Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Golden Gate Trail

Tuesday we hiked up the trail from our house that goes up to a saddle where you can look across the scenery.  Jim wanted to see where the Golden Gate trail went.  It branches off from the saddle. We were there, where the pin is. 

Looking at the map, notice where the yellow trail (Yetman) intersects with the burgundy trail (Sarasota).  That's the general area we're scouting trails to from the house.  If that sentence makes no sense, see the previous post.  It's interesting how many trails are not on this map.  Anyway, we could see the intersection as we continued up on the trail to the saddle.

The brittle bush is in bloom.  Those are the yellow flowers.  It's everywhere.

Still on the Golden Gate Trail.  Looking down you can see the road that goes over Gates Pass.  We used to ride that on our bikes.  It's really steep, and one must have faith that the cars you're holding up won't kill you.

There is the parking lot for the Yetman trail head.  It's not very big, and has been made even smaller by an RV parked there.  They're supposed to use the pullouts down the hill.  Bad RV!  After a little longer, we turned around.  I think next time we're going to park down there and come up to the Golden Gate trail from there.  It's a lot closer than the house.  Rumor has it that the trail goes down to a pull out, but we'll have to investigate that further.

Today we parked at the ball fields and rode north.  We pulled in to St. Phillip's Plaza to look for the Pedego electric bike rental store.  We couldn't find it, maybe next time.  They're right off the Rillito trail, and I'll bet they're renting them to people who are going to take them out on the trail.  Motors are forbidden on the trail, new signs are up on the subject.

It's a pretty shopping area.  That building houses a modern Mexican restaurant, Reforma, with tequila and mescal also written on the building.  There are a bunch of bars and restaurants there.

Big tree under a blue sky.

This was last night's sunset. 

Rain is in the forecast, with cooler temperatures.  However, we're not dressing like this!

HIking Towards John Krein

Ho hum, another boring route report.  We've spent some time looking for a shorter route going towards the John Krein trail that doesn't involve an unpleasant slog around the north west end of First Ridge.  We found the far end the other day, but didn't walk it back all the way to the house. We're still a little soft on what happens in the middle, but here's the start from the house.

There are the Three Wise Men.  When they become visible, look for a turn off the trail towards Little Cat mountain.

The trail.  It looks like just about every other trail.  Notice the saguaro in the distance.

Here is the distant saguaro, with distinctive markings.

Somewhere, out there, is a very cool rock.  I like the circular rings on it.  Jim wouldn't haul it back to the house for me. 

There will be more route finding, which I will probably add here.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Seen by a Golf Course

Today was a glorious day.  No big wind, and it was warm.  We took the bikes up the Loop bike trail and it was good.  Coming back we saw this guy.

He was very aware of us, but stalked down the fence line with no concern for the humans.

He's a bobcat.  They're nocturnal, so seeing one in broad daylight is unusual. It was really cool.

Here are two more photos I swiped from the internet some time ago.  One does wonder how he got on top of the saguaro without severe damage to his feet.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

May I Please Vent?

In mid-November, Jim aggravated his right Achilles tendon.  We went to the walk in clinic at Tucson Orthopedic Institute.  Their diagnosis was an -itis and the treatment was wear a boot for a month.  So that is what Jim did.  He got the first boot at Tucson Orthopedic.  Since he'd be wearing it except in the shower, we wanted a second boot.  It's amazing how much dirt and mung they collect.

Of course, we went out to Amazon.  We bought this for $53.63.  It's the exact same model as the one that was dispensed at TOI.  The paper work called out this exact model. 

Yesterday we got the charges from Medicare.  They charged $499 for the same boot.  It does have a TOI label sewn on it, but it's the same boot.  $499 for a $53 dollar boot.  Maybe this is why health care costs so much in this country.

I bring this to your attention so that if you are under-insured and need some sort of medical device and it's not an immediate need, perhaps you'd like to check Amazon first before getting ripped off.

One of the worst things about wearing a boot is the leg length imbalance.  After a month, it's really a pain.  We didn't know about this until yesterday.  If you find yourself in a boot, order this.

The entire medical/pharmaceutical complex is a giant soul-less taker of money.  One of the news programs had a segment on young Type 1 diabetics going to Mexico for insulin, they can't afford it in the US.  Insulin hasn't changed in decades, yet every year the price goes up.  It's pure price gouging, same for the Epi Pens.

Jim's Achilles is good.  We're back on the bike/hike program.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Traffic Accidents and Walking Places

Last Tuesday we were on the way to Jim's doctor when we were rear ended.  We were on AZ86, which is a high speed road that frequently slows drastically for no apparent reason.  The guy behind us was not paying attention and hit us when traffic tightened up.  He got us in the hitch receiver which is welded to the frame of the truck.  His car, an Audi, was leaking fluids and could not be driven after the accident.  He does have insurance, so that was good.  It has made me reconsider the idea of a second car, a small car so it will fit in the garage.  People in Tucson drive like maniacs.  They run lights, tail gate, change lanes frequently and often without looking.  Things would have been worse if we we in a uni-body vehicle.  We don't know what level of damage the receiver, bumper and frame have sustained and won't until it's put on a rack and measured by a collision center.  So that was Tuesday.

Tuesday and Wednesday it was really cold at night so we covered all of the plants.  None of them look any worse than they did, so I'm declaring success in this endeavor.  We now have a giant box of sheets that are just for the plants.

Wednesday we took one of Jim's bikes in for maintenance.  It was in storage for ten years and it's having some issues shifting.  So, it was off to the bike doctor.  On the way there, we saw this.  It's pretty close to where we were hit, but in the opposite direction.

Since it was cold (a relative term) we decided to walk through the UofA campus for something to do.  It's a beautiful campus.  This is a cactus garden in front of the Arizona Museum.  I really like the ones that look like artichokes.

Palm trees along the main entrance road.

This is a crested cactus in front of Old Main.  It has gotten really wavy as well as cresty.

Today we walked from the Sarasota Trailhead.  We were going to do one end of the John Krein trail, but got distracted by wondering where another trail went.  So we went that way, and discovered that it also will take a person near the intersection of Sarasota and David Yetman, which is close to the turn for John Krein.  There are a lot of unmarked, unnamed trails out there.  A person has to start at one end and see where it comes out to know anything about it.  Part of the difficulty of navigating is that so much of it looks like this.

Since we had ridden the mountain bikes up to this point previously, we knew that this wide part of the trail ran down to Tucson Estates Parkway, where it is marked with this.

None of the neighborhood hikers know anything about this headstone, or why it's there.  It was a nice day and it was a good walk in the hills.

Well, it was just announced that the president is willing to open the government for three weeks.  After that, who knows what he'll do.  One wonders if perhaps this is due to the flack he's receiving from things his administration is on record as saying this past week.  Kevin Hassett, a White House economic advisor, felt that furloughed employees were "better off" because they were getting time off without having to use vacation days.  Wilbur Ross, the Commerce Secretary, wondered why federal employees just didn't take out loans to carry them through the shutdown.  Then there was my personal favorite, when the president went off on an interesting line of thought of how federal workers are "known by the people in the stores" and that the people in the stores would "work along" with the federal employees.   Was he trying to say that the grocery stores would let them run a tab?  Was he thinking about the corner bodega or what?  Imagine, if you will, an air traffic controller living in the DC Metro area approaching the manager of a Safeway and asking for credit.  The president is clearly not totally in touch with how things are in the real world.  This shut down has been so bad for so many people.  The contractors, who don't receive back pay, will never be made whole.

Here is an uplifting photo of my favorite church in Tucson.  It reminds me of Greece with the white against the blue sky.

Monday, January 21, 2019

MLK Day, the Desert and Complaining About Google

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day to you all.  I realize some of you are up to your waists in snow and I'm sorry about that.  I can not imagine the awfulness of the amount of snow in the middle of the country and the east.  Here in Tucson we're under a high wind warning (which the forecasters got right), but there will be no complaining about our climate.

There has been hiking.

The other day we headed towards the water tower and went uphill from there, towards this.

Notice the saguaros growing out of the top of the mountain.  How do they do that?  There is a bench placed on the trail, just as it peters out.  To continue, one must bushwhack.

This is buffel grass which is the scourge of the Sonoran Desert.  Awhile ago I read an article that said its spread was due to illegal immigrants bringing the seeds in on their clothing from Mexico.  Hopefully I never referenced that article because it's not true.  Ranchers planted it for forage for their cows.  It's non-native, spreads like the weed it is, burns hot enough to kill the cactus, shades the baby cactus and kills them and in ten or so years depletes the ground so that all is left is an area unable to support life.  Great plant, eh?   Our neighbor has been removing a patch of buffel grass up by the bench.  He levers it out with a bladed tool, leaves it to dry (and be less heavy) and then bags it up and brings it down the hill.  I saw him this morning at 8:45 having brought down two bags.  We have an infestation on the side of the wash just on the other side of the wall.  Five weeks of glyphosate last October has killed the existing plants.  We don't know if the seeds have escaped death.  I've ordered up a bunch of casoron and another pre-germinant to try to keep any seeds from sprouting.  Looks like killing buffel grass will be an ongoing project.  We can't dig it out because the bank is really unstable.

More of the always lovely desert.

This was from today.  The chollas are very happy this year.  They had a good monsoon and then a bunch of rain in December.  Cactus happiness abounds.

This is a pack rat nest.  It's hard to see, but look at all the cholla pieces that are all over the ground.  I think they put them there, there is no cholla in the immediate vicinity.  They dig huge burrows, and then the individuals have little rooms.  Rattle snakes will go in there and eat them, which may be why they've booby trapped the area with cholla pups.  If you live in the desert, think carefully about seed bird feeders.  The birds drop the seeds, the pack rats come for the seeds and the rattle snakes come for the pack rats.

This is a close up of one of the palm trees.  I love the way the light illuminates their fronds.

There is a persistent belief in the bloggo-sphere that Picasa will die in March.  I have been told by smart friends that it's only the API that will die, but one tends to expect the worst and be pleasantly surprised when it doesn't happen.  It just annoys the living snot out of me that Google killed Picasa in 2016 and replaced it with Google photos which is an absolute piece of dog doo-doo.  Its biggest fault is that it's not local to your machine.  If one is using a mi-fi, one is using much bandwidth to upload photos to edit them.  I have yet to figure out how, or if, the product will de-resolution photos.  I down loaded PhotoScapeX from the Windows store.  It will de-res, but although it says it will batch de-res I don't see how to do that.  It is resident on your machine, so there's that, but it's a pain to use.  Picasa is the best there ever was for the use of sliders.  Oh - the other thing PhotoScapeX does, is that is sorts your folders by name and not date.  Who does that?  All of my April photos are at the top of the list, I have to go looking for January.  Does anyone have a stump stupid easy to use photo editor that they like?  This is just a depressing state of affairs.  I don't have enough brain cells left to learn Photoshop.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Hike and Bike

Yesterday was good.  It has warmed up some.  We were up at oh:dark:thirty for a trip to the doctor.  When we got back we laced up the hiking boots and drove down to the Sarasota trail head.  If we were more motivated, we could get there from the house, but that would make it a really long hike.  What is needed here is an off-road golf cart.

Lumpy rocks seen leaving a wash on the trail.

Today we got the bikes out.  One of the downsides to living in the house is that the Tucson Loop (bike trail) is about six miles from here, and part of the route is has heavy traffic with not so good shoulders.  This is tile surroundng the sink at the restrooms that are next to the trail.  There is parking there so that's where we start.

The other reason for starting there, is that the trail under Ajo is no longer available to us.  They're widening that bridge, and the bike path has been subsumed by equipment access.  One either rides on the road with cars, or one parks north of Ajo.

You can better see the ramp here, foreground.  If you look in the background, you can see that side of the bridge is also involved.

Here is where the trail ends, rather abruptly.

According to the Arizona Dept. of Transportation, the trail will be available again in December 2019, but I really doubt it.

Online LiveWriter has once again lost its ability to post to Blogger.  Github knows about it, and here's hoping they get it fixed. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Viadoom or the Coming Carmageddon

The Alaskan Way Viaduct was closed forever Friday night at 10pm.  That would be the 11th.  The police had trouble getting people off the bridge because there were many who wanted to be the last person to drive off.  Saturday hundreds of people walked on to the bridge to watch the sunset for the last time.  It was a nice day and they wanted to see it.  The police were all up in their hair about the danger.  Right, this is the same elevated highway that hosted bike rides and foot races.  Sometimes Seattle is such a nanny state!

It makes me sad, the Viaduct is part of what made Seattle who Seattle is.  It was old and noisy, but driving on the upper level on a nice day was special.  You could see West Seattle, the Olympic Mountains and Elliot Bay, because you were on an elevated highway.  There has been the usual high falutin’ drivel about connecting the water front to the rest of the city by tearing the Viaduct down.  I personally don’t get it.  Alaskan Way, which is a four lane road running through Seattle is between the water front and the city.  It’s the route to the ferry dock, so it’s heavily traveled.  We’ll see.

There is also the fact that the Viaduct carries 100,000 cars a day.  For the next three weeks ALL of those cars will need an alternate route  So far, ridership on the ferry from West Seattle to Seattle has tripled.  Many people are taking the bus, and there is the ever popular working from home in one’s sweats.  Despite all of this, the commute is starting an hour earlier, and commute times have doubled.  In three weeks the tunnel (with its tolling) will open with two lanes in each direction, rather than the three that were previously provided.  Traffic planners are predicting the next five years will be grim.  KOMO did an article about the bad times to come due to constant road construction.  The planners are all saying it will be totally worth it.

This is looking south.

alaskan way viaduct 2

Looking north.  Those are the Olympics in the distance.

alaskan way viaduct 3

Some of the southern sections are already being demolished.

alaskan way viaduct 5

It will be interesting to see how the next three weeks go, and whether people can stay out of their cars.  Eventually, they’ll have to go the grocery store for toilet paper.  Amazon Fresh may see an uptick in orders.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Hike, Cook, Stain

Greetings Earthings!  How have you been?  We have been busy.  Between the wretched staining project, trying to get some exercise and spelunking through our past using old backed up photos and emails, I have neglected the blog.  It seems like there should be more pictures to support my claim of busy-ness, but alas, there are not.

We’ve been out in the desert a couple of times.  On one of the trips we saw this muley buck with horns!  I have not seen horns before in Tucson.  He was with two females.  They looked at us for awhile and we looked at them.


On the 7th of January, the guys who own Copper Standard Landscaping came.  They distributed nine tons of gravel through out the yard.  I’m really glad we outsourced that.  Back in the late 80’s Jim and I moved 28,000 pounds of rocks with shovels and wheel barrows, but those days are over.


David moved the irrigation head so the bubbler head will be in the saucer surrounding the Pygmy Date Palm.  He dug a nice trench.  It took him very little time, that would have been half a day for us.


The wall is made of concrete blocks that were mortared together.  Then they were covered with stucco.  The blocks and the mortar are full of lime.  When it rains, there is efflorescence.  According to the internet this should stop after a couple of years.  So far, we’re still seeing it after rains.  Oddly enough, when we got back in October there wasn’t any on the walls, and there was a pretty good monsoon.  Jim is spraying it with 50% vinegar, which does take it away, until it rains again.


Thursday we crock potted chicken thighs.  It’s not a simple recipe, there’s about an hour prep and half an hour clean up, but it’s good.  Plus there is food for two nights and a lunch.  Jim is shaking chicken pieces in a bag of flour.


Here is the recipe.  It should be big enough to be legible.  If you don’t have a crock pot you could put it in a dutch oven and put it in the oven for 3 or so hours.


Speaking of which, I got one of these for Christmas.  It’s a Lodge enameled cast iron.  After pricing Le Creuset, I just could not get past how expensive they have gotten.  They get good reviews and are about 25% of the cost.


When we last owned a house, we had yard work clothes.  Old sweats with holes in them, terrible looking shorts, like that.  Now we have none of those things.  After being in the RV for awhile, we had no need of clothing like that.  Thus I am staining in my pink fuzzy bunny pants, because they are my least favorite, and they became the sacrificial pants.  We did good, no stain hit the patio or us.


I watered some of the new gravel today.  On the left is how it looks covered in dust.  On the right is how it looks with the dust removed.  It’s a good match to the rock we already had.


Pre-rain gravel.  Eventually it will be a better color.


So, the house continues to provide us with hours of entertainment.