Tucson and South to the Border

Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Hot Sunny
Mileage 528 505 km
Last night we stayed at Catalina State Park (actually a National forest too!)
Awesomeness: clean bathrooms, hot showers.

This was our first morning in the new campground in Catalina State Park in Oro Valley. Oro Valley appears to me to be northern Tucson. Oro means gold in Spanish. Perhaps gold was found here many years back in them there hills. There was a plethora of little birds chirping in the bushes by the bathroom. Quite cheery for morning.

Our biggest adventure for the day was purchasing an iPhone 5s for "moi". I have had an older, at least not the latest version, iPod for sometime. I want an iPhone even though I will not get it hooked up to cell service right away. I am finding that when I now go on Facebook (heaven help me) and a video looks interesting usually my FB app crashes. Very maddening!

Now with this 32 gigabit phone I will not have that problem. The fellow we are purchasing it from lives in south Tucson, AZ and we are meeting him at his home. Hmm, sounds a bit off putting but Ken has set up this deal via Craigslist.

The houses in this residential are much different than what you would see near where we lived. We had lush lawns and gardens with lots of shade trees. In this area the one story homes have little in the way of greenery. The yards are mostly covered in sand and gravel. It was a bit off putting from what we would expect. It appeared more like what you might see in northern Mexico. The seller met us outside in front of his garage. We even got to meet his father who was going to work. He seemed like a nice, young man, who was a jailer by trade. He invited us into his home to seal the iPhone deal. The walls had several Diego Rivera prints on them. It was very cozy with lots of setting for guest. I came away with a new iPhone which was just what I needed.

With the new iPhones comes upgrading and moving information from our old devices to the new ones. Off to the Apple Store we went to have assistance with this task, the fast internet connections is the big plus of this store.

We were able to swing a wonderful lunch at our favourite restaurant in Tucson - El Charros, downtown edition. Great Mexican food and service. This restaurant has expanded and has several editions in other city locations. We must go back for more great meals.

Thursday, October 16, 2014
Hot Sunny
Mileage 528 586 km
Last night we stayed at Catalina State Park
Awesomeness: Ken was able to book our campsite for over the weekend. He looked to see how the weekend bookings were doing and discovered they were already half booked.

We went to the Apple Store again. We were having some problems with the updates. Sometimes it seems that leaving well enough along should be a motto. Other times we have updated and had problems as well. I mostly sat and did my Duolingo or Spanish lessons. It is very noisy in the Apple Store but I am somehow able to blank it out and work. When it gets to bad I go outside in the courtyard, sit on a bench in the shade and try to think in Spanish.

We will soon be off to Mexico which we both love. What is it about Mexico that we love? Why do we go on these great adventures? What is so different about Mexico? Well, everything is not perfect there and neither is it as awful or dangerous as some people would have you believe. Here are a few things that let you know you are in Mexico and are not NOB (north of the border) in either Canada or USA. Judge for yourself if they are good or bad. These are some of the things that are different about this wonderful country called Mexico. You could buy your groceries at Soriana, Leys, Chedraui or Walmart. The food is weighed in metric and what is weighed is much less expensive. The grocery stores stock dried peppers and dried tamarind. Little limes are plentiful, along with papayas, mangos, jiamica and avocados. In the meat and bakery sections the workers wear hair nets covering their heads. Usually the grocery stores have booze section so you can buy your favourite beverage to have with your meal. The grocery stores usually have a sit-down cafeteria style area so you can partake of a little snack before you grocery shop. An senior or a high school student is likely to pack your groceries. Usually all workers are friendly and go out of their way to assist you even though you can not speak their language.

Bathrooms, well that is a whole other topic. They use very pleasant smelling cleaning supplies, unique to Mexico. When you smell that particular smell you conjure up Mexico in your mind. Usually the bathrooms are clean. Be aware that the the toilet paper in a public bathroom might be at the entry way and not in each stall. The sinks to wash your hands might be in the entry way as well, the men and ladies often share the sink or have side by side sinks. A little awkward at times, but just fine. Keep in mind that this is not a rich country so restaurant owners have to cut back somewhere.

Since we will be driving down the toll roads real soon here are a few unique things to the driving experience. Pemex is the the ubiquitous gas station of every town often accompanied by an OXXO. Some areas have there little gas station stores by a different brand name. In these stores they have the best ice coffee. In the summer they are two for the price of one - yum! Can hardly wait to get going.

Ken bought a mobile Hot Spot for $2 and had it unlocked for free.
Will work for Ken's new App. Might work for us in Europe.

Saturday, October 18, 2014
Hot Sunny
Last night we stayed at Catalina State Park
Awesomeness: They have a definite noise deadline at night. There was lots of partying last night but that seemed to quite right at ten o'clock. They really care about the park. You are not allowed to park on the sand, only on the pavement.

We had a nature moment before even leaving the campground. We saw the smallest horny toad you could probably ever see. Horny toads are not really toads, they are lizards. He was a good boy and sat very still while we took a few pictures. Being from Canada we had never seen one before, nor did we know what he was until we asked a person passing by our campground.

Ken and I both agree that one of the best features of camping is the fact that you get to be with nature more than you would ever be if you stayed in a hotel.

It was not that exciting of a day. We went to the Apple store, again. Ken had to determine which iCloud features to use. I was a bit bored so decided to wonder around the mall which did prove to be interesting. I somehow found myself whisked into a cosmetics stores to try some serum or cream to basically improve my aging skin. This skin cream was supposed to increase the collagen in your skin. It did seem to make a difference. To me what was more important was that I had a real conversation with the girl applying the cream. She was Mexican and tried to speak Spanish to me, it was a failure. She had been to Victoria to visit an aunt. She wanted to learn another language and I told her about the Duolingo app. We discussed Mexican culture and the amount of fiestas in Mexico. she told me about great Chinese food in Mexicalli. It was a fun exchange of information. I actually would use the product she was demoing if it was not so expensive or if I was rich. Oh well, maybe some day.

Continuing on my Mall experience, I went to The Humane Society store. It is located in a very fancy mall - La Enchatata. Go inside and it looks like a pet store. On either side is a white picket fence, corralling in pooches. On the lap of one of the workers was an apricot, miniature poodle - adorable. She was so prim and proper, acting a bit shy. The worker said this particular model was not shy at all but just trying to get attention. I would have taken her in a heart beat if we would not have traveling.
The rest of the day was spent going to the tons thrift stores that Tucson has available. I was looking for long dresses and skirts and Ken was looking for a new overnight bag.

We returned to the same Wholefoods and same Oriental restaurant we had gone to the day before. Creatures of habit as usual. When you are on holidays it is nice to have some things the same.

Friday, October 17, 2014
Hot OverCast
Mileage 528 660 km
Last night we stayed at Catalina State Park - Tucson, AZ
Awesomeness: The birds roost up in the eves of the bathrooms at night. They look so peaceful and cute

We spent lots of time in the Apple Store. Ken had to wipe The iPad clean and reinstall everything including apps. It was very mentally draining for him. I practiced Spanish with the Duolingo app. I just put in my earbuds and ignored all the noise. We discovered that the the Apple store in Phoenix is a very busy place. You definitely have to book an appointment with a genius, if needed. The store is crowded and noisy. This does not seem to be a negative thing because it is after all The Apple Store.

I went for a walk while waiting. I discovered the Humane Society Store. They had dogs up for adoption. One dog I saw was a German Shepherd pup of about a year old. He was so sweet and fuzzy. He had a bed up off the floor which was like a mini hammock. He seemed very happy. The rest of the stores in this mall are high end. It was not really my kind of mall. I did like the courtyard outside of the Apple store.

We drove down south from where we were at to Speedway. We went to a few thrift stores for a few last minute travel items. We were not entirely successful in our purchases. We did discover a different Whole Foods and a great Oriental Restaurant.

We moved to the perfect campsite.

Sunday, October 19, 2014
Warm Raining
Mileage 528 847 km
Last night we stayed at Catalina State Park - Oro Valley, AZ just north of Tucson.

Today it was actually raining in the desert. Not usual, but usual for us to see. We went to a few thrift stores. Ken wanted to get a new bag before heading off. He had found on the other day and the zipper appeared to have broken.

Ken seemed to give up on finding anything in the line of good luggage as he already had a bag with a faulty zipper. We went to Millar's Surplus and he found a good barrel bag and a replacement for his broad brimmed hat. Somehow between Vancouver Island and Estevan, Saskatchewan he lost his sun hat, not that he had need to use it, but it and his other hat went missing. He just replaced it with an identical hat at the same store he bought his old one at last December.

By this time we wanted lunch. We walked around a rather funky, hip-trendy area of Tucson to search for a suitable lunch spot. None were found. In fact, almost every restaurant we went into sort of smelled funny and did not seem that clean. Maybe I was just being picky. We decided to just head back to the car and eat at Charro's Restaurant - such good food and service. While walking from where we parked we saw many mansions of note. They were beautiful big, old, beautiful buildings. Much different from the mansions we are used to up north.

We headed off for a trip to the library downtown. Last time we were there in 2007 it was ridiculously hot. We only parked a few blocks away and could barely walk there. We also were reprimanded inside for having taken our shoes off and for having our heads down sleeping on the table of the library. This time it was raining and we parked in the underground parking. There was art on the walls this time as well. Last time the art was of wonderful painting of very artsy looking doors. They seem to display many paints of the same artist. It is a very nice effect. This year they had the art of Carol Lucus that has a very distinct style. She did paintings of local scenery. I could not take pictures of her wonder work but here is her website address https://clucasart.shutterfly.com.

Whole Foods Market has become our home base in Tucson.

Entrance to Catalina State Park, nighttime.

Monday, October 20, 2014
Hot Sunny
Last night we stayed at Catalina State Park - Tucson, AZ
The birds that sleep in the eves and in the morning are chirping, fluttering about in the bushes by the restrooms.

We knew this to be our last day in Tucson, AZ. It was to be rather action packed because, as is characteristic of me, we left lots of things to do for the last minute. We always seem to have lots to do just before we go into Mexico. Do we think we can't buy anything there or what? I do not really understand why we always seem to do this but we do. We went from one end of the city to the other. Tucson is very spread out and huge. We had not concept until this trip how actually huge it is.
We needed soy milk from Whole Foods and also Ken needed coffee. I decided to not purchase the haul of vitamins I was thinking I needed. Sometimes Ken's voice of reason is just what the doctor ordered. He figured we are driving by the ocean and will eat lots of fish so that nixed the fish oil capsules. I am not out of calcium yet so I decided to get my calcium at a vitamin shop in PV.

Ken had an appointment to get the van's cruise control fixed. Somehow the part did not get ordered. Meanwhile he dropped my off to do the laundry. I actually did not take long to do, I did Spanish while I waited.

Ken dropped my off at a Goodwill while he went to a wreckers to get the cruise control stop light switch. This is the most common thing to go wrong with the cruise on the Previa. He cut up his hands removing the part, plus he might have broken the part. Long story, short - the cruise is back to working anyway. I found some buys I could not resist and off we went of finish running our errands for the day.

We were off to Jo-anne's Fabrics for quilt batt and backing fabric. Now that I am getting a new machine I need to have items to quilt. Oh, and I got long needles for basting. I would not want to take basting spray in the van. It does not like the heat. After that we found a Hannocks Fabrics for Janome bobbins and sewing machine needles. I had postponed purchasing these items cause I thought it would be a hassle, which it was not.

Then off to pick up my sewing machine at the FedEx office. This was our second visit of the day. This time it was there ready to pick up. Ken did photocopying of documents for the border. Next, off to Target for a couple last minute purchases. Finally, off to Walmart for a couple returns. I'd be tired just reading all this.

Then back at the campsite we had to rearrange the van so the sewing machine could be safely stowed. Ken found a great spot for it. Ken was going to send Charlene the box it came in. Why bother her with that, saved you from more junk Sis. We through it out.

We collapsed around eleven, anxious for tomorrows departure for Mexico.

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