Cactus Lovers

Dave Ortiz's Reflections On The Deserts Of Tucson


I have heard recently that cycling is a fairly big activity in Tucson, Arizona. It is a few degrees cooler than Phoenix and they have many more opportunities for bike rides. Tucson also has 9,000 foot Mt. Lemmon nearby for long uphill riding or a short drive to the cooler country. I think Tucson is more physically outdoor-oriented than Phoenix could ever be.

I remember one night as kid, my family and I were coming back from Tucson to our home in Phoenix, and we pulled over at a roadside rest stop. I could not believe how noisy the desert was! Bugs of all sorts created an eerie din all night. And my parents would not let me venture farther than the pavement due to rattlesnakes in the bushes.

Later that evening in an area known as Picacho, a massive dust storm cropped up. It was so blinding we had to pull over at another rest stop to wait it out. At 10:30 p.m. with 40 mph winds, and it was still 90 degrees. We found out later that several vehicles and a semi had crashed ahead of us on the freeway.

Those memories of the hot Sonoran desert will always be imprinted for a lifetime. I now consider my home on the high desert at 5,000 feet in elevation, high enough for me. :)

-This essay was contributed by Dave Ortiz, who lives in Farmington, New Mexico.

(Photo Above: The Tohono Oodham Graveyard near Tucson, Arizona.)

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