Friday, December 26, 2014

Back to the Tortolitas

Christmas Day we went back up to the Tortolitas.  This time we did the Lower Javelina trail.  It's a very nice loop.  It has some up down, but is not as steep as Upper Javelina.  It was a very enjoyable walk.  We love that area, it is so pretty and quiet.  It makes us feel very peaceful when we're out there.

It's a long drive, but hey, it was Christmas!
Our timing was perfect.  When we arrived at the parking lot the clouds thinned out and it warmed up a little.  Then, during the last five minutes returning to the truck, the clouds rolled back in, the wind came up and the temperature dropped precipitously.  Later it rained a fair amount.  We're not liking this winter season as much as last year's.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day

Merry Christmas, Earthlings! 

Where ever you are, where ever you're going - Jim and I wish you all the best of the day.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Hike in the Tortolitas and Christmas Shopping

Yesterday we set out with the intention to hike from the Camino del Cerro trail head.  It was a Sunday, but we thought it would be ok since they'd all be shopping.  Right?  Hah! Double HAH HAH HAH!  The parking lot only has about 20 spaces and they were all full. The people who live around the parking lot have erected no parking signs everywhere.  They are truly the neighborhood of no.
Since we were all dressed up with nowhere to go, we decided to make the drive to a hike in the Tortolita Mountains.  One reaches the parking lot for this trail system by driving through the gates of the Ritz Carlton and asking the guard working there where one should park.  It's a huge parking lot, with a rest room.  Very civilized!  Unfortunately it's a 25 mile drive from the RV.
It's a gorgeous hike.  After a short flat walk on Wild Burro Trail, we connected with the Upper Javelina Trail.  The Javelina is a fun trail.  Parts of it are packed sand, and parts of it are boulders.  It takes you into the Wild Burro Canyon which is very pretty.

Eventually the trail goes up to a ridge line.  We went back via the spur trail to the resort.  It's a shorter way back, but the descent is the same.  There were a lot of 3 foot step downs.

Isn't this a pretty cactus?  They're all full of water this winter.

It was also our anniversary - 29 years.  We had planned to go out to dinner to mark the occasion, but by the time we got down from the hike, we were both sort of whooped.  We'll go later when our legs aren't so tired.

Today we decided there must be Christmas shopping.  We've been putting it off, but we decided that if there was nothing at all to open on Christmas morning, that we would be sad and pitiful.  It's hard buying presents for each other, we lack for nothing, and the RV is full.  Nothing can come in unless something goes out.   REI saved us, they have socks on sale.  Who doesn't have socks that need replacing?  We left the mall at noon, and it was a good thing.  Traffic volumes were increasing exponentially.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Back to Hidden Trail

The rain is gone, but it's still pretty chilly.  We have a very cold air mass.  Today we went up the Hidden Trail.  We park at the Marriott Resort when we start there.  This is a drainage ditch under the road which has become a wetland after all the rain.  Look bottom left, do you see them?

Here they are.  These are mule deer.  The resort has large red and white signs forbidding hunting on their property, so these guys are safe from the hunters.  December and January are bow hunting season in the Tucson Mountain Park.  I am not morally opposed to hunting, without it we would be up to our navels in deer.  However, every year I really question the wisdom of allowing hunting in a park full of hikers and mountain bikers.  Hopefully the bow hunters have good aim and don't puncture a hiker.

It was a beautiful day in the desert.

These are the remains of the Bowen Homestead.  The wretched vandals are destroying the right most fireplace.  I think we should bring back the Code of Hammurabi when dealing with these little monsters.

In the category of  "it's always something" the Fantastic vent in the bathroom has started turning itself off and on at random.  Jim got up at 1:30 this morning and it was running.  Would it be asking too much to get through a winter without something breaking? We have a manual work around, but it's sort of a pain to keep raising and lowering that thing with the manual crank. 
Other than a few pictures and whining about a vent fan, this is all I have, maties.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Saga of Seattle's Deep Bore Tunnel

In 2001 the Nisqually Earthquake hit Seattle.  Our house in West Seattle sustained some damage.  There was enough movement to slosh the water out of the upstairs toilet and send a couple of dressers to the floor.  The brick chimney did not fall down so we were very happy about that.
The worst part of the earthquake was the traffic.  The Alaskan Way Viaduct is a double decker elevated highway built in the 1950s.  It settled ONE QUARTER OF AN INCH and was closed for observation and stabilization.  While the Viaduct was closed, we could not leave West Seattle.  Traffic was totally gridlocked.  The 100,000 cars a day that used the viaduct were shunted to I5, thus making it impossible for traffic to exit the West Seattle Bridge, thus backing traffic up into the neighborhoods.
Politicians and business leaders decided that SOMETHING MUST BE DONE.  There were several options on the table; rebuild the viaduct, tear down the viaduct and build surface streets, or dig a tunnel for a new highway.  As I recall, the tunnel was voted down twice, but that was the option that was chosen.  This is a state highway, yet the citizens of Seattle were voting on it.  Eventually the state chose the tunnel.  The question of who will pay for the inevitable cost over runs is unanswered, they may be billed to the citizens of Seattle.
The project requires the use of the largest deep bore tunneling machine ever built in the history of the world to dig a two mile tunnel.  This would be a tunnel in a geologically unstable area, through fill.

What could go wrong?
  • The boring machine traveled 1,000 feet and seized.  
  • A "rescue" pit had to be dug to get to the drill.
  • Mass quantities of water have to be pumped from the pit being dug to rescue the drill. 
  • Removal of that much water is causing surrounding brick buildings to sink; foundations and walls are cracking.
  • The "de-watering" has caused the Alaskan Way Viaduct to settle TWO INCHES.  TWO!!!!  And yet, the the contractor, the Washington State Department of Transportation, and the Seattle City Council assure us that all is well.
As former Seattle citizens we follow the trials of Bertha (the affectionate name for the drilling machine) with keen interest.  There are several good articles in the independent press on the subject.  This article hits the high points of how we got to the crash site. It's worth reading if you're interested in civic dumbness.  This article is also interesting.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Baby it's Cold Outside

We're cold!  Yes, I know that where ever you are it's colder than here, but we're cold.  It did rain Saturday.  Sunday was too cold to ride, so we hiked.  It was a glorious (albeit cold) day.  We did both sides of Hidden Trail, so we were able to get a lot of up down up down.  It's really pretty out there, especially after a rain.

Today we rode out towards Anklam and then down Camino de Oeste.  We stopped at Christopher Columbus park for a nosh.  I love that ride, there is a long sweeping downhill that is just a hoot.

This is a fishing lake at Christopher Columbus park.  Notice the fisher guy on the left and the big white bird on the right.  Fisher dude had just walked briskly over to his pole right in front of the bird who just stood there looking at him.  Usually birds won't tolerate people.  He just stood there looking at the fisher guy.  We wondered if fisher guy had been feeding the big white bird bait, or tiny fish.

So it looks like we're going to be having a cold wet December.  After the perfection of last winter, I am feeling very aggrieved about this. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Another Good Sunset

We're getting clouds from the giant storms that hit the GPNW and California.  They make for good sunsets.  Looks like we'll also have rain tomorrow.  It's kind of a bummer because it's the 4th Avenue Street Fair.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Fantasy Island

We went out to Fantasy Island today.  The trails have undergone some remodeling from all the rain last September.  It's important to be paying close attention when riding because the channels of rubble have moved within the single track.
We had pretty cool skies today.

When we left the RV park this was in the middle of our intersection.  They're digging a giant hole in the road.

Shortly after arriving at the parking lot of Fantasy Island, we were hailed by a man walking his bicycle up the road.  His chain had broken and he was hoping we had a chain tool.  We did!  We've been carrying it around in the Camelbak for four years and have never used it.  It was good that we had it.  He had a long ride ahead of him. 

The bridge is still there, and still looks to be sturdy.  There is one loose board but that's all.  The exit has more rubble in it than last year.

While we were looking at the bridge, Jim spotted a fake rock in the brush, with a sword stuck in it.  The mountain bikers brought Excalibur to the desert.  Jim, being pure of heart, was able to pull out the sword with little effort.

When we got home, this is what we saw. There is a big black and red thing being put into the hole.  I have no idea what that is.  Water? Electrical?  Who knows.

There is a huge construction project on Valencia, east of I19 and almost to Rita Ranch.  If you're planning on riding your bike there, think again.  One lane has been dug up, and there are multiple lane shifts on the existing road.  There is zero shoulder anymore, so riding there is going be life threatening.
It's possible that it will rain here this weekend after a windy Friday.  Given what's happening in the GPNW (monster storms on the way) it's not that surprising that we'll be brushed by low pressure.  It's still better here, than there.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Return to Hugh Norris

It was just about two years ago that we first hiked the Hugh Norris trail.  Apparently we really did not like it, since we haven't been back since.  It's a gorgeous beautiful hike.  The down side to it is the stairs.  Someone went to great effort and expense to construct about a mile's worth of stairs.  They're beautifully done, but they are hard on the knees, especially the tall ones when you're coming back down.

This is about 2.5 miles into the hike, this is where we stopped today.  It was getting late so we decided we'd do an hour out and turn around.  It was enough.  Those stairs!

This part of the Tucson Mountain park is really pretty.  It's definitely the glamour side of the mountains.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hiking, Biking and the Cascadia Subduction Zone

Greetings Earthlings!  How goes it in your respective climates?  The talking weatherheads are muttering about rain tomorrow.  We'll see.  It would be good if it happened, it's been awhile since the spring wild flower bloom has been any good.  December rains are required for the wild flowers to bloom.  The steenking yellow trees bloom no matter what.
We've been hiking and biking.  Here is a saguaro that bit the dust over the summer.  I hate it when they fall down.  It's like seeing the giants of the desert being felled.

There are still butterflies in the area.  We walked by this bush and startled a bunch of them.  There were also blue and yellow ones flying around.  This guy is the only one who sat still long enough for a picture.

Today was the first ride up Gates Pass.  I did better this year than last.  I'm still having to use my easiest gear, but I did not stop at all on the climb.  I'm declaring victory.

In other news, this is interesting, especially if you live on the west coast.  This is from an article on  A joint team of Canadian and Japanese researchers have been dropping listening devices around the subduction zone.  It's very quiet.  There should be grinding and popping of the two tectonic plates rubbing against each other, but there's not.  The fear is that the plates are locked, and when they do pop, will result in an earthquake of magnitude 9.  This may result in new water front property being formed. 

Other that this paltry offering maties, I have nothing else to report.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Rillito Farmer's Market

We rode up to the Rillito Farmer's Market this morning.  First we had a nosh at a Starbucks on River.  It was a very pleasant nosh.  There is outdoor seating on fake grass.  We were able to get a table with enough chairs so it was good.
Then it was on to the farmer's market.

It was somewhat underwhelming.  There were three sustainable growers of meat there but the vegetable selection was not great.  Jamie reports that the Thursday market in south Tucson is way better for vegetables.
However, there was Emu oil, for your squeaking emus.

Sprouts of many sorts.

I love Christmas cacti.

We did encounter Sven the knife sharpener.  He was sort of a pain in the butt to talk to, what with his ear plugs in and the fact that he wouldn't stop reading his book.  We were trying to determine where he would be next Saturday and it was like pulling teeth to get the information out of him.  Some people maybe should not deal with the public.

It was a beautiful, albeit windy, day in the Old Pueblo.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!  We are grateful for the fact that the bike path between Ajo and Silverbell is finally being paved.  This is the Silverbell end and there is pavement there.  Yay!  This section of trail will connect with the trail that runs up behind the RV park.  The official opening will not be until May, apparently they have 10,00 trees that need to be planted in the park.  But as soon as the paving is done, we can ride it on weekends.

This is the Santa Cruz river, which is still being regraded.  Huge piles are dirt are being pushed hither and yon.  They need a web site so that the citizens can understand what is being done.

Speaking of mysterious projects.  We saw this concrete truck in the river a week or so ago.  They're pouring concrete into a round form around a very large man hole cover, and then around the form.  Don was out the other day when they were working on it and asked what it was for.  This is the low point of the entire water system in Tucson.  If work needs to be done in the water mains, the work crews can enter here and go fix what needs to be fixed.  As of today, they've covered the whole thing with dirt.

We did a ride with Don and Jamie today.  It was good, it was a new ride for us.  We went up the trail, and rode east on Orange Grove.  As many times as we have driven Orange Grove, I have never noticed how uphill it is.  After surmounting Orange Grove, we were rewarded with the descent on Campbell.  Starbucks at the UofA Main Gate was closed today; bad for us, good for them.  By the time we arrived home, the wind was up.

Later we went out to dinner with Don and Jamie at Sher e Punjab.  I love this restaurant.  In keeping with the tradition of Thanksgiving, we ate too much until we could not breathe.  Here are Don and Jamie on their side of the table when they could still breathe.

Tomorrow another ride will be required to work off the damage of dinner.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Remove and Replace of the Appliance and Other Stuff

Oy!  Yesterday was a day!  A day and a half kind of day.  As you recall, the over the range microwave/convection oven finally died and stayed dead.  If we so much as plugged it in, it flipped the breaker, immediately.  We ordered a new one from Home Depot (free shipping).  Yesterday we took the bus and the appliance to Premier Motorcoach Services. After our last experience with them, we swore hell would freeze over before we went back.  Our issue with them was shop loading.  We had about 3 days of work which took them eight days.  They would request the RV to be on site at 8:30, and at 11:00 we would drive by and see it hadn't been moved into the shop.  Over all, the work was OK, but their inefficiency totally soured us on them.  However, we knew that they could install the appliance as they had done so before.
After the broken appliance was removed, it was discovered that the back of a cabinet over the microwave prevented the use of the nut set.  That's the silver circle at the back of the microwave. So they drilled through the bottom of the cabinet with a self tapping screw. That's not the way it should have been done.  Erik, the owner, was fairly upset with this.

The back of the cabinet had to be removed but was not going easily.  Here they are using a circular saw to try to make a portal to see how the wood was attached.

Now they are using a small reciprocating saw to try to remove the back of the cabinet.

That's part of the slide behind the cabinet back.  That wood piece is 1/2 inch plywood that was stapled every half inch all the way around.  Thus insuring that it would be difficult to remove, and that no present or future microwaves could be properly installed.  What the heck was Beaver thinking?

We had to take a little time out to go appreciate some nature.  We spent the day in the bus, so our presence would be a reminder that we're full timers, and this task really needed to be completed in one day.  I think if you're not around, it's easy to push your work to the back of the line.  It is, however, incredibly stressful watching them brute force part of your home out.

Eventually holes for the nut set were drilled in the proper place (for the first time in the life of the bus), the proper mounting brackets were used and the thing was installed.  It weighs 72 pounds and was just a bear to get in there.

The bottom set of screws were also a bear. 

There has been a total sea change at Premier.  Everyone there is new, except for the owners.  I'm more favorably inclined towards them these days.  I will say they do one of the best TV installs I've ever seen. 

To make things even better, the ice maker froze up (see what I did there?) while we were at Premier.  Upon arriving at home, we had to defrost the freezer, including the ice bergs that were stuck in the icemaker.
And then, and then, the breaker for the circuit that runs the laptops, phone chargers, wifi modem, TV, satellite receiver and satellite antenna started flipping. If there is anything that pushes me over the edge, it is random electronic weirdness because I'm helpless in the face of electronics that aren't working.  Using the random permutation theory of debugging, we removed the easiest component to change out - the power strip.  We've had it forever, and perhaps it was the problem.  So far the breaker is not popping, so one hopes we have solved the problem.

So that was our day in the glamorous lifestyle that is full time RVing in a Class A.