Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Friends, baseball, brews, hiking, kayaking..

We came to the Phoenix area to see friends from Yakima, Pat and Cindy.

Jim and Pat graduated from the same high school class, and Pat and Cindy (who just celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary) traveled to Phoenix to watch baseball spring training. Since we're on our way north after several months in Tucson, we decided to meet up. Pat and Cindy came over to see us one night at our campsite, we met them at an afternoon game, and we had dinner with them and their friend, John (from Zillah, Washington, south of Yakima) who hosted us all at his motor home. As a side note, when I looked up Zillah on line because I wanted to see exactly where it is, I learned that there is a church in the town named the Church of God Zillah. But I digress. 

We did a lot in the few days we were in Phoenix.  Besides spending time with Pat and Cindy, we also visited Old Town Scottsdale, kayaked on Arizona's Lake Pleasant, went to two brew pubs, and hiked the Apache Wash Loop trail in Phoenix's beautiful Sonoran Desert Preserve.
Jim, Bev, Cindy, Pat (who graduated from Davis High School in Yakima with Jim) and John in John's roomy motor home. John grilled steaks and even had lobster bisque for us -- thanks, John!  (And we missed you, Buddy and Nancy!)
At the Mariners v. Giants spring training baseball game, from top left clockwise:  Mariner at bat; Giants talking it out at the pitcher's mound; the pretty Peoria Stadium; and the view from our seats when the huge-hatted fan in front of us decided to lean back and cheer.  The Peoria Sports Complex  in Peoria, AZ, is the spring training home field of the Seattle Mariners and the San Diego Padres.
Bev on theApache Wash Loop trail in the Phoenix Sonoran Desert Preserve,  which has great views of the north Phoenix desert. Phoenix has several desert preserves in and near the city.
The cactus are starting to bloom big time.

Also in bloom at the Sonoran Preserve and all over the Phoenix Valley are the Palo Verde trees. 
These cactus looked appropriate for a Palm Sunday hike.

Jim on the trail in Phoenix's Sonoran Preserve imitating Lawrence of Arabia -- if Lawrence wore an Oregon Beavers baseball cap. 
Scottsdale:  I read where the NY Times once called Scottsdale "the desert version of Miami's South Beach," which I guess means it has lots of night life. We are more early afternoon people, so we didn't see that.  But we did see jewelry shops, souvenir shops, jewelry shops, restaurants, more jewelry shops, plus lots of beautiful landscaping, flowers and fountains.  As odd as they look, someday we've got to take one of those Segway tours.

When we pulled in to the Lake Pleasant Regional Park northwest of Phoenix, the ranger told us we could "drive right up to the water."  And how --as you can see in the photo of Jim kayaking on the correct side of a double yellow line.  Supposedly the lake is only 93 percent full. The man-made lake was created when the Waddell Dam was finished in 1927 across the Aqua Fria River.  
At the Papago Brewery in Scottsdale. We also visited Fate Brewery, also in Scottsdale, and both were good. 
These cactus are not far from the Desert Edge RV Park in north Phoenix where we stayed.  That's Jim's hand to the right.  I've never seen such large cactus blooms.

Friday, March 27, 2015

It could have been even more confusing

We almost went to the wrong campground this week. It was my (Bev’s) bad.

Jim is the big picture guy who says things like “Hey, here’s a campground we could go to.” I’m the detail person who makes the arrangements and says things like “That campground you suggested is closed.”

When we decided to go to the Phoenix area, Jim did an Internet search and found four campgrounds he liked. I checked them out. One was full, one allowed only small dogs (Cooper is in the big category), and another was expensive. The fourth campground was on a lake. Since we have our kayaks with us but haven't used then since November, I booked a spot at the lake.  

The campground sent an email confirmation. Jim called the phone number listed to ask about getting a package delivered and was told the campground had a new mailing address. I’d already planned our driving route, but when I heard Jim repeat the words “new address” I thought I’d better double check. So I typed the new mailing address into the iPhone ap we use to plan our drives.

Turns out new address is about 20 miles south of where I thought we were going. Also turns out that instead of Lake Campground I’d booked Expensive Campground.

Anyway. On Tuesday we arrived Desert Edge campground in north Phoenix. I don't think we'll be kayaking here but they do have a swimming pool. And I'll be taking a refresher course in paying attention to details.
On our way to Phoenix not far from Casa Grande, AZ: Picacho Peak in the background and blooming brittle bush in the foreground.  A hike to the top of Picacho Peak has an elevation gain of 1780 feet. 
Many of the camping spots at Desert's Edge Campground have two rigs parked "foot to foot" in a single, long parking spot.  We have a wide corner space instead, with lots of room. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

See you next year, Tucson

We've been at Tucson's Davis Monthan Air Force Base since January 5. We like Tucson -- a lot -- but it's time to move, so today we're headed north. Before we go we wanted to post pics of a few more things we've done lately:

 Visited the Tucson Museum of Art
The spring exhibit we saw included "The Figure Examined," (self explanatory) "The WPA Connection," (creations of artists who were part of the Works Progress Administration's depression-era public art project); "La Vida Fantastica,"(folk art); and "Shadow Play," (works that highlight light and shadow).  We also visited Tucson's very interesting Desert Art Museum, but photos of most of the exhibits were prohibited.

Ate lunch at Davis Mothan's Food Trucks
Twice a month food trucks offer lunch at the Air Force Base.  We ate there last week and nine trucks offered Indian cuisine, burgers, pizza, barbecue, Mexican, Italian, Canadian (poutine, anyone?) and apparently two more I can't remember but I'm sure were great.  I had chicken tandoori; Jim had a turkey avocado sandwich on Texas toast.  I noticed the sign in the second photo above and asked the server about it.  He said because the trucks were from off base they all had to post a buyer-beware-type sign.  The food was good; no food poisoning to be had.

Enjoyed the spring flowers
Tucson had a record-breaking-almost-an-inch of rain January 30 and in the first 45 days of 2015 had about 2.5 inches.  That last number is about an inch more than normal and a lot more than the .01 inch Tucson had last year in the same time frame, per a local TV station. That small amount of rain makes the desert bloom. Above are few plants blooming right now here at Davis Monthan. The yellow spiky one on the right is an aloe vera flower-- the same aloe vera used in sun burn lotions.  

Ocotillo -- which before it blooms looks like a pile of spiny sticks -- are in heavy flower all over town.  Some ocotillo are thick and full like the one above, others are thin and wavy, others are pretty bare except for a few red flowers.  Supposedly they can bloom several times a year if they get enough rain.  Without much rain, the plants usually green up and bloom in the spring.  Locals have long made fences from the sticks, which sometimes bloom and turn into living barriers.
Made return trips to a few brew pubs.
From top to bottom:  Jim at Sentinel Brewing; dark beer big sampler at Dragoon Brewing; Jim at the the bottle store of a pub called 1702 -- we'd only been there once before about six weeks ago and the server remembered Jim. Not sure if that's good or bad.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tucson's Rattlesnake Bridge

Tucson has interesting art on walls, overpasses and underpasses along its streets. But one of the coolest pieces of street art is a bike and pedestrian bridge in the shape of a diamondback rattlesnake that crosses Tucson's Broadway Boulevard 

At one end is a huge rattlesnake head. At the other is a winding tail complete with large rattle. To get from one end to the other you amble through a long snake belly.

The body is made of a metal mesh that shimmers in the sunlight. Fortunately the snake is more artsy-looking than scary. But it is a little scary.

The snake head at one end of a 280-foot bridge that crosses six lanes of traffic on downtown Tucson's Broadway Boulevard.
Once you cross Broadway via the bridge, you exit by the snakes tail.  The bridge was designed by a Tucson artist, paid for with public art funds, and competed in 2002.
More shots of Tucson's rattlesnake bridge. Clockwise from top left:  A close up of a snake eye; bicyclists riding through the snake body; a view of the snake as it crosses Broadway Boulevard; and Jim standing between snake fangs at the entrance to the bridge .
Just a few photos of other "road art" we've seen along I-10 and on Tucson city streets.  At the top is another pedestrian bridge not far from the rattlesnake. Third from the top is part of one of several large "face collages"along Tucson's Fourth Avenue.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Walking on my tippy toes

This post isn't as exciting as our last one. Thank goodness.

Since I (Bev) have been back in Tucson, Jim and I have made a return trip to Barrio Brewing because Jim loves their fish tacos (not to mention their beer), visited Dragoon Brewing, attended an eat-street-tacos-and-meet-the-new-RV-park-manager event here at the Davis Monthan Fam Camp, and made a trip to Tucson's Fourth Avenue area. Fourth Avenue is Tucson's hipster place with funky shops, restaurants, bars, thrift stores, a food co-op, tattoo parlors, and lots of folks on skateboards. It's one national chain is Dairy Queen; the day we visited was DQ's anniversary and we each got one of the free ice cream cones they gave out.

We've also kept up our gym routine. Which we need after tacos, beer and ice cream. Monday I did a leg exercise I hadn't done for a long time and didn't think much about it. Afterwards we walked up and down Fourth Avenue. Yesterday I went to a mall and walked a lot but nothing out of the ordinary.  

Not long after getting back from the mall both my calves suddenly cramped up.The only way I could walk was on my tip toes. Today I can slowly and gingerly walk on my toes or wearing shoes with a heel. Note to self: When at the gym, go easy on the calf raises.

Below are some family shots I took while in Ohio, plus one taken in Tucson. They have absolutely nothing to do with what I just wrote -- I just wanted to include them because someday I am going to print out our blog and want to include these photo memories .

My brother Bob, Mom and me.  Bob and I both have degrees from Ohio State. Our younger brother, Don, went to the University of Colorado and says the letters on our hats could stand for Totally Hedonistic and Egotistical. That's funny, but Bob and I disagree.
My son Paul with his Grandma (my Mom).  Paul lives in Lakewood, Ohio, and plans to move to California soon. Love you, Paulie and Mom. 
Paul, Mom and me.
Not technically family, but pretty darn close:  My high school friend, Sally.
Meanwhile, back in Tucson:  The morning after I got back from Ohio, my cousin's daughter, Chris, and her family stopped to visit us at Davis Monthan.  They are currently in El Paso, where Chris's Army husband, Jimmy, is attending training at Fort Bliss.  Chris, Jimmy and their boys were driving through Tucson on their way back from a Grand Canyon camping trip. Tent camping. In the snow.  These guys are hardy.  From left to right:  Chris, sons Zak, Jake and Austin, and Jimmy. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

May contain inappropriate language

Wednesday I flew from Ohio (where I was visiting my Mom) back to to Tucson (where Jim had stayed with Cooper and the rig). On the Chicago to Tucson leg of my flight, I had a window seat. There was an empty seat between me and the elderly, dignified-looking gentleman in the aisle seat. As the plane was backing up on the tarmac, a flight attendant brought over a woman who'd gotten on late and couldn’t find a spot at the back of the full plane.

Middle Seat Woman and Elderly Gentleman had trouble deciding whose seat belt was whose. During the seatbelt-detangling process, Middle Seat noticed a pronounced bump on Elderly Gentleman's finger. She asked him what it was. “It’s caused by my arthritis,” he said. “Can I touch it?’ she asked.  

I knew then I was in trouble.

During the course of the flight, Middle Seat asked about my kids, my marriage, my job. She offered me an unwrapped sour patch candy from the bottom of her purse, and asked me to touch the “lucky rock” she also pulled from her purse. The topper was when she told me I had “great t*ts.” No lie. On the positive side, she didn’t ask to touch them.  

I called Mom to tell her I’d arrived in Tucson safe and sound and also told her about my conversation with Middle Seat.  Right away she asked “What were you wearing?” Geez, Mom. Blame the victim. (I’m kidding, Mom. About blaming the victim, not about what I told you. But I had on my gray and purple long-sleeved, high-necked T-shirt.) 

If Jim had been sitting next to Middle Seat, he would have broken the window and climbed out on the wing. Or he might have gone with it and told her he was a secret agent. I just felt bad because it’s got to be tough being her.  

But it was a long flight.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

We're having a heat wave

It seemed like Ohio was never going to warm up.  But it appears to be happening. 
Last week this was the view out my Mom's south facing window: Ice courtesy of Mother Nature plus crystal prisms courtesy of me and my niece Brooke.   That's a tree waiting for spring in the background.  
Until Sunday, the only bird we saw in Mom's yard was the mourning dove pictured in a previous post -- plus a big red hawk that eyed the mourning dove on occasion. When temps started to rise a bit, all sorts of birds appeared including this cardinal.
Monday I decided to visit one of Jim's and my favorite walking paths in Wellington: The Wellington Reservation, a 550 acre park not far from my Mom's.  It took me two hours to do two miles as I was snowshoeing in my sneakers. 
Today it's rainy, foggy and in the 40s. Ohioans are seeing bits of bare earth for the first time in what must seem like forever.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Biggest micro moon ever

I visited a friend this afternoon and came back to my Mom's about dusk.  As I walked into Mom's sun room with its big east facing windows, I noticed a flash of red low in the sky. It was a huge, orangey-red full moon.

As I write, the moon is higher in the sky and silver. I read here that tonight's full moon is the smallest one of the year, but it looked enormous as it rose over my Mom's woods at the eastern edge of her Ohio farm.

Tonight's full moon is the called a micro moon or mini moon because it's 30,000 miles farther from Earth than the closest full moon of the year.  But it looked plenty big when it first rose above the trees in my Mom's wood. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Local Forecast: "Sunny and Frigid"

A couple of days ago in Tucson a woman told me it was "freezing cold" outside.  It was in the 50s and a little drizzly.  If she thought it was cold in Tucson, she should be where I am as I write: northeastern Ohio, where the weather forecast the day after I arrived was "sunny and frigid."  Most of the time I've been here the weather has been similar but without the "sunny." Today's forecast is for probably the warmest day of the year so far, but includes "periods of freezing rain." The weather gods have not been kind to this part of the country in 2015, and it's worse elsewhere.

Despite the cold and snow -- which is getting a little old for most of those who actually live here -- I've had a great time. I'm visiting my Mom, spent a weekend with my brother and sister-in-law, and was able to get my son to his Grandma's as well.

Jim is with the rig at Tucson's Davis Monthan Air Force Base, and I'll be in Ohio  another week.
A mourning dove has been hanging out in Mom's lilac bush and bird feeder.  I tried to melt the water in the bird bath, but with these temps I have not been too successful.

The first night I was with my brother Bob and SIL Suzie, they took me out to dinner at a Brecksville, Ohio, wine bar called "750 ml" -- the measurement of a standard bottle of wine. Very nice.
One of my brother and SIL's six black poodles looking for a shortcut into the house.  

SIL Suzie, son Paul (who lives in the Cleveland suburb of Lakewood) and my brother Bob in downtown Cleveland where we did a little sight-seeing and grocery shopping.
Part of the Cleveland skyline on a day that was frigid but not sunny.  Actually, it didn't feel that bad.  The skyscraper on the right is the 708-foot-high Terminal Tower, the fourth-tallest building in the world when it was dedicated in 1930. It originally was an office building atop a new railroad station.  Now it's atop a casino, shopping mall, and hotel.
Five opulent theaters opened in 1921 and 1922 in downtown Cleveland; by the late 1960s four had shut their doors.  They've since been restored and a couple of new ones added to what is known as "Playhouse Square."
This 20-foot long chandelier hangs over the street at the corner of 14th Street and Euclid Avenue in downtown Cleveland's Playhouse Square.
Rotunda gracing a newly opened (just last week) Heinen's grocery store in downtown Cleveland. The upscale supermarket is in the beautifully renovated Cleveland Trust Bank building.
Suzie, Paul and Bob at Heinen's "Sip, Swirl, Savor" wine tasting station.  You buy a smart card, slide it like a credit card, select the wine you want and the amount, place an actual wine glass (no plastic cups here) under a spout, and voila!
After staying two nights with Bob and Suzie, Paul and I drove to my Mom's via the town of Medina, where nearly 100 ice sculptures -- including this doggie -- grace the town square. They were carved in mid-January.