Our first stop was Mission San Xavier del Bac, started in 1692 by the Jesuit priest Escebio Kino, the same Escebio Kino that started Tumaccori (yesterday’s post), and 20 others throughout the region. Eventually the Franciscans took over and in 1783 the current church was completed.
Since the church received protection from the roaming Apache indians from large garrisons of troops it has remained active for much of its life.
The interior of the mission is currently under restoration to remove smoke deposits remaining from a period in time when travelers were allowed to camp inside the structure, and their fires left dark deposits on the fresco paintings and statues.
By the time we left 2 hours had elapsed, the temperature had risen from 83 degrees to 96 degrees, and the overcast sky had turned into small puffs of clouds dotting a blue sky.
Bicycling through heavy traffic can be somewhat nerve wracking and you really have to pay attention and by the time we were on the north side of Tucson the temperature had risen to 100+.
We met Richard at a Circle K convenience store where we stopped for a soda. He has ridden his long wheel base recumbent for about 30 years. Richard was out east when his union went on strike and to help make ends meet the union arranged for the men to build recumbent bicycle frames for a European company. He bought one and has ridden it ever since.
There were elaborate monuments constructed of crosses and flowers along the road denoting traffic deaths, but none caught our eye more than two constructed of bicycles. These served a reminders about how tenuous our life is when sharing the road with cars. So many people text and phone while driving which limits their attention span on the road in front of them. One person was drifting in and out off of the main road into the bike lane while were on the road; when the van passed us I could see the driver looking down into their lap at what was probably a cell phone.
There was extensive road contruction the last 8 miles of our trip which greatly slowed us down. The margins next to the highway had been cordoned off, and in some places we had to ride on packed gravel construction paths. In one uphill spot there was a radar speed sign alerting drivers of their speed. It was very comforting to know we took the hill at 6-8 mph. While we plodded along the Catalina Mountains were just to our right and provided many scenic views as they overlooked many varieties of cacti.
Just as Mission San Xavier rises up out of the desert south of Tucson, on the north side there is the Vista de la Mantana United Methodist Church. The church is sits about a mile off Hwy. 77 and is set against the Tucson Mountains.
We are staying with relatives while in the Tucson area and just prior to arriving at their house we discovered a 200 foot climb during the last 1/2 mile. It was a real gut buster navigating the final turns while having to pedal over several speed bumps. Reaching our final stop was so sweet. Suzanne and David’s house is absoluting georgeous, and their hospitality is appreciated.
We are staying in Tucson for a day of visiting and running errands. Both Tom and I have a few things to take care and small gear changes to be made. One item we have decided to add to our ‘stuff’ is a large jar of electrolyte powder. We are drinking so much water that we have become concerned about the loss of salt, potassium, and other electrolytes. Eating more is really not an option as neither of us pedal well on a full stomach. Rather, we drink a lot of water and munch off and on.
Thursday we will be back on the road heading for the Phoenix area. It will we a long day but not much climbing.
Speaking of such things, on Day 2 we rode 54 miles and climbed 1,296 feet. Temperatures during the last 5 hours of our 10 hour day ranged from a low of 93 to a high of 107.
Talk at ya’ later . . . . . .