As you can see below, the road to Portal over the Chiricahua mountains was a bit rough but my RAV4 had no problems.  In some areas, it was interesting to see large numbers of trees with blackened bark from previous wildfires coming back to life with new growth.

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After I checked in at the Portal Peak Lodge, I went for a walk into ‘town’ – one short street with the library, post office and several houses. The welcoming committee was there having a drink at a very large puddle. These javelinas are part of a larger herd of about 20 individuals that live in the area.

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One of the houses in town is owned by friends of the group and we were invited to visit their yard where they have multiple bird feeders and a large number of feathered visitors.

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Happy Hour was as sumptuose as usual and gave us time to share our experinces of the day.

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After we had our fill of goodies, you may notice that there is not an inch of empty space on the table, we went to dinner, and then on to our search for critters of the night. The drive was not very productive this year.

To be continued . . .


. . . the bane of my existance!

When I lived ‘up North’, over a period of about 30 years I experienced the joys of burst pipes in winter, leaking air conditioning drip pan in the attic, leaking hot water heater, water heater blowing a gasket and a number of more mundane plumbing related events.  Since the weather is so much milder in this area, I thought my encounters with plumbers would be much reduced.

For the third time (actually, the fourth time if we count the burst water pipe in the carport due to freezing temperatures last winter) in a year, I have had to call a plumber to the house.  The house is not new, and except for the master bathroom, it still has all the original plumbing.  Well, guess which area of the house is the one that has given me the most headaches. Yes, the newly-renovated-about-10-plus-years-ago master bathroom.

Perhaps because the master bathroom is at the opposite end of a long house from where the main line joins the sewer system, this is the second time any and all water from any and all appliances in that bathroom has refused to go down the drain, and has actually started to come up where it should not be coming up.  Not to be left behind, the shower drain in the other bathroom was very, very sluggish.  Suffice it to say, it was not a fun day and I will spare you the details.

Thankfully, the home repair insurance company was able to find an ’emergency plumber’ who made an appearance with a somewhat reluctant assistant, about 3 hours after I called.  He really seemed to know what he was doing.  After sacrificing my kitchen rubber gloves to a higher cause, he went into action right away.   He ran a ‘snake’ from the master bathroom down the line until it found resistance.  After he was done, all water was running smoothly down every single drain.  

Is this a story with a happy ending?  Not at all, the patient required more testing since the water from both bathroom showers stopped draining the following morning.  More to come . . .

According to the ‘experts’, monsoon season starts on June 15 and ends on September 15. 

For those not familiar with the use of the term ‘monsoon’ in southern Arizona, it means that it is the end of our dry fore summer and it is time when the summer rains  soak the desert.  We are talking about heavy, drenching downpours accompanied by thunder and lighting and high humidity. 

Unfortunately, it seems that the ‘experts’ forgot to tell Mother Nature. 

It is now the middle of August, and depending on which area of  Tucson you are looking at, it may have received – perhaps – up to 2.5″ of rain so far.  In the Tucson Mountains, we have received less than that.

The Tucson area, on average, gets around 12 inches of rain a year.  That rain is delivered twice a year.  The winter rains come early in the year and are the kind of drizzly, steady rains that last for a while.  This year, the winter rains delivered a non-generous 0.55 inches of rain.  Yes, that is correct, slightly more than half an inch of rain over a five and a half month period of time. 

And then there is the monsoon season, where the rains are heavy and the storms violent, but of relatively short duration.  One area may have a downpour, while the neighbors across the street may be dry as a bone.  I have been told that one year the rains were so heavy that Tucson became an island.  There was actually a sustained flow of water in both the Santa Cruz and Rillito Rivers and the bridges over them were closed because of fear that the debris carried by the water could damage the bridges’ supports.

Without getting into a discussion about global warming, who is right, who is wrong or what factors may have caused it, or not caused it, this has been an extremely dry year, even by Tucson standards.  

So here is hoping for the rains to continue.  I am also aware of the saying ‘be careful what you wish for, because you might get it’.