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.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Another Hike and Some Hummingbirds

We are whooped.  We’ve been wondering where on earth the recently observed Yetman segment of trail ends up.  The trail maps and Google are worthless.  To discover the trail, one must hike towards the trail.  We parked out at Sarasota again and hiked out into the bowl that is surrounded by the Tucson Mountains.  Our original intent was to walk up to the four way intersection at the top of the hill and see what we would see.

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See the rock formation that looks like a Tiki God?  He’s our navigational aid for the area.  All trails look alike out there.  Anyway, look at the horizontal line at the bottom of the photo.  We know this elevation after hiking out here for years, and we did not recognize that trail.  So we walked towards it, got near it and eventually decided to bushwhack up to it.  We don’t recognize the trail because it was not here last year.  It’s a great MTB trail.  It’s single track and side hill, but for the most part there are not large frightening rocks on it.  It’s also fairly long.  We were the only people walking it.

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This is the old four way intersection at the end of Rock Wren trail.  It’s now a five way intersection.  The new trail comes in behind that sign to the left.  It ended up being a longer hike than we had planned, about three hours.  We both need better shoes to deal with all of the pointy rocks in the area.  Next time we’ll go back to the bushwhack and go the other way and see where that ends up.

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I finally put up the hummingbird feeder.  We’ve gotten quite a few hummers on it.  I really love watching them.

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So that was today.  It was day two of being windy.  I would like for that to stop soon.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

More Hiking and a Link to an Article

Thursday we hiked Upper Javelina in the Tortolitas.  It started out cold, it was pretty windy all day.  It’s just a beautiful trail.  It takes you into Wild Burrow canyon which is also lovely.

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Here Jim surveys all he can see on the rocky trail.

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There is some side hill trail and a couple of small scrambles.

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It was a lovely day.

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Yesterday we did not hike.  Our little feet were tired from the rocks.

Today we were back out hiking from the Sarasota Trail head.  There were several mountain bikers on the trail.  I can’t believe people can ride rocks that size.  I didn’t get any pictures of them riding on anything majorly scary.  We did the loop counter clockwise.

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We also went out the Yetman trail for awhile to see if we could figure out where it goes.  After walking and walking and walking, we decided that perhaps we were not that interested, and went back to complete the loop.

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Other than hiking, there has not been much interesting going on.  There is daily life, there is grocery shopping, it’s fairly boring.  Posting becomes difficult.  Perhaps we should get jobs so I could complain about something other than the policies of the current administration.  Did you see that Paul Ryan is now on record as saying he’s coming for Medicaid and Medicare?  Rich people get tax breaks, the poor and the old get the shaft.

In October, I linked to an article by Michael Lewis about the damage being done to the Department of Energy, and by extension, us.  Mr. Lewis has written another excellent piece about the U.S.D.A, and how the department is being gutted and its mission is being subverted.  It’s excellent writing, and very worth reading.  He really illustrates the depth of knowledge and experience that’s being lost by current appointments.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Hikes, Depression and Day 319

The weather has been great, we’ve been hiking a bunch.  It’ll be good when we put some muscle back on the legs.  This is Pima Canyon, a very steep and rocky trail.

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Yesterday we did both sides of Lower Javelina clock-wise.  There is much up down for your hiking pleasure.  We were both fairly whooped afterwards, but it was good to have increased mileage.

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We’re also spending a lot of time witnessing the destruction of this country.   The courts are being stacked with conservatives who do not believe in case law or precedence, but instead believe in their religion and their gut.  This is the worst of the terrible legacy the current administration will leave behind, these people will be on the benches for decades. 

By now, everyone knows that the Republican Senate passed a new tax bill.  The House passed a similar bill.  This year they are not even pretending that this bill will be good for anyone but the one percenters.  The “donors” told them to get this done or there would be no more money for campaigns.  And so they have.  Corporations have no plans to build new plants or add to payrolls.  Instead they will pay dividends to shareholders and buy back their stock.  I continue to wonder why people vote for the Republicans, they do nothing for the poor or middle class.  Their only allegiance is to the wealthy. 

Now that the tax bill will pass, the legislators have discovered that there will be a deficit.  SOMETHING must be done.  That something will be an attack on Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.  Maybe a direct impact on people receiving benefits will alert them that they are not voting their self interest.

I also wonder why the Republicans are so heartless.  This is a quote from Orrin Hatch, old white guy from Utah.  He’s attacking poor sick children.  The CHIP budget is small, it doesn’t approach billions and billions and trillions.

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Then there is this, from Senator Grassley, defending the end of estate taxes in an interview with the Des Moines Register.

“I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing,” Grassley said, “as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

The wealthy invest, the rest of us blow our money on booze, women and movies.  I don’t know about you, but I have not bought any women lately.  One of the multiple articles on his statement can be found here.

The outright condescension these men are displaying towards the American people is disheartening.  They seem to view us as “other.”

Just today, the president announced he’s cutting the size of Bear’s Ears by 85% and Grand Staircase Escalante by half.  Hopefully this will stay tied up in court for decades.  Once that land is scraped for oil, gas or coal, it will never recover.

So, yeah, I am fairly depressed about the state of things.  It makes it difficult to plan for the future.  We’ve been thinking about buying a house, but now I wonder if we should just hang on to all of our cash for that time when there is no SocSec and Medicare.   At least we’ll have a roof if we hang on to the bus.  Heaven help us if we get some dread disease.

I know it’s a bummer of a post, but if I don’t write it down, it doesn’t get remembered.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

This Past Tuesday in Seattle

Here is a cut and paste from this article.

SEATTLE -- If it seemed like it was dusk at lunchtime on Tuesday, you weren't that far off from being right. In fact, it was actually darker during the noon hour Tuesday in Seattle than it was during the peak of the solar eclipse on Aug. 21!

A thick cloud layer courtesy of an moderately-strong inbound cold front did a fantastic job of not only dumping a decent amount of rain in the city, but blocking out the sun.

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I am trying to keep it firmly locked in my head why we can not live there again; along with real estate prices, the taxes, and the traffic. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

More Hike From the Sarasota Trailhead

Sunday we hiked a loop counter clock-wise that we had done in March of this year.  In March we did it clock-wise.  It had been awhile, but we knew there was a turn off somewhere to make a loop.  It was also 90 degrees.  We walked, and walked and did not see a turn off.  Then we saw what we thought was our trail heading out into the hinterlands.  We flagged down a mountain biker and asked him if we were close to the turn off. 

We must have looked really old to this guy.  He told us that the trail would be steep and arduous and that the best thing for us would be to turn around and go back the way we came.  We were probably within five to 10 feet of the turn off, we just could not see it from where we were standing.  We were hot, I was concerned that we didn’t have enough water, so we turned around and retraced our steps.  We should have ignored the guy on the bike. 

So, I am going to document this hike some more, and maybe do a better job than last time, so we can remember it next year.

One leaves the trail head at the end of Sarasota and walks up the trail.  The trail will split and you will go left.  At this point there is nothing to do except follow the trail.  Eventually this rock formation will come into view.

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The trail continues on and goes down into a wash, and then comes back up.

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When you come up out of the wash, you’ll see what looks like a four way intersection.  There is actually a well defined section that has been ridden by many mountain bikes.  You don’t want that.  Make a sharp right and continue on keeping the wash, and that rock formation, on your right.  It doesn’t look like a trail, it looks like a drainage ditch, but that is where you want to be.

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The trail will eventually go back into the wash and then head left.  Here you can see the trail about to drop into the wash, over on the right is where you just came from.

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After the wash, there is nothing to do except stay on the trail.  It climbs up, and you can see this.  The notch between those two hills is where you’re heading.

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This is what confused us Sunday.  This is the Yetman trail, we could see it from where we were standing, and we knew we did not want to go in that direction.

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This is the turnoff to complete the loop.  The hill that one climbs is not arduous, it’s just a little steep.  If we had continued on, instead of turning around we would have seen this turn and would be been fine.

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Eventually the trail will come to this wide space at the base of the Cat Mountain trail.  Hang a right into the gravel filled wash, take the first right out, and continue back to the original split in the trail.

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So, there are now more instructions for this hike, half of which is not on the trail map at the trail head.

What is this?  It’s not poop.  When I poke at it with a pole, it’s soft and looses its shape easily. Poop generally has some structure to it.  There are no bones in it, so I don’t think it’s owl pellets.  Did you know you can buy owl pellets on Amazon?  They’re sterilized and sold as a teaching tool for kids to see what owls can make.  It appears to be compacted fur, but I’m at a loss as to which end of the animal it came out of.

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It was a good hike.  The temperature finally dropped so we were much more comfortable and not worried about sun stroke.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Thank You

Thank you for all your comments and good wishes.  It meant a lot to me to hear from you. 

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Laurence Passes On

Laurence was my younger, and only, brother.  He died this morning in his sleep at the memory care unit where he had lived for some years.  It was a good death, he escaped before the final awful stages of death by Alzheimer’s. 

He was one of the smartest people I ever knew.  And he could be a total pain in the butt.  In 2006 he lived with us for awhile in Bellevue.  He arrived shortly before Jim broke his pelvis, and was a great help to us both. 

This was taken at the Paradise Lodge at Mount Rainier.  Laurence was always happiest when he was on a bicycle.

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Later we lived with him for awhile in South Carolina while we waited for the 5th wheel we’d bought to be delivered.  This was taken in an RV park somewhere in the south.  We were close to heading out and I wanted pictures of us for posterity.

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It took awhile, but eventually one picture turned out to not be too bad.

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In addition to being smart, and a talented IT guy, he was a really good photographer.  It’s unfortunate that I don’t have more of his photos.  This is one that he took at Xavier del Bac.  He was standing and aiming where Ansel Adams had once stood.

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He’s been gone from us for quite awhile, but now he’s really gone and we will miss him.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope you all had a good day.  It was a beautiful, albeit hot, day in the desert and we enjoyed it on the bikes.

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Hike, House, Bike

Yesterday was a glorious day.  We drove up to the Tortolitas at Dove Mountain.  It’s always interesting how different the terrain is about 15 miles north of the Tucson Mountains.  I like the big round rocks at Dove Mountain, they don’t hurt as bad as the local pointy rocks.

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This is one of our favorite cacti.

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This guy has a lot going on.  It was a nice hike.  There is a lot of up and down and up and down.  I love that area.  If the Ritz Carlton would put in an RV park on their grounds, we’d be relocating rapidly to the north.

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Then we went an looked at a house.  We still can not articulate what problem would be solved with the purchase of a house, but this was worth checking out.  It’s interesting architecturally.

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However, this is the main selling point.  It’s a salt water pool, and it’s just lovely.  The land behind the house is a preserve and will never be developed.

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Isn’t this a great outdoor living space?  I could be very happy on the patio.  And yet, we hesitate.  It might have something to do with the giant barking dog next door.  One thing we’ve learned is that most residential swimming pools are not heated.  People who live here year round use them in the summer, and then not in the winter.  Unless we’re willing to commit to living here full time, the pool is kind of pointless.  I think we’re still climate refugees, not willing to suffer the extremes of summer and winter.  So, no exit plan for us at this time.

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Good news!  I was wrong.  The giant pit next to the bike trail is not the apartment pit.  That pit is one block over from the trail.  It’s the excavation for the new regional headquarters for Caterpillar.  The Rio Nuevo improvement Project and some other development agencies put in money to encourage them to relocate here.  It’s an economically depressed part of Tucson, so bringing in well paying jobs will be a good thing.  You can read about the project here and here.

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This was a landfill between 1920 and 1960.  They’re digging it up and taking in to a different landfill so that construction can begin.

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We had a pretty good sunset tonight.  Too bad I cut the top of the palm tree off.

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Other than this maties, I have nothing to report.