I’m very happy to say that I was able to get away from the cold and snow of early spring in Calgary for 10 days of sun and warmth in Tucson, Arizona.
Tucson sits around 100 km from the Mexican border, and one of its fantastic qualities is that it receives 360 days of sunlight each year.Another one of its fantastic qualities is that there are hundreds of kilometers of bike lanes in the city and its surrounding highways. The people are very bike friendly and the city has served as the winter training ground to Tour de France specialist Lance Armstrong, as well as Jeannie Longo, a World Champion, reigning French Champion, and the world’s most prolific cyclist – Longo just competed in her 11th Olympic games at the age of 49. I think she got a bronze medal too. There’s a whole wack of other world class athletes that call the place home for at least a few months of the year, and the riding is the stuff of legend so it should be just fine for getting some zing on.
My first site of Tucson was from the window of the plane, of course. I’d spent some time in Nevada and Arizona years ago; climbing the rock, camping in the dirt, and hiking dusty trails, but this was the first time back to this landscape for around 7 years or so. We’d been descending over absolute darkness for some time, and it was almost like being over the ocean, I couldn’t see squat. No lights, nor any hint of the ground. Just inky blackness. Eventually, as my eyes adjusted, the face and personality of the ground seeped up and I could see vague outlines of rolling hills, canyons, and more prominent, but distant, spires pushing skyward. Soon lights started to came into view, a river of them strung out in the dark of the desert, dot-dotted across the landscape in a steady stream that ran north-south. I imagined them mirroring that one spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy you can see on clear nights in the country. There would be one or two grouped together, then a couple more, then a smattering of them, then whole cities punching out of nothing, yet all nestled in close to one another against the darkness of the unknown. I was thinking that the landscape here is like something from a story or fable – its kind of otherworldly in that way – and I remembered how much I love desolate places like that.