Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Desert Trails Days

December 1 - 15, 2016:

One of the serious perils of spending so much time in the sunny southwest is sun damaged, dry, wrinkling old skin.  That’s a worry for a pale white man like me so I’m off to the Dermatologist for an annual checkup and to treat a few minor scabies on my expanding forehead.  The exam this time was an absolute joke, they basically asked me to show them what I was concerned about and they then agree to zap them with a freezing spray.  I could have done this myself, can’t wait to see how much they bill my insurance for it.

Always apply sunscreen and wear a big hat

There is a new Thursday hiking group starting this year with a new leader.  This is a tough job as there are two basic types of hikers, the people who want a a easy to moderate hike to appreciate the desert plants and sights and those who want a moderate to difficult hike mostly for cardio fitness and strength.  It’s a dilemma as there is no way to please everyone.  I kind of like to alternate between both types, but usually prefer to hike alone stopping often to explore, wander, take photos or views, then charging ahead extra fast to catch up.  I went on the first Thursday hike with five other people and the new leader who appears to be a serious hiker who will try to elevate the hiking level. 

Several hikes are taken during this period.  As I am struggling to regain my status in hiking with the Canadians, I go on an 8 1/2 mile hike with the Bill, Linda and Laurel on the Wild Mustang Trail at Dove Mountain.  Dove Mountain is in the Tortolita Mountains in Marana, Arizona just northeast of Tucson. It was a great hike, beautiful terrain and just the right amount of a workout for me.

The remains of an old stone house on the trail

The next hike is a 9 mile hike with Bill, Linda and Hughes on the Juan Bautista de Anza Historic Trail from Tumacacori to Tubac.  It is a flat trail along the riparian area of the free flowing Santa Cruz River. It is wet in places with several stream crossings, trees and grasses, much different than our normal Tucson desert hiking landscape.  This was another great hike with a nice lunch in the art district of Tubac.

This trail was a historic travel Spanish travel path

Alice has been adjusting very well to her new surroundings.  She was super skinny when we brought her home, but has been eating like crazy and has gained enough weight that we may soon have to cut back on the food. She is acting like a normal cat at this time.

One of our favorite Tucson events, especially for the food, is the Tamal Festival held at the Casino del Sol Resort.  A group of people from the campground went and everyone seemed to be quite into trying the Tamales.  The Tamales are good but my favorite is still the Indian fry bread with beans and red chili.  They also have several musical, mariachi and folkloric dance groups performing all afternoon but that didn’t seem to be of much interest to anyone.

Twinkles with Hughes and Linda chowing down

A roving group of musicians in the food area

I have several RV maintenance items to work on with the roof being the top priority.  The TV antenna and the front roof vent which had been damaged earlier in the year by the falling tree limb were both replaced. Most importantly, I also plan to improve the roof patches, then install a 3rd solar panel and apply a UV protective coating to the roof. 

Another busy live music schedule for me here, famous local Pascua Yaqui Indian classical guitarist Gabriel Ayala and local blues legends Steve Grams and Danny Krieger play at the campground.  Gabriel commented on his personal involvement and participation in the Standing Rock pipeline protest in North Dakota.

I also visited LaCocina as I am a top fan of Lana Rebel and Kevin Michael Mayfield.   These guys always play songs by creative songwriters who I greatly enjoy and Lana has a natural classic country singing voice.   

The Rondstadt Generation Band played a tribute concert for Michael “Papa Mike” Rondstadt at Monterey Court.  Michael Rondstadt who died in late summer, had played with his sons and others including other family members in the Rondstart Generations Band.  The band and several special guests and family members  played many original songs and favorites of Michael Rondstadt during this concert.  It is nice to see that the band is continuing however there is a huge void left by the demise of its star performer.  It was a very touching finale when many Rondstadt family members joined in to sing a traditional Spanish song.

Rondstadt sons Michael G and Petie joined by Alex Flores
on Saxophone

View from stage rear


At Borderlands Brewery every Sunday afternoon is Kevin Pakulis doing his “Summer Sessions” with an ever changing cast of good local players.  This has become my favorite regular music event in town.

I go to the Tucson songwriters showcase & concert at Monterey Court on December 14th featuring Sabka Faulk.  I love this music series as it usually has people I’ve never heard or seen before and a couple of them are usually really interesting.  Also it is all original songs by diverse musicians young and old. 

One of the best fairs in Tucson is the 4th Avenue Street Fair where 6 blocks of 4th Avenue are closed off for crafts booths and food vendors. I go to shop but mainly I wanted to see my favorite vagabond, swing, blues, folk, dixieland jazz band, St. Cinder play.  I follow them on Facebook and these guys are the best.  I couldn’t find them on Saturday so I had to return on Sunday.  I finally caught them and bought their new CD, great as expected.  Dancing Man, Mr Kit Estes, was also on the scene and getting almost as much attention as the band.  If you google St Cinder Band or Dancing Man Tucson you are in for a treat.

4th Avenue Winter Street Fair poster

This street magician was great, could really work a crowd

Lots of fair food !

Big Bill, Twinkles, Linda, Laurel, Heidi and Bill getting refreshment

This fair draws a huge crowd

Merry Christmas everyone !!!

Time to put up the Christmas lights,
Twinkles, Slick and Alice

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Back to Tucson

November 16 - 30, 2016:

It was a smooth ride from Bisbee on route 80 to Benson and then on route 10 west to Tucson.  We arrive at noon time, get settled in and then it’s numerous people coming around to welcome us back.  In the off season the campground has cleared much of the overgrown brush between campground lanes and our site is much roomier looking than we remembered it. Hopefully this will help the problem last year with packrats building nests in RV’s and engine compartments. 

It’s good to be back here in Tucson, back in the borderlands where the border situation is fine, public relations are good with the hispanic population, everything is under control and the politicos will stay out of it. The local Borderlands Brewery even has a special beer called “Beer without borders”.   I have managed to find a few new murals and other sights around town to photograph in the past days.

Agave Goddess mural on Benjamin Supply building in Tucson

Artist Fin dad from Cork, Ireland painted this mural
"Vergiss".  This mural was originally painted in Berlin
was destroyed and this is the second iteration

The sacred heart of Tucson mural

An old favorite mural across street from new Hotel
construction site and "Shot in the dark" coffee shop

Great design and vibrant colors

I am attempting to minimize this blog as it’s becoming too time consuming and disruptive to my RV lifestyle.  I’ve been checking other peoples blogs for ideas which tend to be very social media oriented, very professional, with how to RV topics, advertisements, etc.  They are all focused on getting many hits, likes, comments and referrals similar to Facebook.  I don’t know how these people do it, they must spend most of their time inside the RV working on their blog, almost like it’s a “heaven forbid” job, I don't want to go there !

Back here in Tucson, I am finding many live music events to attend.  Twinkles and I go downtown to the “Screening Room” which is a small alternative theater.  I was there mainly to see Carlos Arzate, a very creative local singer-songwriter musician.  He has a great band, the Kind Souls” and recently did a “tiny desk concert” video at the "Stone House" out in the desert which made it to their final competition.  He was playing his solo acoustic original songs which were interesting but not as entertaining as his band stuff.  Another band followed playing extremely loud electric rock to an old Sci-Fi movie background, it was just too weird.  Twinkles was holding her hands over her ears until moving to the lobby and will probably never attend another show with me.

Next I went to the Hotel Congress for the Casa Maria Thanksgiving Benefit concert.  I was somewhat disappointed in the event as attendance was light considering a few of the most interesting Tucson musicians, Rich Hopkins and the Luminaries, Gabriel Sullivan and Billy Sedlmayr were performing.  Also distressing was the fact that they the benefit concert had to end at 10:30 PM as some DJ music thing was scheduled.  A very catchy and touching song was written for the soup Kitchen main man, Brian Flagg who has run the Food Bank for many years.

Gabriel Sullivan in blue lights and smoke was eerie

Billy Sedlmayr has a tragic dark past but somehow the
man still has a beautiful smile and a twinkle in his eye

We go to the Tucson Museum of Art with friends from the campground for their Annual Holiday Artisans Market.  This is an incredible market, with about 100 great craft and art vendors.  We didn’t help them much as we came back with only a cheap pair of earrings and a delicious desert aptly named a “Chocolate Bomb”. 

I returned to the museum later to see their new exhibits on “The new Westward, Trains, Planes and Automobiles that move the modern west, Native American portraits by Henry C Balink and an amazing collection of Latin American Folk Art collected and donated by Peter C. Cecere.

This painting was not flat as you walked past it, you felt  the
illusion of movement and perspective.  I'm sure there is a 

better art term to better describe ?

A painting of a typical western railroad town.  I think
I have been there.

This was done with colored pieces of wood

Wood Guthrie, Bound for Glory painting.
I love the curved irregular format of this,
like the man himself

Love these weathered mid 40's pickup trucks

The portraits were so colorful and detailed to
accentuate the strong features of the subjects

Everything was perfect including the frames

A nice artistic panel on the museum exterior

The eating and drinking have been excessive for the past month or so and with the holidays approaching will only only get worse, so I’m back to LA Fitness this week. I wish there was another way, I hate the muscle bound mentality of the gym crowd, but no pain, no gain is the rule ?  Also have taken a few hikes in the desert.

A macro of a decaying Saguaro

The typical desert landscape 

In regard to over eating, the annual Thanksgiving feast is put on by the campground with much assistance from campground volunteers. I can’t image a campground with more community involvement and activities than this place, it’s very special.

Then it’s to Monterey Court to hear a good blues band, Quarter Royale, who have a very dynamic lead guitar player.  I love a band who launches into a Jimi Hendrix song without hesitation and does it well.

Quarter Royale on stage

Twinkles and I have a “date night” going downtown for a light dinner followed by a concert by local musicians at the Fox Theater.  The concert is a reenactment of the legendary “Last Waltz” concert by “The Band” on Thanksgiving day in 1976.  It is the first time we have been to the Fox Theater and it is beautifully restored inside, a real treasure !  I have to admit, I never really liked the music of “The Band”, but I admired their personality, their vibe and musicianship.  The concert had many of the best Tucson musicians performing many of the songs from the Last Waltz.

Outside the Fox after the show

The playbill

My new favorite Sunday afternoon activity is the Sunday Sessions at Borderlands Brewery.  Kevin Pakulis puts on a great show, with a couple of veteran musicians and special guests, a sort of a Sunday afternoon jam.  The Brewery is in an old brick industrial building decorated with southwest art work and has a lively crowd.

A few youngsters enjoyed the music as well

Most interesting beers on tap

There were also a couple of Campground concerts in the mix by Jay Haircloth, “Bat” and Arizona Blues Hall of Fame members “Grams and Krieger”, all good shows.  There are usually two concerts per week, of various music genres for approximately 2 hours duration with an expected $5 donation per person.

We have a new feline member to our family with “Alice” from the Pima Animal Care Center.  I am hoping Alice is a “cool cat” who is calm and travels well, time will tell ?  This campground is basically a dog park, more cat people are needed here.

Alice relaxing

I seem to be constantly on the run between the campground and the local library, various music venues, the gym, shopping, local attractions, etc.  There are people here who hardly ever leave the campground, or go downtown, especially at night, they must wonder about me ?

Children's art project on display at Library with theme
of water conservation.  This painting was by a 10 year old.

Beautiful poems accompany the art works

That's all for now,
Twinkles, Slick and Alice