Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Bike, Hike, Road Work and the End of the Covid Emergency

We've been riding.  One day we rode up a bike way to the University of Arizona, which is a street cars can drive on, but it's understood they're not supposed to hit the bicyclists.  It's relatively safe.  I need to go back to the U and get some photos. 

We saw a couple of these rolling down the side walk.  They deliver food on campus.  They're just cuter than bugs.  Cartken makes them.  When people walk towards them, they pause to avoid collisions.

Almost every UofA student dreams of living here - someday.  I've never seen a for sale sign on this house, but one can always hope.  This is located in the historic Sam Hughes neighborhood.

One day we were tired (days are running together, can't remember when) so we went into Tucson to look at stuff.  The last time we were here there was a giant hole in the ground next to the neighborhood we like.  There's a building there now.  It looks pretty good.  It's retail down, residences up.

These are some of the houses from the beautiful neighborhood.  It still has the issue of being surrounded by old houses that have seen better days.

However, it still has the advantage of being within walking distance of Seis for most excellent Mexican food.

There was also a drive to see what's happening on 6th Street.  We were last there when Jim got his second Covid vaccine.  That post is here.  As it turns out, there is a massive construction project to widen I10 between 29th and St. Mary's which we were unaware of.  There is a good article on the project here.  There is a slide show at the bottom of the text that was interesting.  Anyway, it's still very much under construction, and all of my pictures are terrible because of the spots on the windshield and where the sun was.

From the article we learn, "The complete reconstruction of mainline I-10 for the segment between St. Mary’s Road and 29th Street included 6 new bridges, 17 retaining walls totaling nearly 14,000 linear feet of walls, drainage structures paralleling the corridor, and pavement design. The field investigation program conducted by NCSG included 122 borings for the various structures. A combination of drill rigs was required, including conventional truck mounted, track mounted for drilling on slopes, and difficult access rigs for the sides of steep embankment slopes."

New widened road.

A good mural we were afraid might be lost.

St. Mary's (also known as 6th Street) on the way to the freeway.  The road there is entirely gone, really gone.

Today we went up the Iris Dewhirst trail.  It was kind of a slog.  Apparently today was a fatigue day, but we went anyway.  It was a beautiful day.

I love this view into the canyon.

Once you get to these rocks, the hike is over and your feet are happy.

If you haven't seen this, here is news you can use.  As of May 11, the Covid state of emergency is over.  This will change what the government pays for.  It will no longer pay for monoclonal antibodies, which are moot anyway, since they don't work on the new variants.  The feds will no longer pay for home test kits.  This paragraph, "Paxlovid and other oral antiviral drugs made available under emergency use authorization will remain covered by Medicare even though it has yet to be fully approved by the FDA, thanks to a provision Congress put in place as part of the fiscal year 2023 government spending package that passed in December." leads me to believe that the elderly will not have to pay for paxlovid, which is good because it's about $500 retail.  I'm not clear on lab testing, who pays for that.  CNN put up an article on this which you can find here.  I think this was a premature decision, but nobody asked my opinion.

So that's what's shaking in Tucson.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

HIke, Water, Javelinas

Yesterday it did not reach 50F, it was just too dang cold to ride.  So it was back to the Iris Dewhirst trail.  We're walking faster than we were, so we went farther than we had been.  We turned around at the first water crossing.  The sun was really harsh, it makes the water hard to see.

Look how the bank has been eroded over time. 

A large rock at the water crossing.

A long dead saguaro.

Arizona has javelinas. They look like pigs, but they're peccaries.  They're smelly, near sighted animals.  Dogs are not safe around them, because the javelinas view them as predators and will attack.  Here they are, on the ground off of our deck sunning themselves.

We're sitting around, waiting for it to warm up.  It's inconvenient to ride later in the day, but it's too cold to do otherwise. 

Later... The javelinas stayed in the sun for a good 90 minutes.  One of the grounds keepers came through with a gas powered blower and they took off when they heard it coming.

Holy cats!  It was another cold and windy ride.  We're back to wearing the jackets over arm warmers.  We did go out in to the wind this time, coming back was good.  The trail on the south side of the Rillito River is not being maintained.  There are some big pot holes in the asphalt.  It's painful in places.  Tucson has a large homeless population and many of them have moved on to the bike trails in large numbers.  I think between dodging people and pot holes we're going to move back to riding on low traffic roads, the city paves them occasionally.

That's it!  That's all I've got.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Bikes and Still Chilly

Sunday we rode from the ball fields up towards the new Amazon distribution center.  It's a massive building.  I have no pictures because we took the scenic route there, as well as a tour of an abandoned park, all of which had a screaming tail wind.  As we got near the target, we re-evaluated the wind and decided to turn around.  Good choice.  Next time we won't go the scenic route, or tour the abandoned park, and so will will have enough legs to get there and back.

It was cool, but not as cold as Saturday.  The wind was just exceptional, steady with gusts.  One good thing about a bike with heavy wheels is its stability.  There is no twitching the way a lighter bike does.

We saw an interesting bike rack on a BMW.

There is a two inch receiver with an anti-wobble device.  I believe, although I could be wrong, that this is for carrying two trikes.  It's hard to see, but I think there are two tire holders on one side, and only one on the other side.  It's a Hitch Rider, they make interesting stuff.

Google lens identifies these as classic saguaro cacti.  I don't know what they do, but can attest to the fact that they aren't living.  They're not cell towers, they're disguised as palm trees here.

The Catalina Mountains.

Yesterday was a big shopping, a four store route.  We saw this guy up by Costco. Unfortunately I only got the front of the truck. The back continues on in the same vein.

Interesting clouds out to the south.  See the dark area at the bottom?  It's raining hard out there.

We're sitting around waiting for it to warm up a little.  We will be hiking the Iris Dewhirst trail later.  We don't like it that much, but it's close and difficult.

That's it!  That's all I've got.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Riding Along the Rillito River

Holy cats it was a cold ride today.  The outdoor thermometer said it was 52F, but with the wind it felt much colder.  We wore the same stuff as last time, except this time we each put a paper towel in our helmets to cut the amount of wind that was giving us ice cream headaches.  Coming back we had a very stout head wind.

Our desire to park at the Rillito Race Track was thwarted by every parking place being full due to some sort of soccer event.  So we went down the road to a smaller trail head that had open slots.  Tomorrow is the Rillito Farmer's Market, so we'll probably go to yet another trailhead to find parking.  We're not riding on the roads yet, people are so crazy in their cars.  We may never ride on the roads again.  Being in a hospital now would be bad.

Today's route out to the east was not so interesting.  We will not go in that direction again.   There were trees and very blue skies.  This is the winter sky color.

There are large power poles in the Rillito River.

This is something having to do with electricity, but I'm not sure exactly what that would be.

Tomorrow is forecast to be warmer and happy we are about that.  Monday will not be a riding day because highs will be in the 40s and that is too cold for moi.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Water and a Parti Poodle

Today, on the 19th of January, we finally went out on the bikes.  Riding the bikes was the whole reason we came down here.  Between Covid, feeling bad, and a cold January, it didn't happen until today.  The sun was very bright, once again we forgot the sun screen with predictable results.  

It was 52 when we left, with some wind.  We wore cycling undershirts, a jersey, light weight arm and knee warmers, and jackets.  The plan had been to wear the vests, but it was cold enough to want jackets.  Last night it froze, so it's still a cold air mass.  We enjoyed the jackets up until the last mile or so, when we started getting a little warm.  Without them, it would have been an awful ride.

We left from the Rillito Downs parking lot and went right on the trail.  We should have crossed the river and then gone right, because we stranded ourselves on the path that has no river crossing bridges.  Please make a note of this.

This is the Rillito River, which most of the time is dry.  It's running!  It's not bank to bank, but it's a good amount of water.

Up river.

Down river.

At Camino de la Tierra the water is also running.  In defiance of the stupid motorist law, people were driving through it.  The pick up trucks were going really fast, putting a lot of water in the air.  This person went through slowly, and without making a rooster tail. 

We met a nice dog today, his name is Leo.  He's a Parti Poodle.  The Parti refers to the dog being part white.  This was the original form of the Poodle, but over time people bred them for solid colors.  AKC will not allow Partis to be shown in dog shows.  They're currently making a come back in popularity. Here is an article on the subject.

He's wearing Dad's hat.

He's a nice dog.  They have the nicest coat, they're soft.

Riding was good.  Spin bike does transfer to road bike.  Hike does not.  It was good to get out.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Walking With Sticks Again

It rained like heck very early this morning, Jim heard it, I slept through it.  Then the sun came out, the wind came up and it was pretty cold.  Yes, I know, cold is a relative term. 

It was 52F when we left for an invigorating hike.  We both wore cycling undershirts, the 3/4 zip stand up collar capilene shirts, with a button up hiking shirt on top.  Pants were the Ex Officios and Columbias.  I wore the ear bra the entire time, Jim did not.  We got a little warm climbing up when we were out of the wind, but when the sun went behind a cloud we were good. 

The day was glorious.  There were a lot of people on the trail, we left from the Iris Dewhirst trailhead again.  It's close, and I think we'll see a lot of it this year.  Here are photos.

That's running water down there.

Here is the same wash with water in it, as seen from higher up.

There are people at the top.

We're still somewhat tired.  Jim's chest and head are finally clearing out.  I did not know a human could be that full of mucus.  Over all I think we're both at 90 or 95% recovered.

Later:  Google sent me a panorama it decided to make.  Thanks Google.


Sunday, January 15, 2023

Road Work and Water - Updated with New Water Stuff

Greetings Fellow Humans from the Sonoran Desert where it is cold and wet.  This pattern is expected to continue through Tuesday.  After that it will be sunny and cool.  One can not complain about rain here, although one does whine a bit about it.  Next I will be asking for my snow bird rebate.

An interesting thing in the neighborhood has been a rather large project to replace aging gas lines.  They're not only digging up the roads, they're digging up people's yards to replace the lines all the way to the house.  I feel really badly for people who are losing ancient cacti to this project.  After the gas project is complete, the roads in the neighborhood are supposed to be paved.  The roads are really awful, we road the bikes for a couple of miles yesterday, and it was incredibly painful going downhill on the disintegrating asphalt.

Here is a row of equipment, parked for the lunch hour.

A trench in the road.

Yesterday we left to go pick up the bikes at Fairwheel Bikes.  This is the entry to the condo complex where we are staying.  They dig with a tiny back hoe (which is out of frame) and put the dirt in the front loader.  They drive the dirt down the road and dump it.  Later, when it's time to fill in the trench they go get the dirt.

Notice the guys in the trench. 

It's quite the project. 

This is Mistletoe.  It's the scourge of the desert.  Birds eat the seeds, and then sit in the upper branches of a tree and poop.  The seeds, which are the red berries, are sticky and attach themselves to branches.  The seed sprouts and dig its roots into the flesh of the tree.  Since the seeds are generally in the top of the tree, the branches a tender and not woody, so the roots can penetrate.  The Mistletoe sucks water and nutrients out of the tree.  One instance of Mistletoe can travel through neighborhoods, infecting everyone's trees and eventually killing them.  The only way to remove it is to cut the branch off.  Where we used to live, this was a hot topic because the bird fanciers wanted the birds to have food, but the tree fanciers did not want the trees being killed.  At one point the HOA had an aggressive removal program, but they chickened out and stopped doing anything.  There is a lot of it in this part of town.

Now I am going to talk about water and denial again.  Sometime in the early 2000's the Rio Verde Foothills development was born.  I found a Maricopa County Planning Document that vaguely discusses when and how this came about.  What is interesting to me is that the county gave permission to build out there at all.  Rio Verde Foothills (RVFH) which is different than the Rio Verde development, and the Tonto Verde development and the Triad development, never had a connection to city water: this in spite of the fact that RVFH abuts Scottsdale.  Some of the houses have wells, some of the houses depended on hauled water as their only source.  The hauled water came from Scottsdale.  Apparently a contract was never put in place to ensure water in perpetuity.  Scottsdale has been telling RVFH since 2021 that they were going to cut them off from water, and they did just that Jan1, 2023.  These people have no water. They do have a web site which is here. Update 1/17/2023:  I should have clarified that RVFH can still receive hauled water, they do have to pay more for it, since it comes from farther away.

Verde River Homes and the Golf and Social Club, Tonto Verde Homes and Golf, and Rio Verde have water.  They have water rights.  They are a water district.  You can read more here.

Tonto Verde, Rio Verde, and Trilogy are different, as all three have contractual water rights and obtain water from EPCOR. The developers of Rio Verde and Tonto Verde obtained water rights from the Commission when our community was planned and entered into an agreement with Rio Verde Utilities (now EPCOR) to build all the needed infrastructure to provide water to both communities and their golf courses. Our water comes from underground aquifers, and according to previous estimates, there is sufficient capacity to supply our entire water district, (Tonto Verde, Rio Verde, and Trilogy) for decades into the future.

RVFH developers subdivided their property in a way that allowed them to get around the requirement to show that there was 100 years worth of water available.  People moved out there anyway.  The area enclosed by the heavy blue line is RVFH.  It's a large area, much larger than Tonto Verde or Rio Verde.  I only discovered that RVFH is different than Rio Verde about an hour ago.  The internet treats them as being interchangeable, even though they are not.

The people on wells are in dire straits, as many of their wells have dried up.  I'm not sure what aquifer they were pulling water from.  People were building out there as recently as last year.  Denial.  

I find this interesting, and I also write about it because I'd really like to have a second home here in Arizona (a very tiny second home) but the water! It worries me greatly.  Tucson has done a much better job of water management, no golf course is watered with drinking water, it's all reclaimed.  And then there is the dead pool issue.  The internet does not indicate to what degree AZ is energy independent from the Hoover dam and the dam on Lake Mead.  There is some power generation with coal and gas, but no one actually publishes how much is from hydro on the Colorado river.

I don't know if we'll do anything about real estate.  Once you buy a vacation home, you are obligated to use it.  We'll probably dither for awhile and hope the housing market crashes big time.

This is the view from the deck.

That's it!  That's all I've got.

Update 1/17/2023:  Scottsdale released their response to RVFH's demands for water.  There is a PDF at the bottom of the document which will open.  One of the salient things that was pointed out, was that Scottsdale reclaims their water.  Water sent to RVFH is lost to them because there's no infrastructure in place to do that.  Scottsdale points the finger squarely at Maricopa County, they created the problem, and it's their responsibility to fix it.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Walking and Buried Reports

Greetings from sunny Arizona.  We're continuing on our path to wellness.  Jim still sounds somewhat froggy, but is no longer coughing like he's going to hurl a lung.  We've been out on foot some.  Two days ago we went out for an hour in the neighborhood.  There is an enormous development up the hill from us.

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

I love this house, it's just cuter than a bug.

This house is for sale for about $1M.  It's fairly large.  There's a pool in the back and there is a view from the pool.  I know this from Zillow.

Yesterday I googled on "easy hikes near me."  The internet directed me to the Pima Canyon Trail.  Reviews sounded good, it's a canyon, how bad could it be?  It was the  dreaded Iris Dewhirst trail!  We used to do this trail when we spent winters here.  For some reason my brain did not connect Pima Canyon with Iris Dewhirst.  I reviewed the trail in 2013 here.  We were there, so we went.  Forty minutes out was enough.  It's sort of a tedious trail.  We both got sunburned and tired.  Perhaps not the smartest thing to be doing while recuperating from Covid. 

It's a beautiful area.

New construction.  It looks to be about 4,000 square feet.

This is a gorgeous house.  Not the roof line, the pool with a view, and the fake grass around the pool.

That's the trail, moving up the center of the photo.

The trail continues on for many miles.  At about three miles in there is an old dam, which is currently wet.  We did not go that far.  The arrow is pointing at the canyon meandering between the two walls.

Today we are resting.  It's kind of disappointing, we're supposed to get three days of rain next week.  No one ever explains forecasts any more, so I'm not sure if it's coming out of California, or what.  

From the Department of Perfidy and Malfeasance we have learned that Arizona ex-Governor Ducey buried a report on the amount of water available in the Hassayampa sub-basin which sits underneath much of the Buckeye city planning area, about 50 miles west of Phoenix.  Developers had plans to build up to 100,000 homes in a master planned community there.  There's not enough water to support this.  The sub-basin is 4.4 million-acre feet short of water for future development. The lack of water was a known fact, but the state was going allow it to go forward anyway.  Governor Hobbs will be thinking about how to proceed with future housing now that she is in office.  CLICK HERE for the article.

I often wonder about why people don't address problems head on.  Why do people continue to move to Arizona in droves when they know there is a historic drought.  Why don't the water managers come together and figure out what to do about this?  Currently there is a law on the books that says the guy with the deepest well wins.  There's no real attempt at apportioning water, it's still kind of every person for themselves.  Why did the Saudis get permission to drill deep wells, grow alfalfa and ship it to Saudi Arabia?  They barely pay for the water.  I also wonder why a chip plant is being planned for Mesa, AZ - from the internet we learn "...chip fabs need a lot of water to operate. By some estimates, a large chip fab can use up to 10 million gallons of water a day, which is equivalent to the water consumption of roughly 300,000 households."  It strikes me that this might not be the best thing to be building in the desert.  However, nobody asked my opinion.

Another article discusses the fact that unless there are drastic cuts to water usage, the two hydroelectric dams that provide power to the south west will dead pool, a catchy term for when the water levels are too low to turn the turbines.  Without power, there are no cities.  There have been some particularly gloomy estimates that this could happen 1Q23.  It just boggles the mind, it's no wonder people are in denial over this.

There's a good thread on twitter about the whole thing, which you can find here.

So, resting and lack of water, that's all I've got.