Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Shootout

Today we got up early to watch the Shootout go down Mission Road. The Shootout is a Saturday morning ride that has been a Tucson institution from the early 70's. Ralph Phillips, who owns Fairwheel Bikes, has been its sponsor since its inception. The premise is simple, show up at Starbucks at the Main Gate and ride like hell out to Helmet Peak. There is now a Senior Shootout as well, for those who can no longer hang with the young fast riders. The Old Guys generally ride in the high 20's for 55 miles. One of our park residents rides with them, as you might suspect he smokes the rest of us regularly.

Down the road aways, they were wicking up the pace. In January and February pro riders are down here doing this ride. How cool is that?

This is a Shootout video which hopefully will play for you. I got it off you tube.

Friday, February 27, 2009

February is Over

Can you believe February is over? When we got here in November we wondered if time would drag or if we'd feel like we'd been here too long; but no, the days just go whizzing by. It's been an amazing winter, La Nina is doing her job keeping it warm here. Earlier this week it was running 20 degrees warmer than normal.

Wednesday we rode up to the coffee shop at the University Main Gate for a nosh. We go by this house often, I am impressed by their art installation. They're really well done.

February is a huge month for the Tucson economy. First there is the Gem and Mineral show, then there is the Rodeo and finally there is the Accenture Golf Match Play. Tiger came back from his medical to play, and was sent home after day two. We, of course, attended none of these events, but many people did.
Thursday was the Rodeo parade. It is the longest non-mechanized parade on the planet. This is a picture from the television. I know, how lame is that?

We did go to the Rodeo last year, which is where we were really taken with the pickup men. Consider the plight of the rider of the bucking horse. He's stayed on the thing long enough, and now he'd like to get off without being maimed. The pickup men come in and drag them off their bucking horses, on to their well trained animals. Watching them do that was really the best part of the day. Click on the next picture and look at the cowboy's face.

Thursday was a bad day for Jim, he felt pretty awful. It all hurt. We slept late, and then went out and bought new helmets. He banged his up falling on Monday.
Today (Friday) was much better. The Long Riders planned a 60 mile ride from the RV park to Colossal Cave and back. The Shorter Rider (that would be me) decided to drive east about 10 miles to shorten the distance. So Jim and I parked out at Craycroft and met up with the Long Riders. It was very pleasant, we had a break at Saguaro East, went out toward the Cave, up Pistol Hill road, and then back up Kolb.

I took this picture this morning before we left. I hate to dry dishes, it's always a challenge to not dry.

The RV sized dish drainer is tiny, very tiny.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Just Another Day in Paradise

We decided to do an easy ride today to keep Jim moving after his recent incident. It was a perfect day, 80's and no wind. This is a building we ride by on the way up to the University. It was for sale, but the sign went down. I think it would be cool to buy it, renovate the inside, and not touch the outside. Jim does not share my enthusiasm for the project.

From February 15 to March 15 this Buddhist monk will be at the UofA bookstore (first floor) doing this mandela. At the end of the month, the sand representing their deities will be removed, and then the rest of the sand will be taken to the campus turtle pond. In Tibet, they would cast the sands into a river for protection against evil, but since Tucson's rivers aren't running now they'll use the pond.

He loads sand into the tool in his left hand, it's hollow, like a very long narrow funnel. His right hand runs up and down the tool and shakes the sand out. He's very controlled with how much sand is placed on the board, and the detail is just amazing.

He works on this Tuesday through Saturday. He has way more patience than I do.

After stopping at the U, we continued east on the bike route. This house is in the Sam Hughes neighborhood, which is a historically significant area. This was the original area for early Tucson's movers and shakers. I think every UofA student dreams of living here. I always did. It's for sale! It's out of my price range!

We think that's a slate roof.

We continued out east. This is another one of the places I lived while at the U.

Then it was back to La Salsa at the Main Gate for lunch. We decided that lunch today was pretty much perfection of existence. Sitting outside, eating "healthy" Mexican, watching people.

After lunch we returned home. See, the mummy lives.

So, that was today.

Bad Bicycling Results

Sunday was very pleasant. We rode down to the Rincon Market for omelets, potatoes and a cinnamon roll. It was warm enough to sit outside. Afterward it was up A mountain and Gates pass to assuage the guilt of fried potatoes and cinnamon rolls. When we returned, the park was finishing up a barbeque to raise money for the RCW miniature railroad club. They have done significant expansion of tracks and buildings this year. We got back when they were giving away beer, so we sat and chatted and had a beer or two.

Monday I did the RCW bike club ride. It's a social ride. We started out east and rode back in to the city on the Aviation Parkway trail. It's dead flat. We did go over the Rattlesnake bridge again, this is the rattle at one end of the bridge.

We had coffee at an old restaurant whose name escapes me. It's one of those places with the formica counter tops and waitresses that have been there forever. It was very good. I had apple pie.

Jim did not fare so well with his recreational choices. He went out to Fantasy Island to ride with Glenn and Jim S. Five minutes into the ride he went too wide on a turn, went in to some soft sand, his front wheel went sideways, the bike stopped, and he went down. He did, however, get up and continue on for 19 miles, riding all the hard trails without incident. He's a stud. Judging by the lack of damage on his hands, I don't think he got his hands off the handlebars. Last night the most pain was from pulled muscles in the groin area. If I had more bandwidth I would have uploaded an AVI of him getting out of his chair, it was that pitiful. But, that would be cruel.
On the bright side, he went down in sand and not into the sharp sticky uppy rocks, and no cactus were involved.

It's hard to get a good gruesome shot of injuries. I think I need better lighting.

Here he is, he's up, he's bandaged.

Today he's feeling better. The focus of discomfort is now up in his shoulders. I think we'll spend some time in the hot tub today to loosen that up.

So, the debate continues. Is mountain biking fun? There is a certain sense of satisfaction when one has successfully ridden across something that scares the snot out of one, but does that constitute fun? Does one actually need to have the snot scared out of one to have fun? We're still in discussions over this.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The tourists go to Tubac and Tumacacori

Saturday was a tourist day. We've been riding a bunch and our peripherals needed a break. We drove down to Tubac, a former presidio founded in 1753. A presidio is a fort. Tubac was founded when this territory was part of New Spain.
This is a Hohokam house. They would dig down into the caliche (ka-lee-chee), which is similar to concrete, and then build up walls with mortar over sticks. It's amazing how constant a temperature is kept inside of the structure.

This is one of their ramadas. They keep the sun off your head, but let the breeze through. The verticals are ocotillo ribs, quite often when you plant them, they'll root and keep growing.

Tubac is about around 35 miles south of Tucson. They have reinvented themselves as a collection of artist studios and stores. Some of the products are produced on site, a lot of it comes from Mexico. I don't think the current economy is going to be kind to them. This is probably from Mexico, photographs were forbidden so I had to sneak the picture.

One of the stores. There were many.

I'm not sure what culture these masks represent. They were kind of cool.

This gallery had some nice items. This is a wolf done in bronze.

Art by Michael Swearingin. We liked his work a lot.

Yard art. Javalinas.

More yard art. I think I don't fully appreciate this genre.

Another high end gallery. They had a lot of tables with the blue inlay. I'm supposing it's turquoise, but I don't know for sure. It was very nice work.

Then it was on to Tumacacori. The mission was founded in 1691 by Father Eusebio Francisco Kino at the request of the Pima Indians. The Pima rebellion of 1751 caused a brief abandonment of the site, but they returned after a few months. In 1756 the church was relocated to the other side of the river. In 1848 the mission was abandoned. Constant raids by the Apaches, inclement weather, the expulsion of the Jesuits, and the war between Mexico and the US were all contributing factors. It was quite the operation. They were self sustaining, which was no small feat. Enough food had to be grown and preserved to see them all through the winter. Life was hard then.
This is a passageway out to the mission. Nice shadows.

The big church.

This is an artist's rendering of how it used to look.

Today it's a ruin. There are no plans to restore it. The white stuff on the brick is limestone mortar. Limestone had to be brought in from 30 miles away, through Apache controlled territory. It was not a trip for the faint of heart. Once on site, the rock was placed in a kiln, heated until the rocks exploded, and then ground into a powder to make mortar. A lot of work.

The walls are about 4 feet thick, to control temperature.

This was the mortuary chapel where rites were held for the burials in the graveyard. They weren't able to get the roof on it before having to abandon the mission.

This is where Catholics were buried. Over the years it was repeatedly vandalized, none of the grave markers are original. After order was restored to the territory, local residents considered the ground to still be sanctified and continued to use it for burials.

The last burial was in 1916, an infant was buried here.

The back of the church.

The granary. The mission had acres of land under cultivation.

The best seed from each crop was stored in these jars for planting the next year.

Part of the structure where the priests lived. They had heat, but few other amenities.

On the way back, border control had a check point set up. If you're anglo, you're waved through. If you're not, you're not.

Some of the mountains east of I19.

We did a drive by on the Titan missile museum. Tucson was ringed by these things during the cold war, 1960s to 1986. They've all been imploded except for this one.

More mine tailings. This is a gold and copper mine. The sheer volume of earth moved just astonishes me every time we drive by them.

In the interests of getting this blog published while it's still current, I'm going to post it now. However, we do have late breaking news and photos of the great mountain bike incident that occurred today. Jim is damaged, but he'll recover.