Thursday, February 7, 2019

January 2019:

The new year started with much action on the house, possibly too much, starting with the installation of a new Heating and AC system.  The system starting acting up back in November, the technician blamed a dirty air filter for the problem.  A week latter, it failed again and I did some troubleshooting myself finding that the heat pump compressor contacts were burnt.  The technician then returned and agreed that it was the problem, but after replacing it a secondary problem developed with a blower fan relay.  After replacing it, there was still a problem and the technician practically pulled his hair out trying to find it.  Eventually he claimed that the heat pump compressor was failing and that we needed to replace the heating system and we sort of went along with this. Personally, I thought he was missing something and after he left mysteriously the compressor and the system started running good again.  As the Heating & AC system is 28 years old, well beyond its life expectancy, we decided to replace it for reliability and peace of mind.  The crew did a great one day installation and everything is now working fine and we should be good for another 20 years, at least, I hope so ?

It's a beauty and less noisy that the old one

I have been on a low cholesterol diet for a while now and eating is just not as much fun as it once was.  The good news is that I’m now close to my ideal weight, the weight listed on my driving license taken at about 17 years of age.  This has prompted Twinkles to start dieting and in conjunction we have both joined the local Chuze Gym. I kinda hate the gym, but it’s always fun for people watching and I do feel righteous after a good workout.

You get to watch really dumb TV while you exercize

I venture to the local Arizona DMV office to see if I could register my 38 Dodge in Arizona, even though I’m still a SD resident with a SD drivers license.  I expected some complications, but instead it was no problem at all, all it takes is the the original title, proof of insurance, your drivers license and the required fees.  There was no line, the woman at the counter was very efficient, in 10 minutes time I left with an Arizona title, a registration and license plate for only $78.  As a result, I am now legal and as I didn’t want the special (ugly) copper historic license plate I can drive everywhere, with no limits.  I can also get rid of the ugly front license plate bracket on the car.  

After cleaning the RV, replacing a burnt out bathroom light fixture, securing a sagging window blind and cleaning the roof, I decided that no more work would be done, it wasn't going to make any difference and was a waste of time.  My original plan was always to take it to a few local RV dealers to see what they would offer on a cash sale.  However, when I checked with two dealersI learned that they don’t buy RV’s over 10 years old.  I considered the consignment route, but I expect that the patched and aging roof on the RV will be a huge deterrent to getting a good price.  I then responded to a “Buy my RV now” website which has a local dealer arrangement in Tucson.  On the following day someone came to the house to evaluate the RV, they walked around the exterior and through the interior, started the engine and asked if everything worked.  I had electric and water hooked up and was all ready to demonstrate, but they weren’t interested in checking anything.  They didn’t even go up on the roof to my amazement !  They called me a few hours later with an offer which I didn’t accept, but left the door open for a second offer.  We then decided that if they came back with anything better, we would take it, we really didn’t want to go through a long agonizing consignment process just to get slightly more money, or none.  The next day, we accepted their offer and on Monday January 14th, we took it on a final ride to the RV dealership, signed the papers and picked up our check.  It was a very painless process, but a little sad, we have had many good adventures in that RV over the past 4 years.

A finer moment for the Hawk

I spent about a full week removing all 24 roof rafters on our Pergola. Many of the rafters were cracked or bowed and I had to replace about six of them. They were all very easy to remove as most of the screws and nails were not holding.  I then laid them on sawhorses so I was able to apply a heavy coat of wood stain and then reinstalled them using wood long screws for a more robust connection.  This hopefully will extend its life for a few more years, but ultimately all the rafters should be replaced with good pressure treated lumber.

It sure looks better now

Taking a holiday from working on the house, we traveled across across town to the National Park Store which was having a Hubbell Trading Post “On the Road Show” of authentic Navajo rugs and wall hangings for sale.  The National Parks Store is operated by the Western National Parks Association which is a non profit educational partner of the National Park Association.  They have been in operation since 1938 and are a great organization.  They are currently taking a big hit, along with thousands of citizens, due to our “want to be dictator” president and his “in lock step” political party who insist on holding everyone hostage in order to build an unnecessary border wall that will not solve this highly exaggerated problem.

A Navajo rug trader gave an interesting talk about several of the rugs and wall hangings on display and for sale.  We have always admired these Navajo woven rugs and the talk inspired me to say, "lets buy one", much to Twinkles surprise.  Actually we ended up with small wall hanging, not a rug, still rather pricey, but we like it and I admire the Navajo people.  

A good crowd attended and people were ready to buy

We came away with this wall hanging

My hero of the month was determined after watching a movie called 100 Years on Netflix.  It was a sad but inspirational documentary with a somewhat happy ending about the Blackfeet tribe in Montana and the efforts of a determined female tribal leader, Eloise Cobell, resulting in the largest claim settlement against the US government of all time.  It was a long challenging ordeal over decades and several presidential administrations, but in the end she was successful.  Sadly, she died from cancer shortly after winning the settlement for the tribe.  The list of achievements and awards of Eloise Cobell are remarkable !

As usual I've been attending many music events around Tucson such at the Hotel Congress, Sunday Sessions at Borderlands Brewing, the St Charles Tavern, Monterey Court, the Public Brewhouse, the Chicago Bar, La Cocina, the Tap and Bottle and the Exo Roast listening Room.

Most Sundays I go to church at the Sunday Sessions with the Kevin Pakulis Band

Wednesday evenings are often spent at LaCocina with Lana Rebel
and Kevin Mayfield

My photography has mostly been on hold for the past few months, I took a needed break, but I’m now back in the mood again. In my travels around town, I had been seeing and keeping a list of potential targets.  I finally managed to get out for a brief outing in an area that was once a thriving tourist area, sadly not so so much these days, but still interesting.   

An outer space theme to this mural 

The theme continues around the corner on the same building,
are those UFO's over the building ? 

Not sure if I want to visit the Meet Rack

These beautiful flowers were on an adjacent street corner

A notable Tucson Inn sadly boarded up these days

A couple of other iconic signs from days past

Needed a close up

Great bus stop mosaic tile mural

The Hacienda Motel is still looking good

Love this sign

The dinosaur theme on this building is a favorite

I took a short road trip to Arivaca, Arizona about 55 miles south near the Mexican border.  It’s an old Spanish town with a mining and ranching heritage that today is on the front line of the border dispute.  They were having a festival called the Arrivaca Memories and Music Festival. The Kevin Pakulis Band was playing with Chuck’s Band Wagon along with several other musicians at the festival.  Arivaca is a colorful mix and ranchers, cowboys, aging hippies and characters who outwardly appear to tolerate one another.  Kevin and the band played afterwards to a rousing crowd at the La Gitana Cantina.  La Gitana claims to be the oldest bar in the oldest continuously inhabited townsite in Arizona.  The bar was on Esquires best bars of America list in 2011.  I only wish there was a bar like it in Tucson.

I took the scenic route that passes through the Buenos
Aires National Wildlife Refuge

Good BBQ was available

The oldest school house in Arizona with a Hippie Kitchen
and Library display

A paint a truck event during the festival

Real authentic flower power here

Vintage chevy "Cowboy" pick up truck 

My vote for the best tie dye

Chuck of Chucks Band wagon and several local musicians
joined forces with the Kevin Pakulis Band 

Humanitarian aid is now under attack in the US

I took a mile walk out into the vast Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge
just outside of Arivaca

I’ve been seriously searching all month for an escape vehicle to get back (part time) on the road.  I would prefer an old panel truck or a step van but they are not so reliable or practical.  I ended up compromising on a Chevrolet Express 2500 cargo van.  I was looking for a  2011 - 2015 vintage with less that 100,000 miles.  I soon found that most were well over 100,000 miles and somewhat beat looking. I utimately I ended up spending more than I wanted to, but that's the way it usually goes.  I finally located two vans in Tucson that were acceptable and settled for the newer 2014 van with 84,000 miles.  Now my work is cut out for me to prepare it for the road.  Twinkles is calling it “snowflake” since it is such an “awfully” plane white vehicle, but that name doesn't feel right to me.  Many people who have heard what I am doing think it to be be kind of crazy ?  This could be true but if you do a search for “ Van build” on YouTube you will see that that I am not the only one, in fact it has become quite a trend.

Snowflake or whatever
Looking back this has been a crazy, busy month with the new house heating system, selling the RV, dieting, going to the gym, house repairs, many music events and buying the Cargo Van.  More will be revealed about this van in the coming month.

Twinkles and Slick           

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Goodbye to 2018

January 3, 2018:

Toggle map between 2017, 2018 RV travel and 2018 non-travel 
and change map size using controls on left of screen

We get together occasionally with Desert Trails campground friends and it’s interesting to hear the campground news and gossip, especially when we aren’t a part of it.  Coming here is sort of a vacation for the snowbirds to escape from their home problems and the cold and for the full timer crowd it’s a time to just lay back, relax and rejuvenate in the warm sun.  Sadly, I’m not presently having many of those “On Vacation” feelings, but I’m definitely not bored.

November and December were a very busy time here with lots of activities around town.  We seem to do the same events every year because they are simply just that good and we don’t tire of them.  It’s the Tamale Festival at Casino del Sol with all the tamales and other Mexican taste treats you could desire.  Next is the La Fiesta de Tumacacori with more wonderful Mexican and Indian food along with hispanic and native dance troupes.  Then the 4th Avenue Winter Festival, one of the best art and crafts festivals of the year and finally the La Fiesta de Guadalupe at the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun.  Then comes Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.  It’s hard to stay on a healthy diet amongst all this temptation !

We left the festival with a piece of wall sculpture

After listening to the deadheads at the Hut

The view behind the DeGrazia gallery is special

The dancing was great at La Fiesta de Guadalupe !

That's the definition of adorable

DeGrazia painting on display in the gallery

Extremely colorful folkloric dancers at La Fiesta de Tumacacori 

Along with great mariachi music 

The Tumacacori Mission

We have learned, much to our satisfaction, that the approximately 80 acre of natural desert area behind our house is officially saved from development and is a Pima County Park system project called the “Enchanted Hills Trail System”.  They are taking out (erasing) some of the existing roads and trails, improving other existing trails and building a couple of new trails.

Enchanted HillsTrail System has a nice ring to it

The Tucson music scene continues to grow, there is a lot going on.  Everyone thinks I know all about it, I really don’t !  I only follow a small faction of it, I don’t follow the college music bands, the jazz bands, the hip hop crowd, the dance bands or the mostly cover bands at all.  That being said, I do follow a lot, in the past month or so its been the Kevin Pakulis Band, Petie Ronstadt and the Company, the Birds and Arrows, the Carnivaleros, the Wayback Machine Band, Freddy Parrish, Lana Rebel and Kevin Mayfield, Eric Schaffer and the other troublemakers, Golden Boots, Big Grin, Harpdog Brown, Rich Hopkins, Billy Sedlmayr, Oscar Fuentes and Mark Febbo.

Kevin Pakulis Band is ready for Christmas

Terry True of Terry Trash and the Train Wrecks doing a song

The Wayback Machine Band

Twinkles and I go to an Archaeology Southwest presentation at the Loft Cinema and enjoy an excellent presentation on amazingly preserved artifacts found at a small pueblo complex in central Arizona.   Archeology Southwest is an amazing organization with tons of literature available for sale.  Impressive enough that I have become a dues paying member.

Good reading !

My 38 Dodge is back in operation, but it was quite an ordeal.  A clutch actuation rod had worn through the clutch fork causing the original failure.  I bought a new clutch fork on eBay, installed a new clutch throwout bearing and put everything back together.  The new throwout bearing was immediately noisy which resulted in taking everything back apart. I then bought a second new throwout bearing from a reputable name brand company; the first one was a no name bearing (China perhaps).  I put it all back together again and it was even worse.  I compared the two bearings dimensionally with the original bearing and could see no difference except that the new bearings were somewhat tighter.  I decide to just put the original bearing back, it had been working fine.  The third time was the charm, the bearing is now perfectly quiet and everything is good, but It remains a big mystery.

It's time for a ride

I’m been watching U tube videos with abandon these days, one thing seems to lead you into another, it’s very additive !  It’s yet another social media trap to take over your life,  like a drug addiction, but I have it under control.  I’ve been reading about how this stuff works in “Wired” magazine, (a hard copy) which I find to be very insightful.  I have to read everything a number of times to half understand what they are talking about.  I then ask questions of my techno savvy wife, Sue, aka Twinkles, who tells me all the answers are on the internet, big help !

There are thousands, actually millions, of videos on everything and anything you want to know. It’s all quite amazing, you can be an overnight star doing U tube videos and it pays !  Campervan Kevin who interviewed me in the 38 Dodge gets 1,000’s of views on everything he puts out, not sure why, it’s a mystery? I’m pretty convinced the world has gone crazy !

I took the RV out of storage just before Christmas in preparation to selling it, there are a few things to repair and it needs some cleaning.  It has been a remarkably dependable RV which I would drive across country tomorrow without a worry.  It would be a great RV for someone with limited funds, but I know it’s going to be very tough to get rid of, unless I practically give it away.  I truly dislike car sales people, particularly RV sales people and am not looking forward to this at all.  I prefer to take a cash payment, however cheap it is surely to be, rather than mess around for months, or more, doing consignment or selling it myself.

Wish there was a way to save those bumper stickers, the photo will have to do

It just after Christmas and I’M FREEZING MY ASS OFF HERE IN TUCSON as we are having a string of freezing cold winter weather !  We are finding this to be a relatively cold house and the heating system has been acting up. Its a heat pump system which is more complex than a regular furnace, but more economical.  It is also 1991 vintage and close to the end of its life expectancy.   The service guy has been here twice, the first time he didn’t really take my observations too serious, checked the system function, found nothing and blamed the issue on a slightly dirty air filter and intake duct screens.  It sort of worked normal for a while, but eventually acted up again after which I investigated myself  finding the compressor contacts to be burnt.  This was causing the compressor to continue to run after the furnace would shut down.   After getting the service man back and replacing the compressor contractor, a secondary issue was found with an intermittent failure of the furnace blower motor control board, but when that was replaced another issue developed. The repairman seemed pretty confused about all this, finally concluding that the Heat Pump compressor is failing.  After he left the system started working almost normal again, but since the system is 27 years old, about the end of its life expectancy, we decided to bite the bullet and just replace it with a new system.

Out with the old crap !

2018 (for me) has been an emotional, costly, trying, stressful year and 2019 will hopefully be easier.  In spite of this we had an excellant RV adventure from the end of March to mid June.  I also had two interesting cross country trips between New Jersey and Tucson.  The trip in the 38 Dodge back in February was a truly classic ride, can’t get much more interesting than that, may have to do it again ?  The other trip to get house items out of storage to bring back to Tucson wasn’t as exciting, more like work, but for me any road trip is good.  It was interesting spending the summer in Tucson, in spite of the intense heat, the monsoon season can be exciting and you get to see many desert plants in bloom that you otherwise miss.

I always knew it would make it

with just a little help from "Boss Hogs" welding shop

A nostalgic stop at Steins Ghost Town seemed appropriate

Barrel Cactus under a threatening sky

Monsoon storm approaching

During 2018, we stayed in (20) campgrounds consisting of (10) full hookup, (6) Dry camping and (4) boon-docking sites.  We visited (4) National Parks;  Grand Canyon, Capital Reef, Mesa Verde and Petrified Forest.  We visited (7) National Monuments / Preserves:  Escalante, Mojave, Tent Rocks, Natural Bridges, Bandelier, Aztec Ruins and Canyons of the Ancients.  We visited (2) State Parks: Valley of Fire and Cathedral Gorge.

We kept very busy, possibly overwhelmingly so, visiting ruins, pueblos, petroglyphs, visitors centers and museums at the following Ancestral Pueblo sites: 

Arizona - V-Bar-V Ranch site, Montezuma Well, Montezuma Castle, Honanki Ruins and Besh-BA-Gowah Archeological Park

Montezuma Well

New Mexico - Chaco Culture National Historic Park, Salmon Ruins, Aztec Ruins National Monument, Coronado Historical Site, Acoma Pueblo and Natural Bridges National Monument

Huge Kiva at Chaco Culture National Historic Park 

Colorado - Mesa Verde National Park, Bandelier National Monument and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument 

Ruins at Mesa Verde National Park

Nevada - Lost City Museum and ruins and Valley of Fire State Park

Petroglyph rocks at Valley of Fire State Park

Lost City Museum in Overton, Nevada

Utah - Edge of the Cedars Pueblo and Capital Reef National Park

Great ceramic vessels at the Edge of the Cedars Museum

The Edge of the Cedars Pueblo is now on the edge of a new housing development

We didn't forget Christmas this year.

Alice loved the wrapping paper

600 pages of Bob Dylan lyrics for me

Our full time RV days may be over, but count on more travels sometime in my future.

Happy New year;
Twinkles and Slick