Tucson Winters Explained – Even the Locals will Learn Something New
In other places, April showers bring May flowers, but this is Tucson, where winter rains bring glorious spring wildflowers. Our winter days are mostly sunny with mild temperatures and clear skies. Many of our Sonoran Desert critters have gone south or are hibernating, though we do get the real kind of snowbirds escaping icy northern climes. As Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort & Spa is in the Santa Catalina Mountain foothills, we do get frost on the plants. Occasionally, it has been known to snow in Tucson! (Blink and you’ll miss it.)
Climate change is altering the Sonoran Desert landscape, according to University of Arizona researchers. Winter rains are coming later, sometimes under colder temperatures. Annuals such as the popcorn flower and red filaree or storksbill that used to depend on early December winter rains are adapting to growing under colder conditions and flourishing. Other plant species that haven’t adapted, such as the wooly sunflower, are becoming less common.
According to the National Park Service, the Sonoran Desert gets winter rains when a low-pressure system forms over the western United States and pushes prevailing Pacific storms inland. Daytime temperatures are generally mild and because of the dry atmosphere (beware of static cling!) and relatively low vegetation cover, daytime heat reradiates the overnight air, making for chilly – but not too cold – evenings.
Even locals are apt to think that there are only two seasons: Rainy/hot and dry/cold. According to our friends at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, there are five seasons:
- Summer monsoon or rainy season (early July to mid-September):
A tropical air mass adds humidity and moderates June’s extreme temperatures, frequent thunderstorms, main growing season for many of the larger shrubs and trees.
- Autumn (late September-November): Warm temperatures, low humidity, little rain, few species in flower, beginning of growing season for winter annuals in rare years with enough rain. Autumn and late summer occasionally receive heavy rains from the remains of Pacific hurricanes (tropical storms).
- Winter (December-February): Mostly sunny, mild days, with intermittent storms with wind, rain, and cool to cold temperatures. February is often warm and dry, like spring.
- Spring (early to late February through April): Mild temperatures; little rain; often windy; main flowering season for annuals, shrubs and trees. Winter annuals may bloom in February in warm, wet years.
- Foresummer drought (May-June): High temperatures, very low humidity, no rain in most years. May is very warm and often windy. June is hot and usually calm. There is little biological activity except for the flowering and fruiting of saguaro, foothill palo verdes and desert ironwood trees. Nearly every living thing is in basic survival mode until the rains arrive.
Rain or shine, we’re ready to show you the wonders of the Sonoran Desert and hope to see you soon at Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort & Spa!
Christmas menus inspire new holiday tradition
The Christmas holidays are a time to honor tradition and, perhaps, start new ones at Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort & Spa’s award-winning GOLD restaurant. GOLD welcomes families and friends who come together to celebrate the season with special gourmet Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day brunch menus.
The Christmas Eve à la carte menu includes the choice of starters from Muscovy Duck Confit to Tenderloin of Beef Canapés and Chef’s Signature Entrées from Grilled Moroccan Spiced Salmon Filet to Seafood Vol au Vent.
On Christmas Day, GOLD offers Christmas brunch buffet in the Sonoran Ballroom for $59 per person, plus tax and gratuity. A taste of the menu includes starters such as Port Poached Pear & Almond Brie En Croute. Entrées boast carving stations for Roasted Turkey, Sirloin of Beef and more. The finale is sweet with selections including Ginger Scented Pumpkin Pie, Triple Layer Chocolate Cake and Fresh Fruit Martinis!
For a complete Christmas Eve menu, please click here.
For a complete Christmas Day menu, please click here.
Happy holidays, and stay tuned for details on our upcoming New Year’s festivities!
Thanksgiving on a gourmet scale in the Sonoran Ballroom!
Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort & Spa welcomes you to our Thanksgiving Day Grand Buffet feast in the Sonoran Ballroom from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with gourmet offerings from Butternut Squash Soup to Roasted Turkey with Apple Cornbread Stuffing to Arizona Pecan Pie! The cost is $59 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Reservations are encouraged; please call (520) 297-1151 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or (520) 917-2930 after 5 p.m. Click here for all the mouth-watering details!
In addition, Lookout Bar & Grille will offer a Turkey Dinner Special for $28 that includes salad, turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, vegetable and pumpkin pie. No reservations are necessary. Lookout will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. A casual menu also will be available.
The award-winning GOLD restaurant will be open that day for breakfast only, from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. Room service will have regular hours.
Speaking of holidays, do you need a home-away-from-home for holiday guests? Let us be your spare room! Our suite-sized guest rooms feature all the comforts of home and more, including soothing desert-inspired décor, Sealy Posturpedic® pillow-top mattresses, all-natural bedding, 42-inch HD plasma televisions, walk-in showers and high-speed internet access. Click here to make reservations.
The History of Christmas Gingerbread Houses
Yes, it’s already time to make holiday plans! Don’t forget that we’ve got a great Thanksgiving Day Grand Buffet in the Sonoran Ballroom from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can read about all the mouth-watering details here.
Believe it or not, two of our biggest Christmas traditions – the decorated tree and gingerbread houses – came from Germany. One of those traditions has become a favorite event at Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort & Spa. You can read all about our December 13 Couples’ Gingerbread House Decorating Party here.
Did you ever wonder where the gingerbread house tradition came from? Sure, it was popularized in the famous Brothers Grimm “Hansel and Gretel” fable, in which the witch’s name, Frau Pfefferkuchenhaus, is derived from the earliest form of gingerbread from Franconian monks (Pfefferkuchen, which literally translates to “pepper bread”) and the German word for house (haus). Gingerbread is also known as Lebkuchen, whose word origin isn’t clear. The German city of Nürnberg, called Nuremberg outside of Germany, is famous for its gingerbread. In fact, the oldest known recipe for gingerbread, written in the 16th century, is housed in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum (German National Museum) in Nürnberg. The city likely developed its taste for gingerbread thanks to its location along ancient trading and spice routes.
The name of the person or people who got the idea to make gingerbread into houses and decorate them with icing and candy is lost to antiquity. All we can do is carry on the fun tradition and, in the words of the Germans who brought us gingerbread, wish everyone “Frohe Festtage,” (froh-eh fes-taggeh) or “Happy Holidays!”
The Sonoran Desert is ready for you
and its close-up
Now that the desert heat is cooling down, the Sonoran Desert becomes a haven for nature lovers from all over the world. October is a great month to visit Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort and Spa. During the day, you can hike or play tennis to your heart’s content under vividly blue skies and at night, stroll beneath a dazzling canopy of sparkling stars. If you didn’t know it already, Arizona is famous for its sunsets with streaks and puffs of purple, orange, red, white, blue and yellow challenging most of us mere mortals to describe the beauty in words.
Practically every step you take at Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort and Spa is a photo opportunity, if you think about it. For those who aren’t accomplished shutterbugs, we’ve found a few tips that might turn your vacation photo into a Facebook post that will make you the envy of all of your friends.
- Get perspective. That photo of the Catalina mountains might
look even more spectacular if you put something in the foreground to show perspective.
- Vary the angle of your photos. Crouch, stretch, tilt the camera – don’t just stand there and take a photo. Get up close, get further away, hoist your camera up like the paparazzi, have fun trying to get different angles of the same object. If you’ve got a digital camera
and you don’t like the result, erase it!
- Forget the birdie, watch the light. See what happens when
you silhouette that cactus against the afternoon sun. Compare
how the labyrinth captures the early morning light and mid-day
sun and which brings out its best colors and shadows.
- Foodies, we know you love making your friends jealous with Facebook posts of the gourmet meal you’ve savored. Our award-winning GOLD restaurant features delectable dishes that will make your fellow foodie friends’ mouths water when they see what you’ve ordered! Go ahead, take a photo of your dinner; we don’t mind!
If you get a fantastic photo during your stay here, please send it to us for our guest gallery Photo of the Week at www.westwardlook.com/photo-of-the-week or for our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/westwardlookresort.
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