Tucson adventures- Part 1

Okay, I am posting this a bit after the fact. I have been drowning in my new rotation, finding a home, moving, getting Keely into a new school, etc. etc.


So, I have been in Tucson now on rotation for a month, and I haven’t blogged about it. While this has gone by amazingly quickly, I wonder how much I remember.

June 28th– Pack up Keely and myself and my bike and head out to Tucson early in the morning. The car was packed to the ceiling, because I had enough for a month of casual and dress clothes, plus running, plus cycling, plus extra wheels, etc, etc. Keely had enough for a month at camp. Plus, I had my cooler with food.

Packed for TucsonWe were headed to stay with my preceptor and his family. I hardly remember the drive, except that it took a good 7+ hours. It was raining when we left, and raining a good part of the way there.

All cyclists should appreciate this picture

All cyclists should appreciate this picture

on the way to TucsonWe hit Tucson, found the house, and met the whole family. Bill is my preceptor, plus his wife Anita and three kids. The boy is legally deaf, but he had a cochlear implant and does really well. I didn’t know about this beforehand, and I felt Keely handled it really well.  Keely and I had the back room, separate beds thankfully, and they let Keely hang out all week with Scott and Helen, the youngest kids (16 and 13) while I was at “work”.

June 29th– Coincidentally my sister’s 42nd birthday. My timing sucks. Also my first day of my second rotation at the VA CMOP (Veterans Affairs Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy). I wish I had taken pics, although I don’t know if is allowed. They process so many prescriptions a day, it’s mind-boggling. It’s a well-oiled machine that cranks out thousands of prescriptions per day, using RFID (radio frequency ID) technology to keep track of each bottle, bin and prescription. I got the tour, and my visit had officially begun. The first week was uneventful, except that I was adjusting to being in someone’s house, with my kiddo. To make it even more awkward, it was my preceptor, whom I didn’t know very well.

That Sunday, I drove Keely up to the Triangle Y YMCA camp in Oracle to stay for 2 weeks, come back for a weekend, then do one more week there. First though, we went to the Hungry Fox, which served up good size portions…family style portions!

Hungry Fox Tucson July 2009

It seemed like a great place, and she was excited, and she had done a month at a camp last summer, so she wasn’t at all uncomfortable.

Triangle Y camp Tucson 2009

Triangly Y camp Tucson 2009

Being a mom, I still shed some private tears when I left her. We had bonded those last couple days before camp.  She evidently had no problems adjusting….

Keely's first day at camp 2009Keely's first night at camp 2009

Cabin at camp Tucson 2009

The rest is a bit of a blur, and I always feel funny blabbing about mundane daily things, so I will hit the highlights and places I went. I didn’t know where to get REAL coffee, so I asked Adam Myerson, who trains in the winter here, where to go. He directed me to the perfect spot, EPIC cafe. They brew a mean espresso there!

Red Eye from Epic Cafe in Tucson

He also directed me to Guilin Chinese Restaurant, where they have a regular menu, a vegetarian one, and then a vegan menu with an assortment of *fake meats*. John visited the second weekend I was there, and we went to Guilin. It was alright, nothing spectacular, but if I were vegan I might have been more excited about the options.

Adam also pointed me to Halo Piercing, which has been bought by a different owner, but the staff and name remain the same, but there will be a remodel and new techniques and such. Great place and fun to “visit”.

Bike shops:

I heard alot about different bike shops, but didn’t make the time to visit alot. I did run by Roadrunner Cycles on Speedway on my first week there. They don’t have a website, but I met a nice kid named Elliot, who I guess crashes alot. He told me some routes to take, not many of which I ended up taking due to time constraints. I was really happy to learn that the sun came up at 5am in Tucson. That meant I could get in an hour or so ride every morning, if I so chose. Well, that didn’t quite happen for many reasons, but I do remember getting out one morning at 5:05 am, riding down to Old Spanish Trail, and heading into the sunrise. It was a beautiful morning, only about 80 degrees, and my legs felt great. If I had the time and energy, I wanted to try several of the rides at this link: http://psy1.psych.arizona.edu/cgi-bin/megahurtz

Somehow, I broke head on my bike pump while there, and after John futzed with it, we decided it needed a new head. I took it over to Sabino Cycles, where they replaced the head with a Smart valve for $10. Great guys! They don’t carry Sidis, but I still like them. ;0)


Other than working at the VA CMOP, Bill set up some visits for me at the VA Medical Center and at University Medical Center (UMC) to meet with residents and residency directors. I had a great experience everywhere I went, which makes life even that much more confusing. I first visited at the El Rio Center for the Pascua Yaqui tribe. I visited with Marisa Soto , a pharmacist there doing amazing things, and she just happens to be a graduate of the UNM College of Pharmacy. Kudos to UNM!!

I also visited with a second-year resident at the VA Medical Center. That place is huge!!! Quite an impressive establishment, and great for those wanting to do a lot of Ambulatory Care.  I am not so sure that is the route I want to go. I then visited with Bill Fritz, the residency director at UMC. He explained some about the program, and I said the phrase of death at UMC…Amb Care! I almost lost him there, but then explained. He set me up with a second-year critical care resident who showed me around again and answered all kinds of questions. I came back the next day to hang out in the Emergency Department with Dan Hays, the ER Pharmacist. Really cool guy! He is covered in tats and piercings, something you wouldn’t expect of a professional, but definitely something you might expect in the ER. We looked at all kinds of gory xrays and pics of patients that had done stupid things. Most of our pain is self-inflicted, evidently.

Lastly, I got to hang out with Myke Green, the main oncology pharmacist at UMC. They do a lot of bone marrow transplants (BMTs) at UMC. I started at 7:30am with him, and didn’t leave until about 5pm, with one pee break. My mind was fried by the end of the day, but it was a great experience.


Most of the time I was in Tucson, I had no kiddo, so I did get out and play a bit. Besides Epic and Halo, I did have a mission to find good beer. I first happened upon The Firkin and the Friar, where I met my friend Jennifer the night before she started her residency at UMC. It had rained, and there was a beautiful rainbow that I swear ended right in the pub! firkin friar rainbownimbus Old Monkey Shine beer While there, I started off with a Nimbus Old Monkey Shine brew….strong and good.I then had a Lost Abbey Triple called Judgement Day that kicked me in the butt, but tasted oh so good!

I liked the Firkin Pubs so much, I decided to take Keely to the Frog and Firkin down by U of A. Yet another good time, but they didn’t have Judgement Day, sad to say.


I will have to add more at a later date…. hopefully before I forget everything….

frog & firkin sam smith


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