Wow. It’s my last night in Arizona. I have spent about a month here, between the Phoenix area and the Tucson area. (Not to mention my brief visits to Flagstaff, Sedona, Prescott, and Tempe back in October.) The Arizona warmth and sunshine have been such a balm, after California remained just slightly cooler than I had wished for in November and December, and while I looked ahead to Texas and continued to see dramatically cooler temperatures than I wanted.
My Arizona hosts have been wonderful, and I have had so many adventures here.
And the Sonora desert! The saguaros. Wow. I will miss those.
Today I took my host’s advice and visited one last saguaro forest near here: Painted Hills. I biked about twenty minutes west of the house, and got to a hill completely covered with these majestic cacti. (I took a lot more photos than these, but I’ve tried to narrow them down to the best ones.) It was cool to reach the lookout point, too, where I could see the whole city, with the mountains beyond.
I’ll come back here in future winters, I’m sure.
After the Painted Hills, I biked east several miles, into the heart of the university district. I met a friend for coffee in a beautiful park on the U of A campus. Afterward I explored the little area with the park and many shops and restaurants; I got some lunch at a Vietnamese place, after passing some cool vegan sidewalk stenciling.
After my outdoor meal, the sun was starting to dip in the sky, so I decided to head back to the house, stopping once more at the Food Conspiracy Co-op to grab some food for my train trip tomorrow. I also grabbed the perfect farewell-to-Tucson dessert—a slice of vegan chocolate cake decorated with a saguaro stencil—which I savored in a nearby park.
Then on the way home, the outline of a sculpture caught my eye behind some bushes. I walked the bike over to investigate, and found the structure labeled a “bike church.” As I stopped to photograph it, I was startled to hear a man’s voice addressing me. I looked over and noticed a late-middle-aged Native man with a bicycle of his own, surveying the scene from a nearby bench. We ended up having a magical conversation for about ten or fifteen minutes, after which I slipped away to cycle home while the light lasted.
What a perfect way to wrap up my time in this sacred land.
And now, I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my journey: a month in Texas! I’m excited about my 36-hour train ride, which begins tomorrow morning.
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