Friday, March 29, 2013

McDowell Mountain Park is in Bloom.

We're at McDowell, where the desert is lush and beautiful.  It's amazing how green it is.  This is sunset last night.

Lush, beautiful, blooming!

There are many buckhorn chollas in the park, they're massing for an epic bloom.  Unfortunately, we aren't going to be here to see it.

Mexican Poppies.

Blooming Blue Stuff.

And finally, news you can use.

It's so nice here.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Look at that sunset!  It was just spectacular tonight.

Tomorrow we are up and out, going to McDowell Mountain Regional Park for three nights.  There will be pictures of something new.  Yay!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Cactus Blossoms

Another blooming cactus in the park.  Pretty, no?

We spent another afternoon doing route planning to the nation's midsection.  I have to tell you, there is a lot of nothing in North Dakota.  There is so much nothing we are planning to overnight in a Pilot Travel Center.  Never thought I would have that thought!  We haven't traveled in the summer for several years.  It's difficult, competing with all of the vacationers. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Super Stallion at Fantasy Island

Today was really windy so we rode out at Fantasy Island.  It's usually quiet and tranquil, but not today.  This was flying over the mountain bike park.  It's a Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion.  From Wikipedia we learn the following.  The Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion is the largest and heaviest helicopter in the United States military. As the Sikorsky S-80 it was developed from the CH-53 Sea Stallion, mainly by adding a third engine, a seventh blade to the main rotor and canting the tail rotor 20 degrees. It was built by Sikorsky Aircraft for the United States Marine Corps.
It is an enormous helicopter.  Today was a training mission.  It would go over to Davis-Monthan and pick up a large heavy object.  Then it would fly a lap over the island and go put it back.

The two vertical things below the helicopter are the slings it was using to carry the load.  On their low passes they would wave at us.

Here it is going across the fence with its load.

This is the dust kicked up every time it would deposit or pick up the load.

It was really cool watching them fly.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

RV Service and a Hike

Oy!  It has been a day.  We were up at 6:30 to get the RV in early for service.  Given the degree of pain associated with getting up that early, one wonders how we tolerated getting up at 5:30 for all of those working years.  After dropping off the RV we went down to Coyote Pause for breakfast.  They have really good food, best toast in Tucson.

 The interior is eclectic.  If you're in Tucson, it's a good place to go.

After breakfast it was time for a hike.   We parked at the Sarasota trail head and headed up to the Cat Mountain trail.  There are some flowers out.  This is a Fairy Duster.

Cholla fruit from last year's bloom.

I'm not sure what these are.  They come in many colors. 

When we were heading up the Cat Mountain trail, we saw people on the other side of the bowl going up a trail we haven't been on.  It heads out toward Tucson Estates.  It's a terrible trail.  It's really rocky, bouldery and just generally unpleasant.  We are one and done on it.  This is what we saw from the ridge line where we turned around to go back.

It was enough hike.  My feet were yelling when we got back to the truck.  We saw this crested saguaro in the parking lot of the trailhead.
We picked up the RV about 3:00 and we are now reassembled.  It's good to be back in the house.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

New Upholstery and the First Cactus Bloom

Greetings.  Blogging is difficult at the moment as there is not much to write about. The high temperatures of the 90's have cooled off back into the low to mid 80's so that is good.  What is not so good is how steenking windy it is.
Here is one of our two dinette chairs.  It, like its mate, is just beat.  The other one is more beat, the fabric has been stretched to one side by people sliding in.  We got a recommendation from Anthony at Color Glo for someone to redo the chairs.  Attempts to just go buy two new ones were futile.  The chair back must be low enough to slip under the window valence, and we couldn't find a comfortable chair that would do that.  So, we're having these reupholstered.  We've requested 3 pound foam, which is what we had put in the benches in the 5th wheel booth dinette.  It was firm, but not too much so.  Anyway, the upholsterer picked them up yesterday, possibly they will return Saturday. 

We went for a short ride this morning to see how much I dislike my new shifters on my road bike.  My previous shift levers were beginning to fail.  Since they're Shimano they can't be rebuilt, only replaced.  I can't believe how expensive they are.  Anyway, the tech doing the install decided to move my levers down slightly to put my wrist in a more neutral position.  It's good to have your wrists in a neutral position, instead of bent as mine were, but it also increases how far I have to reach.  The fact that the platform on the levers is also longer increases my reach.  At this point I don't know if I'm happy or not.   The levers I had for years and liked are no longer produced.  Thank you Shimano.  It's enough to make me hoard everything I have that I like.  Oh wait, I'm already doing that with shoes and flip flops
On the way out, we saw this member of the trichocereus strigosus family in bloom.  If I ever own a house in Tucson, we will be planting many of these.  The blooms are just spectacular.


Tomorrow we're taking the RV in for an oil change and other fluids.  For some reason, fluid access is achieved through the floor of the bedroom closet.  We spent the day packing up the closet, removing tire covers and stuff like that.  It's an incredibly disruptive event.  We have to be up and out early to ensure that they finish us tomorrow.
Other than this, I have not too much to report.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Model Airplane Video

We got up early (for us) and rode out Camino del Oeste.  The model airplane people were out again at the park.  I shot another video, and this time managed to avoid pointing the camera at my feet.  So, if you click HERE, it will play.  Mute your computer if you're at work because the sound of the model airplane is very loud.

Friday, March 15, 2013


Pretty sunset, eh?

It hit 93 today.  It was a warm one!  Ken came out and finished off the punch list.  Happy we are to have that done.  It's interesting how we are running out of March and April.  Every year we think we have forever, but we don't.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Planning, a New Bike Rack and Model Airplanes

This was taken this past Sunday, back when it was chilly.  We spent a day in the RV doing travel planning for May, June and early July.  It was a long day.  Some of the places we want to go are still closed for the winter, so getting someone on the phone is difficult.  We had planned to spend two weeks in Bishop, CA, but noooo, we can not.  They are booked for Mule Days.  50,000 people will descend upon the area for mule stuff.  Since we're generally on our way to Coburg, OR, we had to find somewhere else to be for 5 days, therefore we are going to Mt. Lassen.  We've never been there, know nothing about it, but there we are going.  This is how the "planning" process works.

Now we advance to Tuesday, when we skipped over spring and went directly to really really hot.  Our mountain bike travel solution has been suboptimal.  When they are on the back of the truck and it rains, the chains rust, which is bad.  Here I am in the bed of the truck mocking up placement for four bikes.

After a couple of hours, Jim's ears were burning.  We put a wet cloth under his hat to keep him cool and shaded.

This is the final placement of the bikes.  The mountain bikes have to go forward, which is a bummer for getting the road bikes in and out, but at least they're all under cover when we're traveling.

Here is Jim drilling holes through the plywood so he knows where to put the screws for the wood blocks that position the rear wheels of the bikes.

Here I am with the hot glue positioning those wood blocks.  We learned from watching The New Yankee Workshop that hot glue is excellent for tacking items before turning them upside down.  All of the screws have to come up from the bottom of the rack.  Notice my excessive use of sunscreen and my wet scarf tied around my neck.  Yowzer it was hot.

Now the road bikes are back in their house.  There are handles on the edge of the plywood so we can pull it forward to get the bikes closer to us for removal and installation.  This is the 3rd version of this rack we've built, we are way down the curve.

Yesterday we rode.  We were heading out Camino del Oeste when I looked up and saw this.  It's a crested Saguaro.  It looks like it may be putting arms out of the crest.

We returned via the trail, stopping at Christopher Columbus park.  There were a bunch of older men flying model planes.

The man who made this B-26 is a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel fighter pilot.  He built this from scratch.  Look at the little black dot behind the propeller closest to me.  One puts a glow plug igniter in there, and it heats the glow plug filament which ignites the fuel air mixture.  They burn a mixture of methanol and castor oil.

It takes two people to launch a plane.  Both engines finally started, and the pilot had to run to the center to pick up the controller.  They're not radio controlled, they're tethered.  The other guy is restraining the plane.  For some reason the video I shot of this showed only my feet, which was unfortunate.

There it goes, heading into the sky.

Next week there will be a national fly off at the park.  It might be worth watching.

Other than this, I have zippity doo-dah all to report.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Hike up Starr Pass

It was warmer today and the sun was out.  Yay!!!!!  We went for a hike to see if I like my new hiking shoes.  I think they're not stout enough.  I may keep them for trails that are not full of volcanic debris like the ones in Tucson.  The ones I've worn for years do not appear to be produced anymore.  Very disappointing.  These are Mexican Poppies.  The wild flower bloom is not expected to be that great this year, it was nice to see a few of them out.

The trail was fairly crowded today.  We saw several mountain bikers and four horse back riders.

Pink fairy duster plants.

A branch off the trail that we have not noticed before today.  Next time we will go see where it goes.

So, after this past weekend which was cold and wet, the weather heads are forecasting highs in the 90s for next weekend.  Could we please just have spring?  

Friday, March 8, 2013

Unpleasant Weather in the Old Pueblo

I took this yesterday, when the sun was out, the weather was warm and life was good.

Today has been so unpleasant.  We've had sustained wind speeds of 25 mph, gusting to 35.  At one point it was raining sideways.  Jim and I spent quite some time thinking about what to do this summer.  We evaluated and discarded several routes, and I think we're zeroing in on the final routing.  We're constrained by having to spend the third week of April in Phoenix, 10 days or so of repair/body work in Coburg, OR (as well as a desire not to be in OR in May) and wanting to be in Bend later in June than we have been in the past.  Eventually we had to leave the RV because I was getting sea sick from the RV moving side to side.  See the mat lifting off the patio next to the RV?  Wind.

This was taken on the way to Costco.  It's always pretty when the sun hits buildings and trees against a dark sky.

This is Chuck, the weather guy.  His station has purchased a new graphics package, now he gets to stand on the 3D radar report.  See the yellow and orange wall behind him?  That's a wall of thunder storms that went through Phoenix today.

We had a respectable rainbow late this afternoon. The palm fronds are bending in the wind.

So, after a windy/rainy day, followed by tomorrow which will be cold, it's supposed to be in the 90s by next weekend.  

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fantasy Island and a TED Talk

We've been having warm weather, finally.  Yesterday we did the trail loop up to the Rillito River, back via Mountain, and then coffee at Starbucks.  Don and Jamie rode with us, and it was a spectacular afternoon with friends and sunshine.
Today we went out to Fantasy Island and rode the south end of the park.  Look at how green the ground is.  Since the recent rains, the desert is covered in short green grass.  Soon it will turn brown and die.

The massive pile of dirt continues to grow.  We were somewhat annoyed to discover that they're now dumping dirt on the trail.  We were able to walk through the dirt back onto the trail, but at this rate, they're going to close off access to Fire Loop.

Houghton Road is being significantly widened.  This is a new overpass.  It's significantly close to the Fire Loop trail as well.  I am really hoping they don't totally ruin a great riding location

When we got home, this is what we saw behind us.  Look how close the Kenworth is to the the Montana's slide.  I do not understand why people use these vehicles to tow a 5th wheel.  It's not that big of a coach!  This is overkill of the first water.  We are sad that we missed watching him park the rig and the tow vehicle.

Changing subjects now; are you familiar with TED talks?  They publish videos discussing a wide range of topics that are worth knowing about.  The Field Lab has one posted on his blog about desertification and how to stop it.  The gentleman speaking is really interesting.  The slides he presented on how much of the earth is turning into desert are frightening.  I don't know how to imbed the youtube, but here is the link.  It's 22 minutes, and it's very interesting.  It's unlikely that the Bureau of Land Management will ever adopt his ideas about how to rehabilitate dying grass lands, but it's absolutely worth watching.
Tomorrow the next storm from the GPNW is due to arrive.  Rain is predicted for Friday and Saturday, as well as really cold weather.  Saturday's high is supposed to be in the 40's.  WTH?  It's MARCH!!!!!