Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Very Merry Christmas Was Had by Us

We have just had the nicest Christmas. Roger and Peggy Hancock came down from Utah to spend it with us. Christmas Eve day we walked out from the Genser Trail head. I love that trail, it's really pretty. It was a gorgeous day.
This is Jim and Roger.

This is Peggy at the top of the climb at the scenic overlook.

Christmas Day we went mountain biking from the 36th Street trail head. It's a blighted area, people build fires and drink in the parking lot. Christmas Eve someone drove through the gate, crashing it, and then into 3 boulders which he pushed several feet. Whoever did it, has some serious front end damage. Anyway, the trail that we had previously scouted on foot that looked so promising turned out to be a little slice of hell. It was steep, rocky and just icky. This was the one of the few nice parts of it.

Peggy has a book on mountain biking in Arizona. They list the trails in the Tucson Mountain Park where we were riding. This section right here is listed as the "Evil Wash". What do you know? They were right! It has lots of loose sand with big rocks embedded in it. This was one of the worst stretches of the day. I did much hike-a-bike.

Peggy, Jim and I had a nosh while Roger rode ahead to see if the sand ever quit and returned to a hard surface. It didn't, so we turned around and went back. It was just gruesome!

On the way back, Peggy got too close to a prickly pear and it bit her! This is one of the thorns that Roger pulled from her leg. It looked like a nail.

Christmas dinner. Lamb chops, yum. Jim did a superb job of grilling them to perfection.

Today was a MUCH better riding day. For the first time I can say yes, mountain bike riding is fun. Up until now, it's been open to debate. The four of us went out to Fantasy Island, an MTB park way out east, and rode. We had a nice, non-threatening warm up loop, with nice non-threatening whoop-de-doos, and then progressed to the northern half of the park which I have never ridden before because it was too scary. I rode a bunch of stuff I would not have attempted a week ago. After riding all the rocks Friday, this didn't look so deadly, so I rode washes that are normally too intimidating. It was a good day.

I'm going to a MTB skills camp for 3 days January 8. So much of mountain bike riding is non-intuitive (for me, anyway), I've decided to save time and skin and get professional help.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Jim and I would like to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

MTB trails and Welding

Greetings from Tucson. Here we are out in the desert. It's so lovely.

Saturday we hiked out and scouted a new mountain bike trail. Getting to it is terrible, this is a 40 degree hill that leads into the trail. I'm not sure I'd even want to walk my bike down this.

Here is a nice part of the trail, is it not lovely?

It's hard to tell from the picture, but this is a fairly steep hill, with loose rock on it. This guy made it look so easy to get up it.

We saw this for sale in a vacant lot. It's really old, maybe a classic. The front and back look the same, if it weren't for the steering wheel and the spare tire on the back, it's be difficult to tell if it's coming or going.

As I previously mentioned, we need to get the 1.25 inch receiver on the RV replaced with a 2 inch receiver. Yesterday we took the horizontal bar that holds the receiver off the RV. Here is Jim with tools.

When you own an RV you get to go to the most interesting places. Today we got to go to a welding shop. They're quite cluttered.

The receiver on the left will be the new one, the old one will get torched off.

Today we also went to the dermatologist. Jim had a thing on his head frozen off. Sun damage. Wear sun screen people!!!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Riding on a Tuesday

This is a B1-B bomber climbing out of Davis-Monthan. We saw it over Tucson, it's a cool plane. The wings can sweep all the way when it goes supersonic. When we saw it the wings were straight out and the landing gear was down. The noise it produced was impressive.

We rode up to the Main Gate today. We went later in the day, which was good, because it's too cold at 9 am. The pigeons are cold, see how puffed up he is? Poor pigeon. We met JimE there and sat around in the sun and had coffee and bagels. Just delightful.

Then we rode up to Oro Valley, this is the view from JimE's new home. It's a neighborhood of patio homes. The HOA dues pay for all exterior maintenance. Love that. It's very pleasant there.

Riding back to RCW was largely downhill, but due to the howling headwind, I had to work, downhill. I am now cooked.
Did everyone see that the 787 flew today? Whoo-hoo!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Biking, Street Fair and Bike Racks

It's chilly in the mornings, so the Friday RCW bike ride started in the afternoon. It was a beautiful day. We had coffee in the Lost Barrio at Tooley's. They have really good coffee and snacks. It's a cool part of town. Aviation Bikeway now extends to 4th Avenue for your riding enjoyment with fresh, brand new pavement.

This weekend was the 4th Avenue Street Fair. We went Saturday, the weather was really good this year. Last year was disappointing for them, clouds and high winds depressed attendance. It doesn't change much from year to year. We have the ubiquitous tie-dye stand.

We have meat!

There were several Tarot readers.

This was interesting art. The artist is from Kansas (! of all places), he makes metal cactus sculpture. They are really beautiful and realistic.

More meat!

This is the second bike rack we've purchased for the full suspension bikes. We had great hopes for this as an in town rack because it's light.

This morning we loaded up the wagons, but it was not to be. So close, but no cigar. The arms that support the wheels need to be a little longer, the forks rub too hard against the uprights. So, back it's going.

The bad thing about acquisition is that often your belongings end up owning large chunks of your time. This is becoming very true of the new MTBs. We're going to end up with a platform type rack behind the RV. Conversations with other RV'ers have revealed the the puny 1.25 inch receiver we have is not up to the task of carrying our manly mountain bikes. So, not only do we need to part with serious dollars for a tray type rack, we're going to need to upgrade the RV hitch to a 2 inch receiver. That is going to require a welder. This is going to be such an odyssey, it's a good thing we're starting early, hopefully it will all be done before the end of April. After deciding that the Highland Sportwing rack was not a contender, we decided to go to Phoenix and get the only Thule T2 rack currently in stock in Arizona.
It's huge!

Fortunately it folds up. It's heavy, taking it off and on the truck will require 4 hands.

It's warmed up here some. We're happy about that. One of these days we'll actually take the MTBs out to the desert and ride them, instead of buying bike racks for them. They are such fastidious things, sort of like cats.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Update on Mountain Construction

Wednesday we went out on the road bikes to go see what's up with the construction on Mountain. You can now go all the way up to the Rillito River trail from the University. One block has a 2 way bike lane, so when you're going south, you're riding against traffic, but other than that it's done. I suspect there is going to be re-paving at a later date, but for now it's all good.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Look Who's in Tucson

Lance Armstrong and the entire Radio Shack team are in Tucson for a week to train. They're out on the east side somewhere in an undisclosed location.

I wish this picture were better, the camera struggles with motion on the television screen. It's an impressive sight to see them all riding a double peloton with a motorcycle on the front and 3 chase cars. It would be cool to have that much protection when one is riding.

So, that's my celebrity sighting for today.

Monday, December 7, 2009

New Bikes & Cold Weather in the Desert

Behold the magnificence of the new mountain bikes. This is Jim's.

This is mine.

Full suspension. Schweet!

We took the bikes back out to the Rillito River trail Sunday. We used the rack in the bed of the truck. We're not doing that again, getting Jim's front wheel back on without the front disc brake dragging was a pain in the patootie. We must have a bike rack that does not depend on removing the front wheel. To that end, I have ordered this rack (there's sound in case you're reading this at work). It's not beefy enough to ride behind the RV, due to all of the motion, but I'm hoping it'll be fine in town. If not, back it goes. It was a fun ride, we went further this time than the first ride.

First off, let me just say that I realize that any tale of woe about the climate in Tucson will get absolutely ZERO truck with all you people in the GPNW, Utah or America's heartland. Yes, you all are suffering more than we are. But having said that, it was cold and windy yesterday. We hiked, I hiked well, we're almost back to our pre-surgery times up and back.

Last night was just awful. We had high, sustained winds out of the southwest, so the wind was rattling the slide toppers and bouncing the RV all night. I kept having nightmares that the bikes were being blown to bits and flying away. It was a long night.

Today I saw the ear doctor. It went well. I HAVE DISSOLVING STITCHES. So I was a happy camper about that, no pulling sutures out of the oh so delicate skin behind my ear. I had thought he'd be removing all of the packing from my ear canal, but he only took about half of it. The other half stays in there for four more weeks. So that's four more weeks of showering with a dixie cup over my ear. It's such a pain. Anyway, he said the ear looks good. Recently I've been stressing because I had pain in the back of my throat, which I was afraid was ear drops running through my ear drum (meaning surgery failed). But it's not from that, it's an inflamed tonsil. But wait, didn't I have my tonsils out when I was 20? Why yes, yes I did. Today we learned that one has 4 tonsils, during a tonsillectomy, 2 of the 4 tonsils are removed, the remaining 2 lingual tonsils remain. So, that's what's hurting in my throat, the left lingual tonsil is inflamed. So, other than the dixie cup in the shower, it's going well.

Other than that, I have nothing new to report. Stay warm and wear a hat when it's cold!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas & a Cautionary Tale

Merry Christmas to me, Merry Christmas to me, and etc. and etc. This is the Joby Gorilla Pod, they've been around for awhile, but just recently penetrated my consciousness. They're genius for little cameras. The tripod has a small removable foot which you can leave on your camera (and in my case can still open the slot to get the SD card out) so it's always there and ready to lock on to the tripod. It's very light, and fun to use, you can shove it into position and it will stay there. It's pretty cool. Now I have to wrap it until Christmas.

The magnificence of the bike rack seen in the previous post was tarnished after it damn near dropped Jim's new full suspension MTB on the road. Jim's new bike has the frame geometry where the forward part of the top tube slants down at 45 degrees and then flattens out. It appears that this geometry does not work with the stick up arm that clamps over the top tube. There will be more on this saga later. Today's diatribe concerns Performance Bike's return policy for items ordered from the catalog and returned to a brick and mortar store.

It states quite clearly on the web site that 100% satisfaction is guaranteed, if not happy bring it back. I will give them credit for taking the bike rack back without demur despite our not having any of the original packaging. Then he (the sales clerk) told us the refund method would either be store credit or a check that would be cut in 2 weeks or so. Apparently the brick and mortar stores can not see which credit card you used and "the credit card companies will not let them refund to a different card." Bollocks. I pointed out to him that when I did the same transaction with a pair of shoes, I received a credit card refund. He said that should not have happened, but it did weaken his argument. Jim piped up with "that's disingenuous." At that point the guy lost his temper, gave us the refund back on the card and wished us a good day. So, be aware of this wrinkle in the return policy when buying online.

For those of you who have not yet arrived in Tucson for the winter, I would like to tell you that Chief Meteorologist Chuck says it's going to be an El Nino winter. That translates to colder and wetter than normal. So bring your warm clothes, I don't think it's going to be like last winter, which was just phenomenal.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Rillito River Trail

Behold the magnificence of the new bike rack. We used it for the first time yesterday to transport the bikes to the Rillito River trail. It's a nice flat separated trail along the Rillito river bed. I'm still a little wonky so we decided to ride heavy un-twitchy bikes for the first time out. I have a weird sensation in my head, it feels like things are coming up too fast on me, I even get it hiking when I'm moving fast. Hopefully this will dissipate along with the funny taste in my mouth. That has been a journey, it started out as a metallic taste, morphed into a salty/pineapple taste, and now is just salty. It's so annoying. Messing with a person's head is just a bad thing all the way around.

On the way out we saw a traffic accident at Ajo and Mission. Someone turned left into the Bounder and took out the left front quadrant of the motor home. That's going to be a bummer for the owners, their house has been damaged!

Here is the Rillito River trail at the unpaved end of it. Jim was scouting for me to see how bumpy it was. We rode a short section of it, but the ear was not enjoying the terrain, so we crossed over and got back on a paved stretch.

It was, however, a beautiful day and I enjoyed being liberated from my Lazy Boy recliner where I have spent so much time over the past week.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bhutan Photos

Two of my very dear friends, Vicki & Dave, have recently returned from a trip to Bhutan. Vicki used her new DSLR to capture some really beautiful images. I will share a few with you because they are just spectacular.

Bhutan is in the Himalayan range - their mountains are sacred and have not been climbed like Everest and K2.

Great people shots.

Bhutan is a Buddhist country, they have many festivals. This is one of the dancers. I love the way her head is back.

Tiger's Nest - built on a sheer cliff by hand.

Bhutan is a beautiful country. They are the first to adopt the measure of Gross National Happiness as a metric for how they're doing, instead of Gross National Product. I like that in a government.

It rained last night, the first significant rain since we got here at the end of September. After a brutally windy day yesterday, today dawns bright, crisp and calm. I think we're going to put Christmas lights on the palm tree. Holiday lights on an RV are challenging, to say the least.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Spatchcocked Thanksgiving

VEGETARIANS - this may not be a blog you'll enjoy. Avert your eyes.

Spatchcock. It's a lovely word with a murky etymology. Jim and I were watching Food Network the night before Turkey Day and we saw Alton Brown prepare a Cornish game hen in a panini press. We had two game hens defrosting in the refrigerator and Jim decided that he would use this technique the following day on Thanksgiving dinner, using the grill, not a press. I am very impressed with his willingness to try this, but what the heck, with 5 pounds of stuffing, no one would go hungry if it didn't work out.

The method as demonstrated by Jim:

With the bird breast side down, remove the back bone with a sturdy pair of kitchen shears. If you don't have a pair of these, you should. Get thee to a cutlery shop.

Open the bird up, mash it down flat until you hear some bones break. Then, using a sharp knife, cut a smallish hole in the skin below the ribs. You'll be pushing the end of the leg through the hole, so make sure you've cut the hole in a place the leg can be pushed. Mock it up before cutting.

Turn him over and remove the distal end of the wing, as they tend to burn. You are done spatchcocking at this point.

Are they not lovely?

Jim rubbed them with olive oil, then sprinkled them with oregano, garlic pepper, and a pinch of salt.

After grilling you get this.

They tend to flatten out on the grill, and cook evenly. They were really really good. I think this may be our new go-to poultry dinner.

Yesterday's cooking lesson for me was to make sure that the two pans you want to put in the teeny tiny RV oven will actually fit in there, at the same time. We ended up at Safeway buying smaller disposable pans that would fit simultaneously. One gets used to having large ovens, until one doesn't!

Hope you and yours are having an excellent Black Friday. We are contemplating a new external hard drive, but I don't think we're ready to execute yet. I have GOT to start backing up more often.