Wednesday, January 15, 2014


We escaped the cold, dark Alaska winter for a few days and are visiting my sister and her husband in their snowbird haven in Tucson.  They live just north of Seattle and fled the wet and darkness there for three months.  They rent a "park model" in a development that caters to very active people over the age of 55, and my sister loves it.  My brother in law is not fully committed to three months away from home every winter, but my sister is working on him and I suspect that he will succumb.

I've probably been to Tucson before, but it was years ago during my misspent youth and I remember nothing about it.  I don't like hot weather, so it would never have been on my list of places to visit.  It sits practically on the Mexican border and is most definitely, most decidedly desert.  Having lived in California for many years and despising the heat there, nobody could ever have talked me into visiting a city further south and nowhere near an ocean.

Until now.

When we left Anchorage on Sunday morning I had cleats strapped on my shoes so that I could navigate the ice rink that is our driveway without falling and breaking a hip.  When we left the airport in Tucson I stripped off several layers of clothing and looked at the big ball of fire in the cloudless blue sky, thanking God for Alaska Air miles.

Since our arrival I have attended a class in water aerobics, watched my sister and a number of other people play "hand bells" (which has always sounded goofy to me but is actually quite lovely), gone geocaching for the first time in a long time, laughed hard, eaten too much, and slept on an air mattress that inexplicably loses air during the night so that either my husband or I have to get up and use the electric pump to re-inflate it.  Several times every night.

Yesterday I rented a road bike from a local shop.  I love biking and haven't been able to take a good long ride in several months due to snow, ice, and darkness.  Today I went for a ride.  I found a lovely stretch of bike trail and rode blissfully in the sun for miles.  Too many miles.  By the time I returned to the resort, everything hurt.  Sore palms (I forgot to bring my riding gloves), sore legs, and a back that hasn't spent time curved over handlebars in months.  But, that is just the beginning.

Bicycle seats are not friendly things - not road bike bicycle seats anyway.  I've found that the best way for me to make friends with a seat is to ride a couple of miles per day for a week, then slowly add miles.  My parts seem to get used to the seat when they are introduced to it slowly.

By the time I dismounted from the bicycle this afternoon, I knew I was in trouble.  I had very unhappy parts.  They were downright infuriated that I had taken such a long ride.  By the time my sister, her husband, my husband and I had dined at my very favorite restaurant, it was painfully clear to me that re-inflating a sagging air mattress would be the least of my problems tonight.  We stopped at a pharmacy so that I might find something to quiet my screaming parts, and I encountered a very professional, compassionate male pharmacist who looked like he was 14.  I am not a shy person by any means, but I found it difficult to explain my problem.  He listened to me with a puzzled look on his face, and suddenly he "got it".  He saved my life by suggesting a spray analgesic that his wife used after giving birth and a big jar of diaper rash cream.

I suspect that when I ride again tomorrow, and I will, that I will ride a considerably shorter distance and that I will spent lots and lots of time standing on the pedals.