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Along the border – San Diego to Tucson

Along the border – San Diego to Tucson

Last Updated on March 3, 2021

After a quick stop off in San Diego, the last stop in California after driving down the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco, we headed to Tucson, Arizona. We had scored a housesit on for three weeks in the foothills of the Catalina Mountains and we were ready for a break from “life on the road”. Road tripping is fun, but sleeping in a different bed for weeks on end is exhausting, and we were looking forward to a comfortable bed, a kitchen to prepare our own food, a swimming pool in the backyard, and to a furry companion. All these things are basically why we love housesitting and hope to do more of it as our trip continues.

Now we just had to get to Tucson, about 407 miles from San Diego, mostly on the I-8. The drive would take about six hours, but we were in no hurry. In fact, we were curious to see a part of the U.S. neither of us had been to before, and get a first glimpse of the Sonoran Desert.

As we drove parallel to the Mexican border, we witnessed several extremes from the weather to the landscape to the intense scrutiny of border patrol (without ever having left the country).

This interstate runs through California’s San Jacinto Mountains, then parallel to the U.S./Mexican border and then splits from the border continuing straight east as the border runs southeast once past Yuma in Arizona.

The drive through the Jacinto Mountains was slow, not just thanks to the road construction, but also the relatively rough driving. The road passes through a surreal landscape which feels like the moon. The drive winds around and down and up and through until the intensity bubble bursts and you head out into the great expanse of the desert valley on the other side of the mountains.

Here the heat took over. It filled up the car, relentless in spite of air-conditioning and windows rolled all the way down. We were melting, sweating, laughing and singing.

We didn’t know if we would notice Arizona’s new Immigration Law, which came into force in April of this year. That is, until our first immigration check in California, before even entering Arizona. Interstate 8 literally hugs the border for several miles, you can see the fences, the wires, and the heavy presence of the U.S. Border Patrol, who had set up various check points along the Highway, randomly checking cars for ‘illegal immigrants’.

San Diego to Tucson road tripOur German Globetrotter girl being of legal immigration status, we were relieved when we sped through the border patrol checks, first in California and then again in Arizona. The second time, in Arizona, we had to pull out of line and join the unlucky ones whose belongings were unpacked being sniffed by police dogs.

Having been checked by border patrol twice from within the U.S., plus the growing  tension in the Mexican border cities, we decided to fly into Mexico City after our house sit and Northern Arizona road trip. No need to push our luck at one of the land crossings.

San Diego to TucsonUntil then, we’ll be testing the first real travel&work month, as we both have freelance projects that will keep us busy over the next three weeks – we will see how working remotely goes with a tempting pool and two sun chairs in the backyard…

San Diego to Tucson

The border fence between the U.S. and Mexico


Tuesday 22nd of June 2010

Nice. Did they squeeze your toothpaste to see if it was real?