Tag Archives: Tucson

Cycling Home in the Desert Summer

bicycle commuterI wrote the most beautiful poem yesterday on my bicycle ride home from work. Something about cauldrons of bubbling tar and heat scorching your ankles in the shade. But, as typically happens when you physically exert yourself in 108* heat, my brain turned to mush somewhere prior to half-way home, and I can’t remember much besides the fact that I was still composing this epic when I arrived home.

summer sunTucson summers are oppressive.

mesquite in the sunlightToday I peddled home in the first monsoon of the season, tepid desert raindrops dripping down my elbows instead of sweat. My sunglasses were to keep the rain out of my eyes instead of the sun. I wove through puddles, spitting water and dirt and grit behind me, grinning from ear to ear after having turned down no fewer than 8 offers to drive me home. Are you kidding me? Pass up the first monsoon of the season? No way.

It was just the beginnings of the storm. The rain wasn’t very thick and it didn’t start thundering until I was almost home. I arrived home not-very-drenched and much cooler than yesterday.

The desert does some strange things in the summer. The clouds will appear out of nowhere, billowing across the mountains and spreading over the city, black and rolling. The thunder will rumble and the rain will start, rarely with warning drops. The temperature will drop 30 degrees in 15 minutes.

You can see the very tips of the mountains from our backyard.

You can see the very tips of the mountains from our backyard.

“High humidity” here is approximately what I used to get in the “dry” winter, and the moisture doesn’t hang around long, sizzling and evaporating off pavement that has been baked in the sun all day. Unsurprisingly, a little bit of water doesn’t dissipate all that stored heat very quickly. But the air does cool down, and I had the odd experience of being in two worlds at once, my head in the cooled air above and my feet in the steam rising off the road.

I expect the grass (weeds) will start growing in my yard again and the cactus will puff up and the flowers will pop out for another round. The ground is still so hard I don’t know how anything grows in it, but grow it does – through the cracks in the sidewalk and around the river rock lining the pathway and across the hard-packed dirt of my backyard.

sad cactusI have my window open, something I haven’t been able to do for a month or so. I tend to push it to the very last moment before I close the windows, pull the shades and the curtains, and wait for the sun to go down. Lately it doesn’t cool down until 3 or 4 am, so they stay shut and the a/c stays on. But tonight I have the windows open, breeze blowing through, birds chirping in the trees, thunder rumbling in the distance, and the smell of the desert after the rain drifting through the whole house.

Tucson summers are beautiful.

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Desert Wildflowers

Spring has been around for a while here in Tucson, and we’re starting to get into our 90° days. Which means summer’s 100+ are coming around the corner, and I’ll be hunkering down in the shade with a cold drink and a red face.

But until then, here are some pretty wildflower pictures from around Tucson from the past few weeks!

Daffodils are not native to Tucson - but a brave soul planted some in the desert.

Daffodils are not native to Tucson – but a brave soul planted some in the desert.

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Wildflowers growing among the rocks

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Blossoming ground cover

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My City bike – free for riding around to meetings during work!

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Happy Chickens at a local elementary school

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Lazy days in the hammock

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Second Saturday Downtown: Our Adventure on the Town

A few weeks ago we decided to go out and explore some Tucson culture. Every second Saturday of the month, downtown Tucson is host to a free urban street fair with live bands, food, street vendors, and kids activities. We’d never gone, although we’d been talking about it for a while, so we went to check it out.

Combo Westside

Combo Westside – Jazz, Bossa Nova, Bolero, Soul, Funk

The Tryst

The Tryst – Soul, Funk, Rock, Jazz and more

Deceptively Innocent

Deceptively Innocent

Storefront

Chicago Music Store Storefront – not sure why Forever 27

I really enjoyed the music from The Tryst, and Nate liked Deceptively Innocent. Turns out they’re a Green Day cover band, so no surprise there. They are all about 16 and they played for 4 straight hours with way more energy than I will ever have.

It was a nice night out, although I’m not sure we’ll make it a monthly excursion. It was a pretty small crowd and there weren’t a ton of options that we could see, for food and drink. Well, there were no options for drink, so that might be part of it. But the music was pretty good and it was fun to be out around other people! Yay!

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In 6 Days We Get Our Bikes Back!

Tucson is a biking community.  There are bike lanes on almost every major road AND PEOPLE USE THEM.  ON BIKES.  Craziness.  And, since in 6 days we are also moving closer to the center of Tucson, biking will become a viable option for transportation!  I’m super excited about this.  I will finally be able to bike to the grocery store and the gym and maybe even to work (what?!).  This is also the item that Nate requested when I asked him what he missed most.  We have always wanted to bike more, but it wasn’t exactly feasible in our previous situations.  In our house it would have been fine, and I’m sure we would have gone on many bike rides over the summer (I hope they would have been more successful than the one we did attempt), but we only lived there in the winter.  Before that, our bikes were kept in the crazy jigsaw puzzle of our guest room/storage room and it was quite a task to get them out and then down the stairs.  We did take them out quite often, but it was no fun.

In our new place, we will have an enclosed patio where we will probably store them (chained and covered, it may be enclosed but we’re not that trusting yet) and I hope we will ride them often.  Plus, the weathermen say that Monsoon season is basically over, so I don’t expect it to rain for, like, 6 months.  Maybe more.  And, as the temperature goes down (slightly), the weather will become perfect for bike rides.

6 Days

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Snapshots: Apartment Edition

Pool Chair View

The View from my Pool chair

The Pool

The Pool

foyer

The Foyer

living

The Living Room. Also know as Where Nate Hangs Out

View from the Balcony

Our view from the front balcony.

The Dining Room

The Dining Room – This is where I hang out.

the Kitchen

The Kitchen – with the window into the living room.

The Bathroom

The Bathroom, the portion with a door.

The Vanity

The Vanity

The Bedroom

The Bedroom, with the back balcony that I insisted on but never use.

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My misplaced identity

We’ve been here over a month now.  I’m finally getting used to Tucson.  It still looks like a wasteland when you drive around – huge wide streets, gravel, dead grass that grew last monsoon season and was never removed when it returned to desert condition.  The mountains are beautiful, but they’re often foggy and distant.

I’m getting used to doing nothing.  Nate actually asked me what I did all day today.  It’s not that hard, you guys.  I live in a one bedroom apartment with very little actual furniture.  We have so little “stuff” that cleaning is a joke.  The only thing that actually takes any time is doing dishes.  We have a dishwasher, but too few dishes to make use of it efficiently.  I basically do nothing all day.

It’s been difficult to admit that I do nothing.  The last time I had this little to do I was probably 12 years old.  Even then, my Mom kept us pretty busy during the summer, and imagination and free play is way more acceptable when you’re 12 than when you’re 26.  I went from being employed full time straight out of college to being unemployed.  I spend my days inside my dark, empty, tiny, one bedroom apartment.  I have a list of really tedious things that need to be done, lots of making phone calls that never get returned.

For the first few days we were here, I would get up, shower, put on my brand new shorts (I never needed shorts before!  I was always working in the air conditioning and I had a few sun dresses for the weekends, or gym shorts, or I’d just wear my jeans), do my hair and my makeup.

Now I  try to wake up at a reasonable time (the sun comes up REALLY early here, its usually pretty light out when Nate gets up at 5:30) putter around for a while.  I’ve started going to the gym.  It’s kind of far away, so by the time I get there, work out, and drive back, its usually been at least 2 and a half hours.  Sometimes I dry off for a while, slather on my sunscreen, and go lay by the pool.  For one hour.  Mandatory.  30 minutes on my belly, thirty minutes on my back.  Try not to get the library book soaked.  Sometimes I just hang out inside.

I read a lot.  The library is my new best friend.  I got twelve books out of the library and I’ve finished six.  Only one book was from my reading list of classics.  I try to have dinner ready every night when Nate gets home from work.

Writing about all this, I hardly feel sorry for myself.  It all sounds like a grand vacation.  But a vacation with no end in sight.  And I’m not a sit-still person.

By the time Nate gets home from work, I’m crabby.  I’m crabby and he’s jealous that I’ve been sitting around all day, and we have nothing to do but sit and crab at each other.  At first, we would go out and buy something just to get out of the house.  It was awful.

That lasted for about a week.  Then we gave in and bought an X-Box and a little TV.  As much as I complained about video games before, I never would have guessed that they probably saved our marriage.  We got one with a Kinect, so sometimes we play funny little games together.  But usually Nate plays with his friends online while I continue puttering – reading or writing or finding one of the many other ways I have to entertain myself.  I have to say, there was no such thing as “bored” in my parents’ house.  “Bored” was not allowed then, so it makes it very difficult for me to be bored now.  And that has really come in handy.

We’re going back to Ohio for a wedding this weekend.  I really can’t believe it’s been so long since we moved!  I’m super excited to sleep in my own bed, with my own pillows that fit the shape of my head perfectly.  And then all of our stuff will be packed up and stored in an undisclosed location (seriously, they won’t store it in Tucson because it’s too hot) until we figure out what we’re doing with our living situation.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll give a tour of our apartment.  Ha!  It probably won’t be very exciting, but at least it will give me something to do!

It’s kind of funny, after some of my previous posts about being overwhelmed and over extended that I am now with almost nothing to do.  It has been nice to regroup and take some time to reevaluate what I really want to be doing and what is important to me.  But I think I will have to get a job soon or I might go crazy.

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Mission “Find Fireworks” : Success

Nate had Wednesday off last week – a mid-week holiday we certainly didn’t complain about.  It was the first real “monsoon” day that we have experienced (yes, that’s a whole season here) so it rained on and off most of the day.  We lounged around, went to the gym,  and swam in the pool between showers.  I botched dinner by not reading the directions beforehand (#1: Brine chicken overnight – fail).  ALWAYS READ THE DIRECTIONS.  We had ravioli.  So very patriotic.  We wore our red, white, and blue.

Then, about the time we thought we should go to bed, we got into the car and went downtown to watch the fireworks.  It was a good end to a holiday, and a fun way to be out around people!

Pants

Hooray! Pants!

While the rest of the country was baking, it was only 75 here in Tucson.  The best part about this picture?  Not my new white sandals, although I’m pretty happy about them (side note: I only had to step on one cactus spike before I decided that the foam flip-flops from Old Navy were not going to cut it.  Solid soles for me.).  Also not the super awesome fake tile in our kitchen.  No, the best part is that after almost NEVER wearing shorts, especially outside the house, I have been in shorts since the day I got here.  I LOVE my jeans, and this is the first opportunity I’ve had to wear them!  I was super excited.  And it turned out to be a good thing, too.  Because in Tucson, there is very little grass.  So instead of a nice grassy hill to sit on to watch the fireworks, we sat on gravel.

Not Grass

Not Grass

Mmmmmm comfy.  Even with jeans on I had gravel imprinted in my backside by the time the fireworks were over.

Smile

Smile!

It was a fun adventure and I’m glad we ventured out of our apartment to partake in a community event!

Cactus

A very large cactus

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We Finally Got Out of the House

It took all the way until Sunday night, but we finally did it.

Both this past weekend and the one before it, Nate and I have made plans to go on an adventure on the weekend.  True to form, we went through all the Tucson tourism magazines we have accumulated in the past month and made a list of all the things we want to do and see.  Then we picked one out each weekend and promptly did NEITHER OF THOSE THINGS.  Bah.  One day.

But Nate was off on Friday, so after three days straight of sitting around and looking at each other, we decided we’d better do something.  We have an Entertainment Book, which is seriously the best thing ever (thanks Kelly!) so we flipped through, found a coupon for put-put golf, and off we went.

Once the sun went down, of course.  It’s hot.

Sunset

Sunset behind the palms

Castle

The Game Castle and Bumper Boats! We will have to try that some other day.

Saretta-Nate

Hot Date 🙂

Mountains

Mountains in the background – always.

Windmill

Apparently a Holland-themed course. This windmill is right next to a little old-fashion streetscape with Dutch-front houses.

Course

The rest of the course.

Nate

Ready to go!

Saretta

What stunning form

Elephant

The elephant-shaped plant (that Nate is trying to hide behind)

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Snapshots

One of the conditions of moving here (probably the only one, provided the job paid well enough for us to live on) was that we could get smart phones when we got here and that I could get an iPhone.  Nate got out of getting an iPhone through the myriad of rules from the cell phone carrier.  He didn’t think he wanted one anyway, but conceded that it would be easier to coordinate our lives on compatible devices.  He wasn’t too upset when it didn’t work out, and “settled” for a Droid.  Every time he gets a text, it says “Droid” very menacingly, which he says is to remind me that his phone is better than mine.  It’s amusing.

One of the (many) benefits of having an iPhone is that the camera on this phone is great!  It is probably better than the point-and-shoot that I have, but I love my camera, so I won’t go that far.  It’s nice to have a convenient camera that takes good photos when you’re exploring a new area!

Not that I’ve been doing much exploring.  We got here last Sunday but didn’t get our cars until Friday.  I’ve spent most of my time in our sparsely-furnished one-bedroom apartment.  Here are some of the things that have kept me sane – or so.

Mountains are visible from almost everywhere in Tucson

The one indulgence I snuck into my suitcase without Nate knowing. And, oh, they have made me happy 🙂

I, the proud owner of about 87,923,432 water bottles, did not bring a single water bottle with me to the desert. Nate insisted we purchase some. I am almost never separated from mine.

Bota Box and fresh fruit – Yum! Maybe I’ll attempt sangria one of these hot and lazy afternoons!

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Ch-ch-changes

Our New View

I write this at our new folding table, peering out the balcony windows through a tree that I don’t know how to identify to the blue cool of the swimming pool.  In the morning, the birds coo and cluck.  At night, the sprinklers knock against the stucco walls.  The palm trees sway as the oppressive sun heats the curved clay tiles that line the roof of all the apartment buildings in our new complex.

Yes, I wrote that correctly, our new apartment complex.  Although, I’m waiting for the realtors to come pick me up.  It turns out that once you’ve lived in your own house, it’s hard to go back to apartment living – even if the house was only lived in for 6 months, and the apartment will be lived in for far less.

We’re in Arizona.  Tucson, to be exact.  Chasing Nate’s dreams, because that’s what we do.  Chasing Nate’s dreams to the desert, a dry bowl surrounded on all sides by mountains.  It’s beautiful if you can look beyond the dry, dead grasses, endless lanes of road, and towering utility poles.  To the mountains that turn pink as the sun sets; to the trees – palm, olive, citrus, pomegranate; to the blue, blue, blue sky.

Maybe this is why I started this blog all those months ago – to catalogue a journey I didn’t know I would be going on.  Six months ago I would have said that journey was owning our first home.  Turns out God had bigger plans for us.

So here we go!  Again.  Another new chapter of the never-boring adventure that we call life.

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