I’m sitting at the kitchen table in El Cerrito, California. Usually, I’d be looking out across the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. This afternoon, the rain is coming down in buckets, and I’m thinking about our previous house sit.
It’s been a wild winter, and it’s not letting up, yet!
One of the great things about travelling is the element of surprise. Palm Springs was never really on my list of places to visit. I kind of always thought of it as a patch of palm trees, populated by rich old white golfers. Sure, maybe there’d be a few slightly younger retirees, and a smattering of hiking trails, but it really didn’t call to me.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a LOT of golf courses, and no shortage of grey hair, but our week in a typical Palm Springs neighbourbood showed me there’s so much more. I think I’m hooked!
From our week of glorious weather and ass-breaking cycling sessions, things have come to a screeching halt. The bikes are in the garage, and we’re back to headbands, scarves, and gloves. Grifyn, the beautiful Norwegian Elkhound sharing his house with us, is quite happy. We’re grateful to be his roomies right now, because…. SNOW!!
So, here we are, still in Tucson. We’re at our third house sit, and we’re loving it! It may seem odd for us to be spending so much time in a city, since we usually lean towards more rural locations, but Tucson is special. Wherever you are in this city, you’re never far away from fantastic hiking trails and bike paths! We are making the most of it.
Alternate title: A Bitchin’ Case of Bike Butt!
What’s the whining sound heard along the bike paths of Tucson, recently? Yup, that’s the sound of the Canadian Bike Butt Sufferer. Holy crap, am I out of cycling shape!
For the past couple of summers, I haven’t been cycling as much as usual (my doctor suggested I avoid my bike while we tried to sort out my back/hips/sciatica/piriformis situation). The result of my following that advice: a bitchin’ case of bike butt and my inability to keep up with my Drill Sergeant on Wheels!
We stumbled upon Julian Wash during our first trip here five years ago. It’s just one part of the 120 mile system of trails in Pima County, called The Loop.
Not only are there very smooth paved trails (no frost heaves to worry about here!), with fantastic signage, The Loops features parking at several trail heads, public washrooms, and public art.
For those not fluent in desert, a wash is a natural or man-made area that usually looks like a dry river bed or canal. After the infrequent rains, these areas fill with water, providing drainage and usually preventing flash floods. These things are all over the city, and bike paths have been constructed along-side some of them.
We can easily reach the network of trails right from the house we’re currently staying at. My Drill Sergeant has had me out for a few rides of a couple of hours and more miles than I can fathom!
In addition to the painful state of my posterior, these rides leave me gasping for breath and give me a severe case of jello legs. I work my way through the rides, singing the theme song from Rocky in my head & distract myself from my sad physical state by the gorgeous desert scenery. In addition, I’m on constant look-out for errant chunks of cactus.
How would pieces of cactus make their way onto a paved path, you ask?
Let me introduce you to the jumping cholla.
Believe it or not, in the bright sunlight, the jumping cholla can look almost fuzzy. Don’t be fooled. These are extremely spiky. The segments fall off at the least disturbance and seem to fly or jump away from the original plant. Bike tires are no match for their spikes.
During that first visit to Arizona, we made a few rookie mistakes, including riding on desert trails without proper tires. We replaced several tire tubes before we figured out we just weren’t equipped for that kind of cycling.
Since we figured out our limitations for biking, you’d think we would have applied the same logic to walking.
At our previous house sit, while we were looking after Sydney and Ezsti, we were able to walk right out the back gate and walk along a wash. It was so handy, we didn’t think to gear up as we normally would for a hike.
# 1: wearing running shoes, rather than hiking boots
#2: being distracted by the gorgeous desert scenery
#3: not carrying a comb or pick.
Why would you carry a comb while hiking?
Karen didn’t notice this baby cholla (maybe 8″ tall) before it was too late.
I had to spring into action to get the shoe off Karen’s foot while she grimaced in pain and balanced on one foot. Then, it was time to operate with a stick and a stone (only one of the little buggers flew off the shoe and into my skin during this procedure).
Fortunately, some of our exercise is much gentler, and far less dangerous, in the form of walking this beautiful guy around the neighbourhood.
Grifyn, the Norwegian Elkhound, is our host until we return to the trailer life in early January. Thanks for the house, Grifyn!
The stars were aligned when we secured three consecutive house sits in Tucson, Arizona. Each is different in terms of the home, neighbourhood, and animals. Dogs and cats are a common theme, there was an invisible (hibernating) tortoise, and then there was the bird. Oh, the bird!
It’s a little after 4pm. The dog is sniffing around in the backyard and the cat is winding her way around my legs. Earlier, we’d walked the dog and gone for groceries. While Karen and Picholine napped, Paley and I played in the backyard.
Sounds like a pretty typical day at home for most people. For us, it’s how we see the world.
The yoga studio where I practice can be a bit chilly in the spring and fall. During Savasana (you know, corpse pose: lying completely still, focusing on your breath), I have trouble focusing on anything but cold fingers and toes. Clearly, I needed a yoga quilt.