An Eye on Tucson

Great outdoor weather continues here, and we have really taken advantage of it – cycling or hiking every day.  I’ve tried to look at AZ with new eyes – seeing what a visitor might see, instead of seeing the same sights that I’ve enjoyed for the last five years.  Amazing what you can see if you really look!

Cactus – one of my favorite sights are the majestic saguaro cactus, which grow abundantly here in the Sonoran Desert.  For unknown reasons, some of the saguaros develops elaborate crests on the top, instead of developing arms.  They aren’t terribly common – about 1/1000 has this aberration.  This week, I’ve seen three new crested saguaros, bringing my life total to about seven.  Check these beauties out….this one is especially bizarre, because it seems to be crested and armed.20140216_103143wpid-20140216_111545.jpgAnd how about this warning?20140218_122145Bicycling on the Interstate still makes me nervous.  It’s the only way to get south to Tubac, a frequent destination, but it still seems weird to me.  This time it was REALLY odd, because the side of the road where we cycle was full of horse turds! horses The group came upon this grizzled rancher on down the road a bit.  We figure it was his horses that decorated our path.  20140218_101453
With Michigan friends in town for a week, we decided to take a bicycle tour of Tucson.  Tucson is a Gold Level cycling city, designated by the League of American Bicyclists.  That means that their cycling facilities are superb – plenty of well-marked bicycle routes thoughout the city, and lots of designated bike lanes and bicycle or multi-use paths.  It’s such a pleasure to cycle in such a place.  We wove in and out through the City, on a route of about 15 miles.  In that distance, only about 1/8 mile was on a road that did NOT have a separate bicycle lane.  As much as is possible, I feel very safe and secure cycling there.  We’ve got our own place to ride, cars/trucks have theirs, and everybody respects that.  It takes all the stress out of cycling in an unfamiliar city.

John designed our route – we probably visited nooks that even Tucsonians don’t know exist.  So, here we go….first stop is St. Augustine Cathedral.  First constructed in 1776, enlarged and remodeled several times, and extensively remodeled from the ground up just a few years ago.  Full of color in paintings, mosaics, stained glass, and a 600 year old crucifix from Spain, it was pure wonder.  The paintings which had a 3D effect, were especially captivating.  Mother Theresa was so real. I could have touched her.20140219_111701wpid-20140219_111052.jpgwpid-20140219_111024.jpgwpid-20140219_111035.jpgOn through some very colorful neighborhoods.  Tucson has more vibrant color than any city I know.  Houses, mosaics, murals, fences, bridges – color abounds.  Here’s a sample.4th Street - the Eastown like area of Tucson20140219_12461720140219_110508wpid-20140219_130354.jpg20140219_13030820140219_124109wpid-20140219_112546-1-1.jpgwpid-20140219_121816-1.jpg

We crossed two pedestrian/bicycle bridges that span I-10.  The most curious (to me) is the Rattlesnake Bridge.  In the past, as one would pass the tail end, you would ride under a sensor that would make a rattlesnake noise.  This time, that didn’t happen – a huge disappointment. Rattlesnake bridgeRattlesnake BridgeWe also crossed over the Basket Bridge.wpid-20140219_131241-1.jpgTucson also seems to have lots of religious parks and memorials.  One of the more unusual is the Garden of Gethsemane. wpid-20140219_120053.jpg Here one finds three works created by a sculptor who was gravely wounded in WW1, and upon his recovery, decided to spend his remaining years carving religious statues.wpid-20140219_120154-1.jpgOn to the El Tiradito Wishing Shrine.  The wall here has dozens of cubbyholes, which are filled with notes, poems, and other remembrances. wpid-20140219_113337.jpg The area is filled with floral decorations.  Nearby is a tiny historical Tucson museum, but it was closed the day we were there.wpid-20140219_114143.jpgOn to the Presidio San Agustin del Tucson, one of 17 Presidios from Sonora to Texas, created to defend the northern settlements from Apache and Comanche attacks.wpid-20140219_122126.jpgwpid-20140219_122255.jpg This settlement was established in 1775, and was the westernmost of the US Presidios.  Signage and artifacts provide a pretty good idea of life during this period.

Nearby Presidio Park has war memorials, and a huge public space for strolling and lunching.wpid-20140219_125023-1.jpgOn we rode, down a long bike path past the enormous rail yards.  We wound through a linear park cycle path, which also featured a fitness course with various stations to test strength and fitness.

We started and ended our tour at the Barrio Brewery.  Good beer, not such great service.  John decided to “fire” them, and return to our favorite Tucson watering hole, Nimbus Brewery, going forward.

And, perhaps best of all, this is probably the best cycling jersey I have EVER seen.  Wild west cowboys, and cycling cowboys – all in one.  I want one!wpid-20140218_095521.jpgIf you get a chance, go to Tucson.  Rent a bike.  Check it out.

14 thoughts on “An Eye on Tucson

    • You are about to land in your Mesa? Casa Grande? Soon, yes? Looking forward to just hanging in one spot? We are getting antsy to be on the road again, but it’s going to be a reeducation to get used to living small again.

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  1. As always great commentary and even better pictures! AND you are right, that has got to be one of the worlds greatest cycling jerseys!

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  2. It would take a couple of hours of poring over your photos to do your post justice.

    The crested saguaros are amazing. And the cathedral…. stunning!

    I’ve seen photos of Tucson, but you did capture unique perspectives. I love the colors the buildings are painted.

    Great post…. great trip!

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    • Sharon, you would love Tucson. What’s not to like about relentless sunshine and a city loaded with such rich history? Point your Casita westward and give it a try sometime. The southwest is SO different than Georgia or Michigan. Thanks for reading.

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  3. Love all the wonderful architectural variety and color. Looks like you found my pub – The Surly Wench! LOL. Hey, Judy. Where did you find that face cream I got at the Christmas exchange. That stuff is amazing. I forgot to put it on one day for snowshoeing at Pigeon Creek. My face nearly froze, but when I have it on, I barely know it’s cold. Keep sending your wonderful blogs. It reminds me that we won’t be socked in by snow forever. Ride on.

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    • Surly Wench is MY pub. My so-called friends all assured me of that.

      We live all the Kiel’s sun products…. haven’t needed alot of the face (freezing) protectant lately, but its great stuff. We use their 30 SPF sunscreen by the tankful. And their hand repair lotion as well.

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