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.And how about this warning?Bicycling 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! The group came upon this grizzled rancher on down the road a bit. We figure it was his horses that decorated our path.
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.On 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.
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. We also crossed over the Basket Bridge.Tucson also seems to have lots of religious parks and memorials. One of the more unusual is the Garden of Gethsemane. 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.On to the El Tiradito Wishing Shrine. The wall here has dozens of cubbyholes, which are filled with notes, poems, and other remembrances. The area is filled with floral decorations. Nearby is a tiny historical Tucson museum, but it was closed the day we were there.On 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. 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.On 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!If you get a chance, go to Tucson. Rent a bike. Check it out.