Monday, December 31, 2012

Bowen Stone House

For the last hike of 2012, the destination was the 1930s Stone House on the Yetman Trail. 

I had been here before, but always enjoy a visit to see buildings constructed of natural stone. It is artistry by the mason who created this home. Selecting the appropriate sized rock and perhaps hewing where required, the 18 inch walls take shape.

After hiking to this point it was time to refuel the body with a snack and admire the Tucson Mountains that the Bowens enjoyed from their home nestled in their desert garden of saguaro, cholla, palo verde and other hardy desert plants. 

Detail look at the stones placed close to each other with little mortar in between. Imagine the mason looking over a pile of rocks to select the one that would fit the wall. That is truly an artist's skill.

Check out the size of the rocks in the wall. Lifting those rocks into place also requires some muscle.

Another view of the structure including the chimney built into the wall. No doubt construction included a scaffold to build the wall. How else to get those large rocks up there. 

It was another cool day in the desert. The temps were in the fifties requiring two layers to stay warm while hiking. 

It was a great day. 

Happy New Year

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Physical Cliff

The news goes on and on about the physical cliff that those federal legislative bodies are trying to avoid. Come on guys. There must be a road around that physical cliff some place. Check out a Google map. Betting there is a way around that physical cliff.



Never mind. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012


For several days, normal dress code for Wandrin Lloyd has been long pants. And a head covering for that shaved head. Still wearing the Hawaiian shirt.

No rain or snow in Tucson. Just cold. At least for me. The sun struggles to warm the earth to a temp of 60 degrees. Some days it never did get that warm. Once at that toasty 60 degrees about mid day, the temps immediately start dropping to the cooler -- make that colder -- temperatures.

Living in an RV with water supply coming through a hose means that there will be the occasional morning freeze up. Happened a couple of times. More freeze ups are expected before winter is over. Some in the next week. Fortunately, I have water in the fresh water tank to use until the hose thaws as the sun climbs higher in the sky.

To stay warm inside Wandrin Wagon means using propane to keep warm. Indoors, my usual choice is to go bare foot. That doesn't work now with these cold temps. So I wear heavy socks to -- somewhat -- insulate against the colder floor level temperatures.

Heating with a propane blue flame heater, there is condensation buildup on the metal frames around windows and doors. Just another issue with cold weather in Wandrin Wagon. With few windows designed in the custom built Wandrin Wagon, I've done what I could to reduce the propane usage to stay warm.

A fifth wheel has the additional disadvantage where the floor at the rear of the trailer is almost three feet lower than the front. That makes it colder back there when comfortable in my bedroom desk area.

It's all about adapting. Wear more clothes (see photo). Spend time in bed reading or at the computer and the internet.

Staying warm causes me to think of a settled existence where comfortable temps can be maintained and I could walk around barefoot indoors. But that is another story.

Weather forecasts do not promise warmer weather for several days. Looks like I will be wearing long pants and head covering for the foreseeable future.

Maybe not a great day, but adapting to a very good day.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Hike

The gift of friendship was our celebration hike on Christmas day. Steve, Maria, Mark, Bill, Linda and me were the hikers. Starting near Tucson Estates we made a loop hike to a high point and back to the trailhead for a five to six mile hike (depending on the GPS you want to believe).

Maria was the first to spot this hawk perched atop a one time telephone pole. As Maria tried to get closer for a better photo, the hawk left its hunting perch to this interloper. (Note: clicking on photos will display larger images.)

Later we saw the hawk perched on a rock outcropping. Once again Maria got closer to get a better photo. Soon the hawk was flying again as Maria screamed as she encountered a cholla in her butt. With comb in hand, Mark removed the cholla and the hike continued.

Taking up the rear with Bill and Mark, I was intrigued by these two guys checking each others trivia memories of old movies. No contributions from Wandrin Lloyd. I just listened. (My answer to all movie questions is Jimmy Stewart. I was right one time.) Next time you need team members for Trivial Pursuit, get these guys.

With a wide variety of desert flora, the crested saguaro was the unusual specimen of many that we saw along our hike.

Arriving at the high point of the hike, the Christmas hike celebratory feast began. Our snacks were accompanied by wine and agave rum. Topping it off for dessert, it was orange flavored dark chocolate.

Posing for the photo were Bill, Mark, Linda, Steve and Maria.

Holding an arm with camera in hand I was able to include my sour puss in another photo.

As we sat there enjoying the views in all directions the sky clouded up and soon I was chilling down. I needed to move to warm up this body. Having been on this downhill trip before, I knew about the treacherous footing ahead on the crumbling rock. With the inner ear problems and balance issues, it was best that I moved ahead of the pack.

On the trail below the peak, I captured the group finishing off the bottle of wine.

The slopes are covered with saguaro. Noting that most of the terrain is rock, it is a credit to these saguaro and other desert plants that they have evolved to survive here.

Soon the rest of the group was coming down the trail. Captured Steve, Mark and Maria in a garden of saguaro.

Just a few minutes later, Bill and Linda moved into camera view.

Last evening we sat around a camp fire at Maria and Mark's. We chatted and shared stories until it was too cold for me to sit there any longer. It was only 49 degrees. But the four layers and long pants was just not enough.

Oh. Guess I didn't mention. It was a great day.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas in Tucson

Sung to the tune of "Winter Wonderland":

Palm trees wave, are you listenin'?  In the pool, water's glistenin'

A beautiful sight, I'm happy tonight, livin' in a Tucson Wonderland!

Gone away is the blizzard, here to stay is the lizard

A warm sunny day, I like it that way, livin' in a Tucson Wonderland

In the desert we will have a picnic, cactus, sand and scorpions and the sun

Christmas dinner is an old tradition, turkey enchiladas by the ton

Later on, I'll perspire, temperatures risin' higher

A warm sunny day, I like it that way, livin' in a Tucson Wonderland!

Wishing you, your family and friends
 the happiness and joy 
of this holiday season...

Merry Christmas 

and a

Happy New Year

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Celebrating Winter Solstice

The end of the world has been predicted so many times in the past. In fact there were a couple of those predictions earlier this year. Tomorrow is another of those. Really have to wonder why people want to believe those predictions.

Sorry to disappoint, the world will not end on December 21st, 2012. No doubt there will be many people who have put off their Christmas guilt shopping because the world was going to end. They certainly will be surprised to discover the malls are open waiting for their business on Saturday morning. They will be out there trying to find a parking place with all those who believed the prediction. (Note to self: Avoid malls on Saturday. Go for a hike instead.)

What will happen is what happens every 365 days plus/minus. The earth's orbital tilt will start heading in the other direction which means there will now be longer day light hours for earth's northern hemisphere.

My celebration plans are incomplete at this time, but I'm planning a big salad for lunch and hamburger verde for a dinner. Before dinner I will have a Brandy Manhattan to celebrate the occasion of the shortest day of the year. Dessert? How about home made pumpkin yogurt.

Whatever happens, it will be a great day.

3000 years ago the holiday season celebrated the end of short days and a promise of longer days ahead. That holiday has evolved into the guilt gift shopping frenzy that happens in the Decembers of the 21st century. It's a comfort to realize we've come a long way from those pagan celebrations.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Shortage of Sun

The shortage of sun means I am not getting my daily dose of vitamin D on my short walks. Looks like a vitamin supplement might be required to get through these cloudy days. The clouds moved in two days ago and brought three quarters of an inch of rain over the past two days. Not much for this desert. After the month of November with no rain, this little moisture is welcome. Hoping that this will have a positive impact on the wild flower blooms come spring time.

After the last post with the Hawaiian shirt and shorts, the new look for Wandrin Lloyd is long pants and a jacket over the Hawaiian shirt. To wear shorts and short sleeve shirts in this 50 degree weather, the alternate solution to staying warm could be a layer of blubber -- like a walrus. :-) Don't think that would be a good idea.

Instead of the usual blue skies of my previous posts of the desert, how about scenic clouds over the desert in between the gray skies of rain.

There may be snow atop Mount Lemmon, however there were low hanging clouds to hide the snow if there was any.

I like these cool and cloudy days. End up spending more time inside. That means an afternoon nap. Life is great.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Color In The Desert

Brown Mountain was the destination for the Merrell Footwear Hiking Club. Could easily be called that.  With Linda the sole lady on the hike, it was only understandable that she noted the shoes of the hikers. We all wore Merrell hiking shoes -- including me. But I was taking the photo so my shoes do not appear.

Total round trip of the hike was five miles. The trail is along the ridge with the peak of Brown Mountain as the high point. Great views in all directions.

The loop trail returns to the trail head between the ridge and nearby Kinney Road. This part of the trail is through a forest of saguaros and other desert flora. Along the way we noted several still green and fading to brown saguaros that had toppled within the last year.

The variety of shapes of the saguaro range from a straight pole with no arms to those with many arms. Then there are some that can only be described as whimsical. With the arms of this one so close to the ground, this might be the place to get some close ups of saguaro blossoms in early May. No need for a stepladder to get the photo.

On the flat area near the trail head is a garden of cholla, creosote, prickly pear and other desert flora.

With all the walking and breathing the clear desert air, soon the afternoon was gone and we were planning the next hike at the social hour.

Ever since their arrival in Tucson, Steve and Ann-Marie have been emptying and disposing of the contents of Ann-Marie's parents' house. Soon I was the recipient of some of that disposition.

How about this for a bright shirt. Takes a pretty brave guy to wear something that bright. Especially with the pink colors. Am I that brave. Some days.

With the over 30 shirts in my closet and worn in sequence, sometimes some of the shirts are selected or rearranged for special occasions. Some days I may not be brave enough to wear that shirt. It may get passed up.

Good day hiking with the Merrell Footwear Hiking Club and got a new Hawaiian shirt for my collection without going to a thrift store. Life is great!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Popular Posts Gadget

Made some changes here. The last weeks popular posts gadget in the side bar has been showing Palm Springs Air Museum in the top ten since its posting in late 2010. To remove its skewing of the statistics, I've moved the post to its very own page. With that move it will no longer appear in the top ten popular blog posts.

Why this great interest in World War II nose art. Never ends. Every week there are hits. When I look at the search criteria that has led people to the site, wonder sometimes whether this is a result of the "auto complete" feature of search engines. Type in "WWII art" and the auto complete suggests "WWII nose art". Considering a tattoo for your nose, type in "nose art" and "wwii nose art" is the auto complete. These are just thoughts.

Perhaps there are people who are doing research on World War II airplane nose art. Seems strange that it would be every week for two years. How many people are doing this.

The Blogger stats page just creates more questions. What really is a page view. Do "web crawlers" cause a tick to be recorded when they scan a page. Or can the Blogger statistics counter know the difference between a search engine or a "web crawler".

When the audience of my site is in Russia, India, China, etc, why did they end up at my blog. Have to wonder whether some of those hits are responsible for the "spam ads" that appear as blog comments. (Don't get those anymore since elimination of anonymous comments.)

Always questions. That's what you get from a two/three year old. Appears I've not matured a whole lot.

Moved the Palm Springs Air Museum blog post to its own page. No longer is a popular post. Actually did something. It's a good day.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Could I Do That

Could I live in a B van RV with about 90 square feet of living space 365 days a year. Sure. If I wanted to. Interesting dilemma. However, after living in 200 square feet for close to twelve years I wonder if this old guy could really deal with that kind of downsizing.

These thoughts have been swirling around for a couple of months.

Actually, it has been going on for a couple of years. I recognized the malaise and need for a change over two years ago when I posted I Get Bored. Fast forward to 2012 when I spent lots of money to keep the Silver Slug on the road. Another couple of thousand was put into the Wandrin Wagon. It was at that point that I started to think about Change Or Continue On.

As I mulled those thoughts, I resolved -- at least for a day or two -- that I had come up with An Option To Full Time RVing. Just a few days later I posted that I was Not Ready To Settle.

Guess you have figured out that these brain exercises have not gone away. The thoughts about various options continue to be considered. Those nagging considerations caused me to stop at an RV dealer where there were some B van RVs. Yes. They are compact living. Not really anything missing for basic living. They have the essentials; the kitchen, the bed, the bathroom. My ancestors of 100 years ago would have been happy with such luxuries -- including the on board generator. These units are built for the 21st century consumer which includes the TV and microwave. Well. They are removable. My option.

The B van is my solution to having transportation while living in sticks and bricks, and still be able to travel for short periods without having to live in motels and dining out far too often. As my only transportation, It would be no more difficult to park than my current experiences with the SIlver Slug. Walking is good from that distant parking space.

Confession time. The thought of stopping full time travel is getting more space within my brain. Finding the "ideal" sticks and bricks location might be an even more difficult decision. Renting only will leave the options open just in case the ideal wasn't what my brain imagined.

Ah. The dilemma. Could I do that. Could I live in sticks and bricks with an occasional road trip or month(s) long journey in a B van. More imagining.

Doubt that this is the end of imagining a future for Wandrin Lloyd. However, I will spare my readers any more thoughts on the subject until something actually happens.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Planning For 2016

Just over a month ago after the US Presidential race was over, I posted a blog entry about a raffle contest for naming the date that some politician would announce running for US President in 2016.

No one has announced one month later. However, several politicians have been busy lining up possible financial support. Check out this article at Politico.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Desert Museum Fauna

A photo tour of the Sonora Desert Museum.

Mountain Lion




Some kind of Green Butterfly

Band-Tailed Pigeon (?)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Seven Falls Hike

The hike was nine to ten mile hike -- depending on the GPS you want to believe. Considering the eleven hours I slept last evening, I'm going with the ten mile hike.

The trail with Tucson mountains and Tucson visible in the notch.

A saguaro silhouette on the ridge 300 feet above.

Water was a trickle at this time of year -- let alone water falls. 

Arriving at Seven Falls, there were just a few people ahead of us. That changed rapidly with our arrival. We were soon followed by many others arriving within minutes.

Before the crowds showed up on this weekend hike, I was able to get this photo. In the center of the photo are a half dozen guys (probably UofA students) who were enjoying the -- no doubt -- cold water pool at their feet. 

With problematic balance issues, I opted out on the scramble up the rock face. 

The technology of the Canon SX230 was able to make some of my hiking partners seem much closer than they actually were. 

All that exercise was great -- and makes for a very comfortable night of sleep. Life is great!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Playing Tourist

Playing tourist is an alternative to a hike. Yesterday was one of those as the core group of hikers headed southeast to explore a one time gold mining operation called Kentucky Camp. Rather than pick and shovel, this operation used a water cannon to sluice open the hill sides to expose any gold. In the few years of its operation, the income was just over $3000. The initial investment exceeded $100,000 for construction of buildings and water diversion canals to power the water cannon. This photo is of the restored hotel/office and assay building.

After walking the grounds, reading the history, viewing restoration and taking photos, we went to nearby Sonoita for lunch. We ended at Cunningham's Ranch House after finding the first two restaurant choices open on weekends only for lunch. We seated ourselves at the round table in the John Wayne room. In addition to a bust of John Wayne, all the walls were covered with photos of John Wayne. (For the younger readers of this blog see John Wayne at Wikipedia.)

Soon the waitress appeared at our table and elaborated on the specials. When she was done, I commented to her that she "was not from around here." That was the beginning of jokes and good natured kidding from our stand up comedian waitress. Arriving in Sonoita early in her life, she had not lost her New York accent after 35 years living in Sonoita.

After being well fed, it was time to head next door for dessert at Dos Cabezas wine tasting room. Tasting $9 with your own glass or $15 for their souvenir wine glass. Then we proceeded to taste eleven different wines produced by the Arizona winery. Mostly reds, there were some excellent wines. There were two that I savored; the 2010 Toscano and the fortified wine 2010 Boxcar -- akin to a port.

For me, the highlight was reading the owner/winemaker's descriptions of the wines we were tasting. All of the descriptions were written by a prose poet. The description for the 2010 Trimezzo is just an example of the writing talent: "…A bit like red and blue fruits muddled on your tongue with a sandstone pestle. Sensation of baking chocolate is left to lollygag on your tongue. Some pretty elegant tannin here… Deserves some elegant Italian food."

A brief visit to an olive oil and balsamic tasting next door was followed with an even shorter visit to a newly opened Monika's Bakery. Bought nothing at either location -- including the bakery. There was a cinnamon roll in the bakery case, but I already know better to enjoy the look -- not the eating followed by indigestion.

From there it was a drive back to the RV park for a brief social hour and enjoying the sunset glow on the western horizon.

For another point of view of that day's experiences, check out Anne-Marie and Steve's blog entry or RVing Steve's blog entry.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Another Great Day

Started the day with a hike in the desert and washes behind the park. Saguaro oddities abound. Is it genetic or disease. No answers. Crested saguaros are much photographed. There are other oddities including this spiral of the upper branches.

The destination for the day's hike was the bee colony in the wall of a desert wash. These two photos of the wash and colony are from January of 2012.

Our hike along the desert washes showed the destructive nature of summer monsoons in the desert. The past summer's heavy rains and resultant water flows collapsed embankments, upended and exposed tree roots, and toppled some saguaros. The water flows didn't entirely destroy the grotto where the bees had their colony, but it did significant damage to the combs. They seem to be rebuilding. However, it appears the space to make a similar structure isn't there.

The spines of this saguaro provided interest for Steve and Bill as they explored the desert.

At the end of the day we gathered at Steve's site. With camera in hand, I caught this rabbit feasting on a seed block set in the wash.

Attracting birds is not difficult with feeders. This hummingbird was perched on a feeder on a window of Steve's trailer.

As we chatted and planned the next hike, the sun dropped below the horizon while the moon appeared in the east. Didn't realize I captured a bird in flight until I was reviewing the photos.

Good hike. Great company. Fantastic weather. Life is great!