“The ravings of a madwoman.” That is an insult unless you are like me and aspire to be regarded as mad….not mad in the unstable and manic way, but mad for believing dreams can become real. Mad for seeking out all the possible realities, for creating disturbance and watching the particles settle again. Everyone is just the right shape for defiance.
Between Tucson and Sonoita
Earlier in this series of posts, I mentioned meeting the landscape photographer who led me to Las Cienegas Conservation Area. These are his photos. This is his website.
I arrive at the car dealership ready to pack my bike into a compact car like the one I reserved the previous night online. It’s a three hour drive to Sedona from Tucson and I should be able to fit my bike in the back with the seats down, just like I do at home. I pull up in the enterprise lot and see two compact cars and one big truck. The clerk flirts with me, trying to get me to take the truck, a shiny white F150. “It’s going to guzzle gas.” I am pretty bad at flirting back, but I smile anyways and we walk over to the little sedans. I wheel my bike over to it and open up the back seat of the first one.
“Do the seats fold down?”
“What about in that one?” I point to the other sedan.
He checks inside the back. “Nope.”
“I guess I’ll take the truck.”
With a full cab, my bike (now named Negu after the fluffy gray cat from my Air BnB) can fit inside and throw my panniers in the back. I planned to have time to ride the red dirt that Sedona’s known for but I get horribly lost somewhere in Cococino National Forest.
It’s a good thing I have the truck because I accidentally turn down a closed dirt road and end up descending into a canyon. I drive in a circle, up and over craggy mountains covered in dark pine trees, back down, through a town where the only thing the gas stations sells besides gas is beer. Eight hours pass in stunning monotony despite the dramatic landscape. My eyes feel tired from moving so quickly through everything. I miss my bike, my back aches, driving is lonely, and the cost of gas guzzling is stressing me out!
I fly by the red rock formations of Sedona at dusk as I pull into town, and resolve to return to Tucson early the next morning after spending the night here. Back to the land of cacti, friendly hipsters, and bikes!
What to do on the final day of the tour??
I wake up and decide it is a day for resting and writing. I spend the morning with my hosts who offer me pancakes and some advice about where to go. They recommend a place called Sabino Canyon on the outskirts of the city. It’s a rare place because the landscape includes cacti AND water. Usually the desert “trees” stay far away from the liquid of life. I’ll go there tomorrow.
For now, to the coffee shop, and biking is the only way to arrive in style. I remember Epic Cafe which I visited on my second day in the city, a homey local place where students go to study, date other students, and a bunch of old guys show up to shoot the breeze with each other. I snag a table by the windows and start typing, staring at people, typing, staring into space, drinking my coffee, and typing some more. Soon the whole afternoon passes.
I pedal back to my new home which is 30 minutes east. When I get home I get a tour of the composing toilet and outdoor shower, and then try to catch a glimpse of the tortoise under it’s dirt mound. I get down on my knees and look into a hole at the side of the mound, but all I can see is darkness. It’s too far submerged!
Next: Fixing a flat and the road to Sabino
Back in town I feel just a little out of place. I’m biking to my Air BnB and am monstrously hungry. I park my bike at Target and run in. I try and calculate what the cheapest and most filling item will be. I pick up a greek yogurt that is over 350 calories. Seems substantial enough for now.
I purchase the Noosa and rush back to my locked bike only to find my spork is buried deep in my pannier. I’m not even sure which of the two I’ve stored it in. Potentially unpacking both panniers seems like too much work and too much time. I’ve got to eat the yogurt, stat. So I peel back the cover and dive in, tongue licking mouthfuls from the middle back to the edges, then scraping the creamy remainders along the sides. This is heaven and I notice some Target workers on their break looking at me strangely.
After I assuage my hanger, I head to my temporary home. It comes complete with a hibernating tortoise in the backyard. Apparently 70 degrees is too cold for it to be out and about! The first thing I do here is shower, so luxurious and dreamy. My skin turns a shade paler as all the desert dust washes down the drain. I sigh sweet relief. The bed is somewhat hard, but I sleep though the night for the first time since camping.
Read on to hear about the great day of rest.