We're on the south-west side. In the shadow of Sentinel Peak. Otherwise known as "A" Mountain. It has the University of Arizona "A" on it. Click here or here for a little history about the neighborhood.
The fancy folk don't come anywhere near "A" Mountain. They all live up North and East in the Catalina Foothills and Oro Valley gated communities. If we'd bought up there it would have been very nice. But prohibitively expensive, a bit generic, and chock full of people that look like us. In our book, better than Phoenix or Scottsdale, but not really the experience we were looking for this time around.
We discovered the house when we finally went to stay at Dan and Tony's. They have the house next door. They pioneered in the neighborhood about 5 years ago and took a huge leap of faith to buy their place. Dan works at the Botanic Gardens. Not exactly with Ann but they interact a lot. Dan is an expert in desert plants. He runs one or more of the gardens at DBG. People travel to Denver to see his home garden here. Pretty soon they'll be doing the same in Tucson. Anyway, once we saw it, we figured - what the hell...
The idea is we'll treat the two lots like a continuous desert botanic garden. Kind of a compound. Dan's got a 5 year head start. He also has a lot of experience that will allow us to narrow the gap PDQ. Objective is to create Yard Mahal - Desert. We'll see how it goes, but optimistic we'll catch-up. Dan'll help anyway, so we'll be fine.
The "A" Mountain Neighborhood is proudly diverse. A barrio vibe.
When you tell Tucsoners you live on the west side, particularly the south-west side, specifically "A" Mountain; they scrunch up their face, start backing away like you are going to steal something from them, and look kind of like - well, things may get better for you. There is some real nice stuff just west of us as you head towards Tucson Mountain Park and Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Technically, we're real nice stuff adjacent. Transitional. Maybe transitional in geologic terms, but transitional.
Interestingly "A" Mountain turns out to be pretty convenient. We can be to the farthest reaches of town in 20 minutes or so. But most places are under 10 minutes. We can be rural in 10 minutes too. Airport, 15 minutes. You get the picture. There is a hiking and biking trail called "The Loop" a 10 minute or so walk away. From there, lots of options.
The local jail is conveniently located nearby. Handy...should there be an unfortunate incarceration(s) during your visit.
You should encounter plenty of the casita's namesake Gambel Quail scurrying around the properties. They'll look along the lines of these folks. The one on the left is the male, they have more color on their heads. The one on the right is the female. Here's some information on birds you're likely to come across on the grounds.
The links take you to not particularly attractive sites that have lots of detail about the flora and fauna you are likely to encounter around Tucson. We've seen coyotes, roadrunners and rattlesnakes. Slept through a withering javalina attack on a bird seed block and freshly planted succulents in the not yet gated back yard. And had bobcat prints pointed out on the OTHER side of the north wall.
Here's a shot of what we started with. We're told Dan and Tony's looked as bad or worse when they started so we felt a little embolden.
OK. The Manor part. It's ironic. Quails are real though. Here's another more Manory Quail Manor I found Googling around.
After much arm twisting, lobbying and threats of bodily harm; we forced a living room, kitchen, dining area, two bedrooms and two baths into 800 square feet. Try that some time. It's cozy for sure, but a visit to IKEA demonstrated it could work. There are not many walls. No swinging doors. Big Assed barn doors so the bedrooms "read" like part of the living area. No hallways that turn into unusable space. The ceilings are good and high. And lots of outdoors living area with front and back courtyards.
We manage every inch of floor plan and every opportunity to use tall walls as "vertical square footage" for storage. One of the subcontractors described the Quail Manor as "the biggest little house you'll ever see".
Turns out a small residential footprint is called "The Tiny House Movement". Further, it turns out 800 square feet is expansive on a Tiny House Movement adjusted scale. Kind of showy. Does not demonstrate a true commitment to Tiny. Only Small. Makes us kind of wimpy. Small's as far as we're a goin though. If you're interested click here for more Tiny House Movement information. By in large the Tiny Movement folks seem just a tad on the odd side. Draw your own conclusions...and keep them to yourselves!
To the chagrin of some (you know who you are, DP and SE), no pool. The neighbor directly across the street from the Quail Manor has a pool. Pretty nice one actually. They're real friendly and have offered to that we just come over and use it even if they're not around. So. If you've got a hankering for a pool experience, go across the street and make a friend! Or, the Fred Archer Neighborhood Center is about a mile up the street. Or, go to Walmart and buy one.
Coming and going usually involves turning onto Mission. Turning left can be unpleasant at rush hour.
Variety of ways to attack this.
One option is you can wait. Patiently. For both directions of traffic to clear. And for the person ahead of you to man-up and turn. Not my preferred approach. Goes against my nature.
Another option is to just turn right and make a U turn. Turns out the U turn approach lets you get across the directions of traffic in two steps which generally works quite well. This is my preferred approach. Lots of control.
Or, the most civilized approach. Avoid the left turn altogether. This approach puts you on Star Pass (the big road behind the house) going East. From there you can get onto Mission going North or continue on Star Pass going East (which turns into 22nd at the interstate).