Tucson Stadtrundfahrt

Although I arrived in Tucson back in August and had been pretty busy before then experimenting with my photography, I haven’t taken my camera much around the city. So earlier yesterday morning when I was faced with the decision to continue working on Saturday or do something else, I decided that it was finally time to try and capture some of life out here and pass it along to my friends. The full album of pictures is available over at Flickr.

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My tour started just outside our door. It’s hard to believe sometimes that it’s the middle of January. I’ve never experienced weather like this in the winter. Granted, it is chilly, but a very tolerable type of cold, all things considered.Tucson Stadtrundfahrt-003

My friend Lance pointed out that the white spots on the cacti pictured here are the source of a saturated red dye. The cottony white substance coats the red Cochineal insect pods.

My bike-ride into town and through the university passes some beautiful neighborhoods. The houses are all varied in their architecture: adobe, brick, concrete block walls; flat, slanted, and multi-tiered roofs; gravel, grass, and stone yards. Shade trees are few and far between, but there’s a surprising diversity in plant life with fruit and cacti and tall palms and others. The closer one gets to the university, the more impressive the houses become where some have exquisite yards and artistic installations.

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Lots of activities on campus meet outside. A long green stretches from one side to the other and the grass is curated perfectly. Over near the dorm area I found a group of guys playing voleyball while throngs of students were walking towards another game in the stadium up the street. It’s common to see musicians, athletes, dance troupes, and groups of cyclists gathering here. The campus is a beatiful place to be.

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Further westward I came to 4th Avenue full of ethnic restaurants, bars, creative shops, marijuana social clubs, a Goodwill, an arcade, and more. 4th Avenue is where most of the festivals and parades in town take place – right around the open-air stage in the middle. One of my favorite coffee shops – Cafe Passé – is just down the street across from the Food Conspiracy cooperative. Actually, there are several good ones along this stretch of road: Epic Cafe, Revolutionary Grounds, Cafe Passé, and Cartel Coffee somewhat sits at the terminus downtown on the other side of the tracks. Had I been on my way downtown I would have continued down 4th to cross underneath the Union Pacific tracks. Instead, I turned around to meet Mandi and head to church a couple of blocks over.

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That’s it for this journey. It usually takes me about twenty to twenty-five minutes to cycle into town from home. These are some of the common sights I see each day. Of course, this is prettier than the more direct Broadway route, and I prefer to ride through where all the people are, so it would be somewhat uninteresting for me to have taken my camera there: Safeway, Del Taco, the FedEx store, etc… My last picture came from the end of my favorite time of day: a window approximately twenty minutes long where the sun is at such a point that the sky fades from blue to orange all the way to black. If you watch at the right time, you can see the most gorgeous sunsets every day.

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See more from this album at Flickr.

The souls are all proceeding

Too many people have been waiting for me on this…although I promised that it would take some time before I could publish the edited photos, it took me much longer than anticipated. In fact, I don’t think it’s ever taken me this long before to go from photo-shoot to Flickr, but I started out with five hundred pictures and have ended up with eighty-six.

It’s very difficult to delete so many pictures that I’ve taken, but this is one of the best disciplines for shooting. If I left in all the photos I liked, I’d bore you to death and you’d never be able to pick out the best ones from the rest of the group.

These are just my favorites, but you can follow-on to my Flickr site to see my whole album for the Tucson All-Souls Procession and download higher-resolution copies.

On a slant

In Indiana the water goes down. In Tucson the water goes up.

It has rained here the past couple of days. Noticeable all over are the puddles that the rain leaves. If you walk along the sidewalk at the university you can see all sorts of multi-colored stains from where the puddles have lived.

In Indiana the sidewalks, streets, and parking lots are all slanted and the water flows downhill. Here, the water still flows downhill during the heavy rains, but after each rain there’s a large amount of water that sticks around on the relatively flat surfaces until it evaporates – it flows up towards the sky.

Growing up a heavy spring rain meant that the streets would be washed clean. Rainstorms in our part of town scatter and leave palm fronds and sand across the roads.

Another group of fundamental assumptions broken.

Tucson, Arizona

Eight days ago I landed in Tucson, Arizona. It’s our new home. The intervening days have been full of acquiring bicycles, building furniture, and checking out the city. Meanwhile I’ve been slack in writing here because of the shuffle. Before I go into too much detail of what’s going on, I thought I would explain why we’re here.

It’s not our first time here. Mandi first took me to Tucson eight years ago to join her on a short vacation.

On the trail to the top of Blackett’s Ridge, ca. October, 2007

Even though it’s always been a getaway for us, we’re now settling in at the beginning of August (which is anything but the tourist season) to get ready for the next school year where Mandi will start her PhD program in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching.

Just about two years ago we started trying to figure out what we would do next with our lives. We applied to graduate programs, overseas opportunities, remote-working jobs, and spoke with missions agencies. The end of all that searching was a job for me at Automattic and a PhD program for Mandi in Tucson. The University of Arizona had the best program for what she wants to do and they came back excited to have her. Our plans changed, of course, when she was also awarded the Fulbright grant to teach in Germany for a year.

Journey to Hannover
So long, New York! We’ll be back next year.

Now the year is over and we spent a few weeks at home, it’s time to start the program at the University (they deferred Mandi’s enrollment on account of the Fulbright).

Life here is much different than Germany but also from Indianapolis. The climate is different, the customs are different, the demographics are different, and the landforms are different. It’s a good city into which to return from Europe because it’s full of bike lanes and the downtown area is small and walkable. It’s an exciting little town where something is always happening.

We now have a few weeks before school starts and will surely fill the coming days with preparation, settling here at our condo, and exploring the area. What new adventures await us?

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