Monday, February 28, 2011

Four Dollar Diesel Fuel

A week ago, diesel fuel was $3.40 a gallon when I last filled. Didn't need fuel on Saturday, but as I drove Tucson, I noted the prices for diesel ranged from the lowest at $3.49 to $4.09 at the Chevron stations. Wow.

Thought I could at least begin my summer travels before diesel hit that even numbered plateau. A little unrest in an oil producing country and two days later the price of diesel goes up. I wasn't aware that the diesel pump was directly connected to North Africa. But it must be. What other explanation would there be.

Looks like there will be more walking in my future. Or an alternative might be to forgo a stop at Starbucks and buy a gallon of diesel fuel instead.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Snow On The Palm Tree

Yup. That is what I woke to this morning. There was a two inch layer of snow covering the RVs, Silver Slug -- and the palm tree fronds. Donning a pair of jeans (long pants), I headed out for a photo shoot. This shot tells the story.

Many palm fronds had already been frozen from the recent hard freeze. Those palm fronds had already turned brown. Now it was a layer of snow.

Actually, I lied about taking a walk for a photo shoot. It was warm in Wandrin Wagon. No point in leaving a warm place where the fuel was paid for. I opened the window, leaned out and took the above photo. Yup. I am a wimp.

My bet is that this blog entry about snow at lower elevations in Arizona will only be one of several others on the same subject to be posted today.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Recycling Books

For entertainment or to pass time, many people watch TV or go to movies. Not me. After my addiction to the internet (no Facebook) and a passion for hiking, I spend time reading.

A nomadic existence makes it difficult to check out books from a library, so I buy books -- used, new and ebooks. Unfortunately, the ebooks are not recyclable, but those physical paper sourced books have value. At least my non-fiction (my reading choice) books have value.

Upon arrival in Tucson, it was time for the annual visit to Bookmans to sell all those books that were accumulated in the past year since my previous visit a year ago.

There are six Bookmans located in Arizona and three of those are in the Tucson area. This is not the usual used book store smelling of musty books and fear for your life wandering the aisles. It is well organized by subject and alphabetized.

Of the over 50 books that I took to Bookmans, they took all but three. This is not unusual for me since my reading is non-fiction and largely adventure/essay travel. That was enough to create a rather large credit for book purchases.

Before I left the store, the credit was reduced as about fifteen books accompanied me back to Wandrin Wagon. Another trip to Bookmans should eliminate any outstanding credit.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Wild Life Photo Shoot

Taking photos of wild life in the wild is not easy. Cooperation is poor. Watching and waiting for the perfect photo takes more patience than I can spare. 

Given a chance to take photos of captive wild life is something not to be passed up. This time it was at the Sonoran Desert Museum raptor presentation. Standing right under the flight path of the winged wild life, it was a great experience. As the birds are released, a docent describes the ravens, owls and raptors -- their lives, foods and habitat. As the docent speaks, the museum bird keepers are set food tidbits (quail breast) on various perches near the audience viewing area.

After that it was off to the herpetologist talking about rattlesnakes and the gila monster. The gila monster did not cooperate for my photo shoot, so the photo is from a hike at Usery Park where the gila monster was on the trail.

Commonality for those bitten by rattlesnakes: male, young, booze and tattoos. Not making this up. That is what the herpetologist said. Men are mostly frequently bitten on hands or arms. When women are bitten, it is on the leg below the knee.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Five Brothers

That is what these five Saguaros were tagged as we walked by. On the King Canyon trail in Saguaro West is where we found the illustrious five.

Along the trail and all around Tucson is the evidence of the frost damage. With almost no winter rain and the frost damage to cactus and bushes, it seems there will be little desert color this spring.

Regardless it was a good day to get out for a hike along the trail.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Silver Slug Needs A Bath

A few days ago the prediction was for a 60% chance of rain this weekend in Tucson. That dropped daily to possible showers with a 30% chance of rain on Sunday. The positive is that it did rain. In Arizona. Far to the north.

Finally, the sky spit out a couple of drops of moisture here at the RV park late yesterday. And now Silver Slug needs a bath. Before it was a non-noticeable light layer of dust all over Silver Slug's surface. With that spittle in that layer of mud, it is real obvious that Silver Slug needs a bath. A real bath.

That task was put on my mental "to do" list. Without writing it down, I have a better chance of ignoring it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Good Life

Sitting in the "hot tub" at night looking at stars over head. Dining out with friends and road acquaintances. Playing Scrabble with real people instead of the computer.  Add to that many other activities for participation, there seems little time to get the laundry done.

That is the good life where I've hung my hat for a month at the Voyageur RV resort.

Then there is hiking. My passion. Found a fellow hiker/walker in next door neighbor Duane. We've hiked several days in Saguaro East. Other times, we have joined a hiking group from the park.

The most recent hike was to the Empire Ranch. A BLM managed grass land south east of Tucson. Much of the hike was along part of the Cienega River (the name according to my GPS). Some cottonwood trees have been growing a long time. They were huge -- six to ten feet in diameter.

There was considerable temptation to climb the branches of these trees. But with that inner ear balance issue, I decided that this was a good time to be a sensible person in spite of what I really wanted to do. A younger person -- including a younger Wandrin Lloyd -- would have shimmied up the tree without a second thought.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Speaking Of The Budget

"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance." -- Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.) Roman Statesman, Philosopher and Orator

Same thing 2000 years later.

A long time ago as a manager, interoffice memos were occasionally received to cut 10% from my budget. Not just my budget, but every budget in the corporation. Nothing was safe from the 10% cut -- including some position consolidations and job terminations.

That isn't the way the US Federal government is run. Only a small portion of the budget is being considered for cuts. Why? Because a vast portion of the budget represents votes and getting re-elected. That does get in the way of making a rational decision. The cuts should include all areas, defense, Pentagon, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. However, there isn't even a discussion about possible cuts or adjustments in those areas.

A suggestion: Stop manufacturing the penny. It isn't a lot of money, but it is a gesture that there is serious concern about the budget. Losing money on the manufacture of every penny is not the way to stay solvent.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Diesel Engine Idling

It's happened to all of us. It is 7:00 a.m. and you are still asleep. For some reason, the diesel owner seems to believe that the engine has to be hot and idle for 30 minutes before moving from the RV space right next to yours. Not the sort of alarm clock you were expecting.

This message is not to the considerate diesel owners who idle for a few minutes. Thank you. This message is to those diesel owners who did not read the owners manual or were recalling the diesels of decades ago. There is a risk to your modern diesel engine by excessive idling.

Quoted from RV The Magazine -- Winter 2011, Page 8

Diesel Idling
Garry Miller
Shady Spring, West Virginia

As a retired diesel electrician, I support Jim Harper’s opinion on excessive no-load diesel idling (August 2010 RV View). Diesel engines are so efficient that they generate little heat when not doing any work, so idling when cold can actually harm any diesel, especially a modern, computer-controlled engine with a soot filter. The low temperature idling causes incomplete combustion and soot (an abrasive) to get into the lube oil and can clog the pollution exhaust filter that must be burned off with extra fuel by the engine. Read and follow the engine manufacturer’s instructions. Idle only to bring up the air for the brakes and suspension. By then the oil will have circulated and it will be safe to drive at moderate speed and load until the engine reaches operating temperature. If you are still concerned and must operate your diesel at high speed and heavy load immediately, do what standby diesel generators and emergency diesel fire trucks do: run your electric block heater, with care, so the engine is somewhat warm when it is first started.
More support on the same issue comes from RVBasics on the subject of diesel idling.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Gluten Free Wine

Not really, but that was what a customer wanted.

Shopping at Trader Joe's this morning in Tucson, I overheard a thirty-ish guy asking a clerk where he might find a Merlot (he pronounced it rhyming with "knot"). The clerk corrected him by pronouncing it correctly. As he followed the clerk, he said that he wanted "gluten free." The clerk shouted out to another clerk asking if the Merlots were gluten free. The answer shouted back was "Yes".

Have to wonder where the guy was hiding all these years. Is this the first time he purchased wines. Or did he find an internet website that suggested a Merlot as a fine way to impress his date for Valentine's Day. But, "gluten free"?

The best part was when the clerk asked how much he wanted to spend. About five dollars.

Continuing my shopping, I headed off to buy a low carb and no trans fat Marlowe....

After hearing that exchange, and continuing my shopping, I ran into Tucson friends Flora and Phil -- far from their home on the west side. Equally amazed, they also heard that exchange between customer and clerk. Can't make up these stories. They actually happen. Flora and Phil can confirm it.

Wish For You

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Gem and Mineral Show

Tucson hosts this two week long show every year. With 42 venues around the city, there are numerous choices for gems, minerals, fossils, beads, etc. The selections, the colors, the varieties and sizes are endless.

I toured the tents at the Kino Electric park complex. Rock is versatile. How about a bench of petrified wood. Might take a while to warm up that rock.

Decorating your home with colorful rock to match any artist's brush.

With too many choices of the beauty of rock art, I purchased nothing and returned home.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rocky Mountain National Park -- in Winter

Attending a photography workshop about 20 years ago, this is one of those photos that describe what the eye saw -- in two dimension. Additionally, with the other senses, imagine a cold wind blowing and an occasional snow shower. The wind blows through the stocking cap. Turn your head to the side so you can breathe. The air just smells cold. No other odor. Walking on the snow provides the cold crunch as the snow is compressed under foot.

Just good memories. 

... But glad to be here where the temps rose to the high 60s. It was a good day.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

RV Choices

Want to travel the world where many roads may be a challenge or not exist like a desert or jungle or perhaps just off road in your neighborhood during a snowstorm. A rugged RV choice for off the beaten path with the required human creature comforts is Unicat. The tag line on their index page says it all: "Explore Without Boundaries".

Check out some of the units on this Unicat photo page and this one.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Packers Did It

Watched one football game all season -- the Super Bowl. Nothing better than a good football game. Of course, Pittsburgh would not agree. However, as a kid growing up in the Green Bay area and with green and gold still flowing in Wandrin Lloyd's veins, it was a great game and fantastic end.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Two Story Home On Wheels

Called the "retired truckers RV" among other identifiers, no doubt you have seen this or similar sized units in emails that have been going around the internet for a couple of years.

After receiving that email a couple of days ago, I searched the internet again to determine more details. After a post on another blog, someone was able to identify the manufacturer as Anderson Mobile Estates. The detail photos for the unit picture above can be seen at Anderson Mobile Heat Photos.

After looking at some of the units, I  wonder if these units are actually designed for sleeping. Sure seems to be a lack of bedrooms. Perhaps all those sofas turn into sleeping space making it one mobile dorm room.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Enough Long Pants Weather

Yesterday morning when I left Yuma, the temps were still in the 40s. So I wore the long pants one more day -- all day as I drove to Tucson. With three rest stops and exceeding the self imposed limit of 150/200 mile journeys, it was 245 miles before I arrived at Voyager RV Resort. The Resort wasn't my first choice, but with my Thousand Trails membership it was the cheapest alternative for a month long stay in Tucson.

With mid 60s, today it was back to shorts. First task was to refill the empty propane tank as I recalled the previous cold nights. More errands and finally I faced the task that I put off -- for far too long. Could have been a month since Wandrin Wagon was last cleaned -- inside.

Outside cleaning was even longer. Never will get used to the idea of washing a home. Never did that with my sticks and bricks home. Washing is one thing, but the manufacturer also recommends waxing it. Jeesh. 

Tomorrow more warm weather.... No. Wandrin Wagon will not get a bath.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Heron Takes On Koi

A photo collage from the past.

When living in Denver, a frequent visit was to the Botanic Gardens. On one of those visits I was passing through the Japanese Gardens when I noted a Black-Crowned Night Heron had caught a koi from the pond.

In a series of photos I was able to document the heron dining on koi. Eating a fish whole that is one third the heron's body length takes some skill. After several attempts of tossing the fish in the air to allow it to go head first into the bird's beak, it finally was positioned correctly into the open beak. The swallowing began. Slowly the fish disappeared into the bird and soon the heron could close its beak once again.

 After that swallowing accomplishment, I heard the heron exclaim, "Can't believe I ate the whole thing."

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Still Cold

32 degrees (F) this morning was the reading at Wandrin Wagon. Yup. I know that is a heat wave compared to what many are experiencing around the US.

However, it seems that my blood doesn't run as warm as it once did. A smarter person would put on a heavier jacket and wear long pants. Yes. A smarter person would do that. But there is an image that must be maintained.

And that blood still runs "green and gold" from my childhood in Wisconsin less than 20 miles from the home of the Green Bay Packers. The Packers won't be playing in anything like the Ice Bowl of 1967 when they played the Dallas Cowboys in Green Bay for the NFL championship.

This year's Super Bowl will be held in a Dallas suburb where the Green Bay Packers will play the Pittsburgh Steelers for the big prize in NFL football. Wishing the Packers the best...

Go Packers

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Change In Plans

@#$%*&  It's cold.... Here.... In Yuma.... 37 (F) this morning when I got up. Fortunately, the temps are predicted to rise over my shorts preferred weather of 50 degrees.

Today's plans were for hitching up and making a long drive to Tucson. "Were" was before I looked at the Tucson weather forecast.

Yikes. Staying right here until it warms up in Tucson. How about Friday instead. At least that is the plan providing Tom allows me the privilege of staying. Perhaps another dinner or lunch treat will allow me a few extra days before hitting the road.

Okay. So it is a lot colder -- a lot colder -- across the Midwest down to Texas. I'm properly chastised for mentioning the comparable heat wave.