29 February 2012

A Different Tucson

BJ and I decided to visit Old Town Tucson and have lunch downtown.  We had visited part of it when we were here in November but there was still more we had not seen.  On the way we found a nice Greek restaurant and had a great lunch then we pressed on to this area marked on the map as "The 4th Avenue Shopping District" which was just northwest of the the "Iron Horse Historic District".  This is all part of the old Tucson area and has a lot of older buildings and homes; some have been renovated, others are in progress and some are still in need of same!
Another stupid pic that won't stay rotated!  But, you can make it our!
The shopping district had a wide street thru the middle with old trolley rails down the middle (not sure trolleys still used them) and stores on both sides of the street.  We found a parking spot on the far end of the district and got out to walk back up one side of the street and back down the other side, about 3 blocks each way.  First thing that greets us is this large gorilla head in a lot on the street.

Next, BJ notices the poles that formerly held parking meters now have these stylized skulls welded to the top.  The skulls were made from scrape metal and tools and were unique, if not pleasant!
BJ holding on to a skull!
As we progressed down the street we noted the unusual coloring of most of the buildings, purple with green trim, black and orange, bright yellow, etc.
One of many tattoo parlors 

So we started checking out the businesses, plenty of grunge bars with no shortage of clientele in the early afternoon.  Every 3rd one seemed to be a tattoo parlor with accompanying decorations on the front windows, several were fairly large.  There was a nice shop with some interesting pottery and cloth from different countries.
Another interesting paint job - this one a bar!

As we were heading back to the car we passed one of the larger and grungier tattoo parlors a small group of rough characters were yelling at each other outside.  One had some tattoos around his face and on his head.  I thought I could get a tattoo on my head and it would look like I had hair!!

BJ made her normal stop at a Goodwill store looking for that long lost artwork and I picked up a couple of interesting books.  Considering the neighbor hood I was a little apprehensive about entering the place.  However, it was very well arranged and stocked and the staff obviously took pride in the facility. 

Always at home, no matter where we are!!

26 February 2012

Sabino Canyon - just beautiful

 Sabino Canyon is at the NW edge of Tucson and we spent a day there hiking the canyon and enjoying the beauty of the canyon and surrounding area!  It is part of the Coronado National Forest and they have a visitor center and lots of marked trails including one paved one that runs a regular shuttle to the end of the canyon about 4 miles into the Santa Catalina mountain range which was formed about 12 million years ago (seems like only yesterday).
Looking up the canyon from the entrance

The iconic Saguaro Cactus is very evident!

However, much more recently (geologically speaking) an earthquake centered in northern Mexico in 1887 dislodged an array of massive boulders lining the canyon walls, which crashed down and came to rest in the valley below.   This area has been under the protection of the National Forest Service since 1905 and has been a popular recreation area even before that!  A stream runs down the canyon most of the time and it even has a small dam built back in the 20's to help control the water.  Today it is just a pretty part of the landscape.
You find water in the strangest of places!

Along the canyon walls to the west
The remnants of the dam! A fun spot for the kids!

A close up of one of the desert flowers at Sabino Canyon
This was "stretched" rock!  When hot and semi-molten earth movement stretched it like taffy and you can see the marks!

Of course water wasn't plentiful!  This was part of the stream bed that had not seen water in decades or longer!

Always at home, no matter where we are!!

A Beautiful Day at the Rodeo!

The Tuscon Rodeo is the largest outdoor winter rodeo in the west.  It pays out over $300,000 in prizes and attracts some of the best cowboys in the business from throughout the USA and Canada.  And, it is this week and BJ and I decided to go to the rodeo as neither of has ever been.  This is about a 10-day event and we went on the next to the last day which was apparently the last of the elimination rounds!

A Happy Crowd

Make way for the star performers
It was a great day to be out.  Sun was shining in a cloudless blue sky; temps in the mid 70's and a happy crowd was there to see the action.  

Opening up the show was a squad of cowgirls, the Quadrille de Mujeres, on fast horses doing some intricate drills on the field. 
The field is ready!
Quadrille di Mujeres
Theses talented horsewomen perform through out the West.  Their entrance to the arena is at full gallop and they immediately start their routine which involves some detailed maneuvers and lots of excitement.  The ladies and their horses are as one!  Wish I had a video of it to show you, but afraid not!

First event was the Bareback Riding.  The object was to stay on the horse for 8 seconds and in the right form.  I did not realize there was certain ways to hold on and where your legs were supposed to be during the ride.  I thought it was just an easy game of holding on for dear life!  No - you got to focus on holding the proper form while holding on for dear life - and the horses don't care.  They just want to dump you!
A rough ride!

 After that there was steer wrestling and saddle bronc riding.

Saddle bronc ride!
The rodeo clown was there too!

The ladies did the barrel race!

Bull Riding seemed to be the toughest ride!
We really enjoyed the day and stayed until the very end as did most folks.  Very few people got up and left before it was all over. 

One unexpected treat was some beef brisket we had from one of the vendors.  With all due respect to my good buddy and dive partner back home, Bill Allen, this was out of the world brisket.  Bill has a recipe he make every year for the dive club Christmas Party and I love his brisket, but this was just too good.  I asked for their recipe and they said they would give it to me if I could stay on the Phantom Menace for 8 seconds!  That is the Phantom Menace in the picture above!  He is the big 4-legged guy!  Guess I will continue to enjoy Bill's recipe!  

We expect we will see some more rodeos before we leave the West for awhile next Fall and head back to the East Coast. 

Always at home, no matter where we are!!

23 February 2012

Some More About Our Stay at Q

 As you may remember we spent two weeks at Q and enjoyed every minute.  We met up with a group from Escapees RV Club and made some new lifelong friends.  In the Escapees (SKP for short) there are some informal groupings and one of those are the "classes".  A class is normally made of those full-timers that started full timing in the particular year.  It is all unofficial, but nonetheless real.  Some classes are more active then others, there is no set pattern or common rules.  The Class of 2007 was having their 5 year reunion/celebration at Q this past month.  All SKP events are open to all SKP's and since our class (Class of 2010) is not very active and BJ & I knew some of the 2007 class members and they all were encouraging anybody to come help them celebrate we decided to join them! 

Queen Linda in the throne room!
Chow call was always well attended!
Park where ever you want!

The welcome sign with the fire pit in the background
The mother hen that was organizing this event was crowned Queen and given appropriate recognition for her great efforts.  Sort of like herding cats, I think.  But, she did a great job of keeping all informed and working out a schedule for those interested.  Everyday we gathered around the campfire at 1600 hours for Happy Hour.   Everything else went from there!  We had a pot luck dinner, we had a chilli cook-off, we had a football game party, we had an old fashion party all night party, we had a quite night to recover from the party all night party.  And, we all had a great time.  And, we raised over $1500 for the Escapee Cares program in Livingston, TX, SKP Hq.  It is a unique non-profit program that allows RVer's that don't have the physical ability to travel in their RV any longer to live in their RV at the SKP park at Livingston and receive some help and support.  Transportation for shopping and doctor visits, some meals brought in and help keeping track of things.  It is not an assisted living facility but it helps folks that can take care of themselves, but need help on some of the details.  We raised the money with chilli cook-off, with some side bets on the football games, with a silent auction, and with some good old fashion collection.  Including this effort the Class of 2007 has donated over $4,000 to the program.

And, on one night they had the adoption ceremony when all of us that were not natural members of the Class of 2007 were naturalized, e.g. adopted by the Class!  So I guess you could say we are dual citizens - Class of 2007 and 2010!

Always at home, no matter where we are!!

21 February 2012

Catching Up

 I know, I know, I have been remiss in making timely posting for the last month+!  We arrived at Davis-Monthan AFB Famcamp this afternoon and plan on being here until 5 Mar, so my goal is to catch up while here.  We have no agenda or list of to-do's while here and we are looking for some down time as we move closer to our start date at Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve about 60 miles SE of here.  We plan on taking a day, maybe two, and scout out the area from here.  Dan and Sandy, the current volunteers we met in KW last winter, said the road in is small and rural and we might want to do it in the Jeep the first time, so we will!  

We will be working on our summer travel plans while at Patagonia.  Currently we plan to defer the Alaska trip until another year.  So that will give us the summer to travel up the west coast through CA, OR, WA and then over to ID and MT.  We plan on then dropping down to CO before heading back east.  We are undecided about looking for a Fall volunteer opportunity at a wildlife refuge in the SE.  However, if we don't move soon to seek that opportunity the decision will be made for us!  But, that will be OK too as there is always next year!

Regardless, we will spend Christmas with Reagan and Addison and their handlers in Norfolk VA their new hometown!  We did visit them briefly earlier this month when we flew back to the East Coast and can hardly wait until the next time!  After Christmas we will head south and after visiting family and friends in SC and FL will hit the Keys for a nice long respite around water and the sun!  The kayaks are really dried out!!

Well, that is an overview of our plans.  Will start working on catch up on the past two months!

Always at home, no matter where we are!!

News is news

Most of you all know how much I love the local news in the Keys.  It is full of drama and interesting and unusual twists and turns of the finger of fate!  I periodically check the Key West Citizen just for the entertainment value.  If you don’t believe me try it at Key West Citizen newspaper  However, I have found an even better and more entertaining news source.

We spent much of January with a group of fellow RVers in Quartzite a small town in west-central AZ.  The area is a major destination of RV snowbirds and January is the height of the season which runs approximately from T-Day to Easter.  There is some RV Parks around for those that prefer that venue, but many of the RVers chose to stay on Bureau of Land Management land which is abundant.  And that is what we did.  There are no hook-ups but some of the BLM “parks” have a dump station and water fill station (not to confuse the two) but parking is on a where ever you want basis.  Our group of 25 or so RV's chose an area and then we each parked in whatever way desired.  

In January there were and estimated 15,000 RVs in the BLM land around Quartzsite.  I suspect that was a conservative count.  Well, with all the RV associated activity we really did not note much of what was going on in the small town.  Did pick up a local news paper every now and then but never really looked at much except all the RV activity listings. 

Well, today I ran across this article in the AZ Republic, a major Phoenix newspaper, about a long running problem in Quartzsite.  I suspect they all call a truce during the RV rush for the economic benefits to all in town.  It makes for some fun reading, assuming you don’t take sides!  Enjoy it at this link AZ Republic newspaper.

Always at home, no matter where we are.

15 February 2012

On the Road Again - At last

At last after a weeks delay we are heading out later this AM.  Left Lucy in Phoenix for some routine maintenance while we went back to East Coast.  Got a call that radiator had small unrepairable leak so needed to replace radiator.  They finally got the radiator yesterday and she is ready to go this AM.  I got back last Thur and stayed in RV @ the shop until Sat when BJ got back.  We have been staying in transient facilities at Luke AFB since then.  Nice small apartment, but we are ready to hit the road and today was going to be the last day we could stay here anyway – so it all worked out. 

We have accepted a volunteer gig at a wildlife preserve in Patagonia AZ starting 5 Mar until end of May.  Have decided to defer AK until another year, we will spend the summer finishing the west then head back east.  Christmas with the girls then SOUTH!

Between now and 5 Mar we will wonder about southern AZ.  On today toward Yuma, then to Tucson for a week and finally to Ft Huachuca for 5-7 days before we report to Patagonia.  The Army base at Ft Huachuca has nice FamCamp so we will stay there and scout out the approach to the preserve.  The couple there now we met in the Keys last winter and he said the road is narrow and in poor condition so we will drive it in the Jeep before doing it in the RV!  Also, our arrival day is a day the park is closed so less traffic to deal with.

We are looking forward to it!  Details to follow but for now we are just happy to be on the move again.

Here is a link to Dan & Sandy's blog about the wildlife preserve we are going to.  They are leaving a week after we get there.  Click on it and it will take you there   Patagonia

Always home no matter where we are!