Friday, August 12, 2011

Cloudy Thursday

It took me 3 long lights to go one short block this afternoon. I wasn't in a hurry and NPR was blathering about Democrats and Republicans but I really don't care any more so I turned it off and put The Schnozz in neutral and watched the sky. The clouds were building up over the Catalinas and they were much more interesting to me than the decline and fall of the global economy.

The minor intersection just outside our neighborhood is being transformed into a jug-handle/dedicated right turn/4 lanes and a median strip extravaganza.

There's a mobile cement factory at one end of the project, and every single caution cone and paddle-on-a-base in the state of Arizona is lined up left and right of what used to be my street sign and a stop sign.

 Now, that peaceful corner is a construction site

Yesterday, there were mounds of dirt 15 feet high at the peak lined up like mini-pyramids to my left. 

Today, there's a dirt road. Granted, it's a nice dirt road, as far as dirt roads go, but it's still a dirt road.

At least now I can see the on-coming traffic from that side; those mounds made better doors than windows as my Bubba used to say.

This construction project has caused me to consider my relationship with Tucson, the place.

I love living on the less developed Northwest side of town. We're north of River Road, so that puts us outside of the Tucson city limits. Towns to the north and west of us have made noises about annexing our little corner of paradise (we have a nice big mall that pays taxes and doesn't send anyone to school) but there's never been any reason to change our unincorporated status.

For me, this has less to do with financial reasons than it does with my sense of place. I moved to Tucson, not to Marana or Oro Valley. Just as my 435 phone prefix was assumed in Tiburon (thanks for reminding me of this, Little Cuter), here I just need the last 2 digits of my zip code when a cashier needs it to update whatever it is they update. The first 3 are understood. I'm a Tucsonan. I belong. 

Marana started out rural and is moving toward suburban. Oro Valley is vacation homes and planned communities and they're still arguing about whether or not to build a town park. There's not much of a sense of community to either town, as far as I can tell. But Tucson says cowboy boots and cacti and The U and single story adobe houses and palo verdes in native soil yards and 2 lane roads outside my neighborhood's pony wall. 

This new, gigantic, well-paved, art bedecked causeway will be beautiful and functional but it will also be soulless. I already miss the scrub brush that was bladed one afternoon while I drove by helplessly. If I were able bodied I'd have pulled over with my tools and taken the poor destroyed plants home with me. I have never felt so damaged, so lost, so furious at my situation as I was that afternoon. I couldn't save them. 

Once it is finished, I will have no worries about flooding to the east or potholes to the west. I will never have to stop as I turn south, and coming south my left turn will involve a series of bizarre maneuvers that are familiar to people who drive in New Jersey 

This was how it was sold to us.... I kid you not.... have you ever driven in New Jersey? My sister says that the coroner designs their signage to keep business flowing.... but apparently we will be heading right to turn left and all I want you to know is that I will miss the tecoma on the corner. Its blooms let me know that summer had really arrived. 

I'll be traveling on a suburban through-way. Although the quality of my ride will improve, and my tires will be grateful, I know that I'll be missing the pavement bleeding off into the unpaved shoulder. I'll appreciate the bike lane and the smoothness, but it will feel generic. 

 I'll be missing my funky desert outpost.


  1. So, in New Jersey once they start paving, they can't seem to stop, like the entire state has some kind of asphalt fume addiction. I have watched them tear up trees that were majestic, shade providing giants to smooth the way for the amount of cars that rival California's freeway traffic (but its such a little state!). But also in Jersey are some magnificent center strips that have been seeded with wildflowers and I look forward to seeing them each Spring as they taunt the highway blight which surrounds them. I get the fact that paving the way is a good thing, but breathing the flowers is too!

  2. I felt the same way when they 'improved' the road nearest my turnoff. It became a boulevard and a lot of concrete which means it no longer feels friendly to people or desert. It seems that's all Tucson knows these days is to bulldoze everything flat and they wonder why it's getting hotter with more and more concrete and less and less plants. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot is the story of loving Tucson and my over 10 years of owning property there. It's heartbreaking is what it is and I keep asking-- where do the desert creatures go now!

  3. I knew I was not alone!! Progress is all well and good, but......

  4. Gosh, don't get me started. I live in a neighborhood that has all trees. They are getting ready to tear down 10 acres of trees to build more houses. Those 10 acres are right behind my house. I already hear them preparing the property behind us and all I want to do is cry. While I understand the need for homes, I wish they would try and preserve as many trees as possible--instead of clear-cutting everything down.

    Our neighborhood is full of trees and we all bought here for that reason. I love trees and I want them to stay. But our county is more interested in the tax revenue from the homes being built. Many of us have fought to keep the trees, but I don't think the builder coming in is going to leave any of them. It makes me very sad...

    Have a good weekend.

    Megan xxx

  5. No, you're not alone. I lived in Tucson from 1974 to 1984 and thought it was the best place on earth. Now I'm a snow bird (one of the people we used to make fun of!) for the winter weather. It was so strange being back and seeing the amount of change. Tucson is destroying and paving the very things that made it wonderful and not Phoenix. It's very depressing.

  6. I work in an office on the eastside that's 'planted' right over what used to be a large area of desert I biked over on the way to school. Sometimees I think I see a skinny lil doppelganger of myself on that bike in the desert. Tucson's been doing this stuff since day one, it dad used to tell us about how it was all desert east of Country Club.

    The good news is the stuff like they are doing along the Rillito/Pantano/Santa Cruz with the bike and walking paths. I ride the Rillito from Craycroft north and the wildlife in there is fantastic, from coyotes down to lizards its quite abundant. We used to bike the smaller arroyos too, so hey, 'they/we' are preserving some of Tucson...

  7. I love the fact of just giving out 2 digits for our zip code!

  8. Gee, Ashleigh...I didn't think they called them jug-handles anywhere other than New Jersey! I just found you on an e-mail from BlogHer. My husband and I will be moving to Silver City, NM sometime soon so I'm told we'll practically be neighbors (by our friends in NM who go to Tucson all the time!) In Silver City it's still pretty rural. I like that. I don't know why the Arizona cities seem to take away the Arizonaness that is so beautiful and almost turn the cities into Eastern cities. I've seen that in several visits to Phoenix. Regardless, I love Tucson and can't wait to visit when we get moved. Glad I found you!

  9. We experienced exactly the same method once they 'improved' the street closest my personal turnoff. This grew to become the boulevard and lots of cement meaning this no more seems pleasant in order to individuals or even leave. It appears that is just about all Tucson understands nowadays would be to bulldoze every thing toned plus they question the reason why it is obtaining warmer along with increasingly more cement as well as much less as well as much less vegetation. These people made heaven as well as set up the car parking great deal may be the tale associated with caring Tucson as well as my personal more than ten years associated with having home presently there. It is tragic is actually exactly what it's as well as We maintain asking-- exactly where perform the actual leave animals proceed right now!

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