HotOS-VII Extracurricular Activities
Looking for fun and excitement the day before HotOS? I've lined up a few
things for you to do on March 28th. Come out a day early, reduce the
airfare, and enjoy yourself.
Rio Rico is located in beautiful southern Arizona,
and there are plenty of activities in which to partake.
The weather should be nice,
perhaps even a bit hot. We're experiencing quite a drought this year and
I hope the rains avoid that weekend, should they come at all. Daytime
highs might be in the 90's, but it's a dry heat so it should be quite
Some of the following are the Rio Rico resort's
suggestions, some are mine. I tend to enjoy outdoor stuff, so my list
reflects that. Rio Rico is located between Tucson and Nogales, Mexico, on
the west side of the Santa Rita mountains, providing plenty of opportunities
for outdoor activities.
Let me know if you've got an idea not listed here and I'll
see what I can do.
If you want to participate in any of these
activities please email an ordered list of your preferences to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Rio Rico
resort has two 10-person shuttles that can be used for transportation,
but there is a fee. I figure there will be enough rental cars to arrange
carpools, which I will attempt to do if you'll also tell me if you'll
have a car and how many passengers you can accommodate. Please get your
preferences to me by March 12th so that I can ensure that there will be
space for you. For some things, especially the golf, let me know ASAP as
the tee times tend to fill up on a weekend that time of year.
Rio Rico's Suggestions
Here is what Rio Rico suggests for its guests. I've provided most of the
- Golf Rio Rico has a Robert Trent Jones, Sr., designed course;
18-hole, Par 72. There is a golf pro, pro shop, driving range, and golf
lessons are available. The fee is $55. If you'll specify your preferred
tee time and the earliest you'll tolerate I'll make the reservations,
then put you in touch with your fellow golfers to form groups.
- Tennis $8 for 90 minutes during the day, $10 for 90 minutes
at night. Again, I'll put you in touch with other people interested in
tennis to arrange matches.
- Hanging out by the pool Free of charge, and close by too!
The views from Rio Rico are pretty nice.
- Horseback riding Personally, I don't ride anything that
doesn't burn gasoline, but don't let my prejudices stop you. Rates are
$20 for the first hour and $30 for 1.5 hours. What better way to enjoy the
- Jeep tours This one is more my style. A three-hour tour of
the desert, complete with Indian legends and lore, desert flora and
fauna, and live animal demonstrations. Rate $75/person with an 8-person
- Tubac Tubac is a artist's village with 55 shops containing
all manner of southwestern-style goods for you to buy. The restaurants
aren't bad either, and there is an archeological exhibit of the former
presidio in the park at the end of town. Tubac is the oldest European
settlement in Arizona. It is 7 miles from Rio Rico
and the shuttle will drive you there for $20 round trip. Again, I'll
organize carpools if possible.
- Mexico Nogales, Mexico, is about 30 minutes away or so.
Lots of good bargains, shops, and bars (so I'm told, anyway). Pick up a
cow skull cheap. The shuttle will take you there and back for $20. You
can drive down to the U.S. side and park for $5 or so and walk across (my
preferred way of getting there).
Bring your passport or birth certificate; a driver's
license is no longer sufficient.
- Winery tours I don't know much about this, but I can get
more info if you're interested. There are two wineries nearby
- Bird-watching in Patagonia This one is fun even if you
don't want to look at birds. Sonoita is a ranching town; Patagonia is
kind of an artists' colony. Both are higher than Rio Rico and therefore
a bit cooler and have more trees and grass. There is a Nature Conservancy
preserve in Patagonia that offers very nice walking trails. Rio Rico
doesn't provide details, but I think it's probably one hour to Patagonia,
and 30 minutes more to Sonoita. You can make a loop around the Santa
Rita mountains that probably takes 2.5-3 hours to complete.
- Mountain Biking Rental mountain bikes are available with
bike tour maps of the general area at $25/day. Arizona offers lots of
mountain biking opportunities, although I've never done it (see my note
under "Horseback riding" above). Plenty of AZ graduate students are
mountain bikers, and if you're interested I can probably arrange a
- Tumacacori Mission Tumacacori isn't too far away, and
offers a museum as well as self-guided tours of the garden and church.
I've never made it there while it is open, but it looks pretty cool from
the outside. There is also a walking trail along the Santa Cruz river
(i.e. dry riverbed) from Tumacacori to Tubac, a distance of about 7 miles
I think. A nice trip would be to visit both Tubac and Tumacacori.
- San Xavier Del Bac Mission
The oldest building in Tucson is also the nicest. The mission is 200
years old, and is still actively used by the Tohono O'odham tribe. It's
about 35 minutes from Rio Rico.
Here is what I suggest, in addition to the list above. All time and
distance estimates are my own, but I'll get definite numbers should you
decide you want to do one of these.
- Hiking There's lot of hiking opportunities nearby, ranging
from a walk along the Santa Cruz riverbed to a hike to the top of Mt.
Wrightson at 9000+ feet, and everything in between. Let me know what
you're interested in and I'll arrange something. I'll definitely get you
a guide, either myself or one of my friends. Bring sturdy shoes,
sunglasses, and sunblock (actually, these are a good idea for doing
anything in Arizona).
- Titan Missile Museum This is a "don't miss" for you "Dr.
Strangelove" fans. Tour the only remaining Titan-II silo and complex. See
the blast doors, peer into the silo, and participate in a mock launch.
Reservations are recommended. The museum is about 20-25 minutes from Rio
- Open-pit copper mine Near the missile museum is a huge
open-pit copper mine. I've never been on the tour but I hear it's pretty
interesting. There are dump trucks that hold something like 300 tons, and
other equally impressive equipment. Again, I think reservations are
- Tombstone See the site of the shoot-out at the OK corral,
recreated using third-grade-quality paper-mache and a 1950's era
sound-system. Tombstone is the epitome of a Western town and is a popular
tourist destination. Don't miss the diorama. Tombstone is about 2-3 hours
from Rio Rico.
- Bisbee Bisbee is an old mining town not too far from
Tombstone. Very interesting architecture, and an underground tour of the
Queen mine that is great fun. Reservations are needed for the mine tour.
Bisbee is at a higher altitude and therefore a bit cooler than Rio
An all-day Tombstone/Bisbee trip should work out nicely.
- Sonora Desert Museum This is less of a museum and more of a
zoo. The animals are alive and displayed in their natural habitats. A
must-see for Tucson visitors. About an hour from Rio Rico. If you want to
learn about the desert this is the place to do it.
- Biosphere-II The Biosphere is an impressive engineering
feat, if nothing else. About 1.25-1.5 hours from Rio Rico. I'm told the
tours now go inside.
- Pima Air Museum Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson is
used to store hundreds of moth-balled planes, many of which can be seen
at the museum. See Air Force planes from WWII to the present, including
many spacecraft exhibits. About 45-60 minutes from Rio Rico.
- Kitt Peak Observatory See the telescopes, plus some pretty
impressive views. About 1.5 hours from Rio Rico.
- Casinos Win enough to pay for the trip. There are two
casinos on the reservations near Tucson. About 40 minutes from Rio Rico.
- John's LandCruiser Tours If you'd like to get out in the
desert but the organized Jeep tours don't appeal to you or there isn't
enough interest, I'll take you myself. Possibilities include visiting the
ghost town of Helvicia and Gun Sight Pass for views to the east and west
of the Santa Ritas, or for the more adventurous a trip through Charouleau
Gap, one of the premier off-highway trips in the U.S. The latter would take
all-day. Let me know.
That's all I can think of off-hand. I hope you find it useful.
If you are thinking about doing a more
extensive trip, such as to the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, Meteor
Crater, Canyon DeChelly, Monument Valley, Lake Powell, Flagstaff, etc.,
I'd be happy to get whatever information you may need.