Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fantasy Island the Following Day

Today we were back at Fantasy Island.  After I spent last night berating myself for being such a chicken, I wanted to go back out and ride better.  Today was better.  There was one minor fall due to sand, but over all I pushed down the devils and rode the washes.  This one really took it in the head this summer.  The line up out of the wash is toward the left, the path was much wider last year.

This is the second climb out of that wash.  Last year it was difficult but doable, this year it's covered in loose sand.  There's no traction!  We should take a rake out there and clean off the sand.

Here is a better picture of the mysterious pile of dirt.  I can find nothing on the web to explain its presence.

After riding, we washed the truck at Senor Frog car wash and did laundry.  Just another day in paradise!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fantasy Island Trail Report

Today we went back out to Fantasy Island. We first rode Bunny to Snake Dance to the Rez Loop.  After the monsoons this year, there's much more sand, both on the flat trails and in the little washes.  One needs to pay attention and stay in the middle of the trail.
Then we were off to Fire Loop.  See the giant pile of dirt?  That was not there last year.  It can be ridden around, so not to worry.

The Goal Post wash is unchanged.  Elbow Slammer has deteriorated somewhat.  There are two fairly good steps on the first part.

This is the second wash, it's full of small rocks that are somewhat mushed down.  If you stay in the middle, you're fine.

I totally wussed out and walked it.  Now I'm going to have to spend the rest of the winter having to regain the confidence I had last year.  That's Jim riding my bike down for me.  It's actually easier to ride it than walk.

Between Elbow Slammer and the Slide it's sandy, it's very powdery.  Prepare to come home dirty.  The Slide hasn't changed much.  This is on the way out of Fire Loop, and gives us another look at the giant pile of dirt.  It's huge.  One wonders where it al came from. That was not there last year!

There's a new bridge.  It's very nice, you can see it pretty far away on the trail as it is higher up on the bank than the old bridge.  Look at the steel trusses on the underside.

There is freeway construction on I10 east.  This backup went on for miles.  Please make a note of it.

So that's what we saw today on the trail. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sunsets and a Moon

Here is one of the final sunsets from McDowell.  I like the way the sun is hitting the hills.

This is tonight.  When the moon first came up over the mountains it was HUGE.  But I missed the shot, so disappointing.  Next time I'm going to have Jim slam on the brakes so I can leap out of the truck, camera in hand.  Anyway, here you can see the seas of the moon.  Pretty cool.

The impressive moon rise was followed by a good sunset.

Later on.....
So tonight we went online to reserve a space at McDowell for January.  The dang park is just about full, during the week!  We have a spot for four days, hopefully that will be enough for round one.  Otherwise we may have to shift to the casino, assuming they have space.  Who knew?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dinner and Riding

Yesterday I turned 60.  That sentence looks surreal to me.  However, the birth certificate does not lie, and I am 60.  This was taken yesterday, the moon is almost full again.  It was a good day.  We were tired from McDowell, driving, nesting, and etc. so we spent the day doing laundry, reading and laying about.

We went out to dinner at an Indian restaurant with Don and Jamie.  It was really good.  These are called thali plates.  There are four other serving dishes with lentils, a spinach dish, okra and something whose description I can't remember.  Look at my plate in the 4:00 position, that's pureed eggplant and it was really good.  The okra was really good, too. It was a delightful evening with delightful people.

This morning Jim rode with Don and Dave.  It was a good workout for Jim, as Don and Dave are both faster than he is.  Jamie and I also rode, but at a more reasonable pace.  We hadn't actually planned to do Gates from the west, but we did.  It was a good ride, I stayed in normal sinus rhythm for most of it, particularly on the steep bits.  A good bike ride just makes the world look better.

Now I will describe something we watched this afternoon.  The sites here are not the easiest to get in to, it's a 90 degree turn, but with a Class A, it's not all that difficult.  We watched this bus take 4 tries at getting into his site.  He'd back, but he would not turn his front wheels enough to make the turn.  Finally, the lady next door came out and said she would provide assistance.  This was a gutsy move on her part, generally men do not appreciate "help" and the implication that they need it.  So here she is, motioning him to cut his wheels sharply.

Now she is giving him a clear cut directive to keep coming back.

Now the companion of the driver is also providing direction.  To me, this is reminiscent of the Village People doing YMCA.  What does that hand signal say to you?  Compare and contrast with the neighbor lady who is still signalling "keep coming back."

The lady in blue did a bang up job of getting these people parked.

I called the Mayo Clinic today.  It was interesting.  The first lady got my name, address, and the all important insurance information.  Then I was transferred to the pre-admission department and had to repeat everything I'd already said.  Are their computers not networked?  The first available with a cardiac electrophysiologist is January 3.  So, we'll take the bus back up to McDowell and see what happens.  I shall stand by to be amazed.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving at McDowell

We had a lovely Thanksgiving in McDowell Mountain park.  Roger made his signature seared ahi.  He uses a skillet on top of Gaz cylinders.  Here are the men lighting the barbeque for other cooking.  This year Roger had outdoor illumination.  There were torches everywhere.  Roger and Peggy have camping down to a fine art.

I asked them to turn towards the light so I could get a picture of their front sides.  Ever the comedians, this is the pose they struck.  I love these guys.

It's so pretty there.  I love riding in the park.  The trails took a little damage this summer from the rain, but they're still wonderful.

The outdoor living room.   It was very pleasant to sit and watch the sun set.

Unfortunately there was also tragedy this weekend.  When stepping out of the truck on to a downward slope with loose gravel, my foot slipped out from under me, and I sat down forcefully on the ground, dropping my camera.  It's broken.  The lens cover can no longer open and close.  If you look carefully, you can see the divots caused by the impact on the gravel.  I loved that camera!  Fortunately, I have two more of them.  That's how much I love that camera.

It was a fun trip this weekend, but also frustrating.  My SVT seems to have returned with a vengeance.  There were a few sightings of 215 on my heart rate monitor, which is a bad thing.  We're thinking we might try the Mayo clinic in Scottsdale for a new diagnosis.  I figure I could get a Holter monitor, go mountain biking and produce some startling recordings for them to interpret.  It's aggravating because the problem is bicycling induced.
We're back in Tucson now.  Target is selling 4 foot strings of 6 LED Christmas lights that are battery powered.  We put a string up over the couch and they are quite festive.  Tomorrow I think we're going to stick the chili pepper lights to the inside of the windshield, which will also be festive, although their red color does put me in mind of a bordello.  I hope you all enjoyed the holiday in your neighborhood.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Setting Sun at McDowell

Here we are in the McDowell Mountain Park.  It's a Maricopa county regional park. Given the budget woes of Arizona in general, I am very grateful that it is still open.  It's one of my favorite places anywhere. 
These were taken at twilight.  I like how the colors change over the mountains out in the distance.

This is later on in the sun setting process.  It was pretty good last night.

Today we're going for a ride out in the desert, then off to Costco on the day before Thanksgiving.  Obviously we have lost our minds. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Breakfast Ride

Today's breakfast ride went to the Old Times Cafe.  Because there were so many of us, we got to sit in the private dining room.  It was nice.  The food was good, and the sound levels were low.  What, I am still wondering, is a monkey dish?

After leaving, we rode up to Mountain to the trail, up Via Entrada, then back to the park via the Santa Cruz trail.  We got 40 miles in.  This is a new bike store on the trail, it's pretty good.  We were talking to one of the guys there who had future trail maps posted. In two or so years, Tucson will have 114 miles of trails completed.

It was a beautiful day.  Just perfect.



Tuesday we are heading up to McDowell Mountain park to spend some time with the Hancocks.  The weather is forecast to be in the upper 70s to low 80s during our stay.  This is going to be much better than some of the years we have been up there when it was cold and rainy.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Keypad on the RV

Note to self!  Every time we wash the RV, the keyless entry pad illuminates.  Sometimes it turns itself off, and sometimes it doesn't.  When it doesn't go out, it starts chirping at us.  The fix for this is PUSH AND HOLD the lock button.

We had a pretty sunset tonight. They haven't been as good as last year, maybe they'll pick up in December.

It was a low key day.  I bought a case for my Android.  Then we got caught in Tour de Tucson traffic and had to drive all over hill and dale to get home.  Marco and his crew washed and waxed the RV today, it is all shining and lovely.

Friday, November 16, 2012

More Riding and Health Tips for You

Our last two days have been totally excellent.  Yesterday we went back out to the Irvington trail system (I'm calling that for lack of a better name).  We took the Camaro trail to the Sunset Pass trail.  Sunset Pass turns up and becomes very rocky; at this point we decided we would stop and put the knee and elbow pads on.  It's amazing how much courage is provided by some padding.  I rode very well, and cleaned a bunch of stuff I would not normally try.  So that was a definite win.

We then took the Cascabel trail out towards Irvington road to see what the trailhead looked like.  This is it.  No sign, no markings, no nothing!  If nothing else, the lack of signage should keep usage down.

The beginning of the trail, a pile of rocks marks the spot.

Today we rode Gates Pass.  It was slow, but it was accomplished.  We came back and sat on the patio and finished the coffee.  It was a perfect moment.  Perfect temperature, two good ride days, pretty clouds and being with my BFF.

In other news, our new driver's side neighbors had their white pickup truck stolen, as did our neighbors last year.  So, we decided to buy and use a Club.  We're hoping it will make us less desirable to the casual car thief.  It's a pain, but if the truck is taken, there go the road bikes and our pneumatic braking system that plugs in to the motorhome.  Recovering from that would be difficult and time consuming,  Apparently pickup trucks are widely sought after by vehicle thieves in the Old Pueblo.

Here is my new learning which I will share with you.  One morning when we were in Oregon, Jim woke up looking like a hamster with a pouch full of food.  One of his salivary glands had plugged up and it was just massive.  The way you treat it is with hot compresses, massage and the eating of really sour stuff.  We ate sour Skittles all the way to Tucson.  We were talking to my ENT about what causes it, and it's in large part due to age.  Yes, another age related issue.  As we grow older, our saliva thickens and decreases in volume.  This can lead to plugging up the glands.  The two best ways to combat this are drinking enough water, and consuming sour items.  The ENT suggested sucking on limes or lemons.  These are Meyer limes, and I can attest to the fact that half a lime will indeed get the juices flowing.  So that is my health tip for you today.

Tomorrow is the Tour de Tucson.  As part of the ride, there is a bike expo.  We went this afternoon, and I found a new jersey that is largely white.  So that was good.  We were somewhat underwhelmed by the number of vendors, the Seattle Expo is bigger. 
Other than this, maties, I have nothing to report.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New Trail System to Us

We tried a new trail system today.  We've never been there before.  Had we seen the trail we ended up on, we would have brought the body armor.  There was a fair amount of hike-a-bike. If you look pretty much dead center in the photo, you can see the RCW RV park.

This is the trail system map.  We were on the Rocky 13 trail, it's the at the bottom in yellow.  Now we know how to get there, we've seen the trail system map, and we can go start looking for terrain that can be ridden by people of my skill level.  I hate switchbacks with giant rocks in the middle and closely bordered by cactus; so much opportunity for pain.

Other than the doing of four loads of laundry this afternoon, we have little of interest to report.  Tomorrow we're going to be up and out back to this trail system.  It would be nice to have some dirt trails to ride so close to the park.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Doctor Appointments & a Hike

Today we had an early go.  We were able to witness a somewhat anemic sunrise.  I had an 8 am ear doctor appointment up north.   Then we went to see the dermatologist for Jim.  He zapped many areas on Jim's scalp and face with liquid nitrogen.  They're all precancerous but eternal vigilance is required.  Jim looks like he was attacked by a cheese grater. Years of water skiing, sailing and flying have taken its toll on his fair skin.

After returning from our various medical appointments, we went for a hike.  It was a lovely day, light breezes and highs in the 70s.  This is the horse tank, which is looking very oasis-like.

A cholla with many spines, wanting to jump on to the unwary hiker.

Warm weather is returning after the recent cold snap, and happy we are about that.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fantasy Island

Today we took the mountain bikes out to Fantasy Island. We got them back yesterday from FairWheelBikes.  Both of them needed new chains, general tune ups, and I needed new handle bar grips after the depredations of the wretched packrats in Issaquah.  I must say, my bike is riding as if it was new.  The brakes and shifting are better now than they have ever been.  I am a happy camper.
Anyway, Tucson had a pretty good monsoon season this summer.  We didn't ride a lot of the Island, but we could definitely tell there was water running where we did go.  Water was running here, out on the flat part of Snake Dance.  Many of the washes have fairly deep sand.

It was an aggravating ride; just after we started my heart rate went up to right around 160 and stayed there.  It's been reasonably good since last June, but today just sucked.  When it's that fast it makes me breathless and tired. I really hope this is not a harbinger for a new round of heart issues.  It just makes me crazy that I can't just go for a ride, and not wonder if I'll need an air evac.  Wah, poor me.

On the bright side, I have a product review for all of you who are suffering from terrible tap water.  Tucson has some of the worst water; it's very hard and I can not drink it.  After four years of filling gallon containers at the reverse-osmosis water stations, we bought a Brita water pitcher.  It works!  We are using it for all of our drinking needs and the water tastes as good as bottled.  If you have terrible water, try one.  I am very happy about not having to give up all of the under counter storage space for 6 1-gallon containers.

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Hike on a Windy Day

We had wind today, although not the apocalyptic event the weatherheads were forecasting.  We hiked this morning on the Hidden trail.  My pole startled this guy off the trail.

It was a beautiful day with the clouds filtering the sun and moving shadows across the desert.

The truck went in for exterior detailing and it is now as smooth as a baby's butt.  They steam cleaned the engine, as well, so all of the packrat poop is gone.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Seen Today

We saw this on the bike rack in front of the main building at RCW.  Pretty good, riding in to your 9th decade.

The southwest's high pressure ridge is collapsing, allowing rotten weather from the north to enter our airspace.  Tomorrow is supposed to be windy, with the possibility of rain on Saturday. 

We had a productive day.  This morning we did a short ride to see if the bike saddles are properly repositioned, took another trip to Lowe's, and washed a lot of laundry.  Now that we're here, blogging becomes difficult since one day is pretty much like the next.