1. Haboobs swooping down like a “Wizard of Oz” tornado, and the storm chasers who stalk them.
2. Large, aggressive herds of up to 50 javelina pressing their cute/not cute pig faces up to your sliding-glass door, wholly destroying your garden, and ganging up to maim your pets. Jave-nice day.
3. Lifted golf carts with hydraulics, Mad Max-esque stripped-down dune buggies, and recumbent bicycles coming RIGHT FOR YOU!
4. The Sedona-area McDonald’s with teal arches, and a bright green adobe pot shop next door to a hypermodern office building next to a fancy Art Deco restaurant with a run-down-but-operational taco truck in the back.
5. The fact that those taco trucks serve lengua tortas, big cups of to-go cabeza, and tripe burritos.
6. Orange, pink, purple, red, and lavender sunsets glowing like LSD-inspired tie-dye shirts sold in the parking lot of a Phish concert in Vermont.
7. That odd hybrid creature that results when a pitbull mates with a Chihuahua. Are they pithuahuas? Chi-bulls? No one knows.
8. An extraordinarily poisonous scorpion and a venomous viper sharing the only inch of shade cast by a jumping cactus with 2” barbed spines. Meh.
9. The entire Milky Way and its assorted meteor showers.
10. Urban cowboys on horseback at drive-through liquor store windows.
11. Drive-through liquor stores.
12. Snow on 150-year-old saguaro cactuses.
13. Tucson spelled as “Tuscon” in the New York Times — and every other esteemed publication in the known world.
14. The annual migratory tarantula parades.
15. Historic shootout reenactments.
16. Glimmering asphalt mirages on the highway horizon.
17. Drowning a burrito in habañero hot sauce.
18. Biannual rainbow wildflower quilting.
19. The ghosts that haunt abandon mine shafts and pretty much fund the hoteliers and tour guides profiting off the undead.
20. The loopiest of tourists who visit year ’round: “kiva divers,” sweat lodge zombies ingesting quasi-legal peyote on the Rez, vortex-loving cult members, Californians dressed as cowboys, and international hippies selling Uhaul-sized rock collections at the Tucson gem show.
21. The “No Guns Allowed” signs at bars and banks.
22. Yet another mattress store right across the street from yet another antique/dead people’s junk store.
23. Millipedes and/or black widows in our shoes.
24. Another sunny 76° mid-December afternoon.