Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hitch Itch

Devil's Tower -- July 2007

The park's population is dropping daily as my snowbird neighbors at Far Horizons have left and headed north to their other homes. Those who don't have other homes, have hitched up their trailers or coaches to begin their summer journeys. There are some who are year round residents. There are some like myself who will be gone for only a few months before returning next fall.

With others preparing to leave the park and farewell activities, it was with nostalgia and "hitch itch" that I recalled the previous twelve years when I began my summer travels. If I still had Silver Slug and Wandrin Wagon, I would have started my travels. However, with the sale of my home on wheels that wasn't going to happen. So now with a home without wheels I will travel differently.

Tucson's nine months of good weather does not include the summer months of 100 degree temperatures. That is time for me to travel. On June 15th, I drive my Toyota Highlander from Tucson -- still in Arizona -- to Prescott. 200 miles north and at an elevation of 5000 feet, the daily temps will be cooler at Prescott -- 10 to 15 degrees cooler.

With a three month reservation at Prescott Valley for a park model in an RV park, that will be my base for hiking and exploring. Exploring beyond Prescott will include day trips to Cottonwood, Sedona, Payson and other points in northern Arizona. There are tentative plans for a several day trip to the Grand Canyon.

Recalling the great times of exploring and hiking over the past 13 years has given me a serious case of hitch itch.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Paleontologist

I was driving along Speedway a couple of days ago in the area of the University of Arizona. In front of me at a traffic signal was a Jeep Wrangler. The vanity plate was DRYBONZ. There was a bumper sticker in the rear window that said "Bring Back The Pleistocene".

With those clues it wasn't very hard to determine he/she was a paleontologist.

No doubt this summer the Jeep will be far off the beaten path as the paleontologist scours the earth searching for a fossil from the Pleistocene.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Refrigerator

A downside of the settled existence in "sticks and bricks" is the huge refrigerator. For 13 years of full time RVing, I had an 8 cubic foot refrigerator. It was the perfect size. The refrigerator in my home is twice that size.

The downside of that huge refrigerator is that I over buy at the grocery store. It seems I don't wonder when I am going to eat all that food.

Now that I had a permanent home, I considered getting a 5 cubic foot chest freezer to put in the shed. Then I could get a quarter of grass feed beef. Obviously, that would make even more food available. I abandoned that chest freezer thought when I knew that I could get grass fed beef at the weekly Tucson farmers' markets.

One advantage of the new refrigerator is that it self defrosts. Every other week, I now have an extra hour of time on my hands. :-)

A simple solution to the problem of the excess refrigerator space is to put some empty boxes in there to take up space.

An even better solution would be aware while shopping. Go with a list. That would be a good start.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Birding Day

A walk today at the Sonora Desert Museum 
provided lots of photo ops including some birds.

Gila Woodpecker perched at its nesting hole

Cactus Wren atop a saguaro

Although quite warm, it was great day in a settled life.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Night Blooming Cereus

As I took a walk about the park last evening, I came upon a family of the Night Blooming Cereus. With the ten buds opening at six last evening, I knew it was going to be a real show this morning. About six this morning this was the cactus greeting.

There are ten blooms on the cactus. Unusual that all the buds bloomed at the same time. Usually, the blooms are spaced out over a couple of days. Here is a closeup of three of the blossoms.

Finally a closeup of a single blossom.

As a night blooming cereus blooming for a single night, by early afternoon the blooms were drying up and curling inward.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Saguaro Bud To Bloom

These were the buds on April 4th.

Seven days later on April 11th.

Yesterday there was a single Saguaro bloom.

And a close up of the bloom.

In a few days I hope to be back to capture more photos of Saguaros in bloom.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

How To Take Off Your T-shirt

Contributing to viral videos is not my pass time. However, after laughing so hard, I had to share a YouTube video: You've Been Taking Off Your T-shirt Wrong

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Deer Hoof Petroglyphs

A few days ago I was relating to another park resident the deer hoof petroglyphs I found when hiking Madera Canyon several years ago. Yesterday I decided to revisit Madera Canyon -- and hopefully find -- those petroglyphs.

With lots of trails to choose from, I thought I recalled where I had seen the deer hoof petroglyphs. Headed to the Mt. Baldy Trailhead. I could recall what the trail looked like where I found the glyphs. It was a jumble of rocks of varying sizes. As I walked the trail today, I encountered nothing like what I remembered.

About a mile on the trail, I decided that the odds were that I was not going to find the glyphs. So I decided to enjoy the shady hike with birds celebrating with song the warmer weather.

After I made that decision, it may have been another 200 feet along the trail when I came upon a rock with deer hoof petroglyphs.

This rock and the petroglyphs did not even come close to what I remembered. It was at that point I decided that there may be more than one of these creations on the trails in Madera Canyon.

As I closely examined the "rock engravings", it appeared the engraving may have been done with a pointed chisel. That and a hammer, it would have taken a while to give some contrast to the rock surface.

When I returned home, I searched the computer photo archives for the photo of the deer hoof petroglyphs. This is the photo of the set of deer hoof petroglyphs I found in 2010.

I wonder how many more sets of deer hoof petroglyphs are in the canyon. Looks like there are more Madera Canyon -- petroglyph searches -- hikes in the future.

Coordinates for the glyphs I found today are N31.70323 W110.87599.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Trichocereus In Bloom

Walking around the park a couple of evenings ago after dinner, I spotted some blooms on a trichocereus cactus. The cactus blooms late in the day and by the next day at noon the bloom has shriveled away.

With some time in front of the computer and with Photoshop, the bloom is the star of this photo.

Trichocereus is how the plant is identified at nurseries. Searching the internet, there is little information. I did find one entry that seemed to imply that the cactus was native to Peru. The cactus books in my library don't have a reference to it. Now you know as much as I do.

Note: One of this species (white or in color is still undecided) will be part of my landscaping in front of my home. That two by ten foot space will have several cactus plants. A Christmas Cholla has already been planted. There is no hurry to fill the remaining space. This is home -- for a while.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Buying Shoes

Once called tennis shoes, they also may be known as: sneakers; gym shoes; walking shoes; running shoes, or athletic shoes. Whatever they are called, mine had to be replaced.

It's now four years since I developed a balance issue. Not sure why and the doctors (of many disciplines) have not been able to find a reason -- let alone any therapy or chemicals that might mitigate the problem.

One of the first doctor visits recommended walking barefoot to help with balance. It works. Walking barefoot at home is a habit. Beyond home I wear shoes. However, finding a shoe that is "almost bare foot" is difficult to find.

After Christopher McDougall's book Born To Run (published 2009) became a hit,  the shoe manufacturers went after the latest source of new profits. They started making light weight shoes with no raised heel and no arch support that was close to barefoot.

Unfortunately for me, my foot is wider than the standard that is made by the shoe industry. I searched for a shoe that was close to barefoot. Vibram Five Fingers didn't work. Too narrow and getting my toes to separate for "five fingers" just didn't work as easily as was claimed. The Luna sandal works for hot weather, but I would rather not have that thong that goes between the toes.

Finding a shoe for my wide foot for living every day and hiking became a challenge. The finalist in the search for a barefoot style shoe was the New Balance Minimus. My complaint is that they come in day glow colors or something that appears to have come from the clown supply store.  When I asked at a New Balance store why the wild colorful Minimus shoes. The response was that runners like colorful shoes. 

Really. The runner has his plain t-shirt and his dark running shorts. To compliment that "boring" combination, the runner is looking for racing stripes in day-glow colors on his shoes. I doubt it.

The colors of the recently purchased shoes for hiking were black and gray. More black than gray. How about a gray shoe that looks dirty from day one.

For the times when not hiking I have purchased a second pair which glows in the dark -- white on white. Soon they will be gray. It is only a matter of time.

A pox on shoe engineers/designers/color consultants/ and anyone else who had anything to do with making shoes that come in day glow colors. How about a gray shoe.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Gila Monster

Sighting a Gila monster on my hike today made this hike extra special.

Even better I was able to get a photo of the guy as he scurried away. In all the years of hiking in Arizona, I have seen six Gila monsters. Only two times have I been able to get a photo. This photo was the second time.

Perhaps I will get lucky again on the next hike.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Warming Up

With clouds last evening at sunset, I went to Saguaro East NP for a short walk and perhaps get a sunset photo. No success for a sunset photo. Some better photos were of the desert of cactus and saguaros with the distant Catalina Mountains.

Daily Tucson temperatures have been in the nineties the past three days. My thermometer recorded a high of 96 today. Another ninety degree day is predicted for tomorrow. The long range predictions are nothing below the mid 80s for the next ten days.

I am adapting. I hike early before the temperatures get into the 90s.

Yup. I know. There are warmer -- make that hotter -- days ahead.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Lots Wrong Here

Note the photo and the signs on the building




The sign on the left reads: 

Now Hiring Great DR's and PA's

Remember when you went into a restaurant where there was a sign in the window that said "Hiring Wait Staff. Apply Inside." Of course the restaurant was understaffed and you waited a long time for service.

Lots of questions here for this business. How come the staff isn't already in place. Hiring doctors and physicians assistants via a sign hung outside seems rather unusual. It seems very strange that doctors and physician assistants would just walk in off the street and apply for a job. Then there is the grammatical problem with the apostrophe use in "DR's and PA's".

None of what I see gives me any confidence to consider getting care at this location.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Iconic Saguaro

The saguaro is an icon of Arizona and is used frequently in advertising. The iconic saguaro has only two arms on opposite sides of the main trunk. Most times one is a bit higher than the other.

In the natural world, it is difficult to find such a creation. However, on a recent hike with the park hikers, we did find this almost iconic version of a saguaro on the Douglas Springs trail.

Not only is it an icon of Arizona, it has buds and a couple of blossoms on the left arm.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Saguaro Buds

Saguaros are budding out early this year. February was unusually warm. Every year that I was in Tucson during the month of February, there was a cold spell and there was snow on the ground right outside Wandrin Wagon. The accumulated snow was visible on the Catalina and the Rincon Mountains. Not this year.

When speaking to a Saguaro East volunteer, he said that a saguaro along the Shantz trail had already bloomed the last week of February.

This saguaro is at the intersection where the Cholla Trail meets the Cactus Forest Trail -- in Saguaro East NP. With its arms akimbo, it is one of the many saguaros that I have spotted that have buds. 

Note that arm hanging down in the center. The end of that arm is at the top of my head. This is a close up photo of the buds at the end of the arm.

This closeup reveals that they resemble Brussels sprouts. Sure look like it.

If they were Brussels Sprouts, I would parboil them with a little bacon grease and garlic. I could make a meal out of those.  However, I would rather see them as a saguaro blossom.

With the head high location of these buds, there will be many more hiking visits to get more photos as the saguaro buds develop into flowers.

Friday, April 4, 2014


That was the word for the day for April 4th at

In the interests of sharing knowledge with my readers,  omphaloskepsis means "contemplation of one's navel as part of a mystical exercise".

Hmm. Some day with nothing better to do, I will do meditation while looking at my navel. No doubt that exercise may last for just a few seconds.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

100 Year Birthday Celebration

When I first met Bob Scott playing Pinochle some months ago, he said he was ninety-nine and three quarters years old. Meeting someone that old was a first.

Bob is a winter resident at Far Horizons Tucson Village. This past weekend was the birthday celebration for his 100th birthday. The celebration began with the Marine Corp color guard honoring Bob for his 20 plus years of service with the Marines. Family and park residents were there for cake and ice cream. It was vanilla ice cream -- Bob's favorite flavor.

Less than a month ago at a Pinochle game, some one asked Bob who was coming for his birthday celebration. He responded that his family and his kid brother would be attending. The obvious question was how old is your kid brother. He's only 93! Looks like longevity runs in the genes.

If I manage to make it to 100 years of age, I hope I am still capable of shuffling cards and playing Pinochle like Bob.