Santa’s southwest helpers

Well, that old adage is true: you can take the kids out of Amazon, but you can’t take the Amazon out of the kids.  For our third holiday season on the road, we decided against the Camperforce program and working for, but I just realized that we are still playing elves for a few weeks this year.

JJ is working as a driver’s assistant for UPS.  He rides shotgun in the jump seat, and like some paratrooper ready to deploy, waits for his “go!”.  When the truck stops, he jumps off with the package, and runs it to the house.  In the meantime, the driver is available to find and scan the next package, so they’re ready to go as soon as JJ is back in the van.  With this assistance, drivers are often able to double their capabilities, and a heck of a lot more stuff can get delivered in the same shift.

I am working as office help for the Tucson Tamale Company.  First, I guess I should explain, in case my Ohio peeps don’t know what I mean.  Tamales are a tradition Mexican food, made with yummy things surrounded in cornmeal dough, then wrapped in corn husks and steamed til cooked. They can be savory, with pork or beef, or sweet, with cherries or chocolate.  The cornmeal is generally mixed with lard, but using canola means they can be vegetarian or even vegan.  Most importantly, tamales are a hugely popular holiday dish, especially in a place like Tucson, where food culture goes way, way back, and everyone gets in on delicious traditions from a variety of cultural backgrounds.

The Tucson Tamale Company started as a restaurant business in Tucson in 2008, and right away, started getting requests for mail orders.  Now, in addition to the actual restaurants in Tucson, you can also buy them wholesale to sell in groceries and other restaurants, and they have a huge direct shipping program for tamale lovers across the U.S.  During most of the year, they ship about 100 boxes per week, but between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it jumps to about 2000 boxes per week, and that’s where I come in.  I am working in the corporate office, creating FedEx shipping labels, and also in the shipping department, boxing up the frozen tamales with dry ice to be mailed.

In addition to working, we’re enjoying the outside options that are close to our house.  A bike trail runs behind us, and extends 20 miles in either direction.  My favorite walk is to the wetlands area just north of us to listen to the birds and watch the turtles swim around.  I also use the trail as a highway to work, on the bike that our friends Ann and Nathan loaned us.

Tucson is surrounded in mountains, all with good hiking options.  For the days you’re feeling adventurous, there’s canyon hikes and mountain hikes with lots of elevation gain.  And for more laid back exploring, the foothills leading up to the ranges offer more gentle terrain.  Lots of the land around us is protected as national parks, national forests, and the best county park system I’ve ever seen. We’ve enjoyed every trail we’ve tried so far, especially for being so close to the city and easy to access.

Sweetwater Preserve has nice rolling hills, with views over the city.

Wounded saguaro:

Christmas twisty bread saguaro:

Saguaro National Park has endless hiking. This is Yetman Trail.

Bowen House, remnants of a homesteader from the 1930s:

Til next time!


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