Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cold and Windy

Yesterday was an extreeeeeeeeeemely frustrating day. It involved dealing with Paypal, really really rude shop keepers, and just in general not being able to accomplish much of anything without jumping through 14 hoops. Part of it was the cold and the wind, which just drives me crazy. The wind and low humidity make my hair get full of static and I swear my scalp gets too tight. Sounding like a nut-bag am I? Today is much better, although I still have to engage Paypal on the phone, I'm going to leave that for a couple of days.
So the seminal event was my desire to have a small curio that I could hang on the kitchen cabinet and put my fetishes and my bear from Quebec in. It's a simple request, they're made in Mexico, surely someone in Tucson would import them. No. We went into one store and asked, and the guy said they got requests for them "all the time" but they did not import them. Let's think about that statement, people are in here with money, wanting to buy a particular item, and you don't stock any. Isn't that the point of retail? Determine what the customer wants, stock it, sell it? Argh. So, after walking up and down 4th Avenue in the cold and the wind, we gave up.
This is a Tiki guy in front of a small restaurant, I think he was rescued from a Putt-putt golf place that went belly up.

We had lunch at the always popular Rincon Market. The pigeons were getting a drink from under the pots.

Then the search continued at the Lost Barrio. No joy there, either. I like the carved saint. The tag says she's from Vietnam, and the 1800s.

So, I googled for the curio. Ebay. Always check Ebay. It's not exactly what I wanted, but it's close enough. And hey, there's room for more fetishes. These are Zuni fetishes, in case you're wondering about sex toys in the living room. As soon as I figure out Paypal, this will be mine.

So, a warming trend is on its way, soon we can go outside and be happy.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Greetings to you now that we are post-Thanksgiving and post-Black Friday. We are having a low energy Saturday morning, contemplating the laundry that once again demands our attention. One of the great mysteries of the universe is how two people can wear so much clothing.
Behold one of the great inventions of our time, Latex. This is a photo of my front tubeless tire. It's bleeding! There was a cactus sticker in it, which Jim removed. Since my tire is full of liquid latex, it is sealing the hole, and my beloved will not be required to take any further action, such as changing a tube. Happy we are with this tire!

Look dead center in the photo. This is what one picks up out in the desert, it's amazing to me that they can actually make it through the tire.

Wednesday morning we went up to McDowell Mountain Regional Park near Fountain Hills for Thanksgiving with friends of ours. I swear the Chamber of Commerce should pay us to stay home. Every time we go, there is abnormal weather. Two years ago we had rain and it was cold. Pictures are here. This year it was sunny and cold. At least it was not raining.
Wednesday and Thursday we rode in the park, it was very pleasant. Thursday's ride convinced us that if we want to do more significant uphill trails, we will have to train harder.

There was parade Thanksgiving morning in Fountain Hills. There are taken from the hotel room so they aren't that clear, but it was too cold to walk down there. I know, I'm pitiful. It started off with vintage Thunderbirds.

Followed by the Boy Scouts.

And then there was the ever popular Thanksgiving Barber Pole. I'm unclear as to its significance.

Thursday after riding - Jim is freezing.

Peggy and Roger by the fire.

The fire.

Roger and Peggy have a new kitten. His name is TJ. He's a good cat, he is accepting walking on a leash with good grace. Is he not the cutest kitten ever?

We had a very good two days at McDowell. We got to spend time with friends we don't see often enough, drank a bunch of really good wine, and enjoyed some excellent meals.

Friday morning, we were leaving Tempe. While waiting to make a left out of the parking lot, the car in front of us inexplicably pulled out in front of an on coming car (who was perhaps traveling faster than was prudent). The driver of the black car was very fortunate, she was not hit in the door, which would have resulted in her being hurt.

The white car had two adults and two children in it. No injuries what so ever, let's hear it for child restraint systems. The older daughter was sitting in her car seat and very calmly asked her Mom, "does this mean we're going to be late?" So, the life lesson here is look both ways more than once.

Other than that, it was an uneventful return to to Rincon West. It's good to be back.

Well, I suppose I should get up and go do laundry. It's threatening world domination from the floor of the closet.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Jim Got a Virus - but Rides in Sand

Well, it's been a somewhat annoying weekend. There's a new virus on the web called the XP 2010 virus. It's nasty. I'm not including a link to its description, because one of those sites might be viral. Anyway, it gets on your machine, parks a Windows security software shield in the desktop tray, and proceeds to cover your screen with pop-ups that say it's discovered trojans and spy ware and whatever on your machine. It also detects when the user starts Firefox, and diverts you to a fake AOL window using IE. It's maddening. We tried some removal tools on the web, but it was all for naught. We had to call the PC doctor, who came and took the infected machine away and removed the virus. It's $125 to get it cleaned. I can not tell you how much this infuriates me that people make a living by sending this stuff through the internet. There is nothing on this planet that someone will not take the time and effort to pervert and destroy for personal gain.

On a brighter note, here is Jim perfecting his riding in deep sand technique. Frank, a fellow rider we met this weekend gave us a tip. Enter the sand with some speed, all weight back on the seat to weight the back wheel, and arms locked to keep the front wheel from fishtailing. When you lose momentum, pedal gently so as not to wiggle the bike down into the sand. Jim is still on the bike - that's a win!

Interesting clouds. We had 3 really windy days. We're being affected by the storm that is making life difficult in the GPNW, although certainly not as much as for them.

Tomorrow we're going up to McDowell Mountain Park for 2 days. We're hoteling which is kind of a bummer. Towing the RV is not good until we get the new slide gasket which is not yet here. Ken did come by yesterday with the new HVAC control so that is good. It had died, and the air conditioning would not turn itself off. It's always something.

So here's wishing you and yours a happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Electronics in the Desert

Soon I will have to have raised floor (like they do in big data centers, to keep the servers cool) behind my chair. In the square brown box I have THREE terabytes of storage. The little box is for Norton backups, and the bigger box is so I can take photos off my hard drive and still see them in date sequence. I'm old enough to remember when a terabyte of storage was a big (literally big) deal in the data centers. Now we buy it a Costco.
On the left of the photo we see the new Qwest wireless modem. Why, you wonder, would we have such a thing given that there is free wi-fi provided by the park, and we also own a Verizon Mi-fi device? Because they don't work. Cell service down here is so bad the card can't work. Tengo (RV park internet service) is just abysmal. So, now we have Qwest DSL which is fairly quick. The best part is there is no contract. If you don't like it, pack it up, send it back and be on your way.

Speaking of contracts, I called Verizon to see if I could suspend the Mi-fi service, since I do not want to be paying for something I'm not using. Apparently the word suspend sounds an awful lot like cancel. I spent 22 minutes on the phone, trying to explain I want to suspend until we're in an area with decent service. I kept getting told about cancellation fees, could I find someone to assume the liability, blah de blah de blah. Eventually I discovered a link that allowed me to suspend it myself on the pc. Note to self, examine the website more carefully before picking up the phone. So that was this morning.

Wednesday, Patrick from Desert Satellite came to look at our home entertainment lash up. As we suspected, the installers who work in stick frame houses have no clue as to how to hook up an RV. We had signal running all over the place; worse, we had the potential to put 12 volt current into the park cable system should we ever have the cable hooked up and the satellite receiver turned on. After an hour, Pat diagnosed which diplex doo-dads were facing the wrong way, tightened up all the various connections, and added a diplexer at the head of the cable to prevent current from going out to the cable system. He also removed the condition that was causing the booster for the over the air antenna to ground out. So, we now have everything working.
It was funny, Jim and I were standing around watching Pat studying the system, and occasionally he'd come over and explain what was happening in the wiring. Pat would walk away, and Jim would whisper to me "I think my head is going to explode." It's good to have people who understand this stuff.

Jim's basement TV is back on line.

The new diplexer.

It's just aggravating that the local satellite installation company didn't tell us they don't know how to do RVs and refer the install to Pat in the fist place. It would have saved 3 service calls and my money. So, something has come off the list of things to fix.

Yesterday we did a brief ride out at Fantasy Island late in the afternoon. It was an unsatisfying ride, neither one of us felt really comfortable on the bikes. Part of it was the light, the low winter sun casts bad shadows so it's tough to see the rocks and sand. Here is Jim riding my bike down the Slide again because I am too chicken to ride it. Make a noise like a chicken, Allison.

So, we have one item off the action item list. Now we are waiting for Ken to return and complete his action items, of which there are several for the RV.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Waddles Have Left the Park

This is the sunset last night as seen in our RV windows. It was another gaudy Arizona production.

We had dinner with Kim and Jim. Kim made chili and it was really good, even though it made my face sweat. I swear I have the palate of a 3 year old.

So this morning Kim and Jim loaded the wagons to return to Texas. We will miss them and look forward to crossing paths with them in the future.

Hasta la vista.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tourists in Tucson

Saturday we were tourists. Kim, Jim squared and I first went down to Tubac. It's an artsy fartsy community an hour south of Tucson. Since the collapse of the global economy they have not fared well, given the fact that they depend on discretionary spending. I also think that some of their artistes perhaps over-value their works. This copper and glass creation, for example, runs for $2,500. While it's lovely, I think it's a bit much.

This 5 foot square painting is $7,700. While it's also lovely, I'm just not seeing that much value in it. I'd rather have cowboy art.

After lunch, we headed further south to Tumacacori, a national historic site. The Franciscans built this church in the 1800s. It was later abandoned after plagues, wars, droughts, and the continued depredations of the Apaches.

This was taken in the granary. I like the interplay of light and shadow. Perhaps I will have a showing of photos in Tubac. Or not.

Then it was on to San Xavier del Bac. This is another old mission, but one that is still in active use today. It's been undergoing restoration for several years. Look at the difference in color between the two towers. It's so nice to see it without the scaffolds.

Sunday we had the usual breakfast run to the Rincon Market, followed by a delightful bike ride with Don and Jamie. The climate today was just spectacular. This is why we winter in Tucson.

Monday the guy from Qwest is coming. Our Verizon mi-fi does not work here, nor does the park internet. I want to take my pc and throw it through the window this is aggravating me so much. So hopefully the Qwest DSL will be better and I will be happy.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fantasy Island Again

Today it was back to the island to try out the new route. It's good. We covered about 18 miles, and rode the section of Lone Cactus we like, and not the section we don't, and returned via the new improved south bound trail.
This is a map at the north end of the area. It's not to scale, it's missing half the trails and it's not accurate, but other than that, it's fine. We still have not ridden the Burro Pit Loop (does that sound inviting?) or Bo's Loop. I was asking another rider how that trail compares to Lone Cactus. Basically it's steeper. Then he added that unlike the Arizona Trail and the 50 Year Trail, these trails were nicely groomed. So, in light of all my complaining about the rocks and sand this year, I believe the answer to should we try the 50 Year trail has been answered in the negative.

Carefully examine the next two pictures. How are they different?

Jim is riding my bike in the bottom photo. I still haven't made it down the Elbow Slammer or the Slide. My new method of transiting is to walk down and let Jim ride my bike down. It's easier for us all.
Jim riding my bike down the Slide.

So, we went on to successfully ride worse things than these two down hills. Maybe I'll do them next time, maybe not. We need to work on our riding in the sand and climbing up steep hills covered in loose rock techniques.
Tomorrow we're not riding, so I will not torment you with anymore pictures of riding in the desert.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fantasy Island Redux

Today we were back out at Fantasy Island. We wanted to ride from the north end to see if it's any less sandy and rocky than the south end. That would be a big no. We started the Lone Cactus loop at Irvington. I did not enjoy it, there's no warm up at all, and one is immediately thrust in to deep rocky washes. Eventually we made it to the circle where one picks up the second half of the loop.

There has been a lot of erosion on the trails, rocks have been mating and breeding since we were here in the spring. This trail is looking very unattractive.

Bicycle art on the island.

Here we are at the Half Pipe. I cleaned it! I lost my nerve mid pipe, but I walked back to the start of it and did it again without putting a foot down. Yea for me. At the end of the down hill there is a deep sand pit, in which I became trapped, and thus had to do some uphill walking.

The usual Sand Trap at the end of Lone Cactus is now huge. It's sucking cars in to it. Enter with caution.
Here is an ant hill.

So after returning to the north end of the park, we set out to see how things are along the fence line, which is our usual route back to the south parking lot. Things are dire. The sand is just awful! So we set out cross country along the power line, and found a nice old jeep trail that heads south. Eventually it intersects the Bunny Trail, and provides a good route back to the car.
Tomorrow we're going to try Snake Dance to Rez Loop to Fire Loop to Christmas Tree Loop to Lone Tree Loop back to Bunny Trail. That should give us 16 miles or so and keep us off the icky half of Lone Tree and the fence line.
I realize this is not interesting to most of you, but for the people who ride out there, it's a trail report.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fanatasy Island - Jim rides it All

Tuesday we took the mountain bikes out to Fantasy Island. The trails were very sandy, traction in the flats was just abysmal. We did the Fire Loop. Jim was feeling very brave and confident; me, not so much. There are two downhill pieces on that loop that have just weirded us out for several years. Jim was resolute that he would ride these, and be deviled no more.

Here is Jim, sussing out the Elbow Slammer.

There he goes, down the first downhill. There's another deep wash you can't see in the picture, it's a pretty steep drop off. Jim said the short drop was worse than the long one.

Later, Jim successfully rode The Slide. Unfortunately I did not get a picture of that.

When we were leaving we saw this electronic warfare plane in the landing pattern for Davis-Monthan.

It was a good day, we enjoyed the ride.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pink & Orange in the Desert

Not much happening in the Old Pueblo. We rode up Gates Pass again yesterday. It was HOT! We need to do that earlier in the day. After arriving back at the RV, I was pretty much zoned out for awhile.
Here are a couple of lovely Tucson pictures in the pink/orange palette.

Other than this, I have nothing of import to offer.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

NYT Article About Cheese

Today's New York Times has an interesting article about cheese. Here is the link. I don't know how long they leave articles up. So, I'm going to cut and paste a little of the article, this is the bit that gets my hair on fire.

Domino’s Pizza was hurting early last year. Domestic sales had fallen, and a survey of big pizza chain customers left the company tied for the worst tasting pies.Then help arrived from an organization called Dairy Management. It teamed up with Domino’s to develop a new line of pizzas with 40 percent more cheese, and proceeded to devise and pay for a $12 million marketing campaign.
Consumers devoured the cheesier pizza, and sales soared by double digits. “This partnership is clearly working,” Brandon Solano, the Domino’s vice president for brand innovation, said in a statement to The New York Times. But as healthy as this pizza has been for Domino’s, one slice contains as much as two-thirds of a day’s maximum recommended amount of saturated fat, which has been linked to heart disease and is high in calories.
And Dairy Management, which has made cheese its cause, is not a private business consultant. It is a marketing creation of the United States Department of Agriculture — the same agency at the center of a federal anti obesity drive that discourages over-consumption of some of the very foods Dairy Management is vigorously promoting.
Urged on by government warnings about saturated fat, Americans have been moving toward low-fat milk for decades, leaving a surplus of whole milk and milk fat. Yet the government, through Dairy Management, is engaged in an effort to find ways to get dairy back into Americans’ diets, primarily through cheese.

Would someone help me understand why the US government is using my tax dollars to help a private company poison US citizens with large quantities of saturated fat on really terrible pizza? It's bad enough that tobacco has been subsidized, now this? Talk about not reining in health care costs.

Ok - end rant.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

My Current Favorite Commercial

I love this. This is so funny.  Well, I don't know why the video no longer plays, but here is the link to it. 

Well, I don't know why the video no longer plays, but here is the link to it.  

Friday, November 5, 2010

First Week Back in Tucson

We've been back in Tucson for a week. So far it's been hot and really windy since returning. Thursday Jim, Kim and I did the Starr Pass trail hike. This is the horse tank, the vegetation has really grown up. You can see how windy it was from the movement of the trees.

After the hike there was lunch. We went for Sonoran hot dogs at El Guero Canelo. The Sonoran hot dog is very good; it's in a soft bun and there's bacon. What more could you ask for?

We had seen an article in Sunset Magazine about the restaurant a couple of years ago, but never got around to going down to 12th Avenue to get one. However, now we have and we can categorically recommend them as yummy. This is the back of the restaurant, it's kind of cool. Sort of a temporary, permanent structure with fans.

Here are Jim and Kim enjoying the weather.

Another gaudy Arizona sunset.

Today Kim and I drove down to Sonoita to the Callagan winery. It's an interesting part of the state. The elevation is about 4800 feet, it's very green. There are several wineries in the area. Callagan is good, they have good reds and whites.

Callagan vines with mountains background.

Kim and I got home about 4 ish, to a very odd situation. Kim's RV was wide open, mine was locked but it appeared as if Jim had been kidnapped. We could not fathom why Jim and Jim would have bolted to Home Depot in such a rush. There were tools and mats on the ground, but no sign of the men or clues as to the purpose of their departure. Then, ominously, we noticed the spatter. What could it be? It's blood. As it turns out, while working on the seal for the living room slide, a finger was caught in the mechanism. After hours in the ER, the Jims returned home. Kim's Jim will be keeping his hand elevated for several days. Medical staff reported only soft tissue damage, and the damaged finger should recover fully.

We had dinner with Kim and Jim tonight, it was a lamb recipe to die for.

Don and Jamie are back. It's good to see them!

Traffic update: Grande (which becomes Mission) south of A Mountain is a construction nightmare. If you're planning on riding A Mountain and then returning to Rincon West, you may want an alternate route to riding on Mission. It's pretty torn up.