Sunday, December 31, 2017

Hiking the Ammunition Box Trail and Deer

Today was yet another picture postcard day.  It was just spectacularly stunning.  We are so happy to be here and not where it is cold.  Although we are somewhat bored with Tucson, one can not argue with the perfection of the temperatures in the upper 70s.

We hiked out of the Genser trail head parking lot.  Going up the reservoir road let us by pass Rock Wren trail.  We headed up the trail at the five way intersection and kept going.  It’s a rocky trail, with boulders and loose rocks in what appear to be drainage swales. 

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Instead of going to the first overlook, we went to the one on the right, which is about a half mile away.  It’s just beautiful up there.

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There used to be an ammunition box with a book to sign in it, but we couldn’t find it. 

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These two rode their mountain bikes up the trail we just hiked.  They did have to do a fair amount of pushing on some of the worst parts of the trail. They are now at the other over look.  See the one mid photo in the grey shirt?  He’s scoping out how he will ride down that pile of rocks.

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After riding down that pile of rocks, they rode over to where we were.  Grey shirt successfully climbed up several large boulders.

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We headed down the trail, and heard them talking.  Red shirt is standing at the top of the hill.  Grey shirt is scoping out how they are going to ride down that rock face.  We didn’t think they would actually do it, and so continued back down the hill.  They did ride that and they both lived.  I am totally impressed with their skill levels.

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It was a longer hike than what we have been doing.  By the time we were close to the truck I was pretty whooped.  It was good to do that.

This just tickles the living snot out of me.  See the deer on the golf course?  A resort employee drives a golf cart around the course.  The deer scatter and sort of flow into the vegetation.  The golf cart leaves and they come running back out to the bright green tender grass.  Life is good at the resort.

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The other advantage to the golf course is the bow hunters can not shoot at them.  We were talking to a couple of hunters who acknowledged that the deer like the resort a lot.  Every year I am surprised that bow hunting is allowed in Tucson Mountain Park, along with the hikers, mountain bikers and horse back riders.  Those are Muley deer.

I hope you all have a good New Year’s Eve.  We are, as always, hoping that none of the ammunition that will be fired in the air by our neighbors will land on the roof of the RV.  So far we’ve escaped any damage, and with any luck that trend will continue.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Winter in the GPNW

Whatcom county, which is north of Seattle, is in the midst of an ice storm.  We never get ice storms, until we do.  I feel bad for those people.

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Trees are down, power poles are down, power is out.  With any luck it will warm up and start raining.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Hiking and CO2 Levels

Today was a glorious day.  This is why we make the trek to Tucson in the winter.  Blue skies and temperatures in the upper 70s.  We went out to the Tortolitas and hiked the Alamo Springs trail.  It’s very steep with many boulders to step up and down on.

Eventually you reach the top of the hill.  The trail continues on, but we did not.

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This is what you see from the top – it’s another canyon.

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It was warmish today.  Two out of shape people were hiking with their out of shape black lab mix.  That dog looked like it was going to stroke out.  I think they turned around and went back down the hill, which would have been really good for the dog.

As I previously reported in an old post, new very attractive housing is going in next to the Mercado San Agustin downtown.  We really really like the houses, but the location not so much.  Now there is even more growth in the area.  This is attached to a construction fence across the street from the Mercado.  It appears that much will be constructed here.  They’re calling it the Mission District.  This is also very close to where the new headquarters for Caterpillar is being built.

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Also under construction, or assembly, are these.  They appear to be rusting shipping containers.  Windows as well as electrical and plumbing have been installed, so they’re permanent.  I am really curious to see what these become.


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I found an interesting article on Twitter today.  Here is further evidence that we’re doomed.  Rising CO2 levels are changing the chemical composition of plants.  Although their growth rates are up, their nutritional value is down. 
Across nearly 130 varieties of plants and more than 15,000 samples collected from experiments over the past three decades, the overall concentration of minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron had dropped by 8 percent on average. The ratio of carbohydrates to minerals was going up. The plants, like the algae, were becoming junk food.
Algae is also loosing nutritional value, and the zooplankton that feed on algae are dying.  Reminds me of the R.E.M. song about the end of the world.

So, that’s what I have to report.  A nice hike and a looming nutritional crisis.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Good Drugs

I’m probably the last person on the planet to twig to goodrx.com, but just in case I’m not, it’s worth checking out.

If you’re underinsured, or your drug co-pays are high, go out to their web site and compare drug prices.  PLUS, you can get a free to you coupon that will drastically cut your out of pocket costs.  You can not combine the goodrx coupon with any other insurance.  Look at spread of prices. 

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What’s really interesting to me is the price differences between stores.  Also interesting is how much money can be saved by the use of the coupon.  I have no idea how this site makes money, but it’s good that it exists.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Day

Have a wonderful Christmas.  Here’s wishing all of you everything merry and bright.

Ho!

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Thursday, December 21, 2017

Merry Winter Solstice

Merry Winter Solstice, Earthlings!  Light your fires, keep out the dark and hope for the return of the sun.  It was cold today.  Yes, I know, 50 degrees doesn’t really count as cold, but we’ve got a fair amount of wind chill as well.  There is a stiff breeze from the west.

Today was also our 32nd anniversary.  I can’t believe it’s been that long.  Of course, I can’t believe we got this old, but we did. 

Ken came out this morning to determine why the Hydro Hot sounds funny.  It’s either a board, or the pump or both.  It will be interesting to see what the extended warranty will cover, since they just paid for the new burner unit. 

After Ken left, we drove up to La Encantada shopping center to walk around a little.  We went to the Humane Society store to look at the animals.  This is their shop cat.  He’s very calm.

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A cactus in a planter.  Look at the length of those spines.

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Flowers at AJ’s Fine Foods.  They’re selling sea bass for $39.99 a pound.  We’re astonished at the price of fish these days.

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The hummer continues to live on the feeder.  When Ken and Rachel were here he was buzzing us and chirping angrily.  Apparently we have no right to be on the patio.  It’s his territory now.

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Other than this paltry offering, I have nothing else to contribute.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Roosters and Amtrak

There is a blog I read that I really enjoy.  The writer lives in Wales, in an unpronounceable small village with his husband, dogs, cat, chickens and sheep.  This photo was up a few days ago.  I’m really taken with how he got the roosters’ combs aligned.  They’re sitting on the roof of a shed, trying to get some sun.  It’s a pleasant read.

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In news of the derailment, I5 may open later today.  Most of the train has been removed, and now they are inspecting the road for damage caused by the falling cars.  Yesterday, an “unnamed NTSB source” said there was a trainee in the cab of the locomotive, whose presence may have distracted the engineer.  This is very unusual behavior for the NTSB.  They’re generally very tight lipped and not prone to anonymous statements until the official release of their report.  It has been confirmed that the train was doing 81 mph in a 30 mph zone, but the why is not known.

The engine is now up on a trailer.  Note the number of wheels bearing the weight of that thing.  It’s 270,000 pounds.

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Dealing with trains requires a lot of large, heavy equipment.

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Today’s hike was back in Pima Canyon.  I have a love/hate relationship with that trail.  Jim does not like it at all.  I always think I like it until I’m on the way back and my feet start to hurt from the rocks.

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It does have much of the scenic beauty.

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The male hummingbird finally left the feeder.  One of the females got to eat this morning.

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So, the Republicans passed their evil tax “reform” bill today.  The Washington Post reports the following.

President Trump was so excited about passing his first major piece of legislation Wednesday that he blurted out that the Republican Party had misrepresented the entire bill, handing Democrats some potentially troublesome talking points for the 2018 midterm elections.

I think in the midterms we’re going to see that clip of him saying that a lot.

While the Republicans were busy giving away the farm to the rich, they failed to renew the CHIP program.  This program provides medical insurance for 9 million children in the US.  The perfidy and malfeasance is just staggering.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Amtrak and Hike

Argh.  It’s been kind of an upsetting day.  We spent the morning watching live coverage of the train derailment in Washington.  Given the degree of destruction involved, it’s a miracle more people were not hurt or killed. For those of you who may have missed the coverage, an Amtrak train derailed on an overpass over I5 near Joint Base Lewis-McChord.  The track belongs to Sound Transit, and today was the inaugural trip by Amtrak on that rail.  There has been a long project to get the Amtrak trains off a route along Puget Sound that's bogged down by curves, single-track tunnels and freight traffic.  it did not work out so well for anyone.

That’s the train, and one of the cars hanging on to the freeway.  A subject of some discussion on the news was how in the heck they would get the log trucks turned around. There is another one behind the one you can see.  A lot of heavy equipment is going to have to be brought in to remove the wreckage.  I5 is going to be closed for some time. 

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This just defies comprehension.  See the little Kia Soul on the left? They lived.  No one on the ground was killed by the falling train cars.

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Talk about the golden BB.

After awhile it was time to go outside.  The clouds moved out and it warmed up some.  We went out to the Sarasota Trailhead, and then on up the Cat Mountain Trail.  The desert is just luminous after it rains.  Everything is so bright.

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The hummer continues to claim the feeder as his own.  He spent most of the day hanging out, drinking and grooming.  Here he is working on his back.  Given the length of his beak, there are parts of him that can’t be reached.  If they were nicer birds they could groom each other, but noooooooooo.

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So, that’s it from the SW and the GPNW.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Cold Wet Hummingbirds

About 0400 hours local time, a front moved through.  There was gusty, booming rattling wind for quite some time.  When we woke up it was much colder than it has been, and it was raining.  The desert needs the rain.  The prickly pear cactus have been looking desiccated since we arrived in November. With any luck, it all won’t run off and the cactus will get some benefit from this.

Since there was to be no hiking, we went shopping.  Jim’s new boots were slightly too big, so they went back to REI.  He went down half a size and they are much better.  I purchased yet another pair of ugly electric blue trail running shoes.  I figure I’m good for 3 to 4 years with what I have hoarded.  Eventually they’ll discontinue that shoe and then things will be bad.  La Sportiva is now making a green running shoe, but the tongue is really long and it annoys my ankle.  It is always something.  Truthfully, I’m not sure which is more unattractive.

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So, it was cold this morning.  An aggressive hummingbird parked himself on the feeder for hours.  All other birds were denied.  There was another male who would buzz him and hover, but the guy on the feeder just shrugged.  Before we went out I refilled the feeder and he buzzed me as well, as if to say I was taking too long.

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Notice how puffed up he is.  He was cold.

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After the mall we drove north to Oro Valley.  There are a couple of neighborhoods up there that look mildly promising.  Many of them are gated, so we’re going to have to break down and find a real estate agent so that we can go in and look.  It’s annoying to not be able to cruise through on our own.  Those are the Catalinas, which are always lovely.

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It’s raining again.  It was supposed to stop, so we thought it would be safe to grill dinner, but apparently we were mistaken.  Something else may be done with the hamburgers in the kitchen, rather than outside

Other than this paltry offer, maties, there is nothing much to report.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Hike From the Genser Trailhead

Can you stand one more hiking post?  I’m doing these so we remember the trails next season.  It’s amazing how much we forget while we’re gone.

Today we parked at the Genser trail head and headed up.  Like the Bowen and Hidden trails. I think Rock Wren is off the table.  The rocks have always been bad, but now they are worse.  The trails are heavily used and the dirt seems to be leaving, exposing more rocks.

We went to the top of the tiny mountain.  It was way farther and steeper than I remembered.  Note to self, it’s a climb! 

Work on the reservoir continues.  The size of it has really increased.  We think that stretched out yellow piece of equipment on the right is a concrete pumper.  We never saw it move, but that’s our theory.

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There are nice views from the top.  It’s quiet, with the exception of the airplanes that go overhead.  When I talk about “the bowl”, it’s that flat area ringed by the mountains to which I am referring. 

They’re not actually mountains, in the Colorado sense of the word.  Big hills might be more accurate.

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More view from the top.

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This is our aid to navigation in the bowl, the Tiki God.  He’s pretty close to the first overlook we stop at. 

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On the way back to the truck we saw a family (herd?) of deer.  They’re hard to photograph because they blend so well.  This guy is a young male.  When I took this, he was running to catch up with his friends.

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We walked on to the truck and spotted them again.  Golf course grass has got to be so much better than anything in the hills.

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We also spotted a couple of javelinas.  This poor animal has a piece of dead cactus stuck to his face.

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I got up this morning and turned my phone on to check the Alabama election results.  To my great astonishment, Doug Jones won.  The African American vote won the day.  Despite very long lines at their polling places due to inadequate staffing, and the presence of the police checking their ids for wants and warrants, they persisted. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Even More Hike and Hummingbirds

Who knows what this is?  It’s at the Sarasota Trailhead.  Our guess would be a camera, but we have no idea.

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We set out through the bowl of Tucson Mountain Park, retracing our steps from two days ago.  Here we are at the site of the bushwhacking up to the new trail whose terminus we wanted to find.

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We continued on the current trail for not very long.  The trail makers have done a really nice job of connecting three trails so that people have more ways to move about the Tucson Mountain Park.  This trail takes you back to the Sarasota trail head.  We had not seen much of that trail segment before as it is long.

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This is the continuation of the route we had taken up to the intersection of the three trails.  Notice how I never actually name these trails?  That’s because no one knows what the names are.  They’re not signed and there’s really no way to refer to them.  This trail heads towards the Evil Wash, which is a long stretch of deep gravel with large flat rocks buried in it.  It’s extremely unpleasant.

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This is the new trail that goes up towards the five way intersection at the top of Rock Wren.  When we were just starting the hike, we met two mountain bikers who wanted to go back to the five way, but wanted to avoid the terrible climb on the loop trail.  We gave them directions to go here, but we saw them later, far from here.  They either did not follow the directions, or figured out where they were and chose a different route home.  It’s hard giving directions because no trail names and it all looks the same.

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It’s not as pretty as Utah, but parts of it are Utah-ish.

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This is a part of the trail we had not seen before.  We felt kind of bad about sending the two women this way, because one of them was not a really good mountain biker.  There are some gnarly bits along the way.  There would be much hike a bike for me.

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We came back via the obnoxious climb and descent on the loop back to the truck. 

Yesterday we went hiking boot shopping.  Jim got a new pair of Lowas that are the follow on pair to his original pair.  They can not be resoled because they’re glued and not sewn.  This seems to be the new world order in the hiking boot industry.  Me, and my pronating ankles and bony, low volume, surgically scarred wretched feet from hell bought nothing.  I guess it’s time to go out to Zappos and order one of everything.  It’s better than the exasperated looks I get from the shoe sellers.  I’m really not being a pain in the patoot.  People with bony feet feel everything and it’s hard to find a shoe/boot that doesn’t hurt.  That explains why I’ve been wearing La Sportiva trail runners in electric blue for years, that’s what my feet will accept.  That’s it.  I’m really tired of blue shoes.

More hummingbird cuteness is here.

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It was again very windy today, and partly cloudy.  The clouds are ok, but the wind is messing with my contact lenses.