Friday, March 29, 2013

A Beautiful Day At The Grand Canyon!

Friday March 29

What a fantastic day at the Grand Canyon! It was 30 degrees this morning, but warmed up quickly. The weather was perfect for a hike, a cloudless blue sky, light breeze and temps in the mid 60’s. We headed out a little after nine, made first use of Nancy’s National Parks pass to cover the $25 per vehicle entry fee. Since we drove in in the truck we parked in the RV section near the Backcountry Info Center.

From there it was a short walk to the first bus stop on the Rim Trail. We took the bus all the way to Hermit’s Rest at the East end of the trail. From there we hiked back a little over five miles. Beautiful views into the canyon all the way along. 

The first three miles were on a paved path and that is actually hard on the feet. legs and hips. Nancy was smart and packed a good assortment of snacks and we made several stops to snack along the way. In spite of that I was dragging by the time we made it to the Monument Creek stop. Being at 6,900 feet above sea level did not help either!

From there though the trail was a dirt path that ran right along the rim of the canyon. The dirt trail was actually much easier walking for us and I got a second wind. We hiked all the way to Mohave Point, a bit over five miles in all. At one point we had stopped for a snack and we saw two Elk crossing an access road across the road from where we were sitting.

If you are planning on hiking the Rim Trail we recommend starting from Monument Creek and going west, good hiking and really beautiful views.

From Mohave Point we took the bus back to the village, walked back and dropped our hiking gear at the truck. Then we took a village bus to the East end of Grand Canyon Village and walked back to El Tovar Hotel, the original Fred Harvey hotel at the canyon. Then we stopped at the Kolb Studio. By this point we were exhausted and it was about 3:30. We were going to grab a bus back to the parking area, but the buses were full and there was a huge crowd waiting at the stop. Fortunately it was not a long walk back to where we parked. Along the way we stopped at Meswik Lodge and had a pizza and beer for dinner.

All in all a really nice day.

Heading North

Monday March 18

Monday AM meeting and then a nice walk in the desert. Relaxed after lunch and then went to Tiny’s for dinner.

Nancy went to a presentation on Kinesio taping by Angel while I watched the Hawks win again.

Tuesday March 19

Nice hike in desert this AM, beautiful in the morning this time of year. small wild flowers starting to appear. Did some prep work on the truck, greasing hitch and checking things over. Found that I need a new alternator belt, so off to the Volvo dealer tomorrow.

Went to Beyond Bread for lunch, then stopped at Bookman’s for a look-see. Nancy bought a couple of books for Miles and I GOT OUT WITHOUT BUYING ANYTHING! A new record!

Second half of lunch sandwiches for dinner.

Wednesday March 20

Off early this morning to drop the truck at the Volvo dealer, then stopped at Coyote Pause for breakfast on the way back. Traffic going into town on Ajo Highway was really nasty at 7:30 in the morning - glad we don’t have to do that regularly.

Took care of Margo today as Karen had a couple of places to go. Late in the afternoon we went back to pick up the truck, really reasonable cost for the belt replacement at Vanguard Truck Center.

Since we were on the east side of town anyway we stopped at Nimbus Brewery for dinner.

And the Blackhawks lost to Anaheim tonight! Bummer, they were lucky to hold them even in the 1st, then played pretty well through the 2nd and 3rd periods and gave the whole thing away with a couple of sloppy plays at the end.

Thursday March 21

Off to Tucson Yoga for our last class of the season, we’ll be on the road next Thursday. The RV Park is really thinning out. A lot of people we know are gone already and our next door neighbors are leaving this weekend.

Stopped at Food Conspiracy on the way home and after lunch we went over to a truck stop on the far east side to Comm Techs to see if they could fix our CB radio. It has been dead for over a year and we like to have it available when we get into traffic problems.

Friday March 22

The mornings have been beautiful for our desert walks, this morning it was about 57 degrees and sunny when we went out.

Off to the 4th Ave Street Fair this morning. An amazing crowd for a Friday, can’t imagine what it is going to be like tomorrow! I picked up a nice sun hat for our Prairie Home Companion Mediterranean cruise in August. Should nice and toasty in Italy in August!

Nancy got some skin cream from a vendor she likes. Then we stopped at Beyond Bread for lunch before swinging by the CB shop to pick up our repaired CB Radio.

Karen and Gary stopped by this afternoon for drinks before we all went to the evening entertainment. This was the Road Runners group which is kind of a “catch as catch can” assemblage of the students and teachers from the Tucson Jazz Institute. No students tonight, but a really rousing and excellent performance from four of the adults from the group.

Saturday March 23

Pretty quiet day, morning hike and then watched the F1 qualifying from last night. Spent some time planning our trip to the Grand Canyon and Denver late next week.

Went to Cushing Street Bar & Grille for dinner, sat on the patio where we could just hear the jazz group inside. We chose the patio as we did not want to be inside where the music might be loud, but turns out it was pretty mellow stuff.

Sunday March 24

Two nice walks in the desert today, early in the morning and later in the afternoon. Otherwise we watched the F1 race and the Sunday news programs.

Helped our neighbor put a cover on his fifth wheel since they are leaving it here over the summer.

Monday March 25

Skipped the park meeting this morning and went up to the Desert Museum and then up to the Saguaro National Park visitors center to check out the gift shop.

After that we made a couple of stops and had lunch at BK for the last time. 

Back home we went to the pizza party at the park rec hall. Much better than last year’s, better organized and less standing on line for more more pizza.

Blackhawks played another sloppy game tonight and lost to LA. They need to get back into the pattern they had for the first half of the season.

Tuesday March 26

Nice long walk in the desert this morning, then we went to Beyond Bread for a last visit until fall. Stopped at the CB Radio shop and picked up a dash cam for the Volvo, just a bit of insurance.

Wednesday March 27

After our morning walk both of us spent the day getting ready to hit the road. Nancy did laundry and worked at packing things away inside. I loaded the car in the morning before it got too hot and then repacked the storage compartments and generally prepared for travel.

Thursday March 28

Left Desert Trails right at 9 AM, which was our target time. Weather was good, even a bit of tailwind, and the traffic was relatively light. Made it to Flagstaff for a late lunch at Cracker Barrel and then on to Tusayan, just outside of the entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park. Arrived at Grand Canyon Camper Village about 4 PM. Must say the 54 miles from Williams to Tusayan was the most boring part of the trip! Pretty much straight and flat all the way, sure not very scenic!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Getting Hot in the Desert!

Sunday March 3

Quiet day today, spent most of the day watching hockey! Took a medium length walk in the desert this AM, little flowers are starting to show up, along with a lot of green.

The Blackhawks game was an afternoon game in Detroit so it started at 10:30 AM here! As we have been doing a lot we recorded it so we could skip commercials and the between periods talking heads. This was absolutely the best hockey game I have seen in years! Fast and furious, hard and clean hockey. 

The Red Wings took a 1-0 lead early in the third period and for a while it looked like the Blackhawks points string was about to end, then Patrick Kane scored with 2.02 left! Overtime and the streak stays alive! No score in overtime so it came down to a shoot-out and Kane was the only one to score on a really nifty (some might say showboat) move - but as Mike Middlebury (sp?) said after the game “It’s hard to be humble when you are that good.”

After the game we watched the NASCAR race on fast forward, only stopping for the interesting bits. Not a very exciting race again this week. They have turned Cup into a spec series with the tight rules package and spec racing is never very exciting if the drivers are all of the same caliber. You need some differentiation in either the car, the driver skill, or the tactics (like in F1) to get interesting racing.

In the evening we watch Montreal beat Boston, nowhere near the quality of hockey we saw in Detroit and Boston through the game away by getting chippy and taking stupid penalties when they had a lead.

Monday March 4

Monday morning meeting which turned out to be a bit more exciting than usual as there was an issue with the RV Park trash. It appears that someone (my money is on the trash hauler) dumped a whole load of trash from the park out in the desert nearby. At least five residents received letters from the county accusing them of illegal dumping and threatening a $500 fine if the trash was not cleaned up! Needless to say they were not “happy campers”! The park owner promised to get everything straightened out and a group even volunteered to take a trailer and pick up the trash. Update: turns out it appears to have been someone taking a number of bags of trash from the dumpster and searching through it for valuables. Seems like the recycling dumpsters would be a better bet.

After the meeting we picked up Margo and dog sat until mid-afternoon.

Tuesday March 5

Took a short walk in the desert this morning. Tiny little flowers are starting to show up more and more.

Nancy went to get her nails done this AM and I went to a lady here in the park for a haircut. 

Checked out a new place for dinner, Nimbus Brewing. Nancy has been drinking their Pale Ale this winter and we had looked at it before, but their website has links to the Brewery and the Bistro. The Bistro is way up on the far Northeast side, opposite side of town from us, so we wrote it off as too far to go for dinner.

Turns out they also serve food at the Brewery, which is on the Southeast side near the Air Force base. Not so far to go for dinner. Much like the Barrio Brewing Co, but their hamburgers were better. We’ll be back. 

Wednesday March 6

After our morning walk we headed out to the Fry’s Supermarket in Sahaurita. It is the newest Fry’s in the area, only about 20 miles south on I-19, which is not long since the speed limit is 75. Today is geezer senior day, 10% discount for seniors on the first Wednesday of the month.

Since we were that far south we went on to the farmers market in Green Valley, but struck out again. The guy with the gloves was not there and the guy with the salmon was missing as well.

Of course we had to stop at BK for lunch on the way back.

Blackhawks won again tonight! 21-0-3 and Ray Emery became the first goalie in NHL history to start the season 10-0! Well deserved too since he kept them in a couple of games that they should have lost. Lost a couple of key guys to injuries tonight, hopefully not for long.

Hot today, up into the eighties again.

Thursday March 7

Off to Tucson Yoga this AM and then went straight from there to the Reid Park Zoo. We had not been there before, had heard good things, and today was geezers seniors free day! Turns out to be a pretty nice zoo as advertised.

Made a stop at Food Conspiracy on the way home and then Nancy did some laundry. We went over to Los Portales for dinner.

Friday March 8

Really odd weather today, bright blue skies and white clouds, then it gets dark and rains a bit, then clears off, then rain again. Must have done that a half dozen times during the day. Rains were brief and light, we even had some thunder! Did get up into the mid sixties.

Nancy went to the monthly soup and salad lunch and then we made a quick run into Rodriguez Seafood and picked up some fish for dinner.

Blackhawks play again tonight. And they finally lost one, had to happen sometime. Now the big question is, will they rebound or slump. They lost Patrick Sharp for about a month the other night, but Hossa and Shaw played tonight, so that is good news.

Saturday March 9

Off to the Tucson Festival of books this morning. First time we have gone, weather a little iffy, in the fifties and spitting rain off and on, but that helped keep the morning crowds down.

Lots of booths with everything under the sun, a lot of author sighings and various talks and presentations. Nancy wanted to here the author of Dearie, Dearie, but it turned out that most of what he was talking about was stuff from the book, which she had read.

We went to a presentation by two comedy writers. Turned out the guy who writes for The Daily Show was ill, so it was just Alan Zweibel. David Fitzsimmons from the Arizona Daily Star was the moderator and did an excellent job. Alsn, who started out at the beginning of Saturday Night Live was very interesting and a really funny guy with great stories, most funny, some poignant. A really enjoyable hour.

Instead of eating at the food booths there we went up to Beyond Bread for lunch, then made a stop at Trader Joe’s and back home in mid-afternoon.

Sunday March 10

Nice walk in the morning and then a quite day. Another boring NASCAR race - this new car is worse than the old one.

Add to that the Blackhawks lost the second game in a row. They did however make a game out of it after being blown out 4-0 in the first period!

Monday March 11

RV Park meeting in the morning and then we joined the work crew picking up trash along the road outside the RV Park. Spent two hours doing that and we were pooped when we finished. 

Our new supplemental hard drive for the Dish DVR arrived just as we got home. It has one terabyte capacity! That is a thousand gigabytes! Should be enough to hold our movies!

 Went over to Coyote Pause for lunch, then relaxed for the afternoon. Back to the rec hall this evening as Pericles (the park owner) was giving a talk on his 2-1/2 month trip to India last summer. Very interesting talk.

Tuesday March 12

Morning hike and then we did some shopping, stopped at BK for lunch. Back home we relaxed outside, it was quite warm, but there was nice breeze that made it very pleasant.

At sunset we went up to the observation tower here at Desert Trails to watch for the comet. Took a while to spot the sliver of the new moon and then we were able to see a small smudge in the sky which was the comet.

Wednesday March 13

Another beautiful day, set a new record temp for the day - 89 degrees! After our morning hike Nancy did laundry and I went over and help Karen with fixing the lights on her utility trailer.

After watching the speech from the new Pope we went into town to run some errands. Stopped at Total Wine to stock back up on scotch and Irish whiskey (we were running low!), then a stop at Beyond Bread for lunch and then Costco.

Back home and relaxed, first time we turned the AC on this year, and watched a movie.

Sunday March 17

Not a lot going on towards the end of this week. Yoga on Thursday morning and a stop at Food Conspiracy. A couple of runs to the store, of course lunch a BK. Weather has turned hot, in the 90’s the last three days, so we have holed up with the AC on most afternoons.

Saturday morning we went to the Tohono O’odham Swap Meet. Pretty amazing collection of mostly junk. Lots of used appliances and clothing, some good deals on hand and power tools though. Also lots of small food booths, looks like a good place for the adventurous to sample Native American and Mexican food.

In the we watched the Blackhawks get back to their winning ways and then the F1 practice and qualifying. This morning we watched the race. Also the NASCAR race from Bristol. The crowds looked disappointingly small, guess Bristol is no longer the toughest ticket in sports. 

Warm enough in the mornings that we can go for our desert walks in shorts and short sleeved shirts. High today should be in the 80’s.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Snow in the Desert, then HOT!

Sunday Feb 17

Slept in, took a nice hike and then vegged out watching the Blackhawks win again and close within one game of the record for  consecutive games without a loss to open the season. Of course that was followed by the season finale for Downton Abby. 

Monday Feb 18

Weather is supposed to turn nasty on Wednesday - cold, rain and wind. The park picnic was scheduled for Wednesday! So it has been moved up to Tuesday. After the morning meeting we took the truck over to the rec hall and loaded all of the folding tables on the deck to carry them over to the picnic area. Then we picked up a couple of picnic table from other sites.

In the afternoon Nancy backed a pie and I did some work on the truck. A beautiful day in the 70’s hard to believe it is going to turn cold later in the week - of course that means highs in the 50’s.

Tuesday Feb 19

As predicted the weather held on Tuesday and we had a really nice day for the picnic. A little bit breezy, but sunny in the 60’s. Only bad spot was our table was the last called in the rotation for the pot luck so stuff was pretty well picked over by the time we got there. Did not bother me much, but Nancy was disappointed about missing out on a lot of the salads. We did get first crack at the desert table though, so that was some consolation!

After the picnic we helped take the tables back where they belonged.

Wednesday Feb 20

Again as predicted, the weather turned nasty today. It was raining in the morning, got up to 50 by 11 AM and then dropped to 35 by noon! We got about 2” of snow here in the park! 

Nancy had gone to the movies with Karen while I stayed home and did some cleaning. I put lemon polish on all of the woodwork - damn there is a lot of woodwork in this sucker!

Got a couple of pics of the snow and built a little snowman from the snow on the picnic table. The snow was pretty much gone by the end of the day.

Thursday Feb 21

Off to Tucson Yoga this AM, did not notice it until we were in the car and out of the park - the Tucson Mountains to the east of us were still snow covered and looked beautiful! Wish we had noticed it before we left and taken a couple of pictures.

After our almost weekly stop at Food Conspiracy, we came home and picked up Karen’s dog, Margo. Kept her here this afternoon until Karen returned from the Rodeo.

Karen and a few others from the park had gone to the Rodeo Parade early this morning and then Rodeo. They called us when they were on the way home and we joined them for dinner at Fred’s Arena.

Friday Feb 22

Grunt work this AM, Nancy did laundry and I went over to the pool hall where there is a hard wire internet connection to do our banking and bill paying, as well as a couple of software updates. I prefer not to do the banking on WiFi. We have a small, inexpensive notebook computer that has never been connected to  a public WiFi and has never connected to anything other than secure websites. That is the one I use to go to the bank and credit card websites. A little more work, but also hopefully a little more secure.

Saturday Feb 23

Took a little longer hike in the desert today after sleeping in a bit. Saw the very first flowers of the year (other than Christmas Cactus) out in the desert this AM. Tiny, tiny (MICROSCOPIC!) white flowers that you have to get close to see at all. Then we went into town, had lunch at Beyond Bread, made a quick stop at Traders Joe’s and then went to the Friend’s of the Pima County Library annual used book sale. Spent a fair amount of time there browsing, but managed to get out with only four books, which showed tremendous restraint on our part. I wonder if there is a twelve-step program for people that buy more books than they can read!  

Sunday Feb 24

Went off to Cushing Street Grille for brunch this AM, we had a 25% off coupon. Got there at 9:10 and discovered they do not open until 10 AM - oops! There was a cold wind this morning and we were not dressed for walking so we did a driving tour of Barrio Viejo. Not much of it left, but it was interesting and we found a little museum that was closed but had a number of descriptive  signs telling the history of the neighborhood. Brunch was excellent once we got back there.

Back home to watch the Daytona snooze-fest - I mean 500. This new car seems worse than the old one on the super speedways, basically no passing other than the first few laps after a green flag. 

Then we watched the Blackhawks win again and extend their record season opening points streak to 18 games (15-0-3). Guess we picked a good year to subscribe to NHL Center Ice so we could get all the games.

Monday Feb 25

Monday AM meeting, then Nancy dug in and went to work on our income taxes. I helped with some research on various expenses and then went over to the pool hall for the hard wired connection and balanced our checkbooks - had not done that in a while.

Another Blackhawks game tonight and another win, albeit in overtime. They have made an amazing start this season. Everyone was concerned about the home stand after their great road trip record. They shut-up the doubters by going 5-0-1 at home!

Tuesday Feb 26

A bit chilly this AM, around 30 degrees both yesterday and today, but then up into the 60s by afternoon. Last year there were 2 days with below freezing, this year 17! Supposed to be into the eighties by early next week.

We waited until it had warmed up a bit and then went for a hike after breakfast. Hiked 5 or 6 miles. Don’t know how far for sure since the batteries in my GPS died, should have checked them before we left! We went up a small mountain nearby to some old mines. It is about 1.5 miles one way as the crow flies, so it was at least 5 miles by our route out through the county park. 

Then we went to BK for lunch and stopped at the grocery store, back home we just relaxed.

Wednesday Feb 27

After our morning walk we went down to Green Valley for the weekly farmers market. Picked up a few things we were looking for. As long as we were in the area we stopped at BK for lunch again as we went by.

Thursday Feb 28

Regular class at Tucson Yoga, a stop at Food Conspiracy and then home. Nancy had a massage with Angel after we got back home and then she spent some time helping a fellow here in the campground straighten out his paperwork on a house sale and some other stuff.

Blackhawks game again tonight and another win - that puts them at 17-0-3. They just keep going and going.

Friday March 1

Morning walk in the desert, then Nancy did some laundry. After lunch we went to a seafood market/restaurant that Nancy had found. Turned out to be a nice looking restaurant in a non-descript building - Rodriguez Fish Market. No website, but it is on 12th Ave just north of Ajo Way. The halibut, which we brought home and grilled, was excellent!

Back home we watched the Blackhawks squeak out another win in OT. Not a really good game for them, but somehow they manage to win even with a sluggish performance (second game in two nights and they play again Sunday afternoon!). Now they are 18-0-3! Stretched the record for consecutive point games to open the season to 21. Counting the end of the regular season last year, they are approaching the league record for consecutive games with points.

Saturday March 2

Off to H F Coors first thing this am for the first Saturday seconds sale. Nancy picked up about eight small items and a bowl that Joan had asked her to pick up.

Then we stopped at BK Tacos for a late breakfast, Walmart for Sunday pizzas, then home to drop stuff off.

This morning’s newspaper had an article about an open house at the new Tree Ring Laboratory at U of A. Yes, a Tree Ring Lab, the study of dendrochronology. Apparently they have been in a “temporary” facility since 1937! So we thought that would be an interesting thing to see.

A really nice building with fascinating display of really ancient pieces of wood and timelines from ancient trees. The founder of the lab A. E. Douglass developed a timeline of tree rings going back to pre-history that is being used to determine the age of wood in archeology and a lot of other sciences. He was considered the father of dendrochronology.

The tour of the lab was very interesting with the researchers and lab assistants explaining the various types of research they are performing studying tree rings: historic water flow in the Colorado River Basin; historical climatic conditions in the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa; One guy is even working an dating petrified wood that is four million years old!

They had wood samples there, that we could actually hold in our hands, that dated to before Christ. They even had a ten foot section of a 1,700 year old sequoia on display, along with a timeline made up of actual photographs of tree rings that dated back to ancient Rome. You had to go about three quarters of the way down the timeline (which covered about 30 feet) to get to when Columbus sailed!

All in all a most interesting display.

After the tour we stopped at Beyond Bread for lunch (of course!) and a quick stop at Trader Joe’s before heading home. A pretty full day considering that the only thing we actually had planned was the stop at H F Coors!

Oh yeah, almost forgot, it was 85 degrees today!