When I read through some of our older posts, I’m always struck by how this blog is truly a written recording of a love story. It’s not just about food or restaurants or menus or customer service. It’s adventure. And love.
There are so many facets to the love story that Jon and I are living every day. This blog post is about the part where we share in the love for our kids. Sharing in the kids’ lives has been an incredible gift for all of us. A stepparent can offer a unique friendship and unconditional love that is just different… it’s hard to explain. I have a great relationship with my stepmom, so I get how awesome it can be. And I’m witnessing it through Jon’s eyes as he becomes intertwined with my kids… who are now our kids.
So we were missing Ripley so incredibly much – we hadn’t seen her since Thanksgiving. It was time to visit her world in Tucson.
Ripley is focusing on visual communications as a Fine Arts major, and her skill for photography is really coming through. She has quite the eye for color and shape, and we had so much fun visiting her dorm room and going through her growing portfolio of photographs and art.
Jon had never been to Arizona, so this part of the southwestern desert was new to him. Of course, part of the Tucson experience was exploring the restaurants, and we visited some of Ripley’s favorites and also discovered one that was new.
Our first night, we took the suggestion of Jim, the owner of the Adobe Rose, (the lovely bed and breakfast where we stayed), and had dinner at Barrio Cuisine. It was a new restaurant that hadn’t been open long enough to have developed a following, so we didn’t even need a reservation. All we knew about Barrio Cuisine was that it was Native American.
Jim gave us a map and pointed us in the general direction.
We met Ripley and her boyfriend, Joe, at the restaurant, and it was in the middle of the “happening” part of downtown Tucson, where there are a number of restaurants, bars, tattoo parlors, shops and lots going on. Barrio Cuisine was beautiful inside, very contemporary with an industrial feel. We started with simple salads and then our entrées ranged from seafood (mine) to chicken (Jon, Ripley and Joe), and it was really good. Ripley said her chicken literally fell off the bone and was delicious. My shrimp was in a sauce that was more comfort food than anything. I loved it.
Jon tried the fry bread for desert, which looked like an extremely decadent donut, Native American style.
I had the bread pudding with a nice side of strawberries, and it was amazing.
But of course the best part about the evening was simply hanging out with Ripley and Joe – getting to know Joe better and hearing about his upcoming graduation as well as his life-after-graduation plans. As a paramedic and future firefighter, he will have quite an impactful career ahead of him.
We were able to grab one of Barrio Cuisine’s staff to take a photo of us. (I wanted to take the beautiful tree of lights home with us.)
Our food adventure continued as we spent time in Ripley’s world the next couple of days. We all agreed that yoga was greatly needed by each of us, so we took time Saturday afternoon to visit a cool studio that has since ended up being Ripley’s favorite place to pursue her yoga practice.
After our yoga workout, we’d developed an appetite, and Ripley wanted to take us to one of her faves, called the Hub. Known for its homemade ice cream, the food is great as well. It was such a nice evening, and we were able to grab a table on the patio.
Ripley ordered a beautiful salad that was nearly a work of art in itself. Jon chose a pasta entrée with chicken that looked fantastic, and I stuck with my usual seafood.
It was all really wonderful, and we did lots of people watching as we enjoyed our dinner there in the heart of downtown Tucson.
I can see why Ripley feels so comfortable in her home-away-from-home. Tucson has its own very unique transient feel, with an interesting blend of students, full-time residents and snow birds. It’s just close enough to Phoenix to reach a big city environment, and yet also close enough to Mexico to feel the tug and influence of a completely different culture.
I loved every minute of the trip with my new husband — especially seeing the developing bond between daughter and stepdad grow even stronger.
The love story continues….