Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pineville, NC

Greetings from Pineville, NC. After the recent brutal weather, the climate here was delightful today. Low eighties, low humidity and a pleasant zephyr to ruffle one's hair. I have to say, modern day travel is about as pleasant as being pulled through a hedge backwards. We arrived in Atlanta and decided to walk the mile or so to our next gate. Upon arriving at the gate we discovered it had been moved, pretty much back to where we started. So back we went, sucking up enough time that eating was no longer possible. Upon arrival here at 4:30, we'd had an apple and tiny yoghurt and a mini-muffin from breakfast, along with 3 bags of peanuts all day. The leg from Atlanta to Charlotte was on an ancient MD-88 (aka the Sky Snake). The plane is like one of those nightmares where you walk down the corridor and it keeps getting longer and you never reach the end. We were in row 37 of 38, right between the engines. Fortunately it was a short flight.

This person is with Atlanta Fire & Rescue. That would be fun, to cruise the airport on a mountain bike.

This is one of the rows of statues in Atlanta.

Close up of an art piece.


A statue of someone outside of the airport.

The view from the hotel window. As a long time Seattle resident, I always thought the GPNW was the greenest of the states, but I think it might actually be North Carolina. There are trees everywhere.

So, we're here until May 5. If I see anything interesting, I'll post it.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Farewell to Tucson

After what seems like weeks of getting the RV ready to travel, it's done. We have done our last load of laundry to include our MTB padding. These are my knee pads drying on the bike stand. They were starting to stink and the Captain informed me that he would not be sharing the cab of the truck with them if they were not washed. They do smell much better now.

We hitched successfully this morning and drove up to RV Central to put the house into storage. It's really odd, pulling in to a storage yard, handing over the keys to everything you own and driving away. This is the RV from the back heading up the freeway.

It was hot and windy today, really windy. Blowing dust and all of that. We're spending tonight at the Hampton Inn at the airport. They're generally a good price performer and they have free in room wi-fi. Tomorrow's flight from Charlotte departs at 7:10 in the morning. I hate getting up early! Charlotte will not be fun; we will do some more downsizing and find out if the pages of 15 years worth of photo albums have stuck themselves together.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Off the Grid

Apparently Yahoo is upgrading their mail servers during prime usage hours, so I do not have email. No ECD on this activity.
Tomorrow morning, I have to mail my wireless router back to Qwest. We're taking the RV in to storage, so I don't think there will be much connectivity for us. I'm getting the shakes, thinking about no email, facebook or twitter. Whatever shall I do with myself?
We'll be in touch when we can. We'll leave the phone on.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Brunch Out and Riding

This morning we took the road bikes out with the intent of having breakfast at the Rincon Market. However, they were closed for Easter. So we headed back to Geronimo Square in search of sustenance.

It's a lovely area with a shaded court yard surrounded by small buildings. Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, when I was in college, the small buildings were lived in by students. Now, they're converted to retail.

We went to the Pasco Kitchen, which replaced Cafe Paraiso. It's a completely different sort of restaurant now; it's more upscale, lots of dark wood tables and chairs inside, and cute white tables with pastel chairs outside. They also fenced off the outdoor seating to keep out the people with Starbucks coffee. They do set a nice tablescape as you can see below. I had the buckwheat waffle, which I don't think was actually buckwheat. Jim had the frittata which was very good. That's a huge pile of whipped cream sitting behind my waffle. I was good, I did not eat that.

The "sail" on the frittata is hash browns. I like the little flowers.

Service was good, food was good. They don't refill your coffee cup, they bring you another full cup, which was novel. I miss the unstructured-ness of Cafe Paraiso and being able to rearrange the furniture to accommodate a crowd, but that was then, this is now. I'd give the Pasco Kitchen a solid B.

After food, there was riding. This is a buckhorn cholla we saw on the way out.

We did Anklam and rode around the Marriott. The weather heads were predicting high winds, so we decided to ride near the park in case we needed to seek shelter. We were back before it really wicked up, so it was just a delightful day with good weather and time spent with my sweetie.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

More Cactus

Discovered this cactus on a ride through the RV park. It never ceases to amaze me how pretty the flowers are.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Heat, Ear Doctor and Riding

It. is. so. hot. Jim and I have had an on going discussion of where should we live when we're too old and rickety to full time RV. I think we've had in the back of our minds that it would probably be Tucson. No matter where you live, there's a bad season, but we thought a hot summer would be better than cold winters. After the past few days we're wondering if we could acclimate to summer here. Actually, it's me, Jim does better with the heat than I do. So, still thinking about that.
This morning I saw Dr. Parry, the otolaryngologist. I am happy to report that the strenuous nose blowing done in February did not increase the size of my ear drum perforation. He thinks it might be a tiny bit smaller than it was in October, but does not think that it will ever actually close. He's currently training for a 48 mile run at the Grand Canyon. It's rim, to rim, to rim, to rim. I can not conceive of doing that ever.
We headed out to Fantasy Island for a shortish ride. This is Jim inspecting the bridge at the end of Fire Loop. It's been sounding different lately. There are some slightly loose boards, but the thing appears to be safe. This bridge is the make or die feature in the park.

We're starting the process of moving out of the staying in place configuration to the traveling configuration. Jim's outdoor TV was packed up today and put away. We had to move furniture to do that, which revealed much dust and sand - so that resulted in vacuuming.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

More Cactus and a New Costco

The problem with the night blooming Cereus is that (wait for it), it blooms at night. I went up at 6:30 yesterday evening and they were still closed, but they opened sometime later. Look at the display. Are these not magnificent?


I'm not sure what this is. It's really pretty. The color is just phenomenal.


Rejoice citizens of the south end! A new Costco has opened. No longer must we drive to the north end, we have our own store. It was packed today. We went in for ONE THING, and came out with two roller duffel bags, a year's worth of electric toothbrush heads, and books for the plane. We also got the one thing, which was granola.

We took the hard sided suitcases back to Macy's. They're a complete storage problem for us, and they were pricey for a single use item. The duffel bags will collapse fairly flat, and we may be able to get them stored in the front basement. We're going to have to weigh them before heading out to the airport, it will be very easy to exceed the 50 pound limit imposed by the airlines if we fill them up. On international flights, US Airways charges $150 per suitcase if one exceeds 50 pounds.
We have one more weekend here, we leave the 30th. On the 29th we'll put the RV into storage, on the 28th Jim will sign up for Medicare. It will be an action packed week for us. I can't believe another winter/spring in Tucson is over.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Working in the Desert

Aye maties! The captain declared today to be a work day. And work we did. Here is Jim cleaning the roof. First roof cleaner is applied.

Then there is scrubbing with the brush.

Then there is rinsing.

After the roof cleaning, there is RV washing. Because the water is so hard here, after washing there must be drying (to avoid spotting). Here is the first mate drying the RV. Normally this would be blue work, but the first mate stepped up to help.

It's over now, we're clean and shiny.
This is a saguaro cactus in the park that is blooming.

Later in the evening, a beautiful sunset appeared.


Today was very warm and windy. My back is still unhappy about the MTB ejection but it's better. We're hoping tomorrow will be rideable from a back and a weather perspective.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Old Pueblo Grand Prix

Today was the downtown crit. It was pretty much fun to watch. It's a 0.6 mile course, so riders come around often. This the course map.

The start line.

Here is me, wearing my hat with the wide brim. Wide brimmed hats were the order of the day.

Look at the rider in the middle of the photo - that's Doug Perry. He's a really strong rider. The master's group he was in was 55+. It would have been better if they'd broken out the riders into 5 year categories, but Doug held his own with the youngsters.

This is the 45-54 y.o. masters group. They were pretty dang fast. Look left in the photo, see the rider who is fairly upright, unlike everyone else in the shot? He went wide on the corner and got yelled at by the pack.

This was the bad turn on the course. Two young female riders went down hard, one broke a collar bone. We saw 2 guys go down while we were there.

See the young man on the ground? It was pretty amazing that no one hit him.

After the pack went by, the fallen rider leapt up, grabbed his bike and ran back to the service area, which was a couple of blocks away. I've never seen anyone run that fast in road bike shoes. Apparently you're given 3 laps to get back in the race, and he wanted in. We did see him ride by later.

El Grupo was out at the races today. They had 5 riders in the Cat3/4 races. One of them was all of 14 years old. I saw my old Trek Pilot frame, which I donated a couple of years ago. It has found a wonderful home, being ridden by a young woman named Lizzie.

It was a very pleasant way to spend the day. The course was fun because it was short. We watched the police deal firmly with several inebriated citizens which was interesting. The police have truly perfected the command voice when they want someone to do something.

I am still fairly sore from yesterday's ejection from the mountain bike; my right side erector spinae and pectoralis muscles are tender. There probably won't be any bruising worth photographing.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ow and Hot

Ow. Jim and I rode FI this morning. The very last scary thing we ride is a wash full of deep sand that's about 25 feet across. It's at the bottom of a little hill, so you go into it a little fast. So, today I got into it, the front wheel flipped sideways and I endoed. It wasn't that painful, it is deep sand after all, but I wrenched my back pretty good. Hopefully this will clear up before getting on the plane. This is Jim successfully riding the wash a few months ago.

The park is hosting the Tri-State Elks convention. There are many of them here. They've put a picnic table on a small trailer and and are towing it and Elks around the park

Temperatures in the Old Pueblo are ratcheting up pretty good. It hit 90 today. We're running both air conditioners. It's still better than snow.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Photos from the Desert (2)

Today was just delightful. We rode at FI expecting much wind and heat and experienced neither. It was just an excellent day on the bikes.
We've been out practicing with the new camera in advance of the trip to Germany. This is San Xavier del Bac, also known as the Dove of the Desert. The best time to photograph is just before sunset.


My brother, Laurence, took this one.

The two night blooming Cereus cacti are having another round of flowers. We are very excited about this. Are they not lovely?


Today we had a gig of memory added to the netbook. It's much better now. Windows 7 running on 1 gig of memory is just painful.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Medicare Lesson #1

If you apply for Medicare and Social Security to commence simultaneously, the Medicare premium is deducted from the SS check. If you apply for Medicare without SS, you must find a way to pay for it.
In order to have the premium payment deducted from checking, or applied to your credit card, you must fill out a form. The form is not available on the website, it must be mailed to you. This will take 2 to 3 weeks. We asked for the form on the phone, I do not know if there is something on the website that allows you to request the form.
So, that's our first Medicare lesson.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Memorial at Fantasy Island

This is a memorial out at Fantasy Island. She was 45 years old when she died. She had cancer of everything.

This is Kimberly, whose family misses her very much.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Riding and Medicare

Today it warmed up so we went out to Fantasy Island. This flag marks the southernmost confluence of trails. One comes in here from the south or from Rez, and either goes north or back to the southern parking lot.

I saw this in a tree at the Shark circle. We're not sure why it's there. Mountain bikers - what can you say?

So, I have closure on an item (note the use of the singular preposition). I finally got my bike shorts from Terry. First I ordered mediums and they were tight, I exchanged for larges and they were huge, so I re-exchanged for mediums, and these seem to be a better size. Terry has issues with consistency in their sizes and more annoyingly in their receiving department. It takes them 12 to 14 days to open a returned package. I realize they're a small company, but 2 weeks?
We continue to rassle with Medco. Drugs by mail is a beautiful thing, but getting it set up every year is such a pain. It seems like the wheel must be reinvented on an annual basis. We're not done yet.
Jim is starting the enrollment process for Social Security/Medicare/Supplemental Medicare programs. We thought we had more time, but apparently one must do it 90 days in advance of being 65. So this will be added to the mix of things that must be done by the end of the month before leaving for the continent. I think my head may explode. All of the enrollments are online, maybe it'll go smoothly, but I doubt it, it's the gubmint. One does wonder when one became so damn old.
I think maybe if it doesn't go smoothly, I'll document the bumps in the process so that those who follow behind us in years can be prepared.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Rain in the Desert

Two days ago we were running both air conditioners in the RV. It was 45 degrees cooler today than it has been. It's a miracle the windows don't break from the temperature changes.
This is from somewhere in the north end of Tucson, I think those are the Catalina mountains you can't see.

Today we got luggage for going to Germany. It's been a grueling shopping experience, but we're done. We have some incidental stuff to buy, like Pepto and leave in hair conditioner, but other than that we're done spending money. Yay!!!
You know how airlines charge you more (way more) for tickets that you can cancel or change, than for non-changeable seats? Hotels in Germany do the same thing. You pay more if you want the ability to change your dates. It's really irritating. We've booked for our first 7 nights, after that we are just winging it.
Our general itinerary is Frankfurt, Fulda, Berlin, Dresden, Munich, Bertchesgaden, Bitburg, Aachen and then back to Frankfurt.

So, after today's rain and gloom, tomorrow is forecast to be cold and sunny. Sunny is good.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Tequila Bottles at Costco

Tequila in Día de los Muertos inspired bottles.

Is this culturally insensitive? I think it might be.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Photos from Antarctica

Our good friends Don and Jamie went to Antarctica in March of this year. Here are a few of their photos.

They are kayaking in the very cold water.




Follow the trail of penguins up the hill and to the left.

Is is not stunning? Thanks for the pictures.