Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Tucson Imperative: Eating at a Taqueria

Today we had a very brief period of un-scheduled time in our afternoon.  So we took the opportunity to stop at the Taqueria that has become a regular stop for us when we are in town.

The options for what to get here extend beyond what the name may imply.

We decided to get a couple Sonoran Hot Dogs to enjoy while we decided what to get to take home and eat with Barbie's mom.  These are bacon wrapped hot dogs served in a large bun with pinto beans, mayonnaise, mustard, jalapeño salsa, grilled onions and shredded cheese.  They also come with chile gueritos that is also wrapped in bacon.

Barbie and her mom both got orders of tacos.  I honestly think that these tacos are what franchise restaurants like Baja Fresh and Taco Bell aspire to create, but obviously come up pretty short from that goal.

I opted to get a torta which is a Mexican sandwich that is distinctive not only for the meat in it, more so for the bread that is used.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cultural Indicators of the Southwestern United States

When I lived in the southwest, I would see things like piñata's, catholic statues and candles in stores all the time.  However, I have realized that the phrase "absence makes the heart grow fonder" really is true.  Even though I don't think I ever bought one of these items, when I saw them today in a store with Barbie they made me smile.

We came to this store looking for some Mexican candy, so when we saw these it was a sign that we were definitely in the right place.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Family Event At The Krazee Chef

The main family event for us this Christmas took place tonight on Christmas Eve.  Not only was there a family gathering (big by my standards, small by Barbie's standards), but it was also a chance to see a new restaurant that one of Barbie's cousins and uncles is opening.  The restaurant is called The Krazee Chef and it is schedule to open at the end of the first week of January.

There was a ton of food served, most of which was family recipes, but lots of people also brought items like a pot-luck.  By the end of the night we were both stuffed and we left with enough take home bags of food to keep us fed for at least a week.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Flying Over New Mexico and Arizona

While flying to Tucson for the holidays, I noticed White Sands, New Mexico on the horizon.  It's a natural land mark that I grew up frequently seeing, but I hadn't set eyes on it in over a decade.  Although this is the first time i can recall seeing it from this perspective, I decided it was worth taking a picture of.  In the image below you can see it just below the horizon.

As we continued to travel west, I noticed the southern Rio Grande Valley.  I immediately began recalling the distinctive taste of New Mexico green chile.  Yum!

As we continued west we passed over the Florida Mountains and I took over 100 pictures like the one below.

As we crossed into Arizona, the landscape was covered with patterns like the one below as we passed over Dos Cabezas Peaks.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Whoa, That Was Neat

For the last year or so, I have had a small issue with my Element.  The driver's seat has been rocking under heavy acceleration and breaking.  I honestly can't recall how long ago it started because the motion has ever so slowly been progressing.  For the last few weeks the rocking has gotten to the point where the headrest moves nearly a full inch.

I found a Honda Service Bulletin that outlined exactly what parts were to blame for this rocking motion, and what parts should be used to replace them.  So, last week I stopped into see a couple of local Honda dealerships to see how much it would cost for their service departments to perform the work described in the service bulletin.

I was surprised and disappointed to get estimates of $400 to $500 in order to swap out $3 worth of bushings, washers and nuts.

So, I got my hands on an Element service manual to see how to perform the work myself and just bought the parts.  After only 30 minutes of working on the task, I had the entire driver's seat removed so that I could get access to the parts to replace.  This was a sight I never thought I would see in a car I owned:

Once I had the seat out and on a bench in the garage, the rest of the work was pretty easy.  Mostly it was removing plastic parts that covered the bottom or the frame where the rails were that allows the seat to be adjusted.  In the video below, the seat is upside down, and it is focused on the outboard link that was originally held in place by thee faulty bushings.

After only 3 hours of work, I not only had successfully fixed the problem that had been plaguing my car, I saved myself a few hundred dollars, and I found myself enjoying a tremendous sense of pride in doing something that I had never done before.  Awesome!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Ahh, Clean Air

It's only been a little over 2 years since I last changed the air filters in the E, but as I was planning on doing some maintenance on it I thought I should change them again.

OMG, was I right!  The picture below shows the new filters on the left and the old filters on the right.  I can hardly believe that all that dirt was captured from only 2 years of use.