First Hike of 2016

Superstition Mountains This morning Liz and I decided to hike for a couple of hours. The temperatures are warming, and the week was dry. We didn’t hike much last year because, circumstances.

12647303_10153892123902838_8449151718095617023_nI am just getting over a bout with bronchitis, with possibly a touch of valley fever. This past fall, many of the projects at work consisted of reconstructing bays that had not been touched in years. I breathed in a lot of dust and fungus and mold spores. Developed an upper respiratory infection.  It got so bad that I finally went to Urgent Care last week.

I had a horse-needle full of steroids shoved into my ass cheeks. I got to suck in fumes from a new-fangled bong (Nebulizer) and was sent home with a stack of prescriptions. Prednisone, Albuturol, Codeine, Amoxicillin…

I am finally sleeping, and not feeling like I am drowning in fluid when I try to breathe. When I laid down, I would gurgle all night. Robitussin was not doing the trick. The first thing I noticed after my lungs cleared is that I am actually getting oxygen when I breathe.  I have to slow down because I am getting light headed when I breath too heavy – getting real air in my lungs now…

Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t fuzzy, was he? Baby Cholla are cute, but not cuddly.

So it felt good to be getting fresh air and some exercise. There is a lot of new growth on the flora, the wet winter promises to bring out the wildflowers this spring. The desert floor is green and lush, more so than normal for this time of year.

Last night we hit Captain’s after work.  I was able to sneak in early enough to snag too bar stools next to the owner’s seat.  Even the people that count on the business from the Snowbirds are counting down the days. Two more months or so before we get our streets back.  I try not to complain too much, it is their sales taxes that ensure that Apache Junction has no city property tax.  As it should be. Property taxes are regressive, sales taxes hot the people that spend, and the more they can afford to spend the more they can afford to be taxed.

Captain's LoungeBut I will be happy to see fewer Minnesota tags on the road – as a whole, these people do not know how to drive!  I sometimes wonder how in the hell they make it here alive hauling their RV’s.  And then we have the Canadians – they drive slow – maybe because they have a difficult time converting their kilometers to MPH? But at least they are polite.

That is about all that is news for now.  I am patiently awaiting my federal income tax refund to arrive.  Half will go to savings, but the other half is reserved for a Canon DSLR. I will probably opt for an older, refurbished body rather than a new, cheaper body.

I was looking at Pentax to save a few dollars, but the bodies are plastic.  Better to invest in a semi-professional Canon; then I will have incentive to take more intensive hikes this year. I am planning an overnight hike this spring or early summer, before the temps get crazy hot.


Tool Box

tool box for truckMy Ford Ranger is an extended cab, sort of four door truck.  But even with the bed, there is not a lot of room to carry tools or extraneous stuff without taking up valuable interior space. The back does have two fold up seats that are unusable by anyone but children or contortionists- but it is good to have the area clear for hauling groceries or the occasional third passenger that does not suffer from claustrophobia.

My employer makes our W-2’s available by January 15, and I took advantage and had my taxes filed by January 16. Anticipating a generous refund (of my own money) if I did all of my math correctly, and armed with a larger than normal paycheck due to travel reimbursements and some rare overtime, I ordered a tool box for the truck.

I first checked out Home Depot – right around the corner and they have a decent selection of tools. But the Husky boxes started at $280.  The Dee Zee box I bought on Amazon was $208, plus tax.  Free shipping – I ordered on Saturday and it arrived Wednesday evening.  Plus, Dee Zee is made in the good ole U S of A – Iowa.  Husky tools used to be Made in America, but are mostly Chinese shit. I don’t know where the truck boxes are made, but I would rather put my money to a business that provides manufacturing jobs and REAL jobs to Americans.

I installed the tool box this afternoon. Best looking part of the truck! Now I have incentive to wash it.

The Dog Run and all you can eat cod

The Dog RunCold. Brrr.  Temps are in the 60’s. We are in the midst of Spring reset at work – I am lucky to get the indoor patio resets – two nights at each store for the entire month. I get to build and install all of the displays 12, 16 or 20 feet up depending on the store.

I am now the senior member on my team – most of the crew is green – lime green. We have been a month without a manager – our new manager was announced last week and will join us next week. Last week was my two-year anniversary. Small pay increase, and two weeks vacation!

This winter has been very wet – extraordinary amount of rainfall.  That promises for a more colorful than usual spring bloom in the desert.  Last year was a real trial for us – 2016 promises to be good.

I plan on using some of my vacation time to hike into the mountains and camp overnight. I have been saving up for a new DSLR. a decent camera. My point and shoot Canon has served me well, but it is time to move up.  I am resisting the urge to use my credit card – I have been diligent to not charge more than $70 a month – enough to ring up rewards points and also to be able to pay off the balance each month. I want a new camera before I go hiking again.

It is Snowbird season – and very difficult to find an empty bar stool at our favorite haunts. If we hit Captains after 10PM, the place is fairly empty.  The Birds like to be in bed by 9PM!  Last night we had a hankering for wings – Captain’s was packed.  We went to The Dog Run which has a larger bar.  We found two empty seats. The place was packed. It was Cod Night – all you can eat cod for $9.95. Unfortunately that meant that the only thing you could order from the kitchen was cod – unless you wanted to wait for your order.  The cod was excellent – fresh not frozen. Light and flaky.

The best thing – I was able to get a few good photos and will soon be working on a new painting in the studio. The Dog Run and Filly’s Roadhouse are on the top of my list for new paintings. Captain’s will be a bit more of a challenge – the bar is nondescript.  It is the clientele that make Captain’s interesting. I know that there is a good painting there somewhere – I have just yet to catch that moment.