Thursday, March 24, 2016

Solar Power, Books, Art, Music and a Pow Wow

March 7-20, 2016:

The Pow Wow setting

My major project is a 200 watt solar installation on the RV.  I purchased a kit from A & M Solar that is well designed, complete and robust.  The hardest part of the job is to decide where to locate the solar panels on the roof, how to route the cables from the roof into the RV and to the batteries and where to locate the charge controller.  The layout of the class C; the lack of a basement area and a roomy battery compartment make this a much more challenging installation.  Hopefully this will eliminate having to run the built in Onan generator 90% of the time.  When camping in a remote, beautiful, serene area the last thing I want to do is run that noisy, smelly, obnoxious generator.  This solar installation will never recoup it’s cost, really don’t care, but it will add to the pleasure of my camping experience.

The finished result

The object of it all

Live music during this period was my usual Wednesday evening at La Cocina to see Miss Lana Rebel and Kevin Mayfield.  Every time I see these guys I learn new things about them, there’s always more to the story.  We compared our finger injuries, I loose, Kevin has a really bent one from an old school wrestling injury.

This was followed by a campground concert by the first musical family of Tucson, the Ronstadt Generation.  They are always incredible, so much talent, such a range of musical genres and so inspirational.  They almost seem to get better every time you hear them.

Ronstadt Generation

I then went to a special concert event at Monterey Court to see Eliza Gilkyson perform.  She is a grammy nominated, top rated singer/songwriter who mostly travels the folk circuit, but her music is so much more.  She has a rock edge to her folk music along with a throaty singing voice that I love.  She was accompanied by a female guitar player, Nina Garber, who was exceptional, a guitar players, guitar player according to her website and I would agree.


On stage view

And behind the stage

On the 20th, I went to Borderlands Brewery for a special Sunday event to see the Kevin Pakulis Band.  Borderlands is in an old building in the warehouse district that has been saved and turned into a brewery and lounge.  The railroad runs right next to it which adds to the charm as freight trains are running past frequently.  Every once in a while, you go to an event that is just magical, you have a good seat, the band is interesting, the ambiance of the place is great, it’s just about perfect.  This was one of those, one of the best musical events of the year for sure.

Great musical vibe at Borderlands

Tucson has a annual event, the “Tucson Festival of Books” which is sponsored and held at the University of Arizona and is one of the largest book festivals in the world.  It is huge 2 day event with over 350 book authors and presenters in attendance and a 46 page guide to list all the, events, activities and exhibitors.  An incredible event !

View of the exhibitors area

Interesting sculpture at gate to University building

Walking into the Brain

Mariachi performers

On books, I started reading a new one, “The Last Knight”, the twilight of the Middle Ages and the birth of the modern era.  It is interesting to read about the evolution of the European aristocratic class and the culture during this medieval period and how it compares to our current world.  I do worry, based on our country’s current political climate, that we are headed back into the dark ages again or at least to pre World War II Germany.  History does repeat itself.

We attend the Wa:k Indian Pow-Wow at the beautiful and historic San Xavier del Bac Mission. This Pow Wow is an event of the Tohono O’odham Indian tribe which is located southwest of Tucson.  It was mostly dance competitions with crafts and food vendors.  The dance costumes were incredibly colorful and I find it extremely interesting to see the people up close.  I really liked to watch the drum circles.  The fry bread pop overs with beans and cheese were pretty special too !

Twinkles and Linda in front of the Mission

Very ornate dance costumes

Very attractive dance judge

Drum circle

Mission interior detail

Looking into the Mission

It was then to the DeGrazia Galley in the Sun with a group from the campground.  We have been there a few times, but there is a new nocturnal exhibit as he did much of the painting at night.  Ted DeGrazia was a true renaissance man of his generation and really interesting.  It is a beautiful gallery to visit at any time, even the buildings and the grounds are works of art.

The Lady of Guadalupe shrine

Twinkles, Donna and Linda posing

DeGrazia back in the day loading wood into his car

Vibrant colors and motion

Horses were a favorite subject

One of several gallery rooms all built by the artist

DeGrazia's easel, paint box and red man tobacco

A depiction of an Indian creation legend

Mike, Cathy and Jim resting outside the gallery

Kathy, Twinkles, Bill and Linda taking a break

Lots of fellow campers are departing in the next few weeks, several extended happy hours, lots of goodbyes, but most will be back next year and we may hook up with a couple during our travels the year.

Laurel pouring the margaritas

Bill, Mike and Kathy

Our tentative travel plan for 2016 is from Tucson to San Diego, CA then north along the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, then north through central Oregon and Washington to Vancouver, BC.  We are then going east across Canada into the Canadian Rockies to the Banff / Lake Louise area.  We will then look for a route back to Tucson to keep ahead of the cold.

Two more weeks in Tucson,
Twinkles and Slick 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Rodeo, a hard hike and urgent care

February 22 - March 6, 2016:

View of the action

Vacation is over, it’s now time to get back to the grind here in Tucson.  The RV battery is going dead after two weeks of sitting idle, needs replacement along with the air filter and fuel filter.  The Windshields on the Jeep and the RV are cracked requiring replacement.  I need to clean the RV house batteries and I have new front shock absorbers to install on the the RV.  Also the Jeep is due for front brakes and tires.

Twinkles and I go to the Tucson rodeo parade on the 25th with two neighbors from the campground.  It is a long 2 hour parade and is well attended as schools are closed for the children to attend.  It is the largest all horse powered parade in the world, no motorized vehicles.  It is an amazing array of horses, mules and old wagons of every kind.

Many school bands

The native Americans on parade

Even a Cowboy for Bernie

High stepping horses

School wagons

Snenioritas riding people powered floats

I’ve been going on several hikes lately with the Canadian contingent.  The most recent 12 mile hike to Cochie Springs in the Tortolita Mountains nearly did me in.  I don’t do well in the heat and I didn’t drink enough water and really struggled all the way back.  I also slipped and fell on my little pinky finger which looks pretty messed up.  The hike was beautiful however to a spring with a old Windmill and signs of cattle in the area.

The Windmill

I recovered after a good shower and some happy hour refreshments.  Sue then suggested going to “Tinys Steakhouse” for dinner which is always good for me.  We invited others to join us as Bill has been salivating for some time about the dry rub wings at Tiny’s and the draft Guinness.  As the Canadians are super strict about driving under the influence and will not drive after a single beer, I became the designated driver.

Dining at Tiny's

On Saturday, I’m definitely coming down with a cold, I always get a bad one about this time of the year.  Unfortunately, sadly, I have to miss the oldies dance on Saturday Night.  

I need to get rid of this cold quickly, so on Sunday morning I head to the local Urgent Care.  Tucson has an epidemic of the flu presently and the waiting room is full of it.  I see a doctor, after a considerable wait, who feels it is a basic cold and prescribes some medicine.  He then looks at the finger, they take an X-ray which discloses that it is really broken.  I am referred to an orthopedic surgeon for follow up care.  
I then continue on to the Tucson Rodeo, feeling like crap, it’s a hot sunny day and even the beer tastes bad.  I actually leave before the end, but see plenty of the action.

Lots of young rodeo fans

Beautiful horses

Potential rodeo star ?

Out of the chute with mom and dad cheering

Laying down on the job

High jumper

High kicker


Mean !

Coors is the beverage of choice

The orthopedic doctor visit is about what I expected, sitting in a waiting room for an hour and a half, seeing the doctor for a few minutes, a look at the X-ray and a plastic sleeve to immobilize the finger joint.  I can’t wait to see what they bill for this ?  I need to wear this for the next two months, but it is easy.

My friend for the next two months

In the parking lot is an ultra cool 53 chevy pickup truck that catches my eye.

A cool ride

This cold is not cooperating at all and really messing with my social activities.  Twinkles on the other hand has not missed a Happy Hour. After 5 days of quarantine , I finally made an appearance for the mega birthday celebration for Hughes and Judy.

The birthday cake

Saturday night I venture out out to see a touring musician, Mean Mary, perform at Monterey Court.  The place was packed, obviously everyone read her bio which was quite remarkable to the point of being somewhat unbelievable.  Mary was there with her mother who also figures prominently in the story. Mary wrote and performed her first song at age five using the “Mean Mary” stage name.  Regardless, she is now an excellent multi-instrument musician and vocalist who has been touring nationally for a number of years. Mary and her mother Jean have co written a book titled "Wherefore Art thou Jane" which they say has received critical acclaim.

Mean Mark James

Listening to the car radio on the way to the show, I find that Bob Margolin is going to be performing at Boondocks Lounge on Sunday evening.  The same Bob Margolin who was a guitar playing member of the Muddy Waters Blues Band from 1973 to 1980.  The same Bob Margolin who also performed with Muddy Waters on the “Last Waltz”.  Harmonica great, Bob Corritore, is also joining him along with drummer Byron Fahey for the show.  This is a show that can’t be missed if you are a blues lover.  It turned out to be a show that exceeded my expectations.  Bob Margolin was great playing a good mix of his new stuff and old Muddy Waters stuff.

Bob Corritore and Bob Margolin

That's all for this post, Twinkles and Slick