Thursday, February 9, 2017

Jeff's Got a New Camera!

I call these little birds LGBs. That stands for Little Gray Birds. I think that Edward Abbey, writer and advocate of the desert southwest, first coined that phrase.



This is the top view of a desert cactus in bloom.

And this is a fair picture of the runoff coming from the winter snow melt from Mt. Lemmon. I spent the day with my new camera hiking in Sabino Canyon. It feels much like late spring today. Record setting temperatures this week will reach into the upper 80s.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Public vs. Private Blogging

I'd like to move this blog to a, "by invitation only" site rather than the public site it has been for it's whole life.

This would require viewers to log-in to their email account in order to identify themselves. If I have your email address, then although it requires an extra step on your part, it may keep my blog from being trampled by hits and page views from eastern blok countries. I don't know that there is actually a problem with the visits I get from those countries, but once a week, I get 200 visits in a single day.

I know that isn't coming from anyone I know.  So...if you got an invitation to join my blog audience, please participate if you like. And if you'd like to continue to view my blog, please drop me an email to the address in my profile on the blog.  It's peteykale @ gmail(dot)com . Just remove the spaces and add the period. 

Thanks all!
Jeff

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Rocky Point, Mexico

Just a quick note here to mention the beautiful beaches at Playa Bonita Resort in Rocky Point, Mexico. Puerto Penasco is the local name for this resort. It's on the Sea of Cortez, about 3.5 hours from Tucson, AZ. It seems like forever since I was on Clearwater Beach in Florida, (although that was only last January), so I'm excited about planning this trip. January is a busy month in Rocky Point, therefore, I'll make a reservation for February next year. Full hook-ups for $20! Can't beat that.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Travel vs Root Placement or Where does the lure of travel come from?

    There's a feeling that's recurring the last month or so. I'm finding it difficult to express, but I think that for the purposes of this blog, it's important to try.  I'm sensing a desire to move back into  the RV and travel some more. It's possible that just spending a long weekend back in the bus will more that satiate the desire, but I wonder where the allure comes from. I'll venture that it's possible that the freedom of being mobile, and unencumbered with responsibilities of a home is attractive, but then again, there are responsibilities in keeping the bus in good working and living condition. There's a sense of independence in the bus, something that allows the traveler to be free of community and neighborhood obligations. And there's the freedom of always being the new person on the block. Maybe it's that getting to know people in a community and finding one's place has responsibilities. I'm just not sure. I do like RVing, and I really do like my apartment also. The novelty of living in the confined quarters of the bus has lost its appeal. It's cool, but only for awhile. So maybe after I get the bus upgraded with some new carpet and paneling, and some new paint, I still may be drawn to move it, but I don't think it's going to be for more than a long weekend. A couple of weeks in Sedona sounds pretty attractive right now, but I'll wait until the weather warms back up a bit.

     Day to day here, I'm organizing a new man cave. I've got the shelving in place in the new storage unit and could eventually start flipping old motorcycles, and possibly four-wheelers, for fun and profit. My shoulder isn't quite much better than 75%, so I'm limited when it comes to lifting, using a saw, hammer or wrenches, but there's been good progress. I'm doing 20 push ups twice a day. I'm still using weights to develop the shoulder muscles. But it's very slow going. Unfortunately, vacuuming is a real challenge. The pushing part is pretty difficult.

     So all's well here. I look back on the last 6 months and wonder how I got through all of it. I'll guess I got by with a little help from my friends.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Red Cross Response in Tombstone, AZ.

Here's a YouTube link to a video made by a Red Cross media team from Phoenix of a Southern Arizona response to a devastating fire in Tombstone, Arizona. Significant here is the fact that 2016 marks the 100  year anniversary of the American Red Cross in Arizona. And of course, the city of Tombstone has retained some of the best historic aspects of Arizona and the southwest United States.

Red Cross response in Tombstone, AZ.

One personal note: As this is the first day after presidential election of 2016, and I'm still trying get my head around the implications of the outcome, maybe you will forgive my concern, given the power that the NRA has just received by supporting the election of the republican president-elect, that the U.S. is headed a little bit back toward the activity that made the OK corral famous.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

2 months just whipped right by...

Here's the update from Tucson, AZ. All is well. Shoulder surgery continues at remarkable rate of recovery. At 4 months since surgery, I'm at least 80% of former strength. Well, 80% of range of motion, maybe not strength. I'm bench pressing about 20 lbs., and exercising with 3 1/2 lb dumbells. I fill my liter hiking bottles full to get about 3 lbs each. But the hope is that by continuing with the weight training as well as the rubber band exercises, I'll get my 99% someday.

Most of my physical activities are normal now. I haven't braved the swimming pool, but motorcycling, hiking, and guitar playing are near normal and now, highly appreciated pastimes. I'm working on the transition from flat-picking to finger-picking, and though a challenge, it's opening up some new doors in my music scene.

Apartment life is always going to be apartment life. Neighbors living within a few feet are always going to effect one another, but building a tolerance to noise is helping. Unrestrained dogs are always an issue in close quarters, but still I'm happy to be out of the bus.

The bus...it's still here. It's empty, and the winter project is to strip it and rehab it. On a budget. The carpet is still intact and relatively durable, but seen some serious spills. I emptied an entire aerosol can of WD-40 buy accident. That's some smelly stuff, and though it's dissipated, I think there's a lingering scent.  All the wall coverings could use an upgrade, and just like a 40 year old home needs remodeling, the bus needs it too. So that's the winter project.

I'm working. I'm not getting paid, but I got to work for 7 hours, at least 3 times a week, and often spend another 10 hours in the office just staying caught up. It's rewarding to volunteer. We are reaching the limits of assistance available to flood victims in Louisiana, and resources are already pouring into North and South Carolina. Several caseworkers have already headed out, and one is leaving for Florida. Hurricane Matthew has had a huge impact, as we well know.

So that's the way it is.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Week 11 Post Op

It's hard to describe the changes that have taken place in my recovery from the rotator cuff surgery. The normal course of physical therapy for week 11 will have me starting to use small weights to build muscle strength. The exercises I've done up to this point have been to restore the range of motion of the shoulder. What is so astounding and impressive is the little things that I've taken for granted, but was unable to do after the injury. Using dental floss was one thing. Shampooing my hair. Reaching the cabinets in the kitchen. Even opening the  car door, and turning on the car radio, or putting the car into gear. Writing had been very difficult, and shaking hands, or greeting someone in church. There are many, many activities that since they have been restored, I'm tickled when able to accomplish. There's a real joy and amazement in my heart to do the simple things after 4 months of being handicapped. What's funny about the process is that when I first try to do something new, there's a deliberate effort with great caution, for fear I hit one of those spots that is painful.  And then, the next time I do the same activity, turning the house key for example, my body remembers that this is a safe activity, and I complete the task without even thinking about the effort. And as I'm doing it, I get the realization that it's now a restored activity, and I've again been blessed with the benefits of modern science. Yes, sometimes my surgeon is a little off-the-wall, but I can't argue with his surgical skills. He's the best.
So, no motorcycling for me today, but someday. I sit on the old Guzzi when I'm out at the storage unit...alas.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Ahhhh...The Blessings of an Automatic Transmission

Let's get caught up here right off the bat. I'm still on a leave of absence from the American Red Cross. I'm really not in a hurry to get back there, although I am assured that work can be found for me that will not stress my surgical recovery. Still, I need a little more time before I head back there. Maybe later this month will work.
My recovery seems very speedy. Each day I find my strength and range of motion improving. Preparing to pay at a Starbuck's yesterday, I turned to my friend and said, "I've lost my wallet!" But in fact I had used my right hand to put it away into it's old home in my right hip pocket. I haven't been able to reach my right rear pocket for 3 months. Checking it, I found my wallet. Small things like flossing with two hands, washing my hair, opening a jar of sauerkraut, opening the refrigerator all are small conveniences I've regained. It seems a miracle. I've changed physical therapists as the last one didn't seem to have enough time to answer my questions. The new therapist is more professional and is always able to answer technical questions in the easiest of terms. I think I know now what muscle group is called the supra-spinatis. Maybe.
I've also traded in my indefatigable Toyota Yaris for a 2013 Ford Escape. The Ford is smaller than an Explorer, and bigger than a Focus. It has front-wheel drive, AN AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION, and a little turbocharger. It doesn't get the gas mileage that the Toyota did, but I think that the convenience of not having to shift the 5-speed more than makes up for that. The Ford is a great car, and though I'll be in debt for awhile, (I'd rather not say, "underwater or upside-down"), I'll manage.

So that's the deal. Happy in Tucson during monsoon. More later.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Staying Current

    The monsoon has started in Tucson. It's not a regular set of thunderstorms, but they are intense and they come at least twice weekly. The raindrops mark the pavement with a spot over an inch across. And it's a cool rain.  A storm might last 20 minutes, but with no vegetation to speak of, the rains run downhill immediately. They water runs in rivulets, down paved streets and sidewalks, and then on to the next, "wash". The wash might be up 100 yards wide and though it might actually fill only once in 100 years, the water creates anything from a small stream to fast moving river. And these all appear in a matter of minutes. Nearly as fast as the rain begins, the streams begin to form.
    Physical therapy and my recovery process continue rapidly. Each day brings new mobility and confidence in resuming small tasks. After completing a session of therapy exercises at home, I usually apply ice. "Ice" comes in the form of two frozen bags of green peas positioned inside a pillowcase. This allows control and convenient positioning of the ice. At this point, lifting one bag of peas from the freezer is way beyond the strength and range of motion level of the affected arm, but lifting and using the television's remote control is. So there's indeed  progress.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy is bringing along some much desired results. My range of motion and strength are both getting better. Both the visits to the therapist and the stretching exercises at home are painful, I am getting used to it. Pain is coming to mean improvement. The therapist has such a great manner about her, always taking time to answer all of my questions, my faith in this recovery process, and eventual renewal of mobility, has been fortified greatly. The quality of care that I've received in Tucson has been above satisfactory so far.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

On the mends...

The recovery from rotator cuff surgery is proving a challenge this first week since the operation. The best thing to say is that my range of motion increases daily, and I'm consistently able to complete tasks I was unable to the day before. I've got a full day going with simply Ibuprofen for pain relief, and things are work out well. Typing and blog-posting is something I couldn't do a day or so ago.

The apartment is shaping up slowly. I have curtains and furniture and most of what I need to make a nice little nest near the mountains in Tucson. Sure, it's ironic that in January I'd just finished emptying my storage unit in Tampa, and now have a storage unit in Tucson, but given the sequence of events, this is the best option.

I had a notion this morning. I thought that if I were to make as much progress recovering from the rotator cuff surgery over the next 7 weeks, as I have over the last 7 days, there may still be time for a summer road trip. I'll have an apartment to come back to, and the bus and motorcycle to hit the road with. I know...ODAT. One day at a time.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

New Digs - I found an apartment in Tucson

Uh oh! Is this the end of the road trip? Is Tucson my final destination? Is that all for Florida? Simple answer...I have signed a 1 year lease at a pretty cool little apartment in Tucson. So, at least for the next year, I'm OUT OF THE BUS, and into an apartment. Amazing.

Link to pics of apartment complex  

I can't really imagine what a full-sized bathroom and kitchen will be like. I'm looking forward to the change to say the least. And as the surgery is scheduled for 6/7, the recovery process in the apartment should be much softer than it would have been in the bus. I'll keep the bus in storage and likely take it out of town on weekends. What a life!

Here is a link to some photos of Sabino Canyon...just walking distance from new apartment.

Link to photos of Sabino Canyon

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tucson Is Heating Up

When did I arrive here in Tucson? Was it last August? I'm pretty sure that it was late August when I first rolled into the RV park up in Catalina, AZ. It seems like so long ago. I guess that the point here is that it was summer, and pretty warm.  I think that it was pretty warm all through September and then started to cool off later in October. So here it is mid-May, and the temperature recorded at home was at least 100 degrees. And there's still June and July left before the year is up. Maybe that's not too bad. Warm days in May, then June, July and August will be hot, then September with the hope of cooling off in October. Certainly Florida was similar. Maybe hotter in some ways. I remember that April could be very warm in Tampa, as well as October. So...summering here won't be that bad.

I saw another local orthopedic surgeon yesterday. Yes, he recommends the same surgery as the first doctor, but this fellow has a full schedule. He's more experienced, has more clients, and scheduled surgery for the second week in June. That's 3 weeks from now, and two weeks past the surgery date for the first doctor. I started to get concerned about whether or not I could wait an additional 2 weeks for the repairs. I'm not sure I can wait. I'll call back and see if there is anything else that can be done. It's been disturbing, and frustrating. But I'll make it.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Surgery? Holy Mackerel!

A quick recap here would include that at the start of my road trip to the Northwest, I fell while climbing a large rocky outcrop and wound up in the emergency room back in Tucson. I've been seeing an orthopedic guy who after seeing the MRI, wants to do surgery within the next 30 days. I'm getting a second opinion from another surgeon, one who didn't graduate from medical school last year, and who has done rotator cuff surgery on a fireman friend of mine. All said, I'm concerned, but trusting that if the surgery is indicated I have enough backup, (cooks and drivers), that I could get through the recovery process relatively comfortably. It will be a long haul, but I think that if I line up a television and a reclining chair for the RV, I'll be set. It will likely be time for the World Series before I'm fully recovered.
It's odd, but I think sometimes that there have been quite a few of these incidents that seem to be stalling my departure from Tucson. I've not only asked myself lately, "Is this where I'm supposed to be?" But also, "This really feels like home."
My neighbor told me today, "The sun is really good for you." So I'm thinking that I will do a little Tai Chi out in the desert today, and take a short run. The low impact exercise is tolerable with the separated shoulder, even though temperatures will reach triple digits today. Ah yes, summer in Tucson. We'll see how it goes. More to follow.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

MRI

Hey Guys- Quick update here on the shoulder injury. I took the MRI, (don't ask what it stands for), and is it a pain, literally. My fears of being in an enclosed tube were relieved when I found that my lower body would not be inside, and only my body from the waist up would be. The claustrophobia I was afraid of was dealt with by an experienced staff. A cloth was placed over my eyes, and I never knew how close the walls of the tube were. I'm pretty sure that the tube got smaller while  I  was inside. What was painful was the torque and manipulation of the shoulder by the radiologist technician. He controlled a brace surrounding by shoulder as I lay on the sliding table. The brace actually pulled on the shoulder so that the joint separated slightly, and the machine could see inside the joint walls. Ouch! I'll bet that if there was some shoulder separation during the fall I had, that some healing had taken place in the last 2 weeks, and that now the shoulder was being pulled apart again. Hmmm. I wonder about how great an idea this was. Well, I'll have the results tomorrow morning, and the orthopedic surgeon will advise me on whether he wants to cut or not. If it is his recommendation to repair the rotator cuff with surgery, I am going to wait. My belief is that there is much more healing to be done before I opt for surgery. My sense is that the injury is more of a shoulder separation, and from what I've heard, maybe only a level 1, or possibly a level 2, but by no means a total disconnect from the socket. I'm thinking that just going easy on the shoulder, wearing the sling often, (more to remind me not to reach suddenly as the wind takes my hat off my head!), and taking plenty of ibuprofen will lead me back to Good as New status. We'll see what tomorrow brings.
On another note, Tucson being the home of mass shooting survivor Congresswoman Gabby Gifford, I periodically hear from different people where they were on that tragic day in Tucson. Tonight I saw the prerelease showing of a new documentary produced by Katie Couric called, "Under the Gun."  It was an exceptionally moving film. There was a great deal of expose` about the effect of the NRA lobbying in DC, and the effects on families of the shooting victims throughout the US. A congressman who knows "Mark and Gabby", spoke to the audience before the showing, as well as a city councilman. There were many rounds of applause from the audience. The event was put on by the local chapter of the "Moms Demanding Action", anti gun violence group. There are a couple of bills before the Arizona governor regarding background checks for all gun sales, and encouragement to contact the governor's office. It made me think about my Florida residency.
So...Tucson is my home away from home for now. And I'm really leaning on making it my permanent home. There have been so many stumbling blocks thrown in my was as I've planned my departure, it seems that I may be missing something.  But more about the MRI results in a day or so. 73's

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Back to Tucson RV Park (and in a nicer RV site)

I left the Colossal Cave Mountain Park campground yesterday. I was able to get the motorcycle onto the back of the RV, but given the mobility I have in my right arm, it requires too much effort. I drove the RV back to the RV park in Tucson, with the motorcycle, and needed some help getting it back off.  I feel sad about not taking the RV trip north with the bike, but it's just not practical until I get the shoulder issue resolved. I've convinced myself that I can take the Toyota car-camping north like I did last summer. And although the summer travel season is still very early, and I could still recover in time for a summer roadtrip with bike and bus, I'll accept some abbreviated version of the original plan. Yes, it's sad.  But on the bright side, I've had a little more insight into where I'd really like to settle down.  Maybe there's a nice place for me here in Tucson. I'm not ready to actively house shop, (My friend Don asked me if I had been here for a summer yet), but the roots I have here make me think I could have a nice home here, and friends. But first things first...get healthy!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Health Update - MRI Scheduled

Hey Guys- I guess that last post was a little cryptic. I'll throw in some detail here. First off, I'm okay and just wrestling with what is most likely a shoulder sprain, though the MRI is being scheduled. The MRI will confirm there's no damage or tears to the rotator cuff. I'll know next week.

So I was climbing that mountain shown in the last post. Sure, it looks intimidating, but when you consider how mild it looks on a path up around the left side, I thought it much less so. It's just that there was not a path.  So that's called bushwhacking or hiking, "out-of-bounds." I'd never heard out-of-bounds before, but that fits. Off the beaten path, literally has it's own hazards. Snakes are not accustomed to intrusions. Various sorts of critters hide out in the rock ledges. And the terrain is not always fit for hiking up, or worse, hiking down, as I found.

The hike up was brisk. I circled around and got up that eastern facing bluff. I caught a nice sunset and started back down. It was getting dim, but not actually dark. Picking a path going down always seems a little more difficult than going up. There's a perspective change, it seems. And the fastest way down isn't always the most navigable. Scrambling and sliding down a loose, rocky incline of about 45 to 50 degrees was getting difficult. Eventually I slipped on a fairly steep incline and landed on my elbow. I quickly checked for finger movement as I got to my feet. That was okay. I checked for anything protruding, and all seemed well at the elbow. And though worried about the blood, I got it staunched pretty quickly. It was the pain in my upper arm and shoulder that was bugging me. Then, 20 or 30 carefully placed steps further down the hill I fell again, and again on the same side. The pain was severe. I changed the hiking pole to the other arm and headed down angled the other way, in case another fall put me back on the ground. And yes, I fell again, at least on my left side this time. But the jarring action of the fall really lit up the right shoulder and I was aware that something was wrong.
It took about 40 minutes to get down the hill and back to camp. I wanted to be examined. The gates to the RV camping area were locked, so even asking someone else to drive me was out. I didn't have the number for the campground, so I lifted the 911 phone at the campground.
I got an ambulance ride, got checked out, and got a cab ride back to the RV park in the early hours of the next day. No broken bones, but I got a referral to a bone guy who has me set for an MRI. That should tell if there is an issue with the rotator cuff. Let's hope not.  I had to do considerable walking that night. The camp is a mile from the first gate, and since the county park hadn't given the gate code to Fire Rescue, they had to cut their way into the park to get me. Then, 4 hours later when I arrived by cab, a new lock had been installed and I had to walk back to the park. I was disappointed.

So...the road trip isn't exactly on hold, but I'm waiting to see how the MRI goes. The issue is really how easily I'll be able to get the motorcycle back onto the RV. It's a process that requires both hands and some muscle. I did take a quick ride on the bike, and though probably a bad idea to try to navigate in traffic, I can get around on it. In the meantime, I have the Toyota to drive. There will be some logistics to employ, but I am indeed mobile.

What a trip!

Monday, April 25, 2016

It Was As Easy As Falling Off a Mountain

Fell. Went to ER. Taking Advil today and fortunately nothing was broken. Sprain? Rotator cuff? Will see doc on Thursday. Better today.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Colossal Cave Tour

The basic cave tour seemed a little pricey, but it is a one-of-kind sort of place. The cave system wound through many stair passages full of broken off stalagtites. There are many well lit areas built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp. I was impressed, and mildly affected by claustrophobia, though easily dismissed. What was interesting was the tour guide's description of the advanced caving hikes she leads. Narrow passages she pointed out could never have been large enough for even a medium build to squeeze through. Not for me, I am sure...even if I could fit.


Friday, April 22, 2016

Colossal Cave CG Vail, AZ.

Colossal Cave Park has seen its heyday, from what I hear. The cave was once alive with flowing water from stalagtites but commercialization has caused the process of regeneration to end. The Kartchner Cave National Park still has live rock formations and was my original destination yesterday. But unfortunately, the temperature at noon, above 95 in the shade, proved too much for the bus's cooling system and she overheated. Colossal Cave was close by, so I've stopped there to reaccess my situation. Fortunately, I'm only 20 miles outside of Tucson and help is available. What is really cool, pardon the pun, is that although the caves are not what I hope Kartchner Caves are, the R.V. section of the park is mine to myself. The statewide Arizona Trail passes my campsite by 50 yards and is well maintained. There is no hookup, but the plan has always been to test the 'boondockability', of me and the bus. So far, the solar panel is providing for lights, radio, and device charging, but not good refrigeration. Cream for coffee in the morning is a work I process, but a bag of ice will suffice.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Back at Catalina SP

I was a bit rushed yesterday having to leave  a day earlier than planned. Seems my lease read one way and meant another. I got the car and a box of old pictures into a storage unit and loaded the Guzzi onto the bus. I had a good send off from one of my Red Cross buddies and a couple of the neighbors. I can tell how deeply my roots run here, feeling as though I'll miss all of the comeraderie. But now camping here at the state park just 10 miles north of Tucson, the thrill of the road trip is strong. I've a strong

sense  of how important my space is. In the pictures here are the Santa Catalinas, home of Mt. Lemmon. Woo Hoo! Roadtrip!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Roadtrip Tension

I’m having some excitement about leaving on my trip. I have some thrilling types of feelings as I realize that I’m taking on a big trip. I am taking my time, sensing a whole six month stay away from Tucson, but still have some planning to do. Planning might reduce the looseness of the trip. Planning would pin me down to times and places. That has never been my style, but I have moments when I sense it might be a good idea. I may discover impediments to traveling I haven’t foreseen. I’m not going to worry. I’m going to take my time. I’d like to get familiar with boondocking. I want to know how much battery power I have. I want to have lighting and not have to worry much about keeping batteries charged. I want to go to British Columbia. I want to travel the Inside Passage by ferry, and ride the motorcycle back to Port Angeles. And I want to meet David in the O.P. in August. Maybe I can backtrack my plans from that fixed point. I could tour BC in late July and arrive back in P.A. in early August. P.A. had good bicycling. I’d by happy to spend more time on the peninsula. I’d like to camp in more places. So one decision to make is about whether to head straight for Portland, Spokane, and Port Angeles, or go meander around New Mexico with the State Parks pass.

Summer 2016 Roadtrip Plans

The roadtrip for the summer is definitely a routine. I've taken some sort of summer roadtrip for 10 years, maybe more. This will be my 8th retirement roadtrip. Roadtrips are the excitement of the year. They are adventures. Journeys. Challenges. Now it is time to plan. It's a little late in the season, but there is still time to make some reservations. These are good times. I'd like to go to New Mexico for a while. I'll take my time going through some of the state parks. Then I will head north to the Inside Passage. If the bus decides to run all the way up to Port Angeles and the Olympic NF, then I'll park there, put the bike on the ferry, and ride all the way through Vancouver Island. I'll take the ferry up through the passage as far as Prince Rupert. Then ride the bike back through British Columbia. That would be fabulous! If the bus decides to stay in the US, a tour of the state parks in New Mexico would be very inexpensive. I could get a much better feel for boondocking with the solar panel. My hope for today is to get a 90 watt solar panel installed. I'm not crazy about climbing around on the roof of the bus, but getting the panel mounted will be great. I'm prettly sure that 90 watts will be enough to power the lights, a 12v fan, and the small 12v refrigerator. The small water pump for sinks and showering should have enough power. The radio will use very little energy. So it is time for a roadtrip. I'll take off later this month if all goes well. There's one brake hose I would like to replace, but little else. The bus should be good to go. Woohoo...roadtrip!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Mt. Lemmon and Summerhaven, AZ.

   Taking a break from road trip preparation, I drove 27 miles up the twisting mountain road to the top of Mt. Lemmon. The town of Summerhaven is near the summit. There's a ski resort there also. The elevation changes from 2500 feet in Tucson, to 9,150 feet at the radio towers on top. Saturdays are a little crowded. Everyone wants to get away from the heat in the valley. It only got up to 85 today, but the high on Mt. Lemmon couldn't be over 60 degrees. There were several pockets of snow on the side off the road.
     The drive up yields many views of Tucson. The winding road has a number of pull-off areas and campgrounds. There are hoo-doos along the way, each a grand reflection of the power of wind and rain. There's one called the, "goose-head". At one angle, it resembles the head of a goose, of course. Bicyclists aren't actually reckless on the road, but they certainly are assertive about their space on the roadway. Climbing 5,000 feet in elevation over 27 miles must be a great workout. But hurtling back down the mountain at speeds exceeding the posted speed of 35 mph seems a little dangerous. If a bicyclist is at top speed, then encounters a level grade, he slows considerably. So a bicyclist tail-gating may want to pass, but he always gets passed by the car when he slows.  Speaking to one cyclist at a rest area, I asked if his extended arm was a signal that he was going to pass me.  He replied that he used an extended arm to slow himself a little. Maybe that's safer than hitting the brakes? I don't know.
     I'm noticing that as my trip prep progresses, I'm feeling the ties to Tucson stretched. I'm thinking that I will miss this place quite a bit. It must be something to do with the ties I've created at church and at the Red Cross. Funny, I didn't think I'd feel that way.  Maybe Tucson really is, "the spot."

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Tucson- Are You the One?

I have the sense that Tucson is going to be it for me. This feels like the place. What does that mean? If Tucson is it, and this is the place, then I will come back from this summer's roadtrip and rent an apartment. I'll end my roadtrip. The trip that start in May 2014. The trip that guided me toward Sitka, Alaska. And the trip that has taught me a little bit more about myself. Like learning about how valuable serenity is to me, and how important serenity is to helping the world. So, if I stop traveling, move into a home, buy furniture, then much changes. I'll have made a commitment and I'll be tied here.  I am pretty sure that this is an important decision. I anticipate relief, but disappointment also. I want to push the envelope a little further. I want the bus to take me further west and north. I don't want to simply take the Toyota again, like last year. That's too easy. I want to get the 40 year old bus out there, with the 30 year old motorcycle on the back. I'm getting a little old for fixing the bus or bike on the side of a highway, but with good preparation, and some luck, I'll be fine.

The goal this summer is to drive to an RV spot in Port Angeles, Washington, take the bike up the Inside Passage by ferry, then ride back to Washington. That would be great fun, ya think? We'll see...

Friday, March 25, 2016

Deployment: Shreveport, Louisiana

The flooding here is extensive. The drainage area along the sides of Highway 49 from Alexandria to Shreveport was 60 feet across in many places. I saw several homes from the highway that appeared to have no access to any roadways. On the flight into Alex, there were many homes, farmland areas, and fields that were obviously isolated by water. I'll assume these homes were evacuated.
I've met many volunteers who are new to me. There's only one person I knew from the tornado DRO from North Texas. I've heard though that a number of volunteers who have already served as relief for the tornado that damaged New Orleans recently, were pressed to serve again here in Shreveport. Some of them are overdue for some time off. I'm guessing that I'll get some orientation and serve as their relief. And I'm happy to do so.
All of the folks at the local chapter are welcoming and informative. I've also met a couple from Sarasota who volunteer seasonally while full-timing in their RV. As members of the Escapees RV club, they've joined other ARC volunteers who RV full-time who call themselves DUVs. I don't know what that acronym stands for.
The weather has cleared here in the Northwest part of the state. There's cooler weather that has followed the front that moved through Wednesday night. A sweatshirt is the order of the day.
The spirit of the local community here is worth noting. I'm not sure how best to fit in just yet. I've been to a couple of the local restaurants, and I get a sense that this is more "rural", than most city areas. I've bridged what could have been a barrier to effective communication by listening carefully to the Louisiana accent, helped as well by having spent as much time in the South that I have, I'm getting 90% of the words. Spoken quickly though, it does feel like another language at times. Overall, people here stick together, welcoming of people from the outside, but my sense is that building trust and being flexible to everyone's needs will be the priority.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tucson RV Park and the Santa Catalina Mountains

The highest point in the Santa Catalinas is Mount Lemmon at 9,157 feet. I've been camped in this park since October and I'm ready to push on. Maybe it's going to be a trip north, or maybe a move into a furnished apartment, or maybe I'll only make it as far as across into another RV park. What might be cool would be to lasso a spot in the national recreation area. If I ever get my solar power system installed, a trip into the forest, (desert?), will be a certainty.

Stories coming up:  My golf cart and stagecoach rides.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Snoopers Story...Long Overdue

In one of my posts describing my road trip to the Pacific Northwest, I mentioned the dog who had hitched a ride with me to the Olympic Peninsula, Washington. It's really a charming story, and having just processed the few film camera pictures of the trip, it's indeed time to tell the story about Snoopers. (Too bad about the stop sign and dumpster in this picture, they really don't qualify for quality photography, but there are only so many pictures of the pooch.) The location is a great little campground in a small tourist community in Moab, Utah? Up The Creek Campground was only for tent campers, and had some very organic conveniences.

So here is the story:  I met a contractor who was selling some of his property in Silver City. After speaking about some of the terms, I knew that the property was possibly beyond my means, but suggested we stay in touch. Carlton called in a week or so and we started working on his tractor...on what turned out to be a very hot desert afternoon. He bought lunch.
Over next few weeks, we spent several hot desert afternoons either working projects at his place, or him giving helpful suggestions on repairs to my bus. And whenever I was at his property, I was greeted by a very friendly dog by the name of Snoopers.
As it hapenned, when I was describing the road trip I'd planned to the Pacific NW, Carlton told me that his former wife lived in the northwest and had been exploring different avenues for getting Snoopers to Sequim WA.
When I left Silver City, NM, I had little idea about where Sequim was. I just set my gps to that city, left a little dog space in the back of the Yaris and took off. We traveled north into Arizona and on into Utah. We found campgrounds along the way and shared my 2-person tent. Snoopers seemed happy and bored both. There was an issue with the summer sun blasting into the Snooper space in back. Even with the dark tint I'd added to the glass, I knew she was uncomfortable. We stopped and fashioned some shade for the windows. There was also an issue with the food Carlton had packed up for Snoops. She didn't eat it. But when I stopped for fast food, I couldn't resist her pleading eyes and fed her some French fries...and some chicken nuggets. What I learned was that managing travel needs with a pet on board is challenging. She couldn't safely sit in a hot car. And she couldn't come inside. So she stayed outside the burger joints while I went in and ordered food to go. 4 days after leaving NM, we arrived in Sequim. Sequim, (pronounced skwim), is in the Olympic Peninsula. It's in what is known as a 'rain shadow', absolving the city from most of the heavy, heavy, number of rain days typical of the Pacific Northwest. There is a large retirement community there and it is somewhat affluent from my perception. Nearby, but literally worlds away is Seattle. I only went through Seattle one time. After camping in the Olympic National Forest, climbing to see, (what's left of), the glacier on Mt. Olympus, making my way out to the rainforest on the west coast, there were no more big city visits until San Francisco. Snoopers stayed with Julia in Sequim. They both were very happy to be back together.
There may be a post or two here about the rest of the trip south and back to Silver but I think most of the posts add photos. I have some great memories, and am looking forward to heading back out in the spring.

Tour de Gila - Silver City, NM

I dug into my film camera bag and found a few rolls of unprocessed film. These bicycle racing pictures are from the Tour de Gila in Silver City, NM. The race was on the first weekend of May in 2015. I was shooting both a manual focus Nikon F, and a modern auto-focus Nikon.  I'm sure these were taken with the auto-focus camera. I like the grit this woman showed. Team Optum took the win.

This long shot of a men's race shows some of the downtown Silver, as well as the hills in the desert landscape.


This is a long shot up the hill from downtown Silver to the county courthouse. There is an interesting museum in town here. And of course, Silver City being the childhood home of the infamous murderer, "Billy the Kid", the town has a number of buildings, businesses, and tourist attractions featuring the 19th century gunslinger. According to a Wiki post, William Bonnie began his criminal career in Silver.


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Deployment: North Texas Tornados


Red Cross...how you have changed! Changed you have, but some things have stayed the same. My old story is about volunteering with American Red Cross, (ARC), in 2003. That was an adventure. And there are lots of stories to tell, but I quit after another 2 years of service. Was it the ARC bureaucracy? Was it my responding to 4 different hurricane shelter assignments in 30 days? Was it the clients who argued their entitlement?  Or was it just the drained, taxed feeling that follows a disaster response? Maybe it was post-trauma surfacing when images of destruction flash across the TV screen? I'm not sure, but here I am again. And it seems to be working okay.
I am sitting in the lobby of the Holiday Inn near Parkland Hospital in Dallas. The hotel is next to the biggest ARC disaster operations center I've ever seen. It's well equipped. A tour of the DST, the Disaster Services Technology room, revealed the center's ability to enable internet access within 15 minutes of losing power and communication services. It was explained to me that the ARC runs on Internet connectivity for disaster response, and with a portable satellite linking system, (Win-Link), ARC can reenable just minutes after losing land based connectivity. Their  ham radio communications system was impressive as well. It's one of 3 digital operations centers in the US. As I was saying, I am in the hotel lobby waiting for a ride to the airport and my flight back to Tucson. My snoring ARC roommate, coupled with the spun-up feeling about going home, kept me from sleeping. It's about 4 a.m. Reflecting, it's been a good experience. This was my first DR, or disaster response. I learned a lot. 10 years ago, there was no CAS, and CACs were just being brought to life. (CACs are Client Assistance Card. All the acronyms are killing me!) So...the tech is much different, but the admin is still the same. The people have changed a little. There are some really smart and savvy young people in Red Cross now. But a volunteer organization attracts a wide variety of personalities. I don't know what to do with some of those personalities. It takes a special person to handle a volunteer workforce. All of us belong, and if I believe in the brother and sisterhood of the Red Cross, I'll keep floating. But if I take personally the sometimes difficult words and actions of others, then I start to sink. I met a woman who has been volunteering for many years who told me that if it was not all about the clients, about giving to them one-on-one, she would not be doing the work. And it's true! If the motivation is about getting to supervise others, brandishing power, exerting control, or feeding the ego, then it's not fun for me. We come from all walks, and we all belong, but it takes special people to give, and make it all about the clients. Hmmm...I hope that I can share more stories here before I push all the memories of the trip back into history. Would I do it again? I'll have to think about it. Today it's about getting home and getting back in the groove. Where's my guitar?!? More later.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Ancient History

Just for grins, here's rootin' tootin' outlaw picture of me from around 1960. I'll guess that I was 4.




 This picture was taken when we were living in NYC. I remember looking out my parent's bedroom window and being able to see the George Washington Bridge. What a happy kid!


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Cold Weather in Tucson

I thought that I might have a warmer winter here in Tucson than I did last winter in Silver City, NM. Checking the online weather report for Silver, I see that the lows this week are forecast in the teens. We will get some 20 degree evenings, but nothing colder. So yes, it's warmer here...but I'm still freezing. My next door neighbors are originally from Michigan, and they haven't used their heater yet. I've had mine blasting for a week now.  Seems I am most comfy when the indoor temperature is at least 65. Anything less and I have to throw on a coat...indoors! Maybe Arizona isn't going to me my retirement location after all. Checking the weather in Tampa, Florida I find that the temps won't be below 55 this week. It's 80 degrees in Tampa right now.

WHAT WAS I THINKING?

I have friends who are spending the week in Denver. I'm not sure that's for me at all. I'll visit there again in the summer, but I think that I've had all of the snow that my poor Florida bones will ever have to suffer.  : )

It's been a great week.  I've had a few, "ah-ha", moments in the last week. I've been doing some digging into a 12-step program called, ACA.  It stands for adult children of alcoholics. I'm not all that keen on the general nature of some of the 12-step attitudes of people I've been exposed to over time, but this process of fleshing out the patterns in my past are striking.  Not easy, but enlightening. 

What else...I took a singing lesson yesterday. Anyone who's heard me sing has probably issued a sigh, but I liked it. The voice as an instrument takes a long time to learn to play, and I'm up for it. The local bluegrass crowd heard me the other day...and I didn't get the hook. More to follow.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Bicycling in Tucson

     Temperatures in Tucson are dipping a bit below freezing. I'm told that this is relatively unusual for December. February is the coldest month here in winter. With a low of 32 last night, the high today will still be 69 or 70 degrees. And although the sun will set at 5:15 p.m., there's plenty of daytime warmth for bicycling. My bicycle is one of the wonderful gifts I gave to myself in 2002. It's never gotten heavy use, or been exposed to the elements for long, so it still rides, shifts, and brakes marvelously. It's a road bike. Skinny 700x23 tires, older style steel frame, and a full set of Shimano 105's for braking and shifting. It's one of those things one buys on the verge of retirement that one knows won't be easily replaced on the retirement income. If I lost the bike, I'd find something comparable though, because an investment in bicycle safety and convenience is worth each nickel. Or maybe I'm just spoiled now. Pictures...someday.
     Tucson is in the to 10 cities in the U.S. for bicycling. The following quote is from the link shown below.

http://www.travelchannel.com/interests/outdoors-and-adventure/articles/top-10-cycling-cities-in-us
Tucson is the sleeper on this list but not to be left out. This desert oasis has more bicycle infrastructure than any other city in the US, boasting more than 700 miles of designated bikeways. You can ride year-round without bundling up, and the mountain bike trails outside of town, as in the Santa Catalina Mountains, are top-notch -- just don’t crash into a cactus!

Indeed! Don't crash into a cactus!

At the RV park I have direct access to what Tucson calls, "The Loop". It's a paved two-lane bicycle and pedestrian path that runs NW and SE from the community of Marana into downtown Tucson. From downtown, it runs intermittently to the NE, and intersects with another path along the Rialto River. Direct access to The Loop from the RV park has been a unexpected blessing. I cycled into town to lunch with a friend in a great community just east of U of A called the Sam Hughes community. It's an affluent little area that rents to students and likely houses many with connections the university. There are many consecutive days lately with zero cloud cover and light winds. It's perfect for cycling or most any outdoor activity. There is very little humidity and conditions are just ideal of being out-of-doors. I've now cycled a mile or so to a 10-acre city park that also houses a library with public computers. There's a bicycle shop down the street a bit and I'll be able to pick up a cuff-clip. You know, those metal bands that keep your pants from snagging the chainring. Vital item, and far classier that a rubber band. Happy wintering to those in the cooler climes. I'm a Tucson fan this winter!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Let's talk "Jumping Cholla" from Tucson

Ugh - Jumping Cholla, (pronounced "choy-uh"), is considered the most dreaded of cacti in the U.S. And yes, I had an adventure with these unbelievably painful creatures.
The link below has a brief description and a photo.

http://www.jumpingcholla.com/jce_jumpingcholla.htm



I was hiking the western mountains near Tucson in the Tucson Mountain Park. Lovely desert mountains with elevations over 4,000 feet. It was just a half-day hike and the weather was fine. But along the slightly uphill trail, maybe an hour from the trailhead, I maneuvered slightly to my right to avoid the cactus I'd had contact with before, the prickly-pear cactus.  But to the right unfortunately was the outreached arm of a jumping cholla. I'd seen them, but never had contact until that moment. I was swinging my hiking pole forward with my right hand and slammed into a dozen spines.  The section of the plant immediately separated from the rest of the plant and left a 4 inch by 2 inch pod attached to both me and the hard rubber grip of the hiking pole. Yes it was painful initially, but it's removal was far greater agony.  The surface precludes grasping the pod safely anywhere. Touching it would only have left me with both hands impaled. The lanyard attached to my compass proved my best friend. I looped the cord around the pod very closely to my hand and started to pull. PAIN! I can't describe it accurately. By ever increasing pressure on the cord, several spines broke loose of the hand and the pole.  I was just getting started. The pod came off of my right hand and the pole and attached itself to my left hand. Same spot. Thumb and forefinger.  The compass lanyard served me again and though the pod fell safely to the ground, it did attach itself to my shoe. No damage, but it did require the use of the compass lanyard once again for removal. Unfortunately, again, I'd not distanced myself quite far enough from the original plant and yes, I took another pod to my calf. Again, the lanyard routine. Fortunately though the calf wound was minor and more easily removed.

So the pain goes away after a couple of hours. There is barely any sign of the injury except some dried blood...easily removed. That's it, for two days. Then since it seems that the spines leave a barb under the surface of the skin, the body starts to try to get rid of the offenders. The second day brought 20-30 small bumps to the skin. It's been 2 weeks now, and after numerous applications of an ointment called drawing salve, the wounds are beginning to open. These little chollas are amazing.  And just another of the flora and fauna of the desert, that are, according the southwest desert writer and personality, Edward Abbey, just out to kill you.  Could be true...

Monday, November 2, 2015

Catching Up in Tucson

I'm sure it is time for some sort of a catch-up blog post for me. Looking back to my last post on August 31, that's obvious. Two full months is as long as I've strayed from the blog in awhile.  No shame, I'll just catch up.
     I moved from the RV park located 20 miles north of downtown Tucson.  It was a rural, relatively quiet park with considerable room between the sites.  I was comfortable but for the distance to town to meet with friends, and at least one of my neighbors. We seemed to get under one another's skin.  He was just one of those guys that didn't like staying home with his wife watching television. And I can't say that I blame him, but he chose to, "visit", 3 or 4 times a day. One day while I was resting and feeling some painful flu symptoms, he came to my door and knocked.  Not getting a response, he knocked again and peered in my window. That felt uncomfortable for me. We had a few exchanges about respecting privacy and eventually just started to ignore each other.  I had a cook-out at my RV the day before I moved to the new park but although invited, he didn't want to come.  Oh well. I can't expect everyone to be my friend.
     The new park is much closer to town, yet very close to the western range of mountains in Tucson. The area is called Tucson Mountain Park. There are many trails through the area and although the park is close to both Interstate 10 and the railroad line, access to the mountain park is only a few minutes away by car.  Within1/4 mile of the park is bicycle path called "The Loop".  There are 130 miles of bicycle paths in Tucson, including this bicycle only trail nearly surrounding the city. North-South travel through the city can by done on another bicycle only street that leads straight downtown. So between the hiking and biking here, I'm staying active and not spending so much time driving to various trailheads.
     I've been leading a hike into Pima Canyon on Saturday mornings.  Usually one friend or another joins me and we hike a short, easy hike up into one of the many canyons in the Santa-Catalina Forest. Numerous canyons penetrate the Pusch Ridge Wilderness including Pima and Sabino Canyons.  One day I hope to gather my backpacking gear and take an overnight trip up Sabino Canyon all the way to the top of Mount Lemmon.  It would be a twenty-five mile hike, and the elevation change would be in excess of 4000 feet. These are just guesstimates based on the 2500 foot elevation in Tucson, and the peak of Mount Lemmon at 9000 feet.  There are pine trees on the mountain rather than the numerous Saguaros down in the city.
    So it looks like I'll winter here in Tucson. The spring and summer trip north planned for spring is still in the planning stages, but I'm hoping to spend some time in Santa Fe, Denver, and maybe get as far north as Washington again. The alternative would be to head West and up through California. We'll just have to see. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Hot! Did I say it was hot in Tucson? Holy Mackerel!

I'm feeling pretty comfortable in Tucson, AZ. The weather is the big deal. There's an expected temperature of 106 F. After being in Silver City, this feels much like being in an oven whenever I step outdoors. The hours between 11am and 4pm are the worst. Tomorrow is September 1st, and I'm hoping for some change. A cool breeze in the evening would be great.


I took a train and a bus back to Silver to get the Toyota. Having her here in Tucson makes a big difference. Without the car, the motorcycle was reliable transport, but crude. The sun was giving me a biker's tan, and my face was browning considerably.


I'm still working on getting a new transmission cable for the bus. The parts are no longer available from Chrysler, but the cable was used in many applications, so it's a matter of finding an online supplier.  More research to follow.


I took today to explore the downtown area. The Fox Theatre downtown is old and reconditioned. They book some popular acts and I'll look forward to going one day. I was approached by a panhandler after getting out of my car, and found him a shade on the aggressive side. I noticed that the park outside of the public library has many homeless people crowding for the shade of a few trees. I guess I haven't been to the downtown in a big city for a long time, and I was surprised. Downtown Tampa was like that. I'd forgotten. And fortunate.


I did get a hike in yesterday. 2.5 miles in about an hour and a half. At high noon it was at least 95 degrees. I'd packed enough water, but while fiddling with my phone, I turned on a longer route than I'd planned and was pretty fatigued about half-way through, and feeling dry.  The sun is powerful here, and the stories of lost tourists being rescued by helicopter came to mind. I did not want to be a statistic. But I had a feel for the area having consulted the map at the trailhead, and knew that with the Pusch Range of the Catalinas to the East, any hike that went out to the North and East had to be followed by a return route to the South and West. Eventually my trail circled back to the trailhead, and my car.  Extra water is a good idea, and I think that a pair of tweezers, or even the whole 1st aid kit will go with me next time. All those prickly pear cactus! Any venture off of the trail will undoubtedly be accompanied by a thorn or two.  The tweezers have proven indispensable there.


Come on Winter!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Tucson, AZ

     Time for a change. It only took a few days to decide, then load up and roll. Well, loading up was a process, and rolling turned out to be another. On Tuesday, I arranged with a worker at the RV Park in Pinos Altos, NM to drive behind me and the bus, (with the motorcycle on the back), to Tucson, AZ. Tucson folks have been good to me and I have a few friends there, (here), and that's why I gave up the Gila Wilderness for the big city.  It has turned out that Wayne didn't follow me and now the Toyota is still in Pinos Altos. I'm still making arrangements to get it here.

     The drive in the bus with the bike on the back turned into an adventure fairly quickly. All systems were working well...the cooling system, the fuel system, the drivetrain, and the brakes all seemed in order. What I hadn't checked, (and who does?), was the transmission shift cable.  The bus has an automatic transmission and in order to shift from Park to Reverse to Neutral, Drive, and Low, you change position of the lever on the dashboard. This lever pushes on a cable connected to a lever on the transmission...underneath the bus.  I've become very familiar with it's operation.

The cable seized, then kinked as I tried to force it into the Park position after driving about 50 miles from Silver City to Lordsburg, NM. I'd left at about 6 PM, and arrived at the truck stop for fuel at about 7. I didn't leave that truck stop until about 3 AM.  During that time, myself and Will, a very helpful trucker parked there for the evening, tore into the shift lever mechanism on the dash, and eventually got the transmission into Neutral. That allowed me to start the motor. While Will held the brake, I shifted to Drive, (using a hammer and screwdriver as I lay beneath the truck!), and then drove the truck to a parking area for the evening. Amazing how we trust fellow mechanically minded strangers with our very lives.  So after trying to sleep for about an hour, I finally decided to fix the cable to a functional level, hopefully to a level that would allow me to operate it by myself. I remounted the lever to the dashboard and lubricated the cable. I actually thought that the transmission was the problem, and that after it cooled off, it would shift more easily. I was able to get from Neutral to Drive, and off I went to Tucson. It was after 3 AM.

Arriving in Tucson around 5 AM, with a one hour time-zone change, and one more stop, I managed to get the bus half-way into a RV spot at the campground I had scoped out on a previous visit. I still couldn't park it properly without Reverse gear. I got a little more sleep while parked precariously, and when the campground came to life I elicited some supervision from some fellow RVers and was able to remove the cable entirely. This when I found that the cable itself was damaged and very stiff. The little lever on the transmission operated just fine. So, with the help of one man to guide us in, and the other man to steer, brake, and accelerate, I reached through the engine compartment to the transmission and operated the little shift lever from Neutral to Reverse and finally to Park. I had arrived! If only I had a video of that scene.

Today, I had a great night's sleep and have begun the process of creating a domicile out of a driving machine once again. Generally, that means getting sewer, water, and electrical connections right. Getting the propane tank open and lighting the hot water heater pilot. Then, if you've been, "baching it," as I have, you start cleaning. Clean the bath, the shower, the kitchen, the floor, and then you bring all the stuff that generally lives outdoors, outdoors. That's the bicycle, the folding table, the box of spares, the compressor, the floor jack, the saddlebags, etc. And then you start looking for the local necessities. The library, (for computer access), the laundry, although there are facilities on site, the grocery store and the local fast-food places. That's RVing. And after being in Silver City for almost a year now, it's really been a lot of fun. A newer RV might be more convenient, but every time I scout them out, I find they are geared for being in salesroom and less for functionality. Sure, some people want flat-screens in both the bedroom and living room. And maybe some folks need a central vacuum system, or accommodations for sleeping 6. I just don't. I need floor space. Flexible floor space. If a folding chair in the living room with a ThermaRest pad, is comfortable for me, and folds up when I need space for tools or just stretching, I fold up the chair. And if I didn't have mechanical problems with the bus, I'd have never met Will the trucker, or learned about shift cables. Waking the day after crawling out from under a truck for the 20th time in 24 hours, my back complains heartily, but this is RVing. This is living...and by no means a sedentary retirement. 

More to follow as my Tucson adventure continues.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer Hailstorm?

Looks like there is no end to the surprises in store for me while living in New Mexico. Yes, I've ridden a motorcycle in the snow, and rain, but until yesterday I hadn't ridden during a hailstorm. It looked a little cloudy to the north of Pinos Altos, but normally the storms move so slowly that there's usually a good deal of time for motorcycling. I went up the mountain to about 9,000 feet and stopped for awhile to admire the view of the hills and valleys. Then on the way back down, it started to rain, and then it started to hail. The thunder and lightning was not more than one strike per minute, but the claps followed the flashes almost immediately. As the hail continued, a pile of hailstones piled up in my lap next to the gas tank. That was really a first. After 10 minutes or so, the hail stopped and the rain continued. I was drenched, and grateful to be almost home. Yes, New Mexico has it's share of surprises.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Santa Fe and Albuquerque....New Mexico!

Yes, it's hot. And dry. And I'm back in the desert. But it's home! And I know that the RV has a bed that is going to feel like sleeping on a cloud.

I camped the last two nights in the Santa Fe NF just a few miles North of downtown Santa Fe. There's a great state park just past the forest camping area called Hyde Memorial SP. The National Forest facilities worked okay for me. I'm getting pretty good at boiling water for bathing. Won't give you too much more information on that!
I ran into some folks I'd met on my trip through Santa Fe last September. We got caught up and are looking forward to meeting up again. I met a fellow camper who told me of a website introducing people to, "extreme early retirement." Apparently, where there's a will, there's a way. The man I met had a M.S. from Georgia Tech, and behaving frugally, has reached a point of semi-retirement at age 42. After a 12 years in IT, he is pursuing a culinary arts profession, though taking time to enjoy seeing the country before biting into anything too serious. We were able to relate on ideas about budget travel, and about the latest gear from the myriad of technical backpacking companies. We also chatted about the direction IT seems to be going in relation to government intervention. Although more experienced, and 15 years my junior, I kept up pretty well on a hike that started at about 10,000 feet and ran up a trail to about 11,500. The adjustment for elevation is difficult, and any time we were climbing, I had to struggle for oxygen. Maybe after a few more days at those elevations my body would adjust. Today it's my feet that are sore. No pics for now...more to follow.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Canyon Views

Slot Canyon

This 100 yard long canyon was 80 ft deep with a small pool of red water at the end.

Driving on Burr Trail Road

Starting the Grand Staircase Escalante

Thursday, July 2, 2015

No Pics But...The Rose Garden at Berkeley, California

No, I didn't take any pictures at the Rose Garden. It was just a nice visit during my time over in East Bay. I'll head back to my hotel on Lombard St. in San Francisco tonight. The garden was a nice place for meditation and reflection. It's a hustling and bustling city here, but finding a quiet spot seemed just what I needed at this mid-point in my vacation. What next? Durrango, Colorado?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Pacific Bluffs Rt. 101 Oregon

More of the Oregon Coast

Overlook View of Pacific Beach, Oregon Coast - And the Toyota with Backup

 

It should be that the Toyota Yaris has been trouble free along these 2,000 miles. (Knock on wood!) I had a tire patched that was leaking slowly, but required little other maintenance. I had one oil change done and will likely have one done once home again. The small bunk inside the Toyota has been handy, but hasn't served the purpose it was intended for. I removed the passenger seat made a little deck that accommodated a narrow 7-foot length of mattress. I'd thought I'd be able to take cat-naps at rest stops along the interstate. But seeing as I haven't any time on the interstates, I haven't been in the bunk very much. I slept in it two nights while at an overnight campground. I found it more convenient to just sleep in the car than to set up the tent.  For a time, I thought the bicycle had been a waste of time and energy to tote along. But I've bicycle for exercise several times, and used it to shuttle on a hike and bike adventure. Cycling 3.8 miles up a 1,000 foot elevation gain was grueling for me, but I made it. I rolled the bike off into the woods and locked it to a tree. Then I hiked back down the grade along the Pacific Coastal Trail. It was a wonderful hike through the tall, tall, redwoods and misty ferns. At the beach again, I drove the Yaris back up to the trail head to retrieve the bicycle. (On the hike back down I kept telling myself, "Don't forget the bicycle!" So...the bicycle has been fun. I'm not sure I'll get to ride across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, as I'm running out of time here, but that sounds like a real bicycle adventure.

A Fishing Boat at Coos Bay, OR.

Baby Seagull Chicks at Coos Bay, OR.

Hazy early morning at the docks at Coos Bay. Mother seagull was just a few feet below these little birds, obviously preparing some sort of a meal for them. There was a nip in the air and I had the sense that these two fellows had it pretty rough. Before the sun was up fully, they huddled together for warmth. Once the sun was up though, I'm sure they enjoyed the rising temperature.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Pacific City Beach

Dunes at Pacific City, Or.

Pirates!

Pirate Festival - Seaside, Or.

Sunrays

Pacific Sunset

This shot is from the county park campsite in southwest Washington on route 101.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cape Flattery, WA.

Yesterday I drove from Port Angeles, WA. to Neah Bay, and then to Cape Flattery which is maintained by the Makah Tribe here in Washington.. This is the northwestern most point of the lower 48 states. It is part of the rainforest on the Olympic Penninsula. The smells and sounds are dense with moisture. At certain points along my walk out to the shore, the crashing waves became noticeable, and then louder and there was a sense of this being where life may have first come ashore. In some primordial ooze? Whatever energy was present in this dense, thick, darkened air, it had a unique strength.   Link to Cape Flattery video on my YouTube page
 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Port Angeles, WA.

Pictures coming...one of these days! I'm having some bumper stickers made.  They'll say: "Not Facebook Friendly...I Wind My Watch."  Not sure if anyone will get that...

In any case, I've been talking about a trip to the great Northwest for over a year, or more likely, many years. Then last summer, after speaking to my friend in Tampa, I decided to head out West in the RV. By the time I got to New Mexico, it was getting cold for my old Florida bones and I decided to winter in Silver City, NM. (This is old news for most readers.)

I spoke to a friend in Silver about my anticipated trip and he asked me to take his dog to his ex-wife who was living in Sequim, WA. Having no idea where Sequim was, I agreed, for a nominal fee. So, dog laden road trip adventures aside, I am now on the Olympic Peninsula, camping, hiking and bicycling the northern shores of Washington state. This is absolutely a phenomenal area for adventuring. More to follow!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Pinos Altos, NM

     Whoa- I am way overdue for a post...so I'll try to get up to date here. I said goodbye to the KOA campground in Silver City and moved the bus, bike and car to Pinos Altos, N.M. PA is a suburb of Silver City, in a sense. Heading north from Silver on NM 15 into the mountains, PA, as it's known here, is only six miles away, and 1,000 feet higher in elevation. It's just a little hilltop town on the way into the Gila National Forest. I have a great view of some 7,000 footers. A family of deer ambled by my RV at sunrise on the first morning I woke there. A jackrabbit stopped to say hello as well. The neighbors were all eager to meet the new visitor and I seem to have more in common with this group than with the travelers at the KOA.
     I took a five mile hike this morning along the Continental Divide Trail. It's within walking distance and leads right up to Signal Peak, a 9,000 footer. My hike this morning went the other direction, but on my previous hike up Signal Peak, the ranger in the fire tower atop the mountain called down and asked me if I'd like to come up. The climb up the ladder was a bit scary, but the view was tremendous. (Alas, no pictures, but there's hope there.)
     I've been reinspired to hike a length of the trail through the ponderosa pines. The smell of pine brings a sense of connection to the woods, almost as though they spoke to me, reassuringly, that all would be okay. I believe there could be more to that connection to forest that could be developed. Hmmm.
     I've had a couple of adventures in the last month. An international bike race was held in Silver. The Tour of the Gila attracts bicycle teams from around the world. I played photographer, (yes, the pictures are coming), and positioned myself to try to capture some of the desert southwest together with the racing. I'll have the film processed in a week or so. Great fun, though the city folks have mixed feelings about the racers taking over their little city. Speaking with Optum team captain Mike, at the local coffee shop one morning, I learned about racing as a career choice. If you stay competitive, retirement at 35 years old is not unusual. Mike said that it was what he loved.
     There's a horse rescue ranch here. Two women adopt horses who've been abandoned or surrendered and bring them to health using the best medicine and treatments available. It's called The End of the Road Ranch. And for these horses, it's a place for them to live out there days in peace and harmony. I don't have much experience, but I'm able to help where I can. I may handle their website updates in time. I'm not sure if the horses help me a little more than I help them. I think so.
More desert southwest adventures to follow!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Tenting In Tucson - Back @ Catalina SP

There's always an oasis for me at Starbucks. It's not exactly camping out, but if I camp near a city, the Starbucks has the branding to make me feel at home, in a way. I met with friends in Tucson last nigh at. We kept the staff hopping at the local Village Inn pancake house until fairly late in the evening. (At least we tried to keep them hopping, it took several attempts just to get a refill on the water glasses.) I'd already set up a tent at Catalina State Park, ($15), and driven the 7 miles back into the city. Remarkable is that the park's 5-10k acreage has been surrounded by urban sprawl. Across the 8 lane highway from the park is the Pro Valley Shopping Center, Walmart included. But right there in your midst is the Catalina Mountains. Up close, they are spectacularly imposing...breathtaking. Though no more than 6,000 feet in elevation, the rocky, dry, ocotillo strewn hills grab my heart with dominance and defiance to the outstretched fingers of expanding human economy. I'm reminded of the wolf who spoke to me on the Alaska Highway, (How many times do I get to tell this story?), saying, 'You can build your roads and houses, but this is my turf.' A hhh, a good story never wears thin.
I'll take the mountain road home to Silver City today. It's 5 hours instead of 3 along the highway, but far more rewarding. And back home, I'm going to start planning a firm summer road trip Northwest. I'm set on taking the Toyota and tent-camping. I'll store the Moho and the Guzzi in Silver or Tucson, and save considerable time and expense with the 40 mpg Yaris. With the bit of practice camping in Tucson, setting up a tent and dozing off on the air mattress has become a routine. I'll have a great time zinging up into northern Cali, Oregon, and up the coast into Washington and BC. Woohoo...road trip!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Campout in City - Downtown Silver City

Well it's been a different sort of twenty-four. Passing by a business called Jeff's Garage on Broadway in downtown Silver, I decided to pop in and quiz the owner about replacing the brake wheel cylinder on my RV. And the adventure begins. He and his mechanic have been pulling the rear brakes apart and doing what I've felt is an accurate and reasonable evaluation and diagnosis of my braking issues. I camped in his parking lot, the wheels removed and the back of the bus up on jacks. He's been able to procure the vintage parts and will have them ready for installation tomorrow. 50 years ago, he began working at this same location as a mechanic for the Chrysler dealership. When the dealership folded, Jeff bought the place. As an employee, and then as owner, he's been working on Dodges for 50 years.
Some my backstory: I've already done some of the rear brake work with a friend who seemed to have a tough time not breaking some of the brand new parts. I've also engaged and paid two different repair facilities, only to stop them mid-way through the job and have them reassemble the vehicle, still broken.
Now although Jeff has an apparently disfunctional air compressor to power his air-wrench, (It took two hours to get the lugnuts off, waiting for the pressure to build up in his air tank.),
I am committed. This brake work is going to get done...finally. It means another night in the bus in downtown Silver, but isn't this all just one more road trip adventure? And another sparkling blogpost? Alternatively, driving downhill and waiting for the brake pedal to go straight to the floor is nothing I want to experience again. At sixteen, I learned my lesson in a lime gold '68 Mustang fastback.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Silver City in Springtime

     Silver City is warming up. There is a greening of the grasses. The cacti are blooming. The warmth of mornings comes earlier. I'm reminded of the fall days in October.
     Though the road trip plans are still indefinite, I know I'll have something rolling soon. Whether I pack the Toyota with car-camping gear, load the Moto-Guzzi with backpacking gear, or just roll the Moho on down the road, I'll still have to get some inspiration.
     The clarity for now is a focus on hiking. The Gila Wilderness holds awesome jewels for day-hikes and backpacking. Without upsetting much of my stability, I have the chance to ramp up my physical condition and backpacking awareness. I'll get a few trips into the Gila under my belt, then carry my sharpened skills on to the Northwest. Eventually.
     Growing close to the people here in Silver has been a learning experience. During the 10 months I've been on the road, I haven't grown close to anyone but here in Silver. Including the time I spent at the City of Rocks SP, 25 miles south, I've been in this area for 5 months. There's still more for me here. And more to learn.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Well...Maybe We'll Just Hang Out in Silver for Awhile

    Isn't it funny how a place just kind of grows on you? I noticed that after about 2 weeks of living in the Moho, that one day it started to feel a bit bigger. And now that I've been in the bus steadily for 10 months, it feels like home. It feels like I belong there, and like I have plenty of room. Isn't that funny?

    Well, now it seems that Silver, (that's what the locals all call Silver City), has started to feel pretty comfortable. What's that about? Have I found my niche? This has to be the best place for year-round hiking in the country. The winter's are bearable, even after 34 consecutive Florida winters. The general population is friendly to newcomers. I can say that the majority of people who pass by walking all say hello. And driving, everybody waves to one another. There are no troublesome traffic issues. The police presence is adequate, without being overbearing. There's a WalMart, (not necessarily a great thing), and there are a considerable number of successful small businesses. Things quiet down at night, and I don't worry very much about crime in general. I like it here. I've visited a couple of houses with a realtor, more so to sound her out about the real estate market than to actually buy something, and there are some really, really beautiful places to live here. It's not all that cheap, but it's wonderful to me. I'm picturing a view of the Mogollon Mtns in the Gila National Forest out the back window, listening to the Gila River gurgling by. These properties are available, and with either a short drive, or a short hike, I'd be down a trail into the best hiking in the country. And...there's a girl. Is she the reason why I'm not taking off right away?  More to follow.

Alas, the old Beemer is gone. The plan was to bring it out on the roadtrip, but unable to repair the transmission before my departure date, I loaded up the Moto-Guzzi and stored the broken BMW. Now the BMW has been sold. Fortunately, it is staying in the Airhead family. The new owner will be creating a cafĂ© style bike. He's friends with the guy I bought the bike from, and I'm sure if I head back to Tampa someday, I'll get a peek at a real classic custom. So, sadly, I bid the Beemer adieu. Happy Trails old shoe. You served me well.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

From Home to Mobile...Again

For those thinking about RVing full-time, think about this: Your home is your automobile. When you are at home, you eat, sleep, relax, work, and generally perform all of the activities you would do in your home. When you are mobile, you drive, park, ask directions, consult your map, and eventually decide where to stop. Then you are home again. These are two different worlds. The trick is to make the transition from home to mobile as easy and efficiently as possible.

I've been in the same campsite nearly all winter. I moved from The City of Rocks SP in December. I'd spent 3 weeks there. Here at the KOA in Silver City, I'll have camped in the same spot for 3 months. With a full hook-up, there are 3 utility lines. Water, sewer, and electricity. Unplugging the electricity takes two minutes to unplug and store the power cord. The water connection is a 5 minute job with draining the hose and making sure there is a little water in the on-board tank. The sewer connection usually takes 15 minutes to flush and drain both gray and black water tanks. But if I've been in the same spot for 3 months, even cautiously accumulating only the minimum of  must-haves, there's always stuff to carry into the RV for transport. It's an operation. And then, now that it is time to move on, I'm going to start the filtration process. If I've stored something in a cubby for more than 3 months, it gets on my junk list. I'll be tossing out the stuff that I just don't use. And there's always something. I think the quote goes something like, "We travel light." And lighter and lighter, hopefully. More about the 2015 road trip plans before long. Did I say that there's a really cool house for sale in Cliff, NM?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Windy

   Windy passed from our lives today. We had a chat this morning, and after all of the signs of his progressing illness, he let me know that today was the day he wanted to quit fighting. He hesitated jumping onto the bed, which was his usual strategic position. He asked to go for a walk, and took a long walk into the campgrounds, saying goodbye. We had lunch, and he ate a good portion of my chicken sandwich. Then he lay down in a spot he never lays in. Too weak to get onto the bed himself, and too shaky to stand. It was time.
     The vet didn't take long to diagnose his cancer. One kidney was barely working, his intestine had a large blockage, and his liver had a tumor. In fighting back tears, I felt relief knowing that it was indeed time for him to pass on. I gave him a kiss on the head and left the exam room.
   Windy will be cremated and his ashes scattered on the hillside here in the park. I scattered Misty, my kitty whose ashes I have carried for ten years, up on the hill early last week. Windy and Misty will watch over the hill together, here in Silver City.
     It's a sad day, yet I know that his struggle is over. He's been very weak. He's not wanted to leave my side for the past couple of days. We both knew somehow that the end was near. He would never have made it for many miles once the road trip starts next month.
    I think of many grand times we spent playing with sticks and string, and laser pointers and flashlights. He grew to love people food, as small portions I began to share with him a few years ago. Was this his undoing? I think not. He was a strong and healthy cat for many years. His 11 years was longer than I've had any other cat. I'm sad to see him go.
     I'm grateful to the Arenas Valley Animal Clinic who minded him while I was in Tampa 3 weeks ago.  And I am grateful to the staff at the Grant County Animal Shelter who guided my towards the pro-biotics that gave Windy and a few more treasured months together. Something during the last two months taught me about caring and intimacy, and about the love between pets and owners. I'm not sure why I let myself get as close as I did to Windy, but being close I've found it scary, yet so rewarding. I've grown knowing you Big Kitty. I'll miss you, and you will always be traveling with me in spirit. Thank You.