Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Copper Mine Touring

February 16 - 23, 2015:

A view from the rim of the pit

We visited the ASARCO Copper Mine this week and took their bus tour.  I am not a fan of mines in general, but recognize that Copper mines are necessary for our lifestyle, there is no viable alternative.  The bus tour was way better than expected and explained the entire Copper mining and smelting process.  This mine was started in the late 1800's as a traditional tunnel type mine which eventually became an open pit mine in the 1950's.  It's pretty amazing how they get the copper out of the rocks and they claim to have about another 20 some years of copper left in this mine.  It is presently owned by a Mexican company, Grupo Mexico. 

Ore truck passing the tour bus

This gives some idea of the size of those tires

The Copper particles attach to the  air bubbles and float to the surface of the
water where it is skimmed off

One of the monster trucks at the visitors center

Inside the building where the rock is crushed to remove the copper ore

I am looking into class III tow bars for the Jeep, there are many suppliers out there who have decent ones on the market at reasonable prices.  One would think that a Jeep, a vehicle that is about the most popular towed vehicle in the RV world, would have a nice simple rugged mounting bracket for a tow bar built in.  Not So !!!  Most universal Tow Bars come with mounting brackets to bolt to the Jeep's steel bumper provided you remove the bumpers fiber shroud.  This attachment method is really not recommended for heavy or extended use as it does not attach to the Jeep's frame.  The bumper is also sort of ugly with the fiber shroud removed.  The recommended attachment method is a steel face plate bolted to the Jeep's frame, which costs about twice the cost of the Tow Bar. I could easily fabricate my own face plate out of a heavy pieces of steel bolted together at a fraction of the cost.  But, working on this in the campground is not practical and we may start towing more frequently in the future so I'm going to bite the bullet and buy the ready made bracket and tow bar from Blue Ox and be done with it.   

My experiment about a year ago with an alternate Gray Tank sensor manufactured by Horst was a total failure.  The sensors totally stopped working and when I removed them I found that the pig tail shaped probes were covered with a clump of hair and soap scum.  Looking at it now, I can't see the logic of how that design could ever work.  Maybe if you don't have hair (we do have a strainer in the shower) and if you don't use soap when you shower ?  The original button shaped sensors had nothing for hair to catch on.  

Sometimes in this life it can all go bad in a heartbeat.  We learned today that the campground owner, who is a serious bike racer who finished in 13th place in last years "Tour de Tucson" had a terrible crash while riding at speed in a tight pack of riders.  He has multiple broken bones and is undergoing surgery for a shoulder replacement. Hurts to  think about.
The Jeep failed me on my way to a concert at the Hotel Congress on Wednesday night.  I very sadly missed seeing my usual Wednesday musicians Lana and Kevin playing in their full band, "The Hermanitos".  I had the Jeep towed to a local repair shop, using my Good Sam Club roadside assistance.  It was the first time I have used it and I'm happy to report it was very efficient.  Checking internet reviews the following morning however, I find that the repair shop has terrible reviews.  I sort of understand why after they call me to tell me I need an alternator because the diagnostics say the system voltage is low.  When I start questioning about whether they have tested the alternator output or tested the battery, which they haven't, they tell me they will talk to the mechanic again and get back to me.  I get a call back latter to tell me that they have determined now that the battery is bad, after putting a known good battery in and then getting proper charging voltage from the alternator.  I have seen this before when a battery will lose one cell, lights will still seem bright, but not even a click out of the starter.  It makes me wonder if many of today's mechanics know how to perform basic diagnostic test procedures or just replace parts based on the on board diagnostic codes, sort of a process of elimination. On picking the Jeep up, the shop is sort of a back alley operation, although the woman at the office couldn't have been nicer and so far all is OK. 

After picking up the Jeep I celebrate by going to 44th street looking for the Nimbus Brewery for dinner.  Twinkles is on a vegetarian diet currently so I need to escape once in a while for a beefy burger.  Entirely by accident, the GPS takes me to the Ten Fifty Five Brewery on 3810 E 44th street. It is a local Tucson Brewery that has a small bar area in the front.  I had a "Leap" brew, very good, but no food to be had there so I continued on to Nimbus Brewery which was around the corner.  Nimbus is much larger with a bar, pool tables and large dining area.  I sat next to a woman who proceeded to talk my ear off about her military career to extreme.  I don't know how the Army has been able to survive since she retired.

Lovely day for a Leap says it all

Nimbus Brewery sign out front

We go to the campgrounds 13th annual recycling picnic on Friday, everyone goes to this it appears because it's free and it's really great.  Lots of volunteers to make it all happen, everyone takes a dish and the campground supplies the burgers, hot dogs, rolls and various other stuff needed all funded by money made from the recycling of campground trash during the year.  What a concept !

Friday night I finally make it to the Hotel Congress for another concert event.  Downtown Tucson in the vicinity of the Hotel Congress is bustling with activity.  There is a sold out Lucinda Williams concert at the Rialto Theater across the street, I procrastinated too long, it's a sold out show, no tickets available !  The Congress is having a special concert event with several bands highlighted by a "Decker Band" album release party.  I really have no interest in the Decker Band ?  The main band I wanted to see was "Carlos Azate and the Kind Souls", (great band name) who are Tucson based, very cool.  I also saw "Steph and the Articles", "Keli and the Big Dream" and a band called "Sweet Ghosts".  The Congress Hotel has a tremendous ambiance after dark with the colorful painting of the buildings interior, the classic architecture of the building itself plus the glow of the lights, the music, the sounds of merriment, the John Dillinger legend and some even believe there is a ghost or two wandering around.

The Hotel Congress outside patio

Sweet Ghosts - Certain Truths CD display

Saturday night I headed to Monterey Court in Tucson for a performance by Dave Riley and Bob Corritore.  Bob Corritore is one of the most highly rated blues harmonica players in the country and is the owner of the "Rhythm Room" in Phoenix.  Dave Riley is a great Mississippi delta blues musician.  These guys have a new album out called "Huss your Fuss" and they are fantastic together.  The crowd was really into it, very enthusiastic, a great show. I have been wanting to get to Monterey Court for a while, it is an old motel transformed into an interesting music/bar/cafe/art shop venue.

Bob Corritore and Dave Riley

I took a few photos of our friend Carol's beautiful quilt.  It is a true work of art, really meticulous work that even I can appreciate. 

That's only half of it !

A detail of  the edge

Take Care,
Twinkles and Slick 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Springtime in the Desert

February 9 - 15, 2015:

The desert is really going green

I'm going through the RV storage compartments this week to reorganize and purge a few unused items. It's somewhat frustrating but necessary since I can't find anything these days.  Then I thought, why am I frustrated, be happy, you're living the dream !  

I watched a cooking show this week on PBS called "The mind of a chef" that is my new favorite cooking show.  It featured a young asian chef who now lives in Kentucky who is so cool.  He did a episode on Whiskey that was fascinating.  He was cooking meat using a recipe that he says he got from a "redneck" with much bourbon being added.  He would pour some bourbon into the pan  and then take a swig from the bottle as he cooked. 

My absolute favorite activity is just to wander around a downtown area taking photos with perhaps a nice lunch and/or a beer stop somewhere along the way.  It's a favorite thing about this RV lifestyle for me.  You need to get out and walk to really see things, driving by doesn't work. Of course, some discretion is required, there are areas where it is best not to be walking around.

The local Indians welcoming the Spanish to Tucson

View of the Santa Cruz River, at one time it flowed above ground.  It
still is there but is now underground 

A classic Tucson scene

Very colorful mural

The El Tiradito Shrine

A favorite mural in the Barrio Libre area

Another favorite mural on Broadway

Wonderful tile mural in downtown Tucson

The beautiful St Augustine Cathedral

Cowgirl riding a Locomotive in the Transportation Museum

We made a first time visit to the Arizona State Museum located on the University of Arizona campus on Thursday.  Amazing that we hadn't been there before ?  It was established in 1893 and holds the world's largest collection of southwest indian pottery.  There are 20,000 pottery vessels in total however only about 200 are open for public viewing.  They have a special exhibition on now of Edward Curtis's photos which seem now to be under attack for failure to accurately portray American Indian subjects.  This criticism seems ridiculous to me, without his vast photo archive from the early 1900's there would be far less of a visual record of the indians and their culture. They also have great informative exhibits on each of the southwest indian tribes in the museum.  The U of A is huge and the campus area was teeming with people.

Museum building

Very special pottery designs

Great baskets too !

A beautiful glass cabinet filled with indian pottery

Amazing stuff !
We then celebrated our anniversary by going to lunch at a favorite Tucson restaurant, El Charro. 

Twinkles is hungry

The Gem and Mineral show ends this week.  We visited the Tucson Convention Center on Saturday which is full of vendors and exhibits from around the world.  I finally bought something, an old indian pawn silver ring.

These small mineral specimens can go for hundreds of dollars

This larger specimen from Afghanistan was only $ 225,000

I was quite interested in the shipwreck coins and gold bars

As I was sitting next to the RV, a hawk swooped down into the a nearby tree with all the other birds taking off at top speed.  It sat on a branch for about ten minutes, very quiet and still, waiting for something to return that he could pounce on.  At that point, no customers, it flew away.

I believe it is a Coopers Hawk

We did an excellent six mile hike on Sunday on the Brown Mountain Trail in Tucson Mountain Park.  It has become a favorite hike of ours in this area.  Early spring flowers are starting to bloom and the desert is really green at this time.  The trail follows a ridgeline  over Brown Mountain with expansive views in all directions then loops back at a lower elevation through dense stands of Saguaro, Cholla and Prickly Pear Cactus. Also great colorful rocks everywhere.

Lush green leaves coming out on the Ocotilla 

View of the Brown Mountain trail winding across ridge line

View from the trail

View along the trail

Tucson Rodeo days are coming,
Twinkles and Slick 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Gems, Minerals and Gourds

February 1 - 8, 2015:

Twinkles and I went out for a hike on Monday afternoon, our first since early January and we were pathetically bad.  We so need to get out more regularly to get back in shape.

Trail view with a drooping arm Saguaro in foreground

These deer seemed to be fairly tame, they watched us for a
while and then only ran when we moved towards them

I go for a routine eye exam on Tuesday morning, it's been two years and things are getting a bit fuzzy.  It's just normal aging, all is well.  I went there expecting to get a bargain on new glasses, but after checking out the cheap frames decided that I needed the better ones, along with the better lens and then the special half price deal on the second pair.  As usual I spent way more than expected, but the eyes are of critical importance and I need to be able to clearly see the wonders around me.

Afterwards, we went downtown for our first Gem and Mineral Show tour of the season, always amazing.  The number of vendors, show venues and quantity of rocks, gem, beads and jewelry is almost beyond comprehension.  Also lots of interesting characters, one of the vendors appropriately said "the circus is back in town".  As I was walking past another strange looking vendor, he looked at me and said, "wouldn't it be terrible to be normal" to which I replied , "I don't worry about it much".  I believe the Earth may be out of balance now as so many rocks have been moved to this area of the world ?

fossils galore 

Rows and rows of exhibit tents and tables

Dinosaur bones of all types 

Shark teeth too !

Turtles too !

Twinkles went with me to LaCocina for dinner and to see my favorite Tucson musical duo, Lana and Kevin.  Twinkles reluctantly admitted that she liked them although way too many sad songs for her.  She just wants to hear silly love songs, which is not in their repertoire.  There is always something a little weird going at LaCocina, tonight it was a love struck couple making out in front of the stage, (to the mostly sad depressing songs) it was both entertaining and distracting at the same time.

Thursday we went for another hike, it seems that Twinkles knee shows improvement after getting a cortisone shot last week.  We felt and did much better on this second hike of the week. We finally found the right trail that from Kinney road that gets us onto the Yetman trail to the saddle with beautiful views in all directions.

Trail view

Way to Gates Pass

View from the saddle
We are in the midst of a nice stretch of sunny, mild weather, actually near record high temperatures and it feels so good !  That leads into Friday's dermatology exam.  I get a thorough upper body exam with them taking biopsy's of a couple of questionable things on my chest and freezing a few spots on my forehead.  My days of tanning in the sun are about over !

My sister Marie, nieces Angie and Cindy and  grand niece Tatum came to Tucson for the Gem and Mineral Show on Saturday.  We met them in the afternoon after Twinkles returned from a quilt and pottery shopping expedition with her friend Carol.  Not sure why we need these large heavy breakable china bowls, but it seems to keep Twinkles happy, that's important !

Locally made pottery bowls

Tables and tables of minerals of all kinds

Incredible sea fossils

Quartz Crystals

A form of turquoise 


My sister Marie and me

Sunday we are off to the town of Casa Grande an hour south of Tucson for the a huge gourd festival. The gourd making craft has taken off around here like crazy and is hugely popular.  Amazing what you can do with gourds.

Gourd with cut out leaf design

Brightly painted Gourd

I'm attracted to these with the drilled holes

Another favorite

Gourd made to resemble Indian pottery

Fairgrounds exhibit hall

Thousands of gourds for sale

That's all for now,
Twinkles and Slick