Bill and Kit’s 2017 Excellent Adventure, Journal #6

Bill and Kit's Woody and Airstream-2015Remember that happiness is a way of travel – not a destination.

Roy M. Goodman

 

Friday, January 13, 2017:  Good morning!

Before we continue the adventure, I must regress a bit.  There is another funny incident that happened up in Vegas last week on the day Kit and I took the boys shopping to spend some of the gift cards they had received.  Jack is a methodical and focused shopper who dislikes distractions.  So, leaving him to his task, I hauled Tucker into the electronics department of Target.  We were within sight of the toy section where Jack stood contemplating the offerings, and since I had a few questions about my new iPhone, and a technician was available…all was right with the world!  Well, upon completing my conversation with the Apple guy, I realized that Tucker had been unusually quiet…the reason became clear as I walked toward the iPhone display table.

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There, for all the world to see, were four iPhones sitting proudly on their display stands sporting his mug on their screens!  Yep, he had snapped a selfie then changed the wallpaper image on all four devices…just had to snap a photo of my own to document the little rascal enjoying his handiwork!

At 1053 hours, Kit and I hit the road and left Alamo Lake State Park under warm but hazy skies.  We retraced our route back on the narrow two lane road to the Arizona town of Wenden and civilization, such as it is.

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Reaching US-60 we turned right and headed the truck southwest towards the Interstate and a badly needed fuel station.

Apparently, folks in these parts have little to entertain themselves with, so they create unique and amusing signage…case in point, this business name emblazoned on a bulk propane tank sitting alongside the highway.

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Or this equally creative sign spotted as we rolled past the tiny town of Hope, Arizona.

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Curious about the genesis of the towns name, a quick Google search provided the answer.  Years ago the town fathers, and mothers I presume, wished to attract businesses to their fledgling community so they christened their town with the inspiring name, “Hope”.  Today there is one RV Park, one gas station, one church, an antique store, and a smattering of hardy year around residents.  Oh, and I think the sign painter is as confused about proper grammar as the rest of us are!

Reaching I-10 we headed east until intersecting US-85 South toward Gila Bend and Interstate 8.  Soon after hopping on I-8, we began seeing trucks with Sonora, Mexico license plates hauling previously used goods south of the border to resell.

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A common sight in this area, the practice of importing Americas discards to Mexico embodies NAFTA at the grass roots level, a win-win for the United States as well as Mexico.  Likely, the proceeds from the sales of these items will go to pay for “The Wall”.

At 1600 hours, Kit and I rolled into one of our most favorite dooryard surfing opportunities in America, the home of Dewey and Bea.  Or as it has become known to us…The Doobie RV Resort!

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As you can tell by the photo above, Dewey and Bea are RV’rs as well and have set up their nicely landscaped front yard with 30amp electric, water availability and even a pipe to dump off grey water.  But the best features are being neighbors with a fun-loving couple and the incredible views out our dinette window.

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All this, and the price cannot be beat…thanks folks for the opportunity to once again camp in your dooryard!

Following a great homecooked meal and a few cocktails, we sat on their rooftop deck and watched the sun set into the clouds bordering the western horizon.

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Goodnight!

 

Saturday, January 14 through Tuesday, January 24, 2017-Tucson, Arizona:  First, a note of sadness.  Dewey and Bea lost one of their beloved pet’s a few weeks ago…if you have been following our adventures, you may remember this wonderful dog.

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Nile, a Pharaoh Hound, is a rather rare breed from the island nation of Malta, primarily used in the sport of rabbit hunting.  Its name originated from images drawn on the walls of ancient tombs in Egypt that resembled the animal, but there is no evidence that the Pharaoh Hound ever existed in that country.  Nile was a beautiful specimen of the breed, exuding nobility and royal presence.  A large dog, he was as gentle as a lamb and his ferocious sounding bark was the epitome of “a dog’s bark is worse than its bite!  Rest in peace dear Nile, you will be sadly missed by all who came to know your gentle soul.

Kit and I spent the ten days in Tucson taking care of some business and legal items, getting haircuts, taking the truck to our favorite Chevrolet dealership for its periodic maintenance, celebrating brother Dan’s birthday, shopping, eating out, visiting folks, and relaxing at Dewey and Beas beautiful home.  We also made time to further explore this incredibly beautiful and diverse area full of interesting attractions.

To that end, we spent a day with Dewey and Bea at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

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Dew and Bea are long time members and allowed us to use some of their complimentary admission tickets which we appreciated.

This 98-acre open air desert museum features an aquarium, a zoo, a walk-through hummingbird cage, and an extensive botanical garden showcasing the many plants found in the Sonoran Desert.

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Some of which can be quite colorful producing brilliant flowers in season.  And many are even colorful when not in bloom…such as this Barrel Cactus.

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There are also funny shaped cacti that sprout from the desert floor in bizarre formations such as these classic Echinocereus Pectinatus Rubispinus’s

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And the slightly more common Creeping Devil.

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This cactus grows horizontally, sending roots down into the soil as it creeps along while eventually dying off on the older tail end as newer growth develops.  This gives the illusion that over time the cactus actually creeps along the desert floor.

In addition to the wide variety of cactus in the Sonoran Desert, there are trees, bushes, and shrubs and succulents…such as the ubiquitous Yucca.

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And the useful and majestic Agave.

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This succulent, sometimes referred to as a Century Plant due to its taking many years before it flowers, is supported by a vast network of roots located mere inches below the soil that help the plant gather any available moisture.  This Agave is a perennial, to a point…when ready to flower, the it sends up a tall sturdy stalk topped with numerous flowers, then after developing fruit, the entire plant dies off.  However, to ensure propagation, the Agave had been secretly sending out suckers during its life that will form into new plants…which are babies of the original.  The Blue Agave species is used in the making of Tequila and the dried stalks of most Agave are used by Mexican and native craftsman to make colorful walking staffs called “Quiote”.  Frequently, along the southern US border, you can discover some of these Quiote’s for sale with a tin cup to deposit your cash nearby.  Then, under cover of darkness, the money is retrieved by the Mexican craftsman and the inventory replenished.  Another NAFTA success story.

There are two miles of walking trails that wind about the desert landscape.  Along the route, there are strategically placed benches built under Ramada’s…shade canopies made of native materials using ancient techniques.

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Also, a nice restaurant and a more informal café is on the property where excellent meals can be purchased, such as this Taco Plate that I enjoyed on the patio.

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Nope, didn’t eat the whole thing, only half…the rest was brought back for another meal.

The plants are the main attraction, but the museum also features a selection of native wildlife such as this young fellow.

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A Mountain Lion, or Puma, is an inhabitant in the American Southwest.  They subsist primarily on animals that are smaller or a bit larger than they are…at a top speed of 50 MPH, the Mountain Lion can quickly overtake their prey.  A shy and nocturnal animal, they are seldom observed in the wild by the casual visitor.  Kit and I were privileged to see a Mountain Lion in Big Bend National Park a few years ago, and it was a thrill!  Oh, and all the scratches you see on the window of the above photo…are on the inside!

There are many captive birds in the museum as well, such as this fine example of a Common Barn Owl.

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Being primarily nocturnal in its search for prey has resulted in the Barn Owl being nicknamed a “Night Owl” in some regions of the country…and, of course, that is a common description for humans that exhibit the same behavior.  The Barn Owl does not give off the traditional Owl hoot, but will emit a loud snake like hiss to scare off would be predators.  In some areas of the world, holes are cut into the gable end of homes and the Barn Owls are invited into attics to take up residence, as this example in Germany found on the internet.

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Subsisting on invasive vermin makes the Barn Owl a welcome and suitable pest control device!

The museum has a small aquarium as well…since the Sonoran Desert reaches into Baja California and borders the gulf, sea life is a part of this vast ecosystem.

One of the more unusual creatures in the aquarium are these Garden Eel’s.

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This worm looking creature burrows into the sand where they remain, in the same hole, for life…while their food source, primarily plankton, drifts by.  Garden Eel’s gather in colonies for mutual protection and their main defensive mechanism is the ability to simulate seagrass by swaying in unison which simulates ocean current movement.

A unique fixture in the park is this collection of tree houses made from native materials.

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An elevated walkway allows one to climb above the desert floor and gain access to these structures.

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Where a commanding view of the parklands can be enjoyed.

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Upon departing, we all agreed it had been a great day at the museum and the weather was absolutely perfect!

An abutter of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is Saguaro National Park.

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Which we drove through on our way back to the city.

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This 91,000-acre National Park is divided into two sections…one to the west of Tucson and the other to the east.  The park is dedicated to the preservation of the mighty Saguaro Cactus, an iconic symbol of the American Southwest.

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Kit and I have visited this park many times over the past 40 years and enjoy seeking out parts of it that are new to us, such as the petroglyphs located in the mountainous western section.  A short hike leads one to an amazing collection of ancient native graffiti.

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After enjoying the late afternoon view we caught some of the sunset before scrambling down to the parking lot as darkness fell.

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A great day with great friends touring a great area of our country!  Thanks Dewey and Bea!!

Brother Dan couldn’t join us on today’s adventure as he’s still a working stiff, but not wanting to leave him out, here’s a photo from the archives taken many years ago!

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Danny has scheduled time off next week when we intend to hang out and do brother stuff.

As in most large cities, Tucson possess a collection of cool displays and unusual features.  On one shopping trip, north of the city, I spied this whimsical piece of public art.

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I felt kind of self-conscience standing in the road taking a picture of a man taking a picture of a man taking a picture…but, at my age, I don’t really care what people think!

Then there was this attractive cowgirl that kept giving me the eye in a western wear shop.

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I think she liked my tight jeans!

On another day, while driving about, we spied this pest control bug.

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Yep, the irony of that struck me funny as well!  Notice the big ears…they actually fold down as the bug accelerates.

Dewey and Bea have two wonderful dogs, Kali and Pillito.

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Who love to take walks about the neighborhood, sniffing and marking, sniffing and marking, sniffing and …? well, you get the idea.

A special treat was being able to see and spend some time with Bea’s sister.

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Jo lives with her partner in a beautiful home in the hills outside Silver City, New Mexico.  It was a pleasure visiting with Jo while sharing camping and hiking stories.  Please come to Maine for a visit…we would love to show you around!

Tucson is the epicenter for authentic Mexican cuisine of the Sonoran tradition.  As good as the fancy restaurants are, nothing can compare with the various food trucks that park on random street corners in the city and dispense great Mexican food at a reasonable price.  One of our favorites is El Nene’s.

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Owned by a Yaqui family from the area, their specialty is the Sonoran Hot Dog, of which we have had many over the years, but everything on the menu is freshly grilled in the open air and delicious!

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The aroma wafting across Flowing Wells Boulevard is enticing…it is their best method of advertising to the hungry motorist!

Brother Dewey is constantly discovering unique and interesting hobbies to ply his hand at.  In the past, he has mastered the art of Hypertufa, learned to braid survival bracelets from paracord, and currently is into making bullwhips!

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His father (my uncle) always called Dewey a young whippersnapper, and he has finally grown into the name!  The whips Dewey makes are works of art and handle well…he even was able to teach an uncoordinated person like me to snap the whip with authority!

A rather unique retail establishment was visited during our stay…one that I could actually enjoy browsing about in.

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Yep, Crown Concepts Automotive retails classic and special interest vehicles featuring mostly good old American steel!  The inventory is large and varied, and the prices seem reasonable relative to the value of the automobile.  My personal favorite on the lot was this jewel.

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A totally restored 1934 Ford wagon.  A real beauty, but at $72,000.00 a bit out of my league.  However, there was another car that caught my eye.

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Sporting a funky paint job, this 1930 Ford Model A featured modern running gear, was reasonably priced, and ready to go!  Now, how to get it back home, and how do I explain it to Kit, and what do I sell to afford buying it?  Problems, problems!

Speaking of cool cars, brother Dewey has his own classic…a 1955 Chevrolet!

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Restored by him a few years back, it features a 350 CID crate motor and automatic transmission.  He built it up as a second daily driver for he and Bea to use, but as a highway cruiser it’s a blast to roll about Tucson in!

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The numerous “thumbs up” we get from passing motorist are a benefit as well…notice the perpetual smile on Dewey face reflected in the rear view mirror!

Well, this issue has just edged past 20 pages, my self-imposed journal page limit, so the rest of our Tucson stay must wait for the next edition.  But before I go, here’s another rooftop shot of the beauty that is Arizona in the winter.

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Till next time, stay well!

 

Kit’s Bit’s:  We have thoroughly enjoyed our stay with Dewey & Bea, as always!  While Bill & Dewey were out doing guy things, Bea and I took a couple of days to do “gal things”!  We made a special trip to The Golden Goose in Oro Valley, per our friend JoAnne’s suggestion.  What an amazing place!  It’s a secondhand store, with a wide variety of merchandise for sale.  It’s absolutely the cleanest and most well run store of this sort I’ve ever seen!  It’s huge, and there are only 5 employees!  However, they are augmented by a huge number of Volunteers!  While it was crowded on the day we were there, everything ran so smoothly, it was amazing.  Located in a very nice area of the city, there was a lot of items available.  Each of us bought a couple of items. Then, on to Harvest House for lunch.  A very nice day, indeed!  Thanks, Bea!

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18 thoughts on “Bill and Kit’s 2017 Excellent Adventure, Journal #6

  1. Tucker had a great idea…Great pic of him too. I just love Tucson. Been there a couple of times and it was great to be reminded of its beauty. I visited the museum and drove through Saquaro National Park! Incredible places to see….Definitely some bizarre looking native plants at the museum!… Sad to hear of Nile’s passing. What a beautiful animal! Thanks for the winter in Arizona shot. Loved that picture!

    • Hi Nancy, as always thanks for the nice comments about our writing and photography and for your remembrances of Arizona life! Hope you are doing well and are continuing to enjoy dancing the winter away!!

  2. We, too, enjoy the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum and will never have too much of it. How fortunate you two are to get to Arizona every year, to say nothing of spending fun times with Dewey and Bea. Continue the good times.

    • We will, thanks! As much as we like to traipse around the US, we sure do miss seeing our Maine friends! Hope all is well with you folks!!

  3. As usual enjoy your blog and pics….Look forward to my arm chair traveling through your lens I’m seeing places that I may never visit ….. thanks, safe travels Kathy & Bill ……

  4. Loved the desert museum when we visited it on one of our visits to Phoenix. Favorite story is that we decided to walk from the end to the start-I can be contrary at times-I know.. hard to believe!! But we turned a corner and who did we almost run in to…Jerry and Denise Deshaies!! They were wintering in Arizona that year. Much laughter and to think we would have missed them had we followed directions!! The hummingbird house was a fun stop, too. So many!!!

    • Hi Cathy, thanks for the comment and fun story about your chance encounter with Jerry and Denise…it is indeed a small world! Miss you guys, please tell our Sage friends we are well and say hi!!

  5. JEANNE ALWAYS SAID I WAS BEYOND HOPE!! NEAT SIGNAGE, LOVED THE PASSMORE GAS SIGN. CREATIVE DEM WESTERNERS!!! LIKE OTHER COMMENTERS, WE LOVED THE MUSEUM, SUCH DIVERSE PLANT LIFE.
    STAY SAFE AND LOOKING FORWARD TO THE NEXT ADVENTURE!!
    THREE INCHES OF SNOW EARLY THIS MORNING. 2/1/17

  6. Bill, really enjoyed your cacti photos! We have an array of potted cacti out on our large condo patio (the only living outdoor plants we’ve learned Nancy won’t forget to water). We have a barrel cactus which we believe isn’t flowering because we don’t have it potted in a large enough planter. However, we do have a thriving Echinocereus Pectinatus Rubispinus’s cactus which we bought at a “cactus fair” many YEARS go when it was only 1″ tall, not KNOWING what it would grow UP to resemble. We have Names for our cacti, and suffice it to say, its name is Mr. Penis, for whatever other name could we give it? Your photographic Echinocereus Pectinatus Rubispinus’s ain’t got nuttin’ when it comes to “size”. Hey, just sayin!!

    • Hey, Nancy, loved your funny comment! Yep, there were dozens of those little fella poking through the sandy soil at the park…an hilarious site indeed!
      Bill

  7. Hey, I recognize that puma from our visits to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Sounds as though you are having way too much fun, as usual.

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