Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Getting Hot, Heading North in Two Weeks!

Monday 3/2

Early morning walk and then the Monday morning meeting. As I expected Pericles was the there in full song, just his arm in a sling. He was also trying to sell a slightly used bike, just broken handle bars and a broken frame!

We skipped the bike ride this week as they were going to Ryan field for lunch which means riding on the shoulder of the highway - not our cup of tea! Plus it was quite windy.

Rain came in during the early afternoon. We headed into town a little after four, had dinner at Saigon Pho - quite interesting and actually pretty good.

Good Life in the Universe lecture at Centennial Hall, not quite as crowded as past weeks. The host thanked everyone for coming out in “this terrible winter weather.” It was in the 50’s with light rain, I had the wipers on intermittent all the way in!

Back home and watched the Blackhawks game on the DVR. Much better game than they have played in weeks! Maybe the addition of the new guys will give them a little more zip and get them living up to their billing as Stanley Cup favorites.

Tuesday 3/3

Pretty morning out in  the desert, with ground fog along the base of the Tucson Mountains. We slept a bit late and had a late breakfast after our walk. Early in the afternoon we went into town and had lunch (and take-home for dinner) at Beyond Bread. They are dropping the loyalty program that they have been testing. The terminals were pretty buggy, not working half the time. As compensation to those of us that had been using it regularly they sent us a text offering a half price sandwich. So we not only got lunch and dinner today, we got it for half price!

It was a beautiful clear day after yesterday’s rain cleaned all the dust and smog out of the atmosphere in the Tucson valley. Our yoga instructor’s husband calls it “smust.” Coming over Gate’s Pass the Rincons really stood out and we could see clearly all the way to the north of the valley, really pretty. A lot of people here avoid going over Gates Pass, preferring to use Ajo Highway, I guess because they do not like the twisty roads through Tucson Mountain Park and narrow road over the pass. We find it to be a convenient way to get into the city and a pretty drive.

After lunch we stopped at Royal Car Wash to get the car spiffed up; Trader Joe’s for groceries and then back home as Nancy had her Spanish study group late in the afternoon.

When we arrived home the electricity was off. This is not an unusual problem in RV Parks in general, but it turned out to be a widespread outage involving app. 7,500 customers on the Southwest side of the city. According to the radio the expectation was about 3 hours, but they had it back up in 45 minutes.

Quiet evening watching a couple of mysteries on TV.

Wednesday 3/4

Up early and out in the desert. Days are getting longer and it is a lot lighter at 6:30 AM. Nancy had her Spanish class this morning, I did my weekly house cleaning.

After Nancy’s class we went down to the Green Valley Farmer’s Market. Nancy wanted to pick up some more skin cream just in case the lady who makes it did not get to the 4th Ave spring fair in a couple of weeks.

Then a stop at Fry’s in Sahurita to stock up since it is “first Wednesday” when they give a 10% discount to seniors - geezers are us!

Stopped at BK Tacos for lunch on the way home, then a stop at Copper Crest to look for rentals for next year for Joan. Not much luck there either. Still have not tapped into the right info source to find what is for rent.

Late in the afternoon the RV Doctor came by to replace the seal in our toilet. I did it a number of years ago and the hardest part was getting my aging body twisted around enough to work in that tiny space! There was no way I wanted to do that again and when he said forty bucks plus the cost of the seal I said go for it!

Hamburgers on the grille tonight 

Thursday 3/5

Tucson Yoga first thing in the AM, then a stop at Food Conspiracy.  When we arrived here last fall I commented about how many parking spaces on 4th Ave had been lost to the streetcar stops and wondered about the impact that would have on the retail stors along there. Well now, to add insult to injury, the city has installed parking meters all along the shopping and dining stretch of 4th Ave AND the side streets in the area! One dollar an hour parking meters!

So, we put a quarter in the meter for 15 minutes, and instead of walking through Food Conspiracy to see what we found interesting, we just grabbed what we came for and left. No more stopping in to Antigone Books to browse either. Sure seems anti business to me. 

Relaxed in the afternoon and did some restaurant searches, looking for a new place to try.

Called Gary and Karen and they went to dinner with us at Gulliermo’s in South Tucson. We go by there on the way to yoga and it looked interesting so we thought we would try it. Turned out to be pretty good, service was excellent, drinks so-so (although they did have Negro Modelo on tap) and the food pretty normal. Nancy thought her seafood was excellent, Gary and Karen like their fajitas, but I though the carne asada left a lot to be desired.

Friday 3/6

Beautiful morning in the desert, but the wind came up during the day, quite windy all day. We puttered around an took it easy, both of us are anticipating a busy week next week, there will be a lot going on.

Blackhawks play tonight after a few days off, this could be the game that forecasts what the rest of the season is going to look like. And they played another mediocre game! Managed to tie late in the third and win in the shoot-out, but still disappointing.

Saturday 3/7

Up early and off to the University for Tucson Festival of Books volunteer training. THat took a couple of hours, then we made a stop at C. F. Coors for 1st Saturday. Lunch at BK Tacos and then back home. 

Sunday 3/8

The rest of the country sprung on ahead of us last night, while we remained on Mountain Standard time. Morning walk in the desert, then watched Sun Morning on CBS. Blackhawks played late this afternoon, played the Rangers to a scoreless tie then lost in OT. Another pretty mediocre game, this team just cannot put the puck in the net this season - very frustrating.

A busy week coming up: bike ride on Monday; science lecture Monday evening; visiting Escapade for one day on Tuesday and then dinner with friends; another book festival meeting one evening yet to be determined; then volunteering at the festival on Saturday and Sunday!

Monday 3/9

Early walk and then the Monday morning meeting. Went off with bike group to the Riallito River bike trail and had lunch at Sweet Tomatoes.

Back home for the afternoon and the back into town for the last of the science lecture series. Had dinner at Gentle Ben’s and then took in the best lecture of the series. An excellent presenter and fascinating subject. Worth watching the on-line podcast if you are at all interested.

Tuesday 3/10

We had planned on going to Escapade today, but after we looked over the list of seminars we did not find any “must see” ones. We had picked out a couple for this morning, but decided it was not worth the $30 daily fee (for members) for just two seminars. Decided to take it easy today and go to Escaped tomorrow just to browse through the marketplace.

Met some friend's for dinner at Cafe Poco Cosa quite an interesting place with a constantly changing menu. Nice service and excellent food, plus good conversation.

Wednesday 3/21

We made it through the day! Morning walk in the desert, then Nancy had her Spanish class and I did my weekly house cleaning - sure love that new built-in vacuum! 

After Nancy’s class we went over to Ajo Cafe for lunch, stopped at Camping World to return some cabinet supports that did not work for what I wanted, then on to Escapade.

Walked through the marketplace, said hello to Miss Terry at the Gypsy Journal booth and picked up a few things. Did not spend anywhere near as much as we did last year!

By now it’s about 2:30, so we went up to Bookman’s to browse around. In spite of our Kindles we still bought half a dozen books, but a lot less than we used to. Then we headed up to Oro Valley where we had to go to a Festival of Books training meeting for “key” volunteers.

Had dinner at the Beyond Bread on Ina, then to the meeting, which was very interesting training on how to scan the new tickets with the QR Scanner on our iPhones. This year they have decided to try free ticketing for the largest and most popular venues. We are working Saturday and Sunday morning and then we have tickets to two off the major venues Saturday afternoon.

Got back home a little after 7 PM and a couple stopped by who had been looking for us all afternoon! (we left at noon.) They were looking for info on the Book Festival and Pericles had told them we were volunteering there. Chatted with them for a while and then called it a day.

Thursday 3/12

Off to Tucson Yoga this morning for another good Gentle and Restorative class with Johanna, sure will miss these once we head back North. Quick stop at Food Conspiracy and back home. Nancy spent a lot of time studying this afternoon and the Blackhawks play tonight!

Blackhawks played a fair game, but still seem unable to score with any regularity. They did manage to beat Arizona 2-1, but it should have been a much more lopsided score!

Friday 3/13

Our busy week continues. At least we did not have to be up before dawn this morning. Took our regular walk, Nancy did some laundry and Spanish and I did some planning for our trip home. Hard to believe we will be back on the road in less than three weeks!

After lunch we headed into town to the Tucson Red Cross headquarters for a training session. Very nice facility, better than we expected.

After the three hour session was completed we stopped at Walmart to pick up some brats for dinner and a toy for Margo - Sunday is here birthday. Back home and relaxed.

Saturday 3/14

Up at 6 AM and headed into the city at 7:30 for the Tucson Festival of Books. Reported in and were assigned to the big room in the modern languages building. I worked as inside room monitor, Nancy unfortunately ended up line wrangling and did not get to hear both of the presentations. With big crowds and popular programs we were kept running all morning. Nancy did get to hear the first one which featured Deborah Harkness, Sue  Miller, and Joyce Carol Oates. The second one featured three authors we did not know, Ace Atkins, C. J. Box, and William Kent Krueger talking about family dynamics in their novels.

After our shift we went to a session in the main ballroom featuring Jean Kwok, Lisa See, and Amy Tan. Massive crowd and we got drafted into helping with seating, but since we had tickets we were able to sit down and enjoy the presentation. After that we went to a presentation on dark skies by Paul Bogard. His book is The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in a World of Artificial Light.

Stopped at Beyond Bread for a late lunch/dinner and got home about 4 PM and sat down to watch the Blackhawks game we recorded earlier in the afternoon. They finally broke out of their slump in the third period, hopefully for good! Then we watched F1 qualifying from last night and hit the sack, early morning again tomorrow.

Sunday 3/15

Back off to the Book Festival again early this morning. We had to split up as they needed people with the extra scanner training in a number of venues. Nancy ended up line wrangling at the main ball room with huge crowds - one of her presentations was Craig Johnson, the author of the Longmire series, along with the actors Lou Diamond Phillips and Rob Taylor.

I was in the Gallagher Theatre where I had inside duties as well as doing some of the ticket scanning in the lines. We also had CSpan broadcasting all the presentations live. Filled the whole room for the first session, but managed to cram in everyone standing in line. It was a fascinating presentation on the Obama Years with Ian Haney Lopez, Mark Leibovich, and David Maraniss. Second presentation was not full, so not a much of a hassle. Dan Fagin and Alexandra Witze on Reporting Disasters, Natural and Manmade.

After our shift we had some lunch in the Student Union and the strolled around the rest of the fair. As it was last year walking around with “Volunteer” shirts we were often approached with questions about where something was.

Back home by 2 PM today so we relaxed, watched last night’s F1 race from Australia and CBS Sunday Morning - sure love that DVR.

Monday 2/16

Supposed to get hot today so we took our morning walk and then headed out on our own bike ride rather than waiting for the bike group. They do not meet until 10:30, after the morning meeting, so they don’t get to the ride location until 11 or 11:30.

We just went over to the Santa Cruz path off Irvington. Rode North, but the new section is still closed - what the heck is taking them so long, it was fully paved over a month ago! - so we just rode the 5 mile loop and headed home.

Cranked up the AC for the first time this year as the temp hit 88 late in the afternoon!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

So once again I have been negligent, not posting in a timely manner. Time seems to just slip away here, hard enough to keep track of the day of the week! I do try to diligently keep my notes every day so I have something to post when I get here.

Wednesday 2/11

Regular walk in the desert this morning and another beautiful sunrise. Nancy had her Spanish class this morning. I checked on the FedEx tracking and saw that the part for our blender had arrived so I went over to the mailbox and picked it up, then installed the new drive wheel on the blender. Then did my Wednesday morning vacuuming.

After Nancy’s class we went into town to Beyond Bread for lunch (and dinner), then back home for a quiet afternoon. 

Blackhawks played another stinko and lethargic game tonight, just cannot figure out what is up with this team! They did snap out of it in the last few minutes of the game and scored two goals to at least salvage a tie, then lost in overtime.

Thursday 2/12

Regular yoga class this morning at Tucson Yoga, then a stop at Food Conspiracy. Discovered this  morning that the WiFi had quit working again, expected another password change like the last time, but when I went to the office I found that the system had been shut down by the provider because someone had been downloading pirated movies! So now to get back on the WiFi we have to register our devices. Also it turns out that David, who does a really nice job managing the system, will not allow routers like our WiFi Ranger - bummer! He is also going to limit access to two devices per site. Actually that should improve the performance considerably when you think about all the parasitic devices that connect besides computers: cell phones, e-readers, smart TVs, etc.

So we dug out our Bear Extenders, which are simply signal boosters that have worked for us in the past, and registered them. So far tonight the system is working great, more responsive than we have ever seen it when the park is full. I imagine registering the devices will also allow them to monitor usage, which should cut down on the people who tie up the system streaming videos - which was never allowed, but you could see it happening when the response bogged down. So we will see if this works out. So far so good.

Friday 2/13

Friday the 13th worked out pretty well for us. Nice walk in the desert this morning - slept in to after 7 AM! Today was the second park wide yard sale, so after breakfast I got all my stuff out. Last time all I sold was the $3 wash brush that Gary bought before the sale. Spent the rest of the morning sitting outside and sold several things - made $7.50! Whoo-hoo! Rest of the stuff will probably go on the free shelf in the rec hall.

Nancy spent a good part of the afternoon studying Spanish and I did not do much of anything. Blackhawks play again tonight, hopefully they can get their act together.

Well, good and bad, the Hawks played two lousy periods and then put together a credible third and won the game. Hossa scored his 7th goal in four games! Quite a way to break out of a slump!

Saturday 2/14

Took in the yoga class here in the park this morning and then took our regular walk. Headed in to town to have lunch at BK Tacos and then a stop at the grocery store. Traffic today was horrendous! Maybe due to the Gem Show. Irvington Road coming up to I-10 was particularly bad.

Back home we relaxed and had a quiet afternoon.

Sunday 2/15

Clouded over yesterday afternoon so it stayed warm all night - 60 degrees this morning. During our walk the sun was peaking under the cloud cover and lighting up the mountains to the South, I think this is the Tumacacori Mountains. Kitt Peak was also basking in the morning sun for a while.

As you can see from the foreground of this picture, the best way to describe the desert this winter is "lush". We noticed immediately the first morning we were out in November that the palo verde in particular were much taller than in previous years. Now, after the winter rains we have had, everything in the desert is greening up.

Last winter we had 0.1 inches of rain in January and February; this year we have had 2.5 inches! Much closer to normal rainfall and the plants are showing it. You cannot see it in the above pic, but much of the open ground is now covered with small green plants; the bursage,  creosote, and palo verde are leafing out; all of the cacti, from the pin cushion to the fish hook and barrel cactus are pumped up and healthy looking; the ocotillo, which just look like vertical stick most of the time are starting to produce leaves as well. A lot of these desert plants will quickly produce leaves when conditions are right, perform their photosynthesis, and then drop the leaves quickly when it gets hot and dry again. They do this to prevent losing moisture through the leaves. 

The cholla in particular are lovely: the teddy bear cholla almost fluoresce in the morning sun, and the stag horn cholla are sporting red flowers:

The chain fruit cholla seem to be producing more fruit than in past years and of course the saguaro are looking plump and happy. A beautiful time in the desert.

The Blackhawks had another morning game today and for once they played a pretty good game, even though they needed the shoot-out to win.

Monday 2/16

Early walk in the desert this morning, a bit cooler than yesterday, then the Monday morning meeting. Pericles explained the issues with the WiFI. For us  the WiFi has improved considerably, even though we are not using our WiFi Ranger anymore. 

After the meeting the bike group went to the path along the Santa Cruz river just south of Irvington. There is a new section to the north, not actually open yet, but someone had opened the barricades. We rode north a far as Broadway, probably would not have been able to do it if it had not been President’s Day and they had been working. Rode nine miles.

A quick stop to pick up a new CO detector since the one in the trailer aged out last evening and started beeping. Home for a few hours and then we headed into town for the Life in the Universe lecture at the university.

Still looking for a good place nearby to have dinner before the talk. Tried Mama’s Hawaiian Barbecue which was a disappointment. The service was really slow - it is just a cafeteria where you order at the counter and they call out your name when it is ready. It took 25 minutes for a burger and salad! Nancy’s salad was OK, but my burger was a way overcooked hockey puck, basically inedible. Not time to wait for another, so I ate some and the fries. When I complained the lady at the counter just shrugged. Once we got to Centennial Hall I posted a review on Yelp.

Very interesting talk by a professor that talked really fast. Nice thing is that the talk finished at 7:50, we were in the car and out of the garage by 8:00 and home at 8:30!

Tuesday 2/17

Slept in this morning so we took our walk a little later. Then I spent the rest of the morning working on the Windmill presentation for the History Center Brown Bag in May. Nancy worked on her Spanish and did laundry. After lunch we ran through the presentation to check the timing.

Nancy had her study group late in the afternoon and I did basically nothing. Then a quiet evening.

Wednesday 2/18

Nancy had Spanish class after our morning walk. I spent close to an hour trying to uninstall and reinstall software on her laptop that was causing it to restart every time she went on line. Managed to get it working after the third go round!

Off to Beyond Bread for lunch, then some shopping, Trader Joe’s, Total Wine and More, Albertson’s. That pretty much killed the afternoon. Blackhawks played a pretty good game tonight, but lost to Detroit in a shoot-out. Chicago - Detroit games are always exciting and fun to watch and this one was no exception. Too bad they only play twice a year now.

Thursday 2/19

Tucson Yoga first thing, then straight back home as we had volunteered our truck to move a load of folding tables for the park picnic on Friday. However, by the time we got back the picnic table crew had finished their job and picked up our tables as well.

Pericles, the owner of Desert Trails had a serious biking accident yesterday, quite a few broken bones and the poor guy has surgery scheduled on his shoulder on Saturday. Fortunately all the damage is to things that will heal or can be repaired. 

Nancy spent the afternoon finishing up the income taxes, I finished cleaning up the outline of the Fabyan Windmill presentation at the Brown Bag lunch at the History Museum coming up on May 12th.

Friday 2/20

After our morning walk I spent the morning double checking the figure on the income taxes and doing the E filing while Nancy studied. Then we went to the park picnic. Not the first table to eat this year, like we were last year, but we were the 3rd or 4th one called - an advantage when there are 20+ tables! We had it coming after two consecutive years as the last table!

I had a massage from Angel this afternoon and then we walked around the park and visited with a lot of dogs - they all seemed to be out walking this afternoon!

Blackhawks got off to a good start against Colorado, then fell apart in the 3rd period. It looks like Colorado will not make the playoffs and that is a good thing as their goalie certainly has the Hawks number this year.

Saturday 2/21

Morning walk and then just hung around home most of the day. Late in the afternoon we went into town and made a top at Cosco before going to Culver’s for dinner. Had a coupon for a free Double Butter Burger - can’t pass that up and the new one on Kino Parkway is not far away. We have another coupon that expires at the end of the month.

Went a bit farther to the East to pick up a new antenna mast for the the truck CB to replace the one I bent in Phoenix. CB shop at TTT did not have any, but the Pilot had replacement whip masts. I had anticipated having to buy a new pair of antennas, but replacing just the whip was a pleasant surprise - a lot cheaper!

Sunday 2/22

Very warm overnight, 60 degrees this morning. After our walk in the desert we watched CBS Sunday Morning, then listed to A Prairie Home Companion that we missed yesterday afternoon. Interesting that they have not sold out this spring’s Caribbean cruise. This one is a bit more expensive than the last Caribbean one, but I think all of the others have sold out in just a few weeks.

Watched the first part of the Daytona 500, then the Blackhawks game. They disproved the prevailing theory that they are playing down to the caliber of the competition by getting blown out by Boston 6-2. They looked as bad as they have all season. Hopefully this will be a wake-up call.

Monday 2/23

Busy day today! Up early for our regular walk, then off to the Monday morning meeting. Elaine, one of our neighbors, did an outstanding job filling in for Pericles. Reports are that his shoulder surgery on Saturday was 100% successful.

Bike group went along the Aviation Parkway Bike Trail from the southeast up to Fourth Ave. The group stopped for lunch at Thunder Canyon Brewery, but Nancy & Karen were not real enthusiastic about eating and then getting back on the bikes for the ride back to the car, so we skipped lunch.

On the way back the chain on Karen’s bike jammed and we were unable to fix it. Nancy waited with Karen while Gary and I roade back to the parking lot. I carry my Etrex 20 GPS on a handlebar mount so I was able to mark a waypoint where they were and then find my way back there through a warren of side streets. Kind of tricky using that tiny little map as a GPS in the car, but it worked.

The four of us stopped at BK Tacos for lunch, then we stopped at the grocery store and then back home.

Had less than an hour before we had to leave to get over to the University for the latest Life in the Universe lecture. Tried Paradise Bakery and Cafe for dinner. A lot like a Panera, but the bread on my sandwich was only so-so, a far cry from Beyond Bread! Nancy had a nice salad though.

Back home after the lecture about 8:45. Another full house at Centenial Hall.

Tuesday 2/24

Rained fairly hard just before dawn, was partly cloudy and cool (48) when we took our walk in the desert. Relaxed in the morning. I did the repairs on the CB antenna on the truck in the afternoon. Nancy had a massage with Angel and then her Spanish study group.

We have to arrive at Centennial Hall when the doors open this year to be sure of getting seats where we want to be, much bigger crowds than in previous years. We used to be able to walk in at 6:50 with no problem, now we need to be there by 6:15 - damn geezers!

So we take our Kindles and sit and read. Tonight thay had some great clarinet music playing that I never heard before. Identified it using Shazam on my iPhone - Dr. Michael White. Never heard of him before. Checked him out on iTunes today and he has some great traditional jazz with a current twist. Guess I will need to purchase a couple of his albums.

The Blackhawks played a pretty average game tonight, I was hoping for more after the way they were blown out on Sunday. To add to the distress Patrick Kane was seriously injured by a cheap shot from a nobody player. Some goof nobody ever heard of takes out the league's leading scorer with a cheap hit and gets a two minute penalty - Kane is out for the rest of the regular season and maybe into the playoffs. The NHL needs the rule that I have advocated for years: if a player is injured when you get a penalty then you stay out as long as he does.

Wednesday 2/25

Coldest morning in quite a while, 40 degrees this morning. Nancy had her Spanish class this morning. I did some house cleaning.

After her class we took our regular walk, then went in to Beyond Bread for lunch. Then a stop at the Pima County DOT office for the Adopt A Highway training session.

That pretty much killed the day. Quiet evening watching TV.

Thursday 2/26

Tucson Yoga first thing this morning. Traffic going in was very light, the schools are closed because the Rodeo parade is today. Ajo Highway especially light since Ajo was closed at 6th St. for the parade. 

After class we planned on meeting Gary and Karen at the bank in Tucson Estates to witness his will. We called them when we were leaving downtown at 10:30 and said we would meet them at 11. Took us 18 minutes! Obviously still light traffic.

After the bank Gary bought lunch at J J Cooper’s in the little shopping center in Tucson Estates. Pretty good place with good sandwiches.

Nancy and Karen went for pedicures in the afternoon. I stayed home and paid bills, downloaded a couple of Dr. Michael White albums. 

Friday 2/27

After our morning walk Nancy did laundry and I balanced checkbooks and updated credit card expenditure records into Quicken.

We had another Culver’s coupon for a free double cheese Butterburger, so we headed into town town to Culver’s for lunch. A quick stop at Walmart and then we stopped at a couple of realtor’s offices and clubhouses in Tucson Estates to look at rental info.

Blackhawks played another disappointing game tonight, they just seem to look lethargic and a step behind the other team. Looking more and more like a short, disappointing season

Saturday 2/28

Warm and breezy this morning, in fact a fairly stiff wind all day long. Not much happening around here today. Karen and Gary dropped Margo off mid-morning and headed in to the rodeo. Actually that should be “La Fiesta de los Vaqueros” which is celebrating it’s 90th anniversary! This year’s rodeo started on Thursday with the annual rodeo parade - the world’s longest non-motorized parade. One of these times we need to go to the parade, unfortunately it conflicts with our weekly yoga class.

Karen and Gary came back in late afternoon and stayed for a few drinks and conversation. I should also mention that the park WiFi continue to operate superbly, still better than it has ever been!

Sunday 3/1

I mentioned a few days ago that the ocotillo were leafing out. They are now sporting their iconic flame red flowers. Here's one from this morning:

After our morning walk we had a quiet day at home. Blackhawks don't play until Monday evening, but they made a couple of good trades over the weekend, picking up a couple of players that will have an immediate impact without losing too much in return. They will not replace Patrick Kane, but should be a big help. They did give up one good young defenseman from Rockford, but the rest was done with draft choices. They will have to make some moves after the season to stay under the salary cap, so they should be able to recoup those lost draft choices. We'll see how it goes from here. Gotta stay positive! Been wearing my new sweater for every game. Hey! It's only weird if it doesn't work! Actually I guess that means it's weird since it has not been working to well.