Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Two Years of Being Homeless...

I've come full circle.
It was two years ago today, that I drove away from my rental home in Tucson. An abode I occupied occasionally for four winter seasons. Now here I am in Tucson again, in a temporary rental apartment. 

I blame the whole life style change on my bicycle accident in July, 2011.


In the summer of 2012, I had healed inside and out and decided to make up for the worst year of my life. I took off on a five month road trip in Barley the Van,  I spent a lot of time hiking in our Western National Parks. It was then that I was the happiest human on the planet. I felt incredibly free.
During those months, I hardly gave a passing thought to Tucson. When I did, the thought was usually negative. The Old Pueblo never came close to feeling like home to me. I was spending a lot of time and money being in a place I didn't particularly care for.


So I had an epiphany. I have them now and then. What was keeping me from trying the wandering, wondering life for awhile? The answer was my stuff! My things were trapping me. 
In the winter of 12/13 I jettisoned most of my material possessions. It was an "Everything Must Go!" Craigslist Fire sale. 
I then entered a way of life a buddy described as such, "Jeffy! You are choosing a lifestyle most Americans are trying to avoid!"

It's been a learning experience. I found there are times to go overseas, times to sit still and a time to be on the road. http://jeffsambur.blogspot.com/2015/03/big-bend-epiphany.html

It's been different to say the least. My way of life creates interesting conversations when someone asked, "where do you live?" 

I haven't a clue to where this wandering and wondering will eventually end up. It won't be Kansas. 

If you are curious like I am, please follow along, 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

It Was a Hard Day's Night...

Not for me but for the three Boy Scout victims who fell prey to the chaotic whims of Mother Nature on Mount Wrightson (9,452') on November 15, 1958. 

It was a freak Arctic Express that snuffed out the lives of three youngsters. If you read between the lines, did these Boy Scouts follow the credo of "Be Prepared"? 
Probably not. However who would have ever imagined, a 72 degree morning turning into a White Death blizzard with seven foot drifts less than 24 hours later? 

They made a few fatal errors, but that's all it takes. Getting a late start. Inadequate clothing and worst of all, no real game plan for their summit bid on Wrightson. They got lost when they realized their youthful mistakes too. Not good.

Now there's a memorial on Josephine's Saddle commemorating the tragedy. I haven't seen the site in over a year. The monument seems to grow larger each time I visit. We can only hope they did "Pass to a better place" like the sign says. RIP guys.

I got an early start to avoid the heat. I never had to change into warmer gear and I didn't get lost. The weather forecast was correct too.

Be Prepared!


Friday, March 27, 2015

Hava Nagila...

 or is that...

Have a Javelina? 

It's called a Collared Peccary too. I was surprised to see this one alone. They aren't usually hermits. Like so many people they prefer to hang out in cliques. That being said, this was one photogenic "New World Pig." They aren't related to the "Oink! Oink!" pigs we like to fry into BLT sandwiches. Those are Old World Pigs. 

Javelinas have been successful in extending their range. Many years ago they were a rare sight in the Southwest (like retirees). They might be following humans who plant edible ornamentals in their desert gardens. Now they can be found in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. They are very fond of eating prickly pear cactus too. I guess they use the cactus spines for toothpicks. 

On my way up to Pontatoc Ridge, (5106.19 feet. I love "My Altitude" App), I came across another Gila Monster. At least this one high-tailed it and didn't stand it's ground like the other. It was a well-mannered Gila Monster. 
Chillin' in my cool pad while it's hot out.
It'll be a perfect patio evening to watch college basketball. 

For those still in the work mode, enjoy your weekend. 
BTW.: "Hava Nagila" is an Israeli folk song, oftentimes sung at Jewish celebrations. It translates to "Let Us Rejoice." I probably danced to it at my Bar Mitzvah. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Blooming Desert...

Just add water.

I've heard it was a wet winter in Tucson. As you can see for yourself, the opportunistic plants concur. My itchy eyes and sneezing fits concur too. 

So Jeff, what's the names of these flowers? I think they are all called pretty.  One might have been named Harriet. 

The fern must have made a wrong turn somewhere in Florida to get on that hillside. 

Another reminder, saguaro cactus' make poor shade trees. 

My hiking advice: Get an early start to see these beauties, it's warming up and they won't last forever. 

The photogenic flowers were seen at Saguaro National Park on the Hugh Norris trail. Yes, it's uphill both ways.

I'm chillin' again,

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Warning! Warning!

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?

Five Man Electrical Band

Here's my dollar's worth of conspiracy theory. The National Park Service and the US Forest Service does it's best to scare everyone from venturing out of the parking lot. I think it's a double handshake, wink, wink, wink secret, they don't want us out hiking around. 

Visitors cause all sorts of problems. We require bathrooms, leave debris, harass the wildlife (I was a very respectable distance from the butterfly when I snapped the photo. He looks great on a pin though!), cause resource damage , we require rescue missions at times and ask lots of silly questions to the overworked and under appreciated staff. In other words, humans are trouble makers. The NPS and USFS just wishes we would all go home to read or write blogs.

There! That's it. I doubt if a newspaper reporter will begin an investigation.Watergate II perhaps?

One thing I'm  sure of though. Saguaro cactus' make crappy shade trees. 

Chillin' on 3rd Ave,

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Water and Arizona's Hubris

Water of love deep in the ground
No water here to be found
Some day baby when the river runs free
It'll carry that water of love to me
Dire Straits 

From the summit of Mount Wasson (4,687 feet) a hiker can look to the west and see the physical results of the Central Arizona Project. 

The CAP is the largest and most expensive "straw" on the overused, abused and litigated Colorado River. The water is pumped uphill from Lake Havasu for 336 miles to its terminus south of Tucson.

For a state famous for sun, heat, conservative politics and little precipitation (Tucson gets about 12"of moisture/year. Phoenix around 8"), life for Arizona's 6.7 million inhabitants would be near impossible without the Colorado's supplementary water. 

In Tucson, the CAP water is placed in ponds to recharge the aquifer. When the CAP water was originally added to the city's water supply, the mixture didn't play well together. Water heaters went bad, rust in pipes broke loose, laundry was dirtier after being washed and the water's taste was worse than usual. 

So with all the trouble getting the wet stuff here, why is there so much water waste?
Come on Arizona! 
All those golf courses? 

Growing cotton and pecans in the desert? These thirsty plants require 23"-60"/year. 

Public fountains and artificial lakes? 

Homes with lawns?

I'm now reading "Cadillac Desert" by Marc Reisner. The book is a bit dated (he mentions the World Trade Center in terms of size) but the message is still clear. Water use in the Southwest is based upon a house of cards. The resource can't keep up with the increased demands. Rain doesn't follow the plow! 

The Santa Cruz River was once a perennial stream before all these people discovered Arizona. Now the only time it runs full time  is downstream of Pima County's water treatment plant. Maybe someone should warn that duck what he's swimming in. 

All this talk of water got me thirsty for an IPA.
Use water responsibly wherever you live. Well, maybe not in Ireland. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

My Tucson Pad...

Imagine if you will a capital "L." My centrally located loft apartment would be on the inside angle.

On The long side of the L is University Ave: Think Fraternity/Sorority Row, Troy and Buffy,  stores catering to the needs of UA's students, fast food restaurants, and of course bars and one brewpub. When I walk on this block, I can easily be called Grandad. 

On the other side is 4th Ave: Tattoo parlors, thrift shops, eclectic bookstores, thrift shops, restaurants running the gamut from Italian to Mayan, edgy bars, Gay bars, heavy metal music bars, biker bars  and Irish bars. There are no brewpubs. This is the Bohemian, pierced, tattooed, Goth-look and homeless side. (Remember I'm homeless by choice. There's a difference.) 

The two sides are as antipodal as one can get and still be in the same Zip-Code. In my three weeks here, I'm sure I'll vacillate between the two. It's kind of nice to sit in a College bar and be called "Sir" instead of the "Hey You!" I get on 4th Avenue. 
As far as my immediate neighborhood goes, let's just say I'm drinking my morning coffee the same time my neighbors are popping a can of Mikeaukee's Best beer. They are mellow and wave a good morning to me.

It's a people watching extravaganza whichever way I turn. 

Here's a few photos of me at rest in my humble abode. See: Sid and Clara are still watching over me as I read an IPPY award winning book.  Look closely it's "Destroying Demons on the Diagonal." 

Good morning from downtown Tucson,

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Mighty Seven Falls...

It's been called the Niagara of the west. (Not really). Out of the camera's viewfinder is a hydroelectric plant which generates enough electricity for the 38 million citizens of California. (Not Really II).  
What's true is: Seven Falls is the most visited attraction in the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. This trickle of water can quickly become a raging river. In 2007, a flash flood swept two people away. Their fellow picnickers had to be rescued by helicopters from the torrents wrath. Like I've said many times in this blog; Mother Nature is beautiful if it doesn't kill you. 

I spotted my mentor along the trail. Hummingbirds are tiny, hyperactive and eat prodigious amounts of food. (Like me). They are always in motion unless in a state of torpor. 
I get a chance to sit still while I'm blogging, sleeping, reading or watching sports or a movie. Other than that I'm sort of in motion. 

On a eight mile hike, I returned with eight discarded plastic water bottles. An average of one/mile. What are these litterbugs thinking? 

Don't be a Litterbug!

I'm moving to my downtown Tucson pad today.
Thanks L&D for letting me hang with you for a few!

Good morning from the desert,

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

They don't call them Gila


The call them Gila Monsters for a reason. My first day back in Tucson, and I chanced upon this character on the trail. They are venomous lizards with an attitude.  If these nasty reptiles were able to purchase weapons and had trigger fingers, they would make Isis look like a bunch of Boy Scouts. I gave this Dude a wide berth as he hissed at me menacingly. If they latch onto you, they won't  let go. 
The good news is their bites are rarely deadly.
I wasn't going to test that assumption though.

I've seen about a dozen Gila Monsters in the winters I was here. Two Desert Tortoises and one Rattlesnake. I like the Tortoises the best.

Hope you had a bite free Saint Paddy's Day!

Monday, March 16, 2015

"Someone's Watching ...

Over Me." 

Written by Kara DioGaurdi and John Shanks

I'm now in Tucson, AZ where I once spent four winter seasons. I arrived back here with mixed emotions. Other than meeting a few quality people and hiking a lot, the "Old Pueblo" was a bad luck charm for me. I had enough unusual misfortunes here, I've developed a case of the heebie jeebies about the place. I'm hoping this go-around will be different.

That's why I brought along my "A Team" to watch over me here and beyond. Sid and Clara Sambur wouldn't want anything, anybody or anyplace to harm their baby boychik (boy in Yiddish). 

If you are wondering what caused these feelings, ask! 
OY! The stories I can tell. 

Ever have to relearn how to walk after a medical miscreant performs a surgery you don't need? I was merely bruised and not broken.  I guess that's why they call it "practicing medicine."
That really bothered me....

There's other stories just not so dramatic.


Friday, March 13, 2015

It's not Squinty Eyes Dunes National Monument,

It's White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. 
Today, it was a gauzy sun day, and my eyes were slits. It would be brutal on a bright, sunshiny day. I would have to purchase a pair of Oakley sunglasses with their "thermal nuclear protection" not to be blinded by the light.

The brilliant color of the sand is due to gypsum. It's a rare form of sand since gypsum is water soluble. Here in the Tularosa Basin, there are no waterways to carry the common mineral away. The fine grain white stuff is trapped in a natural bowl for all to enjoy. 

The National Park Service loans plastic sleds for the tykes and grown up kids to use for schussing down the dunes. You gotta love it.

Half a million visitors a year do. 

Back to warm and sunny Arizona maƱana,
How do you like that centerfold shot of Barley?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Michelin Tires...

Are trying to kill me and Barley.

Don't buy Michelins.

I'm in Sierra Blanca, Texas trying to limp into El Paso.
I'm getting rid of all the Michelins left on Barley.

What did I ever do to France to deserve this?
Be safe out there,
I'm in Alamogordo, NM now. Texas was starting to get to me.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

"I Saw Miles and Miles of Texas."

Bob Wills and Asleep at the Wheel.

I was seeing Mexico too. This was true Borderland country with geographic names criss-crossing between English and Spanish. The Spanish names seemed to be edging out the Anglo ones though.

I took a quiet hike in Big Bend Ranch State Park and pondered the "why" are there so many Texan Spring Breakers in the middle of nada? 
The reason: Texans don't have anyplace else to go. Texas has a pittance of public land for people to trod upon without violating private property rights. (I would not recommend trespassing in the Lone Star State.) Texas is the second most populated state and the second largest in our nation. There's a meager 4.2% of land to play on. If we are comparison shopping, Colorado (eighth largest state) has 48% public playgrounds. This is one of the many reasons, I love the Centennial State more.

I stopped along my way in a grocery store in Presidio. It's so close to the border there's a Mexican Consulate in town. While trying to purchase a half dozen eggs, I was given a friendly lesson on how to ask for the huevos en Espanol. Even though the Stars and Stripes were on all the Public Buildings, this didn't bother me at all. 
It's all so appropriate in the Borderland country of West Texas.

Buenas Noches from Marfa,