Around and About

I can practically hear Juliette Gordon Low rolling in her grave.  What the hell is going on here?  Relax, Juliette…..it’s just a party in Tucson at the Tap & Bottle to explore pairings of Girl Scout Cookies and beer.  Sounds odd, and it was.  We sampled four different GS cookies, which were matched with distinctively different beers – hopefully to complement flavors.  20150208_151347Not so sure about the success of the pairings, but it was a terrific afternoon with camping pals Vern & Ilene.  Tap & Bottle is a superfun spot to spend a few hours, and they did the Girl Scouts proud – there must have been 200 people jammed inside, and everyone bought a box or two of cookies in addition to the samples that came with the beer.  The table next to us (of guys, naturally) brought their own cookies in – we saw two different bags of Pepperidge Farm cookies and potato chips that they were pairing with their own beer choices.  This was a good-hearted event that had support from all parties – marketing folks from the Girl Scouts, beer drinkers, local college students, and a full complement of tiny little Girl Scouts earnestly hawking their wares (safely outside the bar on the sidewalk, with their parents).

We decided to take the newly christened Tucson Streetcar for a full-circuit ride.  What a gem this is!  Running through the entertainment/club district to the University, to the downtown business area and out to the Expressway edges of town, it serves a diverse population.  Our $4 daily pass gave us unlimited on/off privileges.

20150208_163320We hopped off to get John a nitro coffee at Ilene’s favorite coffee stop.  Those of you who are fans of the nitro taps in a brewpub can perhaps relate to this.  The coffee wasn’t great, but we (perhaps, generously) attributed this to the fact that it was late on a Sunday afternoon, and it might not have been at its freshest.20150208_165817

Tucson has many great sights, and so much history.  We decided that we need to spend a few days just cycling around town and enjoying some of the oddities that make this such a cool spot to visit. 20150208_162622

Having running commentary from Vern as to what we were seeing from our streetcar seats made this a most enjoyable tour.

We’ve fallen into our regular Green Valley routine.  We hike a bit, bike a bit, and do nothing A LOT!  The weather here has been spectacular!  Well above normal temps, which puts it into the mid-70s (and sometimes into the low 80s) nearly every day.  Bright sunshine.  We hiked up to Rogers Rock in Madera Canyon one day this week.  Perfect weather made the eight mile round trip pretty easy.  This is one of our favorite hikes every year.20150209_10124520150209_10293620150209_111618Seven of us + two dogs made the trek to a spectacular spot for lunch.  The light spots in the background are the enormous piles of mine tailings in Green Valley – the copper mines are running full force, and the tailing piles significant.  Mining is a huge industry in this area, and it has some benefits, I’m sure.  But, the downside is that it sucks an enormous amount of the precious water resources of the area, the environmental (and visual) effects are a significant downside.

Of course, we’re cycling often.  Thursday was a first for us – while John and I were cycling to the meetpoint for our regular Thursday ride, a coyote darted out from the roadside, and nearly had his snout in my front wheel before I shouted STOP! or HEY!  (not sure what happened here).  He and I both braked severely!  Never have I seen a coyote so close up.  It was unnerving.  Twenty minutes later, our group was rolling through Quail Creek, an upscale golf course/housing development when three coyotes appeared on the narrow strip of ground between the pavement and the walled back yard of the nearby house.  Our 10 bikes couldn’t have been more than eight feet away from these guys!  It was breathtaking.

Our rental house is in a development where the abundance of birds has been such a pleasure.  Every morning we hear cactus wrens, and curved-billed thrashers call.  It’s amazing to hear them sing out.  Areas covered by low-lying prickly pear cactus are havens for the Gambel’s Quail.  As I stroll with Jezzy in the early morning, I can hear them grumbling, although I usually can’t spot them.  All of the sudden, one will dart out, and a whole stream will follow.  They are amazing to see.

The daily sights and sounds of the Arizona desert never fail to delight.  Although the cactus aren’t yet flowering, the prickly pear are loaded with fruit.  Around here, it’s common to find jams, jellies, and salsa made with prickly pear.  A gorgeous napolito (thornless) prickly pear is right around the corner from us.  20150213_093733This particular plant is also a coveted snack for one of the meandering javalinas who patrol the neighborhood at night.  If I were a javalina, I would also chose spineless!20150213_093804The Gila woodpecker makes it home in the Sagauro cactus.  The Saguaro survives this invasion by totally isolating the hole in an oblong capsule.20150213_092934 We observed a pod collected from a dead Saguaro in the Visitor Center at Organ Pipe Cactus National Park – it’s an amazing adaption.

Cactus shapes never cease to amaze me.20150209_085726The colors in morning and evening are especially lush.20150213_090513We noticed a chiminea (a free-standing, clay fireplace) in the patio area of our rental house.  We asked our landlords if they would mind if we actually used it (looked as though it was new, although it had a crack).  With their blessing, we have thoroughly enjoyed our evenings on the patio, watching the sun set on the nearby Santa Rita Mountains.  20150210_182331We even rescued the hotdog forks from the Fireball and roasted hot dogs one evening.

Our new refrigerator has arrived, been installed, and appears to work just fine.  Yay!  We’ve received the new regulator for our Camp Chef stove, so we’re back in business on that front.  We’ll be ready to hit the road again on March 1.

To top it all of, I noticed this seasonal greeting on my morning stroll today.20150213_090212All is well here – hope the same is true for each of you.