Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hiking Towards the top of Doe Mountain

We set out in the truck this morning to scout a road ride that one of the local bike shops suggests people do.  We will not be doing that ride. Parts of it are lovely and scenic, but there are no shoulders and the road is narrow.  Other sections are on freeways.  The route takes you right through down town Sedona which is just not something I want to do; too many driveways, people cutting your off and distracted tourists.  There is one rideable stretch on Beaverhead Flat road that we might do laps on.
After lunch we drove out Dry Creek road.  We hiked out Cockscomb trail to Aerie trail.  Both trails had mountain bikers on them.  We could probably do the bottom half of Aerie, but not the top half.  Aerie splits and we took the steep trail up toward the top of Doe Mountain.  We kept looking at the sky and wondering if it would rain. Yes, it would.  We got soaked!  Fortunately I had a baggie for the camera.

It was disappointing, we were not that far from top, which is supposed to have amazing views.  However, we were drenched, the wind was up and we decided to turn around and go back down.  It eventually stopped raining and I took these pictures on the way down.


It was a good hike.  If our shoes dry out we'll probably try it again tomorrow, earlier in the day.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tucson to Camp Verde AND a New Samsung

Remember the scene in Men in Black where J shakes the pug Frank who is actually an alien?  No?  Go Here then.  It's hysterical.  Anyway, that's how I was feeling about our new Galaxy Tab 3 internet only tablet today.  Unknown to me, the wretched device slithered over to my phone and sucked up all of my contacts.  Then it slithered up to Picasa and sucked down several hundred photos - ALL of which it did without consulting me.  Turns out the default on the device is to sync with everything, every where, all the time day and night.  Fortunately it did this while attached to DSL and it didn't burn up all of my precious (translate as expensive) Verizon data plan.  I would like to delete all of those photos.  Do you think I can find a trash can icon?  No.  It is not where the Dummies book says it is, or any of the help forums.  Where there should be a trash can, there is a camera icon.  This thing is the work of the devil thus far.  We got it at Costco, it may go back there.
Today we drove from Tucson to Camp Verde.  We're staying at the Distant Drums RV Park.  The skies were very dramatic today.

Are you familiar with the term mansplaining?  Jim got to experience that today.  When we plugged our RV into the 50 amp outlet on the power pedestal, the surge protector did not thump like it always does.  We went in and discovered we had no shore power.  Bringing up the Aladdin revealed that the power management system had detected an open ground.  Therefore, the power management system would not accept that power.  We went down and told the office them there was a problem with the ground.  The maintenance guy brought out a cheap power tester, stuck it in the two powered sides and told Jim, as if Jim were an idiot, that there was 120 on each side.  That's not the problem.  The ground is the problem.  We defaulted to using 30 amp, but it was very interesting to watch the maintenance guy dismiss us as morons.  I'm tempted to ask him if he has any friends who are electricians, and perhaps he could get them to explain to him what an open ground is. 
Between that, the Samsung and the really crappy internet at the park, I have a headache.  Since we're back on metered internet I think I'll keep this short and not upload any more pictures of driving.
Carry on and keep calm.

Friday, April 18, 2014

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today I had cryoablation for my arrhythmic heart.  My heart went bad in 1Q2010.  The problem was originally diagnosed as atrial fibrillation, but it was actually flutter.  An RF ablation done in Seattle in August of 2010 fixed the flutter for awhile.  However, flutter arises from fib, and I eventually left normal sinus rhythm almost every stinking time I rode a bicycle with any effort.  There would be irregular heart beats, crazy fast heart rates, the works.  It was pretty depressing.

I eventually found an accomplished surgeon in Phoenix who did the cryoablation procedure.
It's life changing.  Before the procedure I felt like crap all the time.  I didn't realize how bad I felt until I didn't.  About three months after the procedure I felt good.  Out of shape, but good! If one makes it one year with no events, there is a 95% chance one is cured.

Since cryo I have had no, none, not any events on the bicycle.  That was my trigger 99% of the time.  I can now stand up on hills, ride really hard and not worry about it anymore.  I am so grateful to Dr. Su and his team for giving my back my life.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Loading the Wagons and More Cactus

The plan for this morning had been to get up and go ride.  As is sometimes the case, the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak.  Too hot!  We ended up fast walking in the park for an hour.  I took pictures, as well.
These are balloons that blew in from elsewhere.  They're pretty high up in the tree.  They're actually kind of cheerful.

The cactus bloom continues.


For those whose cactus don't bloom, there are always silk flowers which can be pinned on.

Many of the saguaros in the park are blooming.  They're getting a lot of attention from the birds and the bees.  Although wikipedia says their primary pollinators are bats.

Since I can not get a good angle on these flowers, I stole a picture from the web, so you can see what they look like.  They have a pretty blossom.

After walking there was loading of the wagons.  There is a possibility of rain (!) tomorrow for the first time in months.  Given that, we decided to put the mountain bikes in the truck bed, rather than on the bike rack.  Notes to self:  The bike order left to right is boy boy girl girl.  My road bike must be released from the fork block and leaned to the right in order to get my mountain bike in.  Jim's seat must be lowered in order to get his mountain bike in.

Additionally there was taking the Christmas tree lights off the palm tree, putting the grill away, washing some of the outside chairs and stuffing things into the basement.  It took about 3 hours to get it all done.  I'm glad we did it today instead of waiting.  I still have an appointment with the ENT to get through and a final trip to Costco and Wally World tomorrow.
I found this picture on the web.  Isn't this cool?  It's the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.  It's in Winnipeg.   The architecture is very striking.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tucson - Rincon Country West

We have spent every winter at Rincon Country West starting in 2008. We're pretty happy here, but I know this park would not be to everyone's liking.
It's a 55+ park.  About a third to a half of the pads have park models on them.  One of the downsides to being in a 55+ park is that one is constantly reminded of one's mortality.  From year to year we see people decline, or worse, not return.  On the bright side, there are no annoying youngsters.  So, that's something to consider. 
Tucson is a great place to winter.  There are places to hike.  Riding on the road is much safer here than many other places we have been.  The city of Tucson passed an ordinance that all new road construction or repaving must install a bike lane.  There are also miles of bike paths that are physically separated from cars.

This is the road in and out of the park.  I took this on a really windy day.  You can see palm tree bits on the ground.

Almost everybody is gone, so I don't have a good picture of RVs on their sites.  Look over toward the two white ones.  You can see that there is a place for the vehicle, a concrete pad for the picnic table, and then the RV.  Rinse repeat.  When we had the fifth wheel we moved gravel to level.  A board was too much, but it needed something.  Sites are slightly sloped for drainage.

This was taken standing behind our bus, I'm next to our ladder.  When it's full, you're pretty close to your neighbors.  With about 5 exceptions, the RV sites are staggered so that if you have a rear window, you do not look in to the window of the fifth wheel behind you.  You will look at someone's toad.

The pool is on the right here.  They have water aerobics twice in the mornings.  There is a DVD telling the participants what to do.

The main activity complex.

If you are interested, there is a woodshop (with a lot of equipment), lapidary, sewing, two hiking clubs, Hardanger,  two small gyms, bridge and many other card games, and places to congregate and talk.  There is also a post office on-site.  There is a biking club that does rides in the 10-12 mph range, with no one left behind.  There are many activities every day.  If you like to do stuff with people, there is stuff to do. 
Bands are brought in and other entertainment.  There are food trucks during the season as well as a small farmer's market.
For some reason, we do none of these things, so I can't comment on what they're like.  We've made good friends in the park who ride, and we spend a fair amount of time with them.
There are multiple laundry and shower facilities and they are all good, too.  The park offers wi-fi, but I strongly suggest you bring your own.  It just doesn't work. The office staff is very friendly and very nice. 
We like the park because we like Tucson.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Boat Racing and Dust Devils

There was racing on the lake at Christopher Columbus park this morning.  This is a starting lap, they haven't picked up enough speed yet to make the rooster tails.  I'm not sure where I was pointing the camera, but I did not capture any of those.  Anyway, this was a multi-club race.

People were here with their campers and pop-ups.

There was a small village lake side.

These are vendors.  In the back is  I had no idea that RC hydroplanes were this big.  If you look left, lower half there is a boat sitting on a stand.  They look just like the real ones.  Jim went down and talked to one of the boat guys, he said the sport started using weed eater engines.  Then people started manufacturing engines for the boats.  The next new thing will be electric motors.

We had to continue on our way, we still had CDO to climb in a rather stiff headwind.  It was gruesome. 
This afternoon we went to Target and Trader Joe's.  While we were out we saw several dust devils form and grow up.  Upon returning, we found that a devil had been across our patio.  The mountain bikes were pushed over, the bike stands were out from under the cinder blocks we had weighting them down.  When we put the pipe wrap on the corners of the cinder blocks I thought maybe it was over kill, but it saved the paint today.  So now the mountain bikes are up on the hitch mounted bike rack with the grill cover over them until it settles down a little bit.
Tomorrow we're getting the truck washed, clayed and waxed.  It will be as smooth as a baby's butt.  We're in the final count down of stuff to do before pushing off into the great wide open.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Day Trip to Patagonia

Marco and his crew arrived at 9:00 this morning to wash and wax the bus.  If there was ever a thing worth paying for, it is that.  I don't mind helping wash the bus in Seattle because the water doesn't spot.  Here, if you don't get it dry in 15 seconds, it spots, big time.  So we needed to go somewhere.  It was too windy to ride.  How windy was it?  It was so windy that the Thunderbirds' demonstration at today's air show at Davis-Monthan was cancelled.
I've been following Emily's excellent blog, Traveling Twosome,  as they have spent a month hiking, biking and birding in Patagonia.  It's a very small town about 70 minutes south of Tucson, population less than 900 people.  The arrival of the New Mexico and Arizona Railway put Patagonia on the map.  With the presence of rail, the miners and ranchers were able to more easily ship their products and prosper.  The trains stopped coming in 1962.  There is still ranching, we did see cows, but I don't know how important it is to the economy.  The town itself has reinvented as a tourist destination.  The temperatures are pleasant there.  We saw a lot of people on road bikes today, even in the howling winds.
We had lunch at Common Grounds.  It was good.  Jim had the best restaurant potato salad ever.  We both had BLTs (bacon!) and enjoyed them. 

There is a Pilates studio, there is yoga, and there are wellness spas.  You have to wonder what the old time ranchers think about all of that.

A saloon established in 1937.

We're not sure what this is.  There is a sign in the window that says "Simply bed, no bread."  A rental, perhaps?

This is the old train station.  I love it when a place like this is preserved.

Then we drove out toward the Harshaw Cemetery.  This is kind of a cool old tree.

The last person was buried here in 2001.  The local historical society maintains the graveyard.

Why are old cemeteries so often on hills?

Old gravesites, really old.

This is what's left of Harshaw.  

We saw this burro in a field with cows.  He's really short.

This was also seen on the road returning from the cemetery.  This is out in the middle of nowhere.  What IS this?  At first I thought it might be the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center, but I don't think it is.  None of the pictures on their website show anything like this.  Click on the Tree of Life website and check out their package prices.  They do a lot of fasting at the spa.  Basically you go to this place and starve. Meals do not seem to be included in the base price.

There are many forest roads in the area that are maintained and that travel through some nice scenery.  We're thinking we might take the bus down for a week or so next April and spend some time riding and looking at stuff.  We found an RV park that has full hookups and can accommodate our length.  
Tomorrow is forecast to be less windy than today, so hopefully we can be up and out early on the bikes.  The air conditioning was running by 9 this morning.  Hot!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Earth Moving, Stuck Trucks and New Shoes

Greetings Earthlings!  Long time, no write.  I will now catch you up on the glory that is full timing in hot climates.  Wednesday we had to be up at oh:dark:thirty to take the bus in for the annual oil change.  We also needed a new air filter which was surprisingly expensive.  On the way out of the RV park, following in the truck I stopped to get a picture of a Trichocereus in bloom.  Of all of the blooming cacti, this is the best.  How does such a beautiful flower come from this?


Yesterday we were up and out early on the bikes.  We stopped at the bridge overlooking the construction site in the Santa Cruz River bed.  All of this is in preparation for a bike path.  I would really like someone from the Army Corps of Engineers to explain this to me.  Look at the center of the picture (click to enlarge).  See the fence next to the vehicles.  They are digging down into the river bed.  This is after moving the bank back about 100 feet.

This is off to the right.  They're moving that bank as well.

The whole thing looks like a massively over sized project to the untrained eye.  I get armoring the banks, but I am at a loss to understand why the earth moving is of this magnitude.  This project really needs a web site.  There's never anyone around that I can ask about their thought process.

Today's ride had much entertainment value.  We went north on the Santa Cruz trail toward Sunset. When we crossed the last little bridge just before Camino del Cerro, we saw this on the right.  There was a giant wrecker with very long cables pulling this vehicle out of the water.  We watched it for a few minutes, and another rider came by and said there were two more just up the trail. 

We rode up to the bridge that parallels Camino del Cerro and found the other two. This is the same body of water the wrecker is pulling the blue car out of.  Yes, I know I ended that sentence with a preposition.

How does this happen?  I don't even know how you would drive to this place.  The vanity plates on the truck say "ONCALLS."  He will not be taking calls for awhile.

Then, in the desert near the left bank of the little river, we see this.  His left wheels are in sand up to his hubs.

Naturally we had to go back and gawk at the wrecker.  Two young guys drove their old Jeep Cherokee into the water and could not back out.  One wonders if alcohol was involved.

When he opened the door, water came pouring out of the front of the passenger compartment.  Apparently the owner was amused because he let out a couple of excited whoops.  However, excitement turned to sadness when the engine would not start.  The wrecker was forced to come back and get him out of the wash.  This will probably be very expensive towing.

Look at the ground squirrel bottom right.  Is he not adorable?  They're like rabbits, they think if they don't move you can't see them.

In news of the feet, I can say that I have a new shoe paradigm.  After foot surgery, my left foot rejected my La Sportiva Imogens that I had been wearing for five years.  I had five pairs of them, because my feet previously liked that shoe.  Apparently they have switched their allegiance to the Ultra Raptors.  This makes sense to me because La Sportiva recently discontinued that shoe.  So, I'm good for two years, anyway.

This is a new good thing.  Superfeet makes insoles that my feet will accept.  The copper insole has memory foam.  So, for all of you with cursed feet, check them out.  I'm liking them more than my custom orthotics, and I really like the fact that they are machine made with very little variability.  Custom orthotics work sometimes, and sometimes they don't.

Currently it is 93 degrees outside.  The humidity in the bus is 4% due to the continuous running of the air conditioners.  We're leaving the 19th and it will not be a second too soon.  It's HOT!