Tag Archives: Arizona
Feb 23, 2014

Last days of sun

Saturday, February 22 – Sitting at SeaTac waiting for our shuttle home.

What a difference a few hours makes. We used to be in sunshine and hot, now we’re sitting in an ice-cold parking garage, thankful that it’s not snowing. But first, a review of our last three days.

Mt. LemmonWednesday we decided we needed a challenge, so we headed up Gates Pass.  We got a late start because it was so cold out, nearly 52 degrees! Once the sun came out and warmed stuff up, we took off. Gates is a low pass with only about 3 miles of climbing at a generally gentle pace. As we neared the top, it kicked up to 15% in two stretches. That felt like the work that real climbers do.

We flew down the backside of the pass and stopped at the Sonoran Desert Museum. We incorrectly thought it was part of the National Park so weren’t prepared for a hiking experience which cost money. So we settled for some baked goods and continued riding.

We were feeling peppier than ever so we stretched our ride out to the north and west, eventually returning to town along one of the river bike trails. We clocked in at 54 miles for the day! Now we’re riding!frog-mountain

That night we took Steve and Patricia out for dinner at a neighborhood Ethiopian spot. The food was good and the company was marvelous.

Thursday we wanted to stretch our legs one last time before I tore down the bike. This time we headed NE to Mt. Lemmon. It is a 25 mile climb averaging 6%. We weren’t going to do that since it took us 15 miles to get to the bottom. But we set our goal as the Babad Do’Ag overlook, 2.5 miles up. It was a tough, serpentine climb. The grade was about 6% most of the time.

We made it up without much hassle. Lots of younger stronger riders flew past us. I thought we must have looked like gramma and granpa to them. Sheila pointed out that in our helmets we just looked like fit riders, going slowly. Maybe I’ll get a mane of white hair for my helmet so they can tell we have a reason for our lack of speed.

spencer-packingAfter that we cruised downhill – what a blast! Stopped for a snack at Le Buzz, a bikers coffee shop. Chatted with some folks who were also in Tucson for sunshine and cycling. Then home and I started breaking down the bike. It was pleasant out on Steve and Patricia’s patio.

Friday Steve took us to the airport early in the morning so we could rent a car. We then drove to Phoenix to see our friends Gail and Tom.  It was a pleasant 2 hour drive in our brand new Chrysler 200 (a car big enough to transport our bike gear to the airport Saturday). We caught up with their stories and they ours. Went to lunch at a Thai restaurant downtown which was incredibly noisy. Evidently that is de rigeur for happening restaurants. Who knew? Later, Sheila, Gail and I went to see a Chihuly installation at the Desert Botanical Garden. While we’ve been to the Chilhuly at Seattle Center this one was all dessert specific art. Quite beautiful. We were walking through gardens of cacti, then suddenly there’d be a big arrangement of glass spikes or flowing glass spires. We enjoyed both the gardens and the installation as you can see in the gallery below. But sadly, we failed to take any photos of them!

Our evening ended with a return drive to Tucson, after which we got up early to begin our travels home. not much to say about the flights. We tried to get bumped from our Seattle flight and would have gotten bumped had a San Antonio flight not been delayed. Then when we arrived at Seattle, they couldn’t get the jetway to connect, so we had to taxi out to a different gate. The shuttle we were waiting for arrived fairly quickly and we’re back.

Isn’t it nice to be home again?! Even if it is gray and 40 degrees!

Feb 18, 2014

Riding with a Seattle transplant

spencer-bridget-tonyToday we headed out to ride with Bridget, a Seattleite who fell in love and moved to Tucson. She was thrilled to be able to talk about Capitol Hill, lakes, Cascade bike rides, and all things Northwest. We also got to meet her husband, Tony, as he joined us on what turned out to be a 48 mile ride for us. We rode to East Saguaro National Park, one of our favorite spots to ride here.

We caught up to them on the Aviation trail and wandered out to the park. Our riding styles were pretty well matched. Turns out that she’s doing volunteer IT work and some WordPress site management for a non-profit here, so she and Sheila had a lot to chat about. I pretty much am out of all conversations on the bike because of my hearing loss. Sheila does a good job of feeding me the pertinent bits over the tandem radio system we have.

cautionWe arrived at the park around 11:30. We were congratulating ourselves on having remembered to pack Sheila’s Senior Park Pass we bought in Wyoming. But when we got to the guard gate he wanted to see her ID. Oooops. We convinced him to take our tandem business card with its photo, plus Sheila’s business card. He let us in warning us to carry the driver’s license next time, as well as a warning about the first turn at the bottom of the hill!

There is an 8 mile loop in that park we’ve described before that is terrific. The first turn is at the bottom of a very steep downhill and is about a 130 degree turn. Tony said he’d gone off the road negotiating it one time. We were careful as can be. Problem is it is followed by a steep uphill. So it is always a challenge to take as much speed as is safe to get up the other side. We were feeling pretty sassy, so we really attacked and made it. There are a whole string of ups and downs (or should I say: downs and ups) that benefit from generating lots of speed. We love that part of the loop. Then there is a long (1.5 mile?) hill on the backside which completely took the wind out of our sails. Payback. But then there are more rollers, tending downhill, so it’s back to fun stuff.

spencer-sheila-tony-bridgetSpeaking of fun stuff, Bridget and Tony met on that loop. Bridget (on vacation from Seattle) was in the process of doing 9 laps of the loop (!) to make up for missing a long road ride when Tony caught up to her. They did 5 laps together. He then loaned her a better bike to replace the mountain bike she had been riding for the rest of her stay in Tucson. One thing led to another and now they’re together. An appropriate story for February.

After the park we went to their home for a snack and a rest. Then Sheila and I bid them adieu and headed back toward downtown Tucson. Our goal was to get to Lovin Spoonful, a vegan restaurant which serves milkshakes. MMMmmmm. 10 miles later we were sitting on their porch sipping our shakes and nibbling our French fries. Of course, we had to then ride another 3-4 miles back to Steve’s and Patricia’s house. But we’re home, well-fed, and looking forward to dinner out with our hosts. Nothing like sitting outside by the bubbling fountain surrounded by fabulous southwest plants and sculptures while we blog and relax.

Feb 17, 2014

Sunshine = biking as a way of life

It’s Monday, Presidents’ Day. We just got in from a 41 mile ride around parts of Tucson we’ve never seen. This time we were led by our host Steve Wilson. He and his partner Patricia are putting us up in their lovely home in central Tucson for the remainder of our stay. We spent most of the day yesterday getting our stuff moved from Susan’s house to Steve’s. Then we hit a matinee showing of “A Winter’s Tale”. We enjoyed it. We had a thank you-farewell dinner with Susan and Kirk at a place called the Blue Willow. Pretty good food topped by pretty good cherry pie. I love my cherry pie. All 25 miles of our riding that day were errand-based.

beyond-bread-screwToday we got up and headed to a battery store. Sheila’s Garmin bike computer/GPS had finally worn out its rechargeable battery. Lucky for us, the store with the battery also was next door to Beyond Bread – a most excellent bakery. We enjoyed a kind of Breton pastry called Kouign-amann (pronounced queen aman). When we got ready to leave, the rear tire was flat. When I got it off, I found we’d picked up a large sheet metal screw. I had to screw it out of the tire! Just one more repair.

We cruised around Tucson’s bike trails. This included one which took us into a flood basin once or twice. Hmmmm. I’m glad the sun is out! Eventually we got to the San Xavier Mission south of town. It’s a gorgeous mission dating back to the 1600s, the oldest structure in the area. When we stopped here on the last day of our 2003 Cross Arizona Tour they were remodeling it so it was covered in scaffolding.

steve-spencer

When we got back to town, it was lunchtime. We stopped at a restaurant called 5 Points (it’s at a star-shaped intersection). They were having equipment challenges, too. Their bread was gone so they’d had to re-open their breakfast menu. Their smoothie maker died. But the giant blueberry pancake with Field Roast sausage turned out to be quite a treat for us. We were starting to feel like cyclists again after 5 consecutive rides.

Which gets me to an interesting thing. Much of what we are doing is reminiscent of our cross-country trip. We ride a good chunk of the day. When we get in, I blog while Sheila showers. Sheila then edits and adds pictures while I hit the shower. I’ve taken to shaving just before the shower as I did on the trip. It just seems more efficient. Then we relax and wait for dinner. The major difference is that we are riding less than half what we did then. But being in the heat brings it all back.

 

Feb 15, 2014

Tucson – February 2014

We flew from cold, wet Seattle to hot, sunny Tucson on February 12. We have 10 days to play in the sunshine, due to Spencer’s school schedule. Our plan is to spend 4 nights with our friend Susan Reed (who we met last winter down here) then Sunday we move to Steve Wilson’s place. We’d met him in 2003 when we did the ride from the Grand Canyon to Nogales. This is our Warm Showers payback for hosting other riders last year.

The trip down was uneventful (as all plane flights should be). I got the bike put back together with a minimum of trouble by around 7 PM. And we settled in with Susan to watch some of the Olympics before we retired. The next day we planned to do a short “shakedown” ride.BICAS-signBICAS-sculptures

As we got ready to leave I noticed my bottom bracket was wobbling 1/4 – 1/2″ side-to-side. That’s not good. Never fear, Susan led us to a bike repair shop called BICAS. BICAS stands for bicycle inter community arts and salvage and they are very cool. Outside there’s all kinds of sculptures and functional things like bike racks all made from salvaged bike parts. BICAS-insideInside sports 7 workstations, tools for loan, tons of used and new parts, and mechanics on duty to help you solve your dilemma. For $4 an hour you have free run of the store. Quite a deal. My bracket problem stumped the stars there, but they were willing to work with me on it. Between the two of us we figured out the solution and we took off with Susan for a 25 mile ride around “The Loop”, bike trails following the two riverbeds in Tucson. That night I helped Susan adjust the shifting on her recumbent. She’d replaced the cable housing while I worked on my bracket at BICAS. It took us about 45 minutes to get it right. Two bike repairs in one day: I’m feeling like a mechanic!

Spencer helps SusanYesterday we opted for a longer ride up to Twin Peaks and Rio Vistosos. That was 45 miles with substantially more climbing. We didn’t really feel very strong. To be sure, we haven’t been on the bike in months and Sheila hasn’t had a lot of cardio exercise since her accident last May. But we stuck it out. Stuck might be a good adjective since our bottoms were so sore by the end that we were pretty much stuck. Along the way I got to help Susan again, this time with her front derailleur. Woo Hoo! Susan’s good to ride with because she knows all the roads. She rides 12,000 miles a year! IMPRESSIVE! She led us through some wonderful neighborhoods which sidestepped the busy streets I’d have taken us on.

Susan helps spencerToday we tried to do a 35-40 mile ride. But on the way out of town I was hearing some rattling. We stopped at BICUS again, but couldn’t find it. So I paid them the $4 shop fee from Thursday (I hadn’t put my wallet or my tools on the bike that first day!) and we went on our way. We climbed Starr Pass (tiny) and were just getting ready to descend when Sheila and I both heard loud rattling. A long hard look showed one of the bolts holding on our front brake was missing! Guess what? Another trip to BICUS. I really hope it was the last one. But they had huge buckets of bolts to choose from plus a little lock-tite, and we were off. It was late enough now that we just cruised to the University District and had lunch. Then we meandered back home. We went 27 miles in 5 hours. Not our best time:distance ratio, but then, we’re on vacation and it’s sunny. Who cares? It’s 87 degrees out and life is good.

Bens Bells volunteersOur meanderings included a pleasant layover in a tree-shaded plaza that boasts volunteers painting ceramic pieces (notice Spencer and Susan in the background). They are community volunteers engaged in Ben’s Bell Project, commemorating the untimely passing of a 3 year old boy. His family started this nonprofit with a simple and worthwhile mission: to inspire, educate and motivate each other to realize the impact of intentional kindness and to empower individuals to act according to that awareness, thereby strengthening ourselves, our relationships and our communities. Food for thought.

Now for a shower and some horizontal relaxation followed by a night of Olympics viewing.

Jan 18, 2013

Warm? In Tucson?

Our last four days in Tucson were unseasonable compared to what we’d been experiencing. They were warm. I mean, it got all the way up to 71 degrees! It was like being…..being….being in the desert Southwest. Who’d a thought it? We took full advantage of the switch from highs of 46 to get out and get on our bike.

Spencer Ernie and PatWednesday we connected up with Ernie and Pat from Iowa. They are snowbirds who have recently purchased a place in Sun City. Ernie is a former teacher who also runs a bike repair shop in W. Des Moines during the spring and summer. They also ride a tandem so it was a treat to ride with them. They led us round and round and down and up. The down was the entire first half of the ride, the up was the second half. Oh well. The sun was shining and we zipped along most of the time. It was 39 miles of bliss.

We left them to visit a couple of cohousing communities in Tucson, sharing a “bring-your-own” dinner at one of them. Lots of interesting discussions and food for thought as we get closer to finalizing our involvement with CHUC, our own cohousing plans.

A MountainThursday we teamed up with our new best friend Susan again for the next two days. On Thursday we got together late in the afternoon for a 34 mile loop. We rode up Sentinel Peak where there is a huge A created with rocks then painted annually by the University of Arizona students. Then we toured around the west side of town ending with a long spell on a bike trail along one of the river washes. Temperatures were in the high 60s and we loved it.

Friday we left early enough that it was reminiscent of our cold days of riding. We had staked out a route which would take us to the East Saguaro National Park and toward Colossal Cave. Long-fingered gloves and tights gave way to short sleeves and short pants before we were too far into it. Riding around East Saguaro is a kick. There are screaming, twisty downs and a 2 mile climb on the back side of an 8 mile, one way loop. Tons of fun with nearly no auto traffic. We got way ahead on the downs but Susan caught us near the top of the climb. What followed was a cat-and-mouse game which eventually went to us as there were just a few more downs than ups.

Spencer Susan and SheilaFrom there we headed into a STIFF headwind for about 8 miles. It was hard, hard, hard and ever so slightly uphill to boot. The payback was spectacular. We rode effortlessly at 25+ for 10 miles or so with that big wind pushing us along. When we got back into town, we ended our ride with milkshakes at Lovin’ Spoonfuls. We were as content as we could be.

After visiting with Susan for a while, she had to leave and we began to make preparations for our return. While Sheila struggled to complete client work on this under-powered netbook, Spencer rather unsuccessfully tried to get the tablet to cough up route info. The frustration level in the casita was palpable. Eventually we got enough worked out to feel ready for the road.

The plan is to spend Saturday night with Spencer’s teaching friend Margo Fitzgerald in Palm Springs. Then we’ll get as far up I-5 as possible on Sunday, perhaps Redding. Monday we hope to make it back to Seattle. Hopefully the gods will be smiling on us as we make our way north. We’ll miss the sunshine and will surely return to this cyclist’s paradise.

Jan 17, 2013

Vacation in the ice box

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.

HitchcockWe 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!

Jan 10, 2013

Desert riding

We had two main goals for our trip: getting into the nice, warm sunshine and riding our tandem. The first four days down here allowed us to make progress on both of them. The sun shone, although it was not quite as warm as we would have liked. It ranged from low 60s to 71 during those first days. It was decidedly cold during the nights, though, dropping toward freezing. Good thing we don’t ride at night!

We attended Monday night’s GABA (Greater Arizona Bike Alliance) meeting to see if we could connect with some other riders. The presentation was a slide show of a bike trip along the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Spain. That was pretty neat. We also met a woman named Susan who promised to set us up on a couple of rides later in the week.

group-ride-TucsonTuesday we rode with a GABA group from Green River on a leisurely trip to Wisdom’s Restaurant. It was a relatively flat 35 miles with a 1.5 hour lunch break in the middle. If you’ve ever ridden with us, you know how much that long a stop made our teeth grind. But the company was fun and we saw some old sights from our 2003 Arizona trip, including the now closed Longhorn Bar. One change was the stop by Border Control as we headed north on I-19. Thank you Arizona. I feel safer now.

susan-constructionThe next day we connected with Susan. She led us on a 52 mile jaunt up the Santa Cruz bike trail and toward Twin Peaks. The day warmed right up and we actually were able to take off our long pants! Susan rides a recumbent just about at the same pace as we do. We really appreciated her leading us around, especially when it meant getting past some major trail construction. We made a date to ride again the next day.

Today we woke a little tired and sore so we got her to lead us on a quick loop through the hills near Sabino Canyon. We only clocked 25 miles. A bit shorter than we usually ride, but we’ve got two weeks, right? We were home by noon and safely settled in before the big storm started rolling in.7DayForecast

Oh yeah. It’s coming. The next 4 days are going to be the coldest stretch of weather they’ve had here since 1971. Highs in the 40s. HIGHS in the 40s. We’re not going to ride. We’re going to snuggle in, do our relationship review, watch some movies and maybe do some sightseeing. We hope to get back on the bike again before we leave…..if it warms up.

Jan 6, 2013

Heading for Arizona Sun

As is our wont, we decided to slip out of the cold, rainy  Northwest to get some sunshine, recharge our batteries, and do some riding in the Southwest. Since Spencer now works half time, it was pretty easy to cobble together a 3-week trip to Tucson. We thought we’d drive down for a change so we’d have our car for excursions in Tucson. Little did we know how exciting that trip would be.

spencer-eugene-scraping

ShastaGail-Tom-PrescottPrescott-Trees

It all started as we prepared to leave. We’d planned on Sheila having her computer down and spiffed up while we were gone. We hadn’t planned on the laptop we were going to take to suddenly need the same work done. It turned out to be just the start of the Electronic Revolt.

We were unable to update the maps for our Garmin so we’d be able to find our way around rides in Arizona. OK, so we have three problem systems. That should end it, right?

Wrong. The iPod stopped playing before we got out of Washington. Emergency calls to Sheila’s brother helped us get it back online. Our cell phone began to act weird, shutting off intermittently and generally being a nuisance. Maybe this was all just a way to tell us to leave it all behind?

We spent 3 days driving the 1700 miles to Tucson. Visited with my brother and sister-in-law in Eugene (where we woke up to frosty conditions), and saw a great view of Mt. Shasta on our way to see my dear friend Russ in Lodi (who let us watch the first half of the Duck bowl game!!)

We stopped for two nights with  our friends Gail and Tom in Phoenix. They fixed us a wonderful vegetarian chili with raspberry brownies for dessert and the next day drove us to their summer home in Prescott, AZ. Quaint little town, especially if you like bars. Their courthouse square was ablaze with lights still up from Christmas. We especially liked this tree with lighted red and green ornaments and a white chain of lights illuminating the trunk and branches.

We finally made it to our rental casita (guest house) on Sunday the 6th. It’s a pleasant little place. The owners even installed a bike rack so we could lock up our tandem in the back courtyard. Sweet. We’re in a familiar neighborhood, not far from a Trader Joe’s, Sprouts organic market, and Lovin’ Spoonful veggie diner. We’re looking forward to some great riding in the days ahead.

Apr 16, 2011

2011 Spring Break Tucson

January 16, 2011……..I mean April 16, 2011, dawned cold and dismal, as had most days this winter in Seattle. But it was to change dramatically for us. We were heading for Tucson, Arizona for a week of R&R. The omens were positive. Our flight left at a respectable hour of noon. It was nonstop. Our friend Sooz chauffeured us to the airport and we were on our way.

The omens remained good. Our flight got in early. We had a quick ride to our rental. The only other passenger on the van was a member of Stone Curves Cohousing, which we were planning to visit that week. How fortuitous!

(more…)

Apr 3, 2004

Spring Break in Tucson

The Reader’s Digest version is we rode 255 miles in 5 days while staying with folks we met on the GABA ride last September. (Actually it was 6 days, but we took one off because Sheila got stung by a scorpion!)

Click to see Anabelle & Denise We flew into Tucson on Saturday April 3rd. Anabel and Denise (shown left in their yard) picked us up and took us to their home in the West Tucson hills. Isolated on 3.8 acres at the end of a mile-long dirt road that bounced through a couple of flood water washes, it was a gorgeous setting. Since they are both triathletes, they even had a 25-yard lap pool.

Our first ride was a 54 miler around the Tucson Mountains in West Tucson. It was mostly rollers with some gradual uphills. We rode past Old Tucson and through the Saguaro National Park. We were having a great time. During the last 15 miles or so we were caught in a torrential thunderstorm. Lightning flashing, mud flying, washes filling with water. It was quite the ride. Of course, we had left all our rain gear (fenders, too!) in Seattle. We were riding in jerseys and shorts. We were freezing! A hot shower and hot chocolate brought us around.
Click to see enlarged
I should take a moment and outline what we had to do to get out to the roads to ride. First we had to walk our bike along a rocky path for a quarter mile. That got us to a dirt road, the back way in to Denise and Anabel’s house. Then we had to carefully ride a half mile to a paved road from which most of our rides started. It was a challenge.

Roads in Tucson are interesting. They are generally straight, in a grid pattern. But they are NOT level. They follow the contour of the land. Washes rule the roads. The most common sign to see is: Do not enter when flooded. The dips caused by the washes are big enough to swallow an SUV. It makes for almost roller-coaster riding conditions. Actually the tandem is well-suited for that type of terrain.

Click to see enlargedThat night was the night Sheila was stung. It happened while we were sleeping in bed. She was stung twice. Since we had taken some antihistamine for our cold symptoms, it limited the effect of the venom. She did learn that scorpion stings hurt like heck for days, cause a spreading numbness that also lasts days, and are uncommon. Most people we met said they’d never even seen a scorpion or known anyone who had been stung. After that we made sure we shook out our clothes well before we got dressed.

Monday we just relaxed and worked on tandem rally planning. We also went to the GABA meeting that evening. Met more folks who had been on the cross-state tour. It was a fun reunion.

Tuesday we rode over Gates Pass and Picture Rocks Pass, a mere 37 mile trip. Anabel led the way. Gates Pass was short but fairly steep. Severe switchbacks marked the way down. The same was true of Picture Rocks, though it wasn’t as long or as steep. The rides were prettier in the sunshine!.

Wednesday we took an EASY (kept heart rates in zones 1 and 2) ride to the far side of town, 55 miles. Sheila had read about a community there called Civano. It was featured in Sunset Magazine as one of the best new neighborhoods. It had energy efficient homes and a mix of ages living there. It might be a nice place to settle some day. On the way home we were charging up the last steep hill when our back wheel slipped out of its stays. Instant braking! We recovered, tightened it back on, then continued home.

Click to see enlargedThursday we rode a 47 mile out and back ride up a long, slow pass to Arivaca. Denise and Anabel took the day off of work to give us a really scenic ride. The rollers never stopped. But it was basically 18 miles of gradual uphill to a little hippie paradise. Saw some great birds there, including a pyrrhuloxia. It’s related to a cardinal. We had a great time screaming down the 18 miles of downhill return.

Click to see enlargedFriday we rode with another tandem couple from GABA, Richard (left) and Dorothy (below). Boy, are they ever strong! It was another out and back, 61 miles this time. The pass we crossed was 2000 feet higher than our starting point, 500 feet above our midpoint. You can tell what that translates into: a fast return trip! We were really wiped out at the mid-point, the crossroads town Click to see enlargedof Senoita.  We weren’t sure we could do the return well at all. The sky was threatening rain again, though. We did not want to repeat that experience. We kicked into gear and were pleasantly surprised by how much down there was and how fast we could take it! We beat the rain.

Other than rain the first day, every other day was clear and warm->hot.  We got lots of sun. We even splashed around in the pool one day. All in all, it was another great trip thanks in no small part to the generosity of Anabel & Denise!