Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, it's off to Disney we go............

"To infinity and beyond........"
Donald going back to see his friend "Buzz Lightyear"

Ok, kids at heart, we're off to Orlando to see Mickey and all his friends for three nights. It's been about a decade since we've been to this resort of resorts. Now that the grandchildren are grown, there has been little reason to go, but, believe it or not, this is Donald's idea and Ada certainly jumped on it before he changed his mind. Not a parks and adventure ride person, it's all about staying on the property and all the different theme hotels for Ada. Her fun has always been about staying in a different resort each visit and I think she has stayed in them all, except she did see that they have recently opened a new one called Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa. For sure, we will be over there checking the decor, food and fun things to do.

Also, our dear friend Dave works at Epcot. Can't wait to see him in his captain's uniform. He navigates the boats that travel between Epcot and the Boardwalk and YachtClub resorts. (Donald always teases Dave about the boats being on underwater rails, but really, they aren't. Dave definitely has to navigate them.) Judy and Katy will join us on Saturday and Katy loves the thrill rides, so Space Mountain will certainly be on the docket. No doubt about it......

You could be a winner.........

Win a Salem Accommodation’s Getaway for Two……….

Sponsor Ada & Jen by donating to their NSMC Cancer Walk website and be entered into their contest to win two(2) nights accommodations at the Amelia Payson House Bed & Breakfast in Salem, Massachusetts. Celebrating 25 years of service.

Once a month, starting in April and continuing thru June, (three winners total) names will be drawn from the list of all the donors that have contributed to our Cancer Walk website:

Donate early and have a chance to win every month. All names will remain in the pool through June and you can enter as often as you like. Each donation will have a chance month after month after month to win.

The Details: Minimum donation: $25.00. One entry for every $25.00, so the more you donate, the more times you will be entered. ($50 two entries, $75 three entries, etc.) Accommodations are for two(2) adults only, non-smoking.
Reservations are limited to the days the Amelia Payson House is open for business, has availability, and exclude the month of October.

We hope you share our passion to support an organization that has been making a difference for almost two decades in the care and treatment of all the Mary’s on the North Shore and beyond. We truly appreciate all those that have been so generous to our team:
There’s Something About Mary.

Thank you,
Ada May Roberts & Jennifer Wessell
Co-Captains for Team Mary

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Campus Life......

The University of South Florida in Tampa serves more than 46,000 students on campus and one of them is our grandson, Nathan, a freshman. (Short for Nathaniel and named after Salem's favorite son.) Boasting rights, Nathan is on a full scholarship here in the Engineering School, taking after his grandfather Don who can hardly spell "engineer" but became one just the same. Nathan has settled nicely into campus life, regardless of what his dorm room looks like. It was a nice side trip to see him, pass him a few bucks and to walk endlessly around the campus on a beautiful 75 degree Florida day.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On the road again..........

It's good to have our own vehicle back and on the road again. Good bye Boerne, Texas, and hello Jennings Louisiana....... But before then, we will travel through the big cities of San Antonio and Houston. Two of Ada's favorite places, but not to drive. San Antonio, famous for its River Walk, the Alamo, Tejano culture, and home to the SeaWorld San Antonio and Six Flags Fiesta Texas theme parks, the city is visited by approximately 26 million tourists per year according to the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau. San Antonio is also home to the first museum of modern art in Texas, known as the McNay Art Museum. And then there are all those Cowboys at the rodeo......... Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States and the largest city within the state of Texas. Houston's economy has a broad industrial base in the energy, manufacturing, aeronautics, transportation, and health care sectors and is a leading center for building oilfield equipment; only New York City is home to more Fortune 500 headquarters in the city limits. More importantly to Ada, it's home of the Houston Astros baseball team. Now let's get our priorities straight!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What do you do when your car breaks down while traveling cross country????

You go rent another one unil they can fix it.......

Not quite the Mini-Cooper Donald wanted to rent, but it's what they call in the rental business, an "economy car". Not even enough room to wear his Stetson. How can they even have these cars in Texas? In any case, making a bad situation tolerable, we got our room back at the Hampton Inn and dropped off our gear and went for a ride to Bandera, about 20 miles south of here in Hill Country.

Bandera Texas - Cowboy Capital of the World (I think every Texas town claims this.)
Bandera, Texas was founded 1852 as a cypress shingle camp, and the site of a Mormon colony established 1854. It is one of the oldest Polish communities in the U.S.
An authentic Western town, surrounded both by working and guest ranches, Bandera, Texas bills itself as the Cowboy Capital of the World. Rodeos are held at least twice weekly from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Horseback riding is available, plus swimming in clear Hill Country lakes and rivers. Visitors enjoy fine year-round fishing, hunting in seasons for wild turkey and white-tailed deer, camping, hiking, rodeos, horse races, two 18-hole golf courses, and Country/Western dances. It's a suburb of San Antonio, which is only 30 miles away if you are looking for city lights and night life. Otherwise, it's "lights out" early in these parts........

Deep in the heart of Texas..........

Boerne, Texas......30 miles west of San Antonio. Why are we here...........well, we were hoping to be on our way to Louisiana today, but the engine light came on in the vehicle and here we sit in a Chrysler dealership waiting for the $$$$$ news, and......... we'll probably lose a day here.

Before this delay, the trip has been good. Got out of Tucson without a hitch on Sunday and had a pleasant drive with a few stops along the way. Our trip taking us through the Gadsden Purchase. (here comes a history lesson.)
In 1846, President Polk declared war on Mexico and sent troops to New Mexico and California under General Kearny. This began the military era in New Mexico, which lasted for about 50 years. At this time, Mexican troops were garrisoned in Mesilla. By 1848 the war had ended and most of the state had been ceded to the United States by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
According to the treaty, the boundary between the United States and Mexico was to extend from the Gulf of Mexico and follow the Rio Grande to a point eight miles north of El Paso and then continue west to the first branch of the Gila River. The boundary was established from a map drawn by J. Disturnell of New York. When the United States sent men to survey the boundary, they found that the Disturnell map was in error. El Paso was actually located 40 miles north of its position on the map and the Rio Grande was actually 130 miles to the west. A settlement was made between the two countries known as the Gadsden Purchase, but diplomatic tension followed. In 1853, the United States negotiated with Mexico to resolve the boundary dispute which resulted at the termination of the Mexican War and to purchase the land in question. This was known as the Gadsden Purchase.

One of the most spectacular sights while driving is still in Arizona called Texas Canyon.
Located in Cochise County, Arizona about 20 miles east of Benson, AZ on I-10 and lies between the Little Dragoon Mountains on the north and the Dragoon Mountains to the south.
Known for its giant granite boulders, the canyon frequently attracts rockhounds and photographers. The stagecoach route of the Butterfield Overland Mail passed through Texas Canyon from 1858 until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 when the stage line suspended operations. Historically within the range of the Chiricahua Apache, Cochise made his last stronghold near here in the Dragoon Mountains during the mid-1870s.
In the mid to late 1880's David A. Adams arrived from Coleman County Texas, soon to be followed by other family members. Hence the name Texas Canyon - there were "a bunch of damned Texans up there." Descendants still live and raise cattle on the old family ranch.
The Amerind Foundation, a privately funded archaeological research facility, library, museum and art gallery founded by William Shirley Fulton in the 1930s lies about a mile south of I-10 in Texas Canyon at Exit 318.
The Triangle T Guest Ranch also lies about a mile south of I-10. This historic Guest Ranch has overnight accommodations, (RV sites, casitas) a Saloon and restaurant. The ranch has been the filming location for many commercials, movies and TV shows. We were headed to Las Cruses for the night, but maybe this would be a good over night stop when we drive by next year. It's definately in Ada's memory bank........

New Mexico's state bird is the Roadrunner

This is the godzilla of roadrunners that greets you when entering New Mexico.......

Officially adopted March 16, 1949. It was adopted under the name "Chaparral Bird". In Spanish, it is called "El Correcaminos". The comical roadrunner prefers running to flying and has been clocked at speeds of 15 miles per hour. They are approximately 22 inches in length and their diet consists of insects, lizards, centipedes, mice and snakes. They have been know to eat French fries as well.............. mine off my plate!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The last hurrah and final sunset.............

Tonight over 300 folks gathered at the barn for an appreciation dinner, hosted by the Tucson Rodeo Committee, for those that volunteered at the rodeo last month. Drinks, barbecue and country dancing made for a great last night in Arizona.
Already looking forward to returning next year for more of the same fun things we did this winter, we say good bye to Arizona and head east, 2800 miles, back to our other lives in Massachusetts. See you there.......

Cocktail hour

In line for the grub.......

Our final sunset over the rodeo grounds.........

Friday, March 20, 2009

Our Super Sonic lunch..........

Out here, Sonic is everywhere and a place that brings Donald back to his youth and the drive-up/car hop days. So for Christmas Ada got him a Sonic gift card. . (he's so easy to please.)
Remembering we still had funds on the card, off to lunch we go. Donald's favorite is the Ex-Long Chili Cheese Coney. A seemingly never-ending hot dog smothered with a hearty dose of warm, meaty chili and cheese, mustard, chopped onions and more......... Add some tater tots and a lemonade and he's in food heaven.
While we have been eating down the refrigerator in preparation of leaving Sunday and driving back to the east coast, this meal, while not the most nutritious, looked pretty good compared to the options remaining at home. And far more fun..............

Monday, March 16, 2009

Play date............

Not many days remaining before we have to migrate east, so today we decided to take a drive to the east side of Tucson. Around here, hottop turns to dirt and then to washboard roads within a 45 minute drive. And then the climbing begins. About 5 miles on our way up Reddington pass, gun shots heard. I'm sure it was just target practice, but enough to say "lets get out of here". Beeeeeesides, we really should have a jeep for this kind of terrain; our Minivan not quite up to the task. But before we chickened back, we did get a few shots of the Tucson valley.............

So once down off the mountain top, we're off to Trail Dust Town

This Cadillac is packing serious weaponry......(click to enlarge)

Trail Dust Town has been a Tucson landmark for over forty years. Originally constructed as a movie set, it features wooden boardwalks, red brick streets, a detailed old-fashioned town square, and centerpiece gazebo.
No visit to the town would be complete without a dinner at Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse. Home of the Famous Cowboy Steak! Just leave your tie at home. Otherwise, it will join the rest, snipped from your neck and hanging from the ceiling.....

Considered Tucson’s premier “in-town” western town, over 500,000 people visit each year to enjoy the fine specialty shops and old-fashioned ambiance. An evening stroll in the soft glow of gas light adds to the town’s 19th century charm. Trail Dust Town hosts a variety of attractions including the Fiesta del Presidio carousel, C.P. Huntington miniature train, gold-panning, stunt shows, and the Museum of the Horse Soldier.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The new kids on the block................

Steak Out Restaurant ribbon cutting......
The Steak Out is an authentic western restaurant and bar known world round for its famous margaritas, mouthwatering mesquite pit broiled steaks & ribs and great live country music. And until now, we've had to travel to Sonoita, 2hours away, to enjoy this fun place. But, not any more. Today, the new Steak Out, just down the road, close enough to walk or ride your horse to, had it's official opening. Armed with my camera, I was off for the ribbon cutting this morning. After a tour of the facilties, kitchen and all, the politians and the owner (the guy with the scissors) posed for the ceremonial ribbon cutting. That's our Mayor in the center surounded by a few more of Marana's political figures.
Don and I look forward to listening to some country tunes later tonight as a country band will start playing at 9pm. On Wednesday, we have already made plans to go there for dinner with our neighbors, John and Kathy. Our last hurrah before we have to start that migration east.....

Steak Out Restaurant

Friday, March 13, 2009

Javalina in the back wash.....can you see the baby?

Javalina in the back wash, just over the fence. Usually a common sight, but not so much this year, or maybe, we just haven't seen them. Could be the coyotes have grown in number and scare them off as we certainly hear the coyotes loud and clear every night. Poor rabbits.........

Though some people think javelinas are a type of wild pig, they are actually members of the peccary family, a group of hoofed mammals originating from South America. Javelinas are common in much of central and southern Arizona, including the outskirts of the Phoenix area, most of Tucson, and occasionally as far north as Flagstaff. Javelinas form herds of two to more than 20 animals and rely on each other to defend territory, protect against predators, regulate temperature and interact socially. They use washes and areas with dense vegetation as travel corridors. Javelinas are most active at night, but may be active during the day when it's cold.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A day at the Desert Museum

The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum is unlike any other museum in the world...... it's part park, zoo, museum, and botanical garden. And there's no place better to learn about the desert ecosystem than here.

Rapture Free Flight program

Raptors are birds that eat live prey and also have excellent vision, sharp talons or toenails, and hooked or curved beaks. Raptors included in the flight program are Harris' Hawks, Ferruginous Hawks, Gray Hawks, Barn Owls, Great Horned Owls, and Prairie Falcons. Other birds that are included in the Raptor Free Flight are Chihuahuan Ravens and Greater Roadrunners.

Prairie Dog (Ada's favorite)

resident Bobcat

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Yikes....... a rattlesnake in the road

Arizona Diamondback on the prowl........ and not the baseball playing version
My first sighting of a rattlesnake other than behind a glass enclosure. It's been extremely hot for the last week and the critters, mostly the venomous ones, are coming out of hibernation. Today we were just leaving the house when Donald had to swerve the vehicle to avoid running over this guy. Of course , we had to stop the car and I had to jump out to get a closer look. While he (Donald, not the snake) yelled at me not to get too close, I kept my distance. It was about three feet long, with an obvious rattler, and it soon decided it was best to get back in the bushes before it gets run over. How exciting.........

Monday, March 2, 2009

2009 La Fiesta de los Vaqueros

2009 La Fiesta de los Vaqueros
La Fiesta de los Vaqueros , otherwise known as the 84th Annual Tuscon Rodeo, put on quite a show for the last 9 days. The West at it's Best. Legends and champions, the best bucking broncos and bulls, all part of the grand tradition of the rodeo. It all starts each day with the kids warming up the crowd in the Mutton Bustin and Junior Rodeo events, and then the big cowboys get the ProRodeo going soon there after. And, in between all of this, the rodeo clowns are keeping everyone safe as the action can be dangerous. Those bulls don't take kindly to the rider that has just lasted 8 seconds on their backs. But the trill is all part of the sport, never mind the big money resting on the 8 seconds of that whip lashing ride................
As a volunteer, I was glad to help and be a part of the the event; wind, hot sun, sore feet, and all. Met some really nice hardworking folks that have been doing this for years, and they all look forward to doing it again, next year, for the 85th time........ Me too...