Monday, December 31, 2018

4,219, 500, 56

 

As 2018 year draws to a close; thinking ahead.

 

2019 is the year we finally make the Alaska trip.  I was a teenager when I realized I needed to go to Alaska, the great northern frontier.  Now it’s time.  I imagined doing it as a homesteader and having a dog sled team.  Maybe a bush pilot.  We can make it simpler than that!

 

We didn’t make a big birding effort in 2018.  Our normal annual count is around 400 species.  We’re finishing this year with 380.  Next year, however, with the Alaska trip, we’ve set our sights on 500 birds!  That will be our biggest year yet.

 

And this year I’m not going to forget about continuing education hours until the last minute.  No sir; fully cognizant.  No way I’m waiting until the last moment to finish my hours.

 

 

Still traveling; now we’re in Junction.

 

2018 Arizona Trip Map

 

Greeted by a bald eagle.

 

4,219 miles to go to get to Fairbanks.

 

500 species remaining to be seen for the year.

 

And 56 hours of continuing education to go.

 

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Austin

 

Austin got the world’s coolest Christmas present as far as I’m concerned.  A Hoover Board.

 

Austin.  Hoover board video

 

It’s like a skateboard that goes sideways, or a Segway with no handlebars.  Does that seem like a good idea?  I guess it is, because it works!

 

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Phoenix Christmas Crew

 

 

We got to Skype with Becky, Brian and family too.

 

Merry Christmas everybody!

 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Three things I love

 

Eating children and not using commas.

 

I didn’t write that.  I read it and repeated it here.  That’s what came to mind though when I read this description of desert tarantulas.

 

“Brown and hairy with 8 eyes, 8 legs and fangs.”

 

“…8 legs and fangs”.  OMG, this thing has 8 fangs!

 

Friday, December 21, 2018

Electrons

 

Boondocking.  Battery management.

 

We’ve got a meter on the dash that tells us what voltage is being supplied by shore power and how many amps we’re using.  But that should be amps at 120 volts.  What when we’re not plugged in?  The amps are then 12 volt amps?  AC amps.  DC amps.  Is an amp an amp regardless?

 

As I recall, volts x amps = wattage.  If we’re running a 1,200 watt appliance off shore power, that’s 120 volts x 10 amps = 1,200 watts.  If we use the inverter and draw from the 12 volt batteries are we then 12 volts x 100 amps = 1,200 watts?  That’s a lot of amps!

 

 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

I love this heart rebuild!

 

I used to run, play tennis, bicycle, or play racquetball, every day.  As I’ve aged, those more strenuous activities have faded away until these last few years I’m just making sure I walk a few miles every day.  Walking still works.

 

But something happened.  Since my heart surgery I’ve felt a little more energetic.  Having resumed my habit of walking several miles a day, I noticed that sometimes I even feel a little bit like running.  So I did.  I ran.  A little.  Running felt good, but I hit the wall at the limit of my endurance; that endurance limit being three minutes.  After that, I’d find myself walking again.

 

I was running, slowly, though and it felt good, so I’ve been doing it more.  Over time, I’ve broken through the three-minute, two-tenths of a mile barrier.  Recently I ran a full fifteen minutes and covered a full mile.  It’s not quite like the old days, the mind doesn’t wander and miles don’t melt away like they used to on a good day, but I’m loving it and I’ll take what I can get!

 

I need a new word to describe what I’m doing though.  Cruising along, I’m thinking this is not a run, it’s not that fast, but it’s not a walk either.  There has to be a name for something in-between.  Maybe it’s a jog, but that word doesn’t sound quite right either.  This doesn’t feel quite that energetic.  I wonder if someone watching me go by thinks: “Wow.  Look how slow he’s going” or do they think “Good for him.  Look how old he is and he’s still running.”  OMG.  My mind just wandered!  The rhythm of this really is coming back!

 

It’s all about pace.  If I run at what used to be my normal speed, I run out of wind and wind up walking.  If I can hold myself consciously slow, slower than I want to go, the run continues.  If I just walk, I’ll never get any faster.  If I run slowly, maybe in time I’ll respond to the conditioning and the pace will pick up.  Wait a minute.  I’ve wandered off again!

My heart is fine.  All it needed was some new plumbing.  We love this heart rebuild!

 

Friday, December 14, 2018

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

We don’t normally boondock

 

But this time it seemed like the best choice.

 

We're in Parker, AZ. 

 

Parker Map

 

We're going to visit with Judy's sister Sue and her husband John, and maybe sister-in-law Barbara if she comes too.  Sue and John have a house on the river.  It's a cool place to be.

 

Susie's house

 

Me, I have an all-day continuing education class on the computer tomorrow.  For that I'll need the best internet I can get.  If we drop down to an RV Park in the canyon by the river, we'll lose our signal, so here we are, on the high ground.  Everything should work!

 

I'll report back.

 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Rosy faced lovebird

 

I should have included a range map of where populations have established in North America.

 

 

Monday, December 10, 2018

The best of intentions?

 

You want to do something nice.

 

You’re feeling charitable.

 

What to do?

 

I know, A fundraiser to help a children’s home!  We’ll raffle off an assault rifle!

 

After all, what could say “help the children” better than distributing military grade weapons?

 

Friday, December 7, 2018

Judy and me

 

We’ve been accused of being joined at the hip.

 

This is us in cactus.

 

 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Back to Chandler

 

We’ve been staying within a two-hour radius of Lindsay, waiting for our new grandbaby to arrive.

 

2018 December Arizona Trip

 

Now we’re going to stay within a 20 minute radius for the rest of our time here.

 

C’mon next Baby Taylor.  Let’s do this thing!

 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

A cool cloudy day

 

The next sunny morning reveals a dusting on the desert hilltops.

 

The telephoto look also reveals that there has been a forest fire up there, and there are a couple observatory domes.

 

  (Perhaps Mt. Lemmon Sky Center Observatory.)

 

https://www.google.com/maps/@32.4418113,-110.7900205,712m/data=!3m1!1e3

 

Friday, November 30, 2018

Arizona Blonde

 

 

 

A special kind of blonde.

 

 

 

An Arizona tarantula.

 

 

 

Right out there in the dark last night.

 

Henry found it first.

 

We haven’t meant to be looking for tarantulas, but this has turned out to be a good tarantula year for us.  Now we’ve seen three in the last couple months.

 

Our picture in the dark isn’t very good.  Here is a better picture:

(Not my photo.)

 

Maybe we should go on a tarantula-quest.  At least one tarantula in every state!  Oh.  Wait.  Judy says maybe not.

 

Here is where the Arizona Blonde lives

 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

I made dinner tonight

 

 

In WWII, the military ate K Rations.  When I was in the Army in the 60s, we ate C Rations when we were in the field.  Today, Judy and I decided to try the current version of military field-food, MREs, Meals Ready to Eat.  (Actually, I decided and inflicted my decision on Judy.)

 

The first problem with an MRE is that it packs 1,250 calories for one meal.  That’s more than either of us needs for a single meal, so we split one.

 

Tonight’s fare, beef brisket (warmed up with the included heating pouch), Au gratin potatoes (that’s the yellow/orange food on the plate), bread, peanut butter, jelly, cranberries, irish cappuchino, and a tootsie roll for dessert.

That’s a lot of stuff.  Yum!

 

Or maybe not.  A few hours later, this effort doesn’t seem like such a good idea.  We could use a little help.  Maybe each MRE should include Alka Seltzer as well…

 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Yuma, Arizona

 

2018 December Arizona Trip

 

Hanging out with brother Tom and Kathy in Yuma for a couple days.

They’ve moved on from South Texas.  They’re back in their bus.  Yuma is now their winter home base, so it was good to come see them in their new surroundings.

 

Checked to see where Janis from our Denver office is, and she’s in Yuma too!  She is a wandering digital worker like I am.  Had a nice lunch with Brian and Janis; good to catch up.  (Totally forgot to take a picture, darn it.)  If we follow the same schedule for our next visit, we should see them again about 2028!

 

This is our farthest foray away from Matt and Lindsay for this trip.  We’ll get back to the Phoenix area and probably stay within a couple hours of them until after the baby is born.  So tomorrow, Cave Creek Regional Park out north of Scottsdale.

 

 

Monday, November 26, 2018

Africa

 

Remember that song from 1982?  “I bless the rains down in Africa.”  Catchy tune.  I heard it again recently in a restaurant and went and found it on YouTube.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTQbiNvZqaY

 

That sounded pretty good, so I listened to it again.

 

Then I didn’t have to listen to it anymore because it was still playing in my head.

 

Then it wouldn’t stop!  I can only remember a few of the words, but they keep going around and around.  Make it stop!  “I bless the rains down in Africa.”  What the hell does that even mean anyway!?!?  “There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do?”  What?  I hate this song!!!!!!!

 

It’s like that America song Horse With No Name.  “In the desert you can remember your name, 'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain.”  THAT DOESN’T EVEN MEAN ANYTHING!

 

Oh well, it’s not really all that bad.  It could be worse.  It could be Hotel California stuck in my head.  “Plenty of room at the Hotel California.  Any time of year (any time of year) you can find it here.”

 

What?  Hotel California?  OH NOOOOOOO……..

 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Surprise!

 

The kids are expecting us in Phoenix in time for the new baby arriving in December.  We decided to leave early and get there for the baby shower today and surprise them, so we made this entire trip in stealth mode, talking in our nightly trip reports and phone calls about anything except being on the road, until after the big surprise moment.

 

Finally, after a thousand miles and a week on the road, we showed up for the shower…. But the only ones surprised were us.  We had the time wrong.  We arrived at two and the shower was at eleven.  They’d all just left!

 

Darn.  That was a bit of a letdown.  We had to call and find out where they were going to be next.  We all met up at their house and had a nice afternoon together with them and the kids.

 

Then Alex babysat while the four of us went out for dinner.  It would have been nice to surprise Matt and Lindsay at the shower, but we’d have spent the next two hours in a large group, not being able to hear each other in a noisy restaurant.  This way we got a nice long quiet dinner on an outside patio, at a restaurant where we could all hear the conversation.

 

A very nice end to the day of course.

 

Friday, November 23, 2018

Friday

 

Well, maybe tomorrow we’ll eat light and exercise a lot.

 

The migrants we get here are mostly easterners.  There are western migrants too, but in the Valley, we primarily get the eastern ones.  Here is a blue-headed vireo

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving

 

A quiet day here.  We slept in, had morning coffee, then some of us went back to sleep until noon!  A lazy day eating, sleeping, reading, football, and the group potluck Thanksgiving Dinner.  Tomorrow we’ll try to eat light and exercise enough to make up for today.

 

Happy Thanksgiving all!

 

 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Wild turkey

 

Can you find the wild turkey in this photo?

 

 

Monday, November 19, 2018

Today’s puzzler

 

In the NFL, after a touchdown, there are options:  If you try for an extra point, the ball is spotted at the fifteen and you try to kick it through the uprights for one point.  If you decide to try for a two point conversion, the ball is spotted at the two and you try to run or pass it into the end zone for two points.

 

So here is my question.  If you decide to go for the extra point, snap it from the fifteen, mishandle the ball, which destroys the timing of the kick, but the holder, still in possession of the ball, turns and runs the ball into the end zone, how many points do you get?

 

One, because even though you didn't kick it through the uprights, you got it into the end zone?

 

Two, because even though you set up for an extra point, you put the ball in the end zone like you would have if you had successfully gone for the two point conversion?

 

Or zero, because you didn't do what you said you were going to do?

 

 

 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Friday, November 16, 2018

400

 

That’s the number of species of birds we generally see in a year.  Good years, in terms of birding, we record more.  Last year we recorded a record 474.  This year, not so much.  We had a few distractions.  This year, in mid-November, we’re at 372 and probably won’t record many more.

 

Next year however, might be different.  We’re planning the long-awaited trip to Alaska.  We’ll head north in May.  We’ll get all the winter birds here in South Texas in January and February.  We’ll watch the migrants pass through in March and April.  Then we’ll drive north through Colorado, Montana, British Columbia, and Yukon to arrive in Alaska.  We’ll see west-coast birds.  We’ll see far-north birds.  We’ll ramble Alaska to our content, then begin the long march back south about the same time all the birds up north begin their return to lower latitudes.  We’ll just float south with them.

 

With that many habitats and that many months, how could we not see our normal 400 birds?  In fact, how could we not see many more than that?  We’ll be covering so much more ground than normal.  In 2017 we made a push at the end of the year and got to 474.  Maybe next year, in 2019, 500?  That sounds like a good target.  500 species in one year.  With us traveling all over the place, really, how hard could it be?

 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Black and white warbler

 

Like a little mouse running up and down the tree.

 

Gravity does not apply.

 

A migrant mostly just passing through, but a few winter here way down south.

 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Can you see

 

The cooper’s hawk?

 

 

That was my bird count for that spot for the day.  One.

 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Bill Taylor

 

An historical artifact

A business card from Dad, circa 1960, I’ve been hanging on to since then.

 

I looked up all those trailer brands.  It doesn’t look like any of them have been made since the 60s.  Mostly they look like this now:

 

Or this:

 

I remember them shiny and fine when they were new on the lot though.

 

Love the phone number on the card.  5 digits, with a two-letter prefix:  GA for Garfield in North Long Beach; our home number in Long Beach having GE for Geneva.  Before prefixes; in Seal Beach our number was 98779.

 

I looked up the trailer lot location on Google Earth.

The trailer lot then is a storage center now.

 

The link to the google earth view showing Dad’s commute from Long Beach to North Long Beach.

Commute map

 

And what the heck, a street view of our house.

321 Carroll Park West

 

Hey look.  The Christmas lights I put up are still there!

 

You can zoom out and see the neighborhood.  Carroll Park; a very cool place to grow up.

 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Oops

 

I got everything right yesterday about the green kingfisher except the part about the green kingfisher.  The green kingfisher pictures I sent out were really of a belted kingfisher.

 

My bad.  Forget everything I said about green kingfishers.  The belted kingfisher is ubiquitous.

 

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Henry got a new raincoat

 

 

With a hoodie.

 

Look how much he likes it!

 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Ask the Google

 

The golf cart has all these little storage slots in the dash.

 

An oddity of the top center slot is that the stop at the back only goes half-way up.  If you put something in it, you have to be careful to keep it low, so it doesn’t just go past the stop and fall down into an inaccessible hole.

 

Well if something can go wrong, you know it’s only a matter of time until it does, and our time ran out.  Now we had to retrieve something valuable from the innards of the golf cart but didn’t know how far down that was or how to get there.  A good place to start would be to remove the drink holder and see if that gave us access.  We could tell that the top of the drink holder was a separate piece, but there were clearly releases to get past that would let it lift out.  I couldn’t figure them out.  I could just overpower it with screwdrivers and leverage, but I wanted the drink holder to still be usable after I was done.  What to do?

 

Ask the Google!  “Removing drink holder from EZ Go golf cart.”  Guess what.  There is a youtube video precisely for removing the drink holder from our golf cart. 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7x4gZXuxRA  1:17

 

Knowing where to press while pulling on the drink holder, it popped right out, the cellphone was right there in plain sight, we retrieved it, and our lives are in order again.  All credit to the Google!

 

As a bonus, we found a letter from 2017 that had gotten dropped in there and never recovered.

 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

It’s all about habitat

 

If you're looking for a particular bird, it helps to know which habitat that bird favors.

 

If you look in the right place you can often find plenty of them.

 

It's all about knowing where the birds like to be.

 

Bronzed Cowbirds.