Friday, March 25, 2011

At the Habitat Work Site

We spent another couple of days working at the Habitat for Humanity this week at the construction site not far from where we are staying.

You never know what is going to go on each day which makes it interesting.  About 6:30 AM we start forming up (circle up) and one of the leaders goes over the main tasks for the day.  Usually a couple of people buddy up and go off to an assignment.

Since we volunteer Tuesday and Thursday we don't often do the same thing two days in a row.  And we see definite progress on things every time we show up.  And we get to see all kinds of different tasks being done.
Yesterday as I was going back and forth getting tools and such, I saw a load of 4' x 12' sheets of wallboard get delivered.
These two guys made quick work of the heavy sheetrock with the lift!
And the guys working on the sidewalks and driveways were real pros too!
Tuesday Pam got a staple gun and worked on the outside of a couple of houses finishing up the 'mesh'.  The chicken wire/mesh can't be hanging loosely on the house or the stucco won't go on correctly.  I worked inside with Charlie and we spent the day hanging closet doors.

Yesterday we got a new assignment and we cleaned the concrete floors on one house.  After a while Pat joined us and worked with us the rest of the day. These particular floors are going to be finished concrete.  Sometimes we have seen laminated wood and carpet put or linoleum tiles -- but these floors are going to be polished concrete.

So we worked on getting them cleaned and scrubbed.  After they are scrubbed and cleaned with the buffer (with a scouring pad on the bottom), they are mopped a few times.  Then sealers and other treatments are put on before they are buffed out and finished.

I spent the whole day scraping paint off the floor (sometimes grinding it and other droppings out) then Pam and Pat went slowly over the floor.  Pam and Pat were mainly on the buffer and the wet vac while I used the 7" grinder and went over each room inch by inch.
Later in the morning I interrupted the ladies for another photo.
Then before we left for the day, another one with the ladies with hats on that they traded.
Pat is a special lady. She and her husband left New York and New Jersey and they have lived in Tucson for over ten years.  While her husband volunteers as researcher at the University of Arizona, she spends her days at Habitat.  She does a lot of different things, but she is the 'face' of Habitat in many ways.   She is a regular at Habitat and the first person new volunteers meet.  She gets everyone signed in and set up with a name tag and hard hat and answers all of kinds of questions.  This affiliate has over 300 volunteers a week!

Pat is a friendly, smiling and giving person.  And she works hard.  She is always moving about helping with this and that and doesn't waste time.  And she enjoys it and helps everyone else around her enjoy it.  I was working with Charlie and he told her what a great job she does.  She must hear that a lot but she takes it in stride -- she is a very humble person and everybody's friend.

It rained and blew hard on Monday but then it got right back to nice weather - high 70's.  We have been here almost a month and had one day that wasn't all sunshine.  That's another reason we like Tucson!

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Until next time ~

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Plenty of Things to Do in Tucson

Now and then some friends ask if we have enough to do? I guess that is a fair question to ask a retiree.  The answer is Yes!  And sometimes we feel like we do too much ~ like we should 'pace ourselves'.  Like our former life before retirement though, sometimes we are busier than other times.

La Mesa RV in Tucson had a big RV show last week.  La Mesa is such a large company with 6 or 7 dealers in Arizona and California and were the only sponsor for the show.  They brought hundreds of Class A's, Class C's, trailers and fifth wheels from a number of their dealerships.
Its been a while since we have been to one so we went out to the Pima County Fairgrounds and walked around.  They had a free lunch and that was actually a highlight because we sat down at a table and met a nice couple from Alberta. They were in town for a few weeks and are planning for retirement and the RV life in a couple of years.   They are considering a fifth wheel but like the motor coaches.

We walked around a took a look at Tiffin Phaetons and an Allegro Bus.  They are really looking good but we didn't see anything that made us feel like our 2007 Roadrunner needed to be replaced.
We also took a look at a Winnebago Tour model which has a humongous slide out that goes all the way down the DS.  It really gave the place a lot of room.  Full slide slide outs appear to be one of the more common innovations in the last couple of years.
One thing I haven't seen too much is front galleys.  We liked the idea of the refrigerator up front when we were first looking a couple of years ago but that idea may have come and gone...

We saw a couple of Carri-Lite Cameo fifth wheels and took a look.  That model was high on our list when we were thinking we were going to go that route instead of with the Class A.
Next we looked at a few Class C's.
It was a fun way to spend a couple of hours.

Since we were on the east side of town, we went over to the Saguaro East National Park Visitor Center to pick up a good trail map for future hikes in the park.
The Tucson area has a few swap meets and we have been to the one at Tanque Verde which is not too far from Davis-Monthan AFB where we are staying.  On Saturday we went out to the one at Tohono O'Odham on the Indian reservation.

It has a different clientele and feel to it compared to the Tanque Verde swap meet.  There was a lot more used stuff here and a lot more food stands.
The little goat and chickens were cute.

After the swap meet we went over to Sabino Canyon for a hike.
It has a lot of great trails that are well marked and not difficult.  Toward the end of the hike, we saw some RVs that belonged to volunteers at the Park.  I believe they have 4 or 5 sites.

We have been talking about going to Nogales, Arizona for a while, so we decided to do that on Sunday after church at Calvary Chapel in Tucson.  The drive was a pleasant one and an easy 75 miles to the border town.

I had been here in 1975 with some buddies on our way to Guaymas, Mexico for a few days.  But it was nothing like I remembered.  It was a lot more built up and the border crossing like all of them is very substantial.
It is a beautiful Sunday and after we found a $4 parking place we went across the border.  One thing we immediately noticed was that were not a lot of Americans shopping.
And the shops were basically empty.
We didn't need any pottery or blankets or jewelry.  Or anything for that matter... We only spent about 25 minutes and walked down a couple of streets before we decided it was time to head back.  It was quite different than our trip across the border in Nuevo Progresso in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas.  Here -  the economy is in bad shape and were were pestered by shop owners to come in and buy things.  We are okay with a little bit of that but here it bordered on desperation.  We felt uncomfortable saying no so much that we left.  It was not what we had hoped it might be.

I guess at night, the border guards have issues but we saw no evidence of unsafe places or drug violence.  There were no police sandbags with weapons like we had seen at other places.  Still ~ 25 minutes was enough and it was time to go.  The long lines back at 98% Mexicans who were going to shop in Nogales.  It took about 20 minutes to get through the long line.

Coming across the border to the U.S. back into Nogales was a different story.  Nogales was bustling and the shopping was brisk.  We found a handbag and a golf shirt ($3.97) and a hardware store with lots of inventory and good prices.
It was a little over an hour drive back to Tucson and we passed by Tubac and Green Valley, two places we have heard about and we may want to visit.

That's what we have been up to the last few days...hope you all have a great week.  And thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles.

Until next time ~

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Baseball.Hiking.Habitat.Tucson

We drove to Chandler to see our friends Bub and Winnie.  By the time we got there it was late morning and time for brunch so we went to Mimi's.
Then we made our way over to the Scottsdale Stadium where the World Champion San Francisco Giants were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers.
We didn't fare as well this time with the seats and the ticket prices but it was still a beautiful afternoon and we had a great time.  Giants won in a close one:  9-8.

On Monday it was a beautiful day and we went for  hike up the mountain outside of Tucson beginning at the Douglas Springs trailhead.  We got underway before it was too hot and it was a very pleasant morning.
Some of the views back down the valley and over Tucson were spectacular.  The cacti and plants were had some green in spite of the dry and above average temperatures.
We wore our shady hats.
Then Tuesday we went back to the Habitat build site and spent the day (0630-1230).  Some volunteers were still working with tile on the roofs.  Another crew was putting in baseboard in one of the homes.
 We had to get started on our assigned house with the painting before the guys came to hang the cabinets.  The gentleman in the blue hardhat is 83 years old!
They have 8 houses in the subdivision in various stages of construction and I expect we will be painting some more.

We met a couple who also were in on the painting.  Gary and Avis (in the hard hats) are sitting next to Barb during the break.  Gary and Avis are NOMADS also.  And they started a Habitat affiliate in North Dakota where they lived before they started full-timing almost 15 years ago.  Very interesting couple and we'll probably see them again on the job site.
It's not all hard work and exercise here in Tucson.  I spent a time trying out a little Tucson siesta.
I will  probably do that again!

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Until next time ~

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tucson. Busy.

We are staying at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson.  We like the campground and the price is right ($15/night).
We intend to be here for a couple of months (end of April ish).

Spring baseball is nearby so we drove up to Mesa (outside of Phoenix about 110 miles from Tucson) and caught the Cubs and Texas Rangers game.
It was a fun afternoon.  We got to see some players we recognized and the vendors are always entertaining.  The guy at the bottom right corner above (Mike), has his own baseball card showing what MLB games he has been to for opening day...what a hoot.

Outside near the concessions, some of the former greats were signing autographs and chatting with folks.
It was cool to meet some of the greats:  George Foster, Bert Campenaris, Gaylord Perry, Rollie Fingers and Ferguson Jenkins.  That was pretty cool.

Last week we also were able to catch the Arizona Diamondbacks playing the Chicago White Sox here in Tucson.
The teams came down to Tucson for a game with proceeds going toward the victims of the Tucson shooting a few weeks ago.  They had 8,000 plus attending so it was a great crowd.

You might think all we have been doing is playing baseball.  Nope.  We got in some golf with the regular Wednesday morning RV group here on base.
George and Sharon are from Michigan and head south for the winter.  We hit it off pretty well and had a very good time with them.  I had a good day with a 77 which is a lot lower than usual.  Hopefully we can play a few more times.  We are enjoying the 80 degree weather a lot.  I took a shot of a furry friend when we had a stray shot go over to where he was...

Then last week we volunteered at the local Tucson Habitat.  A construction site is about 15 minutes from the base and we arrived to start work promptly at 7:00 AM.
Before we got started a new homeowner who was there wanted say a few words and thank everyone for giving their time.  We were with a group of 25 from Chicago Loyola University who gave up their spring break to come to Tucson to work here.
There must have been 45 or 50 people working on site.  There are eight homes in a row being built.  Tucson Habitat definitely has it going.  There must have been 10 work crews doing things.  We worked on the outside of a house with the mesh (chicken wire). It goes up on the styrofoam siding.  Then the stucco plaster is applied.

We met some nice people and talked with the volunteer coordinator and site supervisor and the construction supervisor.  We definitely will be back and are thinking about a Tues/Thurs work schedule. We will see.

Since we have been in Tucson we have gotten to see some old friends.  In some ways we feel like old-timers since the ones we have seen are RV friends.  We had dinner with Art and Gerri a few days after we arrived.  We met them for the first time while in Quartzsite at the Tiffin Rally. Then Marti and Bill came over and we got caught up.  We cooked steaks on the grill and had a great time.  We first met them in Santa Fe when we all volunteered with Habitat de Santa Fe as Care-A-Vanners.  Then we saw them last year while we were here.

A couple of nights ago we had dinner with Judy who winters here in Tucson.  We first met her in Pontiac, IL while we were on our first NOMADS project together.  Last night we were taking a walk around the campground and saw Jerry and Jenny.  We met them here at Agave Gulch last year and also ran into them at Deming at the Escapees Park.

In a few minutes we are driving up to Phoenix to see Bub and Winnie ~ old friends from Albuquerque from years ago.  Hopefully we will be able to get some tickets to see the Dodgers vs the Giants.

Suffice it to say we are thoroughly enjoying ourselves here in Tucson.  Hope you are doing well where you are too.  Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Until next time...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Roadrunner Reflections: Ebbs and Flows

You probably have noticed over the past few months the frequency of the Roadrunner Chronicles has slowed.  My goal continues to be two or three posts a week but this past week it just wasn't going to happen.  I have been busy.  So it has been intermittent.  More ebb than flow.

Gratefully, I have been heads down in my laptop doing some online work for my last employer.  I am thankful for that and quite frankly, I am not used to the level of intensity and focus that I used to have.  But I am getting it back.  My energy had been ebbing but lately it has been flowing.
I love being able to work a few hours online each month.  Toward the end of last year, I was notified my last gig was ending.  Reorgs, changes in personnel, etc meant that I needed to look around.

But I put out the call and thankfully some folks in my old group thought of me and I am able to do some end-of-the-month work.  I got started late in the month and felt like I was walking into a movie that was well past intermission.  With deadlines prevailing (remember those days?) I was in the surge mode. So I was working some long hours for the last week.  But we got-er-done and next month I think it will go a lot more smoothly.

That is not to say I have been working 24 x 7 since my last post because that just isn't the case.  I am really a morning person so I like to put together my post when the sun is just coming up and I am enjoying my morning coffee.  After the early part of the morning, I feel like my day is off and running and I hate to stop and interrupt this for that.  You know- we all have our routine.

And then in the middle of the day, there is so much to do.  Like go to a couple of Major League Baseball Spring training games in the last week. And check out our new environs here in Tucson.  And meet up with friends.  All in the midst of new deadlines...

Which brings me back to why I blog:  Its a hobby I enjoy.  But too much of a hobby is too much.  I found that posting every day was taking its toll.  It almost meant my hobby took my life because the blog became focus of my whole day.  So after a year of trying it and posting every day, I decided to back off and post a couple or three times a week.

I know there are ramifications to that--people that have become interested and look forward to seeing what's up with the Roadrunner Chronicles may be disappointed.  And quit checking in.  If you are among those, I really appreciate your interest and will try to get back to that pace.

Recently I have read some blogs and they have ebbed.  Writers have decided for whatever reason to quit blogging.  It is a burden, it is no fun any more, there is no motivation, writers block ~ and there are more reasons I am sure.

But I am here for a while and will continue.  Because it is still fun.  It is a hobby I enjoy.  And I love hearing from all you out there.

Thanks for viewing today and we'll be back with some pictures next time on the Roadrunner Chronicles from Tucson!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Roadrunner Financials - February 2011

Roadrunner Recap
In the month of February we traveled from our NOMADS work area in Moss Point MS to the military campground at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson AZ.   Along the way we attended Mark and Megan's wedding in Houston.  We also made our way over to see Joe and Francis at Fort Clark in Brackettville TX.  Before the month was done we spent time at Big Bend National Park and at the very nice military campground in Tucson at Davis-Monthan AFB/Agave Gulch FamCamp.  Here are the locations where we dropped anchor:
  • Moss Point MS
  • Pine Crest RV, Slidell MS
  • San Jacinto RV Resort, Houston TX
  • Brooks AFB City Base
  • Fort Sam Houston RV Travel Camp, San Antonio TX
  • Fort Clark TX
  • Lost Alaskan RV, Alpine TX
  • Saguaro Co-Op Escapees Park, Benson AZ
  • Davis Monthan FamCamp, Tucson AZ


Good News Areas We Are Under Budget
 Our biggest gains on our target numbers for the month were in campground fees and RV maintenance. We spent quite a bit of the month at Moss Point which was free of charge.  


Biggest Expenses
Diesel fuel was the biggest drag on the bottom line this month.  It was over 1500 miles and we didn't get more than 7.4 mpg on average.

Large One Time Cost Items
None this month.

Monthly Average
In February we were $750 under budget which was nice.
The other monthly averages show that at this point in our year we are running about $300 over what we want to be spending.  We are almost $100 over on average in terms of gas for the Honda.  We have found that we usually end up driving as many miles in our Honda as we do in the Roadrunner.  All in all though, we are not unhappy with these numbers.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles.  If you ever decide you'd like to have a free copy of my spreadsheet, give me a shout out and I'd be happy to pass it along.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

On to Arizona!

Please welcome our newest Followers!
Click on their blogs and see what:  
- Deb and Phil are going through getting ready to launch in the RV lifestyle; and
- Red's thoughts as a truck driver.
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Now for a quick recap since our last post:
Before we left Alpine, TX we made an evening trip to McDonald Observatory.
Are we glad we did.  We got their in time for two programs and ended up under the starts and constellations and got to look through a couple of cool telescopes.

Then is was Westward Ho! and we went through El Paso (where we picked up a chip in the windsheild) and on to Deming, NM.  We gained an hour and were making good time so we decided to continue to Benson Arizona and the Escapees Saguaro SKP Co-Op park.
We arrived mid afternoon but they only had overflow sites.  That was fine with us and we took one and looked around.
The clubhouse is among the bigger ones we have seen.
As an SKP Co-Op, many campers own their sites.  They are good sized lots and though they are different they are all very well maintained.
Before we checked in for a campsite, we decided to call Apache Flats at Fort Huachuca. They had an opening so decided to move on and stay in Sierra Vista, AZ for a few days.
The sites were good-sized and the scenery was great.  They even had a workout center/gym in the campground.
Our second night there, we even got some snow!
But it didn't last long and the next day we went to Bisbee and Tombstone for day trips.  Both have a lot of history back to the 1880's.  Today Bisbee is a tourist town now with reminders of the mining community it once was.
We had a picnic lunch there and headed over to Tombstone which was about 26 miles away.

We stopped at Boothill Cemetery which was interesting.
While we were at Fort Huachuca, we went back to Tombstone (only 23 miles away) and we joined some new friends for Karaoke Night at Big Nose Kate's Saloon.
It was a memorable way to celebrate our 32nd anniversary!

Whew!  That was a lot of catch up, but after this post, there will be more times and days of our lives in Tucson to follow...  We intend to be here for the next couple of months.

Thanks for viewing this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles!