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The rugged, dry mountains surrounding part of southern Arizona, was the location of our excellent bicycling trip with Sojourn Adventures.
For six days of perfect weather (80 degrees, sunny, dry) last March, we biked through the dramatic countryside of southern Arizona, near Tuscon and with the scary-looking border fence in site.
Our bicycling group of 18 stayed at a beautiful hacienda outside of Tuscon. There we were wined and dined, and margarita'd for two nights. Several in our group came down with a stomach bug, including me, and we never did find out if it was the food or the margaritas.
But our fearless Sojourn leader, Susan Rand, kept us in top form with her healthy lunches and high-energy snacks throughout the trip.
Of the six nights at hotels and haciendas, my favorite was Rancho de La Osa, a quiet and inspiring outpost in the shadow of the 670-mile-long "fence,"which undulates along the Mexican-American border.
Located in the high Sonoran Desert southwest of Tucson and at the base of the sacred Baboquivari mountains, Rancho de La Osa is a 300 year old property described as "one of the last great haciendas in America."
The property borders the Tohono O'odham Indian Nation, and reaches all the way to the fence. If you are drawn to the fence, as some in our party were, you will be warned away by the furtive border patrol.
Rancho de la Osa is a quiet retreat with a spiritual feel. Its original architecture and award-winning food has been written about in international travel and food magazines. It's been used as the setting for a few movies, and is often visited by Hollywood stars.
As one of Sojourn's planned activites, we all went horseback riding in the desert. It took a while to get us all dressed properly and saddled-up, but we got an intimate perspective of the desert and its surrounding. And our patient guide filled us in on the science and ecology of the area.
But for me, the highlight of the trip was the bicycling.
There were days, with the wind at our backs and nothing but the clear blue sky up ahead, that it felt like coasting up hill.