The Transnistria parliament building with a statue of Lenin out front. In the city of Tiraspol, Transnistria. Photo taken December 9, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Tiraspol, Transnistria...the country that doesn't exist.

Where are they going next? Northern Moldova. Arrive December 11th.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Made it to Tucson, Arizona

Yesterday we did the 145 mile (232 km) drive from Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument to the city of Tucson (pop 526,000).

Uneventful drive through the desert. I've never been much of a desert person, although it's growing on me a little bit. I still much prefer a more varied landscape, even if it comes at the cost of slightly lower temperatures.

Easy road to drive on, but pretty boring.

Most of highway 86 runs through an Indian Reservation.

Funny how in Canada we call them a "reserve" and in the U.S. they call them a "reservation". We were always taught that reservations were something you make for an outing to a restaurant! Language is an odd thing.

A big field of wildflowers.

As we entered Tucson, we went to a big Walmart SuperCenter to do some grocery and booze shopping. 

One of the things we like to buy as a sort of a treat is yogurt. You know, that fruit on the bottom stuff, or something like that. But man, is it ever tough to find decent yogurt in the U.S.. They've got a great big section of many varieties and different manufacturers, but 98% of it is fat free crap, loaded with sugar. Even the new "Greek" style yogurt (which is supposed to be 10% fat) is now low fat or fat free. Sorry, but that's not Greek yogurt! I know, we would probably have to go to a Whole Foods store or something to get some real yogurt. But mainstream grocery stores do not sell decent yogurt in the U.S.. It's all crap, and if you compared it to what's available in other countries you might realize it.

Best yogurt we ever had in our travels was in Czech Republic!

Speaking of products available in mainstream grocery stores, I noticed the decline of quality on the jams section. Smuckers strawberry jam is now made with high fructose corn syrup (sugars made from corn are chemically produced, just like canola oil) instead of regular good old sugar. In doing some research, I found out that sometime in 2014 they changed the formula. Of course, high fructose corn syrup is cheaper than sugar! Other manufacturers are also using it in jam. The only mainstream manufacturer that still uses sugar is Kraft. However, their strawberry jam contains more sugar than it does strawberries!

By the same token, not all is bad news. They make much nicer deli meats in the U.S., (and at a much better price) than what is available to us in Canada!

Anyhow, just something we noticed regarding the overall decline in the quality of food available to the mainstream public. Yes, you can still buy good food if you search for it, but the general public doesn't even read ingredient labels.

Oh, and our great buy of the day?

A bottle of Seagrams VO Canadian Whiskey, for only $7.00!

This bottle of Canadian Whiskey, that we paid $7.00 for at a Tucson area Walmart, sells for $25.00 in Canada. Feeling pretty good about that purchase! :-)

So, we're walking out of Walmart on a busy Saturday afternoon, and we hear a voice behind us. 

"Hey Kevin"!

We turn around, and see a couple walking towards us. I figured this must be a couple of blog readers, and it was...however they're from our hometown of Ottawa, and the guy is the chief umpire from the Little League organization that our son played for. I was on the board of directors with him for a couple of years.

Too funny! Turns out they've been reading the blog for three or four years! I haven't even seen Peter in probably 8 years or so, and had never met his wife Brenda. So we had a chat in the busy parking lot for five minutes or so. Would have been nice to talk for longer, but it wasn't an ideal place!

Small world.

Then, we headed to the Casino of the Sun. This is an older, small casino...but it's not located close to an Interstate, so we figured it would be a little quieter here. An it was! But the casino itself sucks. Terrible place, very smokey and lots of older machines. We don't gamble much, but decided to give ourselves each a $10 budget on the slot machines. I blew mine, but Ruth was up at one point before quitting when she got back down to $5...so $15 lost. 

Slept fine last night...only two other RV's here and didn't hear any generator noise from either of them. Nice.

I see Amazon.com has finally dropped their price to match Walmart...


A good deal for a great little heater!

41 comments:

  1. Bonne Maman still uses sugar. I do not think Walmart carries it. Safeway does, probably the other chains do, as well. Look for a jar with a red and white checked (like a table cloth) lid. It's expensive, I think there are only 4 or 5 varieties, but it's good.

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    1. Thank you Allison, we will keep our eyes open for it.

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    1. Ha ha, that a funny one, knowing Kevin he would probably give it a try! ;-)

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  3. We never buy the low fat stuff either...it's harder and harder to find whole foods.
    Nina

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    1. Yep, it sure is. Not sure why it's so hard to buy things that are made with natural ingredients anymore!

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  4. I totally agree about yogurt! Give me all fat or nothing...

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    1. We agree we would rather have the natural all fat yogurt but we will eat low fat but we won't have no fat. We ended up with Tillamook low fat yogurt and it is actually quite good and doesn't have much else added to it. Here are the ingredients to their strawberry one. Cultured Pasteurized Grade A Reduced Fat Milk, Strawberry Base (sugar, water, strawberries, modified corn starch, natural flavor, citric acid, fruit juice [color]), Sugar, Modified Corn Starch, Kosher Gelatin, Live and Active Yogurt Cultures (S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus and Bifidus).

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  5. I'm not a big yoghurt eater, but was really in love with all the dairy products and their quality in Europe. Mostly in the Netherlands I found. Never tried yoghurt in the Czech Republic.
    Funny thing, an American couple we knew who were "stationed" in the Netherlands would go back home with their kids for holidays and such. The kids would turn their noses up at some of the offerings (especially the dairy products) "back home". It's hard to go back to crap when you've had really good food for most of your childhood life. I think they're back in the States now, I'm sure the kids have had to adjust. Sadly.

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    1. We totally agree about the dairy products in Europe. The yogurt we had was delicious and thick and not too sweet and very inexpensive. It was definitely hard to go back to our Canadian or American yogurt after that!

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  6. Have you ever checked the content of some of the deli meats?

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    1. Of course. That's why we try to buy the Sara Lee Premium turkey, chicken, or ham. But yes, many of the cheaper ones have a lot of crap in them.

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  7. Of course you'll find crappy food at Walmart! Try Trader Joe's and the quality of food is better.

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    1. Yes, slightly better. Trader Joe's still has it's fair share of crap yogurt. They call it "Greek style" yogurt and it's still fat free and it's more expensive.

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  8. I can't stand store bought jam anymore after eating my Mothers for years. She finally taught me how to make it this year so that is it forever for storebought jam. We use sugar but less than the recipes call for as like a less sweet jam. We are so ripped off in Canada on booze. I would rather they increase the taxes even more on gasoline than liquor :)

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    1. I wonder if that's where the free healthcare money come from, liquor?

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    2. My mother also made her own jam and all it had in it was fruit and sugar, nothing else and yes, it was delicious. I learned how to make it as well and when we had a house I would make it but now since living in an RV, I just don't have the space for it.

      Yes, MeCa that is exactly where some of our "free" healthcare money comes from.

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  9. Last August while we were in the Netherlands I kept buying my yoghurt in one litre milk containers. It was awesome stuff, just pour it out, very inexpensive too. Actually we found al lot the food cheap by Canadian standards. Eating out however is very expensive.

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    1. We found the same thing too, although in the Czech Republic eating out wasn't very expensive at least at the few places that we ate at but in England we can definitely agree with the eating out as being more expensive.

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  10. There is one hidden gem along the otherwise boring drive along Highway 86 to Tucson. The Desert Rain Cafe in the Tohono O'Oodham reservation serves up delicious traditional dishes! http://www.desertraincafe.com/index.html

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    1. Too bad that we missed it, it sounds delicious. If we pass through that area again we will make a point of stopping in. Thank you Lynda!

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  11. The American Grocery store is pretty much full of crap. How is it people aren't dying in droves from what they eat I just don't understand. High fructose corn syrup, GMO of course, is in everything.. If you look closely you can find jams that are fruit sweetened with no sugar just fruit and fruit juice.

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    1. If you look carefully in the "normal" grocery stores you can find good products but it is necessary to take the time to read the labels and to stay away from the processed foods. Unfortunately it is the processed food that most people eat. We will keep looking for a jam like that.

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  12. Tucson is a wonderful place, I'm sure you'll find all kinds of interesting things there besides lousy yogurt. ;c)

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    1. We already know that there is too much for us to see in the short time that we will be here but guaranteed we will enjoy what we do see.

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  13. The only yogurt I will eat in Canada ( and now avail. in some stores here ) is Liberte.
    http://liberteyogurt.com/ I think it is made in Quebec. It really is exceptional !

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    1. Yep, that sounds like a good product. We actually ending up buying some Tillamook yogurt and other than it being low fat the ingredients were not bad, at least they we the best that we could see. Cultured Pasteurized Grade A Reduced Fat Milk, Strawberry Base (sugar, water, strawberries, modified corn starch, natural flavor, citric acid, fruit juice [color]), Sugar, Modified Corn Starch, Kosher Gelatin, Live and Active Yogurt Cultures (S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus and Bifidus).

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  14. Have fun in Tucson and enjoy the cheap booze. We don't eat jam unless its homemade, and don't do yogurt. So not an issue for us.

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    1. We will enjoy Tucson and the surrounding area, thanks George.

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  15. Just curious, why is low fat yogurt so bad?

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    1. Natural yogurt is almost always made from full fat milk to make it thick once you take away that full fat something has to be added to thicken it, normally modified food starch and fructose (fruit sugar). It is important to read the labels to make sure you are getting the most natural yogurt that you can. The Tillamook yogurt we bought is a low fat one and is actually pretty good. The no fat ones are the really bad ones.

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    2. Also, it simply doesn't taste as good!

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  16. You missed the really cheep booze at the duty free store in Nogales AZ

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    1. Yeah, but don't you have to be leaving the country in order to buy duty free products?

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  17. What about the full-fat Fage Greek yogurt? I'm not sure if Walmart carries it, but we've found it at quite a few standard grocery stores. It's the real deal. There are also usually some gourmet brands of jam that contain real sugar and more fruit. But they're more expensive, of course, and you might have to go to a higher-end store than Walmart. It's pretty much the lowest common denominator store with food geared towards those who either can't afford better food or just aren't educated about healthful foods -- or who just don't care what they put into their bodies so long as it tastes good.

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    1. I've been reading about Fage yogurt and will now have to keep our eyes open for it. We did buy a jar of Smucker's Natural Red Tart Cherry Fruit Spread (not sure why they call it fruit spread!) The ingredients are red tart cherries, sugar, fruit pectin and citric acid, so it sounds like jam to us. We haven't tried it yet so we will see.

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    2. Just read about America's Test Kitchen comparison of 18 brands of Greek yogurt. The winner in both the non-fat and full-fat categories was Olympus Traditional Greek Yogurt (it's imported from Greece). The winner in the 2% category was Fage.

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    3. We will keep our eyes open for either one of these then. Thanks Elaine!

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  18. Funny header picture. All these years I have heard complaints from rvers in Mexico because some of the highways don't have a shoulder. Hmm, I thought it was only here in Mexico.

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    1. Dude. Even without shoulders, AZ86 is wider than most Mexican freeways.

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    2. We have to disagree with you Dugg on that one. Highway 86 really wasn't too much different than most of the main roads in Mexico and certainly narrower than the toll roads down there. The biggest difference though is that there is NO shoulders on the Mexican main roads, just a sharp drop so maybe that makes it seem more narrow.

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