Sunday, February 28, 2010

Move to TT Verde Valley

This morning we left Sun City and moved north 93 miles into the base of the mountains. We had a cold front move in during the night. It lightened and got windy and rained but stopped about 9AM when we wanted to pull out. As we drove north the clouds started to lift and we had some amazing scenery on the way. It was not as cold as we thought it would be when we arrived and at this time it is about 67 degrees and mostly sunny.

We passed several mountain tops that are snow covered. We past a sign as we were climbing up the hills that said elevation 4000 ft. The mountains are beautiful with the snow on top against the blue sky.

Here we are parked at Verde Valley. There were lots of sites to choose from. The Verizon is good but the TV signal on the antenna is poor. We can get ABC and Harry is watching the Olympic hockey game. There are 3 other channels but two are in Spanish. Guess we will be playing a lot of games and cards the next 3 weeks. Marie and Keith are on one side and Larry is on the other side of us so we will not get lonely. next

Week at Paradise

Last Sunday we moved north from Casa Grande to Sun City, Arizona, northwest of Phoenix. This is a very nice ROD park, however they do not have pickleball courts. We came here this week to watch the Senior Pickleball Olympics. They are being held about one mile up the street at a public park.
This is our site at the park. The sites are nice and large and each has a cement pad. We are in the dog area so Kate has lots of grass to "do her thing". Keith & Marie are parked beside us.
On Sunday afternoon after setting up we headed over to the pickleball courts. We watched the rookies play. Anyone who has never played in a tournament is considered a rookie and must first play to receive a skills level rating. You are then placed in the tournament according to your level of play. We had several friends who were in the tournament and it was so much fun reuniting with them and meeting new friends. Also since we had never played in or been to a tournament we learned how they are run and what is involved to play.
On Tuesday we went to another RV park to play pickleball since there are no courts at the park where we are staying. Our friend Larry was staying at Sunflower RV Resort where they have 4 new beautiful courts. He and his partner Don wanted to practice for the tournament so Harry and Keith played against them for a long time till they were worn out. Larry and Don won all the games but Harry and Keith did manage to score several points in most of the games. Anyway we had a great time and it was a beautiful day.
Harry and Keith in front. Larry, right rear, and Don, left rear.
That evening a group of players and friends got together for pizza at Deno's Pizza. On the right in the black top (facing away) and the man next to me are Wayne and Nancy. They spend their winters in Arizona at Happy Trails. This is a beautiful hugh RV community with lots of pickleball playing. They are partly responsible for us coming to Arizona. We had a wonderful time meeting and talking to all these people who were so friendly and fun. The pizza was good too!
On Wednesday we spent the whole day watching the Senior Olympics. Here is friend Pat, on left and her partner Joyce. They won silver medal in their skill level. Way to go girls!
This is friend John on the right with his partner Ken. They won bronze in their skill level. Congratulations guys! John and Pat, in previous picture are married and Ken and Joyce, Pat's partner are married.

Here are Larry and Don in the tournament. They did not medal but put up a great fight.
Here is Nancy playing. I did not get a picture of her partner. They did not get a medal but Nancy is a great player and a very good teacher of pickleball.
This is a couple that we just met at the tournament. They are Marti and Norman. Harry and I were asked by Dawn and Carlton Lutz to look them up at the games and give them a hug from them. That was easy since I am married to "the hugger". Dawn and Marti adopted each other as sisters, and Harry adopted Carlton as a big brother. So I guess that makes us one big family. We really enjoyed meeting Marti and Norman and can easily understand why Dawn and Carlton are close to them. Carlton and Dawn we really missed you being here with us.
Harry, Karen, Marie, Pat, Keith and John. What fun it was being with friends and having a new experience at the Senior Olympics. We knew several other people who played but did not get their pictures. There were 16 courts going at one time throughout the tournament. The ages ranged from 55 to 85.
On Friday we were invited by Wayne and Nancy to a dinner at their RV lot. First we met at the courts for a couple of games of pickleball. Then a tour of the Happy Trails Park narrated by Wayne and Nancy in their golf cars. Above is a picture of their RV lot with their wonderful outdoor living area.
This is part of the outdoor kitchen area. It is decorated so beautifully and is very inviting and comfortable. Nancy prepared a delicious turkey, Cesar Salad and cranberry sauce. Marti brought a very good stuffing that went great with the stuffing. And we topped it off with Nancy's baked apples. Which we call apple dumplings.
Nancy and Wayne our host and hostess on left. Harry and Marti on the sofa. Harry and I met Wayne and Nancy at TT Chesapeake two summers ago when they had traveled east. They tough us so much about pickleball and really helped improve our playing. That is---when we apply what they said! We are so fortunate to have met them and thank them for all they have done for us. They are graciously invited us into their group of friends and their home.
The man on the left with his back to the camera and the lady on the right front are Jetty and Bob. We met them at Hershey TT on the pickleball courts. They ran the Senior Olympics. What a job----my hats off to them they did a fantastic job. In the bottom right corner is a heater. It was a beautiful 74 degree day but as soon as the sun goes down it gets quite cool and the heaters really felt good and made it very comfortable to be outside till 8PM.

It was a great fun week and we had beautiful sunny days. What better way to spend a week than with friends.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Feb. 19th--Meeting With Friends

Left to right: John, Harry, Chris, Karen, Pat, Mark. The guy in the black was not with us.

Friday afternoon we were to meet with friends to play Pickleball at Palm Creek RV Resort. Our friends Pat & John are staying there for the winter season and the courts there are very nice--at least that is what I have heard. Pat reserved a court and invited another couple also. On arrival to the park we were not able to play because to play on their courts you must be a resident. So we went with the plan for after Pickleball and went to "In and Out". This is a burger restaurant and it was very good. I asked a worker that was going around the tables to take our picture. She asked how everything was and when we told her it was very good and this was our first time here, she gave us a hat to wear to complete the picture. We had one per couple but Mark's tore and he couldn't keep it on. We had a great time catching up with Pat & John afterward at their camper.

Feb. 18th--Biosphere 2

The best way to explain this is to write what was on a sign at the entrance to the building.
Biosphere 2 is one of the largest greenhouses in the world, and one of the most remarkable structures ever built. It houses living organisms from five natural biomes comprising more than 1,000 species of plants and animals, research areas, and the human habitat. Beneath the greenhouse, miles of pipes, tubes, and wiring, wastewater tanks, and other facilities make up a "technosphere" designed to recreate the Earth's recycling functions. The dome shaped "lungs" are connected to the main structure by tunnels. They allow for expansion due to changes in pressure inside the greenhouse. The entire building is sealed off from the desert soil by a welded 500 ton, 1/8th-thick stainless steel liner.
This is the greenhouse. In the early 1900's eight people were sealed in the habitat to measure survivability. The experiment lasted two years with the Biospherians being self-sustainable within the structure. They grew all their own food. Most of the animals have been removed.
Part of the inside of the greenhouse area. The water in the lower right is the recreated ocean. It was actually water from an ocean and contained fish and other animals and organisms that would be in the ocean. There was even a small beach and 5" waves were made. I don't remember how large the greenhouse was but it took 5,600 panes of glass.
This is the kitchen the Biospherians used while the 2 year experiment was going on.
The dome to the right is one of the "lungs" used to regulate pressure in the greenhouse. The inside of the building was amazing to me but I just can't explain how they do it. The baffles inside contract and expand as the temperature varies.
The eight people who were in the experiment no longer talk to each other except for two couples who married after the experiment. The facility is now a tour area but they also continue to do scientific experiments mostly relating to carbon dioxide.

Feb. 16th--Scenic Drive

This 28 mile scenic drive winds through the Catalina Mountains in the Coronado National Forest. The road, General Hitchcock Highway, ascends to 8,000 feet at the summit of Mt. Lemmon. At the top is a small ski village. There are many stopping areas along the way to the top but as we got higher several were closed due to snow. The drive was so beautiful the pictures really do not do it justice. The vegetation changes as the elevation rises. The above picture shows the lowland desert with the giant saguaro cactus. The line in the middle of the picture is the road that brings you to the base of the mountain where the drive begins.
This is how the road winds around and is cut along the mountains.

Again the road as it winds up the mountain.
One of the scenic overlooks.

Notice that the vegetation changed as we got further up. The mountains were covered with pine trees.
This is the San Pedro Valley overlook.
These houses were built almost at the top on the side of the mountains. We saw many and they were not small inexpensive homes! These are actually used more as summer homes. The people use them to escape from the 120 degree summers in the desert.
About 3 years ago there was a forest fire and you can see were the timber was burned.
More road cut along the side of the mountain.
This overlooks the city of Tucson as we were coming back down the road. I really enjoyed this drive it was so beautiful. Of course it was a sunny 70 degree day and the sun shining on the scenery contributed to it's beauty.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Feb. 15th--Rodeo

Around the corner from the campground we are in was the annual O'Odham Indian days festival. The O'Odham was an Indian tribe with descendants still in the area. Every afternoon during the festival they have a rodeo. All participants must be of Indian decent. Never having been to a rodeo we decided to walk over and see what it was all about. It was a beautiful warm sunny day perfect for sitting outside and watching.
First was the roping events. The steer is released from a shoot with a roper on either side. The first roper attempts to lasso the head and the second roper then lassos a leg. Most of the time the steer gets away.

The men went first and then it was the women's turn. These two cowgirls were successful. The steer is not hurt and as soon as they are roped the ropes are let go. These small steer are raised just for this sport of roping. They are bred for the correct size and the correct base of the horns.

Next was the bull riding. There were only 8 brave cowboys who attempted this. One did stay on the required 8 seconds. Most were thrown off when they were barely out of the pen.

These bulls are hugh. After the cowboys were thrown off the bull runs loose and several cowboys on horseback attempt to get them into the exit shoot. They were being very stubborn and 4 of them were loose at the same time. It is frighting to watch as they charge the riders and the horses but the cowboys finally managed one by one to get them back to the pens.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Feb. 13th--Ostrich Ranch & Casa Grande Ruins

Saturday morning we started our day at the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch. This was a really fun place. A family run business they started in Oklahoma and as it grew they moved to Arizona. They now raise hundreds of Ostriches and ship the eggs all over the world. This monster truck is driven around the ranch by the owner's daughter and she really adds to the fun of the tour. As she drives around the ranch she stops at several areas throughout the ranch and explains all you ever want to know about ostriches.

Here is Harry hand feeding the ostriches. They do not have teeth but they do pinch hard if they get your hand in their mouths. Ostriches are living dinosaurs and can live up to 70 years. They weight between 275 to 375 lbs. and are the only two-toed bird in the world. The egg laying season is from January to July and the hen will lay one egg every other day. The eggs weigh about 4 lbs each and are equal to about 18 chicken eggs. The shell is so thick and hard that our tour guide stood on one and it didn't break.

This was the funniest thing I ever saw. They are called the Hole in the Wall Gang. These goats push their heads out the holes to get the feed. Sometimes there is one and then another one pokes it's head out. One hole had three heads! And they all are reaching and wiggling to get to the food.

There is also a very large herd of dear. They are small and tame but so cute. You can't feed them fast enough

At the end of the tour the driver backs the monster truck up to a platform so the riders can walk out and do some Ostrich Fishin. Pieces of grapefruit are pierced on a nail and dangled over the ostrich so they stretch and bob for the fruit. They are like vultures! We really enjoyed this ranch and learned so much.

Our next stop was at the Casa Grande Ruins. These are ruins from the Hohokam people--the first known civilization in Arizona. The remains are scattered over a 2 acre area that is thought to have been a small village built in the 1300's. It was first discovered and recorded by missionaries from Europe in 1694. They named it Casa Grande---meaning big house---because of the main structure that is still standing.

This is the largest building. It is a 35 foot tall, three story building. The walls are 4 foot thick at the base. The Hohokam used a subsoil concrete-like mix of sand, clay and calcium carbonate called caliche. When mixed with water this makes a muddy substance that drys hard like cement. To preserve the site a roof was built over it in 1903 and replaced in 1932.
Note the 4 holes in the center top of the building. These opening align with the sun and the moon at significant times of the year--such as June 21st--the longest day of the year. There are other small holes and windows that also align with the sun and moon. It's believed the Hohokam devised a calender system based on movement of the sun and the moon and built this into their architecture. To me this is amazing considering they were prehistoric people.

This is a side view of the building. The mounds in the front of the picture are walls of another building that have deteriorated. Most of the building did not have doors and a ladder was used to enter and exit through an opening several feet off the ground.
This is another wall that remains from one of the buildings. The park system has applied a matching cement-like covering over the walls to prevent further deterioration.
Sitting and listening to the volunteer explaining about the people and their lives I could picture a very primitive people going about their duties of the village. These people may have been prehistoric but they certainly had knowledge when building this "big house".