Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Cactus, Baby Owl and Hike up 2nd Ridge

Well it’s almost April, so it must be time for cactus pictures.  The cacti in the RV park are gearing up for a spectacular show.  There are many buds.  They get watered so they look better than the ones out in the wild.  This plant is almost always the first to bloom.

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The prickly pears have started, as well.

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After all the furor over Facebook’s capturing of data (to include phone call logs, if you have it on your phones) I decided to download my Facebook data and see what they have on me.  Precious little as it turns out.  I did recover a couple of good pictures I had forgotten about.

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People who have lived much of their lives on Facebook are downloading data and discovering forgotten conversations with ex-lovers, phone numbers of grandparents who were never on Facebook and a ton of stuff they were not expecting to see.  It’s kind of creepy.

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We’re seeing a lot of these flowers on the trail.  They also come in a very pretty lilac, but I didn’t get any decent pictures.  The wind was up and they were all waving back and forth in the breeze.

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The always lovely ocotillo.

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There is a baby Horned Owl in the park.  There is a palm tree that is covered in some sort of vine that seems to be consuming the tree. The parents have nested in the vines and made a baby. 

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Here we have the Tucson Mountain Park map again.  See the white bubble pointing at the Yetman trail in three places.  Look to the left of that and up a little, and you can see 2nd Ridge and the trail up there.  We did that hike from the Genser trailhead yesterday.  If you’re in Tucson it’s worth doing.

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The view from the top is always enjoyable.

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I swiped this from one of the Seattle papers.  Look on the left side at the thing that looks like a mushroom cloud.  That’s what is meant by “scattered rain.”

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So I mentioned we might be putting an offer in on a house.  We did.  It was accepted.  We are buying a house.  It’s close to the border of Tucson Mountain Park, so there will be no more development in our immediate area.  The developers are very busy scraping the desert in Oro Valley, and it’s becoming an ant hill of people.  We are planning on keeping the RV for the foreseeable future because there are still places to go, people to see.  April 14 we’re flying to Charlotte NC to rent a U Haul truck and empty out our storage unit.  Yea!!!!!!  Road trip!  I can not tell you how much I am not looking forward to driving across the country.  But hey!  Pictures of new stuff!

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Thursday, March 22, 2018

More As Seen in Tucson

We’re still here!  Today was a hot ride.  We successfully got out of the house earlier than usual, but our departures still need a little work.  We’re getting a cooling trend starting tomorrow, so maybe I can finish my coffee before dashing out of the RV.

Here is some of the stuff we’ve seen on the trails lately.  Happily, we have seen no more snakes.

The ocotillos have leafed out and are blooming.  We saw a hummingbird feeding at one, but he left before the camera could be deployed.

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The other day we took the walk through the bowl of Tucson Mountain Park, and saw this crested cactus.  He’s pretty far away, but if you look carefully you can see that the original crest put out two normal arms and two crested arms.  He has been busy.

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I think this is Golden Gate Mountain in the background.  The light was really spectacular, but the camera did not completely capture it.  Notice the ocotillo on the right side.  Leafed and blooming.

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So there you have it.  Hike and bike.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Alt-Route for the John Krein Trail

We’ve been looking for the other end of the John Krein trail.  We found it yesterday, but both of us were not feeling great so we did not pursue it.  Instead we did the clock wise trail around Little Cat Mountain.

Today we did the loop pictured below.  It’s a wonderful hike.  Please refer to the map, see the P for parking lot?  That’s where we started.  Instead of going right, and through the cut between the two Cats, we went left on the new trail that goes around Little Cat.  It’s slightly shorter going in that direction.  See where the trail makes a 90 degree turn away from Little Cat then up onto 1st Ridge?

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This is what the trail looks like; sort of like a drainage ditch with no signage.  Yesterday, I just happened to be looking down and spotted it.  We’ve been by there countless times and never saw it.  Plus, we spent some more time studying the map and had a better idea of where the trail had to be.


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It goes steeply up the hill.

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See the rock formation behind Jim?  Once you’ve walked far enough that you see that side of the boulder, it’s time to start looking for the trail up the hill.

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If you come to the top of the hill without making a turn off the Around Little Cat Mountain trail, and you see this, you have gone too far.  Go back whence you came.

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After a little bit the trail splits, go left and keep going up.  The keyword here is up.

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It’s just lovely up there.  You can see forever.

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This is a steep trail.  There is some side hill which was giving me a tiny case of the willies.  There is also a lot of loose rock and big steps.  We decided we would rather do the entire loop than go back down the way we came up.

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This is the pay off for the hike.  One leaves the trail and scrambles up to the big pile of rocks on the right, and then surveys all that one sees.  Unfortunately it was really windy and neither one of us wanted to be up on that pile of rocks and be even more exposed to the wind.  Next time.

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It was a good hike – Jim hiked like the Jim of yore.  The boy is back!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Hike/Bike and Real Estate

Greetings Earthlings!  Nothing much is shaking in Ye Olde Pueblo.  Bike/hike, the usual. 

Did you watch the Valspar Golf Tournament?  Tiger finished ONE SHOT behind Paul Casey.  He had an amazing 43 foot putt in the last round.  It’s nice to see Tiger back and playing well.  Talk about back from the underworld.

We were out in the Tucson Mountains again today.  It rained a little last night, so we hiked today so as not to get our precious bikes dirty.  We ended up going up the Explorer Trail on Cat Mountain.

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The ocotillos are beginning to bloom.  They’re difficult to photograph against the sky, it all washes out.

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We’re looking at real estate again.  We’re ruled out Marana and Oro Valley.  Too many mud huts too close together.  Since we’ve spent so much time parking at the end of Sarasota to hike, we noticed a neighborhood that looked interesting.  We may put in an offer on this house.

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The out door living area (on the right) overlooks a pretty good sized wash, so there is a feeling of spaciousness that is hard to find in the price range we want to be in.  We’re still struggling with the fact that AZ is a red state, they have state income tax, it’s hot in the summer, and etc. and etc.   Right now I’d give it a 60% chance that we put an offer in.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Happy International Women’s Day

The NYT published an article about women whose deaths were overlooked in their obituary columns.  Their coverage was largely confined to white men.   The life of Ida Wells was documented in their article.  She was an amazing women, born into slavery she became a reporter.  She can be found here.  (Scroll down.) She spent her life documenting the horrors of life in the south for African Americans, especially the lynchings.  During her career she developed a style of reporting that is used to this day.  She was a founder of the NAACP.  After W.E.B. DuBois and other men entered the struggle, she was sidelined because the men were more conservative in their approach.  Despite being threatened with physical harm, she persisted in her work.  

Actually, they were all amazing women, who are finally having their lives remembered in the press.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A New Unnamed Trail in the Tucson Mountain Park

Today started out with me going to the dentist for cleaning.  I hate going to the dentist, I’m always waiting for that lightning bolt of pain when they get to close to an exposed nerve.  They want to seal four teeth to protect the roots.  I’m going to have to think about that for awhile.  Anyway, by the time we got back we decided to hike rather than ride.

We were out here the other day, wondering where the trail went if we turned right instead of left. 

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It goes back toward Little Cat Mountain.

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The trail doesn’t climb much, it meanders along, and eventually goes down hill.  It’s a swoopy trail and looks to be ridden by a lot of mountain bikes.  If you’re strong enough to get up to that right turn, this would be a fun trail to ride down.

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Eventually it intersects the trail that goes around the back of Little Cat Mountain.

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We have hiked this a lot. 

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On the way out I walked right by this snake without seeing it.  It’s a Desert Nightsnake which was identified in a previous post by Bill.  Thanks Bill!  Good thing it was not a rattle snake, it could have easily reached me.  I must start paying more attention.  It was at the very end of the hike, and I was looking at the truck.  Eternal vigilance is now required because the snakes are coming back out.

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Apropos of nothing, the New York Times had to issue a correction to this article yesterday.  This has to be one of the all time best corrections.

Correction: March 6, 2018

Because of an editing error involving a satirical text-swapping web browser extension, an earlier version of this article misquoted a passage from an article by the Times reporter Jim Tankersley. The sentence referred to America’s narrowing trade deficit during “the Great Recession,” not during “the Time of Shedding and Cold Rocks.” (Pro tip: Disable your “Millennials to Snake People” extension when copying and pasting.)

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Back on the Bikes

We’re back on the bikes!  Despite an inauspicious wind forecast, we decided to ride.  It was only 20 miles, but it was good.  We got back just before the wind really picked up.

Does he look happy or what?

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I think we can say with some certainty, that the chest pain Jim was having was never acid reflux.  It was always angina.  And now it is gone.

If that last paragraph makes no sense, click through to this post, and the backstory will be revealed.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The John Krein Trail in the Tucson Mountains

Today was the day Jim was allowed to resume being a free range human.  We had planned to get the bikes out, but the wind forecast was not promising.  After reading Pam’s post about the John Krein trail in the Tucson Mountains, we were interested in finding somewhere new to hike.  However, prudence dictated that our first hike since the stent should not be 5.5 miles.

We found a map of the trail and decided to hike it in reverse, since we would start out on flatter, easier terrain.

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The Green Valley Hiking Club had published a description of the hike in the Green Valley newspaper.  It was somewhat helpful.  I have cut and pasted it here and added photos.

Drive west on Ajo, north on Kinney, then east on Sarasota.  Park at the paved parking lot at the end of Sarasota.

Join the Starr Pass Trail just east of the trailhead parking area and go left.  (Do not walk up toward the kiosk, go left on the wide stretch of desert.)

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On your left there will be a crested cactus.

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Follow the Starr Pass Trail through an open gate and continue on as the trail winds its way through shallow washes below the silhouette of imposing cliffs to the east. (Just through the gate, the trail splits, take the left branch.)

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If the cairn is still on the trail, don’t turn here.

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In about two-thirds of a mile from the trailhead, the trail comes to an open area with a gate to a residential area straight ahead. Turn right at this point to continue on the trail, proceeding in a north easterly direction for a short time before again heading northwest.

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This is the trail, it’s indistinct and not marked.

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After while, you’ll tee into another trail, also not marked.  Go left.

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In about 1.5 miles from the trailhead where you turned right on to the trail at the second gate, and another open area, the trail swings northeast again and begins a modest climb. The David Yetman Trail will shortly come up from a wash on the left. This is the end of the Starr Pass Trail, and you will now follow the Yetman for about a quarter of a mile to the junction with the John Krein Trail.  (It’s a big wash, the Yetman trail is somewhat difficult to see.)

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This is where Yetman and Starr Pass join up.  Now you’re on Yetman.

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Shortly before the John Krein Trail, the Yetman will drop into a large wash. As you emerge from the wash, there will be a clearing and a smaller trail leading off to the right. This is the John Krein Trail. The junction, as the previous one, is unmarked. Follow it up to the saddle, clearly visible, about 250 yards to the southwest.  (The trail is easy to miss.  We had to actively look for it after exiting the wash.)

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The John Krein Trail and starts up with a steady climb to the saddle, where you’ll have views to the south and west and be able to overlook a large trailer park.

This is where we stopped and turned around.  It was enough hike.

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If you continue on to the really high point, you do this:
At the saddle, the trail takes a sharp left and continues up, following the ridge line. It will eventually level off somewhat, with a few ups and downs and some false summits. Continue along the trail to the point where it drops steeply down from a saddle. But don’t go down. From this saddle, you can see Cat Mountain, a little over a mile away and across a wide wash. Leave the trail at this point, working your way up the rocks on your left, following one of the faint trails. Continue to the top and then on to the end of the promontory. This is the overlook and your turn around point.
This was a nice hike.  We haven’t been on that side of the mountain, and it’s really pretty.  The saguaro cacti are very happy there, and there are many of them.  There are also some other side trails yet to be explored, so we now have so more varied opportunities for walking in the desert.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Fourth Avenue Street Fair and Traffic

This morning we were up and out to go to the 4th Avenue street fair.  It runs Friday through Sunday.  We always go on Friday because generally there are fewer people.  Today, it was really crowded.  And it was really crowded with snow birds (aka old people of the north).   We we stunned at the number of elderly and the size of the crowds.  The festival must have changed their advertising strategy.

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We mainly go to watch the people and look at the food vendors.  This vendor had a table set up with what he had on offer for the crowds.  I think all but one item has been boiled in deep fat.

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There are additional bad food choices to be made.  My favorite at this tent is shark on a stick as well as deep fat fried everything.

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I don’t know what cuts of meat were on this spit.  I do know it wasn’t brisket because a member of the crowd tried to tell the gentleman in the red and black shirt that it was brisket.  The red and black shirt guy told him in no uncertain terms that brisket is flat, and these are round.  Not brisket!

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There are always street performers.  This man was singing, playing the guitar and moving his feet so that the bears were also playing their instruments.  He wasn’t as good as the guy that used to be there with the kazoo.

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After perambulating through the street fair we split a tri-tip sandwich, for which they were charging $10.  I’m glad we split it and didn’t buy two.  It was no bueno.  Very little taste and very chewy.  So, we’ve had our tri-tip and we don’t have to do that again.

We walked through the new neighborhood in Tucson.  It is just as lovely as ever. 

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Look at the perfection of that front door.  The colors are just sublime.  However, the area is still bordered by a high crime neighborhood, possible future housing for UofA students, and now the new regional headquarters for Caterpillar, as well as a new retail complex, and more apartments.  I think I could put up with all of it except the high crime and the UofA students.  Most of the new housing in Tucson looks like mud huts, I just do not like the new construction.  We continue to ponder our fates and our exit strategy.

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We then went to the northern Costco for something else to do.  The traffic up north was unbelievable.  We have never seen the lineup for the south bound freeway from Orange Grove that bad.  Costco was packed as well.  After we left to go home I checked Google maps for traffic, and it was the dried blood red color everywhere.  What the heck?????  It was 2:45 in the afternoon, why weren’t these people at work?  This weekend is going to be bad, fortunately we have sufficient food to make it until Monday.  Ajo is one of the major east-west routes through south Tucson and it will be closed ALL WEEKEND.  Going anywhere is just going to be a bear.  You can see the construction crane off in the distance.

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Jim continues to improve.  Getting harpooned in the groin rather than in the wrist is a longer recovery.  He spent several hours on his feet today; discomfort was down stamina was up.  We are encouraged.