Monday, March 31, 2014

Traveling with a new woman...

We planned to head out between 9:00 and 9:30, hoping to miss the rush hour traffic through Phoenix.  Plenty to do to get ready to roll.  With utility stuff put away, the truck hooked up, slides in, and Izzy in the truck, all we had left was to roll the cargo trailer to the street and hook it up to the HitchHiker.  There is a downhill slope to the driveway on our site, so it was pretty easy to get the cargo trailer moved into position.  We hooked it up, locked up all the compartments on the HH, and check lights... we are good to go.  Just before 9:30.

The traffic was light as we made our way to the 101, then onto I-10.  I didn't have to touch my brakes all the way through Phoenix - fortunate timing on our part!

The forecast was calling for winds 20 to 30 by afternoon, with blowing dirt... OK, so not the best timing.  The wind was building, so it was time to hit the road.

"So, what about that new woman?' you're asking.  "Did Joan get a makeover or did she dump your sorry ass?"

Well, Joan doesn't need a makeover, and my ass isn't sorry.  We have been traveling with a GPS for a lot of years.  When we first got to Phoenix, we bought a new one.  Just like the old one, we call this one Jill.  This version of Jill has some nice improvements over the old one: voice recognition (you talk to her, she talks back; kinda like Siri on an iPhone), photos of Interstate intersections, including an illustration of what lane to be in.  Plus, we found out as you move from one time zone to another, she automatically sets the new time.

As you can see from the photo, she also works in a vertical format; which makes more sense to me than horizontal, since you want to know what is in front of you, not to the side.  Yes, she will work in either orientation.

We have used her around town and on our trip to Vegas.  But, with custom POI (points of interest) for RV parks and truck stops, she is a champ.

We had a quartering headwind from Phoenix to Tucson... and saw about 9 miles per gallon on the truck's trip computer.  Heading east out of the Tucson area, it turned to a quartering tailwind and our MPG went up 2 miles per gallon.

We stopped for fuel at a Flying J north of Tucson...

No, we didn't eat at Denny's (even though I qualify for their Senior Disount); it is co-located with the Flying J.  Joan made sandwiches, Izzy got to have lunch in the truck, too... and we rolled.

The weather weasels were calling for winds gusting to 40 mph, but we didn't see that along our route... it was nice when we made that turn to the east - the truck ran quieter and the MPG started to climb.

Eastern Arizona and western New Mexico have areas that are known for blowing dust...

It wasn't bad.  Big Red ran like a champ.  We started to consider where to stop for the night... I suggested a place in beautiful Deming, New Mexico, that we haven't stopped at before.  We usually stay at the Escapees park there, but it is seriously dusty when the wind kicks up... which it usually does in this area.  So, we are in 81 Palms for the night, on the west side of Deming.  It is still a gravel "parking lot," but it is more gravel than dirt like the Escapees park - should be less dirt blowing around.  Yes, we are passing through this area (all of NM and most of west TX) during the Annual Blowing Dirt Festival, January 1st through December 31st each year.

No way around it - stopping here means we will be stopping tomorrow somewhere in west Texas.  By Wednesday, hot weather is supposed to move into south central Texas (in the 90s)... back in the Tropical Tip, it will be in the 70s.  But, that is a few days down the road.

And, we are not on a schedule.  Well, except it is time to take Izzy for a walk.


On edit:  Little Izzy walking about...

What looks like messy fur is her silky fur blowing in the wind.  She was not a big fan of the loose gravel in this park, so we spent some time on the picnic table before venturing out further.

I saw this interesting heavy-duty truck as a tow vehicle...

It looks like it has a cut-down pickup bed.  Nice sleeper cab.

Walking back to our rig, Izzy spent a little time by the little bit of a tree on our site...

Spring hasn't arrived like in the Valley of the Sun - the elevation here is around 4,300'... supposed to get down to 42º tonight.  I believe we'll be running some heat.

And the last bit of daylight off to the west...

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Happy trails to you...

... until we meet again.

The Love Shack is pretty well packed up.  The scoots are strapped down in their cargo trailer.  Big Red is fueled up, fluids checked, washed up all pretty, with special attention to the windows and mirrors.  That last part may not show in the morning when we head out... the nearly calm winds we have enjoyed the past couple months have given way to dusty, gusty winds.

It has been a month since the truck has been driven, two months since we last put fuel in her... she needed a good bath.

Dan helped us get the cargo trailer rotated and moved into position yesterday, so we can hook up "the train" in the morning.  Today, Joan checked and filled our 12 tires.  I flushed and sanitized tanks.  Put away everything we don't need today.  Other than the usual utility hook-up stuff, we will be ready to roll.

We had Sunday dinner with Steph and Dan at their place today; returned the Chevy to them, also freshly washed and fueled up.

Steph made a great Mexican food meal for us, topped off with a beautiful dessert... really, I should have taken a photo - it looked like something out of a magazine.  Fresh strawberries and kiwi, a layer of marshmallow and cream cheese, on top of sugar cookie dough rolled out to the size of a pizza.  And, it tastes as good as it looks.

Then, the tough part: the good-byes.  Steph and Dan are the reason we come to the desert, and the leaving never gets any less painful.  It has been a delight to spend time with them... as always.

And, as always, the road beckons.  Time for us to get on down the road... spend some time in the Tropical Tip... enjoy the beach and the warm waters of the Gulf and the Laguna Madre.

Until we head out again.


Little Izzy is ready to go...

Joan put Izzy's carrier in the living room this evening... unlike many cats, she loves her carrier.  "I just have to get that toy in here, and I am ready to go, too!"

I have mentioned how much room we have in the HitchHiker.  Plenty of height, too...

Friday, March 28, 2014

Eyeballs and gonads...

The blowing dirt has subsided, and it is a perfectly lovely day in the Valley of the Sun... upper 70s, clear blue sky, very slight breeze.  No where we had to be today, but I just knew we were going to have to get there by scooter.

Friday is "Burger Day" for the kids - they like to reward themselves for another week of molding young minds with a good, juicy burger.  We will be meeting them at 5 Guys when they get off work.  For those of us without a schedule, it is important that you plan lunch so it doesn't conflict with what you will be having for supper.  For the past week, I have been craving The Schnitz (known to the rest of the world: der Weinerschnitzel.

Some of you know that we prefer to do our big meal in the middle of the day.  When we meet our daughter and son-in-law (known to us as: the kids) for supper, this messes with our standard MO (known to those in law enforcement and people who watch detective shows as: modus operandi... and to the rest of us as: the way we do things).  I am willing to make that sacrifice for 5 Guys.  Oh, and to see the kids... that, too.

Back to The Schnitz... I bargained with Joan: "I will eat really light - just one chili-cheese dog."  She gave in.  We rode the scoots to The Schnitz that is along our loosely planned route.  She sat at a table, I ordered.  Going light, we picked a combo meal to split (just like little old people - I'll say it so you don't have to).  The young man at the counter asked, "Do you want to upgrade that to all-beef dogs?"

I said, "No, give me the original stuff, made with eyeballs and gonads."

I think I offended him (nice when you take pride in your work), something you shouldn't do with anyone who handles your food.  As far as I can tell, he didn't put Draino in my chili-cheese dog... perhaps an extra eyeball?  It didn't wink at me as I ate it, so probably not.

Two guys at the Schnitz asked about the scooters (they reminded me of Statler and Waldorf, the old guys in the theater balcony from the Muppets)... "We really like your scooters!  They look like a lot of fun.  ...)

We swung by Cabela's... I need a sunglasses leash (Croakie or Chum's)... well, need may be too strong, since the one I'm using hasn't broken, yet.  I can tell it is near the end of its useful life, though.  With all the camouflage stuff they sell, you'd think they'd have some way of keeping your camouflage-rimmed glasses in check.  OK, they had some, but none that fit my glasses.  Doesn't matter, really, I just like to walk through Cabela's.  Sunglass Hut just down the street hooked me up.

We drove down Northern Ave, eastbound, heading for a West Marine.  And because we haven't run across town on Northern Avenue before.  Interesting drive: it goes from gravel pit stuff before the 101, retail stuff near the big stadium, upscale housing... and then farms.  Yep, farms in the middle of Phoenix, complete with sheep, alpaca (with or without the 's' for plural, I looked it up), and a field of lettuce, or some other green stuff.  Then, into industrial-looking buildings, and back to older homes.  Quite the variety in less than 6 miles.  Good road.  45 mph speed limit.  Not much traffic.  Just right for "urban cruising on scoots."

West Marine didn't have what we were looking for.  What would you expect from a West Marine in the middle of the desert?  We weren't looking real hard, anyway... it would be damn hard to carry a stand up paddleboard (SUP) on a scooter.  ;-)

Mostly just a reason and a direction to head out on the scoots.  We'll get 'em strapped down in the trailer this weekend for the long ride east, then south.  Just a lovely day to be out and about.

We gassed up along the way.  Most of these miles were from our highway trek around the White Tank Mountains... Joan got 104 mpg, I logged exactly 100 mpg.  In the miles per gallon contest, she is the Harlem Globetrotters and I am the Washington Generals (look it up if you aren't up on your Globetrotters info).

At the gas station, a woman came up to us while we were filling the scoots.  "How much are those?"

Most people at least preface that question with, "May I ask you about your scooters?" and then go on to ask a) How fast?  b) What does it get for mileage?  And then, c) How much?

I told her what they cost.  She responded with, "They're cute!"

I need to get one of my black leather vests out... it's hard to look bad-ass on a friendly Honda scooter.

Gotta close - we're waiting for our call to head to 5 Guys!  :-)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Getting short and Roller Derby...

Our time in the Phoenix area is getting short; soon, we'll be heading back towards the Tropical Tip.  We have some errands to run, places to go, and stuff to get.  Much of it seems mundane... the variety of catfood little Izzy likes best is better here than anywhere else we've traveled; yeah, we'll stock up.  No stocking up on food for the human occupants; we try to get back home with the fridge about empty (less to cart back to the house).  Still, there are day-to-day items one needs.

We made a stop at Costco today.  Not a lot we need, but it is a treat to shop there once in a while.  Well, most days.  Apparently, the word is out that we're about to leave... I equate it with Roller Derby.


In Roller Derby, there are those who try to score and those whose job is: blocker.  The role of the blockers is to try to keep things bunched up and keep the other team from scoring.  Joan and I are trying to score - if we can get in, get through the aisles, get what we need, get checked out, and get out, that is a big score.

The blockers have an unfair advantage.  I believe they are communicating with a central command that has at its disposal: cars, trucks, pedestrians, people pushing shopping carts, road construction workers, etc, etc.

(Sound of radio crackle) "This is Central Command.  The subjects are on the move, driving south on Loop 101.  Car 87, Car 112, Truck 16, move into position.  Senior Citizen Patrol, stand by to clog the Thomas Road Exit, westbound.  Move, people, move!"

They think we don't know, but I can see them taking position... not unlike seeing the Indians lined up all along the ridge when the wagon trains came through.  Well, except we have no provision to "circle up" to protect ourselves.  Armed only with a GPS (that may or may not be on our side), we are ready to detour without notice.

Oh, I see them scrambling when I may a move they didn't plan for.  When they can see I'm heading for a "target rich environment" like Costco, they come flocking in from all directions.  (Sound of radio crackle) "Get those shopping carts into parking spaces - we need to herd them to the parking spot of OUR choice for maximum blocking effectiveness!  Mother with kids - you need to get that stroller in front of them.  Don't worry, he'll stop - he almost always does!  And if he doesn't, the kid's a dummy.  (Not sure if he means not a real kid or the kid isn't too bright?)  Shopping carts to the left, shopping carts to the right!!  Flank them!  Go!! Go!! Go!!"

We manage to find a spot by taking a side aisle; they didn't expect that.  It is important to mix it up - don't always park in the same area.

Unfortunately, once we are in the store, we are hopelessly outnumbered... there are hundreds, maybe thousands of unattended shopping carts... most parked sideways across the aisle.  Joan and I split up for a bit - I act as the decoy while she pushes our cart in a zig-zag pattern... they aren't messing with amateurs here.

It works!  Joan is able to get to the first item we need, while I duck into a display tent and attempt to throw my voice across the aisle.  They aren't fooled.  Joan rams an old woman's cart (they don't fool us, either; that is an Arizona Cardinals linebacker dressed as an old woman), running them into a display of 55 gallon peanut butter jars.  Joan snags the next item!  We are on a roll!

We leave them in our dust while we scramble for the next two items, but they have the advantage in numbers as we head for the check out lines... the bastards have shut the lines down to 2, and have 50 carts in each line.  We accept our fate.

Once through the line, I say loudly, "I have to use the bathroom."  When all the blockers with shopping carts head for the restrooms, Joan and I sprint for the door.  This is not our first BBQ.  (That reminds me, do we the need a case of BBQ sauce?  No?  OK, nevermind.)

On the way to the car, they are lining up behind us.  I had planned my escape at this spot - I am parked up against a curb with an island... they weren't expecting me to jump the curb and roar out forward.  Just down the parking lot a ways, I drop Joan off at the shoe store, as I execute a 180º bootlegger turn.  I laugh at them as I skid into a slot near the door at Sports Authority.

I marvel at my luck: there is almost no one in Sports Authority.  On the down side: they didn't have the Croakie (sunglasses leash) I was looking for.  I loudly ask, "Where are the kayaks?" and see 18 people with shopping carts and baby strollers heading for the kayaks.  "This is too easy," I think to myself as I run back to the car.  They had already diverted most of their assets from the shoe store, so I was able to get back there (less than a block) in mere minutes.

Joan found the shoes she wanted, but it gave them time to regroup.  I saw the guy talking into his watch as we exited the shoe store.  I said, "Let's go to Panda Express for lunch."

I heard him say, "Panda Express - cue the school bus!"

We were barely out of the parking lot when 200+ teenagers piled out of the school bus.  I don't know how they got that many in there - maybe it is for a Clown School??

Fooled them again!  Of course, they thought I was talking about the Panda Express within sight of us, we squealed the tires and headed for the Panda Express a scant 7 miles up the road.  I thought we were clear, but it is hard to fight their endless resources: 8 tractor/trailers, a lawn service truck with a rickety trailer spewing tree branches, and an old VW bus full of nuns block all the lanes.

They didn't expect me to go for the median.  I am not above breaking every traffic law to escape their clutches.  We caused more crashes than the final scene in the Blues Brothers, but we made it to the Panda Express and pulled into a parking spot right in front of the door... "Take that, bitches!!"

There's more as the day progresses... but, it gets kinda crazy.  You probably wouldn't believe me.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Nice Haboobs...

The dust storm I mentioned yesterday blew into the Phoenix area.  Here's a shot from one of the local TV stations...

We didn't see this kind of blowing dirt where we are (in the northwest part of Phoenix), but the forecast for today is for 25 mph winds, blowing dirt and sand, and warnings for poor air quality.

We've had two months of gorgeous weather.  The weather weasels are saying, "This is early in the season for a dust storm..."  Really?  Dust storm season?  They haven't had much to talk about lately.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dances with Saguaros...

I've been eying a highway loop that goes behind the White Tank Mountains, west of Phoenix.  Joan checked it out on a mapping program and said, "It looks like it is 4 lane highway."  Today is the day.

We had lunch south, so came north on Loop 303.  West on Bell Road.  As we approached the White Tank Mountains, civilization dropped off pretty fast - saguaros and other desert fauna...

Bell Road turns into Sun Valley Parkway - it is a very nice 4 lane road...

It is almost 50 miles, running north along the mountains, then west past the northern side of the mountains, and south along the west side of the mountains, making this a 100 mile round trip.  You eventually wind up connecting with I-10 west of Buckeye.  Not much in the way of "twisties" for the road, but it is wide and relatively smooth.  The speed limit is 55 most of the way, but without any traffic for miles, you can run as fast or slow as you choose.

Along the way, we came across two communities.  Tartesso...

Closer to I-10.  And another Del Webb development, Sun City Festival (55+) and a Pulte Homes  (families) development across the street from that...

We rode between the two, then drove into the Sun City side - very nice.  It is about 15 miles away from anything else, sitting out in the desert by itself.  Seeing some landscaped greenery after that drive through the desert was a nice change...

A stop for some nice cold water to drink, then back on the road; the temp topped out today around 90º, with very low humidity, important to stay hydrated.  We stopped a few times so I could take some photos of the cacti...

The saguaro are all unique.  This tall, skinny guy...

and, this over-achiever...

This one that appears to be on the way out...

and, these that look like fertility idols...

You've heard the expression: snuggly as a prickly cactus?  Well, cacti hug, too...

Those two on the right appear to be "spooning."  ;-)

It has been so dry this year, we haven't seen much blooming.  Some color in small plants...

This barrel cactus had the buds, but any blooms were dried out...

Man made sentinels...

That photo above with Joan and bikes on the side has a sign that says: "Watch for Animals."  We did see a rodent of some sort run across the road, and a couple lizards.  I had a moment of concern when a big bird (looked like a buzzard) followed us for a bit.  ;-)

It was a good ride: like having a 4 lane highway all to yourself.  Rugged mountain views.  We could ride slow while sight-seeing and not have to be concerned about getting run down from behind.

Our timing was good, too.  We got back and cleaned up the bikes around 4:00.  When we came inside and turned on the news, they were saying the winds and blowing dust and sand that was predicted to move into the area is arriving ahead of schedule... dust storm warnings for late this afternoon and evening.

I think we'll give the bikes a day off tomorrow.  ;-)

Fuel mileage report (fueled up this morning, before the desert run): I got the best yet on my bike: 106 mpg.  Joan logged her best, too: 113 mpg.  I am amazed.


How's little Izzy?  She's fine.  Sweet as ever...

"Do you want to go with us on the bikes, Izzy?"



Monday, March 24, 2014

Underwear that's fun to wear...

Remember Underoos?  I guess they still make them - "Underwear that's fun to wear."  Those came out when our daughter was little.  Great premise.

Then came Victoria's Secret.  Underwear that's hot to wear.  And pricey.  Great retail premise.

Women and men differ in oh-so-many ways, but underwear is one of those most obvious ways.  That said, I'm a guy.  We buy underwear because women won't have anything to do with us if we don't wear 'em.  It's more of a utilitarian thing for guys... we don't look for "the hot brand."  Boxers or briefs.  Some of us live on the edge and go with the compromise of boxer/briefs.  You can get a package of 3 decent pair, in dark colors (and, really, men's underwear really should be dark) for about $12.  They are sized the same as your pants, they are reasonably comfortable, and they hold up for a long time.

Most men don't buy their own underwear.  They go from having their Mother buy their underwear to having their wife buy their underwear.  That interim between those stages is where some guys "go commando"... 'cause they don't have someone to buy their underwear.

Completely different for women.  Buying a first bra is a right of passage, with an experienced woman bringing a young girl to the knowledge.  Panties are sized 1 to 7, with no relationship to any other size of any garment.  Sometimes you get lucky and have S-M-L-XL.  Men, this is not a time to guess.

Guys like matching bras and panties.  No, not for us to wear, but on our lady.  I know this because (as mentioned above), I am a guy.  Maybe it reminds us of the first time we noticed girls were different: at the swimming pool; and that bikinis are one of the best inventions ever.

I went underwear shopping with the Blonde last week.  Some guys cringe at this... I prefer to actively participate.  I make suggestions.  I hold them up in the store and say, "How about these?"  Ever hopeful.  I see other guys in the store (this particular store was Soma, like Victoria's Secret for grown up women) who look like a dog that just chewed up your favorite pair of shoes: "If I hold real still and don't make eye contact, maybe no one will notice I am here?"

Dudes, you are missing out.  The Blonde and I have been together since we were kids.  We now both qualify for the senior discount at Denny's.  She still knocks my socks off (OK, socks are an entirely different underwear discussion, and no - black athletic socks are not the same thing as dress socks... but, I digress).  I love to help her pick this stuff out, because I will get to enjoy seeing them... at least twice a day... if I am lucky.

The secret is balance: sexy and comfortable.  Something for you, something for her.  Now, be prepared to pay a LOT more for women's undergarments than mens.  This is not something you buy by the pound.  Some of the prettiest little things are the most expensive.  And, so worth it.  Nothing sleazy looking... OK, I'm still working on understanding that.  Go back to that bikini reference... and remember what your Mother taught you about needing clean underwear in case you get hit by a bus.

One last underwear comment.  The previous has been mostly for the guys, but this is for you ladies: the fashion industry tells you that you should have some underwear that is "nude colored."  No you shouldn't.  Seriously.  You look like an anatomically ambiguous doll when you wear that stuff.  We are creeped out by that.  Get some underwear in the same color as your clothes if you are concerned that it will show through.  We guys are OK if your underwear shows though... really, we like shear stuff.  Well, don't wear panties with big brown teddy bears on them if you're wearing white pants, but I can't believe any woman would do that... OK, I have been to Wal-Mart, I could be mistaken there.

Oh, and about men's underwear... trust your woman's judgement.  There is only one known male who looks good in any kind of underwear, and you do not look like David Beckham.  Most guys think they are about 3 sit-ups away from looking "buff."  They would be wrong.  Trust your woman.  Unless she buys you "nude colored" underwear... I don't think they even make that for men.  Besides, who wants to look like a Ken doll?


Where's the pride?

We made a trip to Guitar Center today.  I had checked out a different GC last week, and their inventory looked like they were going out of business.  The reason I was told: "We're getting a bunch of new stuff in real soon."

Uh, huh.

This GC had people coming and going, and plenty of inventory.  I have a $10 gift certificate from taking an on-line survey, and it expires on Wednesday.  If we had driven the truck to this Guitar Center, I would have spent more than that on fuel; we took the scooters... more fun and economical.  Yes, I am than kind of practical guy.  ;-)

So, looking around... no, I don't need strings (I carry several sets in my gear bag)... no, there aren't any cords or connectors I need... don't need polish or cloths.  Joan suggested I check out a strap.  I found a nice Levy (they make nice leather straps) at a good price... even better with $10 off.  It has ol' Sol on it (sunshine faces).  No, I didn't need another strap, but a guy can always use some sunshine in his day.

I looked around in their acoustic guitar room... nothing of note.  Well, there was one thing we both noticed: the place was grubby.  I took a couple guitars off the wall, and they were both way out of tune.  Nice guitars, a Taylor and a Martin.  And then this...

A layer of dust on that guitar.  A Taylor.  I ran my finger across there and was appalled.

Yep, where's the pride?

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Well, at Steph and Dan's home.

We spent most of the day with our youngin's.  Joan and Steph did some cooking, Dan and I replaced an exhaust fan in the bathroom.  Rather that do the job for them, I thought it would be good experience for Dan to get some hands-on.  I showed him how to use a multi-meter to check the switch, then the power to the motor... we determined the fan motor was the problem.  He took the fan housing down, and we removed the motor.  Off to Lowe's, where they had a kit that included the motor and the fan blades.  Back to the house, some switching around to make the motor drop in place, then...

It works.  I like it when a plan comes together.

While the men were working on that, the women-folk were cooking... a pork tenderloin and baked potatoes.  But, the part that interested me most...

Steph got a dessert recipe from a friend, she and Joan added some ideas of their own... outstanding.  Not sure what it is called, but I call it: delicious!  Kind of a combination chocolate chip, peanut butter cookie with marshmallow and chocolate (like a S'more) in a pan.  A little gooey and a lot tasty.

Then, back to our cruising condo.  Another week here and it will be time for us to head out... I need to get as much "kid time" in as we can before we go.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

And the winner is...

Not me.  The Bingo experience...

This is serious stuff.  If you holler out, "Bingo!" and the last number called was not your winning number, you don't get the pot.  Really.  You better be paying attention.  And talking in a normal tone is frowned upon, like in a library.  Keep up.

That said, it was a lot of fun.  This was our group...

Steph isn't in the photo, 'cause she was taking it.  No, I wasn't texting, I was shutting off my phone - a phone ringing during a game is bad karma!  Steph and Lani brought good luck charms...

It was a nice facility, in a small strip mall near one of the baseball stadiums.  Well lit, more monitors than a sports bar, friendly staff (they helped us arrange all the sheets in order), they served food (or you can bring your own - we brought Jimmy John's, not lime Jello) - good rootbeer floats, and they had a bunch of different types of Bingo games.

Apparently the cards I bought (not actually "cards,' but sheets of paper) had unlisted numbers, 'cause I never got close.  After intermission (you have to have time to eat/drink a rootbeer float), we were ready to go again.  The games ranged in payoff from $100 to $1,000.  Unlike other forms of gambling, someone is going to win.  Early after the intermission, that someone was Dan...

Lani attributed the win to Svetlana, the girl whose photo came with the frame.  I think it was his good karma for not bringing good luck charms.  ;-)  Either way, he won $100.

Fun night... but all I have to show for it are two "daubers" that I'll probably never use again.  Speaking of which, some of these folks are serious about their Bingo: one woman had what I called her "dauber caddy": a little satchel, with loops to hold a half dozen daubers on the outside.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Pretty sure this qualifies...

I should be in good standing for my Old Fart's Card...

We are staying in a 55+ resort, and no one asked to see my ID.
I grew a goatee again in January - yeah, it's mostly gray.
I get the "senior price" for coffee at Village Inn... and I don't even drink coffee!

And tonight, we are going to play BINGO.  I can't tell you the last time I played Bingo.  And here's the really fun part: our daughter is the one who suggested it.  I think she and Joan are just thinking of this as another type of gambling... I am thinking of it as: BINGO.

And, I've been told this is serious stuff - no talking when they're calling the numbers.  You are required to have a "dauber."  Yeah, I will be buying a couple daubers.

Steph and Dan work with another guy in their teaching team.  He's a good guy... OK, I have socks older than this guy.  Steph asked him if he wanted us (as in: Joan and me) to bring food for them... apparently, eating while daubing is part of the fun.  His concern: will they bring "old people food"??

"Ask him if he wants onions or not on his egg salad sandwich... oh, and we'll be bringing lime Jello with something in it... Mandarin oranges, or grapes, or pearl onions... not sure what, but I know old people put that kinda crap in lime Jello.  Damn whippersnapper!"

Steph and Dan did this Bingo place with another couple their age... and they tell me they all had fun.

Pretty sure this isn't the kind of place that will be playing Strip Bingo... "Honey, can you help be get this truss unhooked?"  (Yeah, I am old enough to remember Fred Garvin, male prostitute - LOL)  Old Saturday Night Live routine from the 70s... yes, I was around in the 70s.


We were out on the scoots today; another absolutely beautiful day in the desert: plenty of sunshine, high in the 80s.  We rode around "Joan's loop," that goes past PIR (Phoenix International Raceway), then west to Verado.  We find other roads to mix it up with the urban cruising.

We rode by something out in the boonies that I haven't seen before: a dune buggy being pulled by a team of horses... Amish 4-wheeling?  I dunno.  I didn't have my camera out, so you'll just have to take my word for it; but, Joan will vouch that I'm not making that up.

And this - it makes me homesick...

Pretty sure that isn't an OSHA-approved tie down.  LOL

Nice riding today.  I got 99 mpg, Joan was just over 108 mpg.  And, I can't even begin to calculate the smiles-per-gallon.  ;-)

It's a seven pound cat...

Little Izzy was sitting on her favorite fleecy blanket that was on top of pillows on the couch...

It pretty much reminded me of the Princess and the Pea.

Joan chose this morning for "the clipping of the nails."  For some reason, this is a BIG deal to Izzy - she DOES NOT like having her nails clipped.  She goes from a sweet little 7 pound cat to a rabid sounding flurry of claws.

This has always been a two-person task with Izzy (our other cats didn't seem to mind this bit of grooming).  I prefer to be the holder, not the clipper - I am concerned that I will clip the nails too short.  While you may think the person at the business end of the claws has the tough part, I can assure you the holder has the most physical part of this job.  We have gone to wrapping her in a towel to keep from getting scratched... not that she is attacking, she is fighting and kicking to get away.  And, you cannot believe the strength this 7 pound cat possesses!

Today, the towel wasn't working - she was kicking her way out of it.  Joan resorted to the blanket in the photo above.  As the holder, I have to say I was fine with something thicker between me and the claws.

You may have seen something in the news recently about a family who was afraid of their cat - the cat had them "trapped" in their bedroom.  That was a 22 pound cat... yes, 3 times the size of Izzy.  Izzy doesn't have a mean bone in her body, but she doesn't take any crap, either.  She will stand her ground when approached by bigger animals.  I am certainly no lightweight, but it takes all the strength I can muster to hold this cat still so Joan can clip.  In spite of how luxurious Izzy looks, under all that fur is a skinny cat; she still has the build of ferret, with long, powerful legs.  When all 4 legs are kicking, and that skinny body is writhing, it is a handful.  To add to the drama, he sweet little "Meow" turns to a guttural growl, building to a roar... her ancestral link to a mountain lion comes out when she feels threatened.

In the end, two full-grown humans, with the aid of a thick blanket are able to trim the nails of the sweet, adorable little kitty.  It wasn't easy, though... and I'm concerned someone's pillow is going to get adorned with a surprise later.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Timing is everything.  We were heading out to do some shopping.  The destination took us to a busy intersection along Loop 101... we discussed taking a different exit and then going on a secondary road.  Had we been on the scoots, we wouldn't be on this Loop highway, but we were in the car.  It was right before the spring training baseball games, and there are stadiums on either side of this exit.

Bad move.  It took us 45 minutes to go about 1/4 mile.  During that time, people were getting riled, cutting in front of each other... I understand how road rage can overcome you, if you had to deal with this every day.  Fortunately, we weren't on a schedule, the air conditioner was keeping us comfortable, and my belly wasn't growling too much.

We now know to avoid this intersection for a couple hours before game time.  When we were done shopping and ready to head home, I just had to see if the gridlock had let up... yep.

And, we're heading back to that area to meet Steph and Dan for supper... hopefully well after the games have let out.  ;-)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

To paraphrase the words of the philosopher Sheldon Cooper...

I'm normal... I've been tested.

Now, I'm sure some of you are thinking, "Well, unlike Sheldon, you have never been tested for crazy."  That's true.  But, crazy people never think they're crazy.  Take yesterday, for instance...

It was St. Patrick's Day.  Everybody is Irish on St. Paddy's Day.  We were having lunch in the historic downtown Tempe... or, maybe it is TempeTown... or the "bar and restaurant district," but there were plenty of people dressed like giant leprechauns.  No, they weren't in a parade or anything, they were just walking around.  Other people wearing giant green hats.  One guy of obvious Asian descent was wearing a white T-shirt with some kind of Asian writing on it... I thought to myself, "Self, wouldn't that be funny if that said: 'Kiss me!  I'm Irish!' in Mandarin?  Maybe I am crazy?

I'm just not sure when St. Patrick's Day became the National Drinking Holiday?  There were people getting ready for a good ol' drunken good time in this area: a guy with "Security" on his t-shirt setting up barricades; a couple other guys putting ATM machines every 50 feet (attaching them to parking signs with a heavy cable).  You think I'm crazy?  Who uses a "private" ATM on the sidewalk in the middle of a drinking party??  Why not just say, "Here, let me give you my ATM card and pin number for your use later - oh, and don't forget to charge me up the wazoo for this transaction!"

For the record, I am half Irish... on my Mother's side.  The other side is English.  No wonder I have these internal struggles.

When I was having dental work done last month, the dentist (during the 5 hours he was working on me) related that his brother is a doctor.  I said, "Your Mother must be proud of you both."

He said, "My Mother is Chinese.  And I am only a dentist.  You think Jewish Mothers are overbearing?  You should try Chinese - 'Why can't you be like your brother?'"

I didn't tell him about my Irish Mother... if I came in complaining about someone on the playground, she would say, "You get back out there and kick his ass!"  It still warms my heart.

Oh, about that testing?  Thanks for asking.  After spending time last week with the doctor up my ass, I got a recorded call today: "The results of your recent visit are now available.  Call this number and key in your patient number for a recording..."

Nice, they can give you the bad news in a message.

Turns out, everything is normal.  I passed my ass test.  And the blood test.  And, I didn't even study.  Nor did I change my diet for the week before.  I had a big ol' piece of birthday cake as the last thing before I started fasting.

This calls for a celebration - BBQ sound good?

Monday, March 17, 2014

It's a Good Ol' Rock 'n Roll Road Show...

If you said, "Bay City Rollers and the song is 'Saturday Night'!" you get 500 bonus points.

No, not another concert - tonight, we drove across town to go to a Taylor Guitars Road Show.  The Road Show is hosted by a local guitar shop, in this case Acoustic Vibes.  Taylor sends out someone from the factory and a talent to educate folks about their guitars.  In this case, it was about the different body shapes and tone woods, and a look and discussion about the new 800 series guitars.

We have been planning this since Taylor announced a Road Show in the Phoenix area.  We spent most of the afternoon on the east side of town... lunch in Tempe Town and some shopping.  The Road Show was scheduled to start at 7:00; we stopped at the guitar shop mid-afternoon to see if we needed to be early.  I was surprised at how small Acoustic Vibes is - don't get me wrong, they have a good selection of guitars, but it is in a building that looks like it used to be a house, and is 4 rooms... none of which looked big enough to hold much of a crowd.  The nice lady at the desk told me her boss said to tell everyone 7:00.

With the limited parking available I asked about coming early; she said that might not be a bad idea.  From there, we went to Ikea - easy to kill a couple hours there, then stopped for some groceries.  We were back at the guitar shop just before 6:30 and were some of the first to show up...

We met Eric (factory guy) and Kenny (talent), and picked some chairs up front.  All total, there were fewer than 20 chairs set up... I was thinking that was not going to be near enough.  Turns out I was right.  By 6:55, it was standing room only, with some people back in a hallway leading to the next room; glad we arrived early.

We had time to look around a bit.  Joan and I were both taken with a gorgeous koa Taylor...

Absolutely beautiful figuring in the wood.  Eric saw us looking at it, and took it off the wall and said, "Try it out."  Yep - very nice.  The shop owner came through shortly after that and said, "Let's not play guitars until after the show."  I handed the guitar back to Eric.

Eric and Kenny started the program with a discussion of the different body sizes offered by Taylor...

Eric explained, Kenny played.  You could easily hear the differences between the sizes and the different tone-woods.  Oh, and Kenny is a damn fine guitar player (what else would you expect?).

Then, a discussion of the new Andy Powers redesign of the 800 series guitars.  Eric showed a cutaway of an 814...

They did a demonstration of the new T5z, a smaller body model of the T5 we have that is "Joan's guitar."

Then, some give-aways.  We brought home a Road Show T-shirt and a set of Elixir strings (the new HD lights for the guitar players reading this).  They drew names and let people pick what they wanted - the t-shirts and strings were the first to go.

Then, they folded up chairs and let people play the guitars... also known as "the petting zoo."  And, it was a zoo - I tried out a 712 12-fret, but there was so much other noise in the room, I couldn't really hear it...

Joan encouraged me to try that koa guitar again.  I waited patiently while a guy plunked at the strings; when he was done, I asked the owner if I could take the guitar into another room. "Sure."  I carried the guitar to the last room in the shop, where there were only two other people playing guitars.  And before long, I was the only one.  Yep, a beautiful guitar... sounds and plays "like buttah."  They are offering a slightly reduced price tonight only - Joan said, "Found out how much they want."

I found Eric again, he asked the owner.  I'm guessing the owner was a busy guy, because he barely glanced my way... the offer wasn't as good as I expected.  I said, "Thanks, but I guess I will put this one back on the wall."

Joan said, "You can get it if you want."

"Thank you, that is very nice.  It's a beautiful guitar.  But, more than I can justify spending."

"You won't get this chance again," Joan said.  The woman really is an enabler.  ;-)

"I'm OK with that."  We looked around a bit more, but nothing else called my name.

Joan said, "Well, if he really wanted to sell it, I would have thought he would have at least discussed it with you a bit."


I wasn't expecting to come home with a new guitar.  If a hot deal presented itself, I would have jumped on it.  It didn't, I'm happy with my current "stable" of guitars.  My first Road Show, and it was an interesting event.  Taylor Guitars does it up right.


I had read about others' experience with the Road Shows: mostly middle age guys, and usually one somewhat obnoxious guy asking questions so he could show off how much he knows about guitars.  Turns out, it was mostly middle age (and older) guys, and one woman (who was sitting next to Joan) who asked mostly inane questions.  Pretty sure I wasn't the only one who wanted to put a muzzle on her by the time the show was over.  All said, it was a fun evening.