Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bird Migration

This post is a question for all the birders who read my blog. Are the turkey vultures migrating right now? This morning we were driving in central Mesa, AZ, and saw a large flock of turkey vultures. They were perched on electric poles, light poles and electric lines. Some were circling in the sky. There were no other birds in evidence. And we don't know of any disaster that would generate lots of dead bodies to attract them. We have never seen more than one of two at a time in the sky over the city, so we wonder if they have begun to migrate north.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

And How Many More?

It was five years ago today that we moved out of our home in Centennial, Colorado, and made our 5th wheel trailer our home. The moving van came and took the furniture we hadn't sold and put it into storage and we took our trailer to Chatfield State Park--in January! Thankfully, it wasn't snowing and not too cold. The weather held steady and we spent four days making sure we had everything we needed and seeing our son and his family before leaving for our first winter away from Colorado. Five days later, we were in Tucson. Ah, warm weather with no threat of snow.

What have we done in these five years? We have traveled in 33 states and 3 Canadian provinces and volunteered in 5 different locations. Three summers we volunteered at Lathrop State Park in Colorado and three winters at Casa Grande Ruins NM in Arizona. We also volunteered at 7th Ranch RV Camp in Montana, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge in Texas and Mueller State Park in Colorado. It has been fun, interesting, challenging. We were really in a rut when we lived in our Colorado house. After retirement, life fell into a regular, and fairly boring, routine. Three mornings a week we visited the local recreation center to work out on weights and run on the track. We left the house before 7:30 and rarely returned till sometime between 10 and 11. One day a week, we volunteered at the Colorado Historical Society. There was always a house to clean--one way too big for just two people who didn't entertain like we had before retirement. Everything was very predictable.

Living full-time on the road isn't predictable. Our front yard changes each time we move, the people we see and interact with change. One month we may be in a remote area shopping at a small local grocery store. At the next location, we may go to a chain grocery we have not experienced before. We still do weight training--we carry some weights in the RV. We walk or run regularly, trying to get 10,000 steps each day. But the scenery for that changes frequently. When we volunteer, our assignments change from place to place. We live in a wonderful country with great variety in land and environment and people. There is always something new to see and learn. It's a great life we have on the road.

How long will we continue this lifestyle? We really don't know. We will both turn 71 this year, so we know we don't have too many years of good enough health and sharp enough minds and reflexes to pull a large trailer around the country. But we plan to do so until we get a little older. It's a wonderful life!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Talking Saguaros

Last week we hiked in Usury Mountain Regional Park, where I looked to see what the saguaro cacti were saying (or showing) us. These two lovebirds were holding hands.

Please call on me!

Turn left.

Look up.

"Praise the Lord" or "I give up"

Have you seen the Native American storyteller figure? That's what I saw here.

This cactus had to use a cane to stand up straight.

Most saguaros grow arms somewhere in the middle, like this.

This one was unusual.

When a saguaro dies, its skeleton remains. They are very interesting.

We saw this curved bill thrasher.

We were serenaded by the cactus wrens all during our hike. Here is one of them.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Some New Ideas

Four new ideas, two related to food, one to housekeeping, have made an impact recently.

I received my degree in journalism and I love reading the newspaper, especially on Sunday.  I don't get to do that very often anymore, since we don't live in the same place for long.  The exception is our time here in Mesa, where I subscribe to the Arizona Republic Sunday and Wednesday.  Those are the days of the grocery ads and the grocery coupons.  That is where I learn about new products available at the store.

A couple of years ago, we tried Philadelphia Cooking Cream and loved it.  Unfortunately, we can't find it on the shelves anymore.  But last week I used a coupon for Saute Express saute starter.  It is a winner!

You just melt it in the skillet, then saute pork, chicken or fish in it. I used pork tenderloin and we both loved it. Since it is a refrigerated product and one package has six cubes for 2 servings, each, we will be eating this a lot in the next few weeks. Which is fine with me. It's an easy and tasty meal.

We rarely go out to eat and we have both been thinking about eating prime rib. That is not something easy to cook for just two people. Prime rib roasts tend to be too big. I have a book of recipes for just two people and found a way to try to approximate prime rib. It calls for rib eye steaks, 1 1/2 inches thick. Look at these.

You sear them in a hot skillet till very brown, then roast in the oven till they reach 125 degrees for rare. Then slice them diagonally. The meat really does have the taste and texture of prime rib. And, would you believe, those two steaks were too much for us to eat in one meal? We have left-overs for another day.

The third new idea is for the shower. For years, we have kept a squeegee in the shower to clean the glass. In our new RV, the round shower has glass panels too narrow for a squeegee. Now what? It is clear glass and every dry water spot shows. The solution was very simple--a micro fiber cloth. We wipe down the glass after each shower and it works so well, I may never have to give the shower doors a separate cleaning. Yea!

Idea number 4:  borrow Kindle books from your library.  We have library cards with the Mesa Public Library and that allows us to borrow books from the Greater Phoenix Digital Library.  I have only tried it with one book--something I wanted to look at but surely didn't want to buy.  I borrowed it, read a couple of pages and it will be returned after 14 days.  I can check out up to 10 books at a time.  I'll never get that many.  But since all of it is done over the internet, I can check out these books even when we aren't in Mesa.  Good deal.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Friday Outing

Hundreds, maybe thousands, of RVers are parked near Quartzite, AZ, or Q as they call it, for the annual January gathering in the desert. While there, a shopping trip to The Big Tent is a necessity. Well, let me tell you, those folks don't have anything on the snowbirds here in Mesa and Phoenix. Saturday we checked out the Mesa Swap Meet. It is called recreational shopping and provides a mile and a quarter of shopping aisles where 900 merchants stock 1600 booths.

We didn't see much RV-related merchandise, but there were lots of things on sale to decorated snowbird yards and RV lots.

There are larger items for sale, as well.

These fellows were entertaining during lunch. Lots of people were eating and listening.

John liked this man's hair hat

he had to try one on, too.

He checked out this straw cowboy hat, as well.

And look at this woman's hair. It is real, not a hat.

In our first year of marriage, we bought a set of waterless cookware. Other folks of our generation are still entertained by such products.

What an interesting name for a store.

All I can ask is, "why?"

Billiards, anyone?

The picture is a little blurry, but look at these frilly little-girl dresses.

A bag to keep your beer cold.

Some winter hats.

When we finally made it to the back 40 where we parked our looong dually truck, we found two other trucks the same size parked in the same area. This is where we always park since we bought this new truck.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Boys and Their Toys

Saturday afternoon we went for a walk around the RV resort. We saw a bunch of the (gray-haired) boys playing with their toys. Over the summer, this race track for remote-controlled cars was built. Several men were trying to run their cars around the track. It wasn't easy.

Part of the nearby parking lot is closed off so they can race those same kind of cars. Those races have an audience.

Model trains are a real addiction for many men in their later years. It is an expensive hobby so its not for children, no matter how many young boys receive trains for Christmas. Don't let that fool you. Their dads really are the ones who want to play. These men are building a mountain in the VDO garden railway setup.

Not to be left out, John spent a few minutes on the putting green.

Don't get me wrong, the women here spend a lot of time playing, too. Its just that they weren't out yesterday afternoon. Their games lean more toward tennis and pickle ball. After all, we are in a resort for 55+ active adults.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Prickly Day

No, I'm not talking about prickly people or prickly relationships. This is about prickly plants. Like these cholla cactus. Pretty to look at, dangerous to touch.

Here is another cholla. The chain fruit look smooth and soft. Trust me, don't touch them. You will be pulling spines from you hand for a long time. I know.

We went for a hike at San Tan Regional Park this morning. Watch where you step and be careful not to sit down right here. This hedgehog cactus will really make you uncomfortable.

This barrel cactus is reaching for the sun.

We saw lots of horse-back riders today. We come from Colorado, where lots of people own and ride horses. But we haven't seen nearly as many on the hiking trails we enjoy there as we do on the trails here in Arizona. Today we saw more than usual.

And the parking lot showed how they all got there.

But the most special sights of the day were the saguaros. We just love them. They develop into such interesting shapes.

The saguaro really tells us we are in Arizona.