So Many Goals!

Cactus Garden Path

Cactus Garden Path © 2011 Bo Mackison

I collected dozens of scraps of papers on which I had written “Arizona Goals” and stuffed then in the back of my journal just before I left Madison on February 1. Then, while I was riding halfway across the country, I tried to organize them on several pages in my journal. There were six categories, and there was quite a bit of overlap.

In summing up my “Solo in Tucson” experiences, I went through the list and wrote notes on how my original goals fared. This is what I discovered. I did a lot, but I didn’t get everything accomplished. And that is OK with me. I changed my mind on a few goals and changed the focus on some of the other goals. There were a few new things I added to the list once I arrived. And, since I hope to return to Arizona next year for art shows, I’ll hang on to my list and see where it takes me next time around.

  • Doing all the Basics “Solo”
  1. plan menus, cook all meals except occasional eat out. —Not a fan of cooking, but basic, healthy eating is a doable goal. Emphasis was on fresh foods, minimal processed items, quite doable. (except I didn’t give up the chocolate as was one of my original intentions)
  2. take care of my living space. — The less clutter, the easier it is to maintain living space. I am now a supporter of the de-cluttering movement. I love a house without clutter!
  3. drive wherever I need to go Managed to get where I needed to go 90% of the time, not easy, but I did it.
  4. do the banking — OK
  5. grocery shopping — I am not fond of shopping, but I found that I enjoyed grocery shopping, especially with a planned menu. Great discovery.
  6. putting gas in the car — OK
  7. other car maintenance — OK
  8. shop for whatever I need–hardware, clothing, food, art, department store, recreational. — OK
  9. responsible for health care, including nutrition, enough sleep, taking my medications. — OK
  10. Find a tai chi class. —  Once I got to Tucson, I decided not to get involved in a group thing right away. It never did get done.
  11. Take a birding class, learn to identify birds, and meet people at same time. — Same thing. Never got it done.
  • Travel and “Explores”
  1. National Parks and Monuments — National Parks are one of my passions. I visited Saguaro National Park, both the east and west units, Tonto National Monument, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Tumacàcori National Historical Site. I’ve now visited all the National Parks and Monuments in Arizona (over the past couple of decades).
  2. National Forests — I wanted to visit some of the National Forests and see as many of the Sky Islands as I could. I spent a lot of time in various parts of Coronado National Forest and also in Tonto National Forest.
  3. Missions —Photographed both Tumacácori and San Xavier de Bac Mission.
  4. Kartchner Cave — Combination of dark and claustrophobia worries. Even though I really wanted to see this cave, just not up for a visit yet. Maybe next time.
  5. Sonoran Desert Museum —Visited once a week to document changes in spring. Loved this place!
  6. Kitt Peak Observatory (at night) — Didn’t get to an observatory for a night show this time. Not ready for night driving on roads I’m not familiar with.
  7. Center for Photography at the University of Arizona. —I don’t know why I didn’t go. I wanted to. It’s what I’m interested in. Just didn’t get there.
  8. Know the exits for I-10 around Tucson. — Accomplished! Very proud of this one, I thought it would be much harder than it was.
  9. Do a one day trip, one that requires planning, bringing food, etc. —Drove to Organ Pipe National Monument. (Three hours each way.) So worth the effort and worry, and I was fine once I got on the road.
  10. Go on an overnight trip, stay in a motel in a city I’ve never been to before. —Went to Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior and then spent night in Globe.
  11. Drive to Phoenix, see the major museums in Phoenix. — I went to Phoenix, but not ready to drive on Phoenix expressways. Drove on a few city streets. The traffic in Phoenix was going way too fast for my comfort level. Never got to the museums either.
  12. Go on an overnight car camping trip. —Wanted to go overnight camp at Chiricahua National Monument. This was my last big goal before I leave Arizona, but not going to get it done. Not this year!
  • Art and Photography
  1. Visit Center for Photography at the University. — Nope.
  2. Visit exhibits at Tucson Art Museum. — Nope.
  3. Art fairs and festivals — Participated in Tubac Festival of the Arts and Tempe Art Festival, visited two other art fairs in the area. Good to see other shows, artists, and set-ups.
  4. Take photos at gardens–consider making card sets to sell at those gardens? — Took plenty of photos, never mustered the courage to show my cards.
  5. Take a photo workshop or other workshop from Desert Botanical Gardens? — Decided not to.
  • Business of Art
  1. Talk to 3 gallery owners or shops about carrying photographs or cards. — Visited galleries, talked with people but not about my art. Focused on talking about the art they had on display. That’s as far as I got.
  2. Art festivals–Tubac, Tempe. —  Accomplished.
  3. Talk to artists wherever you meet them, find out what they do, where they work, how they are inspired. — Met some great artists, including several at the Santa Cruz Artist Studio Tour.
  4. Stay current with summer art fair applications. — Managed to keep art show calendar current, apply for summer shows, fill summer schedule while in Arizona.
  • Sonoran Desert and other Habitats
  1. Learn about the desert– the history, geology, botanicals, weather,  animals and birds. Spent lots of time doing this. Loved this part.
  2. Safety in desert. — Learned it, and glad I did when I got lost twice on two different desert hikes!
  3. Hike the desert. —  Not always in the desert, but hiked at least twice a week. Saguaro NP West, Saguaro NP East, Tucson Mountain Park, Catalina Mountain, Madera Canyon, Organ Pipe National Monument, Mt. Lemmon, San Pedro Riparian Areas.
  4. Photography in the desert.— Yep, took lots of photos, still have to process about half of them.
  • Learn about Tucson.
  1. Get map, learn to drive around Tucson.
  2. Learn major shopping centers, entertainment venues, downtown grid.
  3. Go downtown –day, night, weekend, during week.
  4. Walk through the university. — Nope.
  5. Drive up Mt Lemmon to Summerhaven. —Nice drive, mountain driving was easier than I expected.
  6. Hike Sabina Canyon. — Never got there.
  7. Hike Catalina Mountain. — Short hike on birding trail, would like to go on longer hike though.
  8. Visit Galleries. — Mostly in Tubac. Not in Tucson.
  9. Restaurants. Eat at three restaurants by myself, including one nice one. — Didn’t eat by myself at a nice restaurant. I guess it takes a certain amount of guts to dress up and go to a nice place alone.
  10. Explore neighborhoods. — I even went through a couple of condos! Fun!

Tomorrow it’s time to pack, Sherpa flies in tomorrow night, we are taking a tourist day on Wednesday, and Thursday we hit the road! Soon I’ll be back home in Wisconsin.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She will be returning to Wisconsin later this week after living in Tucson for the last two months. She’s been exploring Arizona and living life “solo.”

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. 2 months was faster and longer than I thought it would be. I’m glad we had visit times in between Feb and April – othewise it would have been too hard. You’ve done a huge amount, and we’ll both do more AZ next year. The spring flowers are starting to emerge from their winter naps, they, the cat and I are all asking “Where’s Bo?” Looking forward to picking you up and migrating back.


    • Bo Mackison says:

      Sherpa, I will be so glad to be with you again. Those pillows on your side of the bed were totally unsatisfactory as a partner! And yes, we will share and enjoy Wisconsin spring together. 🙂

  2. Joanne Keevers says:

    Bo, you went to Arizona with an open mind and a list and look at what you accomplished! Congratulations!! As to the items not crossed off the list, well, Arizona will still be there next time.

    Lovely photo of the cactus garden path and I do so love seeing comments here from Sherpa. He sounds like a really great man! 🙂

    • Bo Mackison says:

      I still find the whole trip one rather amazing experience. I may need to go back home and sit quietly for awhile, just digesting all the “newness”. 🙂

  3. You came with a long list of “impossible” items–and look at all those crossed off items! That’s amazing and worth celebrating. I’m waving as Seeded Earth pulls out of Tucson and drives up North again. . . come back and grow some more next year!

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