Tucson, Arizona

In my head I imagined sauntering across the Globe with my bike, lollygagging at fantastic sights as I came across them, and generally having ample time to sit, meditate life and contemplate the vast mysteries of the universe.  However, in reality I have found myself busy packing, unpacking, loading, unloading, planning the next day’s riding, looking for places to stay, things to do, meeting people, and (of course) mostly riding.  This is why I’ve suddenly found myself 2 weeks behind on this blog, although readers would never notice because ‘wordpress’ lets me back-date blog entries so I can also use it as a diary of my travels.  This is why I occasionally like to stay in one place an extra day, just to have time to relax, restock and do a bit of writing.  Such as today (it’s actually 10th March!).

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Tucson – a fine city! (should be twinned with Norwich)

So, anyway; Tucson.  After another 6 hour windy ride I arrived in Tucson and found my home for the next 2 days close to the downtown area.  I had completed 7,000 miles on my bike and it was time to get her serviced (she was a little overdue at 6,000 mile service intervals), and so booked her into the local Triumph dealership the next day.  I also needed a new back tyre as it was getting pretty bald.  Of course all the extra weight I’m carrying doesn’t help with economical tyre wear!  I was pleased with the stock battlewings, but wanted to try something a bit more off-road biased, and set my mind on the Heidenau K60 scouts which had had good reports.

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Sonoron Desert – one of the largest and hottest deserts in North America

So with the bike sorted, my interesting Tucson guide for the evening was local A&E nurse Diana, originally from N Carolina.  Like many Americans, she had fancied a change from her surroundings and moved across the country for new adventures.  I must admit, I do kind of envy Americans for this – having the freedom to uplift and move to any number of amazing areas in North America without a passport or facing red-tape, economic, language and social barriers (well, apart from Alabama – ha ha).

I can certainly attest that Tucson is a lively night out, even on a Thursday, with a varied, eclectic crowd of people.  We started downtown in the Hotel Congress, famous for the capture of bank robber John Dillinger in 1934, and moved onto a 4th Avenue pub crawl, adorned with ample drinking dens sporting a variety of locally brewed beers, which all add up to a mighty hangover the next day (surprisingly).  Good fun though, naturally.

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Saguaro Cactus – can grow to be over 20 meters tall and live for over 150 years – just like me!

Tucson is a beautiful city surrounded by 5 mountain ranges in the Sonoron Desert, which is one of the largest and hottest deserts in North America covering large parts of Arizona, California & Northwest Mexico.  It is the first time I have ever seen the strange Saguaro, the archetypal tall, branched cactus seen in (what I recall to be almost all) Western movies, even though it only actually grows in a relatively limited area.  Saguaros can grow to be over 20 meters tall, 3m in diameter and live for over 150 years, with some side arms taking up to 75 years to develop.

Great for kids too, you can also visit nearby Old Tucson Studios, a movie studio and theme park where you can watch the Gunfight at the OK Coral.  The notorious Tombstone is also close by, where similar family fun can be had with old Western Street mock-ups.

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Old Tucson Studios, a movie studio and theme park where you can watch the Gunfight at the OK Coral, and occasionally see a sexy Triumph Tiger 800 XC

From Tucson I meandered up to Phoenix via Tucson Mountain Park and ‘Gates Pass’, which is a wonderful ride through the Sonoron Desert, peppered with all kinds of weird and wonderful plant life.

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Organ Pipe Cactus – unique to the Sonoron desert, along with the Saguaro Cactus

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