Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sabino Canyon, Trip Two

Yesterday we made a trip to Tucson's Sabino Canyon in the the Santa Catalina Mountains, just ten miles from where we are staying at Davis Monthan Air Force Base.  We visited for the first time a few weeks ago and walked about halfway up the 3.7 mile canyon road, which is closed to traffic except for open-air shuttles called trams.  This time we thought we'd try the tram and then hike an actual trail.

Tickets were $8 each for the 40-minute round trip, which is narrated by the driver and makes 9 stops. It was a fun way to get a look at the canyon and learn a little about its history, flora and fauna.  After a short hike at the top to Sabino Canyon Creek, we walked back down the road.  Jim did the entire 3.7 miles to the visitor center, but I stopped one mile short -- it felt like my quads might blow up after yesterday's weight lifting session -- and got on the tram.  While I was waiting I met a woman from New York who was hiking with two recently replaced hips!
The road up Sabino Canyon.  Our tram driver said 33 mountain lions live in the canyon; one of her first directives was do's and don'ts if you see one while hiking:  Maintain eye contact, back away, don't run, don't crouch down.  (Jim and I think you are also supposed to make yourself look as big as possible by raising your arms or holding up your back pack, but we've never had to put that to the test.)  She also pointed out a lot of places where the cats were seen from the road, but no such luck for us.  As it was warm (in the mid-70s) I was more concerned about rattlers, but we didn't see any of them, either.
An Arizona sycamore, which is native to Arizona and New Mexico and also part of northern Mexico.  
The Sabino Canyon tram at the top of the canyon, where we got out and started our hike.  When we started our ride up, Jim started humming "It's a Small World After All" because the tram does kind of look like a Disneyland ride.  Fortunately I was able to get the song out of my head.
Bev on the trail at the top of the canyon and on a trail toward Sabino Canyon Creek.
Our destination:  Sabino Creek, which crosses the canyon road several times but is about a half a mile from the road at the top of the canyon. We sat in the shade of a couple of big boulders near this spot and had a snack.  After the one mile round trip to the creek, we walked back down the canyon road. Jim took this photo with his iPhone.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hanging with Arnold Swarzenegger (pre governator)

There was a 12-day gap between our last two posts because I wasn't sure how to write about our main activity of late.  Nothing weird or dangerous or remotely criminal.  Well, maybe somewhat dangerous, for us at least:  We’ve been working out at the Air Force base gym.

Jim and I have long been hikers. In the last year we've also kayaked when we have an opportunity, i.e., we're someplace other than Tucson.  Jim worked as a forest ranger for 20 years, so he used to get a lot of on-the-job exercise. I lifted weights off and on, but was last serious about it when Salt Lake City’s Deseret Gymnasium still existed, and anyone from SLC knows how long ago that was. 

Now, however, we are both working out on elliptical machines and lifting weights. The extra muscle weight lifting creates is good for you. With more muscle you burn more fat just sitting around because it takes more calories to support muscle than it does to support fat.  More muscle helps stave off osteoporosis because it actually builds bone. Stronger muscles help keep your joints in good shape. And on and on. But in the time since I worked out at the DG many years ago, I've acquired bad shoulders and a repaired meniscus. So I thought it might be wise to get a personal trainer.  Enter Coach Kayla.

Before Kayla, Jim and I were usually exercising about an hour a day on elliptical trainers and Jim was lifting weights. Since Kayla, I’ve added three days of weight training, cut back on the elliptical, and am doing about 20 minutes of what’s called high-intensity interval training (HIIT) in my elliptical workout.  In a HIIT workout you go all out for 15 seconds, then work out at a slower, more comfortable pace for the next 45 seconds.  Repeat 20 times.  (But build up to that 20 minutes --- no one needs to stroke out.) I do a lighter aerobic (walking/hiking/elliptical) workout on the days I weight train because I’m not crazy and I don’t want to blow out my knee or some other body part.

Jim nixed the idea of a personal trainer for himself because, and I'm quoting him here, he "does not put much stock in someone else's opinion."  He also says he's "not coachable," which this recent conversation illustrates:
Me:  Coach Kayla says to use the “talk test” to tell when I’m going full out during HIIT.  That means to push yourself to the point where you could not carry on a conversation, then slack off to where it would be comfortable to talk. Then repeat.

Jim:  What SPMs [steps per minutes] are you at?

Me:  I don’t know. I’m not looking. I’m using the talk test.

Jim:  What are you supposed to get your heart rate up to?

Me:  I'm just supposed to go as fast as I can take it. A couple of times near the end I noticed I was in the 140s, but I’m not really paying attention to heart rate. I’m using the talk test.

Jim:  So you are talking out loud while you are using the elliptical?

Me.  No.  If I’m going too fast to talk, I’m not talking. I can just tell when I’d be able to talk or not. 

Jim:  How do you tell?


Jim:  Let’s go get a beer.

Like Jim says, he's not coachable.  But he's a great husband so I'll let it slide.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Our Anniversary: It was Twenty Years Ago Today

Actually, it was ten years ago that Jim and I were married.  And it was January 17, not January 27 (today).  And although Jim's taste in music is much more expansive than mine, we both like the Beatles; hence the title of this post.

To celebrate our wedding anniversary, we had an inexpensive celebration, considering that we were going to fancy it up.

First we saw the Oscar-nominated movie "Gravity" featuring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney plus the poor unnamed guy whose face disappeared in the movie's first few minutes. Jim liked the film. I wasn't all that enthused but the more I thought, the better it was. I looked up comments from actual astronauts regarding how the movie depicted space exploration.  Seems the space walks were pretty accurate, but you apparently can't just fly to a foreign space station in another orbit (with or without a boost from a fire extinguisher) when you run into big trouble.

We had dinner reservations at Tucson's historic Hotel Congress, famous as a place the Dillinger crime gang stayed before being captured.  But first we stopped at "The World of Beer" for a drink and a huge pretzel. The pretzel was graciously comped because the bar tender briefly forgot to send the order to the kitchen. Then at the nearby hotel we had dinner entirely off the happy hour menu for a total of $20.  

Anyway, happy belated anniversary to us.  Between us, we've been married 58 years if you count his, mine and ours.
After this pretzel (obviously I'd already eaten a hunk of it) at Tucson's "World of Beer" we probably could have skipped dinner.
A dusty-wine-bottle chandelier at the Hotel Congress, where we had our anniversary dinner.  The hotel touts its connection with former public enemy number 1, John Dillinger.  As the story goes, in January 1934 Dillinger and his gang were staying at the Hotel Congress when a fire broke out.  They fled the hotel, but tipped a fireman to go back in and retrieve their luggage -- which contained $25,000 in cash from a recent bank robbery.  One of the fire men later recognized a gang member's photo in a copy of "True Detective" magazine and told the police, which led to the gang's capture.  I'm not sure about the gang, but Dillinger escaped and met his end a few months later in a Chicago shoot out.  
Palm trees and shadows in downtown Tucson.
Meanwhile, sunset as seen from our camping spot at Tucson's Davis Monthan Air Force Base.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Tucson's Center for Creative Photography

Yesterday we went on a "group road trip" to the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson.  The Agave Gulch Fam Camp here at Davis Monthan Air Force Base had a sign-up sheet in the office for the tour.  We thought "sounds good" and signed up, not really knowing anything about the place or tour other than it costs $5 each.

Turns out it wasn't a guided tour; instead, Pam, the Fam Camp manager, drove 8 of us to a place on the University of Arizona in an Air Force utility van, dropped us off and then picked us back up in a couple of hours. 

And -- it was interesting and a lot of fun.

The exhibit we saw consisted totally of photos by Charles Harbutt, an American photographer who worked as a photo journalist for 20 years. After that he focused more on personal photos rather than those about social and economic change. 

The exhibit included a video about Harbutt's most recent book, "Departures and Arrivals," two electronic displays where you could page thorough his two previous books, a continually running slide show of many of his photos, and blow ups of some of his work displayed on the walls.

Harbutt has taken photos all over the world, including Cuba during the 1959 revolution that lead to Fidel Castro's control.  At the time Harbutt was 23, spoke no Spanish, but ended up briefly working for Castro's newspaper, La Revolucion. A quote from Harbutt in the exhibition said that on day one in Cuba he experienced the following firsts: covered a major news story, saw a dead body, was picked up by the police, jailed, slept on a park bench, and had a tryst with a beautiful young woman.  Jim later remarked that it took him at least two years in the Navy to accomplish all that.

Bev in front of Tucson's Center for Creative Photography.  On it's website it claims to be the world's largest institution devoted to documenting the history of North American photography." Charles Harbutt is still alive and is, in fact, giving a lecture in Tucson tomorrow evening.
The "after party":  The exhibit was not as big as Fam Camp manager Pam had thought, so our group made use of the extra time by having lunch at a University of Arizona pub called Frog and Firken.   Two more folks showed up after I took this photos but above are Lynn, a former school principle from Indiana, plus Steve and Vicky of Spokane.  And Jim.
Bev and Jim at Frog and Firkin.  I had a Sam Smith Chocolate Stout, which may be a new favorite.  Jim had a Frog and Firken IPA. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Just stuff in Tucson

I’m writing this from the laundry room at the Agave Gulch military fam camp at Tucson’s Davis Monthan Air Force Base.  I didn’t think there would be an empty washer available, since the RV park here has 200 camping spots and a laundry room with only 8 washers and dryers. But I’m the only one in here and Jim’s promised to come back and help me fold.

Since I posted last time we’ve been going to the gym and celebrated my birthday on January 8 with a dinner at my favorite Tucson Mexican restaurant.  I've taken knitting and crocheting lessons, we went to the nearby Nimbus Brewery, and Jim’s gotten in plenty of NFL watching and is glad his favorite team -- the Seattle Seahawks -- will play in this weekend’s NFC championship game.  Jim spent his high school years in Washington so he's partial to the Seahawks. 

Also, we met two very cool fellow Lazy Dazers, Carol and Linda, who live near Petaluma, CA and are here at the Davis Monthan Fam Camp.  Carol actually grew up in Lorain, Ohio, which is very close to my home town.  Carol and Linda saw our Lazy Daze motor home and since there are so few of them out there, they knocked on our door to say hello.

One thing we have not been doing is kayaking, since the closest suitable body of water is 70 miles away.  Jim said he was tired of getting funny looks driving around with kayaks on top of the car, so we took them off and are storing them behind the rig.   Makes it harder to find our car in a parking lot, however.
Some of the decorations at El Charro, the restaurant where we celebrated my birthday. El Charro has been in business since 1922 and claims to be the oldest Mexican restaurant in the US continually run by the same family.  I had the carne seca burrito; the beef it contains is dried on the roof of the restaurant.  Sounds a little sketchy, but they dry it in a suspended cage and it tasted very good.
My yarn results, so far.  Shortly after my first crochet lesson I called Jim and said “You’ll never guess where I am.”  I was at BevMo, a beer/wine/liquor store that sounds like my name abbreviated, and I needed a drink because my brain was dead and my already-not-working-too-well right shoulder was aching.  I had another lesson the next day and Marcela, my Chilean instructor, told me she’s thought about it and decided I should try knitting instead.  Good call, Marcela.  Much easier.  The beer is a Mud Shark double chocolate stout.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

At "home" in Tucson

We used up our MiFi hotspot time watching the Orange Bowl January 3 (great game, even through the wrong team won) and I can’t get on the WiFi where we are right now.  Long story short, I didn’t post as soon as I wanted after arriving in Tucson on Saturday and as I write I'm at a Starbucks.

Anyway, we and the rig are at the Agave Gulch Fam Camp at Davis Monthan Air Force Base and it feels like home.  Agave Gulch had about 30 out of 200 spots unoccupied so we quickly set up with water, sewer, electricity, basic TV and so far very bad Internet for $20 a night.  

Our first full day here we got up, had breakfast, worked out at the rec center (Davis Monthan has two we can use).  Then I wandered around the Exchange (the department store), got some groceries at the Commissary, made an odd-sounding dinner that Jim liked (fried chickpeas with turkey sausage and spinach), read the newspaper for things to do here in Tucson, then watched Downton Abby.  Jim is nursing a sore back he got shoveling snow back home in Salt Lake, so until Downton Abby Saturday was a total football watching day for him -- as is any day I don’t perform my social chairman duties.

Since then our big activity has been a hike at Sabino Canyon, which is in northern Tucson and only 10 miles from Davis Monthan.  We’ve had many people tell us how wonderful Sabino is, but we’ve never visited before because they don’t allow dogs -- not even in the parking lot -- and Jim and Cooper are attached at the hip.  Despite that attachment, however, our 14-year-old blue heeler mix is now happier with a half-mile walk and then a long nap in the rig.  So we went sans dog.

Sabino Canyon is part of the Coronado National Forest and in the Santa Catalina Mountains.  The canyon has 250 miles of hiking trails and a vehicle they call a "tram" (really an open-air shuttle) that takes you to the tops of two different canyon roads.  Car access is limited, so people can walk right up the road, too, which is what we did yesterday just to get a feel for the canyon. We may have found a place that will rank in our top couple of hiking spots, two others being Millcreek Canyon near our home in Salt Lake and Capitol Reef in south central Utah.
From our rig's dining room window we have a view of the "Boneyard," an Air Force missile and aircraft storage facility at Davis Monthan Air Force Base.  Per Wikipedia it's the largest airplane storage and preservation facility in the world and takes care of about 4,400 planes.
Bev at Sabino Canyon.  We are back among the saguaros, which are native to the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, California, and the northwest Mexican state of Sonora.
Jim on one of the trails we took near the main road.  Sabino Canyon has lots of water, cacti, critters and trails.  We'll be back.
The road up Sabino Canyon. We almost didn't go hiking this day because it seemed "cold" at temps in the high 60's. So we wore jeans but should have worn shorts.
January must be autumn in Arizona, or at least this Cottonwood tree has on it's fall colors.
The Sabino Canyon tram crosses the Sabino Creek over 9 stone bridges. The ride up the canyon is just under four miles, narrated, and costs $8.  I think next time we go to Sabino we'll take the tram to hear what they say and get an overall view of this part of the Canyon.  

Friday, January 3, 2014

Back in Yuma, AZ

We babysat the grand kids New Years Eve, went to bed early (20-month-old Marshall woke up inconsolable once, but if you can get him distracted with any type of ball, you can eventually get him back to sleep) and left Salt Lake City January 1 for warmer climes.  The Salt Lake area is beautiful -- mountains, trees, even that crazy Great Salt Lake at the right spots -- but cold weather brings inversions and we drove south for an hour before we got out of the soup.  New Years Eve Day we went bowling with the kids/grand kids at Olympus Hills Bowling, where there’s a wonderful view of the city from the parking lot.  If you didn’t know what it was, it was almost beautiful to see the tops of the buildings poking out of the gunk.  But both Jim and I have morning head stuffiness we think might be caused by the smog.  I’m glad my kids/grand kids live slightly “up the hill” and are not right down in the valley -- although I’m sure they still get plenty of smog exposure.

Near Santaquin, UT, the smog cleared and we continued south to Henderson, NV where we had a hotel for the night.  Ashley (my daughter) asked me what we were going to do near Vegas -- go to a show, out to dinner, hit a casino?  I said we’d probably read, watch TV and go to bed early before going on the Yuma where we stored the rig.  That’s exactly what we did.

As expected, when we arrived in Yuma Thursday (yesterday) all the camping spots at the Yuma Proving Ground Fam Camp were full.  So we got the rig and kayaks out of our storage space, put the boats on top of the tow car, filled the rig with water, bought groceries at the commissary, and headed to some BLM land closer to town.

Today was do-stuff-to-the-rig day.  This morning we drove to CJ's RV repair here in Yuma.  They'd ordered a part to fix the rig awning which we could not longer roll in or out.  After that, we went to Love's Truck Stop to dump the tanks, then we got gas, came back to our BLM spot and put water in the coach batteries.

Tomorrow the plan is to drive to Tucson.

PS:  We are both wearing shorts and T-shirts today, a big change from our wardrobe in Salt Lake.  
Some typical scenery between Las Vegas and Yuma.  This spot was not far from Searchlight, NV, hometown of Senator Harry Reid.  Per Wikipedia, 539 people live in Searchlight but during the gold mining boom days it was larger than Las Vegas with a population of about 1,500 people. It's slightly bigger than a "blink or you'll miss it" place.
I've been meaning to post this photo of me and our next-door neighbor, Lisa, when we were at the Yuma Proving Grounds Fam Camp.  In front of us is Lisa's Sun Oven -- a solar cooker that cooks/bakes/steams just about any food. Lisa's husband, Dale, took this photo.
Tonight and last night were on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land about 17 miles from downtown Yuma.  Campers can stay on specific BLM land for free for 14 days; after that you can move to another free spot at least 25 miles away.
Bob of CJ's RV Repair working on our rig awning.  The awning had a broken gear in the roll out/roll in mechanism.  I'm sure there's a technical name for that, but I'm just glad it works.
While Bob the RV guy was working on the rig awning, I walked across the street and took photos of a field of cabbage.
And another crop.  I think this is a type of curly lettuce.