Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Back in the COLD!

Friday 12/10

We keep looking at the weather forecasts for Chicago and become less and less enthusiastic about returning home on Monday! Fortunately we have our winter jackets, etc. with us, so we may look foolish leaving here Monday morning, but at least we won’t freeze when we get there!

Regular walk in the desert this morning, and then we went into Tucson to the 4th Ave Winter Street Fair. Articles in the paper have called this the nation’s largest street fair and it sure looked like they were correct! The fair booths are set up in the middle of the street in a double row facing each curb. Good layout as the foot traffic goes around each side and the merchants on the street are included in the festival. It covers six long blocks and had a wide variety of arts and crafts. We spent a good part of the day there and walked the whole thing.

Apparently parking is a real issue, it was crowded on Friday - can’t imagine how it looked on Saturday and Sunday! Anyway, with the smart car parking was no issue, we were able to find a free space at the curb just a couple of blocks away. Too small for most cars to get into!

We also had a chance to take a test drive of the new Nissan Leaf fully electric car. They had a display set up at the street fair, first a description of the concept, a cutaway of the battery pack, etc., then we each got to drive a Leaf for a mile or so around city streets. They are very nice, comfortable, roomy, with good acceleration and drive like any other car - boringly normal in fact.

After the street fair we came home and relaxed for a while and then went to Coyote Pause for dinner before joining the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Assc. for a star gazing event at a picnic area in the Tucson Mountain Park. Unfortunately it started to cloud over just about dusk, which made for a spectacular sunset, but put a bit of a crimp in the star gazing. They had several telescopes set up with good views of the moon, Jupiter and it’s moons and a few other things, but naked eye star gazing was not real good.

Saturday 12/11

Lazy morning after our dawn walk in the desert. We took the truck for a spin to loosen it up and keep the batteries charged. Then we stopped for lunch at Perfecto’s, a cute little family restaurant on South 12th Ave in a area with a lot of Mexican eateries and groceries. Excellent food, we will be back here after the first of the year as there were several dishes we want to try.

Back home we started getting things together for the trip back to Chicago on Monday and took a short walk around the campground.

Sunday 12/12

Early morning walk in the desert. It is amazing how the desert keeps changing in the changing light. Dawn is usually spectacular, the cholla seem to glow as they catch the first light of the sun, the cactus wrens perch on the tallest saguaro and sing. It is breathtaking some mornings.

Finished packing and setting things up for an extended absence, last thing I did Monday morning was to disconnect the water.

Monday 12/13

Well we’re back in Chicago and it is colder than a well diggers you know what! Yeah, I know, most of you don't feel sorry for us at all. Flying was the usual hassle, a bit easier since Tucson is a small airport. I have decided to start carrying some kind of purse when I am flying - maybe a “man bag”? It is a real pain to dig everything out of all my pockets and dump all that stuff in a bin.

We lucked out with the rental car. We had an “intermediate” reserved to get the best price, a Ford Focus. When we got to the car it was filthy, inside and out. The Enterprise guy looked at it and said “this is unacceptable”, he looked around and there was a black Buick parked next to it (shiny clean), “Would a Buick Lucerne be OK” Are you kidding, a three level upgrade for the same price? So we drove out in a nice, full size Buick. However, after two weeks driving the smart this thing is a boat! It feels bigger than the Volvo! It is nice though. On the plus side, it has seat heaters!

So we’re back home for three weeks. I’ll resume the blog when we get back to Tucson on January 1st.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Getting Settled in and ready to leave.

Thursday 12/2

Went to Tiny’s Saloon down the road for dinner Wednesday evening. No great shakes for atmosphere, but good hamburgers. Thursday we took our first morning walk in the desert, as always the plants are beautiful in the dawn light. Then we spent most of the day getting settled, putting things into their proper places, etc.

Friday 12/3

After our morning desert walk we did some grocery shopping and then drove up to the Desert Museum to purchase a membership. For the cost of two visits during out time here we can become members with unlimited access and three visitor passes - a great deal!

Otherwise we just relaxed and continued settling in. Watched the Blackhawks lose to Vancouver. A bit of a hiccup with out TV reception. I changed our service address with Dish Network to Tucson so we could get local stations. Seemed like a good solution until I noticed that in doing so we lost Chicago Sports Net, which carries most of the Blackhawk games. Oh well, we can catch the ones on the NHL network and listen to the rest on the radio - I can pick up WGN in Chicago on my iPod.

Saturday 12/4

Nice long walk in the desert and then we spent a lazy day just getting into winter vacation mode. Had dinner at Coyote Pause, a small local restaurant nearby with very good food.

Sunday 12/5

After our morning walk and the Sunday AM news programs we went into Tucson and browsed around Old Town Artisians, then had lunch at El Charro (our favorite Mexican Restaurant in the area) and made a stop at Food Conspiracy for some supplies. Came back home across Gates Pass and through the Saguaro National Forest. The Blackhawks game was on NHL network tonight so we managed to watch one more.

Monday 12/6

We have faithfully managed to get in a walk in the desert every morning so far. Weather is beautiful, highs around 80 and lows around fifty! A little cloudy yesterday and today, but still really nice. We are spoiled! Looks like it is going to be cold the week we go back to Chicago!

Monday morning meeting at the campground and then we went into Tucson and did a bit of Christmas shopping and lunch at an In n’ Out Burger. Nice relaxing afternoon not doing much of anything.

Tuesday 12/7

Off to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum first thing in the morning so we could catch the 9 AM tour. Turned out to be an excellent, two hour plus tour. Every tour we have taken there has been excellent and all of them are different, depending on the docent. Had lunch in the snack bar and then did some Christmas shopping in the gift shop. We also bought a couple of books for ourselves. Already we have been to the Museum twice, and that along with the member discount in the snack bar and the new member discount in the gift shop has offset the cost of our membership.

Wednesday 12/8

Nancy went to a sewing group in the morning where they are making Christmas baby buntings for the local hospital.

Early in the afternoon we took our daily walk in the desert, but it turned out it was really too hot, we need to do our walks in the morning before the heat of the day until the weather cools off. They are predicting record high temps here through the weekend - supposed to be 84 on Monday! Unfortunately we will be back in Chicago on Monday where the forecast calls for a high of 10 degrees! Good thing we have our winter jackets with us.

Thursday 12/9

Back to Tucson Yoga this morning. Our yoga leader, Ann, is leaving for a three year retreat in a cabin in the mountains. She is seriously into yoga and meditation, she is even giving away all of her possessions! Hard for us to imagine even thinking of doing something like that. We will miss her excellent skills when we come back in January, but expect that her replacement will do just as well. We enjoy the “gentle” yoga classes here. We will be back to our regular classes at home for the next three weeks.

After yoga we swung by the airport to scope out parking and get an estimate as to how long it will take us to get there Monday morning.

They had an excellent bicycling presentation at the activities center here this afternoon. Focused primarily on mountain biking (we are more road bikers), but there was a lot of good information on determining proper fit for your bike and a lot of other tips. Well worth the time.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

We're in Tucson!

Friday 11/26

We decided this year that we would leave right after Thanksgiving in hopes of avoiding the severe weather that we ran into on the way to Tucson last year. In addition we had to commit to December, January, and February in order to hang onto the same space at Desert Trails this year.

So...we picked the coldest day since last February to get the trailer out of storage and load it! It was 18 degrees Friday morning and never got much above 20 during the day. We did however, get everything loaded in a timely manner and by late afternoon we were ready to roll. Left the engine heater on the truck plugged in Friday night to insure starting on Saturday AM.

Saturday 11/27

Got on the road about 10 AM Saturday morning and had an uneventful trip to Dixon, MO. Dry roads all the way. We had planned on staying at Boiling Springs campground, but when we called late in the afternoon they were full! Who’d a thunk it? So we stayed at the Country Hearth Motel campground, same place we stopped last year. Turns out they have done substantial upgrades during the last year. New concrete pads and new, very nice connection posts, lighted with easily accessible plug in points. Really very nice and right off the Interstate exit.

Sunday 11/28

We drove from Dixon, MO to Chandler, OK. today, just east of Oklahoma City - easy drive with dry roads all the way. Lunch both Saturday and Sunday at Cracker Barrel (as usual!). Stopped at Oak Glen RV Park. a Passport America campground in Chandler and had dinner at B’s Restaurant in the Econo Lodge hotel. Nothing spectacular, but good honest food.

Monday 11/29

Still on the road, today was the long day of the trip - just a little over 500 miles from Chandler, OK to Roswell, NM. Finally ended the string of dry days, we ran into about 20 miles of sleet right at dusk between Portales and Roswell. Nothing serious, but it was messy for a while. Stayed at Trailer Village in Roswell, same place as last year. We had a nice dinner at Pepper’s Restaurant, good food and friendly staff, we recommend it if you are in Roswell.

Tuesday 11/30

Cold again this AM - about 22 degrees! There was a little bit of snow Monday night, but barely a dusting. Plugged in the engine heater again and took our time getting ready to go. Left about 10 AM, fairly easy trip to Wilcox, AZ, which puts us just 85 miles out of Tucson. Stayed Tuesday night at Fort Wilcox RV Park, another Passport America park. Last year we stayed in Bowie, about 30 miles east, but the campground seems to be gone - no answer on the phone and we could not see any signs of life as we went by on the Interstate. Dry roads all the way and lunch at Cracker Barrel again - that makes four days in a row! Seems like we might be in a rut! Nancy made pasta for dinner as there did not appear to be much in the way of places to eat around Wilcox.

Wednesday 12/1

Went to Mc Donald’s in Wilcox for a leisurely breakfast and hit the road around 9:30 AM. Cold again this morning - 22 degrees here. By the time we reached Tucson it was shirtsleeve weather! Stopped on the way in to town and filled a propane tank, then on to Desert Trails. Nice to have a warm welcome from people that remember us from last year.

Backed the trailer into the same spot as last year, managed to get it in a little better this time. We have the same neighbors as last year on one side, new folks on the other as the couple that had been there did not make it due to health issues.

The new Winegard Trav’ler satellite dish works great, locked on all three satellites and a quick call to Dish Network, a temporary change of address, and we have all the local Tucson stations on the satellite - ain’t technology grand!

Sure feels good to be back in our winter home, the sun is shining and there is not a cloud in the sky! Life is good!