At 5:30 am Tom and I loaded up our bicycles and headed to Denny’s for a little breakfast and a cup of joe to get us going. By 7:00 am our bicycles were off the car, the gear was loaded, and we were standing directly in front of the border crossing station. As I mentioned in the previous post, due to excessive amounts of time getting back into the good ol’ US of A from Mexico we elected to start our journey on the US side of the border.
On the plus side, it was very overcast for much of the day which limited the hard beating down sun, there was very little climbing, and the wind was blowing somewhat in our face (surprise, surprise, surprise) so we managed to be very comfortable. On the negative side, the temperature on my bicycle computer registered between the high 80′s and low 100′s for most of he day. Both of us wore plenty of sunscreen and drank lots of hot water.
The first stop for the day was a National Park called Tumacacori (pronounced Tuma-CAC-ori). It is one of a series of missions in this area established by the Jesuits in the late 1700′s and early 1800′s. After the Jesuits were recalled to Spain the Franciscans took over the work for the Catholic Church. This mission building is the most complete of the group; the others can only be visited by special tours.
The grounds around the National Park center contain many flowers, trees, and beautiful walkways. They have done a very nice job using native flowers to decorate the landscape that winds around leading out into the main mission grounds.
Throughout the gardens run all sorts of colorful lizards. Large ones (6-8″ long) down to small ones (3-4″) dart back and forth, then they stop to look at you before running off to hide under some cactus or flower.
The mission building was saved from complete loss when the park service took it over in 1919; over the years they have stabilized the deterioriation and rebuilt certain areas to improve the visitor experience. In the back of the mission are two very small and very old cemeteries.
Other remains from the settlement that was eventually abandoned in the mid-1800′s dot the area, including a storage building, a water collection box, and partial wals from living quarters.
While we were admiring the flowers surrounding a house across from the mission we met Delores. Her grandfather came to this area in the late 1800′s and established a small town. She was quite a delight to talk with and told us a lot of odds and ends about area history.
Tumacacori What Not Shop
Our next stop for the day was Tubac. In the 1800′s the Spanish established a Presidio, or military garrison, in Tubac to protect settlers, and the Pima tribes from the Apache raids. Over time the military garrison was taken over by the US government but eventually abandoned by them when the soldiers were needed in California.
The building colors are quite distinctive in this part of the country and certainly offer a lot of eye candy when looking around.
Off to the right for much of the day as we pedaled along was the Santa Rita mountains. This area is full of sage brush and all sorts of variety of cacti. Many of the cacti are blooming right now which made for a quite showy ride.
Today was not a difficult day in terms of riding: 49 miles and 471 feet of climb, but the was in wind in our face. Most of the day was spent on the frontage road alongside I-19 heading north to Tucson AZ. At one spot we had to leave the frontage road and get on the interstate in order to pass through a border patrol check station. They didn’t seem particularly interested in a pair of geriatric bicyclists so a few minutes later we were through the checkpoint, exited the interstate, returned to the frontrage road, and continued on our merry way.
We are spending the night in Sahuarita AZ (just north of Green Valley) at The Good Shepherd UCC church thanks to Pastor Randy and his congregation. The UCC has a very nice and modern church facility, but more than that, they use the facility extensively for community outreach and helping others.
Well, tomorrow it is on to northern Tucson. God bless, and may your feet find the road in front of them.