Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Past Week in the Desert

Greetings! I haven't posted for awhile. We have had two great weeks with Kim and Jim here. Kim took this picture of the snow on the Catalinas from the roof of their RV. It was pretty spectacular.

Thursday night we went out to dinner at the Cushing Street Bar & Grill. It's a really old building with a very cool bar. This is the bar. Three of us had the medallions of beef with a port wine reduction. It was really really good.

This is a lady statue holding up a light.

This is my glass of wine. I was playing with my camera and tripod. I took this with no flash and ISO 1600.

This is us!

The weather had not been all that great until Friday; which was total beauty. So we went for a hike out to the stone hut in Tucson Mountain Park.

This is the view out of the window of the stone hut.

Remember when I had my camera set on ISO 1600 the previous night? Friday I put my camera back in Program mode so I could have continuous (faster) exposures, forgetting that I had left the ISO at 1600. So these are really terrible pictures, since they are over exposed. But they are interesting enough to me that we'll look at them anyway.
This is a really steep trail full of loose rock and boulders. These people are having a very enjoyable day practicing getting up this trail. They would ride up as far as they could get, and then ride back down and try it again. We were surprised that they were not wearing body armor.

This woman was small but very strong.

We drove by to see the removal of a really old park model. The neighbors were out in their lawn chairs watching the work. The Arizona Room had been dismantled and was on a trailer heading out to the scrap heap.

This is the rest of the park model. It was old - really old.

Saturday morning, Jim and Kim loaded the wagons and headed out for Texas. We miss them already.

Today, being Sunday, was the breakfast ride to the Rincon Market. They do really good omelets to order. Here Jim and Dave are talking after breakfast. It was an absolutely glorious day.

We'll have a few good days, and then we'll have some more El Nino inspired rain.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Snow in the Desert

Last night's predicted thunder snow did not appear. The Catalinas got some snow, but we did not. Happy I am about that!

It's cold (yes, I know, I have no idea of the true meaning of cold, but I am cold) here! It's cloudy and really windy. Hopefully it will stop being like this soon. I had to laugh at us making lunch. We were trying to run a toaster oven and the space heater on a 20 amp circuit. Yeah, like that's going to be successful!

Today we went out to look at the Santa Cruz River. We met this dog on the way to the river bed. Don't you think the Italian Greyhound looks like a meerkat? She was very friendly, look at her front paws.

This is the Santa Cruz River bed - it's really running, the flow is really fast.

So - we're drying out now and it's going to be cold - really cold! Freezing, in fact.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Water in the Desert

Jim, Kim and I went out looking for water in the rivers, which are normally dry. This is the Rillito which is running pretty good after last night's rain. Click the arrow button to play the avi.

This is Tanque Verde Loop road. It's closed, due to the creek over running the road.

Road is on the right, creek is on the left.

View of the mountains, clouds and snow.

It's still blustery and chilly. We're looking forward to the return of nicer weather.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Weather in the Desert

Forecast for Tucson Metro/Marana/Green Valley

Updated: 7:20 PM MST on January 21, 2010

Tornado Watch is in effect until 10 PM MST this evening...
High Wind Warning in effect until 5 am MST Friday...
Blizzard Warning in effect from 11 PM MST tonight to 11 am MST Friday above 7000 feet...
Winter Storm Watch in effect from Friday afternoon through Saturday morning above 4000 feet...

I really want my snowbird rebate!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Photos from the Desert

Yesterday's sunset, courtesy of Kim's camera. Is it not lovely?

Plants in a desert parking lot. I like them a lot, I think they're agaves.

Rain and wind will probably be here tomorrow. Bleah.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

MTB Drills from Camp

Here we are in the storage area of the RV park doing drills from camp. We're practicing counter steering which is so counter intuitive. When practicing turning at speed (to the right, for instance) one pushes the right handle bar away from one's knee. It's difficult, it feels wrong. While pushing away with the handle bar, one also puts all of one's weight on the outside foot, moves the hips off the saddle (as in doing a hip check), and points the hips in the direction one is traveling, annnnnnnnnnd looks forward to victory (which would be 2 cones ahead). We occasionally end up with the weight on the wrong foot, or looking in the wrong place or something, but when done correctly, it's a beautiful thing.

The people in the RV park think we're nuts.

I got this picture off the web. I think this is Gene (guy who ran the MTB camp), but I'm not positive. Whoever it is has completely and totally mastered the art of this turn. Look at the perfection of his form. My oh my.

It did not rain today as forecast. Unfortunately the wind is rising with a vengeance, it may be a noisy slide topper night.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Raining in Tucson

It's raining. It's supposed to rain for 4 entire days. I want my snowbird rebate. Our friends Jim and Kim just arrived from the GPNW to escape just this sort of weather pattern. Oh woe is me. Yes, I know, the desert needs the rain, but really, FOUR days? Ok, enough whining about that.

This is me at camp. Notice some of my new acquisitions. I now have a Camelbak with around 600 cubic inches of storage for stuff. Mountain biking requires more stuff than road riding. One must be prepared for injuries and damage to the bike. Tools and first aid must be available. Fortunately I have Jim to carry all of that. I also have knee pads. The jury is still out on these things. With enough use and sweat they are supposed to wear in, conform to me, and be more comfortable. We'll see.

Yesterday we were tied up all morning so we went for a hike in the afternoon. The new wet weather pattern was on its way in.

So, for the next few days we will be enduring the rain. On a positive note, the new satellite receiver is working in the rain. After seeing over the air broadcasting disappear with wind or rain, we were wondering how well this would work. So far, so good. After all, I would not want to miss an episode of House Hunters International. Kidding, just kidding.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Jim on the Island

Here we are at Fantasy Island on the way back to the car. Jim is riding off a small drop, practicing a coaster wheelie, which will keep the front wheel in the air a little longer. The desired goal is to have both wheels hit the ground at closer to the same time. Hasn't happened yet, but we have great hopes. Also note that he is looking down (bad MTBer, BAD) instead of forward to victory. That's part of the desired vision that Gene teaches. It works, it's difficult to learn.

We got a cold air mass today, at present the wind is just howling. Hopefully this will go away soon, I liked Wednesday's air mass much better.

Closure on an Action Item!

Wednesday we closed an action item. For you non-corporate types, that means we checked an item off of the to-do list. Although this looks like a radome, it's a satellite dish. It's self aiming, which is a great aid to marital bliss.

Here is Jim setting the dip switches for Dish TV. We got Dish because Direct no longer carries Versus, and the whole reason for doing this is to watch the Tour de France in July. We missed it last year and it was very painful.

Here is Jim hauling it up to the roof where it will sit, zip tied to the boarding ladder, while we are in port. It will sit in the basement while we are in transit.

It's fairly amusing. We can hear it moving around ever so often looking for the mother ship.

So, one thing is done and off the list. With luck it will stay off the list.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Back From MTB Camp

Camp was good. Camp was worth the effort and the cost. This is me (on the far right), my other two camperettes (Kathy and Martha, left to right) and the tall guy is Gene Hamilton. Gene is a professional down hill racer, and he coaches regular people and other down hill racers. It's an intense 3 days. Basically he tells and shows you skills that you will not master in 3 days, the most important take home is to do the drills. We'll be buying little orange cones and drilling. The two biggest things I got from camp were vision (where and how to look when riding), and the proper body position while descending.

This is Gene demonstrating that riding up a scary pile of rocks is really just like riding up a ramp. This is the bunny trail out at South Mountain in Phoenix.

Today we rode the Pemberton trail out at McDowell Mountain Park. It was a perfect day. When I rode this two years ago it was terrifying. Every wash, every water bar, every down hill; all looked to me like potential death. Today, it was fun! The trails are just perfect, they've had some rain so the washes are all packed and firm.

We drove by the horse staging area on the way out, there was a mtb camp or tour or something going on. Look at all the bikes laid out with such precision.

There is a mass of riders formating here. Look at the guy foreground left laying out helmets, in the dirt. My camp was better.

McDowell is just outside of the township of Fountain Hills, and is, in fact larger than Fountain Hills. This is the fountain from which the town takes its name.

Oh, I do miss the minivan for when we go on trips.

So, we're back, and we must now do a pile of laundry of epic proportions.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Construction and Ear Updates & a Cautionary Tale

We have a bicycle trail alert for you. The Rillito River trail west of La Cholla on the south side of the river bed has been torn up completely. The detour is to ride on River Road. The signs say that La Cholla is going to be widened to 6 lanes, so who knows how long the trail will be torn up.

This is a close up of an agave over by the Marriott at Star Pass. I like the pink spines.

Yesterday we went to the ear doctor for the 6 week followup. Reviews were mixed. As is turns out, he had to remove about half of my ear drum in the process of cutting out damaged tissue so that he'd have good tissue to bond to the graft. Those margins are not yet completely healed, but he says they look good. On the down side, there is now a very small hole in the graft. He was clearly surprised at this fact because it wasn't there when he finished the surgery. He said he'd never seen this before. So, at this point he's going to wait for 3 months to see if it will close on its own. If not, then there is an (uncomfortable) office procedure he can try to get it to heal. The problem with this plan is that we're leaving Tucson shortly thereafter for cooler climes. I am somewhat despondent over this development.

When we returned yesterday there were several RVs checking in to RCW. The great migration to the south west has begun.

Note to RV owners; should you decide to have your RV washed and waxed, post waxing one should examine the stairs. We had ours waxed yesterday and there is now wax all over the steps. I failed to notice this fact and upon exiting the coach, my feet went right out from under me. Fortunately I remained upright, avoiding the dreaded fall on the tail bone, but it was bad enough.

Moving on to satellite installation. We had the Dish people out yesterday to install. Clearly they were not accustomed to working in an RV because the installer was all set to disable future use of the over the air antenna and the ability to use cable. We pointed out to him that this is not a stationary unit and that satellite reception would not always be available due to trees. He was somewhat miffed, but he did run more cables to leave these items intact. We later discovered that the basement TV is in-op, so someone will be back. It's a process.

Obtaining closure on anything is difficult. At this point we have many open action items and we are not making progress. We preach patience to each other, but internally we fester because we just want to be able to check off just one steeeeenking item off the list and have it stay done.

Here's wishing you a new decade of closed action items.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Day

Wednesday we rode up to the U for coffee, and then out east on the bike trail and back via Aviation Parkway. We came across a display of the all electric Nissan Leaf car near 4th Avenue. It takes 220 to charge it. One wonders what all of these little cars plugging in will do to the power grid. It's a cute little car.

Thursday I didn't feel that great so I sat out in the sun and watched Jim wash the mountain bikes. I excel in the supervisory role.

Later that afternoon we decided to go for a walk. We parked at the Genser trail head. Here is Jim going back towards the truck to make sure he locked the door. I like how his T shirt is the same color as the sky.

The view from an overlook.

We walked down the steep rocky hill into the Tucson Mountain Park, trying to determine if it's rideable (no). This guy and a woman were riding up it. He is really strong. You can't see them, but he's coming up boulders that are about 8 or 9 inches tall.

A very attractive dead tree.

This is the storage area at the RV park. Look at the SIZE of the trailer this Class A is towing.

Today I still felt rotten. We went out to Fantasy Island and rode the bunny trails, I practiced steering and riding in sand. We came back and reinstalled the bracket with the new manly 2 inch receiver. Here is Jim persuading the bracket back into place.

Behold the magnificence of the new receiver.

Now Jim is spray painting the bolt heads on the RV.

It was a pretty quiet New Year's for us. Hope yours was sufficiently festive.