Monday, July 27, 2009

A Soggy Memory

Yesterday we rode the motorcycle through a few rain showers and a memory came out of the fog of the past. It was in early summer 1966 that I bought the first motorcycle. I have good memories of that summer that includes one surprise.

My youngest sister was 11 and I was 19. A few years earlier she had been a strong-willed irritation that brought me ample frustration. By the summer of 1966 one or both of us had changed and the irritation was gone and I had probably changed in my attitude toward her. One cloudy day she came running up to me shouting "It's raining!". I replied with some mystification to the effect of "So what?". Her response surprised me. "We always go for a ride when it rains!"

Honestly, I don't remember giving her a ride before that day and I definitely didn't realize it was generally in a rain shower. I know that I took her for rides, I must have, but the rides are forgotten memories. I stopped whatever I was doing and we went riding. This is the only time I remember her on the motorcycle with me and I don't remember where we went but I do have a vivid memory of waiting in a cold down pour for the only traffic light in town to turn green.

College, four years in the army, marriage and children took control of my life. I have a huge gap in my history with both of my sisters. The few memories I do have are second hand. I never attended their graduations nor knew who they were dating, what was happening in their lives nor what they were feeling.

Some times I think I would like to live my life again knowing the few things that I've learned in the last sixty years. Admittedly young males are brain dead but I'd try to be more cognizant of relationships. Family gatherings and traditions are important.

We always rode when it rained? Why didn't I realize that?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Garden Ride

This Sunday is the annual Flagstaff Garden Tour. Fourteen gardens will be on the tour. The descriptions make the gardens sound irresistible.

  • A whimsical Fairie Garden...
  • A soothing oasis...
  • A fragrant relaxing garden...
  • A stunning feat of...
Number 14 is the one that most intrigues me: "A cosmically planted tomato wonderland in inexpensive, highly effective enclosures like nothing you've ever seen!" Also, number 14 is relatively close to my house so the micro-environment is most similar.

I titled this post "Garden Ride" because we take the tour on Julie's new motorcycle. Last spring she began looking for the right ride because my motorcycle is uncomfortable, a fact that I don't deny. Late in the fall she found one but I was reluctant to to buy at the time. A few months ago she saw an advertisement and called the owner. He and his wife were on a three month vacation so we waited until July 3 to look at it. Bingo! Right motorcycle, right price. We bought it and will sell my motorcycle.

Julie doesn't have a motorcycle license nor could she handle the weight and size but she has a chauffeur -- me.

Our anniversary passed recently but we couldn't celebrate because my daughter and grandsons were visiting. This is our celebration weekend and the garden ride is part of our celebration.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Back to Work

"Daddy, what is that bird?"

I looked out the window and saw male and female Yellow Headed Blackbirds. I've seen them only once before in the yard. With this sighting the vacation ended. This morning Julie and I drove Dawn, Dalton and Dustin to the airport.

Yellow Headed Blackbird.
Yellow Headed Blackbird. (Larger version)

On our last day we stopped by a used book store where Dalton bought two books, ate lunch under a covered table in the courtyard of a restaurant as it rained and hiked to Red Mountain, a volcanic cinder cone that has an opening into the eroded crater.

In response to Dustin's request, while in town we stopped by the library and picked up a DVD to watch an episode of Cadfael, a twelfth century monk who solves crimes.

It was a good two weeks and I was disappointed to see them leave. But, the summer's not over. Next month my son is coming for a week's visit.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Saturday and Sunday on Vacation

Saturday began with a trip to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. The volcano erupted about 800 years ago. For lunch we had Thai food. Central Kentucky where my family lives has no Thai restaurants so it a first for my grandsons. After lunch we bought tickets for the newest Harry Potter movie. I had never seen an HP movie so it was a first for me.

Yesterday, Sunday, we walked the Island Trail at Walnut Canyon National Monument and learned about the Sinagua people who lived in the cliff dwellings. For lunch we ate burritos at a local restaurant. Dustin ordered hot sauce on his burrito. The waitress said "OK" in a questioning way as she raised her eyebrows. He ate most of it and drank more than one glass of his mother's water rather than his soda drink.

In the afternoon we walked the length of Lava River Cave, the lava tube north of Flagstaff. We had visited it before going to San Diego but went only a short distance into the opening of the cave. Both Dustin and Dalton wanted to go father so the three of us slipped, stumbled and bumped our heads through the entire three-quarters of a mile that the cave winds underground.

Dustin and Dalton in a lava tube.
Dustin and Dalton in a low section of the lava tube. (Larger version)

After returning home I took Dustin and my daughter for a ride on the motorcycle. When Dawn and I returned Dustin asked "how was it?". Little did he know that his mother was riding her own motorcycle when she was 15, his age. We lived on a dead end street in the county where is was illegal but safe. I remember her riding hundreds of miles the first summer after we bought it.

Not surprising, the last two weeks have brought back lots of good memories.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hot! Hot! Hot!

We are home. San Diego's pleasant temperatures in the upper seventies are behind us.

After nearing Flagstaff Julie phoned a friend who said the city has broken a record high for the day with 92 degrees. Our house is generally about 10 degrees warmer so we anticipate temperatures slightly above 100 for the next few days. No, we don't have air conditioning.

Yesterday, east of Yuma, the temperature peaked at 116 shortly after we passed a border patrol checkpoint. The employees were wearing long sleeved dark uniforms. I didn't feel for them because they were in control and could move to shade or get water as needed. It was the dogs that caught my attention.

I looked at the dogs' feet to see if they were wearing protection against the backtop road. Nothing! As we got closer I saw a water hose hooked to cistern. The hose had been placed on the blacktop so the water ran along an area beside vehicles stopped for inspection. This cooled the road surface for the dogs and gave them water to drink.

A pickup truck in front of us got the interest of the dog working our lane. The driver was instructed to pull the vehicle to the side of the road. As the vehicle moved forward the dog strained against the leash to follow the vehicle. In spite of the heat this dog was eager to stay on the scent. I'm always amazed by working dogs regardless of their speciality.

Gas Gauge Past Empty.
Gas gauge past empty.

I made a major blunder on the trip to San Diego. We stayed in Yuma, took our time having breakfast and left for the last leg of the trip. Several miles west of Yuma as we drove through the Algodones sand dunes I had a sudden horrifying thought. I had failed to get gas! I checked the gauge to find the warning light illuminated and the needle past empty. We came to another border patrol checkpoint and I asked for the closest filling station. We were half way so we chose to continue rather than turning back to Yuma. The temperature was 114. Interestingly, my grandsons lost interest in their electronic devices and began watching the gas gauge and the mileage posts.

We made it and everyone sighed with relief.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Thursday on the Beach

Thursday was Sea World day for Dawn, Dalton and Dustin. Julie and I had tea and a red bean cake at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa before going to Torry Pines State Preserve and walking about three miles of beach.

After meeting everyone late in the day we drove to Coronado.

Beach on Coronado.
Dalton on beach on Coronado. (Larger version)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Land and Sea

Wednesday morning we walked Balboa Park, took the free shuttle through the park and heard some history as told a a guide who seemed to enjoy her job, thrilled at the botanical gardens, quietly viewed the art in a museum and strolled around the rose and desert gardens.

Balboa Park Botanical Gardens.
Balboa Park Botanical Gardens. (Larger version)

During the afternoon we went snorkeling! We saw Leopard sharks five feet long, Manta Rays, large Shovel Nosed Guitar Fish as well as smaller fish.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Beach Adventures

We visited a beach and saw pelicans, crabs, seals and other wildlife.

Watching the seals was disappointing. They swam close to the small beach, watched people and circled waiting for the beach to empty. It was obvious they wanted to come out of the water but didn't feel safe. Most people gave them space but there were a few who wouldn't and they never came onto the beach.

This morning we are going to Balboa Park and in the afternoon -- snorkeling!

An unexpected wave.
This wave was higher than expected. They are smiling so they must be enjoying the water. (Larger version)

Looking for wildlife.
Looking for wildlife. (Larger version)

Monday, July 13, 2009

In the Garden

I got the garden in late but I'm pleased.

In addition to about ten varieties of flowers we have the following.
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Cucumber
  • Squash
  • Kohlrabi
  • Beets
  • Radish
  • Rutabaga
  • Carrot
  • Parsnip
  • Salsify
  • Blue Corn
  • White Corn
  • Sweet Corn
I had planned for other vegettables but missed the opportunity. Some will wait for a fall garden.

During our Colorado trip in June we watered the garden by using a timer. It worked but I wasn't pleased with the water distribution nor the amounted used. Normally we water each morning with a shower wand. I like this method. It gives me an opportunity to check each plant, to pull young weeds, to direct water where it's need in an appropriate amount and to marvel at the miracle of growth. I have used pine needles for mulch and an happy with the results. Water consumption has been reasonable.

On the Road to San Diego

We are in Yuma, Arizona. It is 9 PM. The temperature has dropped from 114 to 107.

We are on our way to San Diego, California where the forecast high for tomorrow is 77.

Dalton and Dustin.
Dalton and Dustin. (Larger version)

In front of London Bridge in Lake Havasu City.
In front of London Bridge in Lake Havasu City. (Larger version)

Hot feet.
The temperature peaked at 114. Julie is eating shaved ice and cooling her feet in a fountain. (Larger version)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Counting Animals

My visiting grandsons are 13 and "almost 15". Before they arrived I asked myself "what would they enjoy?" I wanted to ensure they have a memorable vacation. When I asked Dalton, 13, what he most wanted to experience he said he wanted to see wildlife.

Birds were a certainty -- jays, orioles, hummingbirds, ravens and others come daily. Lizards are abundant in the yard and come on the deck. Rabbits and jackrabbits are common as are squirrels. Proghorn have been scarce lately. We talked about various animals and I began thinking of places to maximize the possibility of seeing wildlife.

Thus far we have seen several species of birds include California Condor and Redtail Hawk. While going to some Native American ruins slightly over a mile from the house we saw Pronghorn. We stopped by an area where I knew Prairie Dogs have a colony and added them to the list of sightings. There are three animals that I hoped we could find fairly easily -- Elk, Horned Lizard and a rattlesnake.

On Friday we walked a couple hundred yards sound of the house and picked up about a dozen pieces of pottery. I kept an eye out for snakes but saw none. Yesterday we visited the Museum of Northern Arizona and saw pottery that was similar to the style we found. When we returned home Dalton walked south to search for more pottery. He walked too close to a rattlesnake that sounded an alarm and got his attention. We added the snake to the list.

Elk and Horned Lizard remain on the list.

There is a herd of buffalo on a preserve about 30 miles east of where we live. I think we may visit the preserve. Watching Bison without a fence separating us from them should be memorable.

Busy with Fun

I've been busy having fun!

My daughter and two of my grandsons are visiting for almost two weeks.

Picnic in a Flagstaff park. (Larger version)