Dear Diary 001: Golden Streets and Lemmons
The Streets are Lined with Gold
Actually, they’re not.
And, for the record, it rains in Tucson during January. A lot.
When you’re headed here, people who went to school here or lived here once will have you believe that every day from here until eternity is 75 and sunny. To be certain, there are days that shine so bright it nearly breaks your heart but, let’s call a spade a spade: it’s winter.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining. I’m just saying.
I Need More Drama
When the rain falls, it comes in heavy waves. Throbbing, fat drops that are forthright about their intention to get you wet. The skies are bruised and ominous and brooding. The wind ripping.
The Tucson sky does nothing halfway.
At night I lay awake and listen to the wind howling through the tree above the house. I think of the owls and wonder how they were faring up there. I wonder if the owls were wondering how I was faring in my little cave. They must be perplexed at how I stay alive at all with this soft, pink skin and shitty eyesight.
More likely, they don’t think anything about me at all.
We live 27 minutes from the base of one of the most fantastic climbs in the United States. Or 35 minutes. Or sometimes 23. It depends on what kind of legs you have, really.
They closed the road to the summit for five days during the storm so we all stayed down in the valley and looked up at the white tops of the surrounding mountains. The rain filled all the washes, which took out many of the streets we use to get around our remote, rural neighborhood.
The snow level dropped to something like 3500 feet. We kept riding, huddled in our arm warmers and kneekers and booties. We’re used to this shit, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.
When they finally opened the road up, it was a bluebird day. Just like the kind that greeted us when we first arrived. 73 maybe, with sun. There was a recovery day on my schedule but I headed up anyway, pedaling slowly with a shit-eating grin on my face.
After the first major turn I could see all of Tucson stretched out in front of me. Soldier Trail Road headed in a straight line directly south, disappearing into the horizon. I imagined that you could ride Soldier Trail all the way to Mexico, but I don’t think that’s true.
I’ve been told that the road is named for an old trail that was used to take prisoners to a prison camp in the mountains. I’ve also been told that the prison camp was a Japanese Internment Camp. A non-committal internet search reveals little information other than recreational information about the “beauty and physical challenge” of the trail that goes by the same name.
Either way, I think about prisoners when I climb Lemmon.
I thought I found some two days ago, but they turned out to be Fire Patrol workers. I pulled over and made a photo of them anyway.
And then there was Meat.
We eat simple meals. Meat with bulgar wheat or brown rice or quinoa. Spinach salads with roasted pine nuts, goat cheese, cherry tomatoes. Steel cut oats for breakfast, simple tacos for lunch.
Last night, Sharp came home with steaks wrapped in brown paper.
He cooked them in a pan with wine and balsamic and it I got a Goodfellas feeling. We drank a cut-rate merlot and served it with sauteed bulgar. At the end of the meal we rubbed our bellies and ate small cookies with very strong coffee from the Bialetti.
Eating is good. Satisfying like riding, only better.
The house is engulfed in a steady rhythm of riding and eating, eating and riding. In the back bedroom, at a portable table, I spend long hours hunched over a laptop, making words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs. When they’re polished and primed, someone buys the paragraphs and puts them to work. Every now and then it feels dirty to sell the words into slavery but usually I get over it.
In the morning I wake up and work from 6am until 9am. Then I make eggs, works more, and eventually pedal a bicycle.
These are good times, even with the storms, so I’m trying to breathe deep and go slow. The owls outside somehow make the quiet even quieter and the post-ride ice baths are a painful, perfect comfort.
Life happens around simple moments and we’re collecting them by the hundreds.