Monday, October 15, 2012

Finding Fall Foliage

With October marking the two year anniversary of our departure from New England, we started asking locals here whether we could find any fall foliage in the Tucson area.   After considering a long trip to Sedona or a short trip to Sabino Canyon, we decided to make the 65 mile drive up Mt. Lemmon in search of some Maple trees, Aspens and whatever else we could find.   Getting to Mt Lemmon's Catalina Highway means we have to cross all of Tucson to the east side where we always see these suspiciously perfect, giant Saguaro Cacti looming above us on Sunrise Dr.  Today we decided they needed a closer look:

I guess they are some kind of cell tower, but they sure look real next to some live Saguaros.

The 6000 ft. vertical climb, 26 mile trip up Mt Lemmon passes through many Hoodoos and other interesting rock formations but we had our sights set on E. Bear Wallow Rd in search of Maple trees.

I think we found the Aspens right at their peak!  They were gorgeous, set off by the rich green color of the Ponderosa Pines.

At last, Maple trees!  Martha soaks up the sun donning a long sleeve shirt in the 63 degree air here at 8000+ feet.  Down in town it's about 98 degrees.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Final Inspection

This morning I made my self imposed deadline and passed the final inspection for the pool!  Whew, it's been a couple weeks of hard labor but it all came together this morning.  Two weeks ago while scheduling my 2nd to last subcontractor I realized that I would be the one holding this job up if I didn't get the pool barrier and other safety issues finalized for the final inspection. So, despite the summer heat I persevered and completed 80 feet of  solar pull barrier.

The job entailed 22 post holes dug in Arizona Caliche,  142 pickets, 9 lbs. of nails, several sore muscles, numerous aching joints and a whole lot more, all stepped down a gradual slope just to keep it challenging and interesting.  Oh, to be 50 again!

After I was done Martha began the job of weatherproofing all the new wood.  Lookin' good!

Pools require a self closing gate at least 5 feet high that must swing out from the pool.  I built this one out of Redwood which is cheap and plentiful here in Arizona. In the Northeast Redwood was expensive and hard to come by; here in Arizona I think I'll be doing a lot with this beautiful wood. 

For the front of the gate I was lucky to find these huge antique iron strap hinges on eBay. This was an amazing find; sometimes I've looked for weeks and weeks for an item like this and never found it. This is sooo much nicer than new hardware from The Home Depot. The gate already looks like it's 100 years old.

Another item I had to install was a door alarm, but why do these things have to be a screeching 120 db?  While putting this on the pool doors and testing it I put ear plugs in, but our dog, Charlie, was so mortified by the sound that she asked to go outside and wouldn't come in for hours.  The inspector is now gone-no children in the house-door alarm disabled-end of story. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Bobcats are back

Actually I don't think they ever left, this is their home.  We see them now and then but it's not often I get a chance to take a photo of them together.

These guys showed up right at dinner time last night when I put some ribs on the grill.  It's kind of a surprise to go out to my BBQ and see them just 50 feet away staring at me.  I guess they were hungry.

The pool is coming along great, only two more subcontractors to go and I can fill it with water which will come from my metered water here in this part of Arizona.  Normally my water bill is about $20 a month; I don't have a clue what it will cost to fill it.

While the east and south sides of the pool area have the masonry barrier you've seen in the photos, the north side barrier will be a combination wood fence and slanted wall that will support eight 6 1/2' dia. circular solar water heaters that will extend the pool season to about 9 months of the year.  To get approval for this design I had to build a prototype and submit drawings to the county building department. The drawings were readily approved and were said to be a creative and innovative design that did double duty.  I wonder if I could patent it?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My Favorite Things

Partial rainbows are common enough here during the monsoon season but seeing a full rainbow doesn't happen with every storm.  This afternoon we had 30 mph winds and enough thunder and lightning such that Charlie would not eat her dinner, but we only got a few drops of rain. However, we did get a whopper of a rainbow over the Catalinas.

This must be 10 miles wide end to end.  I don't have a wide angle lens big enough to get the whole thing.

These storms produce rainfall that is extremely local.  It's very common for one town to get an inch of rain and the next town nothing at all.  And, the clouds are so beautiful at sunset.