Sunday, November 25, 2007

11:09 am Sunday, November 25, 2007

The sun is shining this Sunday morning and I would not be surprised if we turn on the AC later today but right now, there is a bit of a breeze and it is chilly out there! Still above freezing but not much. Phil has recruited our wonderful catalytic heater back into use in the evenings and bless his heart; he got up an hour before me this morning and lit it so I had wonderful toasty heat when I got up at 6:30 am. It is not all that difficult to light—just awkward—so knowing that, he took care of it for me during his early morning potty call. What a guy!

Our past week has been typically unexciting, not much going on. I have been working at the computer, we have been to the grocery store a couple times and I have been cooking at home rather than eating out except for turkey day and yesterday. We had a wonderful turkey/ham/pork roast dinner with all the trimmings at J.B.’s Restaurant for $8.95 each on Thanksgiving. I couldn’t cook it for that price and they did the dishes! We had calls from two of our kids (Bobbie and Mike) and an e-mail from another one (Violet) wishing us “Happy Thanksgiving” so we really had much to be thankful for.

Yesterday we went to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, The Golden Corral after spending the afternoon at the new Harkin’s movie theater here in Casa Grande mall, called The Promenade. It is similar to the newest mall in Yuma with all the stores having outside entrances and no covered (air conditioned) walk ways. During the winter, that is fine but I can’t imagine many people (especially seniors) using these malls during the summer when the temperatures are triple digit … but then, what do I know?

Phil and I really enjoy watching Denzel Washington but I had reservations about seeing his newest movie, “American Gangster.” However, with all the Oscar talk buzzing around, we decided we had to see it after all. In spite of the typical gangster violence and Denzel playing a “bad guy” it was very good … although a bit long at 157 minutes. And, we were surprised to learn it was based on a true story. Oh yes, Russell Crowe, as usual was very believable in his role and did an excellent job as well. I predict at least one (or possibly both men) will be nominated for awards.

Going back to our sightseeing in Tucson, I will share the ride we took with Les and Gloria through the Saguaro National Park on the east side of town.

On the road for the magnificent saguaro!

Gloria and Les, our surprise Tucson visitors!
Phil and Joy ...

still having fun after three years of fulltiming.

Aha! Here is the beginning of the saguaro forest and we are looking for the big ones ...

And the odd ones ...

Here is a beauty!

The life of the saguaro is a stuggle from the beginning. It begins its life as a shiny black seed no bigger than a pinhead. What it lacks in size it more than makes up for in numbers. One saguaro produces ten of thousands of seeds in a year, and as many as 40 million in a life time

A postcard perfect speciman.

A saguaro's growth is extremely slow. Growth occurs in spurts, with most of it taking place in the summer rainy season each year. By the end of the year, the saguaro seedling may measure only 1/4 inch. After 15 years, the saguaro may be barely a foot tall.

After about 75 years, it may sprout its first branches or "arms." The branches begin as prickly balls, then extend out and upward.

The more branches the more flowers. At about 30 years the Saguaro can begin to flower and produce fruits and seeds.

At about 30 feet tall, this magnificent speciman might be between 100 and 150 years old!

Look at the size of this grasshopper! Or ... is it one of banes of the early LDS farmers ... a LOCUST???

My great grandmother moved west to Oregon from Kansas then Nebraska and South Dakota during the last decade of the 19th century in one of these.

A nicely restored example of the pioneer American's original home on wheels. She was a lot tougher than I am ... for sure!

Quite the ride. Sure would not want to be tailgated by this fellow!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

10:22 am Sunday November 18, 2007

At 6:30 am it was 45 degrees at our site in this Casa Grande desert location. As I looked out my window, I saw men and women wearing shorts but also bundled up in hooded sweatshirts briskly setting out for their daily walks as the sun came up. Since I usually sleep later than this, I rarely get to see my fellow senior citizens as they join in this early morning mass exodus. Much to my doctor’s frustration, I personally think exercise is highly overrated! I know, I know—in spite of my disdain for working out—I am aware of the benefits but I HATE it! Quite possibly, my family will someday stand over me and my body when my joints, organs and muscles have stopped working and say, “We told you so!” That is unless I turn over a new leaf one of these days and I continue to have faith I will see the error of my ways …

Stepping back a few years, we visit a very real part of my early history and a moment in time dubbed the “Cold War” when we continue this travelogue at the Titan Missile Museum south of Tucson.

When the SALT Treaty called for the de-activation in 1982 of 18 Titan missile silos that ring Tucson, volunteers at the Pima Air Museum asked if one could be retained for public tours. After much negotiation, including additional talks with SALT officials, the Green Valley complex of the 390th Strategic Missile Wing was opened to the public.

True then ... true today.

Unfortunately, many choose the definition of "power" that most serves their purpose.

Retirees staff the museum leading the one-hour guided tours and running the gift shop. After a briefing room video explains the missile's history you select a hard hat (if you are 6 ft. tall or taller ... I didn't need one) and we were guided outside to the rocket's den.

F. Y. I.

Here we received a very detailed explanation about how these engines worked.

Very complicated system ... way over my head!

Storage tank ...

And there it is ... sobering.

Empty and harmless now, this 110 foot tall missile weighed 170 tons when fueled and ready to fly. It still looks deadly crouched on its launch pad.

Before deactivation, it was capable of opening fully in just a few seconds. Unbelievable.

One end of the massive sliding door that once protected the missile that once protect us ...

Permanently sealed, half-way open (closed?)today.

As we started down the stairs this sign warned the group to watch out for critters looking for an underground nest.


One of the 6000 lb. blast doors ...

Deep in the ground, the cable-way and low clearance space age walk way to the "War Room."

100 feet below ground we arrive at the Command Center tightly packed with authentic, albeit antiquated equipment. Thankfully, in the 1950s and 1960s, the Soviet Union did not have anything better or more sophisticated.

Security policy strictly enforced.

Faded welcome sign.

Before the days of dependable battery operated time pieces, an eight day, wind-up clock ensured accurate Greenwich Mean Time.

A short afternoon drive took us from the valley floor to the top of one of the many hills around town.
Better known as "A" Mountain for the letter "A" the University of Arizona students have whitewashed every year since 1915. At 2,887 feet it offers the best view of Tucson and the surrounding area.

Birds eye view of downtown Tucson, Arizona.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

1:51 pm Sunday, November 11, 2007

Firstly, I want to wish my much loved sister, Robin a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY! She told me the last time we talked that she was very grateful to have lived “this long.” We surmised that although we share some health problems (diabetes for one), for the most part we are healthy and agreed we should count our blessings every day for being granted this time in our retirement years to live the good life. Robin along with her husband, Walt are busy, curious and involved in many projects while living in CA most of the year and this keeps their calendar full. They have a second home in WA where during several trips each year they contribute great love, energy and wisdom into the lives of their young grandchildren. During their marriage, they have traveled around the world from England to China and Turkey and all points in between therefore they have many experiences to share with their loved ones who are so fortunate to have such involved grandparents.

We had a good time at the Data Storm Rally. Renewed some friendships, met some new people and learned a few things. I even won one of the many door prizes—a $50 dollar gift card for Best Buy. We also enjoyed our time in Tucson, a great city with many things to do and see. We will come back someday after all the highway construction is completed. Our friends, Gloria and Les dropped in on us for three days on their way back to WA from a mini-family reunion in Branson, MO. It was a wonderful surprise and we enjoyed our time with them immensely!

Also, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that today is Veteran’s Day. Phil is a Viet Nam Veteran and a patriot to the core. I will not go into our opinions about Iraq because this is a non-controversial blog (hopefully) and I have no desire to start a debate but whether you believe the United States military should be in this war or not, we must recognize the sacrifices our young men and women and their families are making while they do their duty in the Middle East. Phil and I send a big “Thank You” to all the American veterans of all the wars, “police actions” and peace keeping measures around the world.

Beautiful baby Robin with her beautiful mama, Violet.

This is the biggest fire escape I have ever seen. It is coming down from the back of the second floor, 10-screen theater at one of the malls in Tucson. The doors at the bottom only open from the inside.

Penny the Pace and our little red Lone Ranger parked at Beaudry's RV Resort in Tucson, AZ waiting for the Data Storm Rally. Hot! Hot! Hot!

Phil went up on the roof to show you all the empty spaces waiting for the rally attendees ...

Up on the roof again to show you that the RV park is filling up fast.

Potluck dinner the first evening of the rally. Lots of great food!

A short drive south of Tucson.

The scaffolding and screening to contain the restoration that allows the mission to stay open to tourists and the local parishioners.

Timeline of building and restoration ...

Information sign on the wall.

Ongoing intricate restoration of the facade.

Beautiful ...

This dome ceiling is carved/engraved/restored plaster.

The second restored dome ceiling.

Sorry about the glare from the flash but if you can read this it gives much information about the baskets in the next photo.

These baskets are gorgeous!

For your information...

It is awe inspiring to look upon something this old and beautiful that has survived all these years.