Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Late February Whine

Greetings Earthlings!  Have you missed me?  There has been some discontent, sturm und drang, and kvetching since my last post.  I always dither about writing posts detailing my unhappiness with things and situations.  Do people want to read about it, or are the happy posts the ones that please the reader? 
This is me, last November.  That's my bicycle, Lulu, that we bought so I could get around the RV park after foot surgery.  Everything was too far away to walk, but I could ride the bike for transportation and a little exercise.

Never name your bicycles.   It's like naming the pig you're raising for food.  Lulu had to go.  We have nowhere to keep her when we're on the road, so we took her down to BICAS and donated her.  Hopefully she'll get a home where they keep her inside.  It felt bad to leave her, sort of like leaving a puppy at the pound.

Late February has been a weird weather month.  The last few days have been very windy.

There has been overcast.

Next week it is supposed to rain.  It's odd for it to be wet this time of year. 

The bicycle thefts continue.  The current theory is that people from outside of the park are providing the site numbers of targeted bikes to the perpetrators who then come in during the night with bolt cutters.  All security cables seem to be worthless against the bolt cutters.  We don't know if they've made it through U locks or flat chains.  Why don't we know that?  That would be because the office is making no attempt to collect data on the thefts.  We think 44 bikes have been taken; at an average of $1,000 per bike, those are substantial losses.  There is a fair amount of frustration with the park owner and his office manager.  They do not seem to care about this at all. 
This is our sixth winter season here.  Up until this winter, we've been content here.  I don't know what happened this year, but we're not anymore.  The denizens of the park are annoying us.  I know how awful that sounds, I do.  However, months of driving through the RV park among people who run stop signs, ride their bikes against traffic, walk out in front of cars without looking and etc., is beginning to wear on my last nerve.  We've hiked it, ridden it, blogged it and I am bored.  Next winter we have to do something different.  If you sign up for 5 months, you get a much better rate than if you're monthly, but another five straight months here will probably finish me off.  We're going to have to think mightily about this.
So that's what's happening here in the Old Pueblo.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Plane Spotting

Today has been a big plane spotting day.  This morning we saw a C-47 Skytrain and a B-25.  Almost all of the troop transport in WWII was done in the C-47.  The civilian version of the C-47 was a DC-3, a passenger plane in use during the 1930s and 1940s.  Then we saw a B-25 fly over the park.  It was a medium bomber used extensively in WWII.
Then, coming out of Costco this afternoon we saw this.   This is Fifi, the only flying B29 Super Fortress.  The B29s flew at the end of WWII and in the Korean conflict.  In 1971 Fifi was rescued from China Lake Naval Air Weapons center where she was being used as a gunnery target.  The years had not been kind to her.  The Commemorative Air Force has restored her fully, to include new custom engines.
They're all in Tucson with the CAF for the weekend. 

Since my last post, there has been the usual biking and hiking.  The desert continues to be amazingly green due to all of the rain.

Notice how good this ocotillo looks.  They're all lush and green.

In local news, the AZ legislature wants to make speeding tickets cost $15.  They want to outlaw points being used as a basis for license suspensions and they want to forbid insurance companies from raising your rates after multiple tickets.  Why don't they just get rid of all of the speed limits?  These people are just astounding to me.
That's it maties, that's all I have to report.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Snakes Are Out!

On the local news tonight they informed us that the rattle snakes are out early due to the warm temperatures.  I was thinking about that today when we were hiking - wondering if they were out.  We've seen them on the trail in the past.  They creep me out so much I can't stand it.
Today was windy and warm, just like yesterday.  We did the long route through the Tucson Mountain Park, up the big hill, and then back via the Rock Wren trail.  It was getting to be a slog towards the end because the sun was low and beaming into our eyes and onto our chests.

Who can identify this?  No?  It's a Ford Tri-Motor.  It was built during the 1920s and was one of the first planes to fly paying passengers.  It's in Tucson for the weekend.  For $70 you can go for a ride in it.  The plane had quite the history and flew for a very long time. 

Can you believe the weather in Boston?  It's just surreal to watch the news, seeing buildings collapsing under the weight of the snow on roofs.  We look out the window and see blue skies.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Previous Week in Tucson

The past week has been delightful climatologically speaking.  A big fat high pressure system established itself over the area and it was truly wonderful.  There has been much biking and hiking.  The jet boats are back at Christopher Columbus park.  It's amazing how fast they are.  Originally they were constructed with weed eater engines.

Jamie and I rode the trail up to the Rillito and then back Mountain today.  When we got to the Speedway underpass, it was roped off with crime scene tape.  There was a large police presence.

They were walking back and forth and looking into the wash.  We have no data on what happened.

Later we stopped at Starbucks for a nosh.  It was just so pleasant to be here in February.

Unfortunately,  the high will be moving off late tomorrow, followed by a "wind event" on Thursday.  After that, there will be another cut off low meandering over the south west, bringing rain. However, we're not in Boston, so it's all good.

In other news, the bicycle thefts in the park continue.  To date 40 bikes have been taken.  Our friend George lost the bike his kids gave him for Christmas, they cut two Kryptonite cables to do it.  We bought a motion detector bike alarm that is very loud.  Unfortunately, it occasionally fires off at random.  Friday we're going to reset the sensitivity level.  One of our friends has one, and has given all of the neighbors the code to turn it off if it becomes too annoying.  We've added a heavy duty hexagonal chain to our current security mash up.  We're up to 5 keys to free the bikes.  Fortunately there is not that much mountain biking around here, so we're just staying on the road bikes.

Remember Bertha?  She's the world's largest tunneling machine, who is currently broken and stuck in the dirt in Seattle.  A rescue pit has been dug to get to her, but the de-watering necessary to keep the pit from filling up is causing Seattle to sink a little.  Here is today's project update.
The Seattle Times reports that if the world's largest tunnel boring machine can't chew its way into a repair pit from where it’s stuck, workers could end up cutting a hole from within the pit to clear the machine's path.  Bertha has to drill about 20 feet through a concrete wall to reach open air and be pulled up by a crane.  The massive machine overheated and stopped in December 2013 (after traveling through 1,000 feet of dirt).
Meanwhile, utility crews in Seattle might have to tear up a street in Pioneer Square because of settling from the tunnel project.  If settling continues, the city said it might need to replace up to three blocks of a water main. That project could take at least a year and water would be turned off from time to time.
Poor Seattle, lost the Superbowl, can't dig a tunnel.

Other than this, maties, I have nothing else of interest to offer.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Sasabe and the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge

For whatever reason, no one felt like riding the bicycles today.  A road trip seemed like a good idea.  We drove down to the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge.  We ended up going to Sasabe first because we were curious about the town.  It's very sad.  This is the supermarket.  It's closed on Tuesdays.  They do have a K - 8 school (27 students) but all of the kids come from Arrivaca and surrounding areas.  There are no kids in Sasabe.

The town is looking abandoned.  One could probably buy all of it except for the post office and the Border Patrol outpost.

Sasabe is right on the border with Mexico.  It used to be a functioning town.  Apparently Sasabe, Mexico is larger.  We couldn't go over because we didn't have passsports or Mexican car insurance.  This is the border checkpoint.  We saw one car go through.

This is the wall.  It's a 10 mile stretch of border fence.

You can see it stretching out into the distance.  It's not a good thing.  Wildlife can't get through the fence.  Animals used to roam freely in this area, now they don't.  Immigrants have to walk farther to get around it.

Eventually we reached the BANWR.  We had a lovely chat with a volunteer at the visitor's center and learned many things.  During the late 1800s, thousands of cattle were run in the area which is now the refuge.  The area was over grazed with predictable results.  Then there was a drought.  Then there was a flood.  The landscape suffered.   In the the 1970s Lehmann lovegrass, a South African grass, was introduced to try to control erosion and bring back the grass lands.  That was bad, it's a non-native invasive species.  Attempts have been made to check its spread, but with limited success.  Fire is one tool that is being used, unfortunately that causes the buffel grass seeds to sprout.  Prong horns have been reintroduced to the area, as have masked bobwhites.

There is another major problem facing the refuge.  The dreaded Mesquite.  The trees have up to a 190 foot tap root.  They suck out all of the available moisture from the ground.  The grass can not compete.  Sierra Club comes in once a year and cuts some down, but they're losing the battle.  The refuge should (IMHO) consider letting the firewood guys come in and take all the trees they want.

It was an interesting drive.  The area is pretty in an austere way.  When it greens up in the spring, it should be lovely.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Seen in Tucson After the Rains

Today we rode the Santa Cruz to Rillito trail.  We saw debris on one of the ramps into the Santa Cruz.  We're wondering if the water was really that high, although I don't know how else the debris would get on the fence posts.  The highest one is about 10 feet from the river bed.  Pretty impressive!

We saw this on the trail that runs up the east side of the Santa Cruz.  It wasn't moving, and we're not sure what it was for.  It's an interesting looking machine.

Camino de la Tierra is one of the roads that crosses the Rillito River.  It's not bridged.  Water is still crossing the road.  The road is closed.  We can tell that the road is closed by the yellow "road closed" signs, which are connected by yellow caution tape.  That did not stop the mini van driver with two small kids in the van.  She made it through the water, but then bogged down in the mud and the rocks.

The nice young man driving the pick up attached a yellow strap to the mini van and pulled it back to safety.  They didn't make it all the way, the strap broke and went flying off.  She was able to back out of the mud and make a clean get away.  They had quite the audience for the whole thing.

She was lucky a tow truck was not required.  Tow trucks report these to the police.  Arizona has a Stupid Motorist Law.  It applies specifically to people who drive around road closed signs into water and require rescue. The driver can be billed for all costs associated with their rescue, and fined an additional $2,000.  Apparently Pima County budgets for water rescues, so they don't always bill the errant driver.  Every year people drive into deep water here.  Every underpass is painted with a gauge that tells you how deep the water is, and they go in there anyway.  People!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

It's February

Boy howdy we can tell it is February.  The RVs are rolling into the park like crazy.  Motel 6 along the freeway where the gem show is, has raised their room rates to $90 a day.  Most importantly, it's not raining!  We woke up this morning to dense fog, but it burned off.  The snowbirds are much happier.  The chamber of commerce in Phoenix has to be doing the Snoopy dance of joy, now that the weather improved in time for the Super Bowl.  Jim is watching the game, I am watching the commercials.  So far they're not that good, with the exception of the Budweiser puppy.  Awwwww, cuuuuuuute.

We went out to the Tucson mountains late morning.  It was just a stunning day.  All of the mountain bikers were smiling.

There was a tiny creek still running.  The dark area is water running across the rocks.  It was nice to hear.

This is what is on tap for the near future, so there should be a cessation of whining from me.