Friday, March 06, 2009

F&FFF: West Side Story

For the third weekend in a row, the dogs and I have gone exploring and come home with a week's worth of pictures. Tonight I'll be posting the first two entries, one for Steven's Feline and Furball Friday and one for the Round Robin Photo Challenges. I expect there will be more entries for the next few days after that.

No, it's not Reid Park again, but you're on the right track. We visited the oldest dog park in Tucson, in Columbus Park on Silverbell Road - the only dog park with a world class view! And if that wasn't enough, we went on to catch sunset at the most famous sunset spot in this part of the state: the scenic lookout at the top of Gates Pass.

This is all on the western edge of Tucson, with the park right at the city limits and Gates Pass outside them. I live on the near east side, a 30 to 60 minute drive away depending on traffic and construction. The result is that I only get out there about once a year, at dog licensing time.

From West Side Story

And guess what? It's go licensing time! Pepper was a few days overdue, and I wanted to update the county's records on Pepper's name and Tuffy's demise. That was my excuse for the drive across town, but I also had other motives, as we shall see.

The county pound used to be called Pima County Animal Control, but now it's been renamed the more animal-friendly Pima Animal Care Center. Awww. Historically it's a rather grim place, nice enough on the outside, but all concrete floors and poorly lit steel cages inside. It was built in the late 1960s, if I'm correctly recalling an article about it, and has been in serious need of expansion and upgrading. And now it's getting it! The grey section on the left of the shot above is a modern new addition, still under construction.

Pepper goes wading in Silverbell Lake while Cayenne skirts the edge.

I also wanted to check out the dog park at the city park on Silverbell, which was supposed to be one of the best in the city. It's not practical to take the dogs there on a regular basis, but I can take them once, as part of my gradually reviewing the different dog parks around town. Besides, I remembered that park as being pretty neat in its own right, the site of Silverbell Lake, and a place to fly motorized toy airplanes.

It took nearly an hour to drive across town, because I foolishly took Grant Road which had construction in two places. But there was no wait at all to get the license take care of, and soon I was back in the car, looking for the park. I didn't exactly remember where it was, and had the name of it wrong. I thought it was south of animal control, and called Silverbell Park. It was actually just north of Animal Care, and called Christopher Columbus Park.

Fishin' at Silverbell Lake.

And it's rather beautiful. It can't match Reid Park for diversity of features or sheer size, but let's face it, Reid Park is domesticated urban landscaping in the middle of a city. Columbus Park is a more natural setting, and I think the lake may be real in origin. The city stocks it with fish, and you need an "urban fishing license" to fish there. However, the ducks and geese, coots and herons need no such permissions.

At first glance, the dog park area (or "Off-Leash Dog Area") in Columbus Park is just so-so. It has some grass, which is a big improvement over a few other dog parks in town, but I don't think the city gives it as much effort as the grass in Miko's Corner Playground.

The water fountain doesn't have a dog level, but there's a separate faucet for filling large water dishes, which looked rather muddy to me. But it has a covered picnic table, solar-powered lighting, a lost and found shelf, a small dog area, and a fair number of dogs to play with. A dog park regular named Mickey told me that this was the city's first dog park a decade or so ago, a test program. The dog owners raised the money for many of the improvements, including concrete and the solar-powered lights. When the city recently proposed moving it elsewhere in the park and redoing it like Miko's Corner, the dog owners protested, on the grounds that they would lose the mature trees and other features of the existing site.

The dog park at Christopher Columbus Park also has two things that Miko's Corner doesn't have. One, it has two large pink concrete pipes for dogs to walk or crawl through, like a doggie habitrail or obstacle course thingy. Unsurprisingly, neither Cayenne nor Pepper was interested in crossing them.

And two, it has the best view of any dog park I've ever seen!

I have lots more photos of this beautiful place, with and without the dogs in them, but I'll save those for later. On to the Round Robin entry!



barrettmanor said...

Where I live the veterinarian takes care of licensing. We pay him the fee when we go for the shots, and he hands over the tag and paperwork. It's all computerized, so I assume it goes to the city at the same time. I like that because it's one less thing to have to do, one less line to have to stand in.

Suzanne R said...

Nice pics, the ones that came through for me. More fun with the doggies!