Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Estrella Mountain Regional Park

With all the hiking that Rick and Paulette do serving as an incentive we decided to go hiking at the Estrella Mountain Regional Park, a Maricopa County Park in the Phoenix area. We had a free pass at the park thanks to Paws and Friends, thanks guys. We went with our friends Bob and Wilma.

With plenty of water, hats, walking sticks, sunscreen and sturdy shoes we started out on what would be a three mile hike in the desert. We really like the desert, at least in the winter that is. The weather for the hike was perfect with the temps in the low 70's. We know that we are in our winter home area when we start to see the Saguaro cactus, a large, tree-shaped and tree-sized cactus native to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, Mexico and a very small part of California. The Saguaro blossom is the State Wildflower of Arizona which only appears after 36-69 years depending on how much water is available. Also very dependent on the amount of water is the growth of the signature arms which appear at age 55-90. The full height of the Saguaro with long arms usually takes about 200 years.

What was neat on this hike is that we saw the carcass of a Saguaro showing the woody spines that support the giant cactus and the fibrous material between the spines that no doubt store water, showing here:

We also saw how the arms attach to the main body, showing here:

After slipping and sliding on the desert trails consisting of sand and rocks and gravel we made it back to the car and it was lunch time. After discussing many options we headed to Dino's Greek and Italian Grill and it was a good choice. Between the four of us we sampled both Greek and Italian fare along with an American entry. Bob had a lamb wrap with a side salad, Jo had a huge calzone that she was only able to eat half, Wilma had a gyro salad that was also huge that she could not finish, and Wilma's Bob had a Bacon Swiss Chicken sandwich and fries. We all commented on how good the food was and how we need to go back. The dipping sauce, the house marinara, for the calzone was excellent so Jo's Bob is already making plans to go back for their pasta.

We went back to the park and sat outside and read the paper and books and worked on the new tablet for awhile. It is so nice to be able to sit outside with our Kindle and Tablet and be able to read the screen. The stiffness and soreness did start to set in so we either have to hike more or less; now which one do you think we will choose? For supper we split the leftover calzone and some leftover pizza from Papa Murphys. That evening we had a pretty sunset.

Although we enjoyed the hike we are not the hikers that Rick and Paulette are so we'd tip our hats to them if we weren't so dang sore.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Monday, January 30, 2012

Full-timing with cats; A Kodak Moment

Unfortunately without a Kodak. Living with 3 cats is interesting; full-timing with three cats is an adventure. Cats are known to be very inquisitive and an open cabinet door or an open hole in the wall (more on that later) are an invitation they just cannot pass up.

We have tons of photos of our cats getting into the pantry or cabinets or closets but this was a first. Bob was replacing our LP/CO detector and when he pulled out the old one he left a 3" x 6" hole. The connector used was a crimped one and not a removable wire nut so Bob went hunting to see if we had some. Coming back to the doorway where the detector was mounted Bob saw a cat sniffing at the hole and cat hair around the hole. When you live with three cats in 359 sq. ft. seeing cat hair everywhere is not an immediate alarm but we decided to count noses and could only find 2 cat noses. Sure enough Sandra had wedged herself through the hole. Luckily she is a chow kitty so we just had to get the treats and she was ready to come back through. Well what goes through the hole of course does not come back quite as easily. Squalling like a stuck cat for her treats she finally realized both legs had to go through first and then she was back through. We blocked the hole until Bob could finish.

Once we were done we realized we should have taken a picture but we were in a little panic especially when she tried the first couple times and failed. We were not about to let her try again just to get a good photo op. Here are a couple of photos of Sandra's adventures in cabinets.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Day trip to Quartzsite

Or as it sometimes called, the Q (but not the Q from Star Trek). This was our second day trip to Q with our friends Bob and Wilma. We blogged on our first day trip last year here.

When we were planning on full-timing we thought we would spend some time in Quartzsite and do the boondocking thing. But as we full-timed we got so accustomed to the conveniences of 50a full hookup sites that we now consider 30a full hookup sites to be too much like camping. We have a washer dryer combo so we always have the grey tank valve open and have no idea of how long we could go before we filled the grey tank. Because of this we take long hot showers so we are sure it would only be a couple of days before we had to dump the grey tank. Long story short - boondocking does not appear anywhere near the top of our bucket or todo lists.

Then we thought about just staying in Q for the week of the RV Show but being there and seeing all the nonstop traffic (thanks to Sandie for the pictures, or is it Jeri) we now realize that a day trip is about all we can handle. Our hats go off to the adventurous one who boondock and love it and can handle that traffic all day, every day of the RV Show. We can handle big crowds and traffic but only for a short time. As the day wore on we longed for a place where there was not a person within inches of you or cars backed up to the horizon.

We bought some things of course and had a good lunch this year, chicken on a stick, shrimp on a stick, and a pulled pork sandwich. Homemade ice cream on the way out was a treat. We really wished we had read Jim and Sandie's blog on Q before we left because we might have recognized some of the members of their Q group that was working at the Big Tent. We also somehow missed the cord wrappers booth which Bob was going to investigate further. Well have to save something for next time.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Our Snowbird Code of Conduct

Arizona loves our money as snowbirders but always seem to work in a complaint or three; bad drivers, too much traffic, not liking the constant smile on our faces, etc.

There is a 'Code of Conduct' for a lot of things; overnight stays in parking lots, pickup after your pets, etc., so we have adopted a 'Snowbird Code of Conduct' that we hope will counter some of this negativity. We always:
- drive during the day during the week; we'll leave rush hour and the weekend to the locals.
- eat out for breakfast or lunch during the day during the week; we'll leave the happy hours to the locals because it is hard to be happier than retired and living in a nice warm place for the winter. We also rarely eat out for the evening meal because we don't like to drive after dark.
- shop at Wal-Mart, Target, and grocery stores during the day during the week and never before a big holiday; we'll leave the big crowds and long lines to the locals in the evening hours and weekends.
- go to movies during the day during the week; a few times we have been the only people in our movie of choice.
- go sightseeing during the day during the week; generally not a problem because the locals never see the sights where they live anyway.

And finally, we always:
- have a smile on our face; it is easy in this lifestyle so what if it is one of their complaints.

We realize that if you are still working and driving in rush hour traffic, waiting in line to eat, suffering long checkup lines at Wal-Mart that you need something to complain about. With our 'Snowbird Code of Conduct' we know they are not complaining about us.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Anniversary and a new tablet

Four years ago on January 22nd Bob went to work for the last time and it shocks us just how fast the time has flown by. Jo had already retired and we spent about 18 months fixing up the house for sale so we could begin full-timing.

This is also the first blog entry using Bob's new Android tablet, an Asus Eee Pad Transformer. Bob wants the tablet and Android cellphone to completely replace his laptop. So far he has moved his tasks and calendar to his Droid3 and is evaluating a finance app to run on the tablet. The one stumbling block he is not sure of is a good label printing app for the Christmas mailing, but there will probably be more before this effort is over. Getting photos off of the camera and onto the blog will have to be figured out.

We want to try and keep up with technology before it gets too far ahead of us. Jo recently got a Kindle Fire and she really likes it. Bob thought about getting a Kindle but then realized he could use the tablet for reading e-books and quite possibly get rid of a laptop.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Saturday, January 14, 2012

This is why we hesitate to recommend food

Believe it or not we don't blog about some of the places that we eat at and like because sometimes one visit can be a fluke and not a regular occurrence. That is why we generally have a rule of 3 visits before we blog about food or add to 'Our Favorite Things! (Food)'. We almost blogged about the new Hash Brown Stacks at IHOP after only one visit because we have eaten there before and generally get good food.

The first visit was a dream, crisp hash browns covered with sauteed spinach and mushrooms, melted provolone cheese and an over medium egg and then covered in hollandaise sauce. Jo just got that with pancakes and Bob added ham to the plate and pancakes. The portions were large enough to take the pancakes home for breakfast the next day. A very enjoyable meal that was blog worthy.

The second visit was vastly different for many reasons; Bob's egg looked like a half moon, Jo didn't have any mushrooms at all, the ham was overcooked and a little dry, and the portions were much smaller so we ended up eating the pancakes there. We did mention about the mushrooms to the waiter and he did offer another portion or sauteed mushrooms but Jo does not like to be a bother, she just wanted to let them know about it. We would have felt bad if we recommended this and anybody got the second meal instead of the first, our reputations would have been tarnished, 'Our Favorite Things! (Food)' would be meaningless. :-)

In spite of all that was wrong with the second visit it was good enough, and the memory of the first visit was still there, that we will try the Hash Brown Stacks at IHOP at least one more time.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

We are famous (sorta)

Our picture from our stay at Rifle Gap State Park this summer has made the big time, it is the cover photo for the Yahoo Carriage Group. The cover photo changes periodically so here it is but click on the link to see it in all its glory on Yahoo.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Whole lotta eating going on - 2012 edition

Seems like these days we are celebrating a birthday month instead of a birthday. Jo's birthday is in January and as we have mentioned before we have signed up for a number of frequent diner programs and a few of them offer free meals or desserts during your birthday month. So far Jo has enjoyed a free hash brown stack at IHOP that was pretty good. Yesterday she got a free dessert, which she shared with Bob, at Abuelo's. The meals at Abuelo's were excellent and we highly recommend eating there if you get a chance as they have numerous locations across the country. Jo had the lunch enchiladas (one guacamole and one spinach) and Bob had the Pasta la Paz (shrimp and chicken and veggies in a chile roasted tomato cream sauce). Both entrees and the flan was excellent and we are already talking about our next visit.

Still on the docket for Jo's birthday month is a free entree at Famous Dave's, free breakfast at First Watch, $25 loaded on her Landry's Select Card that we will use at a Claim Jumper, and a free breakfast at Mimi's that we will use today.

If you are going to get older there at least has to be some benefit and eating your way through your birthday month with free food just might qualify as a benefit.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo