Saturday, April 28, 2018

The View From the Driveway

This is what we see, standing in the driveway.  That brown mushroom-y looking object far away is a water tank.  If I had Photoshop I could remove it.  The afternoons are almost like monsoon.  We’re getting big puffy clouds and the humidity goes up – to a whopping 15%.  That is our palm tree.


Tomorrow we are driving to Tempe to go to Ikea.  We were perfectly willing to pay shipping to have the items trucked down here, but the first one is not available online.  I don’t understand why not.  I have 40 photo albums that need to be unboxed.  There are also two boxes of books that need a home.  Then we will have the kitchen floor clear, which will be nice.

The home for the photo albums. 


Short book case.  We used to have many books, but no more.  We did keep a few, but from here on out, we’re electronic.


Progress is being made, albeit very slowly.

The Process of Moving In

Still no house pictures…. sorry.  Everything takes longer than I think it should.  Truthfully, I’m a little overwhelmed by the space and by the amount of stuff we still own.  Back in the day I collected; pre-WWII Noritake china, artist-made teddy bears, Staffordshire ceramic flowers, stuff in general.  We had the space, I had a huge curio cabinet and it was fun.  I think when we left I had an idea that there would be another curio cabinet, but that’s not happening.  Deseret Industries is getting a large box of items. 

Based on Nina’s review of rental carpet cleaners, we rented a Bissell from Lowes.  It was a good choice.  Being able to clean backwards and forwards was a very big deal.  The Bissell does a good job of water extraction, the carpets were not left wet.  The cleaners are very noisy and heavy.  It was good to do the carpets before the furniture arrived.


We don’t get furniture until May 3. The first couch we ordered is too big.  Our original plan for the living room is not working for me.  Modifications must be made, it’s a process.  Fortunately we are still living in the RV so the lack of anywhere to sit is not that big of deal at the moment.

It’s just weird being in a house again.  Jim is not always where I can see him.  The nightstands in the bedroom look funny to me.  How close to the bed are they supposed to go?  I’ve lost my house muscle memory. 

This is a quail in the front yard.  We get a lot of birds and lizards in the front yard.  No rattle snakes yet, or gila monsters.


Prickly pear with an unusual color blossom.


Also in the front yard.


It has been pretty hot, earlier than usual.  Tomorrow it breaks and goes back into the 80’s. Since we have been in an air conditioned house, it hasn’t been too bad.  I had forgotten how quiet a/c can be when it’s not sitting on the roof of your RV.

This is a dust devil.  It was an active one and lasted longer than they usually do.


Time to move out!  Carry on.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

We Have Returned to Tucson

This is what passed for dinner last night.  We had a primo parking place, wherein we backed in to a shrub.  Backing up to walls and bushes makes it harder for people to steal anything out of the back of the truck.  So anyway, we walked over to Rudy’s BBQ.  They had gas pumps out in front! You order at the counter, get sides out of the refrigerator and then they give you a bag of white bread.  Their food would have been OK except for the sodium content.  Fortunately they post their sodium counts on the web and we knew what to avoid.


This is the very first stretch of New Mexico.  There were a number of stock yards just across the border from Texas.


The Bowlin company owns a bunch of road side attractions.  These signs were for Akela Flats – they sell worthless crap from China, but they did have a well placed restroom.  Their most famous attraction is The Thing.


The yuccas in New Mexico were large and multi armed.  For such an unattractive plant, they do put out an amazing flower spike.


NM has its own austere beauty.


When you see these rocks in Arizona, the drive is almost over.


Two things struck me on this trip.  The first is the incredible number of hotels along the freeway.  They are everywhere.  One has to wonder how they fill enough rooms to make money.  They appear in clots along the freeway.  Unfortunately, they do not appear with any place decent to eat.

My second observation is the continuing decline in restaurant food.  We had one decent meal at a Holiday Inn.  I had a salad with steak on it, and Jim had one with chicken.  They were actually good.  The rest of the time we felt like we were being poisoned.  It’s like people have forgotten what food is supposed to taste like.  The amount of fat and salt is just horrendous.  It’s probably not fair to expect much along a freeway, but it seems worse than our last continental crossing.

We’re here.  We close on Tuesday, unload the truck on Wednesday.  I’m going to be very happy when this is over.

Friday, April 20, 2018

El Paso West, Texas

Oy!  It was like driving through the end of days today.  When we left Abilene the wind was up into the mid 20s.  For the first few hours it was a complete cross wind, pushing on the side of the truck.  The noise is just astonishing.

Notice the ripple on the swimming pool – wind driven.


There is still a lot of oil extraction along I10.  Midland and Odessa were on the route.  Those are two of the worst looking places I have ever seen.  They weren’t helped by the blowing dust coming off the land that has been scraped of vegetation. 


It’s always windy there.  There are many wind turbines as well as the oil extraction.  Interestingly enough we saw that gas is still being burned off at the wells.  I thought the industry had quit doing that and was capturing gas, but I guess not.


This looks like a barn find.  Jim thinks it’s a Plymouth.  There was another one on a trailer following it.  We were surprised to see that it’s actually running. 


Some of the dust.  Look up the road where it gets white.  Dust.  It was just horrible. 


Not to diss someone else’s state, but I have to say that the stretch from Abilene to the border is one of the most unattractive places we have ever driven across.  El Paso is engaged in building highways at a rapid rate.  The existing highways are bordered by jersey barriers and the lanes are really narrow.  I’m very happy we did not have the RV today, it would have been bad.  We are actually staying in El Paso West, which is a separate city from El Paso.  It’s a sprawl from the original city.

Tomorrow we will reach Tucson.  I’m looking forward to eating at home!  By and large, restaurant food has really deteriorated into over salted, over fatted glop.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Abilene, Texas

It is just unbelievable how big Texas is.  Fortunately the roads are good.  If we had to endure the Louisiana roads for these distances there would be trouble.  We drove 464 miles on I20 today.  It was enough!  We’re going to do it again tomorrow.  We need to make El Paso.  After leaving Midland there is nothing out there.  Midland is not far enough, so El Paso it is.

There are many wild flowers along I20.  There were tons on Blue Bonnets around Dallas, but none of my pictures turned out.  Here are some nice yellow flowers.


This was somewhere in Texas.  I have nothing to say about this.


There were also many pink flowers.  I have no idea what they are.


It was a long day.  We did find dinner within walking distance, so that was good.  I just discovered I left a pair of shorts in the hotel room we had last night, so that was bad. 

Tomorrow El Paso!  Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

We Are in Louisiana

Oy!  It has been a couple of days!  Yesterday the storage unit was emptied.  The two guys we hired to load my incredibly heavy furniture could have not been nicer and more professional.  I screwed up and got too long of a truck, but what the hey!  It’s not as bad to park as I thought it would be, so it’s all good.

They finished loading the truck at 10:30, so we decided to launch.  The original plan was to go Wednesday morning, but we had time, so we thought we’d get Atlanta behind us.  I can not tell you how terrible the traffic is in Atlanta.  It’s life destroying, soul sucking traffic.  If I had to live there I would kill myself.  It took 90 minutes to transit the city.


The Atlanta skyline.


We stayed in Lithia Springs which is about 20 miles away from Atlanta.  When we left in the morning, the northbound traffic was already backed up into the city.  It reminds me of San Diego.
When we parked at the hotel, Jim backed the truck around a corner and then into two parking places.  There were a couple of HVAC guys standing by their truck looking at us.  One of them was laughing at me as I gave my customary directions to Jim of “butt left”, “butt right”.  Then the other guy asked me which of the two parking places we were going to put the truck in. I told them we were taking both of them.  Later Jim got a compliment on his backing from one of the guys, and Jim informed them that after backing a 41 foot motorhome, this truck was easy.  They were funny, they hate Atlanta.

Here they are, siting in the truck, drinking beer.


Today we had planned to stay in Vicksburg.  Every single room in the city was booked.  ALL OF THEM due to a corporate conference.  For the life of me I don’t know why anyone would do a conference in Vicksburg.  So there was another 60 miles to get to Monroe, LA.  We got the last room in this hotel. WTH?!?!?! 

Tomorrow we have to transit Dallas.  How long that takes will decide how much further west we can go.  A large rainstorm is on its way to Dallas, so hopefully we can miss most of that.  Other than that, things are moving along.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Day Two on the Road to Hell

Day One, which was flying to North Carolina, went into the hand basket Friday night   We went out for a really expensive, really terrible dinner.  The phone rang when we got back to the airport hotel.  It was American Airlines calling, telling us our flights had been cancelled, AND that we would instead be in coach, AND that we would have really terrible seat assignments. When we booked our flight we had a really good route.  Hop skip and a jump to Phoenix, and then a non-stop to Charlotte.  It was also first class.  We called American and at least the agent moved us to aisle seats next to each other.  The nice lady on the phone also told us that we hadn’t really had First Class tickets, we’d had an “upfare.”  Upfare is defined as paying more for a ticket and sitting in the first class cabin.  Huh?  Apparently we should not expect a refund of the difference between coach and the upfare we paid.

Anyway, we ended up flying from Tucson to Dallas Fort Worth.  Once in DFW, we went half running down the concourse so we wouldn’t miss our flight.  We needn’t have bothered.  The plane was in a hangar at the airport – not on the gate.  An hour and a half later the plane finally arrived.  It was a very long day.  The pilot kept the power on all the way from DFW to Charlotte, and did make up a little time.  We picked up our rental car and got to the hotel in Fort Mill before it was pitch dark.  Fortunately pizza was available nearby.

This morning we went out to drive to the storage unit.  The car battery was so dead that the remote could not open the door locks.  They sent someone out to jump start it, and we took it back to the airport for a better car.  And no we did not leave the lights on! 

Eventually we did make it to the storage room.  Our plans to empty out the drawers in the dresser and the hi-boy have been thwarted by the fact that they’re in the back left corner of the storage unit and we can’t get to them.  There is an un-moveable piece of furniture between us and them. 


Notice the giant storage rack against the wall.  We really packed this baby to the gills.  I guess Tuesday morning we’ll chuck whatever is left in the drawers into a big box and call it good.  I’m somewhat shocked at how much stuff is in there!


Later it rained – a lot.  Then the wind picked up – a lot.


As we were driving through Gold Hill we kept hearing this noise outside.  We couldn’t figure out what the sound was.  As it turned out it was a tornado warning.  Tornado!  What’s next – a plague of locusts?


I had forgotten how much I do not like this part of the country.  We remember now.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Windy and Leaving

Well, the weather weasels got the forecast right.  The wind started up at about 8 this morning and has steadily built all day.  The RV, which has air bags instead of jacks, has been very active today.  We’ve had a couple of very impressive dust devils move through the park.  Since it is so steenking windy, we can not open the roof fans to pull hot air off of the ceiling, which is kind of a bummer.  We also can not leave the window awning on the west side out.

A trip to Lowe’s for more insulation was in order.  We bought another roll of Reflectix to cover the west windows and inside of one of the cabinets.  It was good to do that, while we’re gone the window awning has to be in and it will be warm.


Hopefully this will keep the pasta and oatmeal from cooking off in our absence.

Look at this beautiful restoration of a 1961 Impala Super Sport.  It’s just perfect.  We saw it a couple of days ago and were really impressed with the work that went in to it.




Tomorrow is our last day here.  Saturday we’re flying to Charlottesville, NC.  We’ll rent a car, go the the storage room and determine how much stuff requires packing.  Old photos indicate that much of my quilting fabric stash was used as dust covers.  Hopefully I was intelligent enough to keep my fabric boxes.  I do know there is a fair amount of stuff in furniture drawers that will need to come out and be packed.  Given that it’s been ten years since I saw any of it, I have zero memory of how much loose stuff there is.

The worst part of this trip is going to be food.  Freeway hotels have abandoned the idea of restaurants.  They serve a miserable breakfast, but the days of going down for dinner are over.  Room service is also a thing of the past.  Given that we are going to be driving a 20 foot U-Haul truck, pulling in to a parking lot for chow will be hard.  Yesterday we spent several hours on the internet looking at satellite photos of hotel parking lots and looking for restaurants we can walk to.  I think there may be pizza delivery in Abilene. 

Other than this commentary about flying east and driving west, I have really nothing interesting to report. Here is a picture of a dead tree next to the bike trail.


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Another Day, Another Rattler

We were up and out at 8:15 this morning.  It was a good start, but we need to do a little better.  This is why.


April is weird.  There are a lot of temperature swings and a lot of wind.  Quite often May can be almost pleasant, except when it’s not.  I keep wondering if we were crazy to buy a house here, but if not here, then where?  If we hate it, we’ll sell it.  No decision is ever final with me.

We saw yet another rattle snake on the trail this morning.  We also saw four cyclists blocking the entire trail so they could look at it.  They came close to taking out two fast riders with their sudden stop on the trail and then whirling around to go back to the snake.  That’s really terrible behavior on a fairly heavily used trail.  We’ve reached the point of being all blase and stuff about snakes.  Not!

People are so interesting.  The afternoon winds have been really strong for about a week.  There’s been a lot of sand, dust and plastic grocery bags flying through the air.  So we were very surprised to see mobile painters mask off this bus for painting outside.  Who does that?


It seems like a paint booth would be better suited for this purpose. 


My favorite church.  Doesn’t it look like something you would see in Greece?  I love the white against the blue sky.


I scraped this off of Twitter.  The changes in the costs of stuff are just amazing.  The level of housing increase surprises me, I would have though it would be higher, coming from Seattle where they have seen 18% increases.


Tomorrow we have to get the luggage out from under the bus and determine if we have any luggage tags.  I can not believe the cost of luggage tags at Target.  Actually, we can’t believe the cost of just about everything, since we haven’t really bought anything except shoes, boots and food for ten years.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Miscellaneous Stuff in Tucson

We were at Walmart the other day and saw this Range Rover towing a small travel trailer.  The trailer did not have air conditioning.  Note the diamond plate on the hood of the car and the roof rack.  It’s so you can walk on the hood of the vehicle and the roof rack. The driver is from Germany – he’s a police officer.  Once in their career they’re allowed to take off a year without pay.  He shipped the vehicle and the trailer to the US.  Customs gave him some static at the entry port because they felt that his engine was too polluting, but they let him pass.  He’s spending six months in the US and then six months in Canada.  Then he’ll go back to work.

picture 1

Allergy season is upon us in the Old Pueblo.  We’ve made it through round one with the trees that have the yellow balls. 


Now we’re in the blooming Palo Verde stage.  There’s one more bloom after that, and then the steeenking yellow tree bloom will be done.  We also have the blooming yellow bushes, I’m not sure when they quit.  That’s pollen on the ground in a parking lot.

picture 2

The trichocereus  in the park are beginning their bloom.  They are, as always, just lovely.


Hedgehog cactus.


Yesterday we had the carpets cleaned.  The guy used more fluid than the last time he was here.  It took a long time to dry.  Marco is coming Saturday to wash and wax the bus.  It’s really dirty.  Given the amount of wind blown dust around here, nothing stays clean.


We rode up the Santa Cruz trail this morning.  This is one thing we saw.  It’s a Western Diamondback Rattler.  He was cold and not moving at all, so we rode around him and wished him a good day.


Construction of the Caterpillar regional HQ is proceeding.  You can see the building off to the right.  I’m really curious as to what they are going to do with all of the desert they have excavated and scraped.  If you look to the left of the white truck, you can see a layer of the old land fill they are digging up.  All of that debris is being moved to another land fill.


We stopped at the Sweetwater Wetlands to see how the grasses are recovering from the annual burning.  They set them on fire to control mosquitoes.  It really messes with air quality when they do that.  The grass looks better, but it’s still a little crispy.  It’s a pretty area.  The city originally wanted to close the park, but fortunately they did not.  The birders would have been really upset to lose it.  Now they keep water in the basin, and the ducks fly in.  It’s part of the water reclamation system, which is very extensive in the city.


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

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Marking Time in the Old Pueblo

Late this afternoon I walked the trash over to the dumpster.  Coming back down our street, all I could hear was the droning of air conditioners.  It has warmed up quite a bit.  We’re doing a better job of getting up and out early while it’s still cool. 

We hiked the trail that goes around Little Cat Mountain this morning.  There were high thin clouds which was nice. There was a flower by the side of the trail.


Yesterday we rode up the trail.  It was our second day in a row riding, and my left shoulder and neck were letting me know they aren’t happy with back to back riding.  It’s always a struggle to get the shoulders whipped in to shape after time off the bike.  Anyway, on the way back we saw a bunch of people in the Santa Cruz River.  Being the nosy parker that I am I hollered down and asked them what they were doing.  They were on an eight hour walk around Tucson.  I do hope they were keeping their eyes out for rattlesnakes.  They’re out.


We’re in wait state – we have two weeks before heading to the east, and there is really nothing we can be doing between now and then. 


One of our soon to be neighbors gave us some sage advice about snakes in the yard.  Trim your bushes up high off the ground so you can see what’s under them.  Never put your hands or feet anywhere you can’t see clearly.  Good life advice!