Sunday, March 28, 2010

Road 3 & 4........ LA, MS, AL, & Fl.

With Texas in our rearview, we traveled for the next two days through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and into Florida; where humidity is being felt for the first time in five months. Obviously, it's a bit soggy compared to the desert, but a welcome change just the same. Tonight we will stay in Pensacola Beach, on the Gulf of Mexico....... treating ourselves to a room with a ocean view.

Our room with a patio and a spectacular view!
Haven't seen flowers like these for a while. Nice!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Road 2 & 3.. TEXAS

Leaving Las Cruses, NM you enter Texas 25 miles down the road……..Now “big” doesn’t begin to describe a state that we will travel for 880 miles across interstate 10 in the next two days. From El Paso, Juarez Mexico, is a cannon shot over the Rio Grande River; which is now a mere trickle of water that separates Texas from the Mexican border.
Juarez, Mexico
Beyond El Paso, Texas becomes a land wide open. For hours, the flatlands prevail with buttes surrounding the horizon where civilization pops up every few hundred miles to beckon the weary traveler to exit and get gas. Fort Stockton is one of those places……
Fort Stockton welcomes you with these figures propped up on opposite sides of the highway.
Most of all the soldiers garrisoned at Fort Stockton from 1867 until 1886 were Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments. Surmounting obstacles of harsh living conditions, low pay, and racial prejudice, they gained a reputation for tenacity and bravery. Stationed continuously on the frontier during the years of Indian hostility, they played a major role in the settlement and development of America's western frontier.
And now, the new frontier is renewable energy, and these are everywhere you look!

replacing these.........

Traveling east on I-10, you eventually reach the hill country of Texas where trees and more populated areas come into view. Places like Kerrville, Fredricksburg, New Bramfels, and Bandera are the suburbs of western San Antonio. We will hold up here for the night, although, we are a little anxious as this is where we had car problems last year and were delayed in our journey by three days. A lovely place to brake down, but an anxious, expensive memory for sure.

Nice bunkhouse.......

Tomorrow we will pass through San Antonio and Houston. Two great cites to visit, but hellish to drive through. A real nail bitter for Ada and a day Donald would like to have Ada packed in the trunk. Thankfully, it's Saturday and we won't be sharing the highway with as many trucks; the only good thing about the next 400 miles..........

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Road trip. Day 1

Texas Canyon......
Left Tucson today. Weep, weep….. Of course, getting out of the driveway was the real accomplishment, but once we started down the highway, we were thinking about all the wonderful sights we would see along the way. And while we’ve made this cross country journey more times than I can count, we are always in awe of one spectacular place about 90 minutes east of Tucson known as Texas Canyon. Although it is still in Arizona, you feel like you are in Texas on a movie set where cowboys could come over that hill any minute. Cisco Kid country for sure.

Not bad for moving 75 miles per hour....
The Continental Divide of the Americas, also called the Great Divide, separates the watersheds of the Pacific Ocean from those of the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. It runs from the Seward Peninsula in Alaska, through western Canada along the crest of the Rocky Mountains to New Mexico. The Continental Divide moves along the crest of the Rocky Mts., which separates westward-flowing streams from eastward-flowing waters. In other word, this is where the rivers either run west of the Rocky Mts or run east of the Rocky Mts. How cool is this......

And tonight, we're in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where the roadrunner is the State bird, the Yucca plant is the State flower, and they boast about having 350 days of sunshine. Oh, and the Tourism Bureau says it's rated as the best place to retire. I tend to dispute that!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

On the road again......

My last post from the “old pueblo”, as it’s time to head back to Salem and our B&B lives. But before we land in the Witch City, we hope to enjoy a few more adventures along the 2800 mile trail. The traveling forecast looks good, so we're looking forward to a smooth trip. Of course, we’ll share the journey and post a few blogs along the way.

We'll miss our friends Lena & Steve. Arizona, thanks for the memories……

Here is just a small sample of all the fun.
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Monday, March 22, 2010

Mexican food, roadside........

We've always hesitated to stop and partake of roadside food, but whether it is BBQ or Mexican, roadside canteens dot the country side here in the valley; mostly in the agricultural areas where lunch might be hard to find for workers in the fields or in this case, the pecan harvesters.....Today, we made the trip to Sahaurita to visit the Pecan Store again to stock up on some treats to bring back east, and there it was......lunch! Of course, while we were in the Pecan Store we asked about a local place to have lunch and the gal behind the counter highly recommended the trailer across the parking lot at the road's edge. It looked like they were doing a brisk business, so off we went.........Ordering at the window, Donald had a burro (a buritto, not a donkey) and I had a beef quesadilla, and then we plunked ourselves down at the shared tables provided. Hold the hot sauce on mine, but lather it on Don's......Yum!

The Pecan Store

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Big Day for our Country....and Ada is watching soooo closely.

I decided to spend a lovely Arizona day indoors to watch the health care voting process on C-SPAN to see if our legislators pony up, and don’t chicken out, to pass healthcare reform for America. While they pledged allegiance and “justice for all” I really wonder if they have the moxie to bring equality in healthcare to all. For decades as a sole proprietor, this is the number one issue to me and with out a doubt, so many others. Regardless of cost, access has been the real problem and just the tip of the iceberg of unfair practices of insurance companies. We’ve heard all the issues; denial due to existing conditions, aggregate limits, dictating covered procedures, and so many other insurances issues. While the bill may not be perfect, it’s a “giant leap for mankind” and I applaud our President for not backing down, regardless of the political fallout.

If you have insurance with your employer, I’m happy for you. Just don’t lose that job. Then, you will really see the true cost of insurance premiums when your employer is no longer kicking in their share. Why this is connected to employers is also an unfair matter. I’m sure it got started as a benefit to attract workers, but even that took an unfair turn until legislation stepped in to correct practices by employers when offering special insurance programs for key fulltime employees and not the rest of the fulltime workers. When employers started feeling that heat, their solution to get around that was to shift to hiring more part-time workers. Workers that they didn’t have to cover.

Health insurance should not be an entitlement only for the employed, or the burden solely on the backs of employers. It should be an opportunity available to all regardless of job status. While mandates will be perceived as an unwelcome intrusion of our personal freedoms, it’s the only way this will work. Waiting till you need health care to pay into the system will not make premiums more affordable. And, if we are to expect insurance companies to swallow reform, a mandatory component is necessary.

For as long as I can remember, healthcare reform has been kicked around and there never seems to a time when we can afford it. Certainly, as in any debate, those opposed are making some pretty outrageous and horrific statements to influence so many that are really not up to speed on the issue, or are comfortable with the status quo. If you are opposed because you think the cost of healthcare will add increased taxes associated with passing reform, just think of what it will cost you if it doesn’t pass. Surely, no one will be able to afford it and so many facets of the economy will suffer.

What ever happens today, I’m happy to live in Massachusetts, where everyone has access and choices in their healthcare. It might not be perfect; the growing pains are being felt by employers and individuals alike, but the playing field is fairer, it’s light years ahead of the rest of the country, and it truly provides justice for all.

Update: Finally, after a long day and into the late night back east, Heathcare Reform has passed, giving all those bad practices the boot..... I think once the nay sayers realize the true benefits and protections, they too will be glad healthcare reform is in place.

Appreciation Dinner for the Volunteers

A lot of this consumed during the evening.

Tonight was the appreciation dinner for everyone that volunteered at the 2010 Tucson Rodeo this past February. This was Ada’s 2nd year volunteering, so she and Donald enjoyed the company of all the other guys and gals that helped make this annual Tucson event a success. For 85 years, La Fiesta de los Vaqueros, (The Festival of the Cowboy) has depended on hundreds of volunteers each year to perform the many tasks required to put on a 10-day rodeo, and organize the longest non-motorized 2 mile parade. From tickets sales and seating patrons, to food service and grounds keeping, the day-to-day operations of running a rodeo depends on so many dedicated people to ensure a great rodeo experience for both the first time spectator and the seasoned ticket holder. Rain or shine, the community comes together for a week and two weekends and puts on one of the best shows in the west; steeped in cowboy culture and true western tradition. They’re always looking for more volunteers.
“Are you ready for some rodeo"?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Livestock Auction

The Lemay's......... and waiting for the breakfast.....

The Marana Stockyards hold a livestock auction just about every Thursday morning... except last week when we where there with our neighbors John & Kathy. Not deterred by last weeks disappointment, we were good to go again this morning. And this time, we brought relatives. Kathy and John have family visiting from Minnesota, so the more the merrier. While none of us had experienced this before or had a clue as to what was going to happen, we knew breakfast was part of the ritual before the 10:30am auction and that would be a good start to the day. And, little did we know, the fella pouring the coffee would be the auctioneer. (Seems everyone is cross trained at this place.) The coffee was good and so was the auctioneer.

To get a little info before the auction started, Ada quickly made friends with three locals sitting in front of her that looked like they knew what was about to take place. It seems they auction cattle, steer, and bulls based on age, weight, and pedigree. Some are auctioned by the head (total price) and others might be auctioned by $$'s per hundred pounds. As at any auction, the process is fast and you have to size up the animal in warp speed. No time to blink or think twice. Probably, this is how most ranchers in southern Arizona got started, and continue to suppliment their herds at auctions just like this. I expect these ranchers came prepared with a shopping list. One brama bull, two steer, and a calf.....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sonoita & Patagonia Lake State Park....

80 miles southeast of Tucson, and surrounded by the Coronado National Forest, are two of our favorite towns to visit, Patagonia and Sonoita; where cowboys rule. It's truly western living and ranches that maintain a way of life that has seen very little change. If you like serenity, scenery, where the night light is the moon and the stars, it's almost heaven.
"Birding" is the other main event, attracting so many visitors that really take this sport very serious. They've come to find rare birds as they migrate from all over the North American continent........... They come with binoculars and cameras with huge lenses. Ada is most definately out of here league here.......but will try to find a few in her sights.....
Colorful shops full of Mexican and Arizona treasures.
Visiting our friends, Jeff & Dawn at their homey as they stop in Patagonia for a few weeks. Career travelers that have found a way to really enjoy life.

Beautiful Patagonia Lake

Catching a few outlaws along the trail....

Got one! I couldn't tell ya what it is, but Jeff and Dawn know them all by name.

And after a hard day of birding, one hits the Saloon. The "Steak Out" in Sonoita.

The same three bad guys...Don, Jeff & Steve.

Ada, Don Juan, Lena, Dawn, Jeff & Steve.
Bidding adios to Jeff & Dawn after a great day, as they will be traveling in their homey to Texas and places yet to be determined. We wish them "happy trails"!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Train Show......Donald's been waiting all winter for this day.

Off to the Pima County Fair Grounds to attend a Train Show. Need I say more. This is Donald's candyland and he's going to look at every item on every table. Fortunately, Ada has her camera and is keeping busy videoing the event and even caught a video of a crash when two conductors were shooting the breeze and not paying attention. All the layouts were amazing and Donald was truly enjoying himself. For sure, Ada will get a good lunch afterwards for her patience........