Friday, March 17, 2017

Final post from Tucson

February 25 - March 16, 2017:

I need to start with a favorite mural in downtown Tucson that is a beauty.

It sparkles

The time for procrastination is over, it’s now time to get serious about a few RV repairs as we are down to our final weeks here.  The top priority is a more permanent roof repair involving removal of the existing small patches, plugging the holes and then installing large patches over the damaged area.  This is to correct damage from a falling Cottonwood tree limb last year.  I bought a patch kit which came with a 5’ X 5’ piece of roof material, the cleaner, primer, contact adhesive and seam tape. The kit was designed for a large job and was sort of an excessive repair, but it looks good.

Plugging the hole, not pretty

The finished job

Next was washing and waxing the RV exterior, cleaning the battery connections, replacing the engine air filter, lubing the slides, replacing the kitchen sink faucet and replacing the rear shock absorbers.  On the Jeep, replacing the rear brake pads, getting an oil change, replacing the front tires and replacing the rear license plate bracket after it was ripped off in a car wash.  

A contingent of about 20 fellow campers from Desert Trails went to Monterey Court for dinner and to hear the John Coinman Band.  John Coinman is a notable local songwriter who is in Kevin Costner’s “Modern West Band”.  He was also the musical director for the movie “Dances with Wolves”.  We skipped the dinner part and met the crowd afterwards for drinks.  None of them had ever been to Monterey Court before and to my surprise everyone thought the food was great, liked the band and had a great time, especially the dancing.


The band from behind the stage

I return to Monterrey Court the following night for a Kevin Pakulis Band show with a lively but smaller crowd.  Kevin also played at Desert Trails RV Park on March 10th to good reviews.

Always a stellar lineup at Borderlands

While sitting at the bar, I notice a couple of people posing
for photos on the tracks right in front of the "stay off
the tracks sign"

It’s been rodeo week in Tucson and as usual I go on the final day.  When you buy a ticket you have a choice of available seats as all seating is assigned.  I requested a seat on the bottom row which turned out to be a big mistake as there was a fence in my viewing area.  As a result, I hardly sat in the seat and instead roamed the fringes of the stands where I could take photos.  Of course, everywhere I went there was a seat attendant telling me I could’t stand there.   I still managed to get some decent photos, I find rodeo photography to be easy, as long as the light is good, the camera is set for a high shutter speed and continuous shutter release you can’t miss getting good stuff.

Horses lined up for action

Two very cute future rodeo riders

The best hair 

The flag riders coming back after doing their circuit at
the start of the rodeo

The pick up riders always impress me as the best horsemen

The sheep used for the kids bronco busting competition

That's a wild ride !

Good form

Ans serious bucking

I always try to take the camera along just in case I see something of interest while I’m cruising around Tucson.  I have found a few new murals and other things, but am struggling with a lack of motivation, it’s just time to get back on the road.

A strange and interesting mural

Another attack on King Kong ?

Dress code notice on downtown dance club entrance            

I hope this is acceptable ?

Beautiful hummingbird mural

I’ve been getting in as much live music as possible, before leaving Tucson.  That means a two trips to the Chicago Bar to see the Ronstadt Generation Band, who are sounding as great as ever.  It’s always an interesting crowd with a few show boating western dancers trying to out twirl each other.  

Next is a Mardi Gras Party at the Congress Hotel where I run into the campground owner Pericles.  This was an outside event that was in danger of being rained out in the early evening, but the rain miraculously stopped just as the band was setting up.  The band, the Carnivaleros, play a crazy mix of cajun, zydeco, blues, folk, rock, etc.   The Band is lead by Gary Mackender on accordion and also includes Karl Hoffmann who both play with Kevin Pakulis on Sunday afternoons. 

Next is another Congress Hotel event featuring the “Lemon Trees”.  I actually went just for the show opening acts, first Freddy Parish and then Carlos Arzate.  Freddy was very good, showing lots of potential.  Carlos was doing his new solo material showing off his incredible voice, but he is a bit awkward solo.  Carlos becomes great when playing more up tempo with his band the “Kind Souls”.  The Lemon Trees are three attractive young women with good voices, good harmony, but not my style of music.  Actually the most entertaining music was outside on the patio with Salvador Duran playing his Spanish music with bongo drum accompaniment and a mysterious looking dancing man.

Carlos Arzate on the stage

There is a mega birthday party, about (40) people,  on Friday evening for friends Hughes and Judy Moir who have birthdays one day apart.  There was much food although mostly healthy vegetarian and vegan, a champaign toast, much conversation and two campfires.  

We have a tentative travel plan for 2017 leaving Desert Trails on March 16th and heading southeast to Big Bend National Park in Texas.  We will then head north by a yet undetermined route, trying to avoid Tornadoes and bad weather, to the most northern reaches of Minnesota and then east around the Great Lakes for the summer.

I went to a doctor to check out my recurring elbow pain which turns out to be just an ordinary tennis elbow malady, getting old sucks !  Wish I could say it was from playing tennis, but is more likely from pulling wrenches under cars.

That's my elbow

We are presently having near record high temperatures of about 90 degrees and the air conditioners are running.
Alice is not happy with the Air Conditioner noise and usually hides in a closet when it is running.  She is a very normal cat in most ways, very playful, curious and often weird !

Alice in action

It's been a fun winter layover, but we are now ready for roads untraveled.

Next stop is Big Bend National Park via Las Cruces, NM and Alpine, TX;
Twinkles and Slick

Monday, February 27, 2017

Back at Desert Trails

February 8 - 23, 2017:

I manage to finish a book that I bought a couple of weeks ago, “The Girl on the Train”.  It’s a weird, complex story that held my interest, I now need to see the movie to see how it relates to the book.  The book starts with the main character riding on the train and fantasizing about the lives of people in a passing house.  Sadly, I think I’ve also done this on occasion. 

We went to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show at the Kino Center and the 22nd street show areas.  My big purchase was a key chain with buffalo head nickels.  Regardless, it’s most interesting to just walk around and look at the amazing stuff that’s been taken out of the Earth.  The logistics to ship this vast quantity of minerals, rocks, jewelry, wood, fossils, bones, etc  to this show is incredible.

Wouldn't fit in the RV

It's not all gems and minerals

Interesting fossils 

Even a carousel horse ?

Hollowed out stone lamps too !

And dinosaur skulls

We are in need of some exercise so off we go for a hike at Brown Mountain.  This is a favorite hike of ours, a decent workout of about 5 miles with a fair amount of ups and downs and very scenic.  Of course we ran into some Canadian hikers on the trail.

Going up onto the ridge

Nice Hawk circling overhead

This trail view never gets old

Next was a hike in Tucson Mountain Park off Irvington Road.

We were dog sitting and took Li-Li along

Twinkles posing next to a large barrel cactus

The fairy dusters are blooming nicely

View of Tucson in the distance

Friday night takes me downtown to the Hotel Congress for a CD release event for Hank Topless.  My friends from LaCocina, Lana Rebel and Kevin Mayfield open the show.  Hank also plays at LaCocina and has a self proclaimed “country honky tonk Blues”  music style.  He also has a Neil Young look going on with a dynamic stage presence with much attitude and drinking.  He is a character and will never be called boring.

Hank Topless in action

I loved the poster

Since it is our 18th anniversary on Saturday, I can’t get out of the “Valentines Day” dance at the campground.  It was actually one of the better ones, I almost had a good time.  The campground owner came over to tell me he had contacted Kevin Pakulis about doing a show at the campground per my recommendation.  He also has scheduled a show for Lana Rebel and Kevin Mayfeld who I also recommended.  I am kind of relieved to know they will play after we leave, in case they bomb.

I am pretty much a regular at Kevin Pakulis “Summer Sessions” jam at Borderland Brewery on Sundays.  Kevin is a Bruce Springsteen fan who is recommending Bruce’s new autobiography, which I just happen to be currently reading.  I can relate to this book as I saw him perform at a few venues in the late 1960’s, lived in the Jersey shore area for a while and knew people with connections to Bruce and the E Street Band.

Kevin and the band playing at LaCocina for a food bank benefit

There was a huge birthday party for a neighbor, Linda, that lasted from 4PM to over 10PM.  Unfortunately, Twinkles had dentures installed earlier in the day and could not attend.  It’s a nightmare, she won’t be eating real food for weeks.  I’m buying a new tooth brush, lots of dental floss and a water pic immediately.

A campfire at the birthday party

Thursday evening I go to the Hotel Congress for a much anticipated concert by Alejandro Escovedo and Jesse Malin.  I had seen Alejandro previously in a more acoustic performance and liked him a lot. Jesse Malin is another one who I have wanted to see but have never been in the right place at the right time.  Interestingly, they are both favorites of Bruce Springsteen and have played with him in concert.  Jesse Malin was the opening act and totally lived up to and surpassed the hype. He was dynamic with great stage banter, strong playing, strong vocals, rock star looks and an unmistakable New York City attitude.  Alejandro Escovedo who is a veteran Texas songwriter did a totally different kind of show, kind of back to his punk rock roots, with deafening electric guitars which sort of canceled out his vocals.  The sound was pushing the limits of distortion and pain at times, but it was exciting and overall one of the best concerts I have gone to in a long time.

Another great concert poster

Saturday night I'm in watching a classic film on Svengoolie TV, “Godzilla vrs Mothra”.  I was tired and wanted to go to bed but couldn’t stop watching, had to see how our world was saved.  I had forgotten about the anti-nuclear weapons testing message in the movie which may have been cutting edge stuff for its day.  It was great !

Godzilla on the rampage

I next check out Jim Dalton and Gerald Collier advertised as “A couple of cowboys with guitars” at the St. Charles Tavern.  It was my first time at the St. Charles Tavern located on south 4th Avenue.  It is a single story building with a glass enclosed front section that looks nothing like I expected the St. Charles Tavern to look like.  However, it did seem to be a pretty cool venue for a band to play in.  Regardless, there was a large country crowd to see these musicians play who were hooting and whooping it up like they were big stars.  I’ve noticed that the country music crowd is awfully excessive in that way.  It was interesting, but a little too honky tonk for me so I left after one beer for my regular Sunday sessions at Borderlands Brewery.

Couple of cowboys with guitars

Another nice poster

I went to the Mission San Xavier del Bac hoping to see the Mission with a background of dark storm clouds, but it was not to be as ominous as hopped, but still pretty interesting.

The Mission is incredible from any angle

I liked the starkness of the tree against the dark clouds

I went with a few other campers for on hike on the Cardiac Ridge Trail at Sabino Canyon. This was a beautiful 9 mile hike and a good workout as it is mostly uphill with plenty of steps and rocks to overcome.

Along the trail looking back towards the Tucson

The hiking crew taking a lunch break

The hillsides are so green 

Trail view

Alice is doing very well, her fur is growing really long in places, she says HI !

Alice posing for me

That's all for now;
Twinkles and Slick