Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Fe-Lady was taking the day off work on Wednesday to show us around. We got up early, had oatmeal and coffee, and dressed to go to Saguaro National Park.

The park is about 10 miles away, and we knew that Cheryl (Fe-Lady) biked there frequently. When we first arrived in Tucson, we were impressed with the fact that everywhere we drove we saw "Bike Route" signs, leading us to believe that Tucson was a bike friendly city. We were informed otherwise, but if you went early enough on a Sunday it was fairly safe. Pretty much the way it is most places.

I wasn't sure whether we would run or hike, but as it turned out, even though I dressed to run, we ended up just hiking. There was so much to see I figured I would be too busy looking at everything to want to count on this as a running workout. The park has an 8 mile loop that lots of bikers use, Cheryl included. Its hilly and twisty, and the views are sensational.

We stopped on one of the overlooks to take some pictures and as weird as it was, a vehicle with Michigan plates pulls up! I asked the man where they were from, and as it turned out were from Spring Lake, Michigan, a city near Grand Rapids but closer to the Lake Michigan lakeshore, along one of Don's biking routes. Don and the man then had a conversation about the area, while Cheryl and I chatted. She mentioned then that my skin looked younger than hers, but I have to point out she is much slimmer than me! That's what sitting around for 2 months gets you, as well as 40+ hours a week! Oh, and maybe I can use the excuse of storing fat for the cold, winter months. And she is a MUCH better athlete than I.

There were lots of bikers here this morning, some serious, some obviously recreational, and they were most likely on vacation with rental bikes. Its not an easy route, and Cheryl mentioned she usually does the loop twice. Tough lady!

We continued on up the winding road farther into the park and finally stopped at a place where we could hike in. I could not get over all the cactus! Everywhere. Such a foreign climate and terrain from what we were used to.

We hiked upward mainly, and it wasn't a difficult climb, but we could have made it harder had we followed some of the straight-up routes Cheryl mentioned. Not today, thanks! I was glad I had shorts on though, making it easier to climb. The temperature never really got hot, probably hovering around 65. But of course the sun was shining, so that was a bonus. And I was glad I had put on my sunscreen!

Looking out over the park, you could see a haziness blurring the mountains in the distance. We figured it might be dust particles in the air from the high winds from the day before. It was nice to be here during a weekday, when the crowds were not present. There were several other people hiking, again some serious and others recreational. I ventured a couple of jogs on the flatter sections and it felt so good to not be running on frozen pavement or a treadmill! Don did not dress to run but wanted to strictly hike, and got ahead of us while we gabbed and chatted. I'm not sure what the elevation was, but fortunately I didn't struggle with my breathing. I was sweating though!

After a couple of hours, we headed back to Cheryl's to relax a while and chat some more. The plan later in the day was that Cheryl and Brant would go on their usual Wednesday after-work ride and Don and I would head to the Davis Monthan Air Force Base where there was a BX (base exchange) and a fitness center that he wanted to check out. Don is retired Air Force and Brant is retired Army, so they had some military stories to share, and it also is where Cheryl and Brant swim some of the time.

It was a pretty impressive place, the whole thing, with the base exchange reminding me of a discounted higher end department store. The fitness facility was also impressive, with a large weight room, 6 lane, 25 meter pool, indoor and outdoor running tracks, and cardio center. I had planned to swim only, but discovered when I got there that I had forgotten my goggles, ear plugs, nose plug, and cap, the things I can't go without swimming anymore. Had I thought of it, I would have gone to the BX and bought the stuff, but it didn't occur to me until later. Instead, I ran on the outside track a couple of miles, and here I was really huffing and puffing! Was it the elevation or thinner air or what? Or was I just tired from the morning hike? Whatever it was, after two miles I was wiped out! I did some weights and then pretty much tried to hurry Don along, who was into a 45 min. eliptical workout and then weights. He had wanted to go longer, but I knew Cheryl and Brant would be waiting for us to eat, since they ate dinner early, while we were used to eating late. A Midwestern thing maybe?

We finally arrived back at their place to find they had already grilled and eaten, salmon and steak. Delicious! I was ravenous after the day, but while I was eating, my cell phone rang and it was my aunt who wanted to know where we were and when were we coming (to visit in Apache Junction). Um, I think you have the wrong day. I finally convinced her we would be there the next day and that they must have mixed up the day we would arrive. I felt badly about leaving them hanging there waiting for us, but it was too late at that point to go there that night.

Again, after chatting for quite a while, we finally hit the hay and zonked out again, early by Arizona time but late for Michigan time. Our inner time clocks hadn't changed much yet. And tomorrow would be another day.

1 comment:

Fe-lady said...

Nice story and great pix of "our" places we frequent!
(Glad you didn't take any more pix of me! Ha!)