Sunday, May 8, 2016

Tragically Hip Living: The bright side of celebrating Mother's Day withou...

Tragically Hip Living: The bright side of celebrating Mother's Day withou...: By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living My tragically hip mom in her younger days Eighteen years, the number of years my mother has ...

The bright side of celebrating Mother's Day without a mom

By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living

My tragically hip mom in her younger days
Eighteen years, the number of years my mother has been gone but never forgotten. Eighteen years ago on Mother's Day would be the last time I would spend with her as a whole person. The next day she would have a stroke and heart attack and pass a couple weeks later. I often think of that Mother's Day, it was a great day, hanging out and going to lunch with her. My mom was deeply religious and always accepted whatever came her way, it's one of the many things I admired about her. Without a doubt she had a great life, a day doesn't go by that I don't think about her. Like everyone who has the greatest mom, my mom was the greatest because she always looked at everything in a positive way, no matter the odds stacked against her. She always beat those odds until the very end, even then, she beat the odds against her because she earned a one-way ticket to Heaven. Even when she had her stroke and heart attack, the doctors said she wouldn't make it through the night, but she did and managed to hang on a couple more weeks. She left this earth on her own terms and her own time, that was just her way. So, I reflect on her this Mother's Day and celebrate this day with her memory embedded deep in my heart. Do I miss her? You bet! But I also know she's in a better place and doesn't suffer. If you've lost your mother and feel sadness, you don't need to, her legacy now lives within you and she is still here because of you. It may seem strange, but Mother's Day isn't a sad day for me because my mother lives through me, my children and everyone who knew her. Think about this, would your mother truly want you to sit around today and be sad? I think not, she would want you to have a great day, I know for me every day is Mother's Day and my mother wouldn't want that. Instead, I reflect on what an amazing woman she was, her sense of humor, her willingness to stand behind me when no one else would, encouraging me to pursue that dream. She taught me to recognize the simple things in life, the little things that may not seem like much but are blessings. One memory I have of her is a story that I've told before, a story that we often laughed about later. My mother was a shopper, mostly a window shopper, but a shopper. One night, I had to make a run to the drug store, it was late at night and Walgreens had just started staying open late, my mom was well into her 50s. As I was picking up what I needed, I could hear two women laughing in the next aisle, I thought to myself geez, that sounds like my mom, but what would she be doing at a Walgreens this late at night? I continued to hear these two women carrying on, giggling like little school girls at a Donny Osmond concert. I finally had enough and had to see what all the commotion was about, so I walked over to the next aisle for a peek. Sure enough, it was my mom and aunt trying on hats and sunglasses, striking poses like they were supermodels doing a photo shoot at the beach. When I walked up they had a bewildered look on their faces, like they were busted for smoking or something. I said, "Mom, what the hell are you doing at Walgreens this late at night?" She laughed and fessed up and said that she and my aunt (who was spending the night) were exploring their new hobby, going to stores, reading labels on products and looking at things with no intention of buying anything. I said, "Mom! It's late at night, are you in a gang or something, did you live under a power line as a kid, what gives? How did you even get here, you and Baby (my aunt) don't even drive?" They said my uncle brought them and said he was in the magazine section, far away from them in case they were arrested. I didn't know it at the time, but this was one of the unexpected blessings she taught me about, a happy memory that will always be with me. After that, we went to Denny's for pie and coffee and just laughed at the whole thing. It's memories like this and there were many that will always live on forever, especially now since this story will be on the Internet. The point is this, think to yourself, would you rather sit around on Mother's Day and be sad because your mother is no longer here? Would you want to spend a lifetime not having the experiences shared with your mom? Or would you rather be thankful for the time, the experiences and adventures you had with her? Exactly! Sure it's sad mother's leave us, but do they really leave us? Is not a part of them living within us? The answer is yes, they are still here in a sense. So, turn that frown upside down, celebrate your mother with the memories she left behind, be thankful for the time you had, make this day a day of honoring your mother because she would want it that way. In closing, I say this....Happy Mother's Day Mom, I love you and miss you, thanks for the time you spent with me and thanks for the memories. And Mom because I have your sense of humor, and like having Geico Insurance, thanks for saving me a ton of money on Mother's Day by not having to buy flowers and take you out for dinner anymore, but if I could, I would give anything to at least do it one more time.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Tragically Hip Living: How to San Diego like a cheap bastard

Tragically Hip Living: How to San Diego like a cheap bastard: By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living As the heat of summer approaches, so too does the time of year when San Diego is the destinati...

How to San Diego like a cheap bastard

By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living

As the heat of summer approaches, so too does the time of year when San Diego is the destination of choice. I've visited San Diego since my childhood and it never gets old, but the past few years it seems to be getting more and more expensive, and hard to find a decent room without having to pay a lot of money or donate an organ. In my younger years, I always stayed at a hotel on, or within walking distance of the beach, mainly in Mission or Pacific Beach.
Photo: Ronatringside.com
I understand things change and prices will go up, but many of the hotels are greedy, inflating prices in the summer months that can run well into the hundreds of dollars per night. What really turned me off was a particular hotel that pretty much tripled the price of rooms. This was a hotel that I was a frequent and loyal customer for years, besides raising the rates, they required a 3-day minimum stay which is tough to do if planning a weekend trip. To add insult, they imposed a $30 convenience fee and a $20 per day parking fee which I wasn't aware of at the time I booked, which was my fault for not checking. That was my last time staying at that hotel and afterward, I thought, WTF? Really? The clerk couldn't even tell me what the $30 convenience fee was about. I told the clerk it must be for prostitution because I just got screwed.
Photo: Ronatringside.com
So now, I visit San Diego differently and it cost way less because I do my research and use some new travel tools. Part of the reason is that I'm basically a cheap bastard by choice and love great deals, I love San Diego and love being outside. If staying at a nice expensive hotel on the beach is important to you then you should do it if you plan on staying at the place for much of your time, everybody has a different idea of how they want to vacation. For a few years, I avoided San Diego, mostly because I couldn't even find any rooms under $200 a night on short notice so I traveled to other Southern California cities like Laguna Beach and San Clemente even though I missed San Diego. But then I got creative, I travel often and joined reward programs for different hotel chains and car rental companies for starters. When I go to San Diego my place of choice is Ocean Beach, it's where the locals hang out for the most part. There isn't as much traffic (although busy) as Mission or Pacific Beach and everything cost less and the eateries are much better in my opinion. So here's what I do, I don't use travel websites, you will rarely find a deal for a popular destination on short notice, I use Google Maps by typing in "San Diego Motels" and zoom in on different areas.
Photo: Ronatringside.com
It will often show the price on the tabs and often show places that aren't on travel websites. One of my rewards program I belong to is Wyndham Rewards, had the most luck with this one, they include hotels like Days Inn, Ramada, Travelodge on the economy side. I look on Google Maps for these types since my goal is to be more outdoors and really just need a place to sleep, as long as it's clean and comfortable. Let's look at my last couple of trips as an example. I try to plan about a month out if I can, but mostly it's a week or less most of the time, my last trip was 3 days before arrival and included staying Fri-Tue on Memorial Day weekend. Checking Google Maps, I searched the Ocean Beach area and found a few hotels under the Wyndham Rewards program. At the time, there was a Travelodge undergoing renovations near the Sports Arena area (Rosecrans/Midway) and the price was $109 per night for Fri-Sat and $89 for Sunday, Monday and check out Tues with free breakfast. I called the hotel directly and asked specifically what "under renovation" meant.
Photo: Ronatringside.com
The gentleman told me that many of the rooms were being renovated and the pool was not in operation, but the breakfast area was recently completed and operational. I told him I was a rewards member and if he could give me a deal? He said if I was willing to take a room on the 3rd floor he would give me a rate of $69 for Fri-Sat and $49 for Sun-Tues and that was tax included! I asked him to send some pics since some of the places don't look like the pics on the website. He indeed did send pics, even the newly renovated room I would be staying in. He was honest and told me the parking lot had construction materials and workers would be working during the week on the lower floors until around 3 p.m. I jumped on the deal and booked it with a total cost was $236, but I had enough points for Sun-Mon night so actual cost was $138  The location was great, 5 min to Ocean Beach and 5 min to Mission/Pacific Beach. I then checked with Enterprise Car Rental since I belong to their rewards program and booked a car from Phoenix. I always book an economy car knowing that most of the time they don't have any left and they upgrade for the same price.
Photo: Ronatringside.com
I booked a car from Thurs-Wed for a total price of $176. Sure enough, when I arrived they were out of economy cars (popular during week) and gave me a Chevy Impala. I used some points and got a free day (little over $30) so drive out cost was $145 and change. The total cost for hotel/car was $283 total, not bad for a Memorial Day weekend. My last trip was July 4th weekend and I booked the same hotel. Although it was more expensive this time, a little over $100 compared to my last trip, it was still a bargain for a holiday weekend including a deal on the car too. Belonging to rewards clubs does have perks and highly recommend using them. Since my goal and objective is to hang out at the beach or outdoors, a place to stay just needs to be comfortable and clean. Since I'm a cheap bastard now, places to eat have changed as well. Back in the day, I always went to mostly nice places for the most part but discovered that half the night was wasted because sometimes it was a 1-2 hour wait for a table with a view and usually pricey. To me, that was simply too much time and money, especially when I did get a table, 99% of the people weren't even taking in the view and ambiance, they were busy texting or taking selfies.
Photo: Ronatringside.com
So this is what I do now, I dine mostly in Ocean Beach because it supports the locals. Sure the wait time can be long, but I discovered a little trick. Order your food takeout and grab a blanket, some chairs and head to the beach or park and enjoy your tasty chow while taking in a view, maybe a sunset if it's dinner. Ocean Beach is loaded with great eateries, wait times at places like Hodad's on Newport Avenue (tasty burger joint) could be long judging by the line which stretches often around the block. Another place in Ocean Beach I like is Don Tommy's on Voltaire Street, a Mexican food joint that is simply killer, they even make their own tortillas. I go here for breakfast too sometimes, they have breakfast burritos made from scratch that can easily feed two people. If healthy is your choice, The People's Market on Voltaire is the place. It's a healthy grocery store and has a prepared food area upstairs and is perfect if you want to make your own meal or take it to go. On Saturday's they have live music on the patio outside and best of all, it's free.
Photo: Ronatringside.com
I still hit up Mission/Pacific Beach too, but I go early to find a parking spot and usually hit a place on Garnett Street to eat, avoiding the more expensive places on the beach to eat and shop. I still take in the free ocean views though. So, think about Ocean Beach next time, shopping and restaurants are generally cheaper and just hit a side street to park. It will save you valuable time and money if you're a cheap bastard like me.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Tragically Hip Living: How I feed my soul by lessons learned in life

Tragically Hip Living: How I feed my soul by lessons learned in life: By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living Photo: Ronatringside.com That old saying, "With age comes wisdom" is often true wi...

How I feed my soul by lessons learned in life

By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living

Photo: Ronatringside.com
That old saying, "With age comes wisdom" is often true with me when it comes to the road of life. What was once important in my 20s may not have the same meaning in my 50s. A night of going out and drinking meant having a hangover and spending the next day in bed. As I became older, a night of drinking required two days to recover and sometimes longer. I rarely drink now and the difference is that I know my limits. It's funny when you really think about it, the mind has no clue it's getting older. It's the body that informs the mind that we now have limitations. For years I struggled with it, a sports injury would take longer to heal, a night out required more down time, many things required more time to recover. In youth, we are taught to go to school, get a good job and start a family and live happily ever after.
Photo: Ronatringside.com
The problem is that it may not work out that way, it didn't certainly for me. I quickly discovered there is not an owners manual or "How to fix a Fuck-Up for Dummies." It wasn't until I lost everything that I figured it out, and the answer was really quite simple. I discovered that for me, I am not on the same journey another person may be on, my wants and needs may be something totally different. Some may want lots of money, a big house, and fancy car, that's great if that's what one desires. I thought that's what I wanted too in my younger years but soon discovered that after losing all those things, we as a society are judged by those very things. Think about this, when we meet someone for the first time, one of the first things asked is "what we do for a living."
Photo: Ronatringside.com
It's one element on how we define a person. If a person is a janitor or a Wall Street investor, that person is categorized as to status. I used to do that very same thing, I was judging a person by what they did for a living and money. In my travels of life, for instance, I have crossed paths with some extraordinary people. A former championship boxer who had it all, and lost it all and works at a car wash, a person in entertainment that makes millions of dollars a year and started with nothing but a dream. What do the two have in common? They both are great people when they are not defined by status. You wouldn't know one works at a car wash and the other lives in Beverly Hills. Despite different paths and circumstances, they are simply two down to earth people but defined by society.
Photo: Ronatringside.com
If passing them on the street you wouldn't know one was a world champion, had it all and lost it, the other in entertainment who came from nothing and probably makes more money in a day than the boxer in a year. For me, I found balance through time and wisdom, prayer and meditation. Finding what really made me happy and doing what I want to do, not what others wanted me to do. We all need and want money, how we make it and use it is up to that person. The mistakes made in life are not often mistakes, they are often lessons for something much greater that awaits you down the road. I consider myself a spiritual person, I believe in God, the power of the Universe and believe we are here for a purpose. Being older, I realized these things and found I have been blessed beyond measure.
Photo: Ronatringside.com
I now do what I love to do, ringside at a fight, maybe travel or just having a coffee on my patio, it's all a blessing indeed and never taken for granted. I truly believe my passion is helping others succeed, that's my calling in life. It brings me great satisfaction when I do, and I've done it a lot. It's done with no intention of receiving anything back, no intention for fanfare or glory, it's done with as much obscurity as possible. The payback is the blessing of seeing it happen for someone, the look on their face when you've helped someone achieve a goal that has been inside them all along, the funny thing is I am blessed tenfold for it every time. It could come in the form of a beautiful ocean sunset on an unexpected last minute trip, maybe a check in the mail for a job you completed and completely forgot about, or maybe just connecting with an old friend that you haven't seen in years.
Photo: Ronatringside.com
In a nutshell, what I'm saying is this, the life you live is YOUR life and not someone else's. Everyone one is on their own path, their own journey, whether it be wealth and nice things, or just living a modest simple life, it should be your choice. If you want to be a unicorn, be a unicorn, a chain-smoking monkey, be a chain-smoking monkey, just be and do what you want in life. Our time here on this earth is limited, so stop wasting time because certain restrictions apply, and it's not valid in all areas.

Until next time, have a tragically hip day!

Ron Valderrama can be contacted by email: tragicallyhipliving@gmail.com

Monday, March 7, 2016

Tragically Hip Living: Springtime in the desert awakens bugs and critters...

Tragically Hip Living: Springtime in the desert awakens bugs and critters...: By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living Photo: Ronatringside.com Without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places to spend winter i...

Springtime in the desert awakens bugs and critters, but there won't be no bugs on me I hope

By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living

Photo: Ronatringside.com
Without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places to spend winter is Phoenix, Arizona. The mild winters allow for plenty of outdoor activities while a short 2-hour drive or less north and you're in the high country and snow. But as the season changes to spring, it awakens many of the pest that are common to the Phoenix area. Rattlesnakes, scorpions, ants, roaches and many other pest seem to come alive as the temp hits 80 degrees. At my home, rattlesnakes and scorpions are not really a problem unless out hiking, a little caution and education will bring you home safely.

As I have grown older and somewhat wiser, being kind to the environment and making less of a footprint has become a priority for me. I hate bugs, but I know they play a part and are important in the balance of nature, I just don't want them to do it at my house. I have been researching ways to control pest by using safe and environmentally friendly methods. 

At my home, I have 3 type's of pest who love to hang out and try to make my patio their home, thankfully they are outside for the most part. Ants, mosquitos, ants and the dreaded sewer roach. As the  temperature rises and the monsoon season hits is when they are most active. In the past and before becoming environmentally conscious, I used toxic pest control sprays. They would help for a short period, but soon after the pest would be back.

Photo: Google Free Images
One product I have used for many years is Borax 20 Mule Team laundry booster, a natural product from the earth itself. To control sewer roaches, I spread it outside and along the border of the house. I also have screens covering all the drains in the house and pour a few tablespoons down each drain as well. This keeps them away and keeps the drain clean too. Sewer roaches are my biggest fear, I'm terrified of them. Anyone who knows me can attest to that, if I see one, it's not unusual for me to have nightmares about them. As a matter of fact, should I run across one, I would not hesitate to sacrifice my own children to escape the peril. From what I understand through research, spread a light dusting around the outside of your house, about 2-4 inches wide. The roaches will walk on it and the powder sticks to their legs and body. They will clean themselves and ingest the borax and eventually die. I tried it for ants, but it didn't seem to work for me, I highly recommend Borax 20 Mule Team for roaches though.

Photo: Google Free Images
Last summer I discovered diatomaceous earth, another natural product that comes from the earth in a chalky form. It's actually naturally fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. I purchased a 10-pound bag (non food grade) of it at Walmart for less than $10. This stuff worked great for ants, it even works for roaches too, I spread it the same as borax and did see results with the pesky ants within 2 weeks. The way it works for roaches is the tiny particles in diatomaceous earth cut the waxy exoskeleton, dehydrating  and killing the roach within 48 hours. Do not be surprised if you see more roaches after a week or so as they are searching for water. I noticed a big difference after about 3 weeks and did not see any around the house for the rest of the summer. A spray bottle with soapy water also works well for the live one's too. Diatomaceous earth not only works well for roaches and ants, it also works well keeping many types of bugs away. Another method I have heard of for controlling ants is using ground popcorn kernels, basically corn meal. The ant apparently can't resist it and view it as a food source, but they can't digest the cornmeal and it kills them. There are many species of ants, but for me, my patio area had a problem with "Crazy Ants," they move fast and in all different directions. What I did notice is they follow a trail and move all directions when in the open. They seem to be most active when the weather is hot and humidity is high, monsoon season for Arizona. I plan on trying the ground popcorn method too and see if this will net any results.

Photo: Google Free Images
Despite the arid climate of Phoenix, surprisingly mosquitos can be an issue. Such is the case for me, I spend a lot of time on my patio and mosquitos are lovers of my patio for some reason. I have no source of standing water, and other than a few plants on my patio, it has been a mystery. This year I am planning on littering my patio with mosquito repelling plants. Where I live, basil, lavender, peppermint, sage and rosemary seem to be effective according to some nurseries in my area. What I plan on doing is strategically placing each plant in separate pots and place them next to each other, repeating the process so that the series of plants are within a few feet of each throughout the entire patio. It will not only look nice but smell good and keep them skeeter's away. One nursery said to also clip a small piece of any of the plants and rub it on your skin as added protection, but to test a small area on the skin to make sure it does not become irritated.

Please note, caution should be used when using any of these methods even though Borax 20 Mule Team and diatomaceous earth are natural products. 


Monday, February 15, 2016

Tragically Hip Living: 'This ain't my first rodeo' the Corbin Magley stor...

Tragically Hip Living: 'This ain't my first rodeo' the Corbin Magley stor...: By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living Corbin Magley Photo: Ronatringside.com It's a surprisingly warm February day in Buckeye,...

'This ain't my first rodeo' the Corbin Magley story

By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living

Corbin Magley
Photo: Ronatringside.com
It's a surprisingly warm February day in Buckeye, Arizona. I'm here for the Arizona Jr. Rodeo Association Rodeo (AJRA), and supporting one of it's participants. 

12-year old Corbin Magley is a relative newcomer to rodeoing but has been around horses for much of his life. 

What's unique about Corbin? Well, like his two other brothers and a sister too, much of their free time is spent outdoors training for a rodeo or riding horses.



Photo: Ronatringside.com
Corbin and his family live on a nice 5-acre spread in a rural area of Phoenix near the White Tank Mountain Preserve, it's close to the city, but far enough away to have that country feel. 

His parents encourage all the kids to spend time outdoors, they don't spend a lot of time watching television or playing video games. Corbin and his siblings aren't your average kids, they love being outside and watch over each other with the utmost care and strive to help each other, believe it or not, it's genuine. Sure, they may squabble once in a while, but that it is rare and often short-lived. 

Photo: Ronatringside.com
These kids live a structured life, homework and chores must be completed if they want any free time to spend outdoors. They often ride horseback on one of the many trails in the area they have blazed, much like a kid riding a bike in the neighborhood. Last year, Corbin asked his parents about riding bulls and that he would like to give it a try. His parents did some research and enrolled him with AJRA and then it was off to the races for Corbin. Learning to rope or ride bulls is a hands-on experience, one can't just watch a YouTube video and say "okay, got it."


Corbin on a bull
Photo: Ronatringside.com
It's an art that takes years to master, countless hours of training and dedication are required. It's been less than a year and Corbin has already attended a hand full of rodeo events, gaining experience and a few bumps and bruises along the way.

This past weekend was Corbin's first event of the year and his first event since suffering an injury that had him sidelined for a spell. 




Corbin on a ride
Photo: Ronatringside.com
Last Thanksgiving, Corbin was outside playing with his brothers and sister and somehow fell and broke his collar bone, it's ironic that he could be tossed around by a bull like a rag doll and get back up and do it again, yet, sustain a freak injury while playing around with his brothers and sister. I have to say, the kid is tough, he was in pain when it happened but did little complaining about it. That's when I knew for sure that this kid is built to ride bulls, you see Corbin was more upset that he was going to miss the rodeo that weekend and felt bad because his parents prepared for a rodeo that weekend.


Corbin Magley
Photo: Ronatringside.com
I have been to a couple of Corbin's rodeo events, and I gotta say it is a blast watching these young kids rodeo. The days are long, there is poop everywhere, flies try to attack any food you bring out, bees are everywhere (I think one looked at me and pointed his stinger me), but most of all it's just simply a helluva lot of fun and plain goodness. It could be hours between events, depending on what events you are competing in. For Corbin, the down time is spent grabbing a bite to eat, maybe spending time roping and preparing for his next event.



Corbin (L)  working with brother Wesley
Photo: Ronatringside.com
I watched Corbin practice roping between events with his younger brother Wesley, I could see the intense focus of the brothers and I know it's just a matter of time before Wesley gets involved in rodeo too. If you ever get a chance to attend a rodeo like this I highly recommend it, it will give you faith in tomorrow's youth. Some of these kids are really good, you can see the passion in their eyes before an event. The kids that are lucky enough to rodeo know they are privileged, none of them take it for granted.




Sadie, a tragically hip dog belonging to the Mowbray family
Photo: Ronatringside.com
The time and money it cost to attend one of these events is not for the faint at heart, factor in the entrance fees, fuel, food, and preparation to name just a few things. When attending a rodeo event, it can run hundreds and hundreds of Washington's to do so. So why do these kids do it, why do the parents do it, why do they all sacrifice so much time and money? Well, the answer is simple, it's a family experience even for the family dog. It's an experience that has vanished for many of Americans, we live in a fast-paced world now and so many are out of touch with spending time together and just enjoying life. 


Sunset at the Buckeye Equestrian Center
Photo: Ronatringside.com
What I have noticed is the bond and friendships these young rodeoers have formed, they help and encourage each other, not by text, but in person believe it or not.The rodeo is just half the fun and as the day's events come to a close, it's now time to relax and hang out with your rodeo pals. Everybody is dirty and hungry, for the parents, it's time to grab a chair, have a beer and visit with some down to earth people before supper, perhaps witness a killer sunset.



Corbin ready for breakaway roping
Photo: Ronatringside.com
At the end of the day, I notice and understand why the parents give up so much, and why these kids want to rodeo. The ear-to-ear smiles are a dead give away. 

So there you have it, in a nutshell, these young men and women are tough, way more tough than me. I'm down for two days if I suffer a paper cut on my finger. 

Simply said, I can easily see why they all say "this ain't my first rodeo."



For more information about the Arizona Jr. Rodeo Association, visit them on line at www.arizonajuniorrodeo.com.

Until next time, have a tragically hip day!

Ron Valderrama can be reached by email at: Tragicallyhipliving@gmail.com.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Tragically Hip Living: Gilbert Farmers Market, a place where a dog can br...

Tragically Hip Living: Gilbert Farmers Market, a place where a dog can br...: By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living Gilbert Water Tower Photo: Tragically Hip Living Farmers markets have gained in popularity...

Gilbert Farmers Market, a place where a dog can bring their best friend to shop organic

By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living

Gilbert Water Tower
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
Farmers markets have gained in popularity across the country, and the same is true here in sunny Arizona. Gilbert, Arizona is part of the Greater Phoenix Area, what was once a sleepy farm and ranch town is now dotted with subdivisions and strip centers. The original downtown area  of Gilbert has managed to preserve the past of the historic downtown and remains the focal point of the community.

Although Gilbert has grown in size, the small town atmosphere still remains.




Photo: Tragically Hip Living
Whether a local, or just visiting Arizona, the Gilbert Farmers Market (GFM) is a must see for places to visit. The Gilbert Farmers Market is open every Saturday year-round, rain or shine, and is located at the Gilbert Park and Ride in downtown, just keep an eye out for the iconic water tower and follow the crowds. But the GFM isn't just for humans, dogs are welcome as well, and although the scent from the food trucks must be absolute torture for the rapid waggin' tailed creatures, a chance to hang out with other canines and sniff a butt or two has to be like Disneyland in their eyes.


Gilbert Farmers Market
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
Opened since 2010, the Gilbert Farmers Market has grown from it's early days of less than 30 vendors. Today, they have 60 vendors in the summer months, and close to 100 in the summer months. The GFM prides itself on featuring local, chemical free produce and many local artisan products. 

The GFM is easy to find, and parking is free across the street. If the lot is full, there are multiple parking lots nearby and within a short walk. 




Organic Produce
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
So, what are the offering's at the Gilbert Farmers Market? Well, the GFM has offering's a plenty, farm fresh organic in season produce that is grown locally from a number farms. The variety of organic vendors has something for everybody, handmade pasta, hummus, honey, spices and rubs, even some tasty deserts ranging from cakes and pies to snack bars plus so much more. In the market for some plants? No problem GFM has a vendor that offers a select variety of plants at a fantastic price.





Photo: Tragically Hip Living
The Gilbert Farmers Market isn't just for shopping, it's a gathering place as well,  and a tragically hip place to grab some tasty grub from one of the many food booths, or just hang out and have a cup of Joe, perhaps some tea, or other beverages offered. Maybe take in some sun and do a little people/dog watching, whatever your preference, it's a great way to start off a relaxing Saturday.

The vibe of the GFM can only plant a smile on your face with all the activity surrounding you.



Photo: Tragically Hip Living
But the tasty grub doesn't stop there, the Gilbert Farmers Market plays host to an abundance of food trucks that is simply a plethora of cuisine on wheels. The variety the food trucks offer is wide, with many choices, vegetarian, pretzels, Mexican, Polynesian, popcorn, maybe a baked potato, in season inspired choices, waffles, even vegetarian,  the choices are many. For the Chicago style hot dog lover, a Vienna Beef hot dog can be found here,  how frickin' nice is  that! 



Photo: Tragically Hip Living
Without a doubt, buying organic is more expensive than regular produce, but to be honest, some of the produce is comparable to buying produce from a grocery store, the same is true for all the organic products at the GFM. The benefits of purchasing from GFM, besides being fresh, the quality and pride each of the vendor's offer in their products will be the first thing you'll notice. It's an experience, one you certainly wouldn't get from a grocery store, the market creates community and awareness of what is local to the area. 

Supporting local business owners can only profit the community by keeping it local. Many big box stores lack the quality and personal touch in the products they sell. 




The Gilbert Farmers Market is located at 222 N. Ash Street, Gilbert, Arizona, 85296.

For more information, visit the Gilbert Farmers Market at www.gilbertmarket.com, or on Facebook www.facebook.com/GilbertMarket for the latest news and hours of operation.











Friday, January 29, 2016

Tragically Hip Living: Fruit or vegetable? Avacados and the amazing healt...

Tragically Hip Living: Fruit or vegetable? Avacados and the amazing healt...: By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living Photo: Google Free Images I have often wondered, is the avocado a fruit or vegetable? Well,...

Fruit or vegetable? Avocados and the amazing health benefits

By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living


Photo: Google Free Images
I have often wondered, is the avocado a fruit or vegetable? Well, according to Californiaavocado.com it's a fruit and grown on a tree. The origin of the avocado can be traced back to Mexico and Central America, much of our supply comes from here. Most avocados in the United States are grown in the mild climate of Southern California and produces some of the best avocados for a short few months. The nutritional value of the avocado are many, this little guy is loaded with vitamin B1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 9, vitamin C, E and K. It also contains Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Sodium, and Zinc. Oh yeah, among many other benefits, it also has more potassium than a banana. 


Photo: Google Free Images
I have never been much for eating enough fruit's or vegetables partly because I can never tell if they are ripe, but as you get older we tend to re-think our health strategy. I used to like avocados when I was younger, then for some reason I stopped eating them. As we age, we tend to gain wisdom and know by experience the difference between right and wrong. Does this mean we have to stop having fun? Absolutely not, I don't think I will ever truly grow up, I will always be a man-boy traveling my own path, probably sticking my finger in places I shouldn't, and doing so just to say I have done that. Pretty sure I will never change, wearing two different socks, maybe just one sock, that's just who I am.

We must also use our wisdom gained over the years and adjust with age. I have decided to start eating avocados again, try new recipes that contain avocados and track how I feel, and see if the benefits really make a difference in my life. 

My plan is to buy organic, sure it cost more, but the benefit saves you more health-wise in the long run. I will be exploring organic farms and hitting some farmer's markets in my area, as well when traveling too. Food production has changed for us, engineering crops to grow at a faster pace and with no regard to health. But let's not get into that right now, that's another story for another time. What we can do is choose organic and choose local, learn where our food comes from and what measures are taken to deliver the safest crop possible.


Photo: Google Free Images
But how do we know when an avocado is ripe? Here is how:

Light green: Very firm, ready in about 5 days.

Medium green: Firm, ready in about 3 days.

Turning dark: Somewhat firm, ready in about a day.

Pre-ripe: Somewhat soft, ready for slicing.
Dark-ripe: Soft and ready to eat.


Avocados should be stored in the refrigerator, cut avocados will turn brown or oxidize if left unprotected. This is due to breaking the cellular walls which cause oxidation to occur, it can be prevented by adding an acidic agent like lemon or lime juice. Covering in plastic wrap or an airtight container in the refrigerator is essential for this delicate fruit.

Until next time, have a tragically hip day!

Ron Valderrama can be reached by email: Tragicallyhipliving@gmail.com




Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tragically Hip Living: How to visit Flagstaff on less than two hundred bo...

Tragically Hip Living: How to visit Flagstaff on less than two hundred bo...: By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living Flagstaff, Arizona Photo: Tragically Hip Living This past weekend brought me to beautiful Fl...

How to visit Flagstaff on less than two hundred bones

By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living

Flagstaff, Arizona
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
This past weekend brought me to beautiful Flagstaff, Arizona for a project I'm working on, and a little recreation time too. Like so many Arizona travel destinations, Flagstaff has become an expensive place to visit and if traveling cheap is your goal, this may be an option for you to do so. First, I belong to Wyndham Rewards, a program that allows you an option to visit any of the Wyndham Hotels within it's network of hotels. Ramada, Super 8, Days Inn just to name a few are part of the Wyndham family. But let's step back shall we? Before using my Wyndham option, I checked online at the hotel options for Flagstaff. A stay at the Hampton Inn from Sat., checking out Monday (Jan. 23-25) ran $201 for Sat. and $139 for Sun., hardly a deal for a place to lay your head at night. I then checked La Quinta and found a rate of $97 per night ($214 total) for a stay with the same dates. Frustrated, I called to see why it was so much due to the fact it is usually cheaper in the winter and if they could offer a better deal. 

Days Inn I-40 Flagstaff
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
The guy at the front desk told me that the rates increased due to the demand for rooms, a result of the recent snow amounts at Snow Bowl and people wanting to ski. I could feel my panties wadding up with anger but quickly calmed myself down by humming the "Soft Kitty" song from Big Bang Theory. I asked the guy how he can sleep at night? Telling him that if paying $214, you better respect me in the morning and it better include a breakfast, perhaps a nice parting gift would be nice too! With no inexpensive rooms to be had in Flagstaff for the weekend, I decided to use some of my Wyndham points for a deal. 

The constant train traffic in Flagstaff
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
So, logged into my account and searched Flagstaff for rooms and to my surprise, found a room at Days Inn Flagstaff I-40 as you come into town and away from the train tracks. I was offered a low rate just for being a member, didn't even have to use my points, even better, I used my AARP membership to obtain a deeper discount! So, what was my total for the two-night stay including taxes? How about $77.13 for the entire stay! Was pleased to know when the front desk informed me that the room was very clean and they pride themselves on cleanliness. The room also had a fridge, microwave, and a coffeemaker. The stay also included a breakfast, which included among many things, waffles, pastries, and fruit. I was as "happy as a queer in a dick tree," (No disrespect to anyone gay intended, I have some gay friends and they know my sense of humor) and quickly sealed the deal. 

Photo: Tragically Hip Living
Arriving in Flagstaff around noonish on Saturday, a few hours would have to be burnt before my 3 p.m. check-in at the hotel, so hit the streets for some thrift store shopping. A little investigating and talking to some locals, all signs pointed towards the Full Circle Trade & Thrift, a local favorite. It's located on Beaver Street, a block South of Route 66 in the historic downtown area. Although nothing was purchased, they did have some good prices on quality clothing and some tragically hip antiques in the furniture section. The Full Circle Trade & Thrift is a definite must visit when traveling to Flagstaff. After browsing the area, it was time to check-in at the hotel and proceeded to settle in my comfy room before grabbing a bite to eat. After having my freshly brewed Peet's French Roast Coffee, I decided to head over to Bun Huggers, one of the best places in Flagstaff to have a stellar burger for a good price. I ordered the "Little Hugger," a 1/4 pound burger cooked well done and an order of their natural cut fries and a water for a drink. What I like about this place is that you order what you want, they cook it, and let you add the condiments yourself at the condiment station near the register. Everything is fresh and well maintained, the total cost for this beef bonanza was $7.84, well within my intended budget.

Macy's European Coffeehouse
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
After a peaceful night, I step outside to witness the cool sunrise that is before me and sip on my tasty coffee. It's Sunday morning and the views of the snow capped mountains only add to this blessing. I have a meeting in a few hours so I head back to my room to get ready. Wanting a little something to eat and remembering what the locals told me, I make my way to Macy's European Coffee House for a sample of the many baked goods they offer. Macy's is just down the street from Full Circle Thrift and is quite a hip little joint. The walls are adorned with paintings and photos, it's like a little gallery. Anyhoo, the place is packed, so I already know the place is good. I make my way up the line to place my order. I decide to order a hot chocolate, made from scratch and with real milk if you can believe that, and a pecan sticky bun. Right away, I notice my hot chocolate being prepared with the utmost pride and care, the cashier steps over to the baked goods counter and asked if I had any particular pecan sticky bun in mind? I signal no preference and she packages the tasty treat in a bag. An opening at the bar is available and I quickly snag a spot before it's gone. Well, simply said, this was the best hot chocolate and pecan sticky bun I have ever had. Imagine driving in the HOV lane with only you in the car, or ripping off one of those warning labels on a mattress that state "Warning Do Not Remove This Tag Under Penalty of Law," yeah, it's that kind of feeling, total cost was $9.58, again well within my planned budget.

Flagstaff, Arizona
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
After my meeting I head out to explore the downtown shops, if it's been awhile since your last visit, the place has changed, many new shops with local owners, and that's a good thing to see. One of my stops brought me to The Old Town Shops located on Birch and Leroux Streets. What's cool about this place is that it has a bunch of shops in one building, mostly geared for women, but some dude stuff too.

Big Foot BBQ
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
What caught my attention was the Big Foot Barbeque located downstairs, the aroma forces one to stop and eat. So, I did just that, ordering a pulled pork sandwich, onion rings, and beans, topped off with a sweet tea to drink. Not the best I have ever had, but certainly well worth the $13.78 spent for this above average meal that could easily feed two. Feeling tired, I head back to my room for a little relaxation and a little work. Later that evening for dinner, a short drive to Cracker Barrel tops off the day and a reflection of my time in Flagstaff, the tab at Cracker Barrel ends up being $17.34, not bad for a home cooked meal.
The following morning I check out at 11 a.m. and decide to hit Sedona on the way home via Hwy 89A out of Flagstaff. I highly recommend this drive because it is one of the most beautiful stretches of highway in the country. So, what did my weekend excursion cost? Well, here's the breakdown:
$20.00 Gas
$77.13 Hotel
$48.54 Restaurants
Total: $145.67
Snow in Flagstaff
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
If you have a family it would obviously cost more and I did purchase items at the grocery store, but the point is, deals are out there with a little research and investigating. Sometimes there are no deals on certain dates, but utilize things like loyalty programs, or online deals to get the best price. I planned this trip two days prior, I often avoided visiting much of Arizona because to be quite honest, I could go to San Diego for what was being charged for a hotel in Arizona. It's not that I can't afford to pay more, I just learned from the past and know how much money was wasted on inflated fees, I just simply refuse to pay more.
Until next time, have a tragically hip day!
Ron Valderrama can be contacted by email: tragicallyhipliving@gmail.com


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Tragically Hip Living: How to visit a pricey Sedona without having to sel...

Tragically Hip Living: How to visit a pricey Sedona without having to sel...: By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living Sedona, Arizona Photo: Tragically Hip Living Without a doubt, Sedona, Arizona is one of the...

How to visit a pricey Sedona without having to sell your kidney

By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living

Sedona, Arizona
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
Without a doubt, Sedona, Arizona is one of the most beautiful and spiritual places on earth. The Sedona landscape has been used in many movies that range from Westerns to Comedies, John Wayne, Sam Elliott, Robert De Niro and tons more actors have filmed here.Sedona is a short two-hour drive from my home in Phoenix when the destination is reached, it's simply pure magic! Since my childhood, I have visited Sedona and have watched it grow. Visitors from around the world flock here to capture it's grandeur and marvel at it's beautiful views.



Statues at Tlaqapaque Shops
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
Sedona is a prime location to visit a Vortex, a Vortex is described as a place in nature that energy swirls and draws energy to the center. Sounds crazy right? Well, if you are spiritual you get it, there are four of them in Sedona. Many people visit a Sedona Vortex for a host of reasons, but don't think this is crazy, some well-known people come to Sedona for that very reason. Sedona has some great hiking trails too with much to explore in the area. A drive up Hwy 89A heading North takes you through Oak Creek Canyon and some stunning views. Continue North on 89A brings you to Flagstaff, just a short 30 miles out of Sedona.


Tlaqapaque Shops
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
Sedona used to be a quick and inexpensive destination to escape the summer heat of the Valley, but times have changed and the beauty of Sedona has become a costly getaway. Just a few years ago, a simple motel room could be found for $50 a night, give or take a few Washington's if you wanted to save a few bones and avoid the more expensive resorts that make Sedona their home. But those days are gone unless a room is booked way in advance, and even at that nearly impossible in the summer unless you are willing to pony up some major cash, maybe throw in severed limb or sell a kidney as well for payment. If my plan was to stay at one of the many resorts, I wouldn't mind paying if all I were going to do was stay at the resort most of the time, they do have some nice one's here, but the whole Sedona experience isn't in a hotel room or expensive meal, it's about exploring the area and taking in the magical beauty. To really experience Sedona, plan on more than just a weekend, the area really does offer a lot. From shopping, dining, hiking or even camping, Sedona offers something for everybody. It is possible to enjoy this wonderland, even if on a budget.



Sunset outside of Cottonwood
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
West out of Sedona on Hwy 89A, 17 miles and you've arrived in Cottonwood, they have a cool downtown Art's District with some cool shops and places to stuff your mug with some tasty chow. The area is also home to some pretty not to bad wineries too in the area. Maynard Keenan from the band "Tool" has a winery. A short drive out of Cottonwood brings you to Jerome, an old mining town. Jerome was a mining town back in the 1800s and closed down in 1953, pretty much becoming a ghost town after that. Jerome claims to be the oldest ghost town in America. Today, Jerome is home to artist and shop owners. Some cool restaurants and bars line the skinny streets.


Hwy. 89A (Downtown Sedona)
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
The places I used to stay have at the very least doubled in price in just the past few years. Some of the restaurants that served good and cheap comfort food have since closed. On a recent trip, I stopped at a pizza joint on Hwy 89A, the main drag in Sedona for a bite to eat. The pizza looked okay, but nothing special so I walked up to the counter to order. When I asked the price for a pizza with sausage and pepperoni, I nearly soiled my panties, as a matter of fact, pretty sure there may have been some seepage! $26 for a fake pizza? For reals? I asked the guy if they offered pizza rentals, or could he make me a deal on some pizza droppings, because unless a table dance came with the pizza, it ain't gonna happen!

If you travel cheap like me, then West Sedona is where you stay and eat, it's a little cheaper, to tell the truth, I don't even stay in Sedona anymore. I drive 17 miles or so down the road to the sleepy little town of Cottonwood and stay at a place called The Little Daisy Motel, named after the "Little Daisy Mine," a few miles away in the town of Jerome. I have been staying at The Little Daisy for about 5 years when visiting Sedona. I'm pretty sure they have not raised their prices, at least not by much anyway since I've been staying there. Even my last visit to this place was only $56 a night, cheaper Sun-Thur. The Little Daisy is nothing fancy, but the rooms are very clean and have a fridge and microwave, they'll even lend you coffee maker at the office if needed.

Oak Creek
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
If going to Sedona is your thing and money doesn't matter, then go for it, you'll have a great time. If traveling on a budget like me, then go to Cottonwood or a surrounding town and find a deal. After talking to a few of the locals in Cottonwood, they all said Sedona has become way too pricey, but as long as visitors are willing to pay, it's not going to change. Many who work in Sedona don't live there because it's just too expensive, they live in places like Cottonwood.


Sedona, Arizona
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
I also talked to a German tourist on my last trip to Sedona, the gentleman loved Sedona, but he thought it was expensive too. He was visiting America, Los Angeles to be exact and purchased a package for him and his wife.  The package was a 3-day tour of the Grand Canyon, a visit to Sedona and to the surrounding Indian Ruins in the area, it also included a train ride on the Verde Canyon Railroad. He didn't say how much he paid, but after further investigating, he said that he would have been better off renting a car in Los Angeles and making his own hotel reservations and sightseeing tours.


Oak Creek Canyon
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
The point is this, with a little research and a few phone calls, cheap travel is there to be had.

I use TripAdvisor.com a lot, as a matter of fact, I write many reviews for TripAdvisor.com and often find great deals on the site.

Until next time, have a tragically hip day!

Ron Valderrama can be contacted by email: tragicallyhipliving@gmail.com