Small pleasures in journey and destination

This week I was in Tucson, AZ on vacation with friends.  It was marvelous– we cycled, hiked/walked, took in urban and desert sights, and enjoyed as much delicious Mexican food as we had time and appetites for.

We saw marvelous things:  we did a mural ride through downtown Tucson, and saw 20+ depictions of community, fantasy, politics and the future.  Here are just a few of them:

Mural of a woman with white skin, black hair, and a red mask.
Mural of brightly colored images of indigenous people and nature symbols
Mural saying “Greetings from Tucson” with four bikes in front.
Mural of a woman with cactus hair and cacti around her

We went to the desert museum and Catalina State Park, and saw stunning nature.  I posted about it here.

But one of the things I like best about cycling in a new place is the low-key and unexpected sights I encounter while just noodling around.  I went on a ride down the Loop (a 60+ mile system of bike paths) by myself one day, and I found this quirky little park called Pima Prickly Park.

A blue sign indicating Pima Prickly Park.

What is this place?  Well, it’s kind of a home for misfit cacti.  The Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society arranges with commercial constructions projects around Tucson to go in before a site is bulldozed, and they try to save all the cactus and succulent plants they can.  Check out more details here.  Then they take them to this site for replanting.  They’ve created a public park, with gravel routes through the seven acre site.  Here are a few pictures of what the all-volunteer crew has done with this place, which used to be a landfill:

There was a volunteer doing some watering, and she told me all about the place.  Looking around, it’s clear that a lot of love and dedication went into making this little park.  Here’s a nice place to sit and contemplate:

An area of the park with a bench, a birdbath, and various cacti and bushes.

All of this was tucked away, just off the bike path I had been riding.  Had I not noticed a bunch of cacti that looked rather organized behind a fence, I wouldn’t have gone to investigate.  But I did, and got to enjoy the fruits of local environmentalists’ labor.

Have you gone on a walk, run, ride, paddle, etc. and run into an unexpected treasure of a place or sight?  I’d love to hear from you.

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