Day 2: Green Valley AZ to Tucson AZ

Mission San XavierWe left Monday’s abode at 7:00 am under a cloudy overcast sky and 69 degree temperatures; it had rained for much of the night and there was water standing in all of the low spots. NICE!

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.

Mission San XavierSan Xavier is sometimes call the white dove of the desert because when it is viewed from a distance it appears to rise up from the desert like a white dove.

Since the church received protection from the roaming Apache indians from large garrisons of troops it has remained active for much of its life.

Mission San XavierThe 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.

Mission San XavierThe courtyards that surrounds the church adds to the beauty, and at one time the back area was enlarged and turned into a motor court to help provide additional income to support the mission.

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.

Tucson - DowntownThe next major event was navigating through Tucson. This turned out to be fairly easy due to the route being programed into my Garmin 800 GPS unit (thank kiddo) and many excellent bicycle lanes.

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+.

Tucson - RichardWe 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.

Tucson - Death on the RoadThere 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.

Tucson - Catalina MountainsThere 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.

Vista de la mantana Methodist ChurchJust 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.

 

Tucson - last hill to climbWe 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.

Tucson - colorful potsWe 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 . . . . . .

 

 

‘T’ Plus 1: And Counting

Nogales - Starting The RideAt 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, ┬áthe 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.

Tumacacori - The ChurchThe 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.

Tumacacori - GardensThe 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.

Tumacacori - GardensThroughout 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Tumacacori - From The BackThe 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.

Tumacacori - The Cemetery

 

Tumacacori - Storage Building

 

 

 

 

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.

Tumacacori - Delores

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 - Delores' Flowers

 

Delores’ flowers.

 

 

Tumacacori - What Not Shop

 

 

Tumacacori What Not Shop

 

 

Tubac - Lawn Ornaments

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.

Tubac - Scenic WallVery little remains of the presidio buildings, however Tubac has turned into a home for various artists, craftsman, and tourist shops.

The building colors are quite distinctive in this part of the country and certainly offer a lot of eye candy when looking around.

Tubac - House and Flowers

Dry Creek Bed - Santa Rita Mountains

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Good Shepherd UCC - Randy MayerWe 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.

 

 

T Minus 1: And Counting

Trip - Leaving For NogalesAfter a wonderful going away party hosted by Dixie’s (Tom’s wife) father and his wife (Richard and Mac) on Thursday evening, Tom and I packed up our bicycles on Friday morning, June 5th, and headed down to Nogales, AZ. My wife, Margie, was super kind and had agreed to drive down with us and ferry the car, sans Tom, Rick, and bicycles back to Montana.

Trip - Speedometer - 1504 MilesOriginally we were going to take 3 days to get to Nogales but decided to push the mileage and complete the trip in 2 days which gave us a day to rest, relax, and scout out the area in Nogales MX. After 1,500 miles and 24 hours on the road we arrived. Early on the second day we ran into a stiff head wind that remained with us until reaching Nogales. To give you an idea about the wind, when we started that second day the car trip computer indicated we were averaging 28 miles per gallon. By the time we had driven another 12 hours and 760 miles we were down to 23 miles per gallon. Hopefully that same wind will hang around and help propel us back north while pedaling our bicycles.

Trip - Leaving Nogales MXGetting here a day early turned out to be a good idea because Nogales MX required about an hour to get through the line leaving Mexico and entering the United States. The line moved so slowly that there were all sorts of people wandering up and down the rows of cars selling newspapers, bottled drinks, candy, ice cream bars, as well as accepting money to help people move from from lane to another.

Considering the amount of time it took to leave Mexico we decided it might be somewhat problematic in starting our trip from that side of the border, sooooooo, we decided to start our trip on Monday morning from the US side of the border instead of Mexico proper.

Trip - Corn Sales - Nogales MXThe people in Nogales MX are very friendly and between my limited Spanish and their most proficient English we were able to interact with most of them. There was Francesco, a 20 something year old man that walked down a hillside with us while chatting away. We met Carlos in a small store where we stopped to buy a soda pop; the waitress did not speak English but Carlos stepped in and did some nifty translating. And there were others that offered us a ‘Hello’ or ‘Have a nice day’ as we walked along.

Trip - Hillside Homes - Nogales MXThe center of town sits down between hills on either side. When looking around the downtown area in every direction houses stacked one on top of another rising up behind. The area reminded me of the towns I have visited in southern Italy. Thank goodness we will not have to bike up any of those side streets up to the top.

Trip - Graffitti - Nogales MXThe street graffitti artists are well represented around town. Some of it is the standard spray paint can scribbles and some of it is quite decorative and expressive in nature. I am always amazed at what someone can do with a little paint and a tremendous idea that has germinated in their mind.

Trip - Graffitti - Nogales MX

 

 

 

 

 

Trip - Hillside Homes - Nogales MXTrip - Hillside Homes - Nogales MXOne thing that stood out was the colorful houses and businesses. They were not everywhere but there were enough of them to provide some wonderful picturesque things to entertain our eyes and minds.

 

 

Trip - Flowers - Nogales MXUnfortunately we did not have sufficient time to prowl around all through the town, but I have no doubt that we could have spent 1-2 days wandering around having a good time seeing things and meeting people.

We have decided to pack up about 5:30 am tomorrow (Monday, June 8) and set up our bicycles in front of the boder crossing, take the obligatory pictures to record our starting out, and begin our 2015 Border to Border bicycle journey.

The Trip - SunsetThere is a beautiful and colorful sunset here in Nogales AZ, and I need to get to bed.

Take care, God bless, and may your ‘tomorrow’ be everything you hope it to be.