Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Conquering Picacho Peak!

Well, she did it again! You think she would know better, you think we would learn! But no, we are both boneheads when it comes to the TV remote.
For the second time we were rewarded by leaving Dakota unattended with a chewed up TV remote! This time I was just outside working on the Jeep while Barb ran to the store, I mean it was just a matter of minutes!
Remote #3 in the past few months
There is a bright side.... at least this time we did not have to run to Best Buy and spend $50. This time since we are stationary we found some on eBay for $8....actually two for $8 which means now that we will have an extra, we will never need it!
In our last blog I talked about how we had only gotten out on one mini hike here in Tucson. Well I am happy to report that we got out not only once, not only twice but three times! One of which was one of the toughest hikes we have ever been on!
Our first hike was the somewhat relaxed 3 mile Camero trail loop. This dog friendly hike winds through the Robles Trail System.

The terrain was mostly flat and open....

....with some of the cactus coming into bloom....

....with rabbits running through the brush....

....and an occasional bird on the Saguaro.

Some of the Saguaro were huge!
There are a couple of other trails in this park that we want to tackle in the coming weeks as well.

But our major feat for the week was conquering the infamous Picacho Peak! This trail has been on our bucket list for a couple of years when we first heard about it in John and Pam's blog. We are attracted to challenging hikes and this one certainly fit the bill!

Yup, that is our goal the very tip top of that peak!
With a total elevation gain of 1,880 feet  it is touted as one of the most challenging hikes in the area. It is not for the faint of heart, or for anyone with preexisting ankle or knee issues. I say preexisting because by the time you are done you will probably have one or both of those ailments by the time you get back to your car.

There are two trails to the peak, the Hunter Trail and the Sunset Trail. We chose the Hunter Trail. Although it is only 2 miles each way it is 2 miles of intense climbing. From the parking lot you hike a series of switch backs gaining just under 1,000 feet in elevation to the saddle.

The first of many cable guides

Just getting started with out goal in the background!
Once you get to the saddle you are greeted with three things; an incredible view, a bench for a rest and a descent of almost 300' feet. Wait, we climbed all the way up here just to descend then go up again?

View from the saddle on one side.......

.....and the other

Then we head back down!

only to go back up again

Working our way up the other side you start to encounter some steep cable climbs

Barb scaling one of the steeper sections
My turn!

There was a narrow section

Another steep section

and more narrow sections

After an hour and a half we found ourselves at the top! The views were incredible. You know you are high when you are looking down on the vultures and falcons soaring the cliffs below you.

Our truck is in the loop in the bottom center of the picture

This guy was living the high life
After a short break we headed back down.

Barb backing down one of the steeper sections
That is until you get to that 300' section we descended on our way in. Now we had to head up that stretch! For us this was the hardest section of the entire hike. You are hot, tired and this section is very steep almost straight up in a couple of spots.

Ugh, this section was killer!

Rest stop

An hour and 15 minutes later we found ourselves back at the truck sore and exhausted. All in all it was a great hike!

A couple of words of advice.... wear comfortable and good hiking boots. You will need the grip as there are many spots with loose gravel or slick rocks. Bring plenty of water, it was in the low 60's when we hiked, I would not want to do it much hotter. Gloves and hiking sticks are a definite bonus. Although we saw hikers without both of these items the gloves helped on the cables as well as gripping rocks climbing and the hiking sticks were beneficial when hiking the non-cable areas.

Our most entertaining moment of the week came in the form of “Retro Game Show” night at the Hotel Congress. This was Greg’s third time to this show and he invited us along with Guy and Susan and his friend George. The show was hosted by Tempest a giant transvestite and three “celebrities”; Dame Judith Stank, The Masked Menace and Ms. Eva Singleton. They then selected contestants from the audience for a 3 round game of Match Game or as they called it Mismatch Game. During the game Tempest absolutely ridiculed the contestants based on their gender, nationality, home state, you name it. It was probably the most politically incorrect show we have ever been to and laughed throughout the entire store. At one point, Tempest looked out in the audience and keyed two “gorgeous” men in the 4th row. It soon became evident that she was talking to Greg and I who were sitting next to each other! She asked if we were together and as thoroughly disappointed when she found that we were not together but were indeed married!
Tempest is one big "woman"!

Judith Stench, The Masked Menace and Eva Singleton

Our most disgusting moments of the week occurred when we toured the Children's Museum in Tucson. Being somewhat of a germaphobe I could not help but think about all the bacteria floating around this place as we walked from room to room. Certainly some of the exhibits did not help the grossness factor!

Really? Are these graphic exhibits really necessary?

The ear cam with hair and all

The many faces of Lily!
One of the exhibits was a slowmotion camera set up where you jumped as high as you can while the camera captured you. Lily and I challenged Forrest to a jump off....... Forrest claims his boots were weighing him down.

Lily out jumped him!

And so did the old man!
In other news we managed to use 1/3rd  of our total gig allowance in one day! How is it possible to use 6 gigs in one day? As far as we know we were not even doing anything significant when a text comes across our phone stating that we only have 10% of our data left in our billing cycle. Less than 2 gigs and over 10 days left? Yikes! Luckily Forrest and Somer have an unlimited plan and allowed us to steal their wifi to get us through.

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Week of Chores in the Desert

One of the things we love about this lifestyle and specifically blogging is the people you meet. We have yet to meet a cranky full-timer, what do they have to be cranky about? This week we had the opportunity to meet a couple we have been “virtual friends” with for quite a while.  John and Pam have been fulltiming for over 6 years and are probably the most active people we have met. Avid hikers, bikers and golfers it seems like they are doing something every day.  We read in envy at many of the hikes they take hoping that someday we would meet up with them and perhaps do a hike with them and be included in one of their infamous "lunch with a view" pictures.  I looked back and we have been following each other’s blogs since 2014 so when we found ourselves in the same general area we made plans to finally meet up. Where did we meet you ask? Well a brewery of course!

Specifically the Barrio Brewing Co. It is one of John and Pam’s favorites and I am glad they shared it with us. We spent a couple hours telling tales of hikes we have been on, they shared some of their favorite area hikes with us and made plans to go on a hike together the following week.

We did get out on one mini hike in the Saguaro National Park with Forrest and Lily earlier this week. Upon arriving in the park we went into the Visitors Center where Barb got her passport book stamped. Lily spent some time with one of the rangers who explained the Junior Ranger program. As part of this program you get a workbook which includes things to looks for in the park. Upon completion you return to the Visitors Center where you go over your workbook with a ranger, take an oath and get a certificate for completing the Junior Ranger program for that park. It is a really great way to get kids involved in the park and promote teaching opportunities for the kids (and parents/grandparents). On our mini hike we looked for several items required in the workbook (a 5 armed saguaro, an animal burrow, a flowering cacti, an animal print……) we just have a few more before we can return for her certificate.
Off to the desert with the workbook

Hi Grandpa!
Our Quartzsite friends Dale and Ruth moved down to this area for a few weeks and wanted to share their favorite brewery with us so along with Greg we met them for dinner Thursday night. Thunder Canyon Brewery is a great brewery with very good food. Highly recommend the chicken/bacon mac and cheese. Great to see Dale and Ruth one more time while they are in the area.
Ruth, Dale, me, Barb and Greg

My favorite was the 2nds one on the left, Aloha Brew while Barb liked the 2nd one
from the right,
The rest of the week was filled with chores around the campers. I finally got the replacement skylight I ordered in early January. Our existing skylight developed a number of cracks. It was originally supposed to arrive by the 23rd while we were in Quartzsite but after it did not arrive I contacted the company who said it should arrive on February 7th, well after we are gone from the area. So I had them ship it to a UPS store down here in Tucson where it arrived safe and sound on the 8th.
The first task was removing the existing skylight....

There were 20 screws around the skylight and plexi was broken around every single screw! They obviously tightened them too much when installing it. You could see that the cracks in the skylights started at several of these screw holes.

 After removing all the "gunk" and thoroughly cleaning the surface I put down a bed of Dicor and set the skylight in place and secured it with several screws. Then I used EternaBond Tape around it and put a bead of Dicor around that. Should be good for a while!!!!

I also took the Jeep in to have a front axle u-joint replaced. It has been making a clicking noise for a few weeks and wanted to get it done before we started our long journey north. $235 later it was fixed and they informed me that my rear brakes were in desperate need of replacement. For a mere $550 they would have it done by the end of the day! This was on my Quartzsite list but I never got around to it but I certainly was not paying over $500 to have it done! I have never done drum brakes but with the help of YouTube I changed the first one in about 4 hours...putting it together and taking it apart over 12 times before I finally got it right. The second wheel took less than an hour saving over $500 from the quoted price.
Definitely needs new brakes!

Everything removed

New brakes, new springs and tensioner....ready to roll!
And last, after being ridiculed happy hour after happy hour about the condition of the table on our chairs I finally got around to replacing the table tops. After searching Home Depot and Target for a material that would work I finally settled on a thicker baking sheet which I cut to fit. Now they are as good as new and hopefully the ridiculing will stop! 
Both of our  tables looked like this from being left out in the rain too many times

Baking sheet cut to fit!
 We have yet to get out on a major hike but one way or another that is going to change next week!