Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Sunset Hike and Nancy's Sister Visits

Sunday 1/16

Saturday evening we went to Coyote Pause for dinner. Sunday was a quiet morning at home. Watched the Sunday AM shows and most of the Bears game. In the afternoon we went over to Saguaro National Forest for a sunset hike that we had signed up for in December. It was a beautiful afternoon, shirtsleeve weather on the way up to the ridge to watch the sunset. We meet two volunteer rangers, Dick and Dick, at the trail head, about three miles down a really rough dirt road. There were about ten of us in the group and Lead Dick stopped at several places along the way and told us about the geology and features if the desert in the area.

The first part of the hike we went about 3/4 of a mile on sandy gravel with a mild uphill grade, climbing about 300 feet. The second half was a steeper climb for a total of about 750 feet to the top of the ridge. There we had spectacular views both to the north

and the southwest. We sat and relaxed for about half an hour and were treated to a spectacular sunset.

Like the hat?

On the way back we were down off the steeper part of the climb in the twilight, with the last pat of the hike in the desert by the light of the full moon. Overall about four hours and a very enjoyable hike. As advised we had packed light jackets, which we needed on the way back down.

Back home we had a pizza for dinner.

Monday 1/17

We are both feeling a bit punk this morning, so we slept in and skipped the Monday morning meeting at the campground. We did get out for lunch and tried Todd’s at the little airport just to the west of us - a very good lunch. Otherwise we just relaxed and watched the new Masterpiece Theatre, Downton Abby, that we had taped Sunday evening.

Tuesday 1/18

Still taking it easy and trying to recover from our colds. We had lunch at Coyote Pause and then checked out a health food store near by that another camper had told us about. Then just relaxed. Today was an absolutely beautiful day in the mid-70’s without a cloud in the sky - we are really growing to love Arizona!

Wednesday 1/19

Made a quick trip back to South 12th Ave and hit BK Sonoran Hot Dogs for lunch. This time Nancy had a quesadea. Otherwise a quiet day.


Thursday 1/20

Didn’t make it to yoga this morning as we are still both a bit under the weather, Nancy had a hot rock massage on her neck in the morning. We did manage to get out for a nice hike in the desert in the afternoon, it was warm, but there was a nice breeze so it was very pleasant.

Friday 1/21

Nancy was really under the weather this AM, so we took it easy and hit Todd’s again for lunch. Just at dusk we heard one of the owls that lives in the campground and he sounded really close. We went out and looked and he was about 20 feet up in the palm tree behind out trailer! A Great Horned Owl, he was hooting and another owl on the other side of the park was answering. Really cool!

Did some research on Sirius radio today. The FM radio reception here is about as bad as the TV reception - as in “non-existant”. There are a number of NPR programs that we like to listen to and we like to get NPR news in the morning. Sirius looks like the best bet and Dennis ordered a receiver that can be used both in the trailer and the truck. Also looked at a Best Buy for a tuner to drive the speakers in the trailer without much luck.

Saturday 1/22

Nancy’s sister Joan arrived in town today for a short vacation. After she arrived and got settled in at Starr Pass Golf Suites we headed in to El Charro (Joan's favorite restaurant), but it turned out there was an hour wait! So instead we ended up at Perfecto’s - not as much atmosphere, but good food.

Sunday 1/23

We got together with Joan for lunch at Coyote Pause and then went over to Color Me Mine in a mall on the east side to look at the greenware available for us to choose. Nancy picked up a couple of coupons from Groupon and we are planning on going there on Tuesday.

Nancy stopped at a Clair’s Boutique in the mall and picked up a pair of expensive (not) pearl earrings to replace some that she had lost.

Dennis wanted to check out the Best Buy across the street and, as expected, this one had better stock than the one on the south side - more of an upscale neighborhood. We have ordered a Sirius radio system to use in the trailer and we needed a tuner to drive our surround sound speakers. Tuners that are “Sirius ready” hard to come by and expensive, but we found a fairly reasonably priced one.

From there we came back into the city and had dinner at El Charro.

Monday 1/24

This morning Joan was scheduled for a hot stone massage here at Desert Trails. Dennis got the new tuner hooked up this morning and it is just what we needed. In addition to the Sirius connection capability it will also connect with and control our I-Pod (where all our music is). If we wanted to it could also control a Blue Ray player, CD, DVR, and TV (we needed a Volkswagen and bought a Ferrari!). It works great and for the first time we have all of our surround sound speakers working! For those who don’t know the story, our Newmar was a repo when we bought it and all of the electronics had been stripped out, wires just cut. Dennis had reconstructed the video portion and we have been using a cheap stereo for a radio, which was less than satisfactory. Here in Tucson we are unable to get the NPR stations, so we are going to put in the Sirius radio so we can listen to our favorite NPR shows wherever we are.

After Joan’s massage we went up to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and had lunch in the cafeteria and then took one of the afternoon tours. While Nancy and Joan finished the tour, Dennis dropped out and went back to the gift shop - and of course bought a new book on Arizona history.

After leaving the museum we stopped at the visitors center in the Saguaro National Forest so Joan could pick up her America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass – Senior Pass. Dennis got his a couple of years ago and it is a great deal - admission to National parks and monuments for free for the rest of your life! If you are over 62 it is too good a deal to pass up, go get one.

For dinner we tried Daisy Mae’s Steakhouse. A really good reputation for steaks and the food was as advertised. The atmosphere was also as advertised - not much. A couple of problems for us though, when we are paying $25 for a steak we expect utensils that don’t bend when you try to cut your steak and something a little more upscale than plastic plates and cheap paper napkins! But hey, you don’t know if you don’t try and that was a really good rib eye!

Tuesday 1/25

This morning we went to Color Me Mine over on the east side of Tucson. This is one of those places where you paint unfired pottery and then they bake it for you. Nancy had picked up coupons from Groupon so the three of us spent about four hours painting greenware. It was a lot of fun and we are anxious to see how our pieces come out. Joan did a couple of spoon rests, Nancy did a bowl and an expresso cup and saucer, Dennis did a teapot, and together we all, worked on a garden gnome (to put outside our trailer). We cannot pick up the finished pieces until Sunday afternoon. We’ll post some pictures if they turn out OK.

Had lunch at an In ‘N Out Burger in mid-afternoon, stopped and did some grocery shopping and then went back to Joan’s hotel. Had a pizza delivered and watched the State of the Union address.

Just about dusk Joan looked out on the patio and said “There’s a javelina!” It had just walked by, so Joan and Nancy ran out to get a look at it (there had been one on the patio early in the morning a couple of days earlier) and while they were looking left for the javelina that had walked by another one poked it’s head around the corner behind them! You never saw two people move as fast as those two trying to get back in the door! They looked like those cartoon characters whose feet are moving so fast they look like spinning wheels! Joan said “Feet’s don’ fail me now!!”

Unfortunately we did not have a camera with us, since two of the javelinas walked around on the patio looking for a hand-out. We watched for them Wednesday evening camera in hand, but never saw any.

Wednesday 1/26

We met Joan at Coyote Pause for breakfast, then up to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum again. We spent an hour walking around looking at the exhibits, then while Dennis went back to our trailer Joan and Nancy took a docents tour. We met up there again at lunchtime and ate in the cafeteria at the museum. Getting memberships to the museum this year has turned out to be a great idea as this is probably our fifth visit this winter and Joan used two guest passes while she was here.

In the afternoon we went back to the hotel and Nancy and Joan went swimming while Dennis relaxed. After waiting to see if the javelinas would make a return appearance (they did not) we went to El Charro for dinner.

Thursday 1/27

Went to our regular Thursday morning yoga class at Tucson Yoga. Good to get back in the swing as we missed last week. Afterwards we met Joan at a Waffle House near the expressway for brunch. She is headed up to Phoenix to visit a friend for a couple of days before heading back to Chicago (Brrrr!). We are perfectly happy to stay right here where it is warm.

Did a few chores around the trailer in the afternoon and just relaxed.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Not a Lot Going On

Wow, I did not realize it had been so long since I posted. Here's the latest update:

Thursday 1/6

Off to our weekly yoga class at Tucson Yoga this morning. Even when we don’t really feel like getting out and going, it always feels better after we do! A quick stop for some groceries and back home again where Dennis found a message on the Escapees forum from one of the HDT guys asking where we were in Tucson as they are at Justin’s Diamond J RV Park. Well, that park is right next door to where we are! The two parks butt right up against each other. So we took a walk over to say hello to Larry (“Still Working”). He was preparing to head to Kitt Peak for the evening program, so we just had a brief chat.

Went back to Perfecto’s for dinner and had an excellent meal. The place is not much to look at, but the service is friendly and the food is really good.

Back home and watched a couple of movies.

Friday 1/7

Slow start this morning, Dennis is getting over a cold so we are taking it easy today.

Saturday 1/8

Dennis is really under the weather today, so we are just vegging. Spent a good part of the day watching local TV coverage of the terrible shootings here in Tucson. We are on the other side of the Tucson Mountains from where the shootings occurred.

Took a walk around the campground in the afternoon and that was about it.

Sunday 1/9

Dennis is feeling better today, but we still just relaxed, watched the Sun AM news shows and the football game. Another walk around the campground today and tonight we are listening to the Blackhawks game on-line.

Monday 1/10

So now both of us are a bit under the weather. Dennis’ cold seems to have morphed into a sinus infection and Nancy is trying to fight off the cold.

As a result our activities have beed limited to short walks around the campground.

Tuesday 1/11

Those of you up north can take solace in the fact that we can confirm the sun is headed back north again. Ever since we arrived here in December we have been puzzled by the sun shining into the trailer. Our large back window faces south and as a result we have had to keep the blinds closed all day, we were opening them partially in the morning to get the warmth of the sun, but by mid-day it was making it hot in the trailer. We remember from last year that we could have the blinds open for a good part of the day. Well, mystery solved - the sun has now moved north far enough that it is no longer shining directly into our window from mid-afternoon on. Last year we did not arrive until the first of January, so after the first week we no longer had the afternoon sun shining in. DUH - live and learn.

Nancy participated in a an all day quilting class here at the campground today and Dennis went and did the grocery shopping.

Wednesday 1/12

Both feeling a bit better day by day. We even managed a brief walk in the desert on Tuesday afternoon. This morning we drove into Tucson to check out the Wednesday morning farmers market. Quite a disappointment as it consisted of one stall selling produce, one selling spices, and three or four craft booths. Oh well, they can’t all be winners.

Stopped at the Food Conspiracy and stocked up, then went to El Charro for lunch. Once again a delicious meal.

Nancy went to the evening Mah Jong game again tonight while Dennis stayed home and listened to the Blackhawks game.

Thursday 1/13

After our morning yoga class at Tucson Yoga we returned to Desert Trails and each of us had hot stone massages. Angel is a lady here in the campground that does great massages with both hot and cold stones. Sounds a little strange, but it is really wonderful. We first experienced these last year and have been waiting for her to get here this year.

Relaxed the rest of the afternoon.

Friday 1/14

Finally out for an early morning walk in the desert this morning. The weather is warming up slowly, supposed to be in the 70’s all next week.

Went and did some shopping this morning, Nancy was looking for a few short sleeve tops since she did not bring enough with her. After hitting a few places without much luck she found a couple at Target. Since we were in the area we went down to South 12th Ave since Nancy wanted to try the Sonoran Hot Dogs at BK Carne Asada Hot Dogs. The Sonoran hot dogs lived up to their billing and Dennis had an excellent hamburger as well. To top it off the Coke they sell is bottled in Mexico, using cane sugar. Tastes like the Coke we used to have when we were kids.

After a quiet afternoon we drove over to Coyote Pause for dinner.

Saturday 1/15

Drove into South Tucson this AM to check out another farmers market. Much like the one on Wednesday it was disappointing - very small. As long as we were in the area we went on East to Camping World and picked up a couple of items that we need and spent some time browsing to what we wanted that we really did not need.

By then it was almost lunch time so we backtracked to South 12th Ave (do I detect a pattern here?) and hit Perfecto’s for another delicious lunch. Stopped at La Estrella Bakery and picked up some doughnuts and cookies.

Back home Nancy did some laundry and then we took a walk in the desert and relaxed the rest of the afternoon.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Back in Tucson

Saturday 1/1/11

Well, it was warmer in Chicago on Friday that it was in Tucson! We came back anyway, and by Saturday the 42 degrees when we arrived here was better than the 25 we left in Chicago.

Definitely a cold snap here in Tucson, we had to disconnect our water hose the first three nights back as it was dropping below freezing. Good thing we keep at least a half tank of fresh water on board for back up.

Uneventful flight and we arrived back at Desert Trails about 3:30 Saturday afternoon.

Sunday 1/2

A bit too chilly for a desert walk this morning - 25 degrees! - so we relaxed and watched the Sunday AM news shows and just took a walk around the campground later in the day. Had to make a run to the grocery store of course to get stocked back up. The trailer survived the 18 days just fine with no issues. Apparently it has been chilly and windy while we were gone.

Monday 1/3

Monday morning meeting at the campground and then got our walk in before we made a run over to the Food Conspiracy to pick up some additional items not available in the regular stores. Then just relaxed the rest of the afternoon.

Tuesday 1/4

We needed to take the truck in for an estimate on some work so we were over on the SE side of the city late in the morning. A little too early for lunch at the In ‘N Out Burger so we took a short ride around the east side of Davis Monthan Air Force base. There are an incredible number of Air Force planes mothballed and being scrapped. Row after row of planes, they cover acres and acres around the east side of the base.

Wednesday 1/5

Decided to go up to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum this morning. We wanted to get there in time for a tour at 9 AM so we had to leave by 8:30, no problem except I had to scrape ice off the windshield of the smart - Oh the horror!!

Then it turned out that there are no morning tours the first Wednesday of the month! So we spent some time in the hummingbird exhibit, which was neat as there were very few people there and if you just remained stationary you started to see a lot of activity from the birds. This alos gave us a chance to see the 10 AM free flying raptor show which we had not seen before and that was well worth the visit.

Back home by lunchtime and just vegetated in the afternoon since Dennis is fighting a mild cold.

Nancy is going to check out the Mah Jong group this evening. We’ll see how that goes.