Archive for Arizona

Desolation

CA Hwy 62

This is a view of the scenery we saw yesterday along CA Hwy 62 in San Bernadino County as we crossed the great desolate Mojave Desert on the last leg of our trip. Damsel took this photo after our departure from Twentynine Palms. We were just north of Joshua Tree National Park, which, in itself, is a very large chunk of real estate.

Other than a few lightly populated areas and the larger town of Parker, AZ, the trip yesterday had us looking at bare desert. The difference between the California deserts and Arizona deserts would be that there are saguaro cacti east of the Colorado River and not so much west of there.

Still, both deserts are amazing examples of geological variety and wonder, with scrub brush and jagged mountains. We enjoyed the crossing very much on a clear, calm and beautiful day.

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Journey’s End

Home Again

This is just a short post to log the fact that we are again home after a safe arrival this afternoon. It was a good trip with light traffic and plenty of blue skies and sunshine along a scenic and desolate desert drive. We can hardly wait for the next excursion, but we have pressing issues at home.

Drake, the neighbor’s dog came to welcome Damsel home. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Camping by the Colorado River

Damsel at the River

We have embarked on our latest excursion heading to see family in California. But tonight, we opted to camp in Arizona still, just east of Blythe, CA on the Colorado in Ehrenberg, AZ. Damsel and I decided that we did not want to make the six-hour trip all the way out to San Dimas in just one leg, so we’re camped here after only a little over two hours on the road.

We stopped at the half way point at a familiar place to us on the Arizona Outback (Salome, to be exact) to pick up a couple of souvenirs and gifts for the California folks. We have a lot of family and friends out there, so we get stuff for the kids and other family members.

The image is of Damsel and Beethoven down on the river’s edge taken this afternoon after we arrived. We will be underway again tomorrow after breaking camp.

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Unaffordable Care Act

Chart -2015 to 2018

My former company’s retirement plan is conducting their annual enrollment period for healthcare insurance this month. The retirees, their spouses and dependents may select one of several plans during the open enrollment period.

I went on the website to make our selections for the coming year and, much to my annoyance, the premiums are going up yet again. I decided to look at the recent history of the rates and came up with the chart above. The image has neither legends nor scales, but I am going to explain them.

The four vertical cubes represent 2015 through 2018 and the height of each shows the relative amount for the premiums. I limited it to these four years since that is the period when the Obummercare mess has screwed up the system for everyone, not just ACA exchange subscribers.

The chart applies only to Damsel’s insurance premiums that we pay monthly. I did not do the complex analysis of my Medicare and Medigap (for the 20% that the .gov doesn’t pay) which I may do one of these times. Below are the results according to the chart above:

  • Increase from 2015 to 2016 - 10%
  • Increase from 2016 to 2017 - 30%
  • Increase from 2017 to 2018 - 12%

That’s a whopping total of 52% increase over a period during which we realized NO additional cost of living compensation. We are on virtually a fixed income. The last Social Security cost of living increase was exactly canceled out by an increase in my Medicare part B premiums.

This is yet another example of how the Government screws us up by trying to “help” us.

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More Queen Cactus Fruit

Queen Cactus Fruit

I posted a photo of this peniocereus greggii cactus fruit in a comment to a post I made late in September. This is the current appearance of the cactus fruit ripening on the queen cactus adjacent to the east part of the lot by our driveway.

This one, unlike the ones I posted about then, has not been hollowed out by birds or other critters yet. It looks to me like it is turning red like the other ones. I’ll keep an eye on it and post more when there is a change in appearance.

Encyclopedia of Life has these details about propagation of the Queen Cactus:

Peniocereus greggii blooms for 4 to 12 nights each season, with most flowers opening synchronously at dusk and closing at dawn (Raguso et al. 2003). This species is also known to self-incompatible, so pollination by an insect, usually a hawk moth or honeybee, is required for successful fruit maturation (Raguso et al. 2003). Fruits are red, fleshy and ripe during the fall migration season and are dispersed by birds (Suzan et al. 1994).

Update 10/12/2017: The fruit is now ripe and the birds have begun to peck out the pulp. Click on the image to enlarge.

ripe

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Eight Years

Eight YearsEight years ago today was the first day of retirement for me. Almost immediately, Damsel and I set out to begin looking at places where we could relocate outside of Kalifornistan. Within a week we were in Southern Arizona on a combination of vacationing and looking at potential places to eventually live.

That first trip wasn’t very fruitful other than us having vacation fun in places like Pima Air Museum Tombstone, Mission San Xavier del Bac and Saguaro National Park. Arizona is a very scenic and interesting place.

We took a couple of other trips in the early part of 2010 with more serious focus on relocation. We finally decided on Wickenburg after some research and having visited here several times. We made a deal for some property and after some delay in getting financing, construction on the house began late summer of that year.

It’s coming up on seven years that we have been happily relocated to our retirement home. With continued good health and our nest egg holding out, we expect to have many more blissful years of retirement here and on the road.

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Queen Cactus Fruit

Cactus Fruit

When Damsel and I were walking our dogs after breakfast this morning, we saw something up on the neighboring hill we could not readily identify. There were three bright red objects up among the natural vegetation on the hill. We conjectured that it might be cardinals perched up there, but at that distance it was difficult to verify. Moreover, the red objects did not move and our observation of cardinals is that they do not stay in one place for very long.

We finished the dog walking and I returned to the road where we see the red objects with my 300mm long lens and Canon SL1 camera. I took a couple of photos and went back into the office to download them to see what it could be so bright red up there. When I zoomed in, albeit low resolution, I could see that these red objects were ripe fruit growing on a Peniocereus greggii (Queen of the Night) cactus. We had no notion that they could be this bright red.

Although the area where the cactus was growing is in a marginally accessible area in the wild desert just west of our house, I ventured up there to try and get some closer photos of the cactus fruit. As you can see, I was able to get close enough to get he photo above. Click on the image to enlarge.

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