January 10-14, 2013 was the coldest stretch of weather they’ve had in Tucson (and throughout the SW) since 1971. No day got warmer than 45 degrees. The lows at night ranged from 27-17 degrees. It was generally sunny, but it was definitely NOT riding weather. We hunkered down to wait it out.

To be honest, that had been part of our plan the entire time. We wanted to have time to do our annual relationship review, take a one day meditation retreat and have some time to just chill out. We didn’t expect it to take quite the literal meaning it did.

We saw a couple of movies during that stretch – “The Sessions” with Jody Foster and “Hitchcock” with Helen Mirren and Anthony Hopkins. Both were excellent. Sessions was the true story of a quadriplegic man who decides he wants to experience sex. He consults with his priest, then hires a sex surrogate. It is witty, poignant and very well done. “Hitchcock” follows the story of Alfred Hitchcock and his wife, Alma Reville, as they created his masterpiece, “Psycho”. Hopkins is spot on as the master of suspense and the interplay of the two main characters is magnificent.

bicycle-dreamsSunday we were going to ride again with Susan but it was still too cold. But we did go see her beautiful condo for dinner and then she showed us a documentary film on the 2005 RAAM (Race Across America) called Bicycle Dreams. It was amazing, inspiring and heart-breaking. Susan has volunteered in the RAAM command center in Tucson. Her home is dotted with victory trophies from her cycling triumphs on her recumbent. She’s been most gracious and we will be riding with her these last two days now that it’s finally warming up.

We also spent a day on our annual relationship review. This is always a highlight of our year. We take the time to review what happened last year, what we expected to happen, and reflect on how things change. Then we see how we are doing in our relationship, our other relationships, and our relationship to the community as a whole. We usually spend the time snuggled together on a couch and with this weather, that was a necessity. The only thing that was missing was a roaring fire. Not many fireplaces in Tucson.

KC Cave bacon
KC flowing column
KC Soda straws
KC Kublai Khan
We decided to take a day trip to Kartchner Caverns. We’d heard it was beautiful and was naturally around 72 degrees and 99% humidity year-round. Going underground to get to warmth was somehow appropriate for our situation. The caverns were discovered in 1974 by two cavers who immediately knew they’d found a rare treasure, a living, wet limestone cave. They conspired to keep it secret even as they got the Arizona State Parks to convince the legislature to create the park in 1988. It was developed with an eye to preserving the integrity of the cave’s ecosystem. You go through 3 airlocks which keep out the dry outside air, stay on a special pathway, and don’t touch anything. Along the way you see enormous rooms, cave bacon, flowing limestone formations, soda straws, beautiful “drapery” forms and much more. One column is more than 58′ tall and massive. You really have to see it to believe it. And, unlike most tourist caverns, it is still growing. And did I mention it was warm? Note: they do not allow cameras so these photos are from the web.

On the 14th we spent a silent day in meditation. We alternated sitting and walking every 30 minutes all day. It was a good break from our normal routine of constant communication and internet busy-ness. We celebrated the breaking of silence with a trip to Lovin’  Spoonfuls, a vegan restaurant we found two years ago when we were here. The  milkshake was wonderful, but the lasagna was disappointing. That’s the way life goes.

January 15 we got word that my mother died. She had been declining for months and her final departure came relatively fast and was fairly peaceful. Much of the  family was able to be with her for her final breaths and that was good. She was a great mom and a fantastic person. She’ll always be with us.

We decided to go out riding even though it hadn’t warmed up. We braved the 40 degree weather and rode to the Pima Air and Space Museum. It’s one of the largest air and space museums in the world, and the largest non-government funded aviation museum. Hundreds of planes of all types and an excellent group of docents to tell you about them. I visited a B-17 exhibit to learn more about the plane Daddy flew in.Spencer in front of a Beachcraft at the Pima Air & Space Museum I had a docent point out the place where the flight engineer flew and learned that he would also have been the top turret gunner. Daddy had never mentioned that. Hmmm. There’s always more to learn about people.

So a third of our vacation closed with a promise of a warming trend. It might even get up to 70 before we leave. To that we say, YAHOO!

Desert riding
Warm? In Tucson?