Sunday, February 28, 2010

My Fellow Americans

In AZ you are permitted to carry a firearm, as long as it's not concealed, with no permit. So here we are in the dairy section of Walmart, and what do we see? We see a twenty-something wearing a big gun on his belt. One has to wonder what he thought might be such a threat in the grocery store that he needed to shop armed. Is this weird, or what.

I really can't think of anything else to say about this.

Friday, February 26, 2010

RV repairs and a Ride to Arivaca

Greetings and salutations! Today is an internet morning for me. Three days of early rising for RV maintenance and an early up for a ride to Arivaca have not left much time for blogging or surfing in general.
This is from last Saturday, the day the weather changed for the worse. Jim and I scampered up the Starr Pass trail and managed to return to the truck 5 minutes before the skies opened up and it rained pigs and chickens. Happy were we with that timing. It's kind of cool to stand on the ridge line up there and watch the weather coming at you. Then one realizes that the weather is coming at you and it's time to go.

Monday was day 1 of the RV maintenance experience. Hitching was successful, we did not make any mistakes and departed without incident. Beaudry RV laid off many people just before Christmas, one of them was our former service adviser. Our new service adviser is not an improvement. Jim walked into his office, and was greeted with a surly "how can I help you" which actually translated as "why are you bothering me". Said service adviser had previously assured us that labor charges for the grey tank would be covered; but when we arrived this was no longer the case. The tank is 4.5 hours at $120 an hour, so this is a non-trivial amount of money. He had to consult with his manager. I think this service adviser is less than truthful. As it turned out, Beaudry covered the labor, but not with a smile.
After dealing with the surly one, we were hungry so we went to the Rincon market for brunch. They have a cute little housewares department. I think this apron is just cuter than a bug. Jim, for some reason, would not put it on and model it for me.

Monday was cold and miserable, so we went to the mall, and then hung out chez Winnipeg campers RV and waited for the day to be over. Maintenance was not completed Monday, so we spent the night at the Beaudry RV resort. I love that, it's a giant asphalt parking lot with hookups. I do not know how they can call it a resort. They're also $200 a month more than where we stay. Go figure.

Tuesday dawned clear, severe and COLD. After dropping the RV we went back to the Rincon for breakfast. We like that place. After breakfast, we went for a walk in the Sam Hughes neighborhood. It's an old neighborhood, very nice; and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
This is one of the largest agaves I have seen to date.

Nice gate.

Nice palm tree in someone's back yard.

I love when people paint their houses something other than beige or white. The fuschia geraniums against the pink house, with the blue walk way is very cheerful.

We decided to go to the Arizona State Museum. They have a collection of 20,000 Native American pots - 150 of them are on display. They also have displays and history of the major tribes of the Southwest. They're very well done, it's a good museum.

Behold the Doris and Arnold Roland Wall of Pots. It's pretty dang impressive. It covers 2,000 years of pot making in the southwest.

Wednesday was welding day. For some reason I did not get any interesting pictures. Probably due to my fear of going blind if I'm in the vicinity of an active arc welder. I'll take pictures of the final product later, because I know everyone is looking forward to seeing how the wobbling bicycle problem was solved.

Dang this is becoming a massive post! It's almost over, I promise.

Yesterday we parked in Amado and rode out to Arivaca. Going out it's a fairly consistent grade up, and we had a headwind. Coming back, one realizes that no, there is also climbing going back. I think it's up hill both ways.
This is the goal of the ride, the Gadsden Coffee shop. They have really good coffee and the food is pretty good. I had pie. It was very pleasant to sit in the sun and chat.

On the way back we had some pretty good headwinds (again) and some gusting side winds. I hate side winds. About half of the vehicles one sees on the ride are Border Patrol agents. They go out into the hinterlands looking for people crossing the desert to enter the US. Apparently they'd found a few and were loading them in to the Wackenhut bus for transport to somewhere. It's a strange thing to see out in the middle of nowhere.

Eventually the wind swung around behind us and we all felt young again riding down hill with a tail wind. On the way back one sees this view for awhile. It's nice to look at.

So, that is all I have to report. Today we are doing laundry and going to the library. This afternoon we will close the kitchen grey tank, which will allow us to determine if it is holding water; or not. Stand by to be amazed.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Flat tires in the Desert

Wednesday we parked at the Mo Udall park and rode out to Saguaro National Monument East. It's one of my favorite places on the planet. The park has an eight mile loop with nice pavement and stunning scenery. We went with a couple of fellow campers from Winnipeg who are just a delight to ride with. It was a very enjoyable day.

Riding in the desert can be such a pain. The tires that came on my bike are wire bead and they are very difficult to get on and off. So we decided to get folders since it's becoming apparent that many tire changes will be in our future. We ordered tires, picked them up at Arizona Cyclist this morning, and changed my 2 flats in their parking lot. I told Jim we were being shade tree mechanics. Anyway, we're trying a new tube. These have sealant in them, the guy in the store said the goo clots like blood when the tube is punctured. I certainly hope so.

These are my new tires, they're wider and taller than the old ones. I have been told that wider is better, so we went wider. I rode them briefly today and I think they're going to be better on the sticky uppy rocks. The jury is still out on how well they steer.

After changing my two flats at the store, we drove out to Fantasy Island and Jim promptly flatted within 5 minutes. He was very aggravated, changing tires is the pits.

Here is Jim, changing flat number 3 for the day.

We did eventually get a ride off. It's supposed to rain Saturday, which will put the area off limits for a while, too much MUD!

Our weather perfection ends tomorrow, rain and wind is anticipated, possibly with HAIL! Apparently we will be visited by 3 storms moving across the state. Monday we're taking the RV in to Beaudry for kitchen gray tank number 4. Tuesday we revisit the welder. Such excitement awaits us. I hope we remember how to hitch and un-hitch, it's been awhile since we've done it. We need to get this stuff taken care of, our departure date will be here before we know it. Every year we wonder if we're staying too long, and every year we're startled when the season ends.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Revenge of the Chollas

We went out to Fantasy Island today to do a short little ride. It started out really well. Here is me going through a small wash; feeling good about things and working on riding with good form.

There's been a lot of rain, and there are a lot of cholla pups on the trail. Pups are little pieces of the cholla cactus that fall on the ground and wait for some unsuspecting animal or mountain biker to take them somewhere else so they can put down roots. So, we were carrying the bikes through a pup infested part of the trail, when I turned to the right, which caused my back wheel to whack a standing cholla. I got 3 pups stuck in my tire side wall. Jim is pulling them off with pliers. Needless to say, there was a tube change as well after it went flat. We recovered, we shook it off and continued to ride.

This is the entrance to Christmas Tree loop. We haven't ridden there yet. I like the art that people have erected at various points on the trails.

After a good execution of Lone Cactus Loop, we headed off down the fence line to the truck. There is a lot of erosion from the rains, and a lot of soft sand. While looking for a path on firmer ground I managed to hit a cholla with my left hand and arm. It's unbelievable how bad that hurts! And THEN, and THEN we came up to a mud bog which we had to walk around, and I dragged my bike over another cholla. We were two miles from the truck, so I rode back with a deflating tire. It was totally flat by the time we got there. I think the next tubes we buy are going to have slime in them to help with the flats issue. And perhaps I will have better luck avoiding the dreaded cholla.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Big Love in the Desert

This is an amazing large saguaro out by the Arizona Trail on the far east side. He has arms everywhere.

We rode part of the AZ trail, the side that goes north from the road in. It's pleasant enough, not rocky, but it's not particularly interesting; and the dirt road to get to it is very rough. So, I doubt if we'll be back, it has a bad ROI for travel vs riding joy.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

Today was splendid. We had breakfast at the Rincon Market. This is a cactus near the market, notice the heart shaped pad? It's Valentine's day!

We spent some time riding on the Santa Cruz River Trail. These are Arizona Round Tailed Ground Squirrels. They look like teeny prairie dogs. They are squirrels, however. It's tough to get a good picture of them, because they run away. Here are better pictures. Most squirrels are solitary animals, but not these guys.

Today was just spectacular. We ended up the ride wearing only shorts & jerseys, it was that warm. We're hoping you all had a very pleasant Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Snow at the U

Thursday morning we drove out to Todd's restaurant at Ryan field to contemplate doing a ride out west. These intrepid souls rode from the park to rendezvous with those of us who drove out. Jim and I bailed, it was just too cold. 10 degrees above freezing is way out of my comfort zone.

This is Todd's. From what I have heard, it's a great place for breakfast or lunch, provided you have ridden or hiked enough to burn off the calories.

After another cup of coffee chez nous, we ventured out for a different ride. We went up to the University. This bike is pretty cool, impractical, but nicely done.

Cricket was having an event. They trucked in snow, had many people pounding on the snow, and eventually someone was going to snowboard down it. We lost interest in the process and decided to ride up to the Rincon Market for lunch.

The hanging baskets are very nice. They are hung at the perfect height for someone wearing a helmet with a visor to walk into. Fortunately the wire mesh is covered in peat moss so I was not damaged in the collision.

Yesterday we hiked, it was very pleasant. Then we came home and re-installed the back speaker in the home entertainment system that had ceased working. We were expecting a complete odyssey to purchase two new ceiling mounted speakers rather than a complete system. For some reason, home entertainment systems are sold as a package rather than as components one can assemble. Anyway, the gentleman up at The Specialists suggested we leave it with him to see if the guts could be replaced. They discovered a bad wire and fixed it for $20, thus simplifying my life tremendously. It's a sign of the times that it never crossed my mind that it could be fixed, since we've become such a throw away society. So, that ended well.
Other than that, I have nothing of great import to report.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A New Hike

Look, just look at that sky. Then look at tomorrow's forecast, all good things must come to an end. We did a new hike today with JanE and two of her friends. This is up in the Tortolita Mountains. It's just stunningly beautiful up there. It's interesting how different the terrain is from the Tucson Mountain Park trails.

This is the skeletal remains of a saguaro. It's really sad to see them down like this. It takes 100 years before the first arm sprouts. And then they die.

It was a glorious day. It's a good hike, I think we'll be back up there.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Snomaggedon and Rain in the Desert

Let me just say that no weather whining I will ever do could compare to THIS. I can not believe how much snow the DC Metro area got.

But, hey, we got rain. Tucson does not have many (if any, I'm not sure) storm drains. Streets are dished to carry water away, to somewhere. I took this on the way out to breakfast this morning. Look at the rooster tails they are making. It's good to have a tall pickup truck.

The satellite guy came, we are fixed, so there is a closed action item. Other than that I have zippity doo-dah all to report.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Gem Show and Riding

Tuesday (2/2) was not a good weather day. Cold, cloudy, spitting rain. Since it was not a good riding day, we demonstrated our excellent reasoning skills and decided to attend the Jewelry, Gem and Mineral show, which is largely outside. The Gem show is smeared all over Tucson. There are tents everywhere. We went to the Tucson Electric Park, because there is parking readily available.
This is the first tent we went in. The sheer volume of stuff is just amazing. I don't know how one would find a specific item in the show.

These are strings of beads in the strings of beads section.

Geodes are big at the Gem show. The amount of packing and crating and moving stuff about is just phenomenal.

There were several tents with Tibetan stuff. I like this mask a lot. However, when one lives in an RV, one does not participate in impulse buying decisions.

This is in another tent, this was the tent of turquoise beads.

These are the outdoor minerals. Big minerals! At this point it actively raining, so we left.

This is from Thursday out at Fantasy Island. Look at this thing stuck in my tire, giving me a flat. The thorn on the inside of the tire cast a shadow it was so big.

Friday we rode up to the Main Gate. The coffee place we used to go to is not open, they have a sign up saying they're closed for "reorganization and remodeling." One wonders how long that will take. So, we went to Starbucks and we spied the Gray Wolf. He's become quite the character in Tucson bicycling. He has painted his bicycle a flat gray, and applied a decal that says "Gray Wolf." His shorts are sparkly in the sun. Now direct your attention to his shoe covers.

His shoe covers are also logoed with the Gray Wolf insignia.

This is today. It's sort of emblematic of all that is RV ownership. This is Jim cutting caulk out of the shower stall.

We headed back out to Fantasy Island this morning and just had a delightful ride. We're down to walking two sections of Fire Loop, and I don't really expect that to change, due to our highly developed senses of self preservation. We had to be back at 3:00 to wait for the satellite guy, who was scheduled between 3:00 & 6:00. Over the past week or so, 150 channels mysteriously drop off the channel guide and become inaccessible. We called the provider, who had never heard of such a problem, but was reasonably confident that unplugging the box fixed it 95% of time. Huh? Think about that statement. We unplugged, it did not fix, he wrote a service ticket. It's currently 5:30, the tech just called said he'd be here in an hour. Of course it's not broken at the moment, but I do have a picture of the missing channels from last night.
So, Jim decided to re-caulk the shower since it's been leaking. Come to find out, Keystone broke a screw that holds the shower frame together when they assembled it. Being the consummate professionals that they are, they just left it like that. It allows water to seep in because the two parts are not mashed together firmly enough. Not sure what the ultimate fix is going to be for that.
Oh yes - you wonder about the status of the kitchen gray tank. We were at Beaudry January 4 to schedule the installation of a new tank since the last tank they installed was not the correct part number (and it leaks). The service advisor said he'd get the order in right away. 30 days later, we discovered the new tank remained unordered. They never cease to amaze me down there with their professionalism.

So at this point, we have no items off the action item list. We are 0 for 0. The universe thumbs its nose at our feeble attempts to control our environment and our destiny. Woe is me. On the other hand, we're not receiving historic amounts of snow as they are in our nation's capital.