Sunday, March 30, 2014

Hiking With The Equine Set

When using the hiking trails at the Douglas Springs trail head at the end of Speedway, it isn't unusual to share the trails with horse riders from the nearby Tanque Verde Ranch. Seeing the Percheron breed as a riding horse is unusual. About a month ago, I saw two Percherons in the string of horses.

These were the large and stocky horse that I remember from my Wisconsin farming childhood days.

A couple of days ago I noted Percherons in the string once again. These were not the same ones from the previous sightings. They were also a somewhat lighter version than those first two. I suppose they could actually have been the result of a mating with a quarter horse and a Percheron resulting in a less stocky horse.

I commented to the wrangler that I found it unusual to see Percherons as saddle horses. He didn't deny these smaller versions were Percherons, but he did say that there were two more back at the stable.

Then I wonder why the Percherons are in the string of riding horses. It could be that today's average rider is a heavier than ten years ago.

Two days ago when I was hiking, it must have been a mule day. I met three sets of two mules as I hiked. (Couldn't get a photo of any of them.)

Each time I meet horses or mules on the trail, I step off the trail to just look and admire. A few have brands. They range in colors and size and temperament. Some are more pampered than others. The short hair of some indicates that they spend their winter life wearing a blanket.

The downside of hiking the trails with the equine set requires careful stepping as I hike.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Finding My Car

Searching for my midsize white SUV --  Toyota Highlander -- in a parking lot is a challenge. A white car is a popular color in Arizona and there are a number of midsize SUVs in a parking lot. They all look alike from a distance. Which one is mine.

When full timing for 13 years I had parked the Silver Slug (one ton Ford truck) on the far side of parking lots. Trying to park a 20 foot truck in spaces designed for compact cars was not going to happen. It was just a lot easier to park the truck where there were no other vehicles.

I've continued the habit of parking on the fringes of parking lots. Now the reason is to delay that inevitable ding from another car door.

It was easy to spot the behemoth (Silver Slug) from a distance. Not so with the Highlander. I am not the only midsize SUV out there. Finding Oyster (my name for the car) among the many SUVs gives me exercise as I search for my car. Okay. So the minimal exercise is not a bad thing. 

That was when I started to think of ways to reduce the parking lot search. My first thought was to mount a small flag on a roof rail.

Then I considered another solution. How about a surf board atop the car. That would certainly make it unique in the parking lot and easy to spot.

However, in the interests of simplicity and avoiding the purchase of a surfboard, it seems best to get the exercise as I walk the parking lot looking for Oyster.

Finding my car via a walk in the parking lot is good. And it costs nothing.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Long Walk

My 13 years of full time RVing around the US was a modest adventure compared to Ryan Newburn's planned walk around the world.

24 year old Ryan Newburn is heading off to circle the world on foot. Read the story about Newburn's planned Walk Around The World.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Strawberry Face

Friend Rich is a guest at my house for a few days. In the course of being the local guide to the Tucson scene, this morning it was off to a nearby farmers market.

At a produce stand as Rich is selecting some heirloom tomatoes, I managed to catch this young guy feasting on a very ripe strawberry.

After the big bite, he sits back to enjoy the strawberry flavor.

Since the strawberries were over ripe, the stand vendor was offering a taste to anyone who wanted one. Rich and I obliged. There is no flavor like a ripe strawberry. No doubt that was the conclusion of the young man dining on the strawberry that was larger than his hand.

Strawberry face forever.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Modern Diet

Click here to see graphs showing health changes as a result of the modern diet.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Couch Potato

Too bad I don't have practice as a couch potato. Life would be easier.

That blast to destroy the kidney stone did collateral tissue damage and bruising to the kidney. So I took the prescribed pain killers. However, I have a hard time sitting and waiting to heal before stressing the body.

Soon I feel better and there is little pain. So I head out for walking and exploring. Bad idea. Returning from a half hour walk I am in pain. So back on the meds again.

Yesterday I did nothing to allow the body some chance to heal. A day wasn't long enough. This morning I thought a visit to a UofA campus museum seemed innocent and low stress. Not too much walking.

Wrong again. Once I was back home, I hit the pain killers again.

I finally got the message. Give the damage time to heal. So I will take a week off from exploring and walking.

With no experience as a couch potato and no TV habit, I will find tasks with minimal physical requirements.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Hiking Etiquette

On a recent hike, it happened again. I was hiking uphill when a trio of hikers stepped off the trail for me to pass by. I stepped off the trail almost simultaneously. The trio then insisted that I come on ahead -- since the uphill hiker had the right of way. Sorry. But this hiker needed a short rest.

Ten years or more ago, the rule found on the internet was -- simply -- "the uphill hiker has the right of way." There were no qualifications or exceptions.

In a search of the internet, there were several hits and -- fortunately -- the rule has been qualified:

Hikers going uphill are working hard and should be given the right of way over hikers coming downhill. Sometimes uphill hikers will prefer to stop and let you pass coming down so they can get a short break. The uphill hiker should get to make the call.
-- or this:

Vehicles making turns from traffic lanes enjoy the right of way. A similar rule applies to head-on encounters on the trail. If you’re descending a steep trail and you see hikers coming up, step off the path to let them pass. Since gaining elevation requires more energy than going down, it’s polite to give way to the person burning more calories. If the ascending hikers want to stop for a rest break, they can wave you ahead.

I can understand the downhill vehicle yielding to a motorized vehicle needing to maintain momentum on an uphill climb.

I do not understand applying that rule to uphill hikers. No doubt there are hikers who "power walk" uphill. Not me. I need an occasional rest on an uphill climb.

I'm not changing. Hiking etiquette means the downhill hiker has right of way. Always.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Blasting -- Long Version

Barney's comment, "KABOOM" is the twitter version of blasting the kidney stone.

Since I was under an anesthetic, I didn't hear or see any of the operation -- let alone a "KABOOM". Over twelve hours later, the kidney stone appears to be gone. Although there continued to be some kidney pain early in the day, this evening it is more of a minor discomfort.

A week from now, there will be an x-ray to see what remains -- if anything -- after the stone was blasted.

According to WebMD, this quote from the article Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy describes the process.
You lie on a water-filled cushion, and the surgeon uses X-rays or ultrasound tests to precisely locate the stone. High-energy sound waves pass through your body without injuring it and break the stone into small pieces. These small pieces move through the urinary tract and out of the body more easily than a large stone.
As I was being transferred to the operating table, I asked the technician how it ever was found to blast the stones in this fashion. He started to explain about airplane cock pit windows being pitted after driving through a rainstorm. The sedative must have been going into my bloodstream because that was all I heard. I really wonder what was the connection from pitted windows to ESWL. I found nothing when I searched the internet for anything about how the technology came about.

What I did find is that the ESWL procedure does have some risks -- in 5%-20% of the procedures performed. That would be another health risk along with my elevated cholesterol -- for which I take no statins. Actually, I take no drugs. That does seem to surprise the medical community that a 73 year old person can be healthy without taking any drugs.

This past week proved to be another "pot hole in the road of life". Soon I will be back to the every other day hiking habit. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Blasting Is Scheduled

That kidney stone that tried to pass last Friday night took up residence at the ureter. A second visit to the ER on Monday morning proved it hadn't moved.

The referred urologist was contacted on Monday to get the ER records. Getting the records less than a block turned out to be a problem. After two requests -- over two days -- to the hospital from the urologist and no response, this morning I went to the hospital to get the records. Then to the urologist office with the records.

Fortunately, the doctor was in the office. After viewing the CT Scan and Xray, he described what to expect during the blasting of the kidney stone. I really didn't care how it was done. Just do it.

Blasting is scheduled for seven a.m. on Friday. Show up at five a.m. No problem. I'll be there.

I'm looking forward to the blasting of a 6mm stone into something that will pass through the system.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Future Travel

Although I have stopped wandering around the US, I have not stopped exploring -- or travel.

The short list of urban areas to call home after 12 years of wandering included Tucson. Tucson was chosen for my settled existence because it has nine months of good weather. The remaining three months are June, July and August. (data courtesy of

Ave. Ave. Mean Ave

High Low Temp Precip
Jan  65 42 54 0.97
Feb  68 44 56 0.96
Mar  74 48 61 0.77
Apr  82 55 69 0.36
May  91 64 78 0.17
Jun  99 72 86 0.21
Jul  99 76 88 2.34
Aug  97 75 86 2.24
Sep  94 71 83 1.18
Oct  84 59 72 0.86
Nov  73 48 61 0.62
Dec  64 41 53 0.97

When I settled into my Tucson home, I considered staying for the summer. It's all about adapting to the temperatures -- and the summer monsoons. There are residents of Tucson who live, work and play here year round.

The non-working locals adapt by beginning their outside play at sunup and by ten they are back home as it heats up. Siesta time and relaxing fills the time until the sun goes down when they enjoy the cooler hours of the evening.

Leaving town for those summer months is also an option. It would be a good time to travel to higher elevations or northern latitudes in the US. The list of places in the US and Canada that would qualify in those categories is endless.

After more thoughts and internet searching, I was looking at numerous options for summer travel. Some options: a self planned Alaskan tour via the Marine Highway; a train tour of US and Canada; an extended stay in a northwest city; an extended stay southwestern Colorado; and others.

Another attractive option was a stay in a park model at an RV park in Prescott Valley, AZ. Just bring my stuff to a furnished unit. So I made the deposit for a three month stay. About 200 miles from Tucson, and at 5000 feet, it was a good choice for cooler weather. The RV park home would be a home base for local exploring and the possibility of an overnight trip or two to other northern Arizona exploring.

Summer travel for 2014 will be northern Arizona. It is too early to make firm plans for 2015, but it will definitely include a swing through parts of Colorado and the Colorado Front Range.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Making Silage 100 Years Ago

When cousin Jerry and Marilyn came to Tucson for their annual visit, Jerry brought along some old photos when horse power was a real horse.

What is going on in this photo.

The location of the photo is a Wisconsin dairy farm in September.

A ensilage cutter is belt driven by a gasoline engine mounted on a wagon. Horses pulled a wagon from a nearby field loaded with bundled corn stalks. The men on the wagon put the corn bundles into the ensilage cutter. The cutter chops the corn stalks into cow bite size pieces and puts on the elevator for delivery to the top of what appears to be a ~15 foot silo.

Delivery of the chopped corn stalks up an elevator preceded later models of cutters which used high speed paddles to propel the chopped stalks through steel tubes to the top of the silo.

The unusual round wood stave silo dates the photo to about 1900. Once in the silo, the weight of continued additional chopped corn stalks will remove the oxygen creating a perfect environment for fermenting the chopped corn. Cows love the flavor compared to the dry hay that represents most of the cows diet.

To keep the ensilage cutter going at all times, there is another wagon in the field. When this wagon empties of its load, another wagon will be there shortly or may have already arrived. That may be the reason for seven people present in the photo.

Making silage 100 years ago took lots of manpower. On the typical 80 acre farm of Wisconsin, neighbors and farming relatives would swap labor -- and equipment -- during the harvests.

Things change. In the 21st century of mega-sized farms, that same operation could be done by two men to keep all the machinery going. However, it could as easily be done by a single operator who does the field harvesting and then empties the chopped materials into machinery that will propel the chopped materials to the top of a 50 foot silo.

Note: In the 1940s as a five or six year old, I recall the silo filling with the ensilage cutter and horse drawn wagons.

For some history of silos:

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Sleeping On A Rainy Day

About 8:30 last evening, it was one of those pot holes on the road of life. The pain started on the left side and around the back. Having had the experience in the past I knew what was ahead.

Hoping that the pain would abate as the rock from the kidney passed through the system to the bladder, I waited until ten before heading to the emergency room at the closest hospital. The pain was intense and the stops at traffic signals were an interminable length of time.

Arriving at the ER shortly after ten, it was three hours before pain killers were administered. At that time it seemed a good time to take a nap with the drugs in the system. Nope. ER is a noisy place. No nap for me. Fortunately, I brought my Nexus tablet and read ebooks or accessed the internet with the available WiFi.

The eventual CAT scan proved that there was a stone in the urethra. Shortly before five a.m., I was discharged with prescriptions for pain killers.

With little sleep at nine this morning and continuing slight pain/discomfort, I had the prescription filled. The generic Percocet had the desired effect. No pain and putting me to sleep, I woke up early afternoon to the sound of rain. Lots of it.

It was a good day to sleep -- especially since I didn't get to my bed until five a.m. this morning.