Saturday, February 28, 2015

Owls and Slow Days

Last year we had an owl family raising a brood here at the park and it looks like one of the younger owls has returned.  There is also a larger one hanging around and that may be one of the parents of this owl.  There are large numbers of rabbits in the area and it looks like it will be good hunting for the owls.

I see you down there.
 We had some errands to run today and on the way downtown there was a truck pulling about 7-8 rail cars near the power plant.  I assume they were empty because the truck was moving fast down the track.  I've seen trucks on the tracks before, but never one pulling rail cars.

 We finished up the errands and decided to go for an early fish dinner at the Cattletown restaurant.  As we were being led to our table, our neighbor here at the park called out to us.  Frank, Jan and their son were sitting at a large table so we joined them.   It sure is a small world when you run into friends at one of the hundreds of restaurants in the area.  There wasn't a wait time at 4:15pm but by the time we left the lobby was full of people. 

We made a quick stop at a Family Dollar on our way home.  As we were leaving, the sun was beginning to set.  We also stopped by the Pima County Fairgrounds to see how busy they were and managed to get a few sunset pictures.  There were fewer RVs there than I thought.  I was somewhat surprised at the low turnout.  Next week it will be a lot different with the Escapee Rally set to start on March 7th.

Just another nice day out here in Tucson with the temperature running in the high 70s and bright sunshine. 

That was our day, how was yours?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Cactus Country Dog Show

The Cactus Country RV park is divided into three sections:  a) mobile homes, b) front section & c) down the hill.  We started out in the the front section and loved it there but they only have 30amp electric service.  Since we need 50amp service. we moved to the down the hill section.

When we first came here in 2006 RVs with children and pets were only allowed in the back section.  The park isn't a 55+ plus park and over the years the children in the park has varied from 3-5 to the present 19-25.  For the most part the children haven't been a problem except for one year when a real trouble maker was here.  His family was "asked" to leave and things settled down.  Each year the park seems to change from one way to another.

Now you might want to know what the above has to do with the subject of this blog.  It has all to do with the number of dogs in the park and the parade each morning and evening of dog owners and their pets.  I would estimate there are more than 40 dogs in the park at the present time.  For the most part this isn't a problem since they aren't allowed to run without being on a leash.  I see the parade all the time and decided to have a dog show here and judge the best of breed dog.  It was difficult since there are some beautiful bulldogs and pit bulls here, but I couldn't get a picture of them for this show.  Maybe later I will do another show if there is any interest.

I used my game camera to take a number of the photos and a regular camera for the others.  So here goes with the dog show.  Which is your favorite?

First dog in the show early in the morning.

Neighbor with her dog out early.

Poor dog must be embarrassed wearing pink.

Nice looking basset hound.

Small pooch and hard to see.

Hummm, it sure smells good here.

Go ahead, I won't look

The dog on the right was ready to go and let the owner know.

Where are we going?

Best of show!

  We call these two dogs "push me, pull me" since they each want to go in the opposite direction.  The dog on the left didn't want to go to the right and dug in his heels and refused to walk to the right.  Then the dog on the right decided he didn't want to go to the left and just sat down.  We watched them for 5 minutes and really got a good laugh out of them.  The owner was very patient and worked with both of them.  For this they get best of show.

We had to run an errand and wound up behind the little "doggie" so we included him/her at the "end" of the blog.

That's all folks, be sure to vote for your favorite dog or doggie.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Samsung S5 Smartphone Problem

As I mentioned last November we finally purchased a Samsung S5 smartphone and also a 30Gig data plan through Verizon.  We've gotten used to the phone and Gerry accuses me of hogging the phone all the time.  Probably true.

I do like to work with new computers, printers, phones, etc. to see how they work and what can be done with them.  It is easier to learn the ins and outs before you need a particular capability and I don't like to have to work under a deadline and pressure.  All in all we have been happy with the phone and Verizon service.

However, recently whenever I used the speaker function to talk to someone, they said they heard an echo and themselves talking.  At first I thought it may be the other person's phone since it hadn't happened before the last week or so.  Finally, it became obvious that the phone had a problem.  

I did what everyone else does when they have a problem.  I googled to learn if others had the same problem.  Yes, it was a fairly common one and getting a new phone didn't always solve the issue.  Oh Oh!  There were many solutions presented and I tried a few of them but decided the others were too complex to try.  Nothing worked and my friends got tired of me testing the solutions on them.  Sorry guys.

Then I decided to do an online chat with a Samsung tech person and managed to set up a session with the techie and work toward fixing the problem.  She suggested a number of solutions and nothing made any difference.  Finally, she said to remove the battery from the phone and leave it out for 30 seconds.  I was skeptical but tried her solution and it worked.  The sound is better and the speaker works fine now.

I thanked her and said I was glad I didn't have an airplane with a problem and the tech said to turn off the engine for a while to see if that helped.  She failed to see the humor in my comment and asked if I was satisfied with her service.  Yep!  I was and now if the problem comes up again I know what to do.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Gas Station for Lunch - Papa Locos

Yes, we went to a gas station for a late lunch today.  It is a combination market, gas station, restaurant & barber shop.  We had heard about this place last year and thought we would check it out today since we had a taste for Mexican food.  They don't have a liquor license but you can walk next door and get a beer to go and sit outside with your food and drink.  We felt like we were back in Costa Rica for a while today.

Papa Locos Tacos and Burgers lived up to the recommendations and we each enjoyed our meals.  The only problem was that we weren't aware they had a condiments bar that had a lid over it.  We didn't notice it.  I finally saw another diner preparing his meal at the bar and walked over to check it out.  They had hot, hotter & ouch hot salsa there along with jalapeno peppers.  Nothing there for me, but they did also have some mild salsa and other goodies.  No sour cream though.  Next time we will load up our meals with the goodies.

You have to order at a counter and they bring your meal to you.  Service was very fast and the meals were good.

Gerry has a computer program that will create jigsaw puzzles on her computer and she can pick how large the pieces are, with small ones making the puzzle very hard.  She noticed the following posters on the wall and wanted a picture of them.  How would you like to put a 400 piece puzzle together with these posters?

She is getting ready to sink her teeth in the bottom one now and that should keep her out of bars for a while.  Don't tell her I said that.

This is what the jigsaw puzzle looks like in the beginning with all the 200 pieces ready to be assembled.  Do you want to help her with this one?  The program cost $20 over ten years ago and is one of the best bargains she has on her computer.  The vendor who sold it originally has supplied free updates over the years as Gerry went from Win 97, XP, Vista, Win 7.  Great support.

Earlier in the day we went for coffee and donuts at the recreation center in the park and donated our $2.00 to the lucky buck drawing.  Since I only had a $20 bill and the ticket seller only had $1.00 bills for change, I wound up with $18.00 in one dollar bills and I felt rich.  Actually, I wanted to get rid of them quickly and paid our lunch bill with them since the restaurant needed $1.00 bills.  Win, win situation for me except I didn't win the lucky buck drawing.  

The attendance was quite low this time since a number of people in the park are ill with the flu or something.  I think it is what Gerry and I had a month or so ago and I hope we don't catch it again.  Two people went to the hospital today and I don't know if it is related to the flu bug or not.

Gerry went to the quilting group after the coffee and was working on a child's quilt for Project Linus.  The project gives the quilts to children who are in the hospital.  In the past the group has made and donated over 150 quilts a year, but this year it will be less.

That was our day, how was yours?   Linda, don't tell me about yours since I will be depressed to hear about all the cold and snow in Maine.  Stay warm!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Bread & Butter Cafe - Geocaching Again

We recently heard about a great restaurant for breakfast/lunch & decided to try it this morning.  It's called Bread & Butter Cafe and they seem to have a thriving business.  We managed to snag the last table available and within 3 minutes had a full cup of coffee in front of us.  The breakfasts were good but we both still prefer the TTT restaurant which is a truck stop.  The food is tastier at TTT, however the coffee is not as good.  In either case, we won't starve eating at either place.  The Bread and Butter Cafe serves great cinnamon roles and we shared one for dessert.

After breakfast we decided to pick up a few more geocaches in the area around the restaurant.  All in all, we managed to find 7 caches in a short time. A couple were interesting.  One was special in that it was hidden in Pat's labyrinth.  Pat has planted a Christmas tree around the labyrinth for the past 26 years.  We met Pat and she said she built the labyrinth in 1996 and it is a peaceful place to relax.

Pat's labyrinth

I backed into a cactus taking this picture.  Ouch!

How do I get out of here?

There is a small replica of stonehenge next to the labyrinth and sort of complements the area.  The cache was easy to find and we hung around a little to enjoy the place. 

Just FYI:  A labyrinth is not a maze but a meditative device with a single winding path that leads to a center or end. A maze has many different paths and dead ends to choose from. Walking the labyrinth is a meditative practice which leads to greater power of focus and sense of control in one’s life. Dr. Herbert Benson at Harvard Medical School's Mind/Body Medical Institute has found focused walking meditations are highly efficient at reducing anxiety and has significant long term health benefits, including lower blood pressure and breathing rates, reduced incidents of chronic pain, reduction of insomnia and many other benefits.

I managed to avoid any more cacti on the rest of the cache search and we had a great time.  The weather was perfect for caching and we managed to walk enough to tire us out.  

We joined friends Ron & Dee for dinner at Cattletown for a great fish dinner.  You have to arrive early there or wait an hour or so to be seated.  4:45pm wasn't early enough and we had a 15-20 minute wait to be seated.  It was worth it since the beer was cold and the fish good.  We sat around and chatted after dinner and finished off our pitchers of beer.

That was our day, how was yours?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Arizona Trust Land and Geocaches - Gillespie Middle School - Illinois 7-3A State Basketball Champs

Breaking news:  Gerry went to Benld High School and I went to Gillespie High School.  A few years after we graduated the two schools merged and the combined middle school mascot adopted Benld's name of the Indians.

The Gillespie Middle school won the Illinois 7-3A basketball championship over Teutopolis in overtime by the score of 38-33 this evening.  They trailed early in the game and were down 13-21 at halftime and then caught fire and won the game.  They finished the season with a 26-2 record.  Congratulations to the team.

GMS Indians waiting for their medals.

NOTE:  If you aren't interested in geocaching or the Arizona Land Trust, then you might want to stop reading today's entry.  

As many of you know Gerry and I are geocachers and try and get out as often as possible.  My two knee replacements last year slowed us down on geocaching and we were looking forward to finding some this season in Tucson.  There were about 500 caches within 5 miles of the RV park and they were on our radar.

Imagine my surprise when I went to download them and the area was free of geocaches.  At first I thought I was having system problems or the geocache site was having problems.  Nope, not to be as they were all removed.  I didn't know why, but do know that the Arizona Trust Land managers have a lot of rules and a permit is needed to even walk on the land.  As you will see in the following letter, the amount of land mass in the Trust is huge.

One of the geocachers telephoned the Trust office and was sent the following letter.  I've omitted his name due to privacy concerns.

The Department manages approximately 9.2 million acres of State owned Trust land within Arizona. This land was granted to the State of Arizona under the provisions of the federal Arizona New Mexico Enabling Act that provided for Arizona’s statehood in 1912. This land is held in Trust and managed to earn revenues for the State’s public schools (K-12) and 13 other public institutions (see attached).
The Trust’s beneficiaries receive revenue from leasing, selling or using the State’s Trust land and its resources. Pursuant to law, all uses of Trust land must benefit the Trust. The Trust land is not managed for the general public’s use. While public use of the Trust land is not prohibited, use is regulated to comply with the State’s Enabling Act, the Arizona Constitution and state law to protect the land, its resources and to ensure compensation to the beneficiaries.

All recreational uses of State land, other than hunting or fishing with a valid hunting or fishing license must be authorized by a recreational use permit issued by the Department.

A Trust land Recreational Use Permit does not permit target shooting, paintball, airsoft, recreational flying, vehicular rock hopping, geocaching, sand railing, fireworks, or congregating in groups larger than 19 people. Visiting prehistoric and historic cultural or archaeological sites, metal detecting, collecting or removing natural products (rocks, stone, soil, fossils, mineral specimens, cacti, saguaro or cholla skeletons, plants (live or dead), or firewood for home use, are all prohibited. A Recreational Use Permit does not authorize use of non-state lands such as military, federal, tribal, or private lands. Recreational users are asked to take no natural products from the Trust land and leave no foreign objects. Activities involving disturbing the soil/cultural resources and traveling off existing trails and roads are prohibited.

To be clear, per federal and state law, all uses of Trust land must be permitted and must benefit the Trust; a fact that distinguishes Trust land from public land, such as state or county parks or national forests. Parks, National Forests, and lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management are public lands and are managed as such. State Trust lands are not public lands.

May we refer you to those lands where geocaching is permitted, i.e. land administered by the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Arizona State Parks.

We appreciate your concerns and hope this answers your questions.


John Schneeman, AICP, CFM
Assistant Director
Natural Resources Division
Arizona State Land Department
1616 West Adams
Phoenix, Arizona 85007  

End quote "

To give you an idea as to the size of these holdings converted to sq miles they are 14,375 sq miles.  The state of Maryland covers 12,405 sq miles.

It is estimated that there were between 4,500 & 9,000 caches on the Trust land.  Nobody can agree on the true count but there have been a significant reduction in geocaches in Arizona as a result of the enforcement of the laws.  Many caches have been relocated but many others abandoned.

Most people don't realize how popular geocaching is and how far people travel to look for them.  The French & Germans schedule vacations to travel to the US Southwest to geocache and Arizona is a popular destination for them.  It will be interesting to see how this ruling changes the number of visitors to Arizona in the future.  

The vast majority of the caches aren't on Trust land, so there are still thousands of them out there waiting to be discovered.  Gerry and I found 5 of them yesterday in downtown Tucson.  The rectangles on the map below are geocaches and the smiley faces are caches we've found.  It looks like we have our work cut out for us to fill in more smiley faces.

We have been taking it easy the past few days and Gerry has been working on making her Valentine cards to be sent out.  I've been completing some small chores around the RV and just enjoying the nice weather we've had the past week or so.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Tubac Festival of the Arts

56th Annual Festival of the Arts

Feb color logo for Zapp

February 4 – 8, 2015 – 10 am – 5 pm daily

The 56th annual Tubac Festival of the Arts, Arizona’s longest running festival, will be held on February 4 – 8, 2015 from 10 am to 5 pm each day; admission is free.
A juried show, the Tubac Festival of the Arts features 175 art booths with artists from around the country. The festival features a range of artwork from fine painting and sculpture to fun and functional ceramics, skillfully crafted wood and leatherworks and shimmering glass. Visitors will also see photography, unique jewelry, artful clothing and mixed media works.

Yesterday friends Ron & Dee asked us if we wanted to go to the Tubac Arts Festival today and we both readily agreed that would be great.  They picked us up around 10:00AM and we were on our way to Tubac.  It was a quick 45 mile trip down backroads and then I-19 south to Tubac.  As soon as we arrived I knew I was in trouble.  The close in parking lots were full and we snagged a spot on a ballfield 6-7 blocks from the beginning of the exhibits.  Thankfully there were numerous spots for me to rest my weary old body.

We managed to see most of the booths and Gerry picked up a couple gifts and also a ceramic soap dish.  She did manage to check out every jewelry booth along the way and there were a lot of them.

Not all the booths were jewelry spots and one of the nicer ones had  paintings on copper sheets.  They would look great in a house but wouldn't fit very well in our motorhome.

There were a lot of people at the Festival, but not as many as there will be Friday-Sunday.  It will be a zoo then with most likely twice as many people there.  Not us though!

We all saw what we came to see and decided to have lunch at Manuel's in Green Valley.  It is one of our favorite Mexican restaurants and we weren't disappointed today.  Rather than bore you with meal pictures I am only including Gerry and Dee's meals.  Yes, those are adult drinks on the table.  I had my usual beer and the others had margaritas. (plural for each).

It was very hot out there today and it was nice to find some shady spots to take a break.  As usual, there weren't any water fountains available.  We had a bottle of water and stopped for some soda and that helped a lot.

Thanks again Ron & Dee for the ride and company.  We had a great time.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

KGUN 9, Tucson, Arizona

Not much to blog about tonight but thought I'd share a Facebook posting I ran across this evening.  KGUN 9 is the local ABC affiliate in Tucson and Erin Christiansen is the Meteorologist for the station.  The picture says it all.

It looks like some great "Happy Hours" outside are in store for us and we started tonight. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Honor Prison Camp

Sunday we took a trip up to Mt. Lemmon and stopped at the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site on Catalina Highway.

What can I say, Gerry loves rocks.

Ruins at the site

More ruins

Soldier Canyon Creek runs through the Honor Camp site.

Catalina Federal Honor Camp, Arizona
The Catalina Federal Honor Camp is located in the Santa Catalina Mountains, northeast of Tucson, Arizona. The camp was established in 1939 within the Coronado National Forest to provide prison labor to build a highway that would allow Tucson residents easier access to the cooler elevations of the mountain. In the 1940s the Honor Camp included four barracks, a mess hall, a laundry, a powerhouse, a storeroom, a garage, a vocational shop, and a classroom. In addition, there was an administration building, ten masonry and five frame cottages for the prison personnel, and water supply and sewage disposal systems. Other facilities included a chicken and turkey farm and a baseball field. The inmates played the University of Arizona baseball team each year at the site.  On a 10-acre farm below the mountain the inmates raised vegetables.

Baseball field at the Catalina Federal Honor Camp
Baseball Field
Catalina Federal Honor Camp, ca. 1945
Catalina Federal Honor Camp, ca. 1945.
(photograph courtesy of the Coronado National Forest)
Catalina Federal Honor Camp, ca. 1945
Catalina Federal Honor Camp, ca. 1945.
(photograph courtesy of the Coronado National Forest)
During World War II many of the prisoners at the Honor Camp were draft resisters and conscientious objectors. After the Supreme Court upheld his convictions for disobeying curfew and relocation orders, Gordon Hirabayashi completed his sentence there. Some 45 Japanese American draft resisters were also sent to the Honor Camp to serve their sentences. The majority of the resisters were from the Granada Relocation Center in Colorado; others came from Poston and Topaz. In contrast to Gordon Hirabayashi, who had to hitchhike from Seattle to Tucson to serve his sentence, the resisters were transferred to the Honor Camp in leg irons and under armed guard. Ironically, security at the Honor Camp was far less stringent than it was in the Relocation Centers: instead of fences and guard towers, the perimeter of the Honor Camp was marked by white painted boulders. The inmates broke rocks with sledge hammers, cleared trees, and drilled holes for dynamite for the road work, as well as worked to maintain the camp and grow food and cook for the prison population.

Sign at the site of the Catalina Federal Honor Camp
Sign at the site of the Catalina Federal Honor Camp.
After the highway was completed in 1951, the camp was used for juvenile offenders; inmates ran a logging and sawmill operation and a sign shop. In 1967 the camp was turned over to the state of Arizona, which used the camp as a youth rehabilitation center until 1973. All of the buildings were razed in the mid-1970s, but over 100 features, including concrete foundation slabs and rock walls, remain. The Coronado National Forest  developed the old prison site into the "Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site" named in honor of its most famous prisoner. The site serves as a campground and trail head, and includes interpretive signs which focus on prisoners' experiences and the Constitutional issues raised by the internment during World War II.
The above was taken from the National Park Service website.

There aren't any buildings left at the site anymore. The remaining  foundations give you a good idea how large the camp was.  They have picnic tables there along the Soldier Canyon Creek and a number of shade trees.  It looks like a nice place to have a picnic on a hot summer day in Tucson and should be cooler there since it is located at 4900ft of altitude.

Honor Camp today taken from Google Earth Photo
We weren't able to spend a lot of time there but have it on our list to return and explore the area around it even more before we leave this Spring.

There are little gems out there in the most unexpected places.  All you have to do is keep your eyes open and look for them.

That was our day, how was yours?

NOTE:  Marsha asked why there were so many cars from Sonora, Mexico on the mountain.  I think it was because so many Mexican children never see or get a chance to play in the snow and Mt. Lemmon is within driving distance of their homes.  Sonora license plates are common in the Tucson area and many come here to shop and visit relatives throughout the year.

Water in the Desert

It's been raining hard the last couple days in the Tucson area and all the streams are flowing for a change.  We've only seen this a couple times in the past 9 years we have spent the winter here.  I always have enjoyed seeing streams, brooks, washes, creeks and rivers at or near flood stage.

One year when I was about 10-11 my father, brother and I went fishing on the Illinois river during flood stage.  We piled into an 18ft open wooden boat and started across the flooded river about 25-30 ft above flood stage.  There we saw chicken coops, logs, barrels and all kinds of debris floating down the river and we were in the middle of it.  I was a "little" nervous and asked my father what would happen if the boat tipped over.  His answer was that he was going to drown since he couldn't swim and I should swim with the current to the shore.  HUH?  That sure was reassuring since none of us had life jackets.

Back to the present.  We decided to take a ride up to the top of Mt. Lemmon and check out the mountainside streams.  Most of the time they are bone dry and not that interesting but today was different with many of them flowing quite freely.  I will let the photos tell the story of how pretty it was up there on the drive.

Henry, who poses like this all the time?

7 cataracts

Pretty wildflowers along side of the road.

On top of the world

More falls
Somebody missed the turn.
 The van above was over 300 yards down the side of a steep hill.  I can't imagine anyone living through a fall down that steep hill with all the big rocks around the area.  It looks like it's been there a long time and is all rusted out.

We drove up to the snow ski area and were surprised to see people parking along both sides of the road for the last 1/4 mile or so.  The parking lot was a zoo and impossible to drive around in the area.  I pulled into the parking lot exit and turned around and headed out of there.  We were amazed to see hundreds of cars with Sonora, Mexico license plates.  They outnumbered the U.S. cars by 20 to 1 and families were walking down the middle of the road and causing quite a mess.  

Others were parked along side of the road in other areas taking advantage of the snow on the ground.  They were having snowball fights, sledding and just having a good time.  Once again, the majority of the cars were from Sonora, Mexico. 

One of the many snowmen along side of the road.

  A favorite pastime in the Tucson area is to load the car or truck with snow and drive back down the mountain.  Snowball fights would then take place.  Many cars had small snowmen on top of them and filling the hood of the car seemed to be popular also.  

We made a few stops on the way up to the top of Mt. Lemmon.  I will write more about that in another blog.  I will give you a hint; it's about a prison on the mountain.

It was time to head back to the motorhome to watch the Superbowl.  I didn't have any interest in either team and finally rooted for the Patriots.  They pulled off a stunner and won the game in the 4th quarter.  Hopefully, we won't be hearing ( not hearing ) from Lynch of the Seahawks for a while.  

That was our day, how was yours?