S2 heads to Arizona
It would also give us a chance to try out uncoupling our new bike for the first time. We packed it away in two, airline-legal suitcases (26”x26”x12”) and set off.
We flew to Phoenix on Saturday, March 8. We stripped off our layers of NW clothing as the planes hopped from Seattle to Salt Lake to Phoenix. It was definitely shorts and sandals weather in the Valley of the Sun. Our friend Gail picked us up at the airport. We were happy to see our cases make it through the baggage system safely. When we got to Gail and Tom’s house (shown above), we met their 3 dogs and 2 elderly cats (see photos in sidebar). They became used to us pretty quickly, although they had lingering doubts as to why we were hanging around.
On Sunday I began rebuilding our bike. I thought something had gone horribly wrong in the transport because the cranks were hitting the chainstays. Sheila called a few names from our Tandem Club of America list. Immediately, Dick and Jayne Lewis offered to pick us up and run us over to a bike shop for help. The problem turned out to be minor and we were ready to ride in minutes.
Dick and Jayne are accomplished cyclists. Both are in their 70s and Dick rode more than 7,000 miles last year! In comparison, we didn’t break 3,000. They also knew all the good rides in the Phoenix area and had written a pamphlet about them. They gave us a copy and told us which way to head.
Monday we rode a 52 mile loop around Camelback Mountain. It was a blast, literally. Especially when we had a sidewall blowout on the return leg. As a matter of fact, that sidewall blew out 3 times before we gave up and started pushing toward a bike store. Another friendly septuagenarian tossed our bike in the back of his truck. He rebuilds bikes for kids who can’t afford them. Arizona seems to be full of helpful folks. The fellow shown here was at the bike store and turned out to be from Port Townsend, part of our stomping grounds. The shop had cool metal sculptures.
A new tire and 3 new inner tubes from the bike store and we were rolling again. It was quite different from riding in Seattle. The heat was hot and the cacti were plentiful, and we hadn’t even left the metropolitan area. We were able to find bike lanes or trails almost everywhere we went, which made for very pleasant riding.
Tuesday we caught a shuttle to Tucson for our meditation retreat. We sat with Phillip Moffitt for 5 days at the COD Ranch just outside of Oracle. (That’s us with Phillip at the ranch.) It was very nice. Since we’d been off work for 3 days already, we settled into the quiet quite quickly. Although it was short, it had a sweetness unlike other retreats. The horses, for one, grabbed my attention. They seemed so thoughtful and steady. They were nice to be around. The staff was great and the food was resort-like.
When we left the retreat, we got to share Phillip’s ride to the Phoenix airport. That gave us an additional 1.5 hours of visiting, which was very cool. Once again Gail picked us up.
Then the rains fell for 2 days. We did find a yoga studio offering the Anusara style of yoga we’ve come to prefer. Other than that, we watched movies and hoped the war wasn’t starting soon. We went to a candle light vigil in Phoenix. That felt good, but had no influence on the war plans.
Tuesday through Friday we rode every day. We rode loops of 35 and 20 miles from the house by ourselves. On Thursday we rode 60 miles with our coach, Thomas Chappell (that’s him with Spencer). He had a truck so we drove out to the Sun Valley Expressway, “the road to nowhere.” There was indeed nothing there. In 3+ hours of riding, we only saw a dozen cars on the 4-lane highway that goes around the White Tank Mountains. Thomas gave us lots of stuff to work on. He’s knowledgable and very funny. We got along well.
On Friday we connected up with two riders from the Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists (Rich & Bill shown with Spencer). They took us on a 26 mile tour of the ritzier neighborhoods of Phoenix. I called it the golf course tour. We saw homes that had parking circles twice the size of our lot in Seattle. It was a great ride. Then I broke down the bike and repacked it.
When we weren’t riding, we were watching the war news or DVDs with Gail and Tom, or going out to dinner. Had a great Indian meal one night. I fixed Phad Thai on another. It was a very relaxing time.
An uneventful pair of flights on Saturday brought us back to Seattle. Amazingly enough, the sun was even shining. It was great to get back to our own home and our very special cats. Thanks to Archie (former student) for keeping them happy and fed.