Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Passport Application

We started working on renewing our passports a year or so ago.  We picked up the forms, stored them in a place we could remember and then put it off.  We finally decided to get serious about the renewal and downloaded the forms and got all the documents we needed for the renewal.

So it was off to the Post Office to finalize getting the passports.  We called a couple days ago and the person on the phone said to just come in and they would process the forms.  When we got there today they said we had to make an appointment.  WHAT!  I told the lady behind the counter that we had been told we didn't need an appointment and that is why we came to that post office.  After a little whining on my part she agreed to help us.  We had all the forms filled out, all needed documents and presented them to her.  A few minutes and $$$$ later we turned it all over to the clerk and we should have new passports in 3 weeks.  Great.

A quick trip to Michaels craft store for Gerry to pick up some much needed supplies and then we headed back to the park.  We did buy some gas at Costco for $3.43/gallon which was cheaper than the $3.59/gallon at the local Fry's grocery store.  I know it is much more expensive in other states, so I am not complaining too much.

We went for coffee and donuts at the clubhouse this morning and bought chances on the lucky buck drawing.  No luck there, someone else won it.  There are a number of people heading back to the cold and gloomy weather up north.  My only question is:  WHY?  The weather around here has been great and only will get better in the next two months.  To each his own.  I wish them well.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Windy day & Daytona 500

The last couple days have been uneventful around here.  Yesterday we went for a drive down by Green Valley and picked up some geocaches.   There were a few that we couldn't find and five that we did.  One was a little difficult and and I had to walk across railroad tracks and then down a small wash.  Of course the cache was up a sandy hill and difficult to climb.  I added it to the found list and moved on my way.  One has to be very careful out in the desert this time of the year due to all the crawly and creepy critters that are starting to become active.  I may have to wear my hearing aid to hear the rattlesnakes warnings.  Creepy!

We found one cache in an old cemetery in the middle of some beautiful homes.  One home caught our eye and if we were interested  in living in this area, it would be one to check out.  It had beautiful views of the Santa Rita mountains from the back of the house.  Tempting!

Today the wind picked up and was shaking the motor home for most of the afternoon, but it wasn't near as bad some of the wind storms in the past few years.  It sounds like areas east of us are in for some high winds tonight and tomorrow morning.  I just hope that Sharon and Al are well protected on the ranch.  

We watched the Daytona 500 for a while tonight and were watching when Montoya ran into the truck drying the track.  What a mess it made of the truck and the race car.  The car was destroyed and the truck caught on fire due to the airplane fuel being on board.  I've never seen anything like that and hope to never see it again.  It sounds like everyone involved in the accident came through all right. 

The weather front that came through with the wind also brought in some cooler weather.  It will be down in the 30s for the next few nights, but not freezing weather.  At least out here when the fronts come through it is wind and not tornadoes.  I am grateful for that.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lazy Days, Passports & Farewell

Gerry and I let our passports expire and now are in the process of getting them renewed.  The Dept of State (DOS) finally have automated the process to a certain extent.  We were able to go online and fill in the form and print out a completed application.  My handwriting is so bad that I know the application would have been thrown out.  When I was in the Foreign Service, my official passports were free and they would process my personal passport in an expedited manner.  Now, it is up to us to do all the work.  

We went to Costco to get our passport photos and also to buy a large pizza for dinner.  The lady at the photo counter was sitting around without anything to do and welcomed a chance to get up and take our photos.  She was very friendly and had a great sense of humor, which isn't always the case with the photo processors.  I think that is the first time I have ever been in Costco where the processing dept was at a standstill.  

We stopped by Lazy Days rv center to see what stock they had in a motorhome that we would be interested in.  They have changed the entry process there and you now have to park in a area near the MHs and then walk through the dealership in order to gain access to the units.  There is a very pretty curving rock wall that keeps you from driving into the area.

I noticed a salesman sitting in his golf cart behind the building and stopped and asked him in they had a unit meeting our specs.  When the answer was affirmative he directed me to drive down the road a little farther and enter the back of the lot and park.  We didn't find anything that we were interested in, but did meet a nice salesman.  He was the only salesman out there, plus two customers (tire kickers) and that was all.  Keep in mind that this was a Saturday afternoon about 3pm.  The rapid rise in fuel costs must have a very negative effect on sales.   At least in Costco they sell other goods and are doing well.

Back to Costco, we shopped and picked up some needed items and then ordered the large combo pizza.  When they say large, they mean the old large style, not like Pizza hut where the large is really a medium.  We headed over to the Pima County Fairground campground to share the pizza with cousin Sharon and Al.  We all stuffed ourselves and there is still enough pizza leftover for a large lunch today.  

Sharon and Al are leaving Sunday to ranch sit for a month and are excited to have the opportunity to do so.  The ranch is out in the middle of nowhere and I would go out of my mind sitting there for a month, but they are better suited to the task.  Sharon is an avid reader and Al likes to putt around keeping busy.  It will be interesting to see how they like the job and if they extend.  They have basically a full hookup site provided and have to feed two sheep and two goats twice a day, plus keep them in water.  Tough job.  It was sad to see them leave, but I know we will be seeing them at the ranch in March, so that will be nice.

The weather lately has been fantastic with sunny days, cool evening and no rain.  I guess that is it's a desert.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Chichicastenango Market & Independence Day

We were fortunate to be in Antigua, Guatemala on their Independence Day and participated in their celebrations.  The schoolchildren paraded in the their school uniforms, marched to the school band and had many floats.  It was neat to see such an outpouring of people celebrating their Independence day, even though they were in the midst of a civil war.  

School children float

Volcano Agua (water)
 The bridge between the sides of the street above was used by the Catholic nuns to travel between the school and their living quarters.  It is one of the more photographed streets in Antigua.  The volcano at the rear of the photo is Agua (water) and behind this photo is volcano Fuego (fire).  They have both erupted a number of times and Agua unleashed a devastating flood from the lake in the crater.

One weekend we took off and traveled to Chichicastenango to see what the Saturday market looked like.  It is mainly for the locals in the countryside to bring their wares and sell them.  It is a very unusual town.  The local Catholic church has two masses each Sunday, one traditional mass and one for the locals who worship a little differently.

Gerry at the market

Typical market scene

Lots of vendors

 There were a number of Jesuit priests attending the language school and one was very friendly and outgoing.  I asked him about the obvious old practices performed by the locals at the church and how I've never seen anything like that before.  He said that the church was gradually converting them to the Catholic faith.  When I asked how long they had been doing that, he said 300 years.  We both got a laugh when my reply was that it wasn't going that well for them. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tikal & Flores, Guatemala

While we were in language training in Antigua in 1987 we took a trip to Flores, Guatemala to visit the Tikal National Park and see the famous ruins.  We had a choice of a 12 hour bus ride over lousy roads or a 20 minute flight on a modern jet plane.  The plane won out and we made reservations at the Flores Maya International hotel.  

The hotel sure did look nice on the travel brochure and we were excited to get there and jump in the pool for a nice refreshing swim and enjoy the restaurant on the property.  The hotel was across the lake from the town of Flores and was impressive looking from the picture we saw.

Flores Hotel Maya International
 Imagine the surprise we saw when we actually got to the hotel.  This is what it really looked like.  It seems they forgot to tell us an important fact.

Restaurant on right and rooms on left.
 When I inquired about the photo and the reality of the hotel, they said Lake Peten Itza had risen a little.  Where was the pool I asked?  Right there in front of the restaurant, under 6 ft of water.  The bottom floor of the hotel rooms were now under 6 ft of water also.  What had been the 2nd floor was now the first floor.  Huh??  Wait, it even gets better.  The rooms didn't have screens to keep the mosquitos out and they were terrible.  There wasn't a ceiling in the room, just a wire mesh there and we could hear the people in the adjoining room breathe.  So much for a romantic getaway.

***** NOTE  I checked a recent view of the hotel using Google Earth and it looks like the water has gone down and the hotel rebuilt.  The restaurant looks the same and the rooms now occupy two floors.  *****

The mosquito problem was sort of solved by buying a local product that smelled like diesel fuel and something else unknown added.  It was the most foul smelling mosquito lotion I have ever used.  

We had arranged for a bus to take us to the Tikal National Park that was about 12 miles away and they showed up on time and we enjoyed a nice ride to the park.  We really hadn't read up on the park and didn't know what to expect, but it turned out to be one of the highlights of our living overseas.  The ruins were fantastic and we spent the whole day there climbing all over them and marveling at the construction of them.  I seriously doubt anything man has made in the last 100 years will be standing over 1,000 years as these structures were. 

There is so much to learn about Tikal and wikipedia had written a great article describing the rise and fall of it, so I am including a link to their article.  Take a look, it is fantastic.

Tikal National Park  <========Double click for an interesting article

Gerry wanted to hike to the top of this temple and when I saw they didn't have any hand rails or anything to catch you if you fell, I strongly urged her to forget it.  Then when I heard that 4-5 people a year fall down the steps and are killed or injured, that sealed it.  This is the temple she wanted to climb, what do you think?  Keep in mind that the steps have been used for the past 1400 years.

We walked all over the place and did climb one temple so we could get an overall shot of the grounds.  To do this we had to hang on to vines growing out of the side of the temple.  At least it wasn't as steep and high as other ones.   The view from there was breathtaking and I wish we would have had our digital cameras with us.  Of course they didn't have digital cameras in those days.

The central square had neat stone carvings, stellas and were very impressive.


Larry behind stella on main acropolis

Main acropolis & temple steps

If you are ever in Guatemala and get a chance to visit Tikal, I would highly recommend it.  Great trip

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Antigua, Guatemala - Spanish language training

The blogger Tioga & George,  T&G  writes about boondocking and not staying in campgrounds. He spends the winter in Mexico and summers along the US Pacific coast. He boondocks in places like gas stations, roadsides, industrial parks, friends places and many others.  He has quite a following and does real well with adsense (those ads on blog pages, if people click, he receives a small amount of money for each click).

At the present time George is in Guatemala and touring around the country staying in hotels rather than his camper. I think that is a good move for him since out of the way hotels are very cheap for an individual. Gasoline is $4.70 a gallon down there and it isn't safe to boondock in out of the way places in Guatemala.

His blog brought back many pleasant memories of the time I spent in Antigua, Guatemala for Spanish language training at the Proyecto Linguistico Francsisco Marroquin in their total immersion program.  PLFM At the time I was a US Foreign Service Officer stationed in Costa Rica and needed to improve my Spanish speaking ability fast. In 1987 the cost was $100/week for 8 hours of one-on-one teaching with a local Spanish teacher. For an additional fee you could live with a local family, eat with them and participate in their daily living routine. I wasn't interested in doing that so I rented a room at the Casa El Patio which was on the corner next to the La Merced church.

Casa El Patio, last house on the right.

My first day in class consisted of speaking Spanish to the teacher who didn't/wouldn't speak any English. It sounds impossible, but it worked. I had learned a few words of Spanish before the class but wasn't able to converse in Spanish. I did know how to ask for a cerveza bien fria (cold beer) and a few other absolutely necessary phrases. The teacher was assigned to you for the week and were relentless in getting you up to speed. Over the course of the time I was there I had good, great and lousy teachers. One week I asked to have my teacher switched since she was impossible to deal with. One other male teacher only wanted to talk about soccer and that got old very quickly.

Spanish teachers at PLFM

I did have one favorite teacher who knew more about happenings in the world and we were able to discuss different topics. One topic that was off limits for discussion was the Guatemalan government and military. This teacher would discuss it but it was evident she was scared to do so. There was a civil war going on at the time and people who spoke out against the government tended to disappear.

Most of the female teachers talked about daily life there, mothers-in-law ( not always good reports), cooking, children, etc. At first it was interesting, but quickly I picked up on that and wanted to move on. There was an almost universal dislike of the mothers-in-law interfering in the daily life of these women. There were eyes and busybodies all over town and the teachers were afraid to be seen outside the school talking to the students. Lot of social pressure was put on the females.

In any case, I put in my time studying Spanish and left there with a basic understanding of the language. It wasn't enough for me to pass my required speaking level of Spanish, but enough to get me started on my more serious study of the language. But that is another story.

Gerry joined me in Antigua for 4 weeks and also attended the language school.  While she was there we took weekend trips to various places like Chichicastenango, Panajachel, Tikal Mayan ruins, Flores, Guatemala City, Soloa and other places.  I will write more about these places in the future.   It was an interesting and dangerous country to be in 1987 with the civil war going on in full swing.  

Linus Quilts & Tucson McGraw's Cantina

Tuesday is coffee and donuts day at the clubhouse and we try to get up there when we can.  Today wasn't meant to be that day for us as we had things to do.  

Gerry joins a number of women at the clubhouse after the coffee function and they work on making quilts for the Linus project.  The Linus project is a national undertaking to provide blankets for children in hospitals.  The paragraph below describes it better than me, so I will include the information from the project leader.

" As Charles Schulz’s Linus character from the PEANUTS® comic strip was comforted by his blanket, Project Linus strives to do the same and more for children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need. The blankets our nearly 400 chapter coordinators collect from thousands of “blanketeers” (volunteers) across the United States and then distributed to these children provide love, a sense of security, warmth, and comfort."

Linus project link:  Linus

The ladies in Gerry's group made over 150 of these blankets last year and are working on more this year.  They raffle off some beautiful quilts in order to pay for the supplies needed to make the blankets.  Gerry is working on a blanket at the present time and it is almost finished.  Below is the almost finished product.

Linus quilt by Gerry
 While Gerry was working on the quilt I went over to help cousin Al with a computer problem he was having.  It wound up not being a real difficult fix and he was back on the air very quickly.  

Later on in the day we went out to dinner with Sharon and Al to Tucson McGraw's Cantina near our rv park.  We have been there a few times this year and it is a local neighborhood bar/restaurant.  The weather was great this evening so we sat out on the patio and watched the sunset and enjoyed a nice meal.  Once again some fellow rvers from the park were there enjoying the view and food also.  Tuesday they have a steak special and Al enjoys their steaks, so that is why we were there.  Also, Sharon and Al are leaving on Sunday to ranch sit south of Willcox, AZ for a month, so this was sort of a farewell dinner for them.

That was our exciting day out here in sunny and warm Tucson.  I hope you had an equally nice day wherever you are.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tiny's, Mountains, Boondocking and Geocaches

Last night we had some interesting cloud formations sitting over the Rincon mountains east of the park.  They looked like they were painted in the sky by an artist.  It is always difficult to capture the true beauty of these formations, but here is our best effort on the subject.

Clouds over Rincon Mountains

Palm tree in the park

View of Rincon Mts from the park

Tiny's Saloon & Steakhouse

We were out geocaching today and found some nice caches on the west side of Tucson.  It is sparsely populated out there and the caches were far apart.  We drove out as far as Ryan Field and then started back home.  By this time we (me) were hungry and stopped by the Tiny's Saloon & Steakhouse for dinner.  The place has been there for ages and looks like it.  If you didn't know how good the food was, you might not enter it since it looks more like a biker bar than a great place to eat.  We had excellent service and everything was brought to us quickly.  Check it out if your are in the area or driving out the Ajo highway west of Tucson.

Tiny's looks like an old western saloon

How do you like the matching outfits?

Don't let the building fool you.

While we were geocaching we came upon about 30 RVs boondocking in the desert on BLM land near the intersection of W Ajo (rt 86) and S San Joaquin Rd.  I stopped and talked to a lady who must have been in her 80s who was staying there with her husband for the 14 day limit on camping.  It was free, but there weren't any facilities.  You just find a spot and park the unit.  Many RVs had solar panels and others were running generators.  Boondocking is very popular out there in the desert and there are thousands who do it all the time.  

Earlier today I checked with Ron C to see if he wanted to go geocaching, but he hadn't finished his household chores and couldn't go with me.  Then later in the day I checked with Ron K and he had a very important task to finish and couldn't make it.  I think he was hooking up a desk light and must have been having problems with it.

What can I say about them that I haven't already said?  LOL

Sunday, February 19, 2012

New Motor home

Well, Gerry and I thought it over about buying a new motor home and listed the pros and cons of getting one at this time.  The recent oil crisis in Iran makes it difficult to even think about what the cost of gasoline will be by this summer.

We went back to the dealership today and checked the motor home for a couple items we weren't sure.  They checked out to be in our favor so that gave us some info to consider.  I could drag this post out like the shaggy dog story and write paragraphs about what we finally decided, but I will be merciful and cut to the chase.  We decided that because of a number of factors, we weren't going to by this particular motor home.  It met about 90% of what we were looking for in a unit, but then the 10% won out.  We aren't going to buy this one.

Of course the salesman has our phone number and if he calls back with a can't resist dollar amount, we would reconsider the unit.

That was the most exciting part of our day so I will close the blog with the above.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Freedom BBQ & Dogs

The local RV dealers are very active this time of the year with all the snowbirds staying in the Tucson area.  La Mesa RV has a large show at the Pima Fairgrounds with over 100 rvs there for viewing and kicking of tires.  We went to the show out there a couple weeks ago and checked their units.

Check out the rear window.
Today, we decided to check out the free BBQ lunch at Freedom RV here in Tucson.  On the way to the dealership we pulled up behind this guy in an old GMC pickup.  I am sure that he wouldn't be a good person to have road rage with.  Notice what he has in the rear window of his truck.  I've seen shotguns and rifles there, but never a semiautomatic rifle.   I gave him a wide berth and continued on down the highway.

Freedom RV sponsored a BBQ cook off at their location and had a number of local BBQ cooks there for the competition.  They also provided a free BBQ lunch and we took advantage of that and enjoyed a nice lunch.  Ron K joined us there and we finished up the meal and started checking out units.

Rincon Mts in background

 I don't know who won the cookoff, but it was well attended and everyone seemed to enjoy the food.

We walked around and checked out a few motor homes that we were interested in and actually found one that may fit into our plans.  We haven't made a decision, but there was a unit that warrants a follow up visit.  I sure did get tired of walking in and out of the various MHs that we looked at.  We do have specific features that have to be present or we don't even look any further.  This one met all of the necessary features and we have to think this one over.

As we were leaving the show, we jokingly stopped in to check out a 39 ft toy hauler, 5th wheel unit.  I have to admit I was very impressed with all of it's features, but it isn't for us.  We don't have any use for a toy hauler and don't want to drive around in a 1 ton diesel truck.  If we were younger and had all the toys, then this would be high on our list of something to buy.

There was a motorcyclist walking around with his dog that was dressed in leather, including chaps.  The dog, that is.  It had motorcycle patches on the chaps and was the neatest dog I have seen in a long time.  The owner of the dog had a storage unit on the back of the bike and had cut out a hole in the unit and the dog sat back there with it's head sticking out.  It even had a windshield to protect the dog.  The owner was very friendly and talked about the dog and bike for a long time.  He also was admiring the toy hauler and mentioned he had a 39ft unit back at the campground. 

Check out the uniform on this dog.

Ready to ride

It was a very interesting day there to say the least.

We stopped by the Pima Fairgrounds to check out another unit and then stopped by to visit with Sharon and Al for a few minutes since they are staying there in the campground.  It was a very busy day there with a horse show, RV show and Vail Pride day all going on at the same time.  They sure do get their money worth out of the Fairgrounds.

We met Ron K and went out to dinner with him at Montgomery's in Vail and had a 25 minute wait for a table.  That is the first time we have ever had to wait to be seated there, but the wait was worth it.  We had a nice meal and decided it was time to head back to our motor home and take it easy.

Did I mention that I am tired?  If not, then I will do so.  I am worn out.  Good night.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Blogger changes

I use blogger.com to create my blog and they are always updating and improving the features in blogger.  Recently, they improved it by adding two words to verify before anyone can leave a comment.  One word verification is difficult enough, but two makes it almost impossible to leave a comment.  Many different bloggers have been writing and complaining about how their readers are frustrated by this "improvement" and have stopped commenting.

One blogger figured out how to delete word verification and posted it on his blog today.  Rick and Paulette Rv Journal    I followed his instructions and removed the double word verification from my blog.  Blogger catches about 99% of the spam before it even gets down to the blog level and if I don't have a large increase in spam, I will not require word verification.  If it does increase, then it will be back to double word entries.  

We had a steady rain overnight and today there are still rain clouds on the horizon.  Ron C measured the total rainfall the last few days and it is up to .2 inches.  That is two tenths of an inch.  It is amazing what that amount of rain will do to transform the desert into green and wildflowers blooming.  I am looking forward to some beautiful cactus flowers in a short while.

When we got a little snow on Valentine's Day here in Tucson, friends of ours received over a foot of snow in Albuquerque and it hasn't melted yet.  They have a 5th wheel unit that is equipped for sub freezing weather and are fine, but I think they put wheels on those units in order to escape the snow and cold.  Usually they are in warmer weather for the winter, but the arrival of a new grandchild prevented them from leaving.  Actually, Karen prevented them from leaving so she could be there for the birth of the bably.  I sure don't understand grandmothers and grandchildren.  I guess it is as they say, "If I knew grandkids were so much fun, I would have had them first".   Mother and baby are doing fine.

Gerry's Christmas cactus has a ton of buds on it and should be blooming in a week or so.  I don't know why they gave it that name since it blooms in October and then again in Feb-March.  In any case, it is a beautiful flower and that is why we carry it with us in the motorhome, even though it takes up a lot of space.  I guess that is why Gerry takes me along also, even though I take up a lot of space.

Today is another doctor appointment for both of us and it is on the other side of town.  Maybe a few geocaches are in our future if the rain lets up.  If not, we will be forced to seek shelter in someplace that has liquid refreshment.  It's a win win situation, except for the doctor.  ** Note:  doctor appointment went well, no problems.  **

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Guadalajara Bar & Grill

Al & Sharon joined us tonight at the Guadalajara Bar & Grill for dinner tonight.  As usual, we got there early for happy hour and beat the crowd.  We walked in and were seated immediately, the waiter took our drink order and by the time he came back we placed our food order.  We were surprised how quickly the food arrived and then had to stall around long enough to hear the Mariachi band play.  They usually start at 6:00pm, but tonight they started about 30 minutes earlier than usual.  Sharon got in on the act and we almost lost her to one of the band members.

Sharon peeking around blue pole & part of the band.
The lady who makes the salsa also came to our table quickly and made us a double batch of salsa from scratch.  It was a little spicy, but we all attacked it and almost finished off the bowl.  I could go there and just have a beer and eat the salsa and be happy.  The meals are huge and everyone had some left after dinner.  Lunch on Thursday will be great.

It sure was yummy.

We all were tired out and headed back home.  We dropped them off at their campground and went back to ours.  Now we are watching the new Survivor series and it is a mismash.  Boys against girls and the girls lost the first challenge.  Now they are "talking" about the day's events.  They sure are catty.  Should be an interesting survivor season if they all don't get together.  One girl has a broken wrist and was eliminated without them even taking a vote.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

A wish to all out there for a Happy Valentine Day.

The day started out fairly nice and then proceeded to go down hill very fast.  They were calling for rain and high winds and the winds came first and were very strong for a couple hours.  Then the rain followed up and eventually turned to snow.  It was a wet snow and stuck on the ground for an hour or so and finally melted. 

Gerry was doing her sewing/quilting thing and missed out on the snow a little.  The ladies did notice it and some went outside to take photos of the snow.  A little snow really draws a lot of attention out here in the desert.

It is always neat to see snow in the desert with the cacti covered in snow.  Today was no exception, but it was too cold out there to enjoy it.  I managed to get some photos from the motor home and kept dry doing it.  

Santa Rita Mountains blocked out by snow.
Looking toward the clubhouse & office.

Gerry and I fixed some mimosas and cheese and about that time our daughter Barbara called to wish us a happy valentine day.  Cassie had called earlier to do the same and it was nice hearing from both of them.

Dinner was a t-bone steak and baked potatoes which were excellent.  Now I am sitting here stuffed to the gills and trying to find some openings for it to settle.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Royal Purple Oil & V8 Choppers

First off, the fire on the hillside seems to be under control today.  I don't see any smoke or fire up there so all is well.  It is good that they got it under control since today is very windy and would make fighting the fire very difficult.

Some of the people in the park are connected with Royal Purple Synthetic Oil and also with V8 Choppers.  They are a very nice group of people who love their trike motorcyles.  They manufacture the bikes in Oklahoma and they are beautiful bikes.

Their website is: Royal Purple Oil

One of the riders drove by today and was going to load his bike into a trailer to take back to Illinois where he lives.  This bike had a 600hp, Chevy small block V8 as it's powerplant.  Whew, that is more hp than I have in the motorhome.  The bike gets 15mpg and has two fuel tanks, one is the standard tank and holds 7 gallons and the auxilary tank holds 3 gallons.  He said they ride like a dream and are very popular around here.  I took some pictures to give you an idea how nice the bike is. 

Company logo on truck

Bike with our MH in background.

600hp Chevy small block.

The trailer holds two trikes and a Harley.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Fire on the hillside & Verizon

Ron K came by early this afternoon and asked if I wanted to go to the Verizon store with him.  He has been using the wifi here at the park and it's so slow that he gets frustrated.  A Verizon aircard or mifi seemed to be the solution to his problem and he wanted me to go along for a little help.  The sales rep knew his stuff and explained all the options to Ron very clearly, so Ron is now the proud owner of a 4g/3g mifi from Verizon.  They set it up for Ron and I am sure he will be happy with it.

I spent the rest of the afternoon watching basketball on tv, taking in the Arizona-Utah game with Arizona looking more like a high school team in the first half.  They finally got going in the 2nd half and came back from a deficit at halftime to win the game.  Ohio State vs Michigan State was an interesting game and Michigan State won the game and  broke Ohio State's 39 game home winning streak.  It was a rough game with tough defense and poor overall shooting by both teams.  

Al called us this evening and said to look to the southeast and lo and behold the Empire mountain was on fire.  It is a fairly large fire since we can see it from 10 miles away.  It is still burning a couple hours  later, but doesn't seem to be getting any bigger.   There was a short story on the nightly news about the fire and over 300 acres have burned so far.  We drove nearer the fire, but couldn't get a decent shot since it was so far off the road.  I don't think there are many homes in that area, so if they can contain it tonight, it shouldn't  be a problem.

Hilton Rd Fire, Corona de Tucson

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fish Fry Friday

The park has a fish fry about once a month on Friday and today was the day.  The fish of the day was farm raised catfish and it was delicious and all you could eat.  The dinner included a baked potato, coleslaw and bread.  We wound up eating more than we should have and brought some home with us for lunch tomorrow.

It was a nice gathering and very well attended by fellow RVers.  We had a nice chat with the group at our table.  One couple just bought an older Country Coach MH and are selling their toy hauler.  Next on their list to buy is a toad truck to haul their motorcycle.  Sounds like they have all bases covered.

Gerry and I sat around the pool for an hour or so after the dinner and Dan, the Manager joined us for a long chat.  He is a hard working guy and is really trying to make the park even better.  Many of the changes started by him are paying off and the park is a much nicer place to stay this year.  Change is always difficult for people, but in this case it was needed.  As the evening began to cool off and we decided it was time to return to our motor home.

The weather out here has been beautiful lately and they are calling for even warmer weather on Saturday.  We may even have to turn on our a/c in the motor home if it gets much warmer.  Bring it on!

COSTCO Smorgasbord

We needed some things from COSTCO today and decided to try out their smorgasbord.  They had a very large selection today including shrimp, beef roast, hummus, Texas caviar, Zucchine souffle, Teriyaki chicken, chicken & beef chilis, two different drinks and a small dessert.  We did actually buy a coke afterward to top off the meal.  

The best part about the trip was that we got in, bought what we needed and left with change for $100.  That is very hard to do in COSTCO and the clerk even congratulated me on the bill.  How about that?  We gassed up the car at $3.23 a gallon which is one of the lowest prices in the area, so technically we spent over $100.  

Sharon and Al came over for dinner this evening and we all enjoyed Gerry's pork chops in mushroom sauce prepared in a slow cooker.  The meal was great as usual and people wonder why I don't lose weight.  Her cooking is the reason.

The weather has continued to be great with sunny and warm days, cool nights and no rain.  All that may change next week with a long range forecast of rain.  Something about cold weather in the Arctic and it pushing the El Nina back across the Pacific.  Sounds interesting to me, but I don't have any idea how they know that.

The park has had more RVers in lately, but not as full as it was a couple years ago.  It sounds like all the parks in the Tucson area are suffering from fewer snowbirds.  Maybe the price of fuel and overall rise in camping costs have something to do with it.  How is it in your area?

If we do get the rains next week then the desert flowers will bloom and that always is nice to see.  The cactus flowers are very beautiful and a photographers joy to see.  This is an example of what one can expect with enough rain to bring the flowers into bloom.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Appointments and paper work

We were up early today to call our daughter Cassie and wish here well with her carpal tunnel surgery this morning.  Later we talked to her and she said all was well.  They gave here a local and fixed it in no time.  She put a wrap around her wrist and thumb and sent on her way.  It sounds like they have really developed this surgery now and it is routine.  

Every so often we have to take a day off and work on paper work and the mundane things that are necessary to keep us going.  We have a set of doctors in Tucson and another set in Maryland and it works out for us.  Today was the day to call and make appointments out here with the doctors.  That took up a lot of Gerry's time on the phone and waiting to push a 1, 2, 3 or "hold on, your call is important" and she finally finished all that.

Then it was on to some paperwork that we have been putting off and with some more effort on Gerry's part, that task was finished.  Are you beginning to see a pattern here?

We have plans to meet Gerry's niece and family in Tempe, AZ in March and that entailed checking out hotel deals near the hotel where they are staying.  After much checking, we discovered that their hotel was the best deal and we booked two days there.  We will drive up in the  morning and see them, visit for the next two days and on the last day have breakfast with them before we return to Tucson.  Christopher, Gerry's grandnephew is in a Karate tournament and that is the reason they will be there.

My outside chores took up some of my time and by that time it was time to get ready for the Tiki Bar party and then the potluck dinner at the Clubhouse.  We were running late and decided to skip both events and just order a pizza and take it easy.  After the busy day we were worn out.  LOL

That was our exciting day in the desert, how was yours?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mountain Road & Coronado Nat'l Forest

There is a gravel mountain road east of Tucson that will take you to Benson, AZ the long way.  Tanque Verde Rd ends and the beginning of Reddington Rd begins.  I'm not really sure why this road was built other than as a ranch road, but it sure is rough.  It also takes you to some of the most pretty areas around Tucson.  The Coronado National Forest covers most of the area and is quite wild.  There are a lot of "sign hunters" in this area and that must be the reason the sign above is made out of steel.  

There were so many beautiful areas that it was impossible to capture them all.  Down in the valley was a stream that had numerous waterfalls.  Of course since it hasn't rained in a couple months, the waterfalls were dried up. I would like to come back when they are flowing and get some photos .  The area is very rocky and difficult to walk around in other than some hiking trails.  These trails are beyond my ability to hike now, but it would have been great a few years ago.   Gerry and Sharon took a short walk down a trail to check it out and said it was a nice walking trail.

Al retrieving the cache
There was a geocache about 2 miles off the main road on a ranch road and we decided to drive there and pick it up.  Wow, that was one rough road and we had to take it both ways.  The truck was fine on the road, but it had us bouncing around the cab of the truck like rubber balls.  We did find the cache and also the small lake back there.  The lake was very beautiful and I wonder how the water level stays so high.  I found the cache and Al crawled out on a rock to retrieve it.  I tried to come in from the side, but Mr. Cactus didn't want me there and gave me a reason to not try that again. 

The area has numerous cattle roaming around and every once in a while we came upon small groups grazing in the fields.  They must be sturdy cattle since the hillsides must be difficult for them to negotiate.  I don't know the different breeds of cattle but there were 4-5 different ones there.  They must not see many people and stared at us as we drove by.  

We drove through some wild groups of Saguaro cacti that were even nicer than the ones in the Saguaro National Park.  We were very surprised to see so many old and large cacti growing in the wild.  Many of them had to be over 150 years old and they were in great shape.

By this time we were getting worn out by the rough road and were ready to head for home.  We still had about 43 miles of dirt road ahead of us, however it was in pretty good shape and we were able to make good time.  We did pass this water tank that was decorated like a work of art.  You never know what you are going to see out here in the desert.

And that is how we managed to drive over 130 miles and spend 7 hours on the road.