Category Archives: Adventures

Weathering the New Year

For the holidays I traveled with my friend to visit his family in Texas and to spend some time investigating interesting places. We left Tucson on December 13 and during most of the three weeks we were gone we were under cloud cover, rain, snow, cold, wet, uncomfortable weather. We carried a small portable electric heater so most of the time we used it when we had electricity. Last night however, we were stopped in our tracks on the highway by the worsening weather, and were forced to dry camp.

Road conditionWe left Fredericksburg, TX in the cold and wet, with freezing rain. As the day progressed the weather got worse. We were stuck on the highway for nearly an hour and a half waiting for an accident that we couldn’t see to be cleared. As we traveled we saw many tractor-trailers overturned, and a few cars that had slid off the road.

Truck 1

Truck 2

Truck 3

Truck 4

Truck 5

Truck 6

Truck 7By the time we stopped around 5:00 p.m. a few miles west of Ft. Stockton it was clear that we had to pull off. We found a safe place off an exit to ‘nowhere’ and parked. It being New Year’s Day I quickly prepared the black-eyed peas and rice traditional dinner, turned on the small portable propane heater and we got into bed with multiple layers of sleeping bags and blankets.

When I looked out the window this morning I saw that we’d gotten some snow and there were many tractor-trailers and cars parked on the shoulders of the road and around the exit where we were. Another RV was parked next to us.

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 002

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 003

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 004

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 006We were expecting to have a nice bowl of hot oatmeal for breakfast; however, it seems that there is a leak in the trailer propane system, so we were out of propane. And we also had to hold our breath that we had enough gas to get to Van Horn, TX – luckily we did!

As the day progressed, and the miles passed the weather conditions changed frequently. From snow to freezing rain, to clear to fog, to windy, to not windy, to more snow, or rain, to sunshine, to snow again. It was a very chaotic weather pattern.

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 019

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 020

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 022 cropped

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 026

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 030

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 034

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 037 cropped

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 045 cropped


Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 055 croppedI made a video of the snow showers in Arizona; however, I wasn’t able to insert it in this post. Will learn more about that later!

We arrived home in Tucson about 5:30 p.m. and unloaded our stuff. It was a long day, but we arrived safely, with a story to tell!


Granny’s Helmet

Two things: First, I’m happy to have my blog back, even though I thought I’d lost it, and moved on to create another, new one! Second, I didn’t plan to write about this subject, but it just came up today.

001Helmet croppedAs some of you know I’ve begun a new friendship with a traveling man. Two weeks ago we completed a three-week trip through Texas, and I would say that we handled our “shakedown cruise” pretty well. We are planning to leave in a few days on another trip, this time to California, where my friend will be in a scooter race. After the race, which is around the Salton Sea, he wanted to explore the area, with me possibly seated behind him. In order to do that I would have to find a helmet to wear.

In the last few days I’ve been browsing through Craigslist here and tracking down leads for a reasonably priced, undamaged, used motorcycle helmet. Today I followed through on some of the contacts and managed to make an appointment to meet someone tomorrow who has two. It would be necessary for me to travel to the other end of town, nearly to Marana to see them. But I agreed.

In the meantime, I contacted a seller much closer to my home. This morning I texted him my interest in his posting, and he said I could see it after 3:30 this afternoon. When he asked me where I wanted to meet, I suggested in front of the nearest Fry’s grocery store at 4:00, to which he agreed. I told him I was a short granny with very short, white hair, and I would be waiting out front.

As I needed cash for the transaction I picked up a couple of items, got my money, and went outside to wait, sitting in a rocking chair just outside the store entry. At 4:20 I texted the seller that I had been waiting for 20 minutes and asked if he was coming. He texted me back and said he was sorry, he’d be there in 10 minutes, in a white truck. Within a few minutes I saw a white truck, and then got another text asking where my car was. I responded that I wasn’t in a car, (by that time I was standing outside on the curb.)

I saw the white truck make another circle around the parking lot, and as he pulled by the front entry I waved, and he waved back. He stopped and I went over to speak to him. He said he was sorry…that he didn’t think a granny would be wanting a motorcycle helmet. I told him he just didn’t know what grannies could do! I suggested he pull into a parking spot so we could talk.

So he got parked and I walked over to his truck. He was a nice-looking Hispanic male somewhere in his 40s, I’d say. He said he was so skeptical about the sale because he didn’t trust that a granny would be wanting a helmet, and he thought his son’s friends were playing a prank on him. So funny!!! I told him I felt he was being hesitant throughout our texts. He was just too wary! I told him that I was planning to ride with my friend and I needed a helmet. I said I was a granny not an old woman!

We chatted a short time about how we both live near the high school, and that my friend’s neighbor’s boy plays football for the team and we’d been going to the games. He shared that his son wants to be a doctor and he moved from his mother’s home in New Mexico to establish residency in Arizona so he could take medical courses at the University of Arizona.

I tried the helmet on – a good fit, and when I asked if he would take less than the posted price he lowered it by $10. It was a perfect fit for me both on my head and with my pocket book. Overall, a great ending to my search!

Child’s Play

tinkeringWhen I was a kid I lived in a wooded subdivision of Northern Virginia where you could skin your knees on the dirt and gravel main road, catch your sweater or your overalls on a barbed wire fence, collect ticks in your hair, and get eaten alive by chiggers. When I was a kid we played ‘fort’ and ‘cowboys and Indians’, in the woods behind our houses, hiding in the trees that were downed by bulldozers to make way for a new home in the neighborhood. And we would rearrange the junk, the off-casts from our own homes, for playing ‘house’.

We walked to the best hills for sledding in the winter, feeling protected by the watchful eyes of the neighbors, even as they drove through the ice and snow, knowing we were oblivious sometimes to their presence. We skipped along creeks, curious about what lurked there – frogs, box turtles, salamanders, and other creepy crawlies.

My parents, mostly my mother, didn’t want us in the house when she was home, and in her hair. “Go out and play!” was her mournful cry. Too much kid noise! Too much fighting, (probably for her attention, for which going outside didn’t help…)

When my daughter was a young Girl Scout, in an urban troop, the group went ‘camping’. Now, my daughter didn’t really take to scouting much, and I supported her in quitting when I went to pick her up from such an event, and learned that camping required being careful about germs. OMG! Germs! My parents knew we’d be living in the woods, and would be attacked by ticks. They took us to the health department for tick shots…We never thought about having germs.

In efforts to avoid lawsuits and making play ‘easier’ for children, and less dangerous, over the years children’s play areas and activities have been sanitized. And as technology has created visual stimulation ad infinitum for child and adult alike, it seems that the life skills needed for a healthy, well-balanced personality have been curtailed by indoor activity. Even schools have removed recess, where kids are free to run, uninhibited, on a playground, under the watchful eye of an adult.

As a student of urban planning I once did some research for creating parks and playgrounds where children could explore building things. Alas, building things would mean using tools – dangerous tools – like hammers, nails, screw drivers, saws, wire, knives…just name it.  I thought about a place where kids could learn social skills, and learn to create and work together, as well as learning how to use tools they might need as adults.

In many ways our culture has sanitized play and learning, and even the love of being children. So I was delighted to hear on NPR’s TED Radio Hour this morning about someone who decided that kids need to learn about the ‘dangers’ of childhood.

In his interview Gever Tulley says, “I was sitting around a table with some friends from the office at a corporate Christmas party; we had all just been talking about the kinds of adventures we had as children tromping around in the woods by ourselves, getting poison oak and bruising our shins. And then I asked them, how are you making sure that your kids have these kinds of experiences? And the immediate and clear response for most of the table was, oh, well, we barely survived childhood. That’s hardly appropriate for children today.

So Tulley created the Tinkering School, outside of San Francisco ( It’s a place where kids can learn skills and create, and build self-confidence. The basic philosophy includes three assumptions:

  • 1) Kids are more capable than they know
  • 2) The freedom to fail is essential, and
  • 3) It can be done bigger and bolder.

Tulley says, “To this day, we’ve never needed much more than a Band-Aid. But the truth is, in an environment where the children realize, like, this is the opposite of being overprotected, we suddenly see the children take much more responsibility for themselves.”

I know that I would not have acquired the skills I have with tools without observing my father, and him allowing me to try some of them out. I haven’t tried a circular saw, but I do have and use a hand saw, a power drill, and other hand tools.

Although I wasn’t crazy about wearing overalls and going outside, especially on a hot, muggy day, I did find ways to spend my time, learning about nature. And nature is not all that ‘clean’ or sanitized. It can be downright dangerous, too. Kids need to learn that, not through trauma, but through healthy risk taking. That is child’s play.

Note: Photo from Tinkering School blog.

On the Road Again

FullMoonCactusMy favorite song!

And I recently sang it at a karaoke party given by some relatively new friends from one of the meetups I attend.

Yes, I’m on the road again, headed to a week-long workshop in Sedona. I’ll be camping out in the Forest Service campground, sleeping in my car. It’s fortunate that I made reservations in January. I managed to get six nights of the seven I need to be there. So I’ll be looking for a place to park my car overnight on Saturday.

I’ll write about the workshop in another post. Today, though, I just wanted to put something ‘out there’. Yesterday I went to my heart specialist. A couple of months ago, after having more symptoms that alarmed me, I contacted my primary physician who referred me for cardio issues. I finished three weeks of wearing a personal monitor, and yesterday had an echocardiogram and stress test. I’m happy to report that my heart is normal, even though its extra beats can be very annoying. I am grateful.

So now I can leave on my trip without any uncertainty regarding my health. I’m excited to be traveling, and I have plans to see a lot of Sedona while I’m there. My cardiologist asked me to send him a postcard as he’s never been there. After the workshop I will travel to the Grand Canyon, which I haven’t seen since I was 11 years old. I’ll be camping out for two nights there. And then, on my way back I’ll stop at Arcosanti, a place I’ve wanted to see since I was an architecture student in the early 60s! I’ve made a reservation to spend the night there and enjoy dining in a dining room and taking the tour, and buying a Soleri bell.

I also look forward to meeting some new people who are interested in the same things I am. While I’m in Sedona I intend to find a group for ceremony on the Full Moon. It’s supposed to be an ominous event as an eclipse, within the context of the vortices in Sedona. I’ll report back on that later as well.

Until we meet again…

On the Road – Again

But this time it’s different.

Last week I purchased a TerraTrike recumbent tricycle.  Today is the eighth consecutive day I’ve ridden it, with two more to go for the ‘contract’ I made with my riding partner (the tall, handsome man I’ve mentioned before…) for 10 consecutive days.  (Just as I began writing this I received a call in which I learned that we’ll have to forgo the 10th day as there is another adventure brewing…)

We have ridden in my neighborhood and on the Santa Cruz River park paths; in the Menlo Park area, and today up the long incline on Starr Pass Blvd.  It was a very long grade that I was able to traverse without getting off my vehicle, although I did have to stop and rest about 3/4 the way up.  The ride back down was thrilling and chilling, with the traffic going by.  But each ride I learn something.  Today’s lesson was to keep going and relax.

As the days have gone by I can feel my strength growing – the leg muscles ‘burn’ and the lungs work overtime; however I have not had any sore muscles or hurting knees.  That is a real blessing.  After all, I’m over 65 years old and I’ve never done this before.  I gave up riding a two-wheeler years ago after I had a serious crash while on a bicycle tour in Key West, FL as part of a cruise.  This three-wheel vehicle is quite something, with 24 possible gear ratios.  Not your ordinary three-wheeler.

This afternoon I stopped at the bike shop to buy a helmet, a rear view mirror, a small air pump for emergencies, and have the trike checked out for a ‘noise’ on the right wheel.  Turned out to be loose brake caliper bolts, which were tightened.   In a couple of weeks I will have it back for its 30-day checkup.

So tomorrow is day nine, and then it’s off to Prescott, AZ for I don’t know exactly what yet.

Jackie, are you ‘listening’?  Remember the title of a possible book?  YEAH!!!


Walking into Adventure

Saturday, July 14, 2012

“Tall, handsome, funny, Mexican man” and “short, pretty, ‘white girl with debit card’ ” (a pet name…) take a walk along the Santa Cruz River toward the Mercado for breakfast.

We walk down the river park path, to the new not-open bridge for the trolley line to downtown, over the bridge and through the chain link fence leaning ‘just so’.

At the bakery, apple, pineapple and pumpkin empanadas, fresh beef tamales with traditional olive in the center, and some fresh Mexican coffee (with chicory and cinnamon).  For later, fresh-made tortillas (made with lard – tasty!) and traditional ‘pig’ cookies (taste like gingerbread).  Yummy!

Leaving the Mercado with tortillas, uneaten tamales, and pig cookies in hand, along with a large agua de tamarindo (sweet drink made from tamarind) we head back toward the bridge, go through the chain link fence leaning ‘just so’.

Uh-oh!  Busted! Local security advises that we may not walk across the bridge as it is not open yet (we’ve walked across twice before already).  Unable to evoke any mercy, we step off the bridge path and head across the barren land/parking area toward the river.  It’s a BIG, long way to walk if staying to the streets.

Down the embankment, over or under the old rails along a deserted path along the river, as our heights suggest, across a conduit and down to the muddy river.  It’s monsoon season and the river has been filling with run-off.  Luckily, this particular day it’s only muddy with a few puddles to navigate.

Tall Man takes the lead, and in his shoes, walks through the mud, leaving a path for white girl to follow, after removing her sandals.  Squishy mud (oh my god, what is in it?), hoping I don’t slip…

Across to the other side of the river, and facing the embankment, we have to climb.  I hand off my sandals, and begin to place my feet and hands to crawl up the side.  Tall Man tries to assist by pushing my rear – but I advise it’s better to not do that, so I can plant my feet and hands for my own balance.  Up I go, without a hitch, and am glad to be able to stand a little above the river.

I take the bag of goodies and the drink from Tall Man so he can ascend the embankment, and we find a place to rest.  After all, we are both in our 60s, for gosh sake!

We are reminded of the immigrants who try this on a regular basis in order to enter the country, and I hear myself being referred to as a good ‘wetback’, in jest.

So after scraping the mud off my feet and putting the sandals back on we head toward the river park walking path we began on.  It’s hot, and we are tired, and need to rest again in the shade, drinking our drink.

After this rest we find ourselves blocked from the path, and facing an eight-foot high chain link fence and gate that is closed with a chain and lock.  Tall Man takes the higher part of the gate, putting his feet on the chain and wriggling through the opening about 12″ wide.  Short white girl, squats, putting her back side through the opening and oozing herself through.  I can’t believe I did that!!!  And Tall Man didn’t think I could!

Amazingly, no bruises, sore muscles, broken bones – only overheated and needing a very cool shower to bring down the body heat.  Although I wore a hat and had plenty to drink, it was too much to be in the sun.  Again, just think about those who risk it everyday to enter the U. S. secretly from Mexico.

I am grateful that I’m in good enough shape that I could accomplish the physical tasks required of me for this walk.  I had great fun, and look forward to other adventures, hopefully not as physically demanding!  And I’m also thinking that any possible injuries sustained by crossing the river without benefit of bridge could have been more devastating than trespassing on the new, not-open bridge (that the city wants to keep folks off of, so as to avoid any liability).


Note:  Image by Phillip Martin