Part 2: Bike, hike, or snack (read Part 1 here)
We spent much of the day before enjoying all the fantastic dining options offered in Tucson, so the goal today was to pedal off some calories, and Bike Tucson came to the rescue. Up steep hills, over rugged terrain? Not!
It was a very mellow ride through town on flat paved surfaces, and much was on low traffic side streets and dedicated bike paths. However, several folks were concerned when we encountered a diamondback rattlesnake. No worries, it was the award-winning Rattlesnake Bridge that we pedaled across. It does look like a snake!
Our ride was a historical look into Tucson, and before you know it, we were face to face with the statue of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday at the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum, also known as the Train Depot. This statue recreates what happened in Tucson in 1882 when Wyatt and Doc gunned down Frank Stillwell, who killed Wyatt’s brother Virgil. However today was peaceful.
We continued pedaling and along the way our guide, Jimmy Bultman, was a wealth of information on the history and always had suggestions on where to eat and favorite beverage spots. Jimmy hit the jackpot when we stopped to refuel at Mercado District. Our assignment was to get empanadas at La Estrella Bakery. This tasty pasty filled with pumpkin favors was just what I needed to get my second wind.
We continued to the Warehouse Arts District to enjoy the many murals. More art and church? We pedaled past what locals call The Bike Church and a metal sculpture made from recycled bike parts. The artists worked with high school students to design the structure, which draws from many religions.
We had many more stops with the final one at the University of Arizona (UA). UA is a big campus of 42,000 and is at the leading edge in many scientific endeavors. Since I’m a meteorologist I started talking weather and asking questions for Jimmy. Little did I know that that UA is at the cutting edge of tree ring research, which is at the core of establishing climates of the past and all the discussions of climate change. The history goes back to 1937 when the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research established. If tree-ring is not exciting for you try the Space/Optical Sciences as UA leads the way with ranking number 1 in NASA funding.
We slowly pedaled back to our starting point and concluded our two-hour ride and covered about 8 miles. Some folks were asking for other biking options and Jimmy suggested the Loop, 131 miles of paved bike lanes and trails with no cars. However, it was getting late, so we decided to put that on the list of things to do the next day. To re-carbo load Jimmy suggested three different pubs for refreshments.
There are so many hiking trails it is hard to list. One of our favorites is at Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. Unique that you have hiking trails with exhibits next to the trails, and after your hike you can enjoy the fascinating inside exhibits. Another can’t miss spot is the Saguaro National Park. This has the Eastern and Western sections, and the east part goes up to 8000 feet with 128 miles of trails. Instead of that section we enjoyed the tranquil drive around the western section, which is at lower elevations and has many saguaro trees.
To hike or ski Mt. Lemmon? This mountain towers over 9,000 feet and boasts 200 inches of snowfall with several chair lifts. We were there in the fall, so it was too early to ski. We did want to go hiking, but we ran out of time to enjoy the many hiking trails there.
There are many things to do on our return to Tucson, and we are sure biking-hiking-dining will again be our priorities.
Editorial disclosure: lodging, beverages, and food generously provided.<