Body

One of the greatest things about Southern Arizona is that you can put a swimsuit on in March and not take it off till September. Basking in the Tucson sun is part of nearly everyone’s summer plans. However, this can also lead to a very stressful time for some. More than two-thirds (68.8 percent) of American adults are considered to be overweight or obese. For this large portion of America, summer time is just Spring’s sweaty older brother. Everyone should be proud of their body, and being able to strut a healthy body is on a lot of people’s minds as summer quickly approaches.

If you haven’t been hitting the gym hard and staying true to that diet you PROMISED you would stick to back in January, it’s okay. 80% of people break their New Year’s Resolutions within 3 months. I actually just broke mine, not drinking soda, last week.

That’s why April is a perfect time to jump back on the healthy bandwagon because you still have a few months until pool season. Here are three steps that will help you get your abs ready for pool, mimosas, trips to the lake, and making your ex jealous on Instagram.

1.    Create A Calorie Deficit

Usually, the word deficit is a bad thing, but not when it comes to calories. A deficit just means more is going out than coming in. A calorie deficit means you are burning more calories than you are eating.
Losing weight and slimming down is science, not magic. For every pound of fat you want to lose, you have to burn 3500 more calories than you take in. That’s a lot, but not if you burn 350 calories more than you eat each day. If you consistently create a calorie deficit, you will lose fat. This is not a theory. It’s a law of physics.

In order to create a calorie deficit you need two things:

1.    How many calories you burn each day
2.    How many calories you are eating each day

To find how many calories you burn each day, you have a few options.
A simple and easy way is to plug your information into a few academic equations:

•    The Harris-Benedict equation for men: (88.4 + 13.4 x your weight in kilograms) + (4.8 x your height in centimeters) – (5.68 x your age in years). For example mine is: (88.4+13.4×79.83)+(4.8×176)-(5.68×25)= 1,860
•    The Harris-Benedict equation for women: (447.6 + 9.25 x your weight in kilograms) + (3.10 x your height in centimeters) – (4.33 x your age in years)
•    The Mifflin-St. Jeor equation for men: (9.99 x your weight in kilograms) + (6.25 x height in centimeters) – (4.92 x your age in years) + 5. For example mine is: (9.99×79.83)+(6.25×176)-(4.92X25)+5= 1,780
•    The Mifflin-St. Jeor equation for women: (9.99 x your weight in kilograms) + (6.25 x your height in centimeters) – (4.92 x your age in years) – 161

While these equations aren’t 100% accurate, think of them as rules of thumb, I can probably reasonable expect to burn around 1,800 calories. If I eat less than 1,800 calories, I’ll lose weight.

If you aren’t a fan of rules of thumb, technology has advanced so much that it’s pretty easy (and cheap) to get a very accurate picture of how many calories you burn throughout the day. An Apple iWatch, Fitbit HR, Jawbone Up3, or any other wearable will accurately track your motion and be able to calculate a much more accurate picture of your average calorie burn. For example, I tried both the Fitbit HR and Jawbone Up3. Both of them had me averaging around 2,200 calories burned each day. 400 extra calories that I greatly enjoyed.

To find how many calories you are eating each day is a little tougher.

There is really only one way to track the calories going in and that’s by counting each one.
Luckily, technology has made it a little easier to find out how many calories are in each of your favorite foods, but it’s still up to you to track them all.

The phone app, MyFitnessPal is a free and robust platform to help you track calories. It has a barcode scanner for food bought at the grocery story, it has almost every chain restaurant’s menu uploaded, and has the basic nutritional information for most common foods. It’s simple (and did I mention FREE) to use.

However, it’s still on you to enter each meal (and snack and drink and night out and cookie) into the app so that you get an accurate picture. It may be hard at first, but after you do it for about or month or so, it will become a habit.

2.    Put On The Muscle

A common misconception is for every pound of muscle added, you can burn an extra 50 calories a day. As awesome as this would be (10 pounds of muscle is an extra 500 calories a day!), it’s just not physically true.

However, muscle does burn some extra calories. For each pound of muscle gained, you’ll burn about 6-10 calories. While it’s pretty difficult to put on more than 5 pounds of muscle over a small period of time, 5 pounds of muscle could give you 50 free calories each day. That’s not while you want muscles, though.

That’s why you want muscle.

Muscle is a dense material, meaning it can weigh a lot without taking up much space. Fat is not a dense material, meaning it can take up a lot of space without weighing much. This is also why you should focus less on what your scale says and more on what your mirror says. When you have more muscle and less fat, you become firmer and will lose inches from places such as your waist, hips, buttocks, thighs, etc. Seeing the same number on the scale is not always negative.

Resistance training is also proven to help increase fat loss. A 2012 study of 119 overweight or obese people published in the Journal of Applied Physiology randomized them into three groups: Resistance training alone (RT), aerobic training alone (AT), or both. The below chart shows the results. Resistance Training only is on the far left, Aerobic Training only is in the middle, and doing both is on the far right. Doing both Resistance Training and Aerobic Training is how you lose the most amount of fat.

But that’s not the end of the story. What about changes in muscle mass? Since we’ve already discussed the aesthetic benefits of muscle over fat, if you gain more muscle then that’s a good thing too. The below chart is from the same 2012 study. Aerobic training alone will have you lose fat, but you also lose muscle. Doing purely resistance training or both resistance and aerobic training can help you lose fat and build muscle, which is the ultimate goal.

There are literally thousands of place you can go to get a decent resistance training workout. Depending on your budget:

•    Bodybuilding.com has tons of free workouts, but you’ll most likely need to be a member of a gym which can range from $10 a month to $50 a month depending on which gym you pick.
•    Beachbody.com,  I started to review their workouts here, has workouts that range from $50 to $120 and last between 30 days to 90 days. All of which you workout in your own home, so no need for a gym membership.
•    Your local gym has a personal trainer which you can hire as well. Most trainers range between $50 to $200 an hour

3.    Hit The Cardio

While we JUST talked about the benefit of resistance training, there was also the fact that doing both resistance training and aerobic training (running, plyometrics, any cardio) was the best overall option.
A random website did a crazy in-depth survey of which male physique women find the most attractive and which physique most men would want. It was one of the most interesting reads I’ve seen on the subject. Find it here. Long story short, women want men who are lean but not huge or massively ripped. However, men most desire the big ripped body types. What does this tell us? Maybe men should spend more time on the treadmill and less time on the bench press.

While I did my best to find the equivalent for women’s physique, I couldn’t find one. I did find a webpage that walks through the last 100 years of women’s ideal images. Long story short, the two decades (the 2000s and 2010s) have moved the image from the thin & flat body type to the athletic-booty body type. What does this tell us? Instead of doing a starvation diet to lose weight, women should workout (especially their butts).

A lot of research has gone into how to most optimally do cardio. Some say you should sprint for 10 seconds and then walk for 10 seconds and repeat till you die. Others say you should run a marathon. The real secret is to find something you enjoy.

If you like swimming, swim. If you like hiking, hike. If you like biking, bike. Whatever you like to do, do it. However, you need to make a disciplined effort to do it hard enough to create results. Don’t just half-ass your way through the activity. Tucson has some of the prettiest parks in the state. Jogging around Reid Park or the River Wash is a terrific way to work up a sweat and appreciate your home.

Hello Summer!

Losing weight and looking good for summer isn’t that hard.

Create a calorie deficit today.

Take up an aerobic hobby for twice a week.

Do resistance training or lift weights twice a week.

If you do that for two months, you’ll be proud of that #tbt.

Written and researched by – Layton Cox

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