Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Remembering The Old Spanish Trail

The Spanish Trail motel is one of the first things you see when approaching Tucson from the East.  It's on the south side of town, on the frontage road of the interstate.  I've always liked the look of this place.  It's just cool.  The rounded main building, the vintage sign.  It's very sixties.

Some people want to sign to be torn down, saying it's an eyesore.  I keep hoping someone will renovate it and do something fabulous with it.  The current owners don't seem very inclined to do that, and many other suggestions come down to a matter of money.  No one has it.

Here is a picture of the hotel from the 1960s when it was one of the places to stop.

And here are a few memories from people who stayed there back in the day.

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Rain Frog

2014: Wanted: Traveling Maid
2013: Flippin' Fantastic Finds
2012: There’s Room At This Inn – For Dancing And Gambling
2011: Later, Fishies!
2010: It’s In The Details
2009: Plenty Of Places To Roam, No Place To Park It
2008: E Vac You A She Own!!
2007: Eddie Steals A Bite Friday
2006: Steal-A-Meme
2005: The Day In Pictures

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Saguaro Nest

When we drove up to the house today, we noticed movement in the saguaro cactus at the end of the driveway.  It's not unusual for birds to make their nests in the rotted out spots - woodpeckers actually carve out the cactus for this purpose - and we've seen birds in other cacti around town.  But these two creatures belong to us.
Here's a closer look at their nest.  Two fine feathered friends, cuddling up in their cactus home.

I tried to get a close-up picture from the truck but it was running and the vibration (and leaning out the window, over Ed) made it difficult to keep the camera steady.  But here they are.

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2015: I Do Laundry And Bring Strawberries
2014: A Match Made In Trucking Heaven
2013: Shiny Ride Home
2012: Chow Fun And Coconut Bliss
2011: Beautiful By Nature. Dirty By Choice.
2010: Let’s Go Shopping!!!
2009: A Magnificent Place To Wait For A Train
2008: Old Blue Eyes Was Right When He Said It Was A Very Good Year
2007: The Hills Are Alive…Or Are They?
2006: Nostalgia
2005: 37 Going On 20

Monday, August 29, 2016

Isn't He A-Moose-Ing?

Source:  Pier 1 Imports
I have a thing for moose.  I've included them in blog posts here and here and here.

On one of my first trips to Canada, back in 2005, I bought a small pewter moose charm that still hangs on my key chain.

Then I bought this for my house.

And now I want this guy.

I don't know what it is about moose (singular and plural) that draws me to them.  Maybe because they're cute and gigantic at the same time.  Gangly and majestic.  Found in mostly cold climates (also my preferred habitat).

I just like 'em.

I leave you with advice from a moose:

Think big.
Spend time in the woods.
Eat plenty of greens.
Hold your head up high.
Stay on track.
Keep your nose clear.
It's okay to be a little wild! 

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Ten Saturday Links

2014: Farm And Garden Since 1936
2013: Waiting In The Waiting Room
2012: Waiting Out Our Mistake
2011: A Brilliant Island Adventure
2010: It’s Getting So Much Easier These Days To Spot Idiots
2009: Scenes From Motor City
2008: Eddie Mad Hatter Friday
2007: What A Grape Idea!
2006: You Couldn’t Pay Me Enough
2005: Due Amici Designs

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Good Atmosphere Doesn't Always Equal Good Food

Tonight we had dinner at The Keg Steakhouse + Bar.  Ed has always wanted to try it and tonight had something to celebrate, so we gave it a go.  We're always up for a good steak and on this visit, my mother (another steak lover) joined us.  The menu had a lot of great choices and based on the nice atmosphere, I was looking forward to being wowed.

We each started with a wedge salad and the picked out our steaks.  Ed had the bacon-wrapped Filet Mignon, my mother had the Top Sirloin, and I had the New York.  At the last minute, I added a lobster tail to mine - the lady one table over had one and when the smell wafted past our table, I was sold.  Twice baked potatoes as our side rounded out our dishes.

The wedge salads were delicious - cold, crisp, and with an insanely flavorful blue cheese dressing.  And real bacon crumbles!  Unfortunately, the rest of the meal didn't live up to my expectations.  The steaks were pretty tasty.  Done exactly as requested, with a lot of flavor.  But I have to say, I've had just as good or better at Texas Roadhouse.  And the twice-baked potato wasn't fluffy and fresh, as I expected.  It had a very uniform, pre-made appearance and tasted as if they'd been sitting around for too long.  I know an old potato when I taste one. I've made better at home.

The lobster tail was terribly overcooked and shriveled to less than half the size of the shell it came out of.  The way it was draped over the empty tail made it look even smaller.  The first bite, although dipped in butter and tasting like lobster, was rubbery because it was prepared wrong.  I decided not to complain because a) we had already said something about the bread being stale, b) the waitress was super-amazing, and c) I didn't really want to wait for another tail to be cooked.  I just ate it.

The only thing that made this place an enjoyable dining experience - and the only reason we'd go back - was the atmosphere.  If I had the choice to eat steak among screaming children, chaotic conversation, and peanut shells on the floor OR at a nice, quiet, upscale place with modern decor and beautiful lighting, I'd choose the latter.  And, it's two minutes from where we live.

Maybe I've been a little spoiled growing up in a family owned steakhouse.  Nothing will ever compare to the surf and turf of my youth.

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Will Walk For Coffee

2014: The Real Challenge Was Getting In And Out Of It
2013: Stormy Wyoming
2012: Entertaining The Masses
2011: A Very Expensive Day Of Laze
2010: A Little River On A Big Lake In The Middle Of A Floating Stage
2009: Eddie The Cicada Whisperer Friday
2008: Maybe We Should Sell Our Truck And Buy An Airboat
2007: Me And My Man
2006: If You’re Going To Rescue Me, Bring Sandwiches
2005: Hurricane Equality

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Mall Princess

Had lunch at the mall today and came across a QuinceaƱera party.

What better place for a girl to celebrate turning 15 than at the mall?

This celebration is planned like a wedding.  There are attendants in matching dresses, cute boys in bow ties, party favors, cake, big parties in banquet halls.  It's a big deal that requires lots of shopping.

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2015: Oklahoma Wind

2014: All Along The Shining Sea
2013: Waterfront Wedding
2012: Crossing The Mighty Hudson For Our Radio Debut
2011: All-Inclusive Social Butterflies
2010: The $7 Date Night
2009: Them’s Fighting Words!
2008: Skulls And Hot Chocolate In The French Quarter
2007: Once As High As An Elephant’s Eye
2006: Trouser Snakes On A Plane
2005: Big Honkin’ Truck Makeover

Friday, August 26, 2016

Flashing Back To '79

Me on the left in the purple bathing suit, my cousin Deana in the middle, and my best friend Torill on the right, posing on the front lawn of my house in New York.

This must have been the summer of 1979, which would make me 11 years old.  I remember that bathing suit vividly and it was one of my favorites!

And in case you're interested, this is probably the closest I've ever come to doing "the splits". 

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2015: Pugly Curiosity
2014: Our Rear View Looks Fantastic
2013: An Oasis Of Tranquility
2012: Clouds Over The Whitestone
2011: Room And Board
2010: Filler And Fluff
2009: Ghost Town
2008: Second Only To Feet
2007: I’ve Been Everywhere Sunday
2006: Heading South With One Wayward Goose
2005: Red Texas Sunrise

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Grab A Banana And Get Shopping!

I saw this little fruit stand at our local Fry's store (owned by Kroger, who I love!) today. The sign was offering free fruit to kids to eat while the parents shopped.

What a great idea!

If the kids' mouths are full, they shouldn't be crying, right?

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2015: Castles And Murder Ballads

2014: Not Really Trucking From NOAA To WHOI
2013: Paddling The Hudson 
2012: Cue The Flying Monkeys
2011: Project Island Life
2010: Be Italian
2009: I’m Not Just In The Granny Lane Anymore
2008: Where Pretty Resides
2007: The Sweet Sight Of Summer
2006: You Oughta Be In Pictures
2005: Oh, Brother!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Party Is Over

Three years ago I bought a pair of pajamas to lounge in while on a trip to Montreal with friends.  I needed something presentable to wear in mixed company.  I settled on a pair of fun pajamas - mixed drinks all over the pants, paired with a lime green top emblazoned with a margarita glass - because of the design, Ed calls them my "party pants".

I like to be comfortable when I'm hanging around.  And with this job, we often hang around a lot.  As soon as we get home we "slip into something more comfortable" to wear around the house (or truck, if we're on the road).  We never sit around in the clothes we wore for the day.

Recently I was going through Ed's stack of lounge-wear and found that the hole I'd been repairing in his Guinness pants had gotten inexplicably larger.  So large that he refused to wear them.  Likely, they'd have to be thrown away.  We mourned.  They're his favorite pants and super-soft from years of washing, but this time the hole was just too big to stitch up.

When he came out of the bedroom in a different pair, he made an announcement that made me laugh.  It pretty much sums up the amount of time we spend in this type of clothing.

He said, "We're the only people I know who wear out pajamas."

Time to shop for new party pants.

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They've Mastered Chocolate, Cheese, And Watches. Maybe They Should Tackle Trucking.

2014: This Is What Sweeping Looks Like
2013: This Takes Fresh Chicken To A Whole New Level
2012: Exemplary Exemplar Prints
2011: Hurricane? What Hurricane?
2010: The Summer Of 1947
2009: From Pablo Neruda To Mother Goose
2008: Almost Two Beautiful To Eat On
2007: Sweatin’ Eddie Friday
2006: Steel City Glow
2005: Bravo, Bravo

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

MOD Is What You Make It

This past weekend, Ed and I discovered MOD Pizza, a new restaurant in Oro Valley, AZ.  We watched it being built, anticipating its arrival after seeing the "Coming Soon" signs in the window. Turns out, it's a pretty good pizza.  Not your typical New York style - no one in this town has been able to figure out how to make a pie that really compares to those of New York - but individual, wood-fired discs of deliciousness.

Their concept is build-your-own.  Like Chipotle or Subway, you watch the staff put fresh ingredients of your choice, on your pizza.  Three minutes after it hits the oven, it's yours to enjoy.
Since we hadn't had breakfast on this particular day, we ordered the MOD size (they also have a mini and mega) with a salad.  We each had a Caesar salad with Gorgonzola crumbles.  In this photo you'll see our order being worked on.  They had a great selection of toppings, including some I didn't expect - roasted garlic cloves, sun-dried tomatoes, and brussels sprouts.
The menu board offers classic combinations, giving people ideas of what they can expect on each named pie.  You can add or subtract any ingredients you'd like - no extra charge for toppings - or create your own.

I had the Seasonal MOD, the "Sienna".  They start with a garlic rub on the crust (no sauce), then add rosemary, mozzarella, roasted brussels sprouts, red onions, mushrooms, and parmesan cheese.  In addition, I asked for a sprinkling of feta and a few sun-dried tomatoes.  Paired with my salad and icy Diet Coke, and I had a fantastic, filling lunch.

Ed decided to make his own.  He started with a red sauce, added pepperoni, sausage, green peppers, black olives, mushrooms, red onions, sun-dried tomatoes, and jalapeƱos. He downed his pizza and greens with a Dragoon IPA, which is locally brewed.
The atmosphere was industrial, with open ceilings, concrete floors, and wood and metal used in the furniture, accessories, and decor accents.  It wasn't busy at the time we went and the staff was super-friendly and efficient.

We were also engaged by an extremely personable, energetic employee who appeared to be off the clock, and who not only suggested his favorite combo - The "Caspian" with bacon - while we were in line ordering (he must have overheard us saying it was our first time and asking how the ordering process worked), but who also came over to our table to ask how everything was and if we were enjoying our meal.  As a veteran of the restaurant business, that made a 
very good impression.
This place is five minutes from our house and it's definitely a place I'll go back to.  Mama's has always been our go-to pizza place - it's the closest to NY style as we can get in our neighborhood - but MOD offers something different that's very appealing and pretty damn delicious.

One can never have enough pizza.

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2015: There's A Reason They Call Them Massholes
2014: Delicious Assembly Line
2013: The Greatest Invention Of Human Kind
2012: I Can Haul Yer Explosives And Stuff
2011: That Bitch Irene Is Trying To Ruin My Vacation
2010: Licking Our Chops
2009: I’ll Start Working On That Sarcasm Font Right Away
2008: False Security
2007: Protecting The Posies
2006: Asking Too Much
2005: Slotsa Money

Monday, August 22, 2016

Named By A Canadian, Mined By A Western Legend

Yesterday on our way to San Manuel, we stopped in Oracle, Arizona.

Oracle was named by Canadian Albert Weldon - who came to the western United States on a ship named Oracle, launched from Bath, Maine in 1876 - and invested in by Buffalo Bill Cody, an icon of the American West.

Oracle is most famously known for the Biosphere 2 - a place I visited years ago but have yet to take Ed to - but does have a teeny bit of its own history outside of that attraction. Supposedly, Buffalo Bill Cody played Santa for the local children back in 1911.

The photo above was taken at The Ranch Store Center on West American Avenue in Oracle.  The store is closed on Monday so we didn't have a chance to explore, but we'll definitely be going back.

This place is too interesting to pass up.

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2015: 34-Hour Restart
2014: Founded By A Millionaire Fur Trader
2013: Woke Up This Morning
2012: Trust Me, I’m A Truck Driver
2011: Doesn’t A Gastropod Always Have A Helmet On?
2010: This Is How We Do It
2009: Storage In The Storm
2008: Devil Horse In The Louisiana Wetlands
2007: Not Sloppy. No Joe. Just Bob And His Loosemeats Residing In The Ice Cream Capital Of The World
2006: Playing With Your Money But Not Really SPENDING It
2005: Glamour Puss

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Mid-Century Copper Town

Today Ed and I went out for a little drive after we ran our errands.  We decided to take a trip up to San Manuel, Arizona, it's not far from where we live and I hadn't been there in over 20 years.  I just thought there might be something to see, something different after all these years.

Nope.  Nothing to see, nothing different.

It was a little prettier than I remembered, a lot greener than where I live.  It's also higher in elevation than where we are, with more hills which provides a pretty vista since the town sits a little higher than the approach highway.  It's about 1,000 feet higher in elevation than the city of Tucson so they even get a a little snow when it gets really cold in the winter.
The town was built in 1953 as a company town to serve the San Manuel Copper Mine.  Arizona was rich in copper and in the early and mid-20th century, there were high production copper mines everywhere.  Unfortunately, the mine and smelter was closed in 1999 and 2,500 people lost their jobs.  
The houses for sale here are cheap, most between $30,000 and $50,000.  From what I could tell through the real estate listings, most are small, two-bedroom, one-bath mid-century modern style homes.  A lot of them are actually really cute, but also very run down.  It would be a great place for a revitalization, especially now that there's civilization nearby.  Over 20 years ago when I first visited the town, the closest major shopping was at least 40 miles away, now it's closer to 20.
Next stop, Oracle.

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Signs Of Summer

2014: State-Of-The-Art Movement
2013: Not My Kind Of Gold Mine
2012: Fat Lou Captured In Rare Photo
2011: Oceanfront Property At Lot 61003/94
2010: Monkey Pod Treasure
2009: Eddie Embraces The Rules Friday
2008: They Have A MAGAZINE???
2007: Planting The Sun
2006: Training Day
2005: Cannonball Run

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Crest At Sunset

A few weeks ago Ed and I joined a Meetup group for a day at Mt. Lemmon.  We all gathered around 7:30 in the morning and drove up the mountain together for a day of hiking, eating, and meeting new people.

Our first stop was breakfast at the Iron Door.  We mingled and chatted with people around our table.  After breakfast, we took the ski lift up to the top where we wandered around for a while taking in the view and fresh air.

After coming down from the top, lunch was held at the Sawmill Run restaurant.  We had a table of six and got to know a few more people in the group - two ladies who were friends on a day outing, and a couple who had just moved to Tucson from Oregon.

After lunch, there was another hike planned.  Now if you know anything at all about me, you know that anything remotely related to a hike is a monumental event for me, so two hikes in a matter of hours was just not going to happen, so Ed went with the group and I took the pickup and explored a little while he was gone.  When he returned he said it was a good thing I didn't go as it was a difficult hike which involved "scaling" a rock.  WTF?

After that hike, the group gathered again at the end of the evening for music and pizza at The Cookie Cabin.  The music was nice, the pizzas were insanely overpriced, and the giant cookies were actually pretty delicious.

All in all, it was a pleasant experience.  Rain was in the forecast but the clouds didn't roll in until the end of the day.  The picture above was taken just as we left the top of the mountain.  Not long after, it started pouring.

And as you can see from the tiny outline of the person in the photo, arms raised Rocky style, someone was very happy to make it to the top.

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2015: Over 80 Feet Of Traveling Comfort
2014: Insta-Coastal
2013: Traffic
2012: Fire Hazard
2011: Smiling High
2010: Time Travel
2009: One More Reason I Love The Highway Hags
2008: Boathouse On The Gulf
2007: Canada Is Bubblicious
2006: You Know You’re In A Hotel That Doesn’t Have A Star Rating…
2005: It’s A Dry Heat

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Beauty Fuels The Drive

Yesterday was a surprisingly beautiful day in Texas.  It was overcast the entire day, gray clouds lying low in the horizon, a coolness in the air.

At the end of the day, driving west on Interstate 20, we were treated to quite a spectacular sunset.  I took this photo when we stopped for fuel at the Pilot in Weatherford.

It looked much better in person.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2015:  Making A Killing By Killing People
2014: The Best Damn Piece Of Driftwood I've Ever Seen
2013: Junk Still Exists In The Snail Mail World
2012: Where The Chisled Form Of David Accompanies You In The Restroom
2011: Settling In And Planning Our Day
2010: Por And Parking Served Up With Southern Charm
2009: They Should Put This Scent In A Candle. I’d Have One Lit In My House Every Night!
2008: After All
2007: I’ve Been Everywhere Sunday
2006: Who My Baby Daddy?
2005: South Siiiide Education

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Circa 1980

Flashback to the early eighties!

I'm the one smack in the middle, with the winged hair and the floral shirt.

A childhood friend of mine - the girl on the left end of the second row, blond hair, head tilted toward the person next to them - posted this on Facebook and I thought I'd share it here.

I don't remember this day AT ALL.  Apparently, it was her birthday party, but I don't remember the house, the group of people, or the picture being taken.

And most of all, I don't remember that shirt I'm wearing.  What the heck??

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2015: A Tornado Dreams Of Wide Open Space Like This
2014: The End Of Day
2013: Until I'm One With You
2012: I Didn’t Even Have To Slip Him My Room Key
2011: Rest Comes For Robo-Ed
2010: Better Than A Leg Press Machine. Or How To Get A Good Looking Left Gam.
2009: How Can I Tread On You When I Can’t Even Turn Around?
2008: Popping Good Time
2007: Touching Down For A Quick Rest Break
2006: Follow Your Heart
2005: All About The Benjamins

Monday, August 15, 2016