Thursday, February 28, 2008

Off To Gila Bend




After clearing the bustle of Casa Grande's city limits, home to 25,000, a cluster of palm trees atop a shimmer of green emerges as a desert oasis--Francisco Grande Golf Resort--a most incongruous site, indeed.

Even more incongruous, because in 10-15 miles on either side of Standfield, population 651, are the barbaric cattle feed lots that will churn your stomach as the rank odor of ammonia-soaked soil and rotting hoofs burn your nose. At least this year there were no visible dead cows lying with legs up stretched as if begging for mercy.

30 miles on I-8 follow the feed lots. Rare was the family sedan that passed. But many, many were the mega-monster-mobile homes towing the family SUV. And, of course, the 18 wheelers.

I-8 carves through the desert resplendent with Saguaro, Century Plants, Old Man, Yucca, Prickly Pear, Joshua Tree, Jumping Cactus, any probably many, many more varieties unrecognizable to this Midwestern eye. The resilience of life manifested again and again with the single blades of grass that reached through the macadam shoulder. Not many would even know those blades were there, but I shared their company with pleasure.

It was a steady climb, low grade, but none the less, a climb from Casa Grande to Gila Bend--confirmation I made the right choice to break up the 130 miles from Tucson to Gila Bend into a 2-day ride.

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