White Christmas

Yesterday we had a fast moving storm come through the area with lots of wind and a fair amount of rain.  We didn’t get any snow but woke up this morning to snow on the mountains around us.

The Dragoon Mountains are about 20 miles to the east of us across the San Pedro River valley.

The Mae West Peaks are also east of us but a bit north of the Dragoon Mountains, on the other side of I-10 from us.

So, somewhat to our surprise, we had a White Christmas this year.  It was just a dusting however, because by late afternoon it had mostly melted away.


Desert landscape in wood

We went to Tucson’s 4th Avenue street fair yesterday.  This is an annual event where they block off a long section of 4th Avenue and set up an arts and crafts fair.  We’ve been to it several times before and it’s always fun.  There are artists, craftspeople and vendors from all over the Southwest.  In the past we’ve limited ourselves mostly to foods and occasionally jewelry for Susan but this year we went specifically looking for artwork we could display in our new casita.

We found this desert landscape made of small pieces of wood and done by an artist from Albuquerque.  We encountered his booth was relatively early in our meanderings so we didn’t buy it when we first saw it but went around to all the other booths first and then came back.

We were looking specifically for something like a desert landscape and were a bit surprised at how few of them we saw at the other artists’ booths.  A lot of other topics and landscapes from a lot of other parts of the world but not much that would be considered local art.  We didn’t buy it though because it was one of the few desert landscapes we saw but because we liked it and think it’ll look nice on the wall of the casita.

Other than that we picked up some fudge, kettle corn, and a shirt and a hat for Susan.  We had barbecue pork (me) and brisket (Susan) sandwiches from the Brushfire Barbecue booth (it’s a restaurant in Tucson that we’ve been to before).  Even though it was a Friday and the first day the fair was open, there were a lot of people there and I had to be careful not to run over people’s toes while pushing Susan’s wheelchair.  We made two trips around the entire fair and as I said it’s spread out a long ways down 4th Avenue, so by the time we were done I was more than ready to sit down for the drive home.

New awnings!

Our window awnings had gotten a bit worn due to both wind and sun.  The driver’s side awning had torn a bit and was starting to come off.  I contacted a local RV repair service (Kiwi RV Service) and found that they could replace them.  Steve from Kiwi replaced the window awnings about two months ago and we made arrangements with him at that time to replace the main awning as well.  The main awning took a while, not only to get it shipped from the manufacturer, but because it’s been windy for several weeks and one thing you don’t want to try to do is to replace a big awning when it’s windy.  Steve replaced the main awning today and it, and all the other awnings, look great.

The old awnings had been khaki-colored but considering the way the motor home has been painted I thought a darker brown would be better.

Our new driver's side awning
Our new driver’s side awning
The awning over the bedroom window and the main awning

And yes, despite what the camera makes it look like, they are all exactly the same color.

Susan’s broken arm, mostly healed

Susan had her last visit with the orthopedist and her left arm has healed and she doesn’t need another appointment with him unless something goes wrong in the future.  She had an X-ray and it shows a lot of improvement (left side) from one of her earlier X-rays (right side).


The Orthopedist said that a ball of bone always forms around where it was broken and that it will smooth out over the next year.  It still aches at times but she’s been out of the brace for almost two months and it’s much better than it was.

Super Moon in Benson

There was a lot of hype about the super moon.  All it is however, is a full moon that was occurring at the closest point of the moon’s orbit to earth so it was going to be the largest full moon (by angular diameter) for the next decade or so.  By sheer coincidence (not planned, really!) I happened to be out just around the time the moon was supposed to rise. There was a bunch of people out at the top of the main street in the RV park and I stopped to talk to a couple I knew and they said they were out to watch the super-moon rise, which it started to do about a minute later.  I almost always carry a camera so I took a couple of quick photos (if I’d planned ahead I would have brought the camera tripod).


The moon rose over the northern end of the Dragoon Mountains which are about 20 miles east of the RV Park.


I’ve never timed a moonrise before, but from the moment the top edge of the moon peeked over the Dragoons to the time it was fully up was less than three minutes which seemed quite fast.  To be honest the Moon always looks big when it’s near the horizon so I couldn’t say whether it was really any bigger than it usually is but it was a fun impromptu get-together with our neighbors.

On Halloween we revealed our true identities

The SKP park had a Halloween Party last night.  They have on every year up but until now we’ve always arrived in the park no earlier than November 1st so this is the first time we’ve gone.  We had some fun with costumes and I attached LED lights to Susan’s wheelchair.   We also got programmable LED badges.  Susan came as a cat so of course her badge said “Meow! Meow! Purrrrr”.


I came a mad scientist (always wanted to be one) and my badge said “Bwa-ha-ha-ha!  It’s alive!”.


Susan’s new grab bars

It’s been a year since Susan first starting getting vertigo and although it doesn’t happen as often as it used to, her balance is still poor.  To make it easier for her to get around inside the motor home I decided to install a couple more grab bars.

The problem is that the kind of grab bars you can buy at Home Depot have wide bases, usually 4 inches or so across.  The interior cabinetry and walls of the motor home don’t have 2 x 4 studs to screw things into.  In fact, in order to keep weight down the structural elements are only at the corners and in between is very thin veneer plywood. Two years ago I made grab bars out of 1″ x 3″ oak that got around this problem by being narrow enough to install at the edge of the cabinets over and beside the bed.

This time I started with two pieces of 1″ x 3″ x 24″ oak and used a jig saw to round the outer corners and a bandsaw to cut out the interior space, leaving a handle shape.  I used my router to round the edges and a belt sander in the RV park’s workshop to smooth everything.  I then drilled and countersunk holes for screws using the workshop’s drill press.  I then gave them two coats of polyurethane and stain (sanding lightly in between coats).  Finally I used 4″ brass wood screws (that I had to order on-line because nobody carries brass screws that long locally) to fasten one just inside the doorway to the bedroom and one just inside the hallway.

Grab bar to the left of the doorway in the bedroom.
Grab bar to the left of the doorway in the bedroom.
Grab bar in the hallway (other side of the doorway to the bedroom).

I am pleased to say that they’re very sturdy.  I’ve put my full weight on them and they don’t budge.  Susan has used them several times already and says they are a real help so I think it was worth the time I put into them.

A Sunset that was better than average

Yesterday the monsoon season let us know that it wasn’t done with us.  We had rain on and off all day and sometimes it was very intense.  Surprisingly the official rainfall total for Benson was only 0.15″ but we may have gotten more rain here than where the weather is recorded.  Today was much nicer, with blue skies and temperatures in the upper 80’s, but about 4 PM the power went out.  We later learned that power was out all through Benson and the surrounding communities out to a fair distance.  We got the generator in the motor home going and were able to keep the air conditioners and satellite TV’s on.

I went out a couple minutes ago to check and see if the power was back on (there’s nothing inside the motor home that lets us know one way or the other) and saw that our neighbor’s lights were back on.  But there was also a spectacular sunset going on so I waited to see it finish before going back inside and turning the generator off.

What first caught my eye was the view north of the park, which is the direction our front door faces.  There were a lot of sculptured clouds lit from the side.


Towards west the setting sun the sky was on fire.


And in the opposite direction the sunset colors were reflecting off a cloud east of us.


Certainly a better than average sunset.

A double rainbow in Benson

The monsoon is not done with us yet.  This afternoon a very intense thunderstorm came through Benson, mostly to the northeast of us.  We got about 5 minutes of rain and wind but then the sun came out where we were while it continued to rain elsewhere.  I went outside to grill our dinner and saw one of the brightest rainbows, particularly the blue and purple parts, that I’ve seen in a while.  It was a complete circular rainbow and there was a lighter second rainbow outside of it but unfortunately my camera doesn’t have a wide enough field of view to see it all.  I tried stitching the photos together in a panorama but it came out looking real odd, so here’s the northern (left hand) side of it.


And here’s the southern (right hand) side of it.


Fort Huachuca Aerostat

Fort Huachuca is a US Army base in Sierra Vista, about 25 mile south of us.  The base regularly flies a tethered aerostat (blimp) that contains a radar system and is used to look at the US-Mexican border airspace.  I first saw it a couple of years ago from our RV site in Benson.  We go to Sierra Vista somewhat regularly and see it flying every so often.  I’ve tried to get pictures of it several times and most of the time the photos haven’t come out very well which is usually because the lighting has been bad.  This time I got a reasonably good photo of it.


A half hour later a thunderstorm suddenly came off the mountains that form a backdrop southwest of Sierra Vista and they quickly reeled it down.