The REI ride - Winterlude 2021 - CycleBlaze

December 17, 2021

The REI ride

After a back-to-back pair of fine rides, we’re of a mind to mix things up and go for a hike today.  Rachael tasks me with doing some research and coming up with an idea.  We’ve taken several hikes here by now and have our favorites, but I decide to look for something new.  I find one that looks challenging but great: a hike up to the top of Wasson Peak in Saguaro National Park, the highest point in the Tucson Mountains.  

It looks like just a long steepish walk, nothing technical, climbing 2,000’ in a nine mile round trip.  That sounds within my reach but it would be prudent to take hiking poles, which we didn’t think to get out of storage when we left Portland.

Another issue is Rachael’s walking shorts, which are ripping out.  She didn’t bring down a sewing kit either, so we consider superglue.  Between these two equipment issues we decide a trip to REI is in order.  REI doesn’t open until 10, which makes it too late for us to be climbing Wasson Peak today if we don’t want to risk finding ourselves scrambling down the mountain in the dark.  We decide to build a stop at REI into a bike ride for today and put off the hike until tomorrow.

REI is only about six miles north of here in the Tucson Mall, so it’s like the ride to pick up the cluster a few days go - I come up with a much longer route that stays on the Loop most of the way and then swings by the mall on the way home.   Since we have plenty of time now and it’s still cold, we wait until about 10 before starting.  It’s below 50 still and crisp when we start out, but it’s fine in the sun and we’re layered for it.

Our route begins by taking us through the heart of downtown.  Right away we find a reason to stop - another wall-sized mural, new to the cityscape since we were here last winter.  I’m going to have to keep my eyes open, and maybe dedicate a day to riding around ferreting out all the new ones I can find.

I couldn’t find a name on this new one on Congress, but I’ll stop and look more closely the next time I pass by.
Heart 6 Comment 2
Steve Miller/GrampiesYour shot has good resolution and focus, but I really see no id on the mural.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesYou’re right. I biked back there today to double check, but there’s nothing. Unusual here, where nearly all of the significant murals are signed and dated.
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1 month ago

We bike through the historic oldest neighborhood of Tucson, leave town on Starr Pass Boulevard, and then head north on the Loop along the dry Santa Cruz River.  I remind Rachael that it’s an out-and-back for nearly the next twenty miles so she’s free to bike ahead and meet up on her way back from Rillito, so she speeds off while I slow down and keep my eye out for birds.  I get a great look at a vermillion flycatcher bright in the sun but he relocates into the shade before I can get a shot worth posting; but an Audubon’s warbler alights nearby just long enough for me to pop it in the bag.

Sentinel Peak, aka the “A” Mountain because of the huge blue A blazoned on the slope facing the university it honors. It’s said that you can see Joe Pagac’s huge Epic Rides mural from up there, so we should walk up there one day and check it out.
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An Audubon’s Warbler. Now it’s viewed as a subspecies (along with the Myrtle Warbler) of the Yellow-rumpled Warbler, but I found an article stating that the classifiers are considering splitting them up again. As they should - they were two separate species when I learned them as a child, and I’ve always disliked that they were merged.
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Rachael’s about a third of a mile ahead of me, I can see on the dashboard; but then suddenly here she is biking toward me beaming, almost giddy.  “I have a new superpower!”, she announces excitedly.  I was just thinking that I hoped to see some wildlife today when a roadrunner flushed out and flew across the path, right in front of me.  He was SO CLOSE!  She had the video on and hopes he’ll be in the frame when she checks later, but he must have slipped by under the radar.

We continue on, loving getting familiar with this part of the Loop again, when she invokes her new superpower again and draws out another roadrunner again, this one much further off down in the wash.

Northbound on the Loop.
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Another roadrunner! Too far off for a really good shot, but it was interesting seeing her suddenly swell up to almost twice the width, maybe because the wind blew open her feathers.
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Wasson Peak, the highest point in the Tucson Mountains. The goal is to be standing there looking back this way tomorrow.
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The view from Ina Road. There’s a lot more water in the Santa Cruz River than we saw last winter.
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Bruce LellmanOh, I understand, you were standing in a road when you took this photo.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanWell, on the bridge anyway.
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Bruce LellmanTo Scott AndersonIna Road, Ona Bridge then.
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Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanOh! Slow.
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Bruce LellmanTo Scott AndersonWhen confronted with such an odd sense of humor, no, I can't say that you are slow at all.
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Along the Santa Cruz. It looks like there was flooding through here recently.
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Rachael gets ahead again, and soon here she is stopped by the side of the trail, urgently waving at me to stop and be silent.  Suddenly an adult Javalina ambles out from the brush just in front of her and slowly walks across the path.  I can’t believe it, and then my mind is really blown when a second one, a youngster, emerges and tags along.

And then, they just keep coming - six in all.  A Javalina parade!  They reach the other side of the trail, take a peek down the steep slope to the river, and decide it’s not the perfect spot.  They turn and slowly walk away from us following the fence line for about fifty yards, find a more suitable spot, and then they’re gone.  One of the best wildlife sightings we’ve seen from the saddle, ever. 

Great superpower, Rocky!

It’s a parade!
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Scott AndersonTo Kelly IniguezThat’s what we thought. We were excited last year when one was walking in Rillito wash, and have been hoping to see another one some day. Six though - wow!
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Bruce LellmanWow, look at those guys!! I especially like how the older one has coiffed his or her ridge hairs straight upwards.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanI do too - he looks punk.
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1 month ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesMakes me think of two things: 1. The book, the Three Little Javelinas and 2. Cochinita Pibil!
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So nothing is going to top that, today or likely for the rest of our stay in Tucson.  We’ll have to be content with lesser sights; which, Tucson being the special place that it is, will still be great enough.

On our way back. This is Ina Road again, seen from the side of the river this time.
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I’m pretty sure this is an immature osprey, standing at the base of a transmission line pylon. He’s continually looking up at one of his parents, perched at the top of the pylon a hundred feet up.
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For dinner we walk over to Bacio, an Italian restaurant close to the university that we ate at a couple of times last winter sitting outside when indoor dining was still prohibited.  The friendly owner remembers us and stops by for a brief chat.  The staff are all quite warm and welcoming, including our primary server.  There’s live jazz on weekends (we could have taken in tonight if we hadn’t been to impatient to get a meal in), so we ask him where the stage is.  He’s pleased we asked, because he informs us that he’s the talent.  In another hour he’ll quit waiting tables and pick up the guitar.  We’ll have to come back.

At the end of the meal Rachael leaves early to go by CVS to pick up a pair of scissors so she can cut the irritating mesh panty out of the inside of her new shorts she bought at REI.  She leaves me with the essential task of bringing her takeaway box with half her pizza when I leave.  I’m not up to the task though, as she points out with disgust when she emerges from the CVS and finds me standing there empty handed.

She walks on home alone while I rush back to Bacio, where our waiter sees me when I enter the door, immediately walks to the back room and returns with our box.  Marriage saved!  And just in time.  He said he was going to give it another five minutes before eating it himself.

I’m doubly cursing myself as I walk home down University, staring at the incredible streaky sunset above the Tucson Mountains.  Once for not bringing my camera with me to dinner, and once for forgetting the pizza box and delaying the time I’d get back home by about ten minutes.  It’s too long.  By the time I make it back out to the street the sunset is well past its peak; but at least I can look back the other way and capture the full moon.

Somehow month after month this always thrills and amazes me.
Heart 5 Comment 2
Kathleen ClassenMe too. I took some shots of the moon over the water on our hike today. Sometimes I am simply overcome with gratitude we live in such a beautiful place.
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1 month ago
Jen GrumbyWow! Just as exciting, I'd say, as the javelinas.

What a day for photos!!
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1 month ago
New shorts! Rachael dismissively flicks away the unwanted liner she’s just cut out of them.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesI think sometimes the people in charge of design ought to stop trying to be so cute and have to actually USE the stuff for a few days before they are allowed to unleash it on an unsuspecting world.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesMaybe it works for some folks? Rachael was thinking she’d just return them until she got the idea to just cut it out from another reviewer.
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Ride stats today: 44 miles, 1,300’

Today's ride: 44 miles (71 km)
Total: 682 miles (1,098 km)

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