Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Few Pics and REALLY Nice Weather

Tuesday 1/22/13

First a picture from last winter that I never posted. We call this guy "Gumby", he is along the western approach to Gates Pass and easily seen from the road. We say "Hi" every time we drive by.

Now back to your irregularly scheduled blog:

Jan 11

33 degrees this AM, but it was clear and sunny with no wind and we had a pleasant walk in the desert. It warmed up into the 40’s, but with the bright sun and clear skies it was a really nice day. Supposed to turn cold tonight though.

Nancy had lunch at the soup and salad pot luck here at the RV park, I skipped it since soup and salad are not my thing.

Jan 12

22 degrees at 7:30 AM today. 

However, not a cloud in the sky and a bright sun coming up. Put on our silk underwear, wool sweater and a cotton sweatshirt, added a cotton scarf and a wool toque and headed out into the desert. Very comfortable! A lovely morning, well into the 40's now at 11 AM. Just now walking around outside in a cotton shirt and light sweatshirt.

We came across this giant saguaro, which we had passed numerous times without really looking closely at it. This one must be 200 plus years old! It is really large compared to most of the mature saguaro in the area. 

There are a lot of younger generations around as well, this one is most likely between 50 and 60 years old.

And this little guy is probably 15 to 20 years old!

We went to the movies this afternoon to see Lincoln - an excellent movie, go see it if you have not yet done so. After the movie we had an early dinner (no lunch) at Los Portales in South Tucson (this is a separate city completely surrounded by the City of Tucson). A mexican place recommended by our neighbors here in the park. Very good with a nice atmosphere, we will definitely be back.

Speaking of neighbors, the electrical post in the site next to us apparently shorted out the day before yesterday, burned the power cord to the fiver and fried the TV set! A good argument for having an Electrical Management System (EMS) like the one from Progressive Industries that we installed right after we purchased the Newmar. Good for peace of mind and it has detected a couple of defective hookups for us.

Getting cold again tonight, already down to 32 at 8 PM.

Jan 13

21 degrees at 7 AM today. We bundled up like yesterday and got in our morning walk. We still have not broken out our heavy winter jackets that we have with us - a point of pride I guess.

Jan 14

19 degrees this AM! OK, this is getting old. We have been able to keep our water from freezing by keeping a trickle going all night. We could have disconnected and used our on-board supply, but that would no keep the spigot from freezing as they are not protected. In fact there was a break in one of the water pipes leading away from our spigot this morning. We slept in and skipped the Monday morning meet. Finally got out for our morning hike around noon. It was cool - mid-40’s - but a beautiful sunny day. Otherwise we did some house cleaning and took it easy today.

Jan 15

15 degrees this morning! I do not like this trend. Record low in Tucson today, lowest official temperature in 39 years in Tucson!

Supposed to start a warm-up tomorrow and into the 70s by next week. Stuck around home and stayed warm today. 

Jan 16

OK, better today, 23 degrees this morning! The heat wave has begun, supposed to be in the 70’s by early next week.

Took a ride down to Green Valley to the weekly Farmers Market and browsed around.

Should mention here that we are enjoying the Weber Q100 that we bought before we left home. It works really well, much better than the cheapo portable grille we have been using for years.

Jan 17

Yeah! Low of 35 last night and it was over 40 when we left for our regular yoga class. Hit 69 degrees today.

Received the new fender for the Volvo today, then determined that the mounting bars were bent by the flailing tire cap! Need to get a few more parts before it’s done. New ones ordered and should be here next Thursday.

Jan 18

Into the 70’s today, a beautiful sunny day. We went all over town today, over to East Speedway where Nancy had an appointment, then the Lowes east of there for Scott RV TP, then Beyond Bread for lunch and Trader Joe’s. Then down to the SE side and a quick stop at Camping World.

Arizona Road Runners jazz band at the rec hall tonight. Only had five pieces (the composition of the group varies by who is available on a particular night) but they put on a great show. They are a group from the Tucson Jazz Institute consisting mostly of high school students from The Ellington Band. The Road Runners also usually include the band director and a teacher or two. Tonight Max Goldschmid, who graduated last year and is currently on a music scholarship at The University of Arizona was with the group. He is an amazingly talented young man on a wide variety of instruments. The saxophone player tonight is a sophomore who has won a statewide competition twice.

Jan 19

Blackhawks hockey is back! And they started out with a bang, beating the Kings solidly in their opening game this afternoon. We decided to sign up for NHL Center Ice on Dish this season so we will be able to see all the Hawks games that are on Comcast Sports Net just like we could have if we were at home.

Jan 20

Finally got in our long hike to Gilbert Ray campground, made it all way there, which was good because it enabled us to refill our water bottles! Six and a half miles out and back and over four hours. It was a beautiful day with just enough of a light breeze to keep things comfortable.

We had determined that none of the trails in Tucson Mountain Park actually lead anywhere close to directly there, so we decided to strike out across the desert on our own, using our GPS to navigate. Just after we left one of the east/west trails and headed north we came across the tracks of a horse heading straight north just like we were and we were able to follow the horse’s trail more than halfway to the campground. As it turned out we should have tried harder to stay with the horse trail when we lost it, since on the way back we took a little more direct route and came across the same trail closer to the campground than where we had lost it. A nice day and a great hike in desert, no climbing other than up and down in and out of washes.

Along the way we came across this unusual barrel cactus, it seems to be a genetic mutation much like the crested saguaro. Normally this cactus would have yellow fruit on the top rather than the additional growth.

We were beat when we got home and just plopped down and relaxed. This evening the Hawks continued their sterling start to the abbreviated season by beating Phoenix. Yea!

Jan 21

Monday morning meeting at the RV park this morning. Weather has improved back to normal, lows in the 40s and high around 75 the last couple of days. Later in the morning we took a short walk in the desert and after lunch we headed into town and did a couple of errands.

Then we stopped in at the Tucson Jazz Institute. When the Road Runners were here Friday evening the  director said they would be recording a couple of arrangements for their submission to the Essentially Ellington competition for best community jazz band - which they have won the last two years. He said people were welcome to come and watch so we decided to stop by. 

The school is in a store front in a small mall on the East side. We were surprised to find that as soon as we walked in the door we were in the room with a live recording session going on! We very, very quietly took seats along the edge of the room.

It was quite interesting and the band was in great form, we listened as they recorded three selections, critiquing them between takes. These are all high school kids - I think he said they only have two seniors this year - and they are an amazingly talented group. There were four trumpets, four trombones, five saxes, guitar, drums (two different drummers), bass, and piano.

On the way home we decoded to check out Borderlands Brewing Co. but they have not yet reopened from the installation of larger vats. First visit will have to wait. We ended up going back to Barrio Brewing Company for dinner.

Jan 22

Decided that we felt so good Monday morning after our long hike on Sunday (yeah, I know, hard to believe) that we would try a little longer hike again. This time we went East along the south fence line of Tucson Mountain Park and then turned into the park. It was flat most of the way, but the last mile or so that we walked East was a steady upward grade and there was a fairly good climb as we went North into the park. We were close to the base of the Tucson Mountains and up on a plateau that gave us a pretty nice view out into the Arva Valley.

Altogether we covered almost four miles and kept our moving average at 2.4 MPH, which is almost as good as we do walking on pavement at home! The hand held GPS we bought last winter has proven excellent for what we wanted on our hikes here. It is a real help in figuring out where we are in relation to the RV Park and I have marked waypoints at various spots so we are able to decide which way to go at trail junctions.

On the way back we came across this group of saguaro - there were at least eight of them under this palo verde tree. We though this might be a good spot to look for infant saguaro (which are very hard to spot) and ... after a fair amount of searching ...

sure enough we found one! It was only about an inch high, probably three to five years old. You have to look closely, but it is just to the left of the tip of the trekking pole in the picture below. It's spikes are bigger than the main body!

We were thrilled to find it!

Another beautiful day, in the 60s when we took our hike with just a light breeze. After lunch we went over to the pool for a nice swim. Bright blue sky, not a cloud in sight, palms trees around the pool, it just doesn't get any better than this for January 22! Right now, 4 PM, it is 81 degrees!

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