Friday, February 26, 2010

Just for Fun

The other day, our friend Brenda brought me the directions from an item she recently purchased. Since we both thought they were hysterical, I thought I would share them with the world (or at least the 50 people who read this.)

- In order not course the danger of asphyxial, please do not to put the spare parts into the mouth.
- In order not course the danger of swallowing, forbidden to give the toy playing by the children.
- In order not course the danger of asphyxial, please do not cover the plastic bag on the head or face.
- In order to avoid accident, please safekeeping the toy that make sure the children not reach the toy.
- Please do not shake and haul the toy.
- Please do not use the sun energy battery tough and don't throw it away.

HUH?!?!?!? I guess you can guess it was made in China.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Whose Idea Was This?

Oh, that would be me. Ron and I hiked up Picacho Peak four years ago and I really don't remember it being so difficult. Carol brought up the idea that maybe it's like childbirth and you block out the difficulty.

Picacho Peak State Park is located about 50 miles northwest of Tucson, Arizona right along Interstate 10. The park is scheduled to close in June because of Arizona budget cuts, so Carol and John were excited to join Ron and me in this 'short, but strenuous' hike. We agreed to meet at the park at 9:30.

Driving down I10, the specter of Picacho Peak rises 1500 from the desert floor. We'll be climbing to the tip of that highest point on the left.

There are two trails up. Two years ago, Ron and I took the longer, but less steep trail up the south side of the mountain. Less steep, that is, until it joins the other trail about halfway up. This year we decided to take the trail up the north side - about 4 miles round trip with a 1400 elevation gain. The trail accends to the saddle, then crosses to the south side for the remainder.

The trail immediately begins climbing from the parking lot and soon we hit the first of the cables placed to help over the steepest sections. Here Carol hams it up and pulls herself up by the cable while Ron just shakes his head. Actually we weren't sure why this cable was here since it wasn't nearly as steep as later sections.

The trail steadily rises with lots of switchbacks to the saddle, 800 feet above the beginning. You would think that the worst would be over, but no, the fun is just getting started. After crossing the saddle, there is a horribly steep section that descends at least 100 feet. Here Carol demonstrates the famous butt slide.

Uh-oh. What happened here? Those are steps scattered over the ground. I hope we don't need them.

Here Carol navigates a tricky spot.

We did take time to smell the roses, so to speak.

There was a lot of rock scrambling with cables in the steepest spots. Harder than it looks, although gloves help.

But finally we made it to the top. Ron and Carol looked happy when they came over the last rise.

As you can see, we were all pretty proud of ourselves. We all agreed - now we've done it and never have to do it again.

After lunch, we headed back down. Carol and I thought that going down was harder with all the loose rock on the trail. And those cables weren't any easier going that direction. This spot was so frightening, they had a fence in addition to the cable.

Back down at the parking lot, I finally read the sign. Carol decided we must be experienced hikers since we did make it despite the posted warning. But what's this about the trail being washed out?

No matter - we made it and it feels good to challenge ourselves sometimes.

You can see Carol's version of our day by clicking here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hiking Prep

Tomorrow we're meeting John and Carol to hike the strenuous Picacho Peak trail. So while Jim was visiting, we took a warm-up hike up to Wind Cave in Usery Mountain Regional Park - a 3 mile round trip hike with an 800 ft. elevation gain.

It was a beautiful day - even the ocotillo were leafed out with the previous rain.

Just look at the crowd at Wind Cave! Maybe McDonalds should open a franchise there. Fries, anyone?

The water seepage enables these pretty plants to grow there.

Here we are at the top. I wonder if we'll look as happy tomorrow when we climb over twice as high. All four of us have done it before, but I was younger then.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Desert Botanical Garden

We must be actual homeowners - we're even having company. Our first guest was our good friend Carol who only stayed overnight. In fact she was here such a short time that I didn't even get a picture!

Next to arrive was Ron's son Jim. We dragged him off to see the Desert Botanical Garden. When we arrived, we were greeted by this startling sculpture. We agreed it was an attention grabber, but not something we wanted in our yard.

We asked a passerby to take our picture - didn't she do a great job?

There was tiny cactus . . .

And colorful cactus.

Cactus lined up like little solders . . .

And some that looked like they partied too much last night.

But mostly, just lots and lots of cacti.

Although this looks like the popular Saguaro cactus, it's actually a Cardon cactus (and huge!)

Later we picked up Angie and her daughter McKayla at the airport. McKayla is quite a soccer player and is in town for a tournament. We don't get to see her play often and it's fun to see how she and her team grow and change. I think this is the first time I've seen her since she grew taller than her mother!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hike Number 2

There are so many hikes around this area, it seems you just have to head in any direction. This week's hike with the group was at the north end of Meridian Drive, which is the western border of Apache Junction. It was 5.8 miles! I know you're impressed - I'm impressed too.

At the trailhead we were greeted with this sign.

Thank heaven since we made pretty colorful targets. We began with 28 hikers and finished with 24. Humm, not a good percentage.

From the trailhead, we gradually climbed to the pass you can see in the previous picture. Then we came down the other side and circled around the back of the mountain where we couldn't seem to find the trail. No problem though - eventually we climbed our way up to another pass.

Here's Ron doing some off-trail exploring.

This is the second pass which was a bit intimidating for those with a fear of heights.

It was a lovely trail back down as opposed to the trail blazing we did earlier in the hike.
I guess I should mention that the four we lost turned back at the first pass lest you think they fell off or were shot by those renegade target shooters. :-)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Precious Time with Friends

Today was a very good day even by retired standards. Our friend Sally, who has a blog here, stopped by for a visit on her way through town. What fun! We showed her around the house and she duly admired all Ron had done since her last visit. Then she and I left for our 2nd annual trip to the Mesa Swap Meet. (Does two times make it a tradition?)

As we were driving into the swap meet, sister Diana (blog here) called saying she and Phil had just arrived in town. Since we RVers are always up for a change in plans, we drove right back out and met them for lunch. I can't remember the last time we were all together. Of course, hilarity ensued.

After lunch, Sally and I hurried back to the swap meet where you can find some unusual vendors.

We didn't ask.

We saw what the well-dressed manikin (or womanikin) is wearing this year.

But this statue was my favorite. Sally said, "Look! It's Ron and Barbara." I hope not for a few years, but aren't we cute?

The Superbowl just ended and although I'm not much of a football fan, I have to say that was one terrific game. I'm glad New Orleans won in their first ever trip to the Superbowl. Like most Americans, I love the underdog and the residents of New Orleans deserve some good luck after the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. Who dat!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Story Time

Well, this is what I get for being a registered home owner. Yesterday I received a letter from a supposed collection agency stating I owed over a thousand dollars to a bank I never heard of. Of course I knew this was impossible and thought at first that it was a scam. I theorized that if they send out enough threatening letters, somebody will be confused enough to pay the bill. (You can see I'm a naturally suspicious person.) When I called the collection agency to complain, I thought he would ask for my social security number, which, of course, I would never give him. Instead, after asking for the account number on the bill, he asked if the last four numbers of my SS are 1234. (He didn't say 1234, but I don't remember what it was.) I said no and thought for a second that maybe it was actually an honest mistake. But my fraud meter sky-rocketed again when he asked for my address. I asked, "Shouldn't you have that since you sent me this letter?" He had the nerve to cop an attitude saying he was trying to help me and needed the address so I wouldn't get more threatening letters. Then it hit me - using the same account number, they sent letters to everybody they could find with my (very common) name and needed my address to know which one of the thousands to remove! Wow! Is this really legal?