Saturday, March 22, 2014

Part 4 of Spring Habitat Travels 2014

Lending a helping CHRPA hand!
Tucson, AZ 

Saturday, March 22
Silver City, NM to Tucson, AZ
197 miles
Trek from Silver City to Tucson

     The last chapter of our spring trip is opening today!  We left Silver City after a relatively lazy morning...departure at 11am.  It is another beautiful day, brisk, but sunny.  Rick takes us over the Big Burro Mountains, across the Continental Divide a final time at about 6400', and down into the flats of Lordsburg, NM.  This is about the LAST place I would want to live in New Mexico.  Remote and dusty, but it is circled with peaks (no trees, however!)   It is on I-10, however, and after a fill-up at Love's, I take the wheel to cruise west toward Tucson.  
Rocks of Texas Canyon
   About 90 miles later, I pull into the rest area at Texas Canyon and Pass - the rocky outcroppings about 18 miles east of Benson, AZ, the town where Rick's folks had home base for nearly 12 years.  The landscape is dry, but we do find a colorful array of yellow and pink flowers alongside the road.  

     About 10 miles east of our exit for Tucson, Rick spies our first sajuaro cactus of the trip.  Such cool plants.  You have to respect them, as it takes YEARS for them to grow! 
Airplane graveyard

     Up Kolb Street, past the graveyard for military airplanes, and into the Shalom Mennonite Church parking lot and the offices for CHRPA.  We are dismayed to find another rig in OUR end spot next to the mesquite tree.  It belongs to Ted and Eleanor from New Hampshire.  Walter and Lorene are in their usual spot next to the house.  Rick swings around and pulls in next to the sidewalk in the next available space.  No big deal, as the tree really provides no shade anyway!  We get all set up, hooked up, and while I start a load of laundry so we can make the bed, Rick takes the propane tank to get it filled.  We weren't sure how much we had left and didn't want to run out at an inconvenient time!  
     It is WARM in Tucson - low 80's, but the sun feels HOT!  In the shade it is relatively pleasant.   We even fire up the air conditioner briefly to cool off the trailer.  Didn't put the sleeping bag on the bed, so I hope I don't wake up cold tonight!  Maybe I should check the weather forecast first!  We also got the reminder in the SOOP lounge to set our clocks back an hour - Arizona doesn't go on daylight savings time, so we are 'with' Pacific time right now.  
     Walter gave me a key to the SOOP lounge and helped me find the internet password information.  We haven't seen Lorene yet, which puzzles me a little.  Talked with Walter again for abit while waiting for the laundry to finish .... he was working on a new jigsaw puzzle in the lounge.  
El Sur Mexican Restaurant
     Around 4:30, after the dryer finally finishes, we head to El Sur Mexican restaurant and the Walmart Neighborhood Market!  Dinner and groceries!  We remembered El Sur from last year's visit and glad we did!  Wow!  'His and hers' salsa (hot and mild) which I loved - first salsa in the whole trip that I freely devoured!  Perfect heat for me!  Then we ordered the pork fajitas dinner special - more than enough food for $4.99 each!  Rick's beer was only $2.  What a bargain place.  We got there at a good time, because it filled up quickly and was very busy.  Including the tip a $16 meal.  What a deal!  
     By the time we are back it is DARK!  So it goes with no daylight time!  It will be light in the morning though!  

SUNDAY, March 23   (Happy Birthday, Katy Nicole!)
A Day of Rest!!!

This nondescript bird has the most
beautiful and distinct song. 
     I wish I knew how to reset my Timex watch!  Now that we are back on Pacific Time (or Mountain Standard) it is again an hour off.  Which meant I got up earlier today than necessary.  I should have known the sun wasn't up yet!!  Oh well!  It's not like we had a pressing day ahead of us!  
Shalom Fellowship from our trailer -
back side view!
         Worship at Shalom Mennonite Fellowship, where we saw Lorene as well as Walter, Marj and Bruce Weber from Canada who we met last year, and a few other familiar CHRPA faces.  Rick set off the alarm in the CHRPA office before church...(oops - Walter forgot to give him ALL the password code!) I especially enjoy the music at the Mennonite worship - the congregation knows how
Our set up, Ted & Elinor in motorhome -
house in background the Volunteer house
to sing!  Regular pastor is gone on vacation so we had a guest message. 

     Our accomplishments for today?  Another load of laundry, conversations with Moms, salad made, veggies cut, dip made, ham cut, pineapple cut up.  Basically ready for lunches and meals all week!  Rick took a walk and watched a little basketball.  
Prickly pear and fence that
inspired my prayer drawing
for today. 
     We went over to the SOOP lounge at 5:30 for fellowship with the crowd.  No games were played as everything worked on the 1500 piece puzzle Walter pulled out yesterday.  HUGE puzzle with fairly good sized pieces that interlock in weird ways.  Everyone brought a few snacks and there was an unlimited supply of popcorn!  
The bougainvillea we planted last year in
front of CHRPA HQ are blooming!

     It was really hot in the sun again today, but fairly comfortable in the shade of the trailer.  We put the awning up to help keep things cooler.  
     Ready for bed to be prepared and awake for the 7:30 CHRPA call in the morning!!  Oh boy!! 

The first of hopefully many beautiful Tucson sunsets!!

Prickly Prayers!  

MONDAY, March 24
New mosaic on shop exterior
CHRPA: Decking in the Desert
     Today begins our CHRPA work!!  We are up and at 'em - Scott comes over to chat briefly when he drives in - he sees us out eating breakfast.  CHRPA is starting at 7:30 right now, so an early start.  We are greeted with some familiar faces as we come into the office - SOOPs as well as full-time workers (Dustin, Mike, Albert, both Dans, etc.) We meet two faces (to us!): Kat and Cerie (I have no idea how to spell her name!) MVS, YAVS, Jesuit?  Don't know!  
Sign above CHRPA door
     Rick and I are assigned to work today with Doug, a local Tucson volunteer who spends two days a week with the organization.  Doug is a retired carpenter, so his skills are valuable!  Our client is an older woman living alone (with 6 large dogs and a horse) in a doublewide out in Marana - in the desert west of town.  It takes at least 50 minutes just to get out there!  (Plus a Home Depot stop enroute!) 
Doug and Rick get started on repairs. 
     Our job is to replace some of the  boards and railing of the deck entering her mobile home.  One board is rotted through and another simply is a gaping hole!  Definite problems.  She has some disability in terms of mobility.  CHRPA previously made new steps leading up to the deck, but she isn't happy with them - claims they are too steep.  Not much we can do about that today - we only have wood for the job on hand.  
By afternoon Rick had his
bandana on!
   My job today was mostly to unscrew screws and put new ones in using the impact driver.  At times the screws were so buried Rick had to do it, but for the most part I was able to get it done.  Other than that, Rick helped Doug figure, cut, and attach new railings.  They also made a new threshold for the door - improvised as we didn't really have the right wood to do so.  My job was to talk with P.M. (I'll refer to clients by their initials only) and she desperately wanted to visit, especially with a female!  So....I saw all 6 of her dogs (all kenneled while we were there) - all are street saves or rescues, and none of them are small!  One had just had a stroke and it barked at us with its head tilted to one side.  We helped her get it inside before we left.  
Picture out back window of dirt road in the
desert!  Where are you taking us, Doug?

     This gal has 5 acres out in the middle of nowhere.  There are other trailers in sight (too close as far as she is concerned...they are 'druggies'!)  In getting to the place, we took the freeway north, got off on Arva Valley Rd and headed west toward Ironwood Forest NM.  Past the regional airport, we turned left on a paved road, which soon turned to dirt.  At this point Doug said, 'There is telephone pole #36 - we drive until #54!  We were literally driving down the access power line 'road'.  But the funny thing is...these roads have names on the map, which makes it look like they are MUCH better than they are.  Of course, none of those names are marked in reality!  Just follow the pole numbers!  Doug did admit that it took an hour on his first visit to FIND the place!  Once we were there, I called the gal on the cell, as she had to kennel the dogs and then walk out to unlock her padlocked gate.  
     We worked for about 2 1/2 hours straight in the sun - and I was starting to feel the heat by the time we took a break in the shade for lunch.  After lunch, I mostly visited while Rick and Doug finished up with a door that also needed a little repair work.  
Doug and client doing

     Back to the CHRPA office by 2pm.  A relatively easy day!  We did remind Scott that he doesn't need to schedule us as a team - we can go out separately!  Who knows what will be on the schedule for tomorrow.  
     Oh,....our truck for today was a new one donated by the gas company.  We laughed when we saw it had been named Walter G - in honor of Walter Good.  Walter and Lorene probably won't be coming back down another winter.  They have been coming for 17 years, and they are both now 85 years old.  Their daughter and her husband are coming down the first of April to help them drive the motorhome back north.  It has been stored here at CHRPA during the summer for the past four years.  Walter doesn't go out on jobs much anymore, but tinkers alot in the shop separating the metal scrap for the recyclers.  He says the money earned buys the ice cream sandwiches for the workers!!  
     We both sat out and read a little, then Rick off for a walk while I catch up on computer.  Showers and a relaxing evening at The Resort.  :)
Shot of Sajuaro NP West peaks as we head home.  
Ocotillos in bloom!!

TUESDAY, March 25
Gas Line Installation (Ging)
Roof Repair (Rick)

CHRPA sign in office
     Another beautiful day in the Southwest!  We laughed yesterday at 7am when we heard the sound of Reveillie ringing out from the military base nearby!  We had forgotten about it, since it only rings on weekdays, never weekends.  You can't be late to CHRPA!!  It was warm this morning, but by afternoon clouds had moved in and even a few drops of rain fell.  
The CHRPA man
 Rick goes out today with Patrick (a volunteer from Tucson) to mend a lady's roof and fix a toilet.  They have a good day, although part of the roof couldn't be fixed because it was rotting away!  (Duh!  It leaked!)  They refused to walk on it because it was obvious that it would just break through.  Back early because they couldn't get ahold of their third call.  He was sitting out in front of the trailer when I finally got back!  

Wood blocks on roof
     I worked today with Mike, a volunteer staff member (he is partly paid!) who was here last year as a Jesuit volunteer.  Very laid back 24 yr old.  He had worked on this gas line installation the day before and we had to go finish it up.  Long story short, I went up and down a ladder to the roof about 12-15 times and learned four new skills!!  I cut a 4x4 with a circular saw into 20 blocks which had to be clamped down with screws to hold the gas line off the roof;  operated a hammer drill to sink some concrete plugs into a wall, learned to cut and thread steel pipe, and applied roof plates, screen, and sealant on openings in the roof!  A busy day!!!   
Hammer drill to make holes in concrete wall

Flashing and Sealant on roof
     Basically this house had a leak in the gas line, which runs UNDER the concrete house pad.  The gas company turns off the gas and moves the meter to a point right outside the house.  The homeowner is responsible to get in the gas line installed the rest of the way.  The homeowner was an elderly Hispanic woman who lived with her son.  We talked with the son often during the day.  He was VERY understanding and helpful.  CHRPA's solution was to run the gas line over the top of the house, past the furnace on the roof, and down to the water heater and gas stove on the far side of the house.  I learned alot about pipes, connections, bonding wires, etc.  While Mike was finishing up a connection to the water heater, he asked me if I felt I could cut the 4" pipe and thread it for the final connection to the stove.  It took me awhile (mostly operating the electric pipe cutter and threader) but I got my 4" job done!!!  Complete with wrenching it tight with a pipe wrench!!  (My father would be so proud of me!)
My 4" connection in the gas line!  

     Back to CHRPA to clean out the truck and take a shower!  I felt like I had something prickly all over me!  I hear I get to stay in-house tomorrow and paint trucks!!  Oh boy!
     Rick heard an ad on radio or TV about Taco Giro having Fish Taco Tuesdays, so we walked down to the restaurant on 22nd St. for dinner.  You can't get much cheaper than this - 99 cent taco and they were stuffed!  I had 3, Rick 4, and we walked away from the restaurant for $10 including tax and tip!  Wow!  Pretty sunset as we left, but in a small region of the sky so hard to get pictures amidst the street signs, etc.   TV and working on a CHRPA design tonight! 
A peak at the sunset while walking home from Taco Giro

WEDNESDAY, March 26 
Tribute to Walter (Ginger)
Roofing with Siri (Rick)

     What a great day!!  A cool crisp night followed by a morning of reveille in chorus with the birds, the thump thump of bikes riding over the RV hookup bridge, and friendly hellos as we sit out in front of the trailer eating breakfast in the sunshine!  Life is good! 
A quality repair on the peak of the roof
 Rick was working with Siri today, a young gal volunteer from the Jesuit house.  They had a great day working together - assigned to cap a leaky roof for an older lady, Grace, assess a mobile home skirting, and then assess the needs for ramps or handrails.  At morning call, they both admitted they hadn't done this type of roofing before, but were more than willing to give it a try.  Short conference with Scott, and the foresight to make cuts in the shop before they left, resulted in a smooth and quality job.  Rick felt really good about it.  It involved the cap and plenty of tar and nails and then more tar! 

Grace shows Siri some of her knitting handiwork
     In the meantime, I was on 'special assignment'.  Scott asked me if I had my spy glasses on for today!!  My task started when I stealthily took a few pictures of Walter as I entered the office this morning.  Then after everyone left I worked on my computer to convert the photograph to a black and white silhouette style graphic for the truck.  Scott had asked Walter to sign his name on something, so we used his actual signature for the font style.  
Image of Walter on truck
 I did two designs for Walter's face and Scott and I discussed the options and finally agreed on one with Walter's hand posed near his face - a typical position for him!  I liked the fact he was wearing his ball cap and vest - standard uniform!  

Finished back of truck
     Then a trip in our truck to the Ace Hardware store to purchase a small container of black oil base paint and a few small brushes.  Once back at the office, I moved the truck to the east side of the MVS house and into the shade of a large eucalyptus tree.  I inverted an orange bucket for a chair and got to work!  First to transfer my designs to the back of the truck in pencil, and then to paint it all in.  I did the image of Walter first (get the hard part done!) and about 3/4 of the way through, I suddenly said, "Hello Walter!"  It took that long for the stylized picture to pop out!      Scott had me back the truck up to the fence to keep it relatively 'hidden' until tomorrow's unveiling and Christening ceremony.  Tomorrow is also "CHRPA School" - the first 45 minutes of the day is a lesson in some aspect of home repair.  Thursday is also do-nut day!  Oh boy!  It will be a busy morning! 
Big Red after its bath.  
   After lunch I worked on a design for Finn, one of the other trucks that is missing its picture.  It will be a seal design.  Then at 2 I took Big Red down the road aways to a self car-wash place and gave it a bath.  Not sure how effective it was when the red paint is coloring the foamy soap.  Big Red is being sold, so it needed to look good.  But I'm not sure the bath helped any.  I did scrub the wheels well in hopes of something shining!  

     Another beautiful sunset this evening. We ate dinner 'in'.  
I found a big prickly pear among a mesquite tree behind the CHRPA office to offset the sunset!  
And.....I finished my CHRPA mandala today:
You'll find symbols for plumbing, electric, roofing, the trucks and tools, and the local flora! 

THURSDAY, March 27

A crew of cheerful CHRPA boys!
Roof & Siding, 
More Painting Trucks
     Today is Thursday and that means....CHRPA School!  Every Thursday, the first 45 minutes or so is dedicated to a lesson in home repair.  Since we seem to always arrive in March, we get the electricity lessons which precede the swamp cooler maintenance season. 

Eddie electron on demo!
  Dan Regier is the resident electrician teacher, and he gave another understandable, albeit lengthy, lesson in how electrons travel.  I got to help with one of the demos by sticking wires into sockets of 24v, 120v, and 240v.  We had a full house of 'students', including all of Siri's family!  During school, bagels, cream cheese, yogurt, and fresh fruit was available!  Gotta love Thursdays! 
Ginger helping test the voltage. 

     Then Scott gave a little speech about Lorene and Walter and their dedication to coming every year for the past 17 (or more!).  A few more Walter stories - during which Walter sat with his usual stoic grumpy face.  A little trophy was awarded to him (typical handmade CHRPA style) and then we went outside for the unveiling of the new truck.  Scott had rigged up a board that Lorene and Walter could cut the tape and the board would drop to show the new name on the back.  Walter still had very little to say!  My take on the matter?  He was maintaining his stoicism to mask a deep emotion!  He later gave me a hug and said he liked the picture!  
Roofing patch
Walter and Lorene unveil the new truck signage
 Rick is again sent out with Patrick - they have a roof job to finish (started by another team earlier in the week) and the skirting on a mobile home to install.  Evidently the lady had gaping holes and feral cats are a problem in the neighborhood.  The city told her to get the skirting corrected or she would be fined.  Enter....CHRPA to the rescue!  Rick said they didn't quite get finished there, so a team will have to return on Monday.  
Finished skirting on front of house

     Evidently Scott must have thought I passed the test on Walter's truck, so today I am still on special assignment - paint a seal on Finn and then do the name and picture on ....  Decision time, Scott!  I need a name!  The crew had voted on "Vanna White" (It's a white van!) but that had been nixed!  Out of the blue, Scott said Allie had suggested Rosie.  What about Rosie with the WW2 classic picture with Rosie and a pipe wrench in her hand.?!  OK!
New picture on FINN.
 I spent the next hour and half worked on the design in the trailer on the laptop.  When I had what I needed, I loaded it on to the thumb drive and took it to the office to print out my patterns.  I didn't move the truck before heading out to draw the lines on, thinking it would be fairly fast to transfer like it was yesterday.  Well, for some reason I had more trouble seeing the lines today, so I had to go over the designs several times.  By the time I was finished, the sun was HOT on my back!!  Of course, a nice cloud bank came and blocked the sun JUST as I finished!  

     After a quick lunch I pulled Finn under the mesquite tree (I was too late for the eucalyptus!) and got started on the seal.  It went much faster and smoother than I anticipated, considering the detail on the design.  Then Scott had suggested I paint the rose on Rosie in red, so before I started that truck, I had to make another trip to Ace for more paint.  I also picked up a detail quality brush so I could sign my pictures.  
Back of Rosie!

     I worked until about 3p finishing up Rosie.  It came out pretty nice if I do say so myself!  I had a nice square panel to work on with the van which was easier than the skinny truck panels.  
     Clean-up, shower, and a goodbye to Scott (he is leaving on a short vacation with his son) and at 4 I head off to Albertsons and a weigh-in at the Weight Watchers store.  
     Tonight we COOKED dinner!  I had picked up some Indian eggplant (little lemon size ones) at Sprouts, so we put them with a serving size pack of Spam, an onion that Rick was given yesterday by a client, a zucchini, and a handful of spinach.  It tasted pretty good!  
     Rick watched March Madness tonight, while I went over to the SOOP lounge for their weekly Bible study.  Took a few of my Scribble books and sold 3 of them!  Worked on the jigsaw puzzle afterwards for about an hour!  
     Three day weekend ahead!!!  Play time!

Lorene and Walter with his 'trophy'.  
A loop around the West hills of Tucson

FRIDAY, March 28 
Tucson-Sonora Desert Museum
80 miles (more or less!)

Click HERE for all of today's pictures 

     Today is forecast to only be in the 70's, so we decide that this is a good time to explore a little outside!  The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is rated the #1 attraction for visitors in the Tucson area, so we thought maybe we should may it a visit!  We looked down on the museum from Gates Pass three years ago when we went on a short hike with Luke.  
About here I realized I had
no memory card!
 We make our way from Resort CHRPA around 9a, stopping at a Circle K for coffees and on our way west.  We head back out Speedway and over Gates Pass.  You can't take this route to the museum if you are in a trailer or RV.  Gates Pass is a narrow winding road (and even worse when the cyclist are out, which is often!)  The views are spectacular up here amid the rocky mountains and saguaro cactus.  As I clicked my first picture from the pass, I realized I had left my camera memory card in the computer (not the first time!) and SOOOO glad I had taken a precaution weeks ago and had the spare stored in the glove compartment!  Crisis averted.   
Ocotillo, saguaro, and peaks.

     We get to the museum around 10, too late for the morning Raptor show.  We are amazed at the crowds - school buses of kids.  It is a madhouse!  We wait in line for our tickets - the cost is $19.50 each.  Right before paying, a gentleman asked the gal in front of us if she would like a free guest pass.  She already had one, so turned to us - would we like it???  SURE!  So we got in for half price!!  Good start to the day!  Right place at the right time.  
Mountain lion
 We tried to get ahead of the school groups, but the beginning of our visit was a mass of people.  Not what I expected.  But...beyond that, the park is spectacular.  Views across the valley to Kitt Peak mountains in the distance.  The trails wind in and around through the desert terrain, but they have 'adapted' nature to include riparian zones, mountain oak forests, caves, etc.  It is more than a zoo, however, as all habitats are completely natural.  We wandered among the various 'gardens', enjoying all the labels on the plants.  Through an agave garden, a cactus garden, an aviary of birds, a hummingbird aviary.  We saw mountain lions, bobcats, javelinas, deer, bear, and rocky mountain sheep.  All sorts of snakes and reptiles, frogs and lizards.  
Desert fairy duster

Ocotillo blossom
     Aside from the animals, I really enjoyed all the blooming cactus!  Ocotillo was in full bloom, and many of the cholla cactus were bursting forth: copper colored, wine, bright pink and red, yellow and orange.  Every cholla seemed to have its own color!  Barrell cactus were blooming, plus an abundance of wildflowers.  
Agave in bloom 

Cactus blooms
   We ate lunch at the cafe grill (Rick had pizza and I had a chicken salad wrap), then ambled through the hummingbird aviary before heading down to the Desert Loop trail and the area for the raptor free flight.  The wait and crowd was ridiculous, but at least the cool wind was blowing to keep the heat of the sun at bay!  

Gray Hawk
Harris Hawk
     The raptor show was pretty cool, however, as we saw up close a gray hawk, a barn owl, and four Harris hawks.  They are trained to fly back and forth and perch on the dead snags around the exhibit area.  They fly right at head level, so it is a little disarming when they go right over head.  (One of those times when I was glad to be a bit shorter than most!)  
Barn Owl

     After the Free Flight, we wandered the rest of the Desert Loop, a more primitive trail that takes you out by the javelinas.  We saw three of them napping under the concrete bridge over a wash, and then later looked back to see them up and wandering around.
Javelinas taking a stroll

     A highlight was the aviaries!  So much singing and noise from birds everywhere, but sometimes you had to look close.  They are so unaffected by people that you can get some pretty close views.  We saw a cardinal and stellar blue jay among others.  In the hummingbird aviary we saw a few nests - so tiny.  One had a single fledgling waiting as its mama brought back food.  They dart and move so quickly it was hard to get pictures, but finally one ate on the honeysuckle bush right in front of us.  Click!!  
     Visit to the small aquarium of native fish from the Sea of Cortez and the state, the gift shop, and around 4 we are ready to call it a day!!  
"Bird on a Blooming
Boojum Cactus"

     I take the wheel for the drive home, deciding to head north and visit Saguaro National Park West to see what is up that way.  I know we can get back to the freeway near Marana (didn't realize quite how far north we would have to go!).  Found the visitor center, ran in to get my passport stamp, and back on our way!!  We felt our way through the back roads, following a few helpful signs and Rick's navigating, and found I-10 again on the north side of Tucson.  Traffic wasn't as bad as I feared it might be on a Friday night, but it wasn't until we got home that I remembered the truck clock is still on Mountain time, so we weren't exactly in the MIDDLE of rush hour!   
A few more pictures before closing....
Can't remember the name but it was gorgeous!
The prickly pears were covered with new growth!
Organ Pipe Cactus
    Dinner was clean up of some things that need to be eaten, March Madness BB for Rick, and I went over to lounge to work on puzzle for an hour or so.  (Hence I am finishing this up on Saturday morning!)  G'night!

(I give up trying to get these pictures to line up correctly when the blog publishes!  Sorry for all the blank spaces and weird writing along the side!)

Lazy Days!!! 

Elinor and Walter work on the puzzle. 
     So....this will be brief, as we really haven't done much of anything for the past two days!  Laundry, hours spent in the lounge working on the puzzle, a little basketball for Rick.  I worked a little Saturday and did two Luke scribbles, the first since last October!  Rick called and talked with Jed! 
     Sunday we worshipped again with the Shalom Fellowship - good sermon by Bryce and then lunch out with Walter and Lorene, Ted and Elinor, and Hugh (one of the CHRPA volunteers who is also active at Southside Presby Church).  Grocery shopping at Wal-mart Neighborhood Market, salad making, phone calls to Moms, and puzzle time with everyone (only 6 of us left!) We had a beautiful sunset again this evening which is the ONLY picture I have taken over the past two days! 
     Back to WORK tomorrow!!! 
Sunset as reflected in the windows of Sparkie
Sunset panorama
MONDAY, March 31
Gas lines, Water Heaters, Leaky Pipes, and Mobile Home Skirting

     Today was a full day!!!  With Scott gone, the rest of the SOOPs done for the season, and a couple other regulars off, we only had 5 teams go out today.  Ali and Dan Wilhelm are 'in charge' for the week - scheduling, etc.  It seemed rather quiet in the office as everyone gathered to get started.  
Mike drill hole in eave roof. 
     Rick knew ahead of time that he would be going back out with Patrick to finish off their mobile home skirting job.  It went pretty smoothly, and for two guys who had never done it before, Rick said it came out looking pretty good!  They ate lunch at a park and discovered Dan Wilhelm and Kat there eating as well, so enjoyed good conversation with them during lunch.  Rick's second job today was to fix a leak under a mobile home.  Patrick drew the lucky straw to go 'under' and do the dirty work on that one.  (Rick had been the 'inside' man on the skirting job!)  All went fairly smoothly and Rick was back to the resort by 3:30.  
     Mike and I were assigned another gas line job today, which should have been relatively easy, but Dustin said we also needed to check the water heater because it had an unsafe condition in passing the hot water line directly over the vent for the gas.  It was burning through the pipe!  So...two jobs!  
Posterized version of Ging on roof
applying sealant.  

     The gas line jobs mean hauling the heavy pipe cutting and threading tools everywhere!  Part of the line had already been installed on the gas stove side of the house.  Again we had to lay line across the roof of the house (same little blocks, etc. - although Mike cut them this time while I was applying the sealant to the two flashing spots.)  The gas line went fairly smoothly and shortly after lunch we were completely done.  
Roof flashing and sealant job. 
   Then we took a look at the water heater.  We had to dig out the valve for the water main shut-off.  Turn the water off.  Cut the pipes into the hot water heater that we were going to divert.  Install an on-off lever so the water can be turned off JUST to the hot water heater.  (A good move as it turned out later in the day!)  In the course of
Mike uses grinder to cut the pipes. 
trying to remove some of the pipe fittings from the hot water line, the line snapped off at a point near the top of the soil - totally rusted/rotted out.  So we had another spot to fix!  Got a shovel to try and follow this new broken line.  It went to another T connection which Mike tried to loosen.  No success.  All this pipe from the break on were from cpvc pipe (plastic) - evidence of a previous repair job - probably after the BIG FREEZE in Tucson three years ago.  After a run to Naughton's to pick up a few necessary parts, we get everything all connected.  Turn on the water....a little drip at the top of the heater which I tighten, and.....a BIG DRIP DRIP from one of the connection Mike tried to loosen.  He must have succeeded somewhat and broke the seal.  AUGH!  
This puddle filling with water was NOT
what we wanted to see!  

     We are running out of time!  And the client wants his gas stove pilot lit - between Mike and I and the son of the homeowner, we can't figure it out.  At 5pm, Mike says we HAVE to leave!!!  Someone will come back in the morning and fix the leak and light the stove!  In the meantime, they have no hot water and no stove.  We do the best we can!  
     Back to CHRPA at 5:30 - a 10 hour day in the sun.  I was beat.  Didn't drink enough and felt it.  Mike said it was a 2 ice cream day and helped himself to a couple treats from the freezer!  
     Lorene and Walter took their motor home in for a check-up today after sitting idle for four years.  They arrived home just as I did - all ready to hit the road on Wednesday!!  I think Ted and Elinor hope to pull out tomorrow morning.  We will have to say our goodbyes before leaving for work! 
     Talked to Luke briefly and then Rick had a good conversation later.  He had a good time with Jack and was driving back to Baker City. I got reservations made today for Friday and Saturday nights as we head back up toward Baker City.  We are bound for Sedona area, and then Alama, NV!  New places to stop!!  
     Could be an early night to bed.  I'm tired!!  Rick goes out with Dustin tomorrow and I am paired with Dan Regier!  
     Our client today was an elderly, slightly deaf, Hispanic woman who lived in the house with her unemployed son and his twin, mentally disabled.  The noteworthy aspect was her beautiful flowers and cactus!  I took pictures of her prickly pear, aloe, desert birds of paradise, and daisy like flowers! 
Aloe blossoms
A different type of prickly pear.
Aloe blossom closeup
Bright red stamens on a desert bird of paradise. 
Another flower in the Quezada garden. 

Tuesday, April 1
Bathroom assessment: the owner couldn't
get up the step to use the toilet!
Ceilings, Floors, Bathrooms & Electricity!
     A busy morning as I helped Mike unload YaVonne (we were too tired last night and the shop was locked up!).  The schedule got switched a little at the last minute as Patrick wasn't feeling well (hurt his shoulder on Monday), so Rick ended up going south of Green Valley with Doug.  Their assignment was bathroom repairs and another assessment, but they ended up with two assessment and time to kill.  So they drove north abit and met up with Ali and Siri who were working on a floor replacement in a mobile home.  He said they got alot done with the four of them there!  

Ceiling repair at House 1
   Dan Regier and I had two jobs.  The first was at a mobile home in one of the nicer mobile villages in town.  The entire ceiling of the living room had been replaced and we had 'finish' work to do - we put up molding, plate covers over some electric connections, and Dan put a false ceiling in one bank of cupboards where they couldn't get the sheetrock.  This was a different job because CHRPA doesn't usually do sheetrock repairs.  A local church did the actual sheetrock work after CHRPA reframed the ceiling.  Dan was just glad to be done with it!  Dustin came by and helped for a short time, as all his jobs for today didn't pan out.  He ended up driving out to Three Points before lunch to help Mike.  

Checking the Circuit Box with Dan Regier and
 homeowner son.
     After lunch Dan and I went to a home with electric problems in the kitchen.  The son of the homeowner was quite the conversationalist and home repair guru, so we had to hear all his attempts to fix things, etc.!  Basically one of the outlets had been shorting out which caused the rest of the plugs on the line to no work correctly.  They were lucky they didn't have a wall fire, as the outlet was burned in one of the holes.  Dan had me rewire a couple of the plugs which was an experience!  A couple of cold sodas as thank yous and we were on our way!  
Prickly pear blossom near Shalom church
  But, on our way meant heading back to the first house for a couple of caulks and a signature!  But we also got a bite of cerviche - a salsa like dish made with fish.  I just looked it up - raw fish!!  The homeowner had been defrosting a bunch of white fish on the counter earlier that morning.  It was delicious - I never would have guessed the fish was raw (it was marinated in lime juice).  

Bike sculpture atop the Bike Shop
next door to Shalom. 
     This morning we said goodbye to Ted and Elinor - and sure enough, their RV is gone when we get home!  Walter and Lorene picked up their daughter and her husband this evening in preparation for their departure.  
     Rick and I walked down to Taco Giro for the Tuesday Fish Taco night - another bargain $10 dinner!! the past two days what have I done, some for the first time?  1.  Installed electric switch and outlet; 2. Ran the chop saw for the molding; 3. Installed plates over electric boxes; 3.  Ran the pipe threader; 4.  Cut pvc pipe with a cutter; 5. Glue pvc together; 6.  Applied flashing and sealant to the roof; 7.  Applied pipe sealant to unknown number of threads!  A couple of typical CHRPA days I guess!  
     I worked on a new CHRPA design this evening: 

Floors and Steps!
     Ah....the end of a long day!  The crescent moon lights the sky along with stars, a glass of wine and a finished jigsaw puzzle over in the lounge. I'm ready to call it a night, but will get today's missive written first.  
     Rick and Mike were paired up today to go finish the flooring job they started yesterday with Ali and Siri.  All went well and Rick even stopped at the Pecan Store in Green Valley and picked up some Honey Toasted pecans.  They are good!  
My first view of the yard. 
     I was paired with Hugh, a long-time CHRPA volunteer, to go out to Three Points (halfway to Kitt Peak) and install some 'cascade' steps for a lady at her mobile home.(only 4" risers)  Hugh had worked on the steps some the day before and have the wood and parts on site already.  We just took a couple extra pieces of wood as backup.  Hugh warned me...."Ginger, the place is an absolute dump.  There is trash all over the front, the trailer is in horrible shape.  The lady is disabled because her husband beat her."  Oh boy.  Well, it was a good lesson in being non-judgmental in this CHRPA job.  Wow.  What a mess.  The client was fairly brash, but later in the day she used the new steps to leave for a doctor appointment, and we did get thanked at that point.  Otherwise we just heard her yell at the dogs and on the phone.  There were two chihauhaus inside and two big pitbull type dogs outside, plus a pig, 4 non-functioning vehicles and an old Class c motorhome in the yard.  
Old steps in place - one section was held
together with wire.  NOT good. 
   Hugh remembers Luke well and was formerly an active member of Southside Presbyterian Church - the nursery church for PCUSA moderators (John Fife and Rick Ufford-Chase both came out of Southside).  He now attends the Shalom Fellowship for personal reasons.  We had good conversation on the 45 minute drives to and from Three Points.  
Finishing up the platform section. 

     We built the platform landing first.  Then we had to remove the old metal steps (and all the stuff underneath, most of which was concrete pavers).  The tough job of the day was digging in the dirt to level our paver stones.  Hugh had forgotten a shovel, so I canvassed the yard and found a couple of shovel wanna-bes.  With the help of a couple hammers and crowbars, we managed to dig down into the very dry and hard earth to get our pavers under the 4x4 supports and level.  It was NOT a clean job.  
We got the old steps out
and then had to dig to set the
 Mostly today I cut a few boards on the chop saw and then screwed the boards down.  Each screw had to be pre-drilled first to prevent splitting, and then the screw put into place.  Probably close to 150 screws installed, including railing supports, etc.  
Drilling and screwing in the step boards. 

     No where to go to the bathroom today, so I just didn't drink much and made it through until we got home.  Not the best plan, but fortunately the temps today only reached the high 60's.  
Posing on the finished project! 
The finished puzzle  - three missing pieces. 
     After dinner I went over to the lounge and finished Walter's 1500 piece puzzle.  Disappointed to find 3 pieces were missing at the end.  :(  It is by far the largest puzzle I have ever worked on.   I'll take a picture of it in the morning and send to Walter.  He and Lorene were gone by 7:40 this morning - their kids only had a 12 hour turn-around time!  

Final CHRPA Day: Plumbing!
Lots of volunteers needed to attend the MVS Cooler
     Another beautiful Tucson morning filled with sunshine and clear skies!  Today is Thursday, time for CHRPA School!  Carrie, a former MVSer and CHRPA volunteer from last year, is visiting from the Midwest.  Dan R. asked her to lead the lesson on Swamp cooler start-up.  Well, it basically was an interactive What tools will we need and why?  And then a field trip – to the roof of the MVS house to get their cooler in order and ready to go!  Nothing like 12 people on the roof all attacking the swamp cooler!  I enjoyed the chance to look around the neighborhood from an aerial viewpoint!  There was our trailer surrounded by the day volunteer cars; the church, the office, and the shop. 
     Rick went out today with Dan Wilhelm, one of the ‘seconds in command’ along with Ali when Scott is out of the office.  Their task was to finish up some toilet repair and then install a shower surround and get the shower operational.  The location for the shower job was a small trailer in the very run-down trailer park we both visited last year.  Our eyes continue to be opened by the conditions in which some people are living. 
     I spent another day with Mike!  We had two plumbing jobs to tackle.  The first was at the home of VR – the cat lady….she has 13 cats living in her mobile home.  Plus a homeless couple and her sister who ends up sleeping there when she loses her income from gambling.  VR had a leaky toilet – the problems was in the water line into the toilet.  We took off what was there and installed a new flex hose with a shut-off valve, which wasn’t there previously.  As we worked, VR came up with additional things for us to look at….another leak, etc.  Mike made up a list and someone will go back out next week.  I was somewhat glad we weren’t staying any longer as I have developed something of an allergy to cats and didn’t want to be miserable tonight!
My P trap installment! 
     Our second job was at the home of FB, a 57 year old man on disability.  He and his wife have very little income, but the home was relatively neat inspite of the many needed improvements.  FB was very gracious and kept offering us coffee or water.  He eventually brought us chili cheese dogs for lunch (his daughter had gone out). He and his wife appeared to be providing child care for two of their grandchildren.
Dr. Mike ready to cut away
under the sink!
     We had to fix a leaky kitchen faucet (the sprayer was leaking all over), replace a p-trap, and look at two bathroom sinks that weren’t draining.  Mike helped me with the p-trap, but basically I did it myself.  The kitchen faucet we decided to replace, but it took awhile as the access was awkward and the bolt anchoring the old faucet was rusted into place.  Eventually Mike had to use the grinder to cut it off.  We dressed him up in protective clothing before he took that tool into the confined space under the sink! 
     Rather than head back to VR’s home, we went to Home Depot to get the supplies that fix would need and then headed back to HQs.  Mike and I had a good moment or two of singing in the van to some oldie tunes!  I had to download my pictures as both jobs today needed income verification, so I had the social security award letters on the camera.  Good-byes to some of the staff and off for a much desired shower!! 
     Rick and I gased up the truck and hit El Sur for a chicken fajita dinner!  I even bought a pint of the mild salsa to take home with me. 
     Ali, Kat, Mike, and Carrie stopped by to say goodbye as they prepared to take off for a night out!  And Rick had to contact Bryce to ask him to move the truck parked next to us, preventing us from hooking up to the trailer in the morning! 
     Quiet evening, but no internet connection for some reason.  L  I’ll have to post all this tomorrow night.  

Addendum.....or maybe not until we get home.  What internet connection problems I had coming home!!!  Maybe it is Blogger's problem, I don't know!