Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ride to Arivaca

Today was the ride from Amado to Arivaca.  I have a love-hate relationship with this ride.  It's 22 miles out, and the route climbs via many short steep hills.  Short steep hills are not good for me.  I like longer consistent grades.  Plus the route just pisses me off because now that I am old and decrepit, I can no longer stand up and muscle my way up the hills.  No, the elderly must sit down and use their granny gear, or risk blowing up half way there.  So, on the one hand it's a good work out in a beautiful part of the state, but on the other hand I suffer like a slow animal.
This is the destination, Sweet Peas restaurant.   We had 18 for lunch, and service was swift and very pleasant.  The food is pretty good.

This is what it looks like out there.  Just down the road from Arivaca is the Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge.  It's enormous.  One of these days I want to drive down (in a car) and look at it.  Paul and Nina of Wheelingit recently stayed there and it looks well worth a visit.

Coming back we mostly had a tail wind.  It took two hours to go to the restaurant and one hour to get back to the truck.  Downhill with a tail wind is a beautiful thing.

It appears that someone bought the Longhorn Grill.  Last time we were out there it had a for sale sign on it.  It's good to see it open again.  Something with architecture this unique should not be allowed to go under.

So that was today.  The jury is still out on doing this ride again.  I'll have to consult this post next year when the email goes out for the ride and think about it some.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Spring in the Old Pueblo

The Big Weather Baby (me) did the breakfast ride today.  At 0900 hours it was chilly and there was whining.  The cloud cover was interesting.  I'd call that a popcorn sky.

Later, we rode the Rillito trail to the Santa Cruz trail and then home.  Along the way there was a tree in bloom.

And this will attest to the fact that we're entering the season of love - bird love.  We have a ladder hanging on the back of the RV.  This dove is sitting on two pieces of dead grass, pretending it's a nest.  We keep shooing it away.  There are hundreds of palm trees in this park, suitable for nesting, and the dove wants to build on a ladder tread exposed to the southern sun and heat.  Doves are not smart.

This is what we saw today.  It was nice having some cloud cover, it's not so steeenking hot!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

On Walk-about in Tucson

Have I mentioned that we're going to Prague in June?  That's the plan.  This is a trip we'd planned to take in 2006, but Jim had to go and break his pelvis about two weeks before we were due to travel.  I keep thinking about that as we're spending all of this time riding to get in shape for the trip, that we're increasing our odds of another bike accident.  But those are negative thoughts, and I will try not to put them out into the universe.
Neither of us slept well last night, and we just didn't feel like riding.  We need to get ourselves back in city walking shape, so we parked up at the university and walked.
Here is the new bus barn for the modern street car, or as it is also called, Sunlink.  It's a 3.9 mile loop, costing $196M. 

This is a grocery store, laundry, and bar down off of 4th avenue.  I like the old signs.  The one far left is "The Buffet", a bar and package store.  Everything you need, nothing you don't.

A courtyard of the Don Martin Apartments.  They were designed by Josias Joesler, an architect who was active in the Tucson area in the 1920s.  If I ever win the Powerball, I'll be buying one of his homes.   Click through to that link and you can see some of his work, beautiful just beautiful.  The apartments have been restored, and are now student housing.  Personally, I think they're wasted on students, but that's just me.

We walked by the back of Tucson High School and saw these ceramics attached to a wall.

When I was at the U, this hotel went up.  At the time you would have thought the world was coming to an end architecturally because it was so tall and towered over everything.   There was much controversy over it and the adjoining parking structure.

However, it looks like we've gotten past that.  The U is now putting up these mega dorms that tower over everything, blocking the view of the mountains and everything else.  They're really hideous.

This a view from Speedway which better conveys how they loom over Tucson, which is not a city of tall buildings.

It was a good walk, and it reinforced the fact that as well as riding, we need to be walking.  My walking muscles need a little tune-up.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up and Lunch

It's been forever since I've posted!  It's been a week.  For almost a month I've had a headache.  It's entirely right sided.  My theory was ears, it's always the ears.  So I actually went to a doctor to get the ear looked at, and no it's not the ear. The Dr's theory was temporal arteritis.  Short version is that it's an inflammation of an artery in the head.  My symptoms are very similar.  The worst part is the treatment, TWO YEARS of prednisone.  Bad, so very bad.  However, it's not that.  We don't know what it is, but it's not that.  I'm getting my head and neck MRI'ed on Monday, so perhaps then all will be revealed.  So that was the front end of the week.
The weather continues to be perfect, except for the drought.  The Bougainvilleas are very lovely in the park.

And here is a crested cactus in the park.  I don't know what this is, but look how nicely it's cresting at the base.

There has been riding.  This was taken out on Kinney on the way to McCain Loop.  We've about decided to stay off of Kinney until the end of February.  This is the big tourist month, and traffic in the Tucson Mountain Park was really heavy.  There are no shoulders, so mass quantities of cars and motorhomes are unnerving.

Today was a lunch ride to the Barrio Brewing Company.  It's a pleasant ride from the RV park.  It goes through some old neighborhoods that have been lovingly maintained.  I really like the pink against the blue of the house.

Here is the brewery.  It's an old building, it's pretty cool.

This is my beloved, wearing his doo-rag from Italy.  We enjoyed lunch.  The food was good.  We didn't try the beer, so I can not report on that.

In other news, the Federal Government has told California farmers they're on their own with the drought.  No water from federal reserves will be made available for irrigation.  The central valley produces half of the produce eaten in America.  During the winter we can import produce, but not during the summer.  What are people supposed to eat?  What better use of federal water is there than to grow crops?  WTH?
In local news, the Arizona legislature has passed a bill saying that businesses can refuse service to anyone in violation of anti-discrimination laws, as long as it's for "religious reasons."  What's next?  A return to segregated lunch counters?  Ostensibly, it's to allow restaurants to not serve gay people, but the language is vague enough that it can be extended to just about anybody.  The governor has not decided if she'll sign it, and if she does, it'll be challenged in court.  Given the problems this state has with the economy, the wretched condition of the roads, the terrible state of education; is this what the bozos in Phoenix think is important?  
So, tonight I'm in high dudgeon with my headache and the sorry state of our politicians and the weather on the east coast.  I feel so bad for those poor people who are now flooding, and will soon be freezing again.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunday Morning in the Old Pueblo

Tucson is having record breaking weather.  I feel bad for even discussing this, given what's happening in the parts of the country that are not under this ridge of high pressure.  However, next year is predicted to be an El Nino winter, it'll be cold, so it will be nice to look back at this winter and remember how warm it was.
I took this awhile ago, I was trying to capture the beauty of the sun hitting the Catalinas through a dirty windshield in a truck on a rough road.

We rode the Santa Cruz trail to the Rillito trail Saturday.  This is the golf course at Christopher Columbus park.  All of those little black blobs are ducks.  There were many ducks.  Do they migrate?  Why are they here? 

This is on the Rillito trail.  The trail on the north side of the river is being repaved at what seems to be a glacial rate of progress.  Parts of the asphalt have been removed prior to paving.  However, it's still a magnificent trail system and we are grateful for the city of Tucson for making the effort.

There is a new statue at the corner of Mission and Grande.  The side of the base facing me has been painted terra-cotta.  The other three sides are unpainted stone.  One wonders about that.

One also wonders who the models for the sculptures were.  The woman reminds me of a television actress whose name escapes me.  I suppose it makes me nekulturny, but I'm not a fan of representational bronze statuary.  

Later, I had to make run to Safeway while Jim washed the bikes.  Coming back there was a huge plume of black smoke.  One also wonders about this and what caused it.  Local news didn't mention it, so we'll probably never know.

Other than these paltry photos, we don't have much to offer other than the fact that we are really happy to be under the giant ridge of high pressure.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Riding in Tucson

Monday was another glorious day in the Old Pueblo.  We drove over to the Desert Trails RV Park to meet up with Hans and Lisa.  They have scored the perfect site in the park.  This is what they see out the back; there are many birds, there is a turf war going on between the owls and the hawks for a prime nesting spot, and it's just lovely.

This is Rosie, their cat.  She knows that there are birds in the underbrush.  Unfortunately, there are also cactus.  Rosie has adapted well to being a nomad.

We rode the mountain bikes out to the Gilbert Ray Campground from Desert Trails.  This is an area that Jim and I attempted about five years ago when we had hard tail bikes.  We'd been road riders for decades and did not really have a grip on how to ride a mountain bike.  I, in particular, was riding the mountain bike like a road bike, not shifting my weight, not actively steering, and in general not enjoying the experience in the least.  So, we never went back, after scaring ourselves silly in some of the washes.  Our memory of the trail system was not good, so we always went out to Fantasy Island.  I am so glad we went back!  The trails are really fun.  Some of the washes are not rideable by me, but that's why we have feet.  It was a very enjoyable ride and we enjoyed the trails and the company immensely.
I can't believe it's taken me until Wednesday night to get this post finished.   Yesterday we didn't ride, we had to run errands and do stuff.  Today we did the CDO route in reverse which gives us a fair amount of climbing.  Our goal is to be riding 400 miles a month; right now we're not on track with February.  We may have to do a century (not!) to get back on track with mileage.
Other than that, there is not too much to report.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sunday in the Old Pueblo

Today started out too cold for THE BIG WEATHER BABY (that would be me) to go on the breakfast ride.  I opted to leave about 90 minutes later when the temperatures had risen from 52 to 65.   That was much better, and I didn't have to wear so stinking many clothes.  This is what things look like after a cold ride - clothing everywhere.

Later we went out for a drive on the way to Target and the grocery store.  There were bikes everywhere today.  It was a gorgeous day for it.


We went to Food City over on Irvington by I19.  I love this store, it smells really good.  There is small restaurant inside and it's just wonderful.  There is an upcoming holiday that the store was decorating for.

We go for the produce.

It was a good day, it's warmer than it has been and happy we are about that.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Lunch at the Wild Garlic Grill

The Friday lunch ride took us to the Wild Garlic Grill.  It's an amazing restaurant. It's housed in a defunct burger joint.  You walk in not expecting much in the way of decor, but it's really nice.

Really, does this look like the site of fine dining?  It's also bigger than it looks.

We had a big group today.  I think there were 18 of us.  We were out on the screened patio, with infrared heaters.  It was very comfortable.

This is the garlic shrimp salad that Jim and I ordered. I also ordered a bowl of leek soup.  They have an ambitious menu.  Their salmon is wild caught in the Pacific Northwest.  If you click on the link in the first paragraph, it will take you to their menu.  Even though the restaurant is called Wild Garlic, I think they're using too much of it.  The shrimp were so garlicky, that after eating them, I couldn't taste anything else.  And the shrimp were way over cooked. However, it was a big group, and it's difficult to cook for 18 people at a whack, so some benefit of the doubt is given.  One of the group ordered a chicken Caesar Salad and liked it a lot.  I think the jury is out on food goodness.  They do a lovely job of presentation.

After lunch there was a ride to a bike shop and then home.  We did Gates Pass yesterday, and I am here to report that it is still hard.  Rest was in order.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Superbowl Wildlife

Sunday was, of course, the Superbowl. Rose and John hosted a party that was a lot of fun.  There were significant amounts of food available for hours of noshing.  I had to force myself to move away from the popcorn and the chips.  Rose and John bought a really cool house last year.  Their backyard is excellent for the viewing of birds.

These are Goldfinches.

I believe this is a Costa's Hummingbird.  It was an overcast day, so there wasn't enough sun to make his iridescence light up.

This is his tree, where he likes to sit.  I could not get a decent picture of him.  Tiny cameras don't have view finders anymore, and without wearing my reading glasses, I can't tell what the camera is focusing on.  I generally just point in the general direction of the subject, take a lot of photos and hope one is good.

This is purloined from the internet.

A rabbit down by the wash.

There was a pretty good sunset, as well.

It was fun and surprising.  When we lived in Seattle, the Seahawks were a terrible team.  To see them win the Superbowl was just surreal.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Wine Tasting in Sonoita

Our friends Jim and Kim are visiting us on their way back to Texas.  Their coach spent some time this winter at Elite RV Repair and Remodel, it's now very beautiful.  They have new floors, MCD shades, carpet, furniture, and the uber sexy Corian entry way steps with LED lights.  Thursday we rented a mini-van and drove out to Sonoita.  Arizona has three main wine producing areas, and Sonoita is one of them.  They grow Italian and Spanish varietals there.  We visited three tasting rooms.

This is the Dos Cabezas tasting room.

I love wine speak. This product write up describes the wine as reminding him of a "bag of blood".  Kim has an educated palate and speaks wine fluently, me - not so much.

 There is an Inn across the street for your sleeping pleasure.

What Sonoita looks like.

Then it was on to Elgin for two more wineries.

This is the Callaghan Vineyard,  They're the best of the three places we went.

The tasting room.

Out back, looking at the vines in the distance.  It's fairly desolate at the moment.

The third and final stop, Kief-Joshua Vineyard.  No wine was purchased here.  We look at the size of this building and would really like to see their books.  It's a labor intensive business and we always wonder how they make money.

Then it was on to lunch.  This is new restaurant that just opened, named Overland Trout.  That would be slang for bacon.  Really.  It's a nice restaurant, it's odd to see it out in the middle of nowhere.  The population of Sonoita is 818.
So, if you enjoy going wine tasting, Sonoita is the area for you.