Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Couple of Interesting Places

Thursday Feb 7

Before the talk last night, which was quite interesting, we stopped at Mariscos  Chihuahua. There are a number of these restaurants around Tucson and Nancy has been wanting to try one. From the outside they look kind of like a fast food place. We were surprised to find that they are very nice, sit down restaurants with a mainly seafood menu, full bar, etc. Dinner was excellent.

As I said, the talk at the U of A was quite interesting, even though he started out talking about molecules and cellular structures. His main theme about the sources and spread of various types of flu was extremely interesting. It was a full house in Centennial Hall as well, about evenly split between senior and students.  

Friday Feb 8 through Saturday Feb 9

OK, so I procrastinated in updating my blog notes and now neither of us can remebr what we did at all!

Sunday Feb 10

After our short morning hike and the Sunday Morning on CBS we went into town to The Loft, which is an art house on the east side to see 56 Up. A film maker in England began following a group of children when they were seven years old, following up with interviews and life updates every seven years. They are all now 56 years old, so it was a very interesting movie.

Monday Feb 11

Weather has turned a bit cold the last few days, lows in the 30’s and highs in the 50’s. Beautiful sunny days though, with the exception of today! After the Monday AM meeting I decided to take the truck up to Eloy to fill it up. I also planned on stopping at a CB radio shop there to have the radio checked out. Turned out the shop there has closed up - oh well, some other time.

After filling up at the Flying J (144 gallons) I decided to splurge and have the truck washed at the Blue Beacon Truck wash across the street. They did a great job and the truck has not looked better since the hand wash jobs I was getting in Florida in 2010. Of course on the way home it started to RAIN! Halfway home in the rain, I got off of I-10 at Marana  before the pavement really got wet to avoid the spray  and took Sandaro Rd, which runs straight North-South in the Arva Valley. Still got fairly dirty, but I was able to clean it off pretty well when I got home and it still looks a lot better.

Nancy ran a few errands while I was gone, grocery store etc. Then we settled in out of the rain, which kept up steady all afternoon. It turned to snow in quite a few towns around the area, but none here.

For dinner we decided to brave the elements and run over to Tiny’s Bar for hamburgers. Not much atmosphere, unless you consider "Saloon" to be atmosphere, but really good burgers and ribs.

Tuesday Feb 12

Back to a beautiful clear blue sky today, still a bit on the cool side. We took a nice hike in the desert later in the morning after it started to warm up. 

We went to the Cup Cafe in the Congress Hotel for lunch, Nancy had been there with her sisters and it was very good. Then we walked a few blocks west to the Federal Building to pick up income tax forms. Seriously over-the-top security in the lobby and then they were out of form 1040 instructions!

The downtown area is still seriously torn up from streetcar construction. They were supposed to have finished it before the Gem Show opened - that was a laugh, the whole place is a mess, streets closed off, intersection with no traffic lights, just stop signs and pedestrians are on their own. There have been letters to the editor in the local paper referring to Tucson as a “third world city” considering the condition of the streets and the convention center, not to mention the areas of empty open land right close to downtown as a result of the failed Rio Nuevo project. A lot of unhappy people around here, with a lot of the blame going to the Republican controlled administration in Phoenix which has been moving gas tax money to other areas to balance the state budget at the expense of infrastructure in Pima County (which, coincidentally, is Democratic!)

After that we stopped at the Philabaum Glass Gallery. We had been planning on checking this place out for a while and it was worth the effort. An amazing callection of beautiful art glass, pretty much seriously pricy pieces. We were also fortunate that they were blowing glass today, so we were able to step right into the workshop where could watch them working and actually feel the heat from the ovens where they heat the glass to 1,200 degrees in order to work it. Very interesting and worth a stop. 

Back home for dinner and a Blackhawks game. They lost in a shoot-out but they are still leading the league at 10-0-3, not a bad way to start the season.

Wednesday Feb 13

Still around 31 degrees in the morning, but warming up quickly. We took another nice hike and then decided to go to Beyond Bread for lunch (and the second half of our sandwiches for dinner). Then we stopped at the Franklin Museum. I had seen a reference to this place a couple of years ago, but had not been able to pin down it’s location other than “the Tucson area”. Then I found a flyer at the Desert Trails office this year and it turns out it is not far from the Trader Joes on Campbell where we stop regularly! Actually though it is a bit off the beaten path, on a dirt road in the middle of the city!

Turned out to be a very nice collection of Franklins, mostly from the classic era of the 20’s and early 30’s, a few from the teens. The cars were in three buildings and we were given a nice guided tour of the collection of about 30 cars, most of them beautifully restored or in very good original condition. 

Back home after a stop at Trader Joe’s and the second half of our sandwiches for dinner.

Thursday Feb 14

Off to our regular yoga class at Tucson Yoga this morning, then a stop at Food Conspiracy. For Valentines Day We went to Cushing Street Bar & Grille for a nice dinner - got dressed up and everything! - which was as good as our previous visits have been, Good food, good service and nice atmosphere. This place was a real discovery this year.

Friday Feb 15

Had not planned on doing a lot today, but we ended up running around most of the day. Our little travel humidifier (that we bought in November!) gave up the ghost last night. We called a couple of Ace Hardwares to see if we could find another, one over on the east side had a less expensive one so we drove over there. Turned out to be too small, only good for 4 hours - we sleep longer than that! Some may question the need for a humidifier in a fiver since humidity in cold weather is more often the issue. Well, we sleep with the window at the foot of our bed open no matter how cold it is and if it is above 40 we have the overhead vent open, over 50 the vent fan is running and over 60 the windows at the head of the bed are also open. So, here in the desert it gets dry at night.

As long as we were over there we stopped at Costco to stock up on meds. Then we stopped at BK Sonoran Hot Dogs for a late lunch.

Back home a neighbor mentioned to Nancy that Walgreens has small humidifier, so I called the closest one, They had one left, so I jumped in the car and went back and picked it up. 

Blackhawks won again tonight! 11-0-3 and closing in on the league record for the most games without a regulation loss to open the season. Can’t get to over confident though, last season they were leading the league at the halfway point and then slumped to where they barely made the playoffs and were eliminated in the first round.

Saturday Feb 16

Took a fairly short walk in the desert this morning as we wanted to get going as there was a movie we wanted to see - Quartet, which was excellent, if a little formulaic. But it was a nice “feel good” movie with a cast of excellent older actors. Very enjoyable.

After the movie we made a stop at See’s Candy since we were way over east at the El Con Theatre for the movie, then up to the Beyond Bread on Speedway for lunch. Back home in time to relax and catch A Prairie Home Companion. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Beck Sisters Visit

Thursday Jan 24

Nancy’s sisters both arrived today. Joan is staying near us and Connie is visiting a friend on the NE side of the city.

After getting settled in her rental at Rincon RV Park West, Joan came over here for a drink and then we went out to dinner and found a really nice little place right downtown near the convention center - Cushing St Bar & Restaurant. It is in a historic building in Barrio Libre, part of Barrio Viejo, and has been in one family since 1972.

A really nice atmosphere with a very friendly staff, great drinks and appetizers for happy hour and excellent food. We will be back!

Friday Jan 25

Friday morning Connie’s friend took her to see the new aquarium at the Desert Museum. We had seen it already (took the behind the scenes tour) and Joan plans on going back there next week, so we met them at the Museum later in the morning and, after a brief walk around - the hummingbird exhibit was more crowded than we have seen it - had lunch at the Ocotillo Cafe at the museum.

We came back home and visited in the afternoon and then went to Los Portales in South Tucson for dinner. 

Saturday Jan 26

Nancy, Joan and Connie went over to H. F. Coors in the morning and then spent the day shopping, mostly for shoes! Den stayed home and watched the beginning of the 24 hours of Daytona.

We were going to try Borderlands Brewing Co for dinner, but found that they don’t serve food! Just beer tasting. I must have gotten confused when I was looking at the various breweries on line as I thought they had food. So we went on over to Barrio Brewing for dinner. They have excellent hamburgers.

Sunday Jan 27

Connie came over here to the RV park for a hot stone massage from Angel. Joan came along a little later for a massage of her own. We had breakfast and watched the end of the 24 Hours. After Joan and Connie had their massages Nancy made french toast for a brunch for all of us and then Joan took Connie back to the airport.

Sunday evening Joan, Nancy and I went out to Fred’s Arena for pizza. This place is out in the middle of nowhere, eight miles west of here and about six mile south, on a dirt road. We had been here before, they have very good steaks and excellent thin crust pizza.

Came home and watched the Blackhawks win again - 6 and 0 - first time in team history!

Monday Jan 28

We went to the regular Monday morning meeting and then took a short hike in the desert before going over to meet Joan. The three of us then went over to Beyond Bread on Speedway, then spent an hour or so browsing through Bookman's Books and Annabell’s Attic. (Yes, I bought another book! But only one. I restrained myself since on reflection I determined that I am currently in some stage of reading four books on my Kindle, with several more sitting there waiting, and three actual books - with a shelf full in the trailer and a boxful in the storage compartment! Not to mention several magazines.)

After a couple stops for groceries and other stuff we came back to our place for drinks and relaxed to watch the news, then had the second half of our Beyond Bread sandwiches for dinner.

Tuesday Jan 29

Joan is off this morning to visit a friend in Phoenix. We went on a tour of the Tucson Water Southern Avra Valley Storage and Recovery Project (SAVSARP), which is out in the Avra valley west of Desert Trails. Pericles (Desert Trails owner) had arranged for two tours this week, which is something special since the facility is not normally open to the public. The land here was purchased in the 1970’s for the groundwater resources and the city began pumping water out of the aquifer. Around twenty years ago they started to bring in Colorado River water to supplement the ground water in the area, at first mixing it directly into the city water system. 

This mixing created unforeseen problems in the system as the higher Ph of the Colorado River water caused a flaking off of scale and build-up in the relatively old water system, causing problems with pumps and filters, along with breakage and other issues. At that time they decided to use the river water to recharge the aquifer instead of using it directly.

The water comes in through the canals of the Central Arizona Project. The water flows into a series of retention ponds, about twenty of them, from which it percolates into the aquifer at rate high enough that evaporation is not an issue. The ponds are three to four feet deep and one to two acre feet of water seep into the ground water PER DAY. This has replenished the aquifer and interestingly, created a dome of water storage in the area where they are pumping water out for usage by the City of Tucson. The horizontal movement of water within the aquifer is measured in feet per year, so what they are getting from the Colorado and putting into the ground pretty much stays there where they can pump it back out. At current usage and growth rates they have enough water stored to last the city until 2050, even if the flow from the Colorado were to stop completely. Currently they are getting their maximum allotment of Colorado River water as determined by the Law of the River agreements between the various states regulating use of Colorado River water.

As we found out from the curator at the Desert Museum Aquarium, the Colorado used to flow into the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California), but virtually none of it gets there anymore as it is all consumed upstream. This is where the portion of Colorado River water used by the City of Tucson ends up before it is pumped into the city water system.

Joan is off to Phoenix today to visit a friend there, so we just relaxed at home in the afternoon.

Wednesday  Jan 30

Joan got back to town this afternoon and we decided to look at a couple of places we had heard about on 4th Ave for dinner. We looked at The B Line Cafe, but it was just a counter service place and we wanted a sit down dinner, so we walked south to Lindy’s on Fourth which is famous for it’s hamburgers. A tiny little place with just six or seven tables and the hamburgers were as advertised, overstuffed with additional ingredients - blue cheese, bacon, onion rings, anything you could think of.

Our experience was a bit tainted as the front door would not close fully and there was a cool breeze blowing. Add to that a loud mouthed patron at the next table who seemed unable to speak at any level other than shouting and it was a less than enjoyable experience. 

Back home I watched the Blackhawks game on the DVR. Had to happen I guess, but they lost in overtime, at least they came out with one point. 

Thursday Jan 31

Regular morning yoga today, then Joan met us at home for lunch. Nancy and Joan went up to the Desert Museum in the afternoon and I stayed home to work on installing the new rear fender on the truck now that I had accumulated all of the parts. One of our neighbors helped me with the final installation since it took a couple of pairs of hands.

We went back to our newly discovered favorite restaurant, Cushing Street Bar and Grille for dinner and it was just as good as the first time. 

Friday February 1 

February first?! How the heck did that happen. I have several projects that I had planned on doing “sometime this winter” - better get my butt in gear!

First thing in the morning we went over to Saguaro National Park East, visited the visitors center and took the eight mile drive through the park. Nancy picked up her senior parks pass.

After that we came back into town and had lunch at Little Poca Cosa in downtown. A cute little place with really good Mexican food and loud music.

We then came home and relaxed, cooked brats and chicken here for dinner.  Another Hawks game tonight, another shootout and another shootout loss, got 1 point again though.

Saturday Feb 2

Joan was leaving this afternoon, but she and Nancy wanted to get over to the H F Coors first Saturday seconds sale, so we hustled over to her place first thing in the morning and they went over to Coors. Came home with an impressive number of bargains. We had an early lunch at B K before Joan had to leave for the airport. 

Blackhawks played their worst game of the season tonight and came out with a shootout win that the did not deserve. Three shootouts in a row, they need to start scoring again! Should be interesting Tuesday night as they are leading the league and come up against the second best team in San Jose.

Sunday Feb 3

Got up early again this morning (this is getting to be an unacceptable habit!) and went over to the St Phillips Farmers Market on the north side. This turned out to be one of the better markets we have encountered, not as large as the one in Green Valley, but closer.

Back home I did some work on the truck, cleaning and polishing the taillight bars and replacing all the lights while Nancy did some laundry. 

After our tire debacle in Texas we had two broken taillights (along with the damage to the fender and the smart) and all they had at Flying J to replace them we newer style LED lights. The truck lights are practically universal, they are all common connectors and size, round taillight assemblies that just pop into rubber gaskets in the housings, so they are easy to change. We have two lights on the back of the frame like most semis, but we also have light bars on each side behind the fenders with three lights apiece. 

When I replaced the two broken lights on the left side in Texas I put the new LEDs in the outside positions on both sides, but decided I did not like the appearance. So on the way out to AZ I picked up six more of the LED lights and these are what I installed today.

Of course we watched the Big Game, but we bailed in the third quarter as it was time for Downton Abby!

Monday Feb 4

Stayed close to home today, Monday morning meeting and then a walk in the desert - we have missed that morning exercise over the last week. After lunch Nancy puttered around and I removed the wheel covers on one side of the trailer, cleaned them and replaced the outside tire valve extensions. We had a tire going soft pretty regularly on our trip out here and I finally determined that it was the valve stem extension. I had to take the wheel cover off to remove it and put the Pressure Pro sensor on the short stem, but that meant I could not access the sensor without removing the wheel cover. 

I had replaced the braided hose extensions on the inner tires when we bought new tires last year, but the outer ones were old and the seals were getting dried out. I decided to get new ones. I will do the other side some morning this week as the left side is in the sun in the afternoon. 

Tuesday Feb 5

First time in five days that we did not have to set the alarm and get up with the sun. After a nice hike in the desert I did the wheel covers and valve stems on the left side of the trailer before the sun got over there. Nancy did some laundry and we pretty much just putzed around home, enjoying the fact that we did not have to run off somewhere.

Blackhawks beat San Jose tonight - they are now 8-0-2 and running away from everyone else in the league!

Wednesday Feb 6

Nice walk in the desert this AM and then off to Fry’s Grocery to take advantage of their First Wednesday Senior Discount Day - Geezer Discount!

Tonight we are going over to Centennial Hall on the campus of the University for a talk about the 1918 Flu epidemic.