January 2003


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    As the ball fell, bringing in the first day of the new year, we were enjoying the company of a lot of very fine people at the club house at the SKP CO-OP Park in Benson, Arizona.  The first day of the new year is also Ginger's birthday.  Everyone helped me sing Happy Birthday to her.  This is a lovely place to bring in the new year!  Since you don't have to drive to celebrate (everyplace is within walking distance) you can actually have a bit of the grape to help celebrate.

    If you haven't guessed it yet, we love this park.  The lot's are very large, have full hook-up's and the neighbors are great.  All the roads are paved so it's easy to ride your bike, really easy to ride it downhill.  We are about 100 yards from the dumpsters for household trash.  Sometimes we carry our trash with us when we go for a walk, sometimes I just ride up on the bike.  

    Speaking of riding a bike. . . It's said you never forget how.  Well, I agree with that statement however, I can tell from personal experience that it's easy to get awfully rusty.  I did.  When I first got my bike in July I was pretty shaky, actually I took a small spill, and I have just now gotten back to the place where my balance is such that I can wave to people with one hand while moving on the bike.  My goal is to get back to the place where my balance is good enough that I can remove 'both' hands while I ride.  Then I'll feel real comfortable riding the bike again.

    Speaking of waving. . . This is the friendliest park we've ever been in.  Everyone waves to everyone else.  Some people own (actually lifetime lease) their lot and others rent the lot when the leaseholder is away.  We are in the latter category.  Every time you meet someone while you're out walking, riding the bike, or even driving in and out of the park, everyone waves to everyone else.  So friendly.  It really makes one feel good and like you actually belong.  

    We're using this month, this nice warm month, to make a few day trips around southern Arizona.  There is so much to see around here.  We've been to Tombstone, Boot Hill and other sites of interest in the area.  We plan to visit the National Observatory on Mt. Kitt, Old Tucson Movie studios, Biosphere2 (you realize that earth itself is Bioshpere1, right?), and Saguaro National Park.  There is even a Camping World store in Tucson that we want to visit.  We're also planning a trip to Phoenix before we leave the State, so we will be busy this month.  I'll try to update the web site more often that I have in the past so keep checking and travel along with us.  We're working on a rough itinerary for the rest of the year.  We'll post that pretty soon.  I also hope to have a few photos posted too.

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Saguaro National Park was our first stop.  We got up one morning, Ginger fixed us a picnic lunch, and we took off.  It was a wonderful day, sunny and warm but not real hot.  The kind of day you like to have in the desert.  At the visitor center Ginger purchased her Golden Age Passport so it didn't cost us anything to enter the park.  It's good at all the other National Parks as well.  A very good investment for only $10.  I, unlike Ginger, am not eligible for one because of my young age.  There is a certain someone I know in South Portland that IS already eligible for one this year.  Perhaps enough has been said about that. . .

                                    

These pictures don't do the place justice.  Ginger took some with her regular 35mm camera and once we get the pictures developed and I scan them, we'll have some better looking ones for y'all.  There was an 8 mile loop for us to drive around.  Along the way we had places where we could pull off the road and walk a nature trail.  There was also another portion to the park, Saguaro National Park, West.  The visitor center and this particular loop is Saguaro National Park, East.  On the other side of Tucson, over the mountain and out towards Old Tucson, is the western part of the park.  We drove over there for our picnic lunch.  It was a wonderful day, and it sure beat shoveling snow!

On our way back to Benson we stopped at a Campers World.  They specialize in items for RV's.  There's hardly anything a person could want for an RV that they don't carry.  Everything from a new toilet to a new awning.  It's usually wise to leave your checkbook at home when you visit a Campers World!  We did manage to pick up a couple of items that we just 'had' to have!  Shucks, why stop if you're not going to buy something?

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After a few days of just laying around enjoying the sun we decided we should visit Kitt Peak and the National Observatory.  It's about 35 miles west of Tucson so we wanted to get an early start.  Nowadays that means planning ahead so we can go to bed early.  Once again we had a lovely day.  Hardly a cloud in the sky (it's very unusual to have clouds in the sky here) and the air was warming up.  We had been warned though that we should be prepared for some cool weather on the mountain.  Our fleece jackets were placed in the car, just in case.  It was a beautiful drive to the mountain.  We could see it for miles before we got there. 

As you can see, the first sign you come to appears to need a little upkeep.  Those are bullet holes in the sign.  The 12 miles is to the top of the mountain.  Just about a half mile up this road we passed four guys on bicycles, pedaling UPHILL.  As we passed them we commented to ourselves that surely they were not going all the way to the top.  Well, forty-five minutes after we arrived there, they did too!  We were amazed!  Several of us sitting at the top started clapping when they arrived.  We were some impressed!  Once we got to the top, the signs started looking better.  Not too many people up here shooting guns.

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It was amazing on top of the mountain.  They had a lovely visitors center and provided tours of the site.  We listened to a presentation about the various telescopes then set out on a walking tour of the largest one on the mountain.  I took a few pictures from one of the windows just to try and capture the top of the mountain.  It's not just one large telescope, they have several.  We took the pictures from the highest one, the one on the right in the picture.  Notice the shape of the one on the left, you can see it from a different angle in the other picture.

 

We were really up quite high.  It was some walk from the visitor's center to the top of the hill where the 'big scope' was.  From time-to-time, we all had to stop and rest a moment.  Here's Ginger.

All in all we had a wonderful time.  You could see straight out for about 150 miles and straight up for several billion years, so they said.  It was lovely looking at all the mountains in the distance, looking DOWN on them.  You could see the smog of Phoenix and Tucson, you could see the road that seemed to just go for miles.  It was a super nice day.  We did make a wrong turn (well, I did) on the way home and went about 20 miles out of our way.  We eventually realized that we could still see the observatory to our right and it should have been behind us.  After turning around and retracing our route for awhile we got on the right track and made it home okay.  Another wonderful and safe trip.  I just love being retired!

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