Monday, February 28, 2011

A Walk in the Desert

Where's Martha?

The green bark of the Palo Verde tree allows the tree to carry on the photosynthesis process after the leaves fall off during droughts. During extreme droughts, the tree will even shed the small twigs on the ends of the branches to survive.

Curved Billed Thrasher atop a Saguaro.

'thought we saw a scarecrow.

Mesquite and Palo Verde trees sometimes act as nurse trees, helping young Saguaros thrive and grow. ' wish I could come back in 50 years to see how this large family develops.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fantastic Fun Day!

We went to our first Rodeo today. If you've never been to a Rodeo, this is something you can't miss while here in the west.

Pre-Rodeo activities included father and son (daughters too) roping. Some kids were as young as seven years old..

The Rodeo opened with some very attractive riders atop some beautiful horses.

Typical Tucson weather. A perfect sunny day with a big blue sky and purple mountains.

You have to last 8 seconds on a buckin' bronco for your ride to be scored. This cowboy didn't quite make it. Each cowboy's name, home state and brief profile are announced before his ride. Many of these short introductions included a description of the most recent injury or broken bone the rider is recovering from as well.

I think bull riding was the most difficult competition. Less than 20% of the riders managed to hold on for the required 8 seconds to receive a score. Once they were thrown to the ground they ran the risk of being kicked, trampled or head butted with some mighty big horns. The bulls seemed to strut around afterwards, proud that they had shaken this nuisance off their back side.

I can't even imagine jumping from a running horse, let alone then wrestling a steer to the ground too. I guess this is why you start when you're seven years old.

In team roping one cowboy lassos the head and the other the rear feet. The poor cow in the middle does sort of a split. None of this does the cattle any harm though.

Womens barrel racing was Martha's favorite event. All and all the whole show made for a fun day. There was great food at the concessions too. The concessions included "bar tents" where Jack Daniels was the featured drink. Not our thing, but it's available if you like.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Perfect Bread, Finally!

I have baked three loaves of bread since we got to Arizona and all three have been a flop, literally. Every loaf looked great until last hour, when for no apparent reason they caved in like a planet being sucked into a black hole. After the first disaster, I made the recommended high altitude changes to recipe, and what did get? A sink hole that resembled a bomb crater. On the third attempt I thought maybe you can't make bread in an RV because of the constant motion, even while parked. Despite all efforts to not slam doors, walk softly and stay outside, the third loaf also fell like the price of Enron's stock in 2002.

This morning, as I contemplated my 4th attempt, I realized I had used up all the flour we had brought with us from Connecticut. Good I thought, maybe some new supplies will change things. Look what I found when I went shopping: HIGH ALTITUDE FLOUR! You won't find this stuff in New England!

Look at that, a nice, fully risen loaf of whole wheat bread.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Sisters' New Home

It has been about 3 weeks since my sister, Connie, moved into her new digs; an assisted living home in Sierra Vista, AZ. We are pleased to say after a rough beginning she has told us many times she is very happy with this major change in her life. In her own words "I can't believe I am living in such a nice place for what little income I have". Thanks to AHCCCS (Arizona Health Care Containment System) and her Social Security she is able to afford a shared room in a beautiful southwestern home.

Today, we also welcome new followers, Audra and Joey. Thank you for joining us and we appreciate your support.

Her new home is called Casa de Las Montanas. It's a modern new building that is home to 8 residents. The staff members are cheerful and compassionate.

The common area, or living room, is tastefully decorated with plenty of room to watch television or meet with visitors.

In the rear the residents can enjoy a covered patio that is totally shaded for the hot summer weather here in southern Arizona. With our help Connie has set up two bird feeders and a bird bath so she can still enjoy one of her favorite pastimes.

She's even happy with the food! It's a big relief that she no longer has to struggle with food preparation.
This is the first time I've tried to add a video. It took over 10 minutes to upload with a Verizon Air Card so I will have to keep videos short. On the way to see Connie we dodged many a tumbleweed and a lot of dust. Just before we got there we had to wait for this dust to stop until we could move on.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Lovin' the Western Skies

The last couple days we have been just plain lazy. Just hangin' around the rig, checking off a couple items on the punch list and finishing up some things at my sisters place. I think we're tired of staying in one place so long, but it is such a nice place to be this time of year, why move? Weather here the last two days has included some clouds, which have been rare so far. The big sky out here continues to amaze us. We also booked tickets for the Tucson Rodeo this week. This is so exciting, our first rodeo!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sabino Canyon

This evening we welcome new follower, Donna, AKA "Froggi". We are happy we've joined us and appreciate your support.

When we left for Sabino Canyon this morning I wondered if we would experience something new or at some point would one canyon start to look like another? Boy, was that thought wrong! First off, when we arrived this morning at the visitor center the parking lot was nearly full, on a Wednesday morning no less! It must be because it's located on the outskirts of Tucson and easy to get to I thought. For whatever reason it's so popular, this is truly a unique and wonderful place!

We love Saguaro Cacti! You couldn't begin to count them all there are so many. Like people, they come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes.

Every Saguaro Cactus is unique. Like snowflakes, no two are alike.

The canyon has a free flowing stream that seems almost impossible in this hot, arid environment. It's exciting to see water in southern Arizona; everyday all we see are dry river beds, barren washes and parched arroyos. We've been here nearly sixty days and it has not yet rained a measurable quantity of water. Today it was a sunny 81F degrees; tomorrow will almost certainly be sunny and warm as well.

This is the largest stream we've seen here in Arizona. It's awesome to see its strong current and cold fresh water in this desert environment.

Sometimes you just get tangled up with your neighbors' lives.

Even the skeleton of these majestic giants is beautiful.

What a monster! A Saguaro has to be 70 years old before it can grow arms; then it may live to be more than 200 years old.

A fallen soldier. I can't help but feel sorrow for this Saguaro Cactus. It could have lived for two hundred years or more, but something took it down in its prime

Finally, my camera was ready to catch a snapshot of one of these elusive birds darting across the roadway. Run, Roadrunner, run!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Apache Pass

This morning we visited Fort Bowie at Apache Pass for the celebration of the 150 year anniversary of the Bascom Affair. Briefly, the Bascom Affair (Feb. 4, 1861), involved an incident between Apache leader Cochise, and Lieutenant Bascom of the 7th U.S. Infantry which lead to a war that lasted until 1872. The whole fascinating story is a long tale, which can be found here: Bascom Affair

Interpretors, dressed in period uniforms, told the whole story of the Bascom Affair on the very ground where each part of the incident happened.

The whole Bascom story unfolded as we were led to each part of Apache Pass. Some of these volunteer historians traveled from as far away as Los Angeles to be part of this event. This turned out to be one of the best things we've done in Arizona. Cost: Free!

Soldiers were preparing their lunch in the camp kitchen when we reached the Fort remains.

When I asked what this device was, two soldiers were quick to put aside their lunch plate and demonstrate a Heliograph for me. It's a communication device using mirrors and a shutter to transmit wireless Morse code messages up to 70 miles away.

The remains of Fort Bowie in the distance, at the top of Apache Pass.

Some of the best hiking trails we've experienced are right here at Apache Pass. We enjoyed about 3 1/2 miles of both level and steep trails. 'hope we still enjoy them tomorrow morning.

Martha was so happy to meet the famous "Equine Ranger, Boomer", veteran rescue horse. With many of the trails here in the Chiricahuas' far too narrow and steep for ATV or helicopter rescue, Boomer, an 18-year-old Tennessee Walker, can handle the job with ease.

Where bulls go to find promiscuous cows?

Guess I was wrong. Try to stay out of the road ladies.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Back to Normal Southern AZ Weather

Our motorhome plumbing survived the single digit freeze up and the weather seemed to return to normal for southern Arizona today. Time to get outside for some exercise and sunshine along the San Pedro River. Charlie enjoyed some "off leash" time in an environment free of cacti, goat-heads and other thorny threats to her feet.

After more than a week of being couped up in the coach, she splashed in and out of the San Pedro River several times. What a tongue shot!

Speaking of dogs, one of neighbors here in St. David takes her two dogs for a walk everyday. Well, sort of a walk; actually these two dogs ride in a baby stroller while the owner does the walking. Spoiled pooches or what?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Turkey Egg!

Today we welcome new follower, Kelly Souva. We are delighted that you've joined us and appreciate your support.

This morning I looked forward to a new egg adventure. I am an egg connoisseur; whether it be my childhood on my grandparents poultry farm (though honestly, I was far too young to remember much) or more recently the five year period I spent raising hens, where ever we go I seek out fresh farm raised local eggs. In the 14 weeks we have traveled full time in our RV we have not yet purchased eggs at the supermarket. Our quest for fresh, preferably free range eggs, often means we have to endure mean barking farm dogs, unwashed eggs covered with chicken poop as well as a variety other issues like the signs out here. It's not uncommon to see a sign on the main road for eggs, a tag sale or whatever, but once you make the turn you might still have another ten miles or more to go, up some rough, dusty cow path. None of these things matter as long as the eggs have the qualities we are looking for. We want eggs that stand up tall when broken into a skillet, don't spread out wide and most importantly have a bright yellow yolk.

This morning I purchased eggs at the local farmers' market here in St. David, AZ. Today I was his last customer at 10:15 Am and bought his last dozen of 9 eggs (it is winter, and hens don't lay well this time of year). You have to understand, when you buy eggs this way you can't be particular about the size, color or quantity. When I raised chickens, my hens never laid a perfect dozen all the same size and color, it just doesn't work that way in the real world. So, I got nine fresh eggs, in various sizes, white, brown and green, plus a turkey egg. Holy cannoli, what do I do with a turkey egg? I've had duck eggs but never a turkey egg, do I poach, scramble or fry this big sucker? Obviously if am to experience the true flavor and texture of this unique egg I can't break the yolk and stir it up, so I think poaching makes the most sense.

The big spotted egg in the center is the turkey egg. Note the elongated, greenish chicken egg I placed on its side.

I changed my mind and decided to pan fry it. Once I broke the thick shell and dropped into my skillet I watched it carefully so as to not over cook it. I thought it might be a bit firm like a duck egg, but it wasn't. It had a nice bright yellow yolk and tasted much the same as a chicken egg.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bitter Cold for the Southwest

This evening we welcome new followers, John & Ellen. Like ourselves, they are from the Northeast and enjoy using their motorhome to head south and escape the cold weather. I don't think anybody is escaping the cold weather here in Arizona right now, however. It is presently 23F degrees and expected to drop to 11F degrees by morning. Our anemometer is recording gusts of 15 to 20 mph. Yikes!

As we travel some of the secondary roads here in Arizona, we often see amusing road names you would never find back on the east coast. Here are a few of our favorites:

Holy Mackerel, there really is a No-Tel Motel! It's in downtown Tucson.