Sunday, May 10, 2009

Other Desert

I wish I had written more about the desert since moving to Tucson. The unique features (eh em, cactus) that got my attention when first moving just scratched the surface of it’s beauty, and I had no idea until the last couple of weeks how true this really is.

“Not summer” in Tucson is easily addictive and beautiful, especially if you love riding. You can pretty much count on the weather allowing a ride on any given day. Local favorites like lard-based tortillas and sonoran dogs (hot dogs wrapped in bacon then deep fried and covered with about 10 toppings including mayonnaise) can be enjoyed while you get a tan. Then came the two weeks of spring...Tucson-style. Desert flowers started blooming and the landscape actually became kind of green. Winds started picking up during the day and become strong enough to knock you off your bike. In the past couple of weeks it’s just started transitioning into the end of the spring (as a non-local I can’t really say summer). In colder climates, people hunker down for the winter. In Tucson, people hunker down for the summer. Just before leaving, I’d started seeing the signs of a culture that has adapted to 115 degree days and 100 degree nights going into survival mode. I noticed it first with people waiting for the city bus. Whereas they used to hang out near the enclosed stop, chatting it up, the people now cluster into little squares of shade cast by signs, and no one is talking. Rudi started talking of riding his bike to work with his mouth closed…to conserve water.

I got up at 5 am to ride my bike, before it got too hot… and the ugly cycling tan I usually don’t acquire til August was well in place by April. I became suddenly obsessed with Slurpees and was able to take down an entire 50+ ounces of lake #6 and red dye #40 and a variety of other cancer-causing chemicals in order to quench thirst...... I now understood why all gas stations have at least one wall dedicated to these thirstbusting machines. All of these “pre-summer” changes seem to be much more than a scattering of events here and there--- being in the desert represents an entirely different culture…..

It is a truly beautiful and amazing in which “the wash” is a place to walk in or kayak in, depending on the day, one in which an unacclimatized human should never order spicy #5, and one where the local zines tell tales of the tons of trash (literally) dumped in the desert by crossing illegals.

Wiki pinata on her birthday

Last ride in Tucson was a beautiful climb up Mt. Lemmon via road bike

Desert squirrels....they're hiding on the trunk of the tree if you look closely....

Right now, however, I am crossing through the different climates of our country, and my body is in shock. I’d forgotten how moisture in the air feels on my skin and in my nostrils. It’s amazing to be reminded of the many shades of green that exist in ‘normal’ climates. I don’t have perpetually dry boogies anymore. Weird.

Floods in Arkansas

Heading to Tennessee for the 12 Hours of Dirt, Sweat and Gears.....we shall see what that adventure brings....

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