Monday, January 27, 2014

Dentist, Dillinger and Hot Tuna

January 26, 2014:

Checking out the Onan Generator, the oil and air filter were changed by the RV dealer, the spark plug looks decent, only 46 hours run time on it is not much.  I start it up, all seems OK until about a 1/2 hour, then it starts sputtering and dies.  Good thing there is a month warranty period, we are going to exercise everything on this RV very well.  Also I take a good look underneath the RV, there are some loose wires and loose pipe clamps clamps, but looks relatively good.  I'm thinking about getting rid of the spare tire, adding a bike rack to the bumper, possibly insulating the drain tanks and piping and adding another battery.  I need to make this rig "boondock ready" to give the bank account a break.

We have the interior almost livable now, most people use the front area over the truck cab for storage, but I am trying to minimize that.  I visualize that area as my "Man Cave" when I need a temporary reprieve from Twinkles.

Tuesday morning and I'm off to a local dentist for an 8 AM appointment, what was I thinking agreeing to an 8 AM appointment, there is no reason to hurry any more ?  This dentist was in a hurry though, (to make money) they cleaned my teeth, replace two old fillings, removed an old crown that had issues and put a temporary crown on and then added a temporary crown to a chipped front tooth.  I need to return for the permanent crowns and then hopefully I'll done for a while.  I have had an overdose of dental treatment this past year.

A great concert at the campground on Tuesday evening with a local legendary blues slide guitar player, Stefan George, accompanied by another Arizona Hall of Fame bass player, Steve Grams.   I had seen them previously a couple of times downtown and knew it would be special. It's a big blues week for me as on Saturday I have tickets to see "Hot Tuna" play at the Rialto Theater.  Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Cassidy of Jefferson Airplane fame started Hot Tuna as an outlet for their love of the blues in the 1969.  They have continued the band all these years and are still going strong.  Jorma has a great blog, what a fantastic life this guy leads and the blog is required motivational reading.  

The Jeep has several "character" dings in it's finish which we are OK with. Twinkles rationalizes that because of this, we don't have to worry about it, like we would if it was a new Jeep.  I just say it's a "Jeep" it's supposed to have some battle scars.  Today, a passing car kicked up a stone which hit the windshield and put a crack in it.  That's the kind of battle scar I could live without ! 

This RV craziness is really interfering with my hiking and photography playtime.  I have missed the last two group campground hikes, so on Thursday it felt good to get out away from the RV issues for a while on a good hike. 

Happy Hikers

Petroglyphs along the trail

A craft show at the campground on Friday morning with Twinkles trying to sell some craft supplies to lighten our load.  The bad news is that I'm expected to get rid of an equal amount.  Downsizing is hard work !  People keep coming up to us asking about our new RV, but when we tell them we got a smaller one, we often get a strange puzzled reaction like, Oh, why did you do that ?  

The big event on Saturday in Tucson was "Dillinger Days", to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the capture of public enemy # 1, gangster John Dillinger, and his gang in Tucson in the 1934.  They had a reenactment of the fire at the Hotel Congress which lead to their capture, with smoke, ladders and even the original fire truck.  Also a play by play account of how the capture happened and a shootout between the gang and the cops. 

Dillinger Days

Old classic limo on display

Interesting back seat passenger

Restored fire truck that was the one used to rescue Dillinger
gang members from the fire at Hotel Congress.  It is a
American LaFrance built in Elmira, NY

Reenactment of the Hotel fire

Wanted poster
Saturday nights big event was the "Hot Tuna" and "Leon Russell" concert at the Rialto Theater.  It was acoustic Hot Tuna which to me doesn't create enough noise and excitement for the usual concert crowd. Jorma's intricate finger picking guitar to ancient blues songs is lost to most of the concert crowd.  They were however in good form and sounded great as ever.  Leon Russell's honky tonk piano and full electric band playing a blend of originals and covers was more to the crowds taste.  

Sunday I visited the Tucson Transportation museum and wandered around the warehouse district, which is fast becoming an arts district.  Also a lunch stop at Barrio Brewing, housed in an old rustic tin building, very cool from the outside, kind of dumpy inside, but the food was good.   

Tile mural depicting Pasqua Yaqui tribe warrior

Local church in Tucson

Tile mural on South Tucson street corner

Mural in Tucson warehouse district

Interesting days indeed,

Twinkles and Slick

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Desert Trails - week 7

January 14-19, 2014:

After months of talking and thinking about it, we finally did it.  This was the best time and place for it to all come together.  We traded both the GMC Denali dually and the Avalanche 5th wheel away for a used class "C" RV.  We actually had good service from both the Avalanche and the GMC, especially the GMC dually that was rock solid, like the GM advertisements, it will be missed.  The issue was that the overall size of the rig was sort of inhibiting our RV travels.  It's just to big to fit comfortably into many places where we want to go.  In addition, the dually is so cumbersome to use as a daily driver, Twinkles won't drive it at all and it's useless as a off road/back road vehicle.  So, we made a deal with a local Tucson RV dealer, Lazydays, to trade in both against a 2008 Jayco Grayhawk class "C" motorhome and enough cash to pay about half the cost of a 2011 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4X4.  The Jayco is not downsizing too much at 31 foot, except there is virtually no storage space now.  (We are going to have another yard sale for sure) I am feeling a little down about the trade off, the Jayco is such a big square ugly white boxy vehicle and it hurt to lose the big Dually truck, however the Jeep Wrangler is a pretty cool ride.  Hopefully this works out as I don't ever want to do this again, such a pain in the ass !  The saving grace in this transaction was the excellent RV dealer, "Lazydays", who were happy to take both the RV and Truck in trade and making the swap a convenient almost pleasant operation. These guys were so much more professional (highly recommended) than our experience at Camping World where we bought the Avalanche 5th wheel.  

We drove to Lazydays on Tuesday morning where they checked in the rig, took us to the finance department for mountains of required paperwork then a welcoming into the Lazydays family with a gift and assorted promotional and educational stuff. They then drove us to pick up a complimentary rental car for our use for a few days. It was then the task of transferring everything from the truck and 5th wheel into the Motor home.  It was an exhausting day, it was about 7 PM by the time we were done.  We spent the night camped in their parking lot, to test out all systems as they had water and electrical hookups there.

Here we are getting ready to switch over

Into the Grayhawk

The Jeep Wrangler was a different experience, I would have walked out of this dealer, on principle, if it wasn't for the fact that I really wanted this Jeep.  They had an advertised price on the vehicle to suck you in, then they spring on you several hidden additional  charges for window tinting, window anti theft etching and exterior paint protectant treatment (already done) that they expect you to pay for.  A real scam job!  We bargained away part of the extra charges and reluctantly accepted the offer with a very bad taste in out mouths.  The salesman however was good, it wasn't his fault, but this dealers sales practice were shady at best.  

We drove the Jayco back to Desert Trails on Wednesday afternoon and continued to sort through stuff, what to discard, where to put stuff, this will be going on for a while, very stressful !  It is a Jayco Grayhawk, but I am calling it the "Free Bird".  

Thursday, we returned to Casa Grande, AZ to pick up the Jeep with a complimentary rental car from Lazydays RV.  The Jeep dealer was redeemed partially by having the Jeep cleaned up nicely and having the paperwork ready to go.  Now, it's a matter of getting the vehicles titled and registered in South Dakota through our very efficient mailing service, Americas Mailbox. I'll be so happy when this is all behind us.  

Back on Monday, I had gone for a routine physical with a local doctor, but still needed to get lab work done to complete the physical.  So, that was the first priority on Friday morning.  I hope the stress of this week does not affect the results ?  Afterwards I took a diversion to the Tucson rodeo parade museum.  This site was the original Tucson airport, one of the oldest airports in the country and the museum building was the actual hanger building.  Lindbergh landed the "Spirit of St. Louis" there.  The museum has a huge collection of old wagons and coaches and several built by the famous Rondstadt company in Tucson.

Horse trailer of Duncan Renaldo, better known as the
"Cisco Kid", his horse was "Diablo"

Tucson's first fire wagon

Dr. Brown's snake oil cart

La Fiesta de los Vaquros parade Wagon

Rodeo scene on side of a Wagon

An old Rodeo painting

A famous Tucson area ranch wagon

Late 1800's security on the Sonoran Railroad

Entrance to the Rodeo Parade Museum

  Then more communication with the insurance agent, then to Camping World for a few things then back to the campground for another round of organization.  There is much to do with a new rig, much to learn, trying to maximize the limited storage space, adding hooks, racks, a new shower head with an on/off valve, making spare keys, it goes on and on.  There also are surprises, like a water leak at the kitchen drain connection to fix and finding broken welds at the rear bumper due to excessive stress (poor design) of the spare tire mounted on the bumper.  The next month at Desert Trails I will be going over both vehicles to make sure everything is good for the road come March. 

Friday night I escaped to downtown for a while to LaCocina Bar, Food & Music to see a local performer, Hank Topless.  Unfortunately, for whatever reason, he was not there, so I moved on to the District Tavern for a while.  The District would accurately be called a dive bar, but I like it in spite of the fact that I have never seen anything of real interest there ?                                             

Saturday night we went to Dinner with our friend and neighbor Lilia, to Fred's Arena Bar and Steakhouse.  Fred's is a real cowboy Steakhouse about 15 miles west of the campground, down a dirt road in the desert with great vibe and food.  There was a band playing and it was packed with people eating and dancing.  The burgers and steaks are really good too !

The Jeep against a scenic backdrop 

A compass gift from Lazydays RV

Enjoy the Journey !
Twinkles and Slick

Monday, January 13, 2014

Desert Trails week 6

January 7-13, 2014:

We have been having a run of beautiful sunny weather for several weeks now, mid 60's to mid 70's in the afternoon.  It still gets cold at nights, near freezing, but our electric blanket has been working great.  The campground is loaded with many snowbirds from northern areas who are walking around in their shorts, no matter the temperature, all smiles as they talk about the sub zero temperatures back home.

Another type of snowbird, Goldfinches, in a feeding frenzy

Quail in tree behind RV
We did the Casino del Sol mexican buffet on Tuesday night with roving Mariachi musicians, the buffet was just just OK, great for the price (zero), but the deserts were really great. Twinkles also won another $50 on the penny slots, but eventually gave half back to them, I was a total loser all the way !  After stuffing ourselves, we are now feeling like crap and going back to soups and salads.

Mariachi band at the buffet
I've been suffering some kind of mild stomach virus this week and not doing much fun stuff.  Friday, I had to get out on a hike for some exercise, so I went on a 4 mile loop hike on the Cam-Boh trail to the Panther Peak trail to the Roadrunner Trail.  It was beautiful scenery with Panther Peak and Safford Peak in the background. It was a well used horse trail with lots of horse poop to avoid which was different.  There are ways to bushwhack to the top of Panther Peak, I was tempted, but it seems to be a closed area, stay out signs are posted !  Also the trail guide claimed roadrunners were common on the roadrunner trail, image that, but I didn't see any ! 

View on the Roadrunner trail of Panther Peak

Huge old Saguaro

Saw this along the trail, must be a story 
Saturday was a return back downtown in the evening for Tucson's second Saturday festivities.  I watched "House without a sink" do their last song and then another band (unidentified) for a while, before moving over to 4th Avenue to the Club Plush.  The first band at Plush was pretty much noise pollution with lots of harsh screaming into the microphone.  The second band was far better, weak in the vocals but strong musicianship.  I didn't hang around for the last band, sad to say, it's way past my bedtime these days.

Street band on 2nd Saturday Tucson

Great Hotel sign in downtown Tucson

For whatever reason, I never get out in the desert for the best light of the day and the sunset, which is often really great here.  On Sunday, I finally managed and it was a good one.  Next, maybe I'll try for the sunrise, while the coyotes and night creatures are still out ?

The Coyote Trail behind Desert Trails RV Park

View along the trail

The sunset was setting the landscape ablaze in color

The sunset

The colors just kept getting better

It has been a very stressful week concerning major changes to our RV operating routine. I must keep it all under wraps for the present as nothing is yet finalized, although everyone in the campground seems to know ?  These exciting changes will all be revealed in the next blog. The suspense is building !!!

Happy Trails,
Twinkles and Slick

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Happy 2014 at Desert Trails

January 1-6, 2014:

I started 2014 properly by attending an Arizona Blues Hall of Fame induction concert at the Hotel Congress.  This is a state wide Blues organization that has a Phoenix faction and a Tucson Faction.  The Tucson group does little promotion that I can see, not even a table to sell CD's, tee shirts or merchandise.  The Phoenix group on the other hand is much more active from what I have seen.  The concert was well done however, the music was great and and considering it was on New Year day was very well attended. 

I have found an independent Tucson radio station, 91.3, that plays much new fresh music that you won't hear on the mass media stations or main stream record labels along with much local Tucson music.  Very refreshing !  They even have a blues show on Saturday evening.  I also found that there is a Tucson Musicians Museum, but it seems to exist only as a internet website.  One more find is the lovely Tucson Nimbus Brewery and their dirty blond beer.

T'm calling it "Dirty Girl" beer
Thursday was a 9 mile hike with the campground hiking group on the Bear Canyon Trail in Sabino Canyon to Seven Falls.  It was a perfect sunny day with low to mid seventy temperatures.  The end of the trail at Seven Falls had flowing waterfalls, great views in all directions and a perfect lunch spot.

The Seven Falls

View along the Bear Canyon Trail

On the trail
On Friday after Twinkles gourd making class, we went to the local library where I ended up books on Geronimo, Poncho Villa and Cowboy Poetry, quite revolutionary.  Next stop was the local casino, quite a contrast !  The "Casino del Sol" is a beautiful casino with several restaurants, a hotel and a concert pavilion.  We signed up for free players card which gives you a $10 credit and a free buffet dinning coupon.  We then went to the slots and about quadrupled our free money.  They also have a card reader near the entrance where you swipe your players card for a chance to win stuff.  Twinkles immediately won another free buffet dinner coupon, so it was a very productive afternoon !  The downside is that the gambling bug has now taken a bite again.

Amazing story

Friday night I went to the "Surley Wench Pub" in Tucson for their monthly "Black Cherry Burlesque" show.  The performers were the exotic Lola Torch, Diamond Morgue, Natasha Noir, Stormy Leigh and possibly more along with MC, Stephka VonSnatch.  They seem to be genuinely dedicated to preserving and celebrating the art of burlesque.  It was well done with very theatrical, artistic performances to music and much rowdy crowd appreciation.  There weren't that many dirty old men in attendance (I helped) and the dark, sleezy element was lacking somewhat, but it was a fun event. No photos allowed !

This is the Surley Wench

The trouble with bullets and blondes ?

Afterwards, walking past the "Plush", I saw a banjo duo playing inside, couldn't pass that by !  Inside was a incredible banjo player, Wilder Lee accompanied by Olivia Garriga on upright bass.  They are basically street performers, rarely play inside, mostly all original tunes, ended up buying their CD, "Shadow of a Hercules".

Saturday afternoon was a hike for us on the Signal Hill and Cactus Wren Trails in Saguaro National Park.  The short Signal Hill trail takes you to a hilltop where there are many ancient Indian Petroglyphs in the rocks and a nice view of the surrounding desert.  The Cactus Wren trail is mostly flat but very scenic with many large Saguaro's and other cactus types.

Rocks are covered with Petroglyphs

Interesting artsy rock art design

Saguaro wood, another interesting design

An interesting ring of fish hook looking cactus

I'm slightly under the weather on Sunday and Monday, not used to being around lots of people with all sorts of germs floating around.  I get out again on Monday for some errands and to roam around downtown Tucson a little as it is a nice warm sunny day.

Tucson's historic Fox Theater

Tucson's beautiful Pima County Courthouse

Beautiful tile mural near the Tucson Art Museum

Old historic building in contrast to the new

Old Tucson view and French Horn in music shop window

Mural on side of the Rialto Theater

Stay warm, 
Twinkles and Slick