Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Getting Away From Prescott

I am hanging out at the Grand Canyon at the El Tovar to celebrate this year's birthday.

Since I managed to forget the USB SD chip reader, there is no way to get those hundreds of photos onto the computer. I could have just as well forgotten the computer as well. That is the story of my life -- as I travel without a home in tow -- I forget things when traveling away from home.

When I return to Prescott, I will share some of the photos.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Enjoying The View

When I arrived at the high point of a recent solo hike, I found a spot to take a short rest, admire distant mountain ridges and enjoy the solitude.

Thanks to members of the Prescott Hiking Club, a recent addition to my hiking "wardrobe" are the gaiters. That was a great solution to keep rocks out of my shoes.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Getting Culture

I Sing Walt Whitman! was the event. The Prescott Center For The Arts is downtown just a few blocks from Prescott's Whiskey Row. I didn't notice any cowboys in the small intimate theater. Perhaps they were out of uniform.

For my thirteen years of full time RV travel I had attempted to live Walt Whitman's Song Of The Open Road. If curiosity, observing, learning and adventure is part of that "song", then I was successful. This play was a great opportunity to round out my education of Walt Whitman after reading some of his books and books about him -- his life and his times.

John Slade plays the part of Walt Whitman (the only part) in this play.  Written by Slade, he plays the Walt Whitman (resembling the iconic photo) talking about his life and his life's work -- Leaves of Grass. He responds to the critics and reviewers of his book. Whitman reads from his published works with the feeling of a revivalist minister. Part of the play is Whitman's life during the Civil War and a recollection of his admiration for Abraham Lincoln.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon with Walt Whitman.

John C. Slade has a wide range of talents from acting to directing. His talents are well represented in I Sing Walt Whitman!

In the course of my nomadic travels I had the opportunity to cross paths with Mobile Kodger Randy several times. I can remember several occasions as Randy recited selections from Walt Whitman. As I listened to Slade perform Whitman, I was having a time warp moment when I wondered whether that was Randy on stage. The delivery was eerily similar. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tree Identification Problem

Arriving at a nearby cemetery to search for epitaphs, there were several attractive conical shaped trees.

Followed by a photo of a single individual.

The almost perfect conical shape is most unusual. That striking feature sent me on a search to identify the tree.

I took several close up photos. I took a twig from the end of one branch. A closeup of the bark might help with identification.

Finally a close up of leaves at the end of a branch.

I searched for cones on the tree and on the ground. None.

Since my tree identification books are at my home in Tucson, soon I was in front of the computer searching the internet for something that resembled this tree. Two dimensional leaf photos of poor quality do not make the identification any easier. The lack of any cones made a definitive identification near impossible.

After what may have been hours, I narrowed it down to two trees. Some features seem to match an import from Japan -- Cryptomeria. However, the descriptions indicated it needed warmer and wetter areas than the Prescott area.

The second possibility was the Sequoia. The branching and look of the leaves of the Sequoia mostly resembled the cutting I took. Although native to California, for over a hundred years it has been seeded and planted around the world including several locations in Arizona. Could Prescott have been one of those locations.

It remains a very attractive tree -- even if unidentified.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Lesson Learned

Sex, religion, and politics should not be discussed with new acquaintances. I didn't violate that rule. However, there is another subject which has a deep rooted belief system.

On a hike this morning, a gal (a nurse) behind me had said to those in her immediate vicinity that red meats and saturated fat foods cause elevated cholesterol.

I should have said that that wasn't my experience. That should have been the end of my comments. But NO.

I related that I had dropped grains from my diet and upped saturated fats. The result was that cholesterol was reduced by over 80 points. It was obvious she wasn't buying any of it. It violated her belief system regarding saturated fats.

The conversation died a natural death and I moved to the rear of the hiking group.

Unless asked, I no longer will talk about my way of eating and my health. Too controversial.

The lesson was learned.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Art Piece on The Trail

Years of weathering bring out the colorful beauty and texture of wood in this long dead juniper.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Needed Hike

With other errands and exploring over the past two days, this morning it was time for a hike. I needed to get close to nature. I needed to escape the man constructed world of easy living -- cars, air conditioning and mega-stores for every possible need. Or want.

Half way through the hike, there was a small stream.  I considered crossing the stream on rocks. When I put my foot on the first rock, it rocked. With my focus/balance problems I would end up getting my feet wet. Or perhaps just fall in.  So I decided to just wade through the ankle deep water.

Along the trail I have the pleasure of noting the trees and bushes. Occasionally I will be startled by a lizard going through dead leaves. First reaction it must be a snake. 

A high spot on the trail will mean a view of that man constructed world in the distance.

The beauty of the natural world is there even as nature recycles.

Soon I was back to where I started.

That was great! A hike was needed to get away from a world created by man.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Missing a Home on Wheels

There is a downside when traveling without a home on wheels.

When planning to be away from my Tucson home for three months, determining what to take seemed simple enough. Clothes and other daily used personal items was easy. Rather than taking the entire wardrobe of Hawaiian shirts, I took ten. There will be a laundromat nearby.

I packed a couple of preferred cooking utensils that I was sure would not be at the furnished park model. I brought a serving bowl for my daily huge salad. Good decision.

Once I arrived at the park model, I did have to go shopping for food. As the first tenant of the unit, there wasn't a salt and pepper shaker. Actually, the shakers were there. They were empty. That was not an issue since I brought the spices (including salt and pepper) for my cooking and for seasoning salads.

For a couple of days, it seemed there was always another item that was missing. Drinking fine brandy out of a plastic tumbler was not going to work. Off to Goodwill to purchase a couple of rock glasses. It was senior day and some items were half off. Two rock glasses for a buck. I checked the rack for Hawaiian shirt. Nothing there at half price.

Another day it was a colander that I could have used. And again another day. So I bought a colander.

I never thought about bringing band aids. As I made salad one day. I managed to cut myself -- at the end of a finger. However, without protection that cut was soon bleeding again. I might have been able to get a band aid at the park office. But it was Sunday and the office was closed. So it was a trip to the grocery store to buy band aids.

I miss the old days of travel when my home was with me all the time. Everything was always with me -- even the infrequently used items. I have discovered there are a lot of those items.

At the rate I am purchasing items which I forgot to bring along, I may have a yard sale when I return to Tucson.

Photo of Wandrin Wagon and Silver Slug is at Colorado's Navajo State Park.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Cyber Theft Protection

In the wake of NSA snooping, Germany decides "old" technology addresses the issue.

Read the story here.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Fattening Foods

Over two years ago, I eliminated grains and grain products from my diet. My way of eating since then has been meats (all kinds), lots of vegetables, a  yogurt/blueberry shake for breakfast and occasional fruits for dessert. Sometimes a piece of dark chocolate.

Rather than following the guidelines of the USDA Food Pyramid or USDA Food Plate, Mark's Daily Apple provides this food pyramid for my way of eating. Note the absence of grain products.

When I initially eliminated grains and grain products from my diet, I weighed 155-160 pounds. Over two years later, I weigh about 142 with little fluctuation.

That loss of weight is in spite of the fact that I eat the "taboo" foods. My meals include butter, bacon, fatty meats and other fats that I am told I shouldn't be eating.

Over two years ago I upped the intake of fatty foods and cut out the grains. And I lose weight. As Arte Johnson would say, "Verrrry interesting".

So what are the fattening foods. That question came to mind a couple of days ago when I recalled having a corporate dinner (decades ago) with work mates from Europe. There was corn (on the cob) on the menu of the restaurant. My dinner mates were appalled that we would eat animal food. Isn't corn fed to animals to fatten them for slaughter. They were right.

From another conversation of decades ago, a long time friend was adamant about eating a no/low fat diet. The friend said that vegetarians don't get fat. The friendship was important so I let that statement pass without comment. The response I would have made if I didn't value the friendship was that it was a vegetarian diet -- grains -- that fattened cattle.

So with the success at maintaining a weight I hadn't seen since college, I continue to eat fattening foods -- and no grains.

Note: When I consumed the grain products, it caused serious -- almost constant -- indigestion and heart burn. As a result I consumed antacids after most every meal. I do not take statin drugs, but over that same two year period, LDL cholesterol dropped by 80 points.

This is not science. This is anecdotal experience.

I rarely eat out for fear what may be lurking in the tasty sounding choices. Salads, bacon and eggs or naked hamburgers are my choice when dining out. On those very rare occasions when I decided to check out something that was grain based, I regretted the decision. Within 24 hours I had heart burn which lingered for about 18 hours before my body's defenses cleaned up the mess.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Three Flush Toilet

The park model I am renting at Orchard Ranch has a water saving toilet. At least that is the intent of the toilet designers. However, that has not been my experience. If you're flushing liquid, it works just fine with a single flush. However, anything else and it will require three flushes to finish the job. (Is that a pun.)

I wonder how and what the designers were using to test the toilet's ability to properly flush the contents of the bowl.

I thought I might be an unusual specimen in the human race. However, when I was griping about the toilet in a conversation with a cousin, she remarked that her daughter had the same complaint about a toilet in their house.

It's an admirable goal to save water. However, I am not sure any water is being saved if I have to flush three times.

When I visited New Zealand and Australia they addressed that wasting water issue by designing toilets to do a half flush or a full flush depending on the needs of the user. How come something similar has not been introduced in this country.

Until I return to my home in Tucson I will tolerate the three flush toilet.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Verizon Calling

Driving into Prescott, the cell phone rings. I struggle to get it out of the holster. Without looking at the number on the cell phone, I answer with a "hello". No answer. I knew right then I should hang up. I didn't. Once more I said "hello".

Cell Phone Voice: This is So-and-so from Verizon. Reviewing your account, I note that with our new calling plans we can save you money.

Yeah. Right. Verizon calls to save me money.

Me: This is not a good time as I like to concentrate on my driving.

Cell Phone Voice: This will only take a few minutes.

Me: I'm sorry. I'm driving. Good Bye. I hang up.

Later in the day the phone rings again. I note the number. It was that Verizon number again. I don't answer. That is when I assigned the "don't answer ring tone" to the phone number. Over the next couple of days, That Verizon robo dialer has called several times.

Why is Verizon calling. Because my two year contract has expired. Verizon wants me to buy a new phone.

I had this conversation with Verizon several months ago. I listened to the rep's spiel how I might save money and also get more minutes and more text messages. The rep knows that I barely get to 75% of my allowable minutes. Texts are almost a non usage. Data usage almost nil.

Well, I like saving money, so how do I get to save the money.

There is no such thing as a free lunch. Those less expensive plans that offer more minutes and texts are available with a new contract and the purchase of the iPhone 5S for only $200.

Excuse me! I should spend $200 to purchase a new phone so I can get more minutes and text messaging -- which I won't use.

I responded that I was very happy with my current phone and my limited usage.

Soon the rep realizes there is no future in this conversation. Reading from the prompter screen in front of the rep, I am thanked for being a Verizon customer. Is there anything else Verizon can do for you today.

I wish I was quick enough to respond, "Please stop calling me."

Monday, July 7, 2014

Dark Chocolate

No milk chocolate for this guy.

Once I discovered (decades ago) the flavor of dark chocolate there was no more milk chocolate. Searching for the best dark chocolate, that changed over the years. In the most recent past I preferred the Lindt 90% -- for those few times when I did purchase a chocolate bar.

That was before I found the Theo chocolate bar at Whole Foods this past winter.

My taste buds prefer the Theo chocolate bar since it doesn't have a bitter after taste -- compared to the Lindt 90%.

Dark chocolate is a great dessert. With little sugar, it is easy to stop after a single piece.

In addition to taste, my health is a primary consideration when choosing foods. Relying on internet sources (LOL), WebMD says dark chocolate is healthy.That's good enough for me to continue enjoying good dark chocolate.

Ingredients of the two chocolate bars as stated on the bar wrappers:

Lindt chocolate bar ingredients: Chocolate, cocoa butter, cocoa powder processed with alkali, sugar, bourbon vanilla beans

Theo chocolate bar ingredients: Cocoa beans, sugar, ground vanilla bean. All ingredients are organic and fair trade.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Rained On Parade

The Prescott Rodeo is being held this first week of July. Today was the rodeo parade.

I arrived early for the nine starting time -- about 45 minutes early. Along the street, gazebos and canopies were already set up along the sides of the streets. They had claimed their space. Soon the parade watchers arrived with their coolers and chairs and settled under the gazebos and out of the sun.

Considering there are horses in a rodeo parade, this was a must do event for me with a love for the beauty and perceived freedom of a horse.

The Prescott Rodeo parade was an opportunity to see horses curried and combed and wearing their best leathers. Some of the riders were also combed and well dressed.

After the color guard the second entry in the parade was this wagon from Cedar City Utah towed by Cedar Ranch Shires.

Following that was one of the better dressed participants in the parade -- the Rodeo Queen.

Although there were other modern day fire trucks in the parade, here is an antique fire truck.

Each weekend when I go to Prescott's farmer's market (at Yavapai College) I see this aging hippie with his burro and dog. With the peace symbol on a rainbow flag and wearing hurache sandals, he would have no problem fitting into a hippie commune of the 1960s.

There were several entries commemorating the nineteen lives of the Prescott Hot Shot fire crew that died just a year ago in the Yarnell fire. This was one of those entries.

This guy put his horse on auto pilot and leaned back in the saddle.

Like this duo, there were many well dressed riders and several in period attire.

What is a parade without some ancient tractors. This 1950 International Harvester Model H is a bit newer than the 1946 model I drove back on the farm.

These mountain men came down for this rendezvous (Prescott Rodeo) to trade for supplies and show off their attire and their very attractive horses.

The crumbs from some donuts provided treasures for the ants on a retaining wall. This photo is to share the macro capabilities of my Canon PowerShot SX700.

Soon the clouds were building and providing welcome shade to the parade watchers without canopies or gazebos. One of those was me. I was very thankful. However, with clouds came drops of rain. Not enough to dampen anyone's pleasure of watching the parade.

It didn't take long for the monsoon clouds to release lots of rain. The kindness of strangers invited me and others to join them in their gazebo to stay drier. Standing on the edge of the gazebo, my back side was getting wet and my shoes were soaked because I was standing in a stream of water flowing at the edge of the street.

It was now two hours into the parade and there may have been another half hour left. These are just one of those entries that have another half hour of cold wet riding ahead of them. Those are raindrops appearing in the photo. That is not Photoshop.

Soon there was more space between rain drops. It didn't really matter since I was already well soaked so I started the six to seven block walk back to Oyster -- my car.

On the way to the car this mountain stream on the street provided my last photo op.

I didn't hear any complaints about the rain. Most people welcomed the moisture and the cooler weather of monsoon season.

It may have rained on the end of the Prescott Rodeo parade, but it was great to be out and enjoying the experience.

Friday, July 4, 2014


About a week ago, I paid five bucks to join the Prescott Hiking Club. With several hikes for varying physical levels throughout the week, the only remaining decision is to select a hike. Yesterday I joined the hike on the Grapevine Trail.

These Prescott hikers are fit. An 8.2 mile round trip and with elevation changes, eventually we were at a lookout point at 6400 feet elevation -- 1400 feet higher than the trail head. The round trip was done in four hours with a fifteen minute stop to enjoy the view at the high point. Yes. They are a fit group.

Fortunately, the return to the trail head was mostly downhill. That was a whole lot easier than the huffing and puffing I was doing on the uphill climb.

Upon my return home, I was looking forward to a dip in the hot spa at Orchard Ranch. That should have been my first stop after a shower. Sitting in a hot tub in 90 degree temps is not appealing. I decided I would wait for the sun to go down. Bad decision.

The clouds started to fill the skies.

Soon the pool area was locked to prevent a surprise lightening strike at some pool guest.

A light rain continued until sundown. I could have left the park to get better sundown photos, but I wanted to keep the recently washed car somewhat clean for another day.

This blog would have been written last evening, but I went to bed at nine and woke up at six this morning. Rested!