Saturday, January 30, 2010

Family in Town for the Weekend

1/27 - Pretty much hung around the campground today after our walk in the desert. Nothing of any interest to report.

1/28 - Off to Tucson Yoga in the morning and then a stop at the Food Conspiracy. Nancy’s sister Joan drove in from Phoenix this morning after visiting a friend there. She will fly back to Chicago on Sunday. We met her at the Cracker Barrel north of Tucson and had lunch. Then we stopped at the Starr Pass Golf Suites to get her registered. A very nice cassita with living room and full kitchen for a quite reasonable rate, especially since the Tucson Gem Show show starts this weekend. Joan came back home with us and went with us on our daily walk in the desert. We stopped back at Joan’s cassita to do some laundry and then had dinner at El Charro.

1/29 - Joan came over to the campground to have a hot rock massage, then we went to In N’ Out Burger for lunch. Nancy’s other sister Connie and her husband flew in from Denver this AM. They will be staying with a friend here in Tucson for the weekend.

We met Connie, Laurie, and Glenda at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Spent the afternoon walking around the exhibits. After a brief stop at our campground to pick up some whiskey we went back to Joan’s cassita for cocktails and the to El Charro for dinner (yes, two nights in a row! I have to stop eating like this!). Turns out Garrison Keillor had dinner here tonight as well, although we did not see him.

1/30 - A lot of running around today to coordinate things between six people staying in three different places. Connie and Laurie woke up to a flat tire on their rental car, so after changing the tire to a temporary spare they had to run back to the airport and swap cars. Nancy and Joan made a run to the grocery store while Dennis sat on his butt and chilled!

Nancy, Joan & Dennis had lunch at the Catalina Steakhouse in the Shell Golf Suites. Then we met the rest of the crew at Glenda’s house on the NE side of the city and went up to the Western National Parks Assoc. Headquarters to a Mata Ortiz pottery show. Some really nice pottery and rugs on display and for sale.

The whole group had dinner at La Fuente. Yes, pigging out on Mexican again!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wind Here, Snow in the Mountains

1/22 - The wind blew hard all night with a fair amount of rain. They even had a tornado watch last night, which the local media were at great pains to describe versus and actual warning. Our weather radio quit working late in the evening, we had it on for a forecast and suddenly just static. Nothing on any of the channels so I went out to the truck to try the weather bands on the CB, nothing there either. News reports said there were a number of antennas knocked out by the storm on Mt Lemon.

Friday turned into a pretty nice day though, sunny with high clouds, lots of clouds over the Mountains. Supposed to windy and stormy through Friday evening.

Have you ever had a hot rock massage? There is a lady here at the campground that does them and we both had one this afternoon - it won’t be the last time! What a great, relaxing feeling.

1/23 - A little bit of rain during the night, but not as much wind as Thursday night. Saturday was another very nice day here, a bit cloudy the other side of the mountains in Tucson itself. There was a lot of snow in the mountains all around Tucson. We could see snow up on Kitt Peak during our morning walk in the desert and driving into the city over Gates Pass we could see a lot of snow on the mountains NE of the city. In fact, the local PBS TV station and one of the NPR stations have been off the air since Thursday evening due to the weather. Thursday night Kitt Peak reported winds over 100 MPH for “several” hours and recorded a gust of 170 MPH. That’s not a typo - 170 MPH! They said the top wind speed was recorded by a “usually reliable instrument, but it had not been verified. There was some damage to one of the telescope domes and a building.

A little cooler today, but a nice day nevertheless with high in the mid 50’s, We’ll take it. Went over to Fourth Ave in Tucson and took a ride on the Old Pueblo Trolley. Then back home and Nancy baked an apple pie. Her first try at baking in the RV oven and it was a rousing success! Just as good, or maybe better, than any she has made at home.

The picture below is the view out of the back window of our trailer, not bad huh?

Interesting evening in the campground. Just about dinnertime we all lost water pressure. Turns out there was a broken line near the front of the campground. Fortunately we had a half tank of fresh water on board, so no big deal and the water pressure was back before the end of the evening. Then later we were watching the Blackhawks game and the electricity went out. We went outside to check and one of our neighbors was already at the power post. Seems the main breaker for this section tripped. He flipped it back on and we were back in business.

1/24 - 33 degrees here this morning! A bright sunny day without a cloud in the sky though, high in the 50’s. We are getting really spoiled by this great Arizona weather.

Took a drive to Tubac late this morning. Tubac is about 45 miles south of Tucson and we specifically went to visit the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park. A fair representation of the Tubac Presidio with a self-guided tour, but the highlight is an outstanding small museum delineating the history of the Tubac area. One item of interest is a restored printing press that is operated occasionally by volunteers. This was the first printing press in Arizona and they printed the first newspaper in the state here in Tubac. Later it was used to print the first newspapers in both Tucson and Tombstone.

The history of the town is one of boom and bust, repeated a number of times. After the Spanish colonial phase Tubac became a virtual ghost town by the middle of the 19th century; but then mines were developed in the area and by 1860 Tubac was the largest city in Arizona. The population was down to 949 in 2000! There does however, appear to be a lot of retiree type housing in the general area. Unfortunately history may be about to repeat itself since Tubac Presidio, the first state park in Arizona (1958), is scheduled to close on March, 29, 2010. The park is a victim of sweeping budget cuts within the state parks system which will result on the closure of thirteen of the current twenty-two Arizona state parks.

The town itself seems to consist primarily of art galleries and souvenir shops. Hopefully these will be enough to sustain the area as a tourist attraction. Nothing there of great interest to us, so after a brief walk we went looking for a place for lunch. After checking out a few places near the shopping area we found Melios Trattoria about a mile north of the main shopping area on E Frontage Rd. And a very pleasant discovery it was! A delightful little Italian Restaurant with a striking view of the snow covered mountains to the east.

The snow cover is a unique feature in itself, not something they usually see here. The restaurant does not look like much from the outside, but the food was excellent, the service above average, and the view from the dinning room and patio cannot be beat. We heartily recommend it if you find yourself in the Tubac/Green Valley area.

1/25 - Quiet day here. Monday morning campground meeting and then we took our daily walk in the desert. Then Nancy did some laundry and Dennis did some maintenance on the trailer.

One thing we have found to be very valuable during this visit to the Tucson area is the Tucson Attractions Passport. The cost of the passport is $15 and you get two for one admission at a lot of attractions and tourist destinations. We added it up and we have saved $46 after deducting the cost of the passport and we have a number of places yet to go.

We have been living in our fifth wheel one month today - so far so good!

1/26 - We went to Biosphere 2 today. It is about 30 miles north of Tucson. The tour is a bit pricy at $20 per person, but with the Tucson Attractions Passport we both got in for $20. The tour was well worth the $20 cost, but we would be less than satisfied if we had paid $40, although half of the price is a tax deductible donation.

The tour was actually quite interesting, took about an hour and covered all of the areas of the Biosphere. Many will remember the history of the Biosphere in the early 90’s when eight people lived completely isolated from the outside world for two years. Many aspects of the experiment were more successful than others. There was friction among the participants and some difficulties with growing sufficient food and generating sufficient oxygen.

Since the original experiment, the Biosphere has been owned and operated by a number of entities and universities. Currently it is operated by the University of Arizona and used for various large scale experiments on climate and environment. There are sub-tropical rain forest environments, a salt water sea, and various desert climates inside the structure. While is is no longer a sealed environment like it once was, it still allows for control of the various climates.

When the building was a sealed environment there was the need to control the expansion and contraction of the atmosphere due to solar heating from the large expanses of glass. To do this they created two “lungs” which serve to absorb the expansion and contraction. They consist of a large circular dome which contains a rubber membrane ceiling and large stainless steel disc weighing 16 tons. The disc literally floats on the air pressure in the dome, rising 15 to 20 feet in the air during the day when the atmosphere expands and dropping back onto it’s supporting legs during the night. When our guide opened a door to the outside we were able to watch the disc start to come down as the pressure dropped. One interesting piece on information was the reason for the location, which is literally out in the middle of nowhere. It turns out that this location north of Tucson receives more annual hours of sunshine than any other location on earth!

The snack bar at the Biosphere was no great shakes so we stopped for a late lunch at a little restaurant called Oracle Junction at the junction of state highways 77 and 79. Dennis had an excellent hamburger and Nancy had a huge breakfast burrito. A good spot to stop.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Don't Take Shortcuts

1/16 - Just before leaving for Kitt Peak Friday evening we received word that Dennis’ mom had been hospitalized. Nothing serious at this point, he talked to her and her doctor before we went on the observatory tour. He did have to spend some time on Saturday dealing with things and talking to relatives.

Nancy was bummed out today finding out that the mailbox project her team had been working on was cancelled. We don’t quite know why. Our library shelf project is a bit slow in getting going as well.

Took our desert hike right at sunset this afternoon. We continue to be amazed at how different the desert looks under different lighting conditions. We have always heard people say how they “love the desert”. Could never quite understand that sentiment, what is there to love about the desert? Well, we are becoming believers! The desert is truly a fascinating place with something new and different to see every time we venture into it. Just a 10 or 15 minute walk from our trailer and we are where we can only see signs of civilization in the far distance and the only sounds we hear are distant airplanes, wind and birds. Truly an enchanting place. Walking back in the gathering twilight was truly different. The entire experience of hiking in the desert is something completely different from anything we have ever done before. We find ourselves looking forward to new sights and sounds every time we go out there. Guess we are becoming “desert lovers”!

1/17 - Lazy morning again, watched the Sunday AM news shows. Took a walk in the desert. Did some exploring of the small stores that are in the immediate vicinity of our campground. We are starting to get our bearing as to where things are. Had lunch at a small restaurant near the entrance to Tucson Mountain Park, Coyote Pause. Food was good, but it was really a “geezers are us” experience!

1/18 - Weekly campground meeting this AM, then we took a brief ride into downtown Tucson, planning to stop at the Tucson Visitors Center, but they were closed for Martin Luther King Day. Took a brief walk around the deserted government buildings in downtown.

We then spent a fair amount of time looking for a liquor store! We had noted several on the web, but they turned out to be just drive-in beer places with a little bit of spirits, but no scotch or Irish whiskey. Obviously we did not bring enough with us! We finally found a bottle of Jamison’s in a grocery store! Later our neighbors told us of a large liquor store up on the NE side of the city (naturally!). We will have to check it out next time we head up that way.

1/19 - Light rain early this AM, but than it turned into a beautiful sunny day. Took our desert walk just after dawn, desert was really pretty. A lot more birds than usual, they might have come down from the mountains as it snowed in the higher elevations last night. The cactus seem to be looking a bit brighter this morning.The cholla in particular seem to glow in the early morning light.

A bit cooler, in the lower sixties today. We went to Old Tucson Studios, which is only a few miles from here, in fact we could walk there as there are hiking trails through Tucson Mountain Park. We did not do that.

The studios are only partially open on Tuesday and Wednesday, which is why we went on Tuesday. The only thing available is the movie history tour, none of the “shows”, so it was not crowded and we got to hear the real history of the studios without the distractions of the manufactured “old west” shows. A very interesting place with an amazing history of big name movies film in part or entirely there. The one reference in the museum that puzzled us was to “The Bells of St Mary’s”, neither of us could think of anything in that movie that could possibly have been filmed here. So Dennis asked the guide about it - “There is a point in the movie where Bing Crosby goes on vacation. They filmed a scene of him here in front of the old adobe church, but it got cut from the final version of the movie” !!!

Very interesting strolling around the sets and seeing familiar sights, especially the mountain backdrops which have been in a lot of movies. When they built it as a movie set for the movie “Arizona” they hired a large group of Tohono O'odham indians to make adobe brick in the old fashion. The town was built as a faithful replica of the City of Tucson in 1860’s, So when you see the movie “Arizona” you are seeing what Tucson looked like in the 1860’s. Most of the adobe buildings are still there and they have a little brickyard where they demonstrate the making of adobe bricks.

Had lunch at Coyote Pause again and then back home for a stroll around the campground and a relaxing afternoon. Dennis has been spending a fair amount of time on the phone and e-mails dealing with his mother’s illness.

1/20 - It rained during the night, basically what we in the midwest would call a sprinkle, with an hour or so of normal rainfall. By dawn the sky was once more perfectly clear. It did start to cloud up a bit by late afternoon, but another beautiful sunny day, temp in the 60’s.

We went into Tucson late in the AM, stopped at the Tucson visitors center and picked up a handful of brochures. The we stopped at El Charro - our new favorite restaurant (thanking my lucky stars for spell check, I never could spell that word!).

After lunch we took another stroll through Old Town Artisans and then drove up to the north side to Total Wine and Liquors. At last - a real liquor store! Stocked up on scotch and whiskey, should have enough now to last us through the next couple of months.

On the way home we decided to take the road that goes into Saguaro National Forest. Last time we went that way we missed the turn into the park and ended up going across the north side on Picture Rocks Road. This time we found the turn onto Golden Gate Rd. - turns out that was about 8 miles of dirt and gravel (read rock) road, 10 to 15 MPH all the way across! We won’t be using that shortcut again!

1/21 - Wind blew hard all night long with just a sprinkle of rain. First thing this morning we were off to Tucson Yoga for our weekly yoga class. Then we stopped at the Food Conspiracy and caught up on the grocery shopping. Lunch at an In N' Out Burger (does that conflict with the yoga and natural food grocery?).

Lots of dark clouds over Tucson and the Santa Catalina Mountains to the north and east (there is snow on the mountains this morning). Drove back home and relaxed this afternoon - still very windy, but bright blue sky and puffy clouds out here west of the city. Supposed to be windy and storms tonight.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Billions of Stars!

1/15 - Again last night we could hear coyotes howling in the desert. We have heard them a couple of times just after going to bed. It usually sets off all of the dogs in the campground for a few minutes.

During our morning walk in the desert a covey of quail came across the trail 15 or 20 yards in front of us, about a dozen of them just walking along, minding their own business.

Nancy did some more painting on the mail box project in the early afternoon and Dennis did some calling looking for shelf material, finally tracked down what we are looking for - naturally it is a lumber yard on the opposite side of Tucson, good thing this is not a big city!

Late in the afternoon we went to Kitt Peak for the Nightly Observing Program. Kitt Peak is a Federal observatory operated in partnership with a number of universities and has 25 optical and 2 radio telescopes. How best to describe the evening? WOW just seems inadequate! We arrived at 4:30 and received a briefing on the evening’s activities along with a very tasty box lunch. There were about 48 people for the program, to be split into three groups. They asked for twelve volunteers with warm jackets to go to the telescope that only had a slide off roof instead of a dome, therefore a little more exposed to the cold (it dropped into the 30’s during the evening since we were at 6,875 feet above sea level). We joined that group since we had our good winter jackets, hats and gloves with us. Turned out to be a good choice as we had an excellent instructor and we had the ability to look up at the star studded sky while others were looking through the telescope.

After the box lunch the entire group went up to the “sunset outlook” and our instructor told us about a lot of things that we can see at the time of sunset that most of us had never thought about, including the obvious fact that we were watching the western horizon coming up, not the sun going down! Not a real spectacular sunset due to low clouds on the horizon, but that was OK since it was a clear, cloudless evening on the peak. After sunset we split up into groups, and after a brief lecture we were all given binoculars and we went outside for an initial look at the night sky.

WHAT A FANTASTIC VIEW OF THE STARS! The only other times we have seen the night sky that clearly were when we were on an island off the Irish coast and in remote areas of New Zealand. The Milky Way was easily visible (remember that from when you were a kid? Used to be we could all see it.) Our instructor used a laser pointer to point out the various planets and stars, as well as several constellations. We could even see the Andromeda Galaxy with the naked eye and a great look at it with our binoculars. With the instructors help we were able to pick out a number of constellations like Orion and Taurus.

Then we went back inside for a brief warm-up and then up to the telescope. While giving a constant stream of commentary on the stars, the instructor aimed the telescope and we took turns viewing a number of stars and planets (Jupiter and Mars) through the telescope. While others were viewing we were able to stand and just enjoy the view of the heavens. We saw a number of shooting stars during the evening, our instructor was not sure if there was an active meteor shower, but Dennis was able to look it up on the Pocket Universe app on his I-Pod! It was the Delta Cancrids, visible in Cancer. We also saw a couple of satellites going across the sky.

Sunset was at 5:38 and the program lasted until about 9:15. During the orientation they stressed the need to keep white lights covered on the mountain to avoid disturbing the telescopes. At the end of the evening we had to drive the first mile down the mountain without headlights and be guided by a van. Cars with always on lights had to have covers taped over them. As luck would have it Nancy and Dennis were standing by the door when they started to organize the first group to be led down the first mile in the dark.So we got out to the parking lot and were first in line behind the guide van, which was nice since the smart car has a fantastic set of Hella headlights and we were able to make pretty good time down the mountain and were first on the road back towards Tucson. It is just about an hour’s drive from our campground to Kitt Peak.

A couple other items of interest: Tucson has a strict lighting ordinance and the glow in the northern sky from Phoenix was brighter than that of Tucson! Given the state of current science, none of the telescopes are actually used for visual observation like we were doing, they are remotely operated and monitored in most cases. While we were out looking at the night sky one of the telescopes near us opened up and started moving. Our instructor said it was being operated remotely from one of the universities in Georgia or Florida!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Campground Volunteering

1/11 - Dennis woke up with a slight head cold today - bummer! Nancy went to the weekly info meeting alone as he did not want to expose a room full of people. Took a late morning walk in the desert and then went to Wal-Mart for some needed supplies. This trip was to the super Wal-Mart, but right nearby it there is a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market. This is a grocery store only - never saw one of those before. These stores are 15 miles from the campground (yes, we are out in the boonies!) so these shopping trips to eat up a chunk of time. We can get into downtown Tucson in 20-30 minutes.

Spent the rest of the day just chilling out and watching TV - we have become addicted to NCIS reruns.

1/12 - Slept in this AM and then went to the volunteer workers meeting. One way this campground keeps the rates reasonable is using volunteer labor to accomplish a lot of fix-up and upgrade projects. There are a lot of guys here with a lot of skills and looking for things to do, so it works out well. The major project this week is building a new library in an unused building. Nancy & Dennis and Curt (another camper) are taking the lead in building the library shelves, others are doing major modifications to the building - tearing out a shower, changing exterior doors, etc. Curt had another obligation this afternoon so Nancy & Dennis took measurements and laid out the shelving to determine how much we need. Once we get our materials list put together, and get approval from Pericles (the campground owner) for the expenditure, we will use our truck with the deck to go and pick up the lumber, then we will start in building the shelves. Other groups are rebuilding a bridge over the fish ponds; building a new set of mailboxes for the 240 RV's here (Nancy is also working with the mailbox crew); building a new shower house; etc. Kind of fun and a good way to get to know people.

Later in the afternoon we made a run to Trader Joe's for some necessities. The only stores in the Tucson area are on the NE side of the city and we are on the SW. One nice thing is that we can drive up through Tucson Mountain Park and over Gates Pass to get to the north side of the city, so it is a scenic drive. Traffic was nasty on the NE side though, guess we need to make the next trip over there earlier in the morning!

Took our daily walk in the desert right at sunset this afternoon. Once again it is surprising how different things look at different times of day. Still shirtsleeve weather here, sunny and in the mid seventies every day.

1/13 - A nice walk in the desert again this AM and then a late breakfast. We met with Curt on our library shelves project at lunch time, thinking we were going to go pick up the materials and get started, but he had another commitment. He is going to price the materials based on Dennis’ calculations and then we will get approval for the purchase. So we ended up just goofing off this afternoon. Nancy did some laundry and Dennis finished cleaning the outside of the truck and trailer. Went and had an early dinner at Papa Johns Ice Cream Parlor which is in a small shopping center near here. A bit overcast this morning, but it cleared off and turned into a beautiful afternoon in the 70’s. We sure are enjoying this great weather! Forecast is for cooler and rain next week though.

1/14 - Off to Tucson Yoga first thing in the AM for a “Gentle Yoga” class. A bit different than the ones we go to at home, a little slower and relaxing, but still a good workout.

After yoga we went back to the Fourth Ave shopping district and walked through the area looking at the shops, a fair number of head shops and tattoo parlors. Browsed through Antigone Books. We should be prohibited from walking into independent bookstores, at least this time we got out with minimal damage to the old budget, but we already have a shelf full of un-read books in one of the new cabinets we had built last fall. Had lunch at World Wide Wrappers, then we stopped into Food Conspiracy Cooperative Grocery. What a great find! A nice (and nicely stocked) natural foods and organic grocery. Found a number of items that Nancy has been unable to find elsewhere in the area. As an added benefit it is close to where we are going to be going every Thursday for yoga. A lot easier to get to than the Trader Joe’s that are all on the far NE side of the city.

Back at Desert Trails Nancy headed off to help paint material for the new mailbox project while Dennis got together with Curt and his wife (who is the campground volunteer librarian) to finalize design and materials calculations for the shelving. Spent the rest of the afternoon just puttering around and watched a Blackhawks game in the evening.

Another beautiful day here, clear blue sky and 67 degrees.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Great Mexican Food - what are the chances!

1/8 - Recharge day, we never even got in the car. We took a morning walk in the desert as usual, and then an afternoon walk around the campground. In between Nancy did laundry and Dennis cleaned the inside of the trailer (the theory being that since it has wheels it is the man’s responsibility to clean it!). Otherwise we just relaxed and enjoyed the nice weather. Nancy’s new trekking poles from Sierra Traders arrived this afternoon, she is anxious to try them out tomorrow.

1/9 - Another early morning walk in the desert, a little short this morning since we were late getting going. Nancy tried her new trekking poles and likes them. They really do help the knees and you get a bit more of an aerobic workout since you use your arms more.We also took a short bicycle ride around the campground and the campground next door, just a couple of miles in all.

Decided to find another Mexican place for lunch, so we went to El Charro (the original one) in downtown Tucson. Turned out to be really, really good! Our new favorite place in Tucson (for now). After a belly busting lunch we took a walk around the area. Browsed through Old Town Artisans, a really interesting collection of six shops and galleries plus a restaurant. A person could spend hours in the place!

Across the street is the old Tucson Presidio. We arrived just after the end of a “living history” day. They have a living history day every other Saturday, so we will have to come back on the 23rd - be a good excuse to eat at El Charro again! They are in the process of restoring the old Presidio with special emphasis on the Spanish Colonial period through living history demonstrations and reenactments.

Back home in time to catch A Prairie Home Companion on NPR. We will be going on the cruise with cast the second week in March and we are really looking forward to it. We did their cruise to Norway in 2007 and enjoyed it immensely.

1/10 - Lazy morning, watched the Sunday AM news shows - on CBS only since that and PBS are the only broadcast stations we can get here. We do have our satellite dish set up so we get the same satellite programming as at home, but we can only see a single satellite at a time - I need to move the dish to get the one with local programming and it is usually not worth the effort.

Took a longer walk before lunch, a perfect day for walking, 61 degrees, high clouds to soften the sunlight and a light breeze. We’re gradually getting into shape going a little farther each day (can’t quite call it “hiking” yet, but we are getting there). The desert is really fascinating, it looks different every day and in every different light. While it seems flat in this area, with mountains in the distance, there are really little valleys and dry creek beds and a wide variety of terrains, rocky and sandy, hard packed or soft. The cacti, trees and bushes also exhibit a wide variety, saguaro, cholla, palo verde, creosote; we are slowly learning to identify the various types and the way their life cycles vary. Not seeing much in the way of wildlife, a jack rabbit here and there and a few birds. Fewer birds than we expected to see, maybe because it has been dryer than usual this year.

Relaxed this afternoon and then took a walk around the campground. Sunset not as spectacular as it was the last few days, but the mountains to the east are beautiful in the late afternoon light.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Doing the Tourist Thing

1/5 - Spent the day at the Arizona - Sonora Desert Museum, an really neat combination of a zoo and a botanical garden in Tucson Mountain Park. Late in the afternoon we took a quick spin through part of Saguaro National Forest and then home, 75 degrees today!

1/6 - Up early and took a long walk in the desert just after dawn. The desert is really pretty at sunrise, the sun just lighting up the tops of the mountains and the tops of the Saguaro.

After breakfast we went to the Pima Air and Space Museum. Really interesting place, but the highlight for Dennis was the SR-71,

since he built the fuel controls for the SR-71 and YF-12 at Bendix Corp in the late 60’s. All kinds of planes both indoors and out, including a B-36 and three B-52s! Hey John - I also got a picture of a TWA Constellation!

Lunch at a new In ‘N Out Burger, then we took a ride around the NE side of the city up through Oro Valley and then back home through the Saguaro National Forest. Beautiful sunset over the mountains this evening, we went up on the observation deck here in the park to view the sunset. The deck is 35 feet high and there is a 360 view of the whole valley, you can see all the way to the mountains in both directions.

1/7 - Up early so we could drive into the city for a class at Tucson Yoga. Turns out rush hour here -- isn’t. Twenty minutes to get to the other side of town! Good yoga class, and then we went to the Tucson Botanical Gardens. This is a delightful place, kind of a hidden gem right in the city. A really neat butterfly house exhibit and a wide variety of plantings. Then we had a late lunch at La Fuente. Back home and I finally got around to unloading the bicycles. They needed a bit of cleaning up since some of the salt spray from the trip penetrated the bag, but not as bad as it would have been without it! Still around 75 degrees every day! We sure have lucked out on the weather so far!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Settling In

Jan 1 - Happy New Year! Beautiful weather here in Tucson! Started the day with a nice long walk in the desert, really a pretty place. Then we took advantage of the holiday to do a bit of exploring in the downtown area while traffic was light. Scoped out the fourth avenue shopping district, we will definitely return when the unique looking shops are open. Had lunch at the Epic Cafe, a counter-culture type of place, and one that we will probably return to again.

1/2 - Started the day with another long walk in the desert. Desert Trails backs up against open land with foot trails that go into Tucson Mountain Park, a county park that then blends into the Saguaro National Forest. So we could hike farther than either of us is capable of! The trekking poles that Nancy gave me for my birthday last year are great hiking aids! I can hike for an hour with no knee pain at all! Then we took a ride out to Kitt Peak to check out the observatory. It is just an hour west of us and we have a reservation for an evening experience there on the 15th. Should get to look at stars through one of the telescopes. Stay tuned for more.

1/3 - Lazy morning and did not get our hike in until later in the day. I have been working at cleaning the outside of the trailer little by little each day, almost all the way around as high as I can reach, then I will start on the upper part using our collapsable ladder. Somewhere along the line since last summer we lost the large bottle of Ecover dishwashing liquid we bought in Chapel Hill, NC. So I went on line to see who carries it in this area and that lead us to the 17th Street Market - an amazing place with lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, meat and an amazing variety if fresh fish. Add in a large oriental market and it is a pretty interesting place. Had dinner at Tiny’s Saloon, a local bar with pretty good hamburgers. Not much to look at, but the food was good.

1/4 - First Monday morning info meeting at campground this AM. All kinds of activities going on all week, but not a lot that we are very interested. A few things that we are going to take a look at though. After the meeting we took our daily walk in the desert (it is 75 degrees here today - sorry folks), and then we took a ride down to San Xavier Mission. A pretty amazing building with an interesting museum. TV reception is not so hot here, only over the air station we can get is CBS, but I did get the satellite dish set up so at least we have that. Oh, did I mention that it was 75 degrees today!