Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wow, Three Weeks?

How can it have been three weeks since I posted last? Should have put up a post before we headed back home for Christmas. It was fairly warm and dry in Chicago while we were there, no snow, but we got enough of that in Denver in November to get us through the winter! Anyhoo … here's the latest update.

Tuesday 12/9

Nice walk in the desert in the AM, Nancy spent a good portion of the day working on her Spanish. I cleaned out and rearranged the main storage compartment (needs to be done every time we settle in as I tend to just throw stuff in there when I am loading in cold weather) and sorted out the stuff I want to sell in the yard sale on Friday.

We took care of Margo in the afternoon while Karen & Gary went to do some shopping for stuff in the new house.

Hawks won in a shoot-out tonight that they got to in spite of a pretty lackluster performance. All that counts in the standings though is a win.

Wednesday 12/10

Short desert walk this morning as Nancy had her Spanish class at 9 AM. I did some house cleaning while she was in class.

Quiet day otherwise. We went over to see Karen & Gary’s new house in late afternoon. It is really nice with a particularly nice patio with views out over the nearby wash, a nice place to sit and watch the sunset!

Then the four of us went to Taco Grio for dinner.

Thursday 12/11

Off to Tucson Yoga first thing this morning, quite a bit dryer this morning, no rivers running ion the gutters! Good class with Johanna back.

Back home for lunch and then over to Saguaro National Park West for a talk on the geology of the Tucson Mountains, third time we have heard this talk and it is finally starting to sink in so that we can understand and follow what the Ranger is saying. He is an excellent teacher, a retired college proffesor from SUNY, but with our limited background in geology it is taking a while for things to sink in.

We have been thinking we will miss the Blackhawks game on 12/27 as we will be flying back from Chicago because we would not know which Center Ice channel the game would be on to program it before we leave on the 10th. Then I found the Dish Anywhere app that allows us to program our DVR remotely - problem solved! Nor so fast! The Dish Anywhere app does not see the NHL Center Ice stations!!! Trying to work with Dish to get it corrected.

Blackhawks vs. Boston tonight.  Hawks got out to a 3-0 lead, then hung on to win 3-2 even though they lost Toews to a questionable hit in the 2nd period.

Friday 12/12

Yard sale in the RV park this morning. I had several things to sell so we skipped our walk. Turns out the only thing I sold was the washing brush that Gary said he wanted the other evening! Nancy checked out the craft sale at the rec center while I spent time on line communicating with a tech trying to get the Dish Anywhere app show our NHL Center Ice stations so I can program from home while we are away. Update: No luck. After a lot of back and forth with a tech who was really trying to help it never got resolved, so we did miss the game. I was able to use the app to program a Tucson PBS show from home in Geneva that we would have missed otherwise though.

About 11:30 we headed into town to the 4th Ave Winter Street fair. Parking garage was full, but knowing the area from going to Tucson Yoga we were able to find a free spot on  South 4th Ave just a couple of blocks from the garage. Walked the full length of the market and Nancy picked up some of the creams she likes and a couple of gifts.

A stop at Beyond Bread and then Trader Joe’s and we were back home by about 3:30.

Saturday 12/13

Cloud cover kept us warm overnight, 58 when we rose, but that also meant we never got above 60 all day. Dry for our morning walk in the desert, but then it started to drizzle and we had light rain and low clouds most of the day.

We took a run over to Tucson Mall to pick up a couple of things, stopped at Culvers for lunch before we got there. This was the most crowded mall I have seen in many, many years! Rainy Saturday less than 2 weeks before Christmas probably explains it, but it was mobbed.

Back home we relaxed and listened to Prairie Home companion before the Hawks game. On WGN tonight, so we get the Islanders broadcast feed on non-HD. Center Ice has been less than satisfactory this season, quite often we have not been able to get the Chicago commentary, just the opponent’s broadcast.

Clouds are breaking up around sunset, hopefully we will be able to see the meteor shower this evening. 

So, no luck on the meteor shower, could see stars, but there seemed to be a high, thin cloud cover and we were not very patient. Hawks played a fairly lackluster game, not as bad as some of the ones earlier in the season, but not up to their standards and they lost to the Islanders.

Sunday 12/14

Cool this AM, 38 degrees, we had breakfast and watched CBS Sunday Morning, then headed out for a bit longer walk in the desert. Went out into Tucson Mountain Park and walked the trail out to the Ironwood Picnic Area and back, only a little over three and half miles. We walk two miles every day at home, but it is a bit slower going on the rough ground out in the desert compared to pavement.

Otherwise a quiet afternoon, Nancy did some Spanish study while I worked on my couch potato skills. Blackhawks play again tonight, I’m betting this will be a stronger game than last night.

Man, that was one fast game. Last night against the Islanders was fast and exciting, tonight’s even more so - plus the Blackhawks won!

Monday 12/15

Monday AM meeting and then off with the biking group. Short trip this morning, just over to Tucson Estates, which is just down the road. We rode around the area, visiting the houses purchased by a number of former Desert Trails residents, including Karen & Gary’s new house. Stopped for lunch at Brat’s Grille, which we had never been to. Nothing to write home about, but the food was good and the group fun to be with.

Did not get back home until close to 3 PM, so that was about it for the day. Getting things packed up for our quick trip home for Christmas, leave early Wednesday morning.

Tuesday 12/16

Held off on morning walk so we could check in for our flight home tomorrow morning, ended up near the back of B group as usual. Took our walk mid-morning. It is rather amazing how we can walk along the same paths every day and always see something new or different every time we go there.

Pretty quiet day, Nancy studied some Spanish and we got things together for the trip home. Blackhawks won tonight, although they did manage to make it a bit of a nail bitter.

Sunday 12/28

Oops, forgot to post to my blog before we headed home for Christmas on the 17th! On the 27th we took the train into the city and stopped at the Blackhawks store on North Michigan where Nancy bought me a great looking Blackhawks sweatshirt for Christmas. Spent the afternoon at the Art Institute then off to the airport. Our cab driver gave us a travelogue slide show about Siri Lanka on his cell phone while driving down the Kennedy Expressway!

Got back to Tucson late Saturday night, cold weather to greet us - 38 degrees when we landed and 30 this morning. Took a nice walk in the desert anyway. Lunch at BK Tacos and then a stop at the grocery store. Afternoon at home.

Monday 12/29

Monday morning meeting and then off with the bike group for a ride along the Aviation Parkway bike trail. Fairly long drive across to the SE side of the city, then rode 7 miles back to North 4th Ave and stopped for lunch at Bumsted’s. Pretty good sandwiches, quite large, but we like the ones at Beyond Bread better. Then bikes back to where we parked the cars. Late afternoon by the time we got home.

Blackhawks managed to come from behind and beat Nashville in a shoot-out. Beginning to look like the Predators are for real this season, we will probably meet them again the playoffs.

Tuesday 12/30

Up before the crack of dawn as Nancy is flying to Denver to help Connie celebrate her birthday on Wednesday. She had a flight at 7:05 AM, so we left home at 5:30! Took only a half hour to get to the airport via Valencia Road. I tried an alternate on the way home, going up to I-10 and across. Took 25 minutes, so it is pretty much a toss-up as to which is best.

Did some house cleaning when I got home. I wanted to take the truck out for a run just to get the fluids moving, so I took it in the BK Tacos for lunch. Then I vegged the rest of the day.

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Rainy Day in the Desert.

Thursday 11/27

Group dinner at Desert Trails today, we opted to join the smaller group in the Sewing Center (used to be the Oasis) rather than the larger group in the rec hall. Supposed to hit 80 today! 

A beautiful Thanksgiving Day, high about 83 with a cloudless blue sky and a light breeze. Had dinner in the early afternoon, group of about 75 in the Sewing Center, I expect there were twice as many, or more, in the Rec Hall. The food was great and a nice variety. Everything was nice and hot and the turkey was moist. Pretty impressive desert table as well.

After dinner I went and picked up Margo. Gary and Karen were with her brother in Green Valley so we were taking care of Margo. Nancy helped with the clean-up and then we sat outside and read the rest of the afternoon. It is amazingly quiet here most of the day and evening, only occasional small planes, no trains, no highway noise. Some mornings we can hear the pop-pop-pop from the Tucson Trap and Skeet Club, but no big deal.

Cleaned out some drawers in the trailer looking for my Desert Museum membership card and my National Parks pass, no luck. Must have left them at home - duh.

Friday 11/28

Drove down to Patagonia with Gary & Karen this morning. Really nice scenery on the way down along the East side of the Santa Rita mountains. Small town with a lot of craft and jewelry stores, art walk this weekend. After Nancy & Karen got their fill of shop browsing we stopped at Velvet Elvis for a pretty good pizza, then we took a drive through Patagonia State Park. Large campground that was full of holiday weekend campers and a pretty man made lake.

Back home we watched the Blackhawks beat the Ducks, a game we recorded earlier in the afternoon. After dinner the Roadrunners were in  the rec. hall. Just two saxophones and a keyboard player, but pretty good. Thin crowd and a lot left during the break as they were expecting Robbie Lee and probably the Ellington Band from the Tucson Jazz Institute. The Roadrunners though are basically a pick-up group of whoever can show up on a given night, students and adults.

Saturday 11/29

Morning walk and then Nancy did some laundry. Fairly quiet day, quite warm. I did get out of the recliner long enough to reassemble the bicycle rack, put it on the truck and load the bikes for Monday’s ride.

Another good game from the Blackhawks in LA tonight, they seem to have finally hit their stride and finished the road trip 5-1.

Sunday 11/30

The last couple of mornings we have heard coyotes howling out in the desert while we were on our morning walk. Been hearing our local owls in the RV Park around dusk every day as well.

Fairly quiet day at home, although we did run over to BK for lunch. Another beautiful warm day, mid 70’s with a nice light breeze. Watched a couple of mysteries in the evening.

Monday 12/1

Monday morning meeting and then off with the bike group. We went along the Santa Cruz river starting at 22nd street. Went South as far as Silverlake, crossed over and rode North as far as Grant where we turned around and returned. We were lagging behind the main group and lost touch with them, they apparently went farther North as they were not back yet when we returned. We were not planning on joining the lunch group anyway. Rode just over 9 miles.

Lovely day in the low 70’s with a light cloud cover so it was a very comfortable day for riding. Had to use the truck to carry the bikes, hopefully the new bracket for the smart will be done this week.

Another quiet afternoon, just taking it easy.

Tuesday 12/2

Tucson Trailer called yesterday afternoon and said our new custom hitch extension was ready, so after our morning walk and breakfast we headed into town. Stopped and picked up the extension which looks really nice and came in about $40 below the estimate. Then we made a stop at Nordstrom Rack where Nancy found a new pair of sneakers and some large tubes of Bliss body lotion which we go through pretty fast here - humidity was 3% over the weekend and zoomed all the way up to 18% today with today’s tropical flow from the Pacific!

Then a stop at Total Wine and Liquor to replenish our Irish and Scotch whiskey supply - always an expensive stop. By now it was lunchtime so ... Beyond Bread! Yeah! Followed by a stop at Trader Joe’s and then back home by early afternoon.

Unloaded the bikes from the truck, disassembled the bike rack and put it on the new hitch extension. Worked great! Took a short drive around the park to check it out, seems to work well. Now the rack hight is equal to the height when on the back of the trailer, although the hitch itself is still only 4” off the ground.

Wednesday 12/3

Up early for our walk, some cloud cover overnight so it was 68 degrees at 6:30 AM. Nancy had her first Spanish class this morning, I did some house cleaning.

Late morning we headed down to Sahuarita for “geezer day” at the Fry’s - they have a nice newer store down there. Very busy as the give 10% for customers over 55 on the first Wednesday of the month.

Stopped at BK for lunch on the way down there. Quiet afternoon after we got back from shopping. Blackhawks game tonight. And they produced a pretty good game against the Blues, finally breaking out with three goals in the third - looks like the scoring slump is behind them and they are on their way back to the front of the pack.

Thursday 12/4

Raining, more rain than we have ever seen in Arizona. It rained steadily from early morning until the sun started to poke through around 2 PM. On our way back from town just before noon the clouds were so low we could not see the mountains. Should be good for the wildflowers in the spring. Every year they tell us that the amount of spring flowers depends on how much rain we get in December.

Off to Tucson Yoga this morning for our first class of the winter. Our instructor from the last couple of years was not there this morning and Ann, who we had taken classes from in 2010 was substituting, good to see her again. At the start of class she mentioned that, although she has been doing seminars, this was the first class she has taught since this exact date in 2010 - a class we had attended just before she went on her three year plus retreat! After class I mentioned this to her and said we felt privileged to be in this class since we were in her last one four years ago. She said, “I know, I was so excited when I saw you guys come in!”

After class we made a stop at Food Conspiracy and then a stop at H. F. Coors. Lots of standing water all over town and streams running in the gutters. I can see why they have so much trouble handling the water during the summer monsoons!

Back home we had lunch and relaxed. Nancy spent some time working on her Spanish lessons.

Friday 12/5

Quite a bit of moisture out in the desert this morning, some parts of the trails were almost muddy! We also noted a number of Cholla that had fallen over. Unable to tell if it was from the weight of moisture or if they were pushed by an animal.  

An item Nancy wanted at H. F. Coors was still in the kiln yesterday morning, so this AM she called and found it was ready. So after breakfast we ran across town to pick it up. Went via I-10 and Kino Parkway instead of 22nd and lo & behold, there is a new Culver’s right by the Costco intersection on Kino!! Not far from the In N’ Out Burger on Ajo. So ... after stopping at Coors and Costco we had lunch at Culver’s.

On the way home we stopped at Target and bought gifts to match the tags we took from the Salvation Army giving tree at Desert Trails. The Salvation Army representative was at the Monday meeting and said last year they received 300+ gift from Desert Trails residents.

Blackhawks won again tonight, but only by breaking a tie with 47 seconds left! A nail biter! Local weatherman just said it  feels “sticky” outside this evening ... the humidity is 68%! He does not know “sticky!”

Saturday 12/6

Up early and off to “First Saturday” at H. F. Coors. Got there about 8:20 and line was out into the parking lot! Crowded once the doors opened, but not really too bad. Nancy picked up a several items for herself and gifts. We were back home by 9:30 and then we took a nice hike in the desert, a bit longer than usual. Being Saturday morning there were several ATVs out on the roads in the BLM land.

Nancy spent some time figuring out what we need to do to prepare for the road clean-up a week from Monday, we volunteered to coordinate it last year. Turns out we need to attend a training class and give the county 2 weeks notice, so I guess the project is going to be delayed!

Stayed fairly overcast most of the day, temps in the mid 60’s, actually a pretty nice day.

Blackhawks soundly beat Nashville tonight to move into first place in the division, the slump seems to be definitely over.

Sunday 12/7

A bit cooler this AM, 45 degrees when we headed out into the desert. The desert at dawn is a pretty amazing place - the shadow play on the mountains makes the folds and ravines stand out, the cholla actually seem to fluoresce as they catch the first rays of the morning sun, as do the tops of the saguaros.

Relaxing morning, then after lunch we ran into town primarily to pick up some frozen pizza that Albertson’s had on sale. Back home I checked tire pressures on the bikes, mounted the rack on the smart and loaded the bikes. Tomorrow will be the real test of my redesigned bike rack mount.

Nancy spent a lot of time studying her Spanish while I did basically nothing.

Monday 12/8

Monday AM meeting, updated park owner on status of the road clean-up program and need for a new permit, then we slipped out of the meeting early.

 Bike group went up to Rillito River bike path today. New mount for the bike rack on smart worked great. We cut the ride a bit short and skipped lunch at Sweet Tomatoes because we wanted to go to a ranger lecture on mountain lions at Saguaro National Park at 2:15. While I was loading the bikes Nancy called Beyond Bread and ordered our sandwiches. Stopped and picked up the sandwiches and headed back West. Got to the park 45 minutes before the lecture, sat on an outside bench and ate our sandwiches. Lecture was excellent and very interesting, as they usually are.

Back home a little before 4 PM. Good thing about doing Beyond Bread for lunch is it provides dinner as well!