Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Tale of Two City Parks

Pepper checks out a ruckus at Miko's Corner Playground.

Yes, I know I've already appropriated the Dickens title once in the past week. It was this or "Dog Park Afternoon." Would that have been better?

Palo Verde Park: it's less green than Reid Park,
but it's closer to me, and it has an off-leash area.

In researching last night's entry, I learned that there are a total of six off-leash facilities for dogs in various Tucson parks. This afternoon I looked up where the nearest one was - 1.8 miles from my house, according to Google Maps - and took the dogs over to check it out.

Mixed signals: keep 'em leashed in the off-leash area.

It was grim.

Much of Tucson is laid out in such a way that many neighborhoods are built in a one square mile grid, with a park or a school or both in the middle of it. Palo Verde Park is at the center of a neighborhood roughly one grid north of me. Being only a neighborhood park (albeit one of the larger ones in the area), it's not as ambitious as Reid Park. It's not quite as green, doesn't have as many trees, and there are no major attractions to rival what Reid Park has. Still, it's got a baseball diamond, tennis courts and so on - and an off-leash enclosure for dogs.

Now, I wasn't expecting anything fantastic at a park like that. But when I drove around the perimeter of it, I knew I'd found my destination when I reached what amounted to a sand pit. The off-leash dog area (and is that a misnomer? See above) is the one part of the park, aside from the tennis courts, that has no grass whatsoever.

Just in case, I left their leashes on.

I let the dogs in there anyway, just for a few minutes. Unable to parse the conflicting rules (or maybe I was just being too literal, or a smark-aleck), I left their leashes on. The ground was a pitted expanse of fine gravel, almost sand. (This actually makes sense; if you can't afford to irrigate enough for grass, it's better to have lifeless rock underfoot here than dirt, from which pets and humans can pick up Valley Fever spores.) There were two concrete picnic tables, with concrete benches. There was a two-tier water fountain like the ones at Miko's Corner. And of course there were tools and bins for cleaning up after dogs. That was all. No shade, no trees, nothing to interest a dog beyond a smell or two, nothing to interest a human except in a negative way.

Where is everybody?

You know what else wasn't there? Other dogs. The only signs of doggieness that were visible to this human were a couple water dishes by the water fountain, and a single pile of dog droppings illegally left behind by someone. There was a man with a dog just outside the gate, but they didn't come in until we left. I told him that Reid Park was much better, and worth the drive; he didn't seem interested in my opinion.

A fountain aerates one of the ponds at Reid Park.

From there I took the dogs over to the real dog park. We took the scenic route, west of Broadway past the golf course with its little hills and magnificent trees, and down Randolph Way past a neighborhood once featured on This Old House. I pulled into the Hi Corbett parking lot and took a few pictures, but with the dogs in the car I was too impatient to do a good job in composing them from the right distance and angle. Then I took the back way out, past the zoo, a wedding, this fountain and the Cancer Survivors' Plaza. I'll give you a proper tour some other night, after I do a more careful photo shoot with no dogs bouncing around in the car.

The edge of Reid Park as seen on Country Club Road.

Eventually we came out back on 22nd, and I turned right on Country Club and drove up to our usual entrance. It was a good hour later than we usually arrive...

Pepper at the aftermath of the ruckus.

...and the place was full of dogs. But one of the many nice things about a well-equipped, two acre dog park is that it can easily accomodate a hundred dogs and not be truly crowded.


I took many photos today, but most of them aren't very good. Carrying the camera in my pocket, I tend to knock the settings out of their default positions, and realize this only after snapping several pictures. Plus it was nearly sunset when we arrived. My camera just doesn't do low light conditions very well, especially if something is moving.

Sunset at Miko's Corner Playground.

Still, it was a new place for me to try for some sunset shots. None of them quite worked because of the contrast between the darkening grass and the bright sky, and the fact that I wanted dogs (who where mostly on the move) to be visible in the foregound. The shot above was the best of these attempts.

Are you bored with the dog park yet? If so, rejoice, because I think I'm done with the topic for now.


No comments: