Friday, December 22, 2017

Tucson festival days

December 1 - 15, 2017:

Our weekend plan is the Tamale Festival at the Casino del Sol on Saturday followed by “La fiesta de Tumacacori” on Sunday.  The Tamale festival seems to gain in popularity each year with huge lines at the food vendors.  I’m not a huge fan of Tamales, but love practically everything else.  As usual we run into several other people from the campground. Looking around I see an abundance of over weight people which tends to make me stop eating, that’s my diet plan.

It's mostly about eating !

Watching the bands and dance group is secondary

We skip the Saturday evening dance, Twinkles didn’t feel like going, but I’m sure she will tell her friends that it’s me, but I don’t mind.  Dancing is just awkward to me, I only am up for it when the right music is playing which is often not dance music.  I can only remember one time in my life that I ever left my seat to approach a single woman on the dance floor, but she was very special, enough said. 

One of my my favorite festivals here is “La Festa deTumacacori celebrating the heritage of the Santa Cruz Valley.  The fiesta starts with a procession of “Yaqui Tribal members”,  bare to the waist with breech cloths and belts with metal bells and with members of the Tohono O’Odham Nation called “Pascolas” who wear ordinary clothes with leg and belt rattles and dance to violin and guitar music. The procession leads to the site of the mass in front of the Tumacacori Mission.  The procession and the Mass is very spiritual and accentuated by the setting in front of the Mission with the mountains in the distance.  The mass is a mix of Spanish, English and Native Indian culture and language.  No photos are allowed and the policy is strictly enforced so if you want to see it, you have to go in person.  

The Fiesta follows with food vendors, exhibits and information booths on cultural and environmental organizations, a kids area, folklorico dancers, Apache crown dancers, mariachi bands and native american dancers.

The fiesta grounds

Very scary dance troupe

A favorite of mine

Beautiful flowing dance dresses

Mexican mariachi band performing

The Mission itself is a very unique national treasure saved by the “Antiquities Act”  in 1904 by Theodore Roosevelt.  The Mission had been abandoned for about a hundred years and stripped of all valuable interior adornments, even the roof was taken for the wooden beams and it was slowly falling apart.  Over the years since it has been stabilized with a limited restoration, but mostly left in a state of ruin as a testament to its history. The Mission is operated as a National Historic Park with historical information in the visitors center and guided tours. 

Tumacacori Mission has a haunting quality

It seems more sacred due to its near destruction

I didn't realize until afterwards that a shadow of the church was in the background,
it adds a nice touch

Another favorite festival in Tucson is the winter 4th Street Fair with hundreds of craft vendors, much to see and do and fair food to eat. 

The Carnivaleros Band on stage

Several street musicians

Ben's Bells is a Tucson institution

Lots of food and drink

The balloon man was really great

These mariachi kids were great too !

Twinkles bought ear rings from this colorful man

Lots of tie dyed shirts

Lots of masks

Hippie Gypsy stuff too !

We met some of our campground friends (wearing tie dyed shirts) in mid afternoon at the “Hut” where the band “Top Dead Center” was performing.  They are an excellent veteran band known for its repertoire of “Grateful Dead” and other iconic 60’s music.  There was a weird assortment of people in attendance as expected, but the music was very good.  We were happy to see the Tucson “Dancing Man” there still dancing non-stop.

These guys get the sound and vibe of the Grateful Dead, see video

John and Donna from Logan Lake, BC on the dance floor

I attended several live music events in Tucson during this time;

The Ronstadts at the Chicago Bar who since the loss of “Papa Rondstadt” have evolved a bit, but the music continues along the family tradition.  Petie Ronstadt has definitely grown into the leader of the band and even does occasional solo gigs. 

Tony Furtado at Monterey Court who has won the national bluegrass banjo championship several times.  He is also a songwriter and plays guitar, slide guitar, sings.  He has many critically acclaimed albums to his credit and has played at major venues.  He was accompanied by a violin player who has won the national championship three times.


Sleepwalkers Station at Monterey Court, they are a complete unknown to me, on tour from Berlin, Germany.  It was a solo performance, but there are several other band members.  I was intrigued by their web site where they are described as having Dylans roots, Drake's philosophy and the dreams of Counting Crows, Mr Jones.


Kevin Pakulis “Sunday Sessions” at Borderland Brewing where Kevin welcomes all to “the church”.  It’s always good with much original and southwest inspired country and special musical guests.

Kevin with a special guest sitting in, Texas "Terry" Trash of
the band "Texas Trash and the Trainwrecks"

Jamie Anderson at Monterey Court, an original Tucsonian, now living in Ottawa Canada, who returns periodically.  An extremely witty, humorous and political singer / songwriter.

Jamie Anderson on stage

The St Cinder Band at Monterey Court from Ashland, Oregon.  They are street buskers at heart who are competent on multiple instruments and have gained a considerable reputation and following.  They are wintering in Bisbee, Arizona this year and hopefully will be in the Tucson area occasionally.

St Cinder on stage at Monterey Court, check out the video below

Colton has a most unusual voice and ability on the

The Soap board and drum kit   

They utilize a bizarre array of instruments

The Great Cover-up at the Hotel Congress where a number of local bands and musicians come together to perform cover songs of various well known bands. Who is covering who is kept a secret until the show which takes place over three nights at three different venues.

The courtyard of the Hotel Congress

Louise LeHir and band doing the "Kinks"

Carlos Azate and his band "The kind souls" did a powerful, dynamic set

A hispanic band doing the "Doors", they were very good
musicians but how can anyone duplicate Jim Morrison ?

We bought a new bed mattress for the RV and had to take the old one to the Pima County dump for disposal.  Going into the dump is quite an experience, everyone should be required to do it, what a dump ! This could promote conservation !

This landfill goes on for miles, but there was a time perhaps only 100 years ago when it may
have looked like the following photo

In contrast, I made it out into the desert one evening as the cloud formations were promising for a good sunset, I wasn't disappointed !

Indescribable ?

Keep watching on ,
Twinkles and Slick

That’s all for now, have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year;
Twinkles and Slick

Monday, December 4, 2017

Back to the playground

November 15 - 30, 2017:

It was a 106 mile ride today on route 80 through Tombstone to Benson where I get on I-10 west to Tucson.  We are now back at the senior playground of Desert Trails RV Park where we will reside for our winter break until mid March.  We have a new campsite across the road from our previous one which is a big improvement.  It has a much more private sitting area behind the RV bordered by cactus, creosote and palo verde trees and lots of birds.  Alice loves it !

I make a stop at the Horse Show Cafe in Benson

The backyard

I have a long list of things to do this winter, I won’t be bored, but since we won’t be traveling much I will reduce the blog frequency.  The social activities are in full swing here already with a 4 PM happy hour somewhere every day and all sorts of activities to participate in if desired.  The weather has been clear and dry with above average and some record high temperatures, in fact they say  November has had the hottest average temperature for Tucson ever recorded, but I’m sure that will change soon.   

On the live music front there is always something going on here;   I went to the Hotel Congress for a show opened with a “Sweet Ghosts” band trio, followed by a solo Billy Sedemyer and then a segment with a Gabriel Sullivan backing band.  The highpoint as usual was a spirited rendition of “Tucson Kills”.  Afterwards a Swedish singer whose album is being produced by Sullivan did a performance backed by the band.  I left shortly afterwards practically fighting my way out the door through a line of college age kids, mostly girls in tight fitting dresses with excessive anatomy parts exposed, their fathers would not approve.

Billy Sedemyer, Gabriel Sullivan and blues great Tom Wallbank

I had missed seeing Kevin Pakulis at a Desert Trails show a day before we arrived where he had noted during the show something about me not being there.  As a result, Twinkles and I made sure to go to his weekly Sunday Sessions at Borderlands Brewing.  We had seats at the bar right in front and it was about as good as it gets.  He had a packed room, the Sunday Session’s have definitely gained a following.  We return the following week with another couple from the campground who are interested.

Our first Desert Trails concert was to see Danny Kreiger and Steve Grams who we I have seen many times, but they are always entertaining.  These guys are both inductees into the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame and play with several other area bands.  

I was at Monterey Court a few times; first to see a duo called “Gypsy Stew”  from California at Monterrey Court who were very good and entertaining.  They were a married couple with interesting bio’s, he once toured nationally with Kim Simmons and the Savoy Brown Band and she was an artist.  He was a very talented guitarist and she played an interesting drum set made up of tin pans and other such stuff.

Next was another trip to Monterrey Court with a group from the campground for a special event celebrating the sixth anniversary of Monterey Court.  The band was not exactly a favorite music style of mine but they were very good musicians and everyone had a good time.

I also made it to LaCocina to see my friends Lana Rebel and Kevin Mayfield do their usual interesting show. They have the “Old Paint” record store at the “Old Town Artisans” that is loaded with original artwork, posters, comics and classic vinyl records.

I’ve been concentrating mainly on RV maintenance issues so far since arriving .  Our hot water heater tank had developed a leak a few months ago.  It is a Atwood Heater which has a replaceable aluminum tank. I ordered  the tank from Amazon and it was delivered promptly as usual.  It is a pretty intensive job to replace it, you have to remove the heater assembly, disassemble it and replace the inner tank.  The only real hard part is installing the retaining rings that hold the tank to the heater housing.  It’s another instance of bad engineering’s, it would be so much better if there were brackets on the tank to bolt it to the housing.  I’ve also been busy cleaning the roof, resealing an area of the front seam and applying a coat of UV protectant.

Twinkles has been going out in the desert behind the campground for a few miles each morning towards reaching her daily step goal.  I usually pass on this activity, but we have done one of our favorite hikes at Brown Mountain.


The view from the Brown Mountain Trail

A large Saguaro fallen across the trail

View from the top is special

I also went on a hike at Madera Canyon with a group from the campground.  It was steadily uphill hike to a saddle and then downhill back to the parking lot for a total of approximately 6 1/2 miles.  It is a heavily forested trail with great views making it a very interesting hike.

Heading up the trail

View from the trail gives the impression that we have gained considerable altitude 

Sign for a group of scouts who perished here during a storm in 1958

Marie, Jeff, John, Linda and me pose at the saddle

A few additional photos taken in the desert behind the campground.

I found a Cactus Bob's geocache just wandering around out there

A very special Saguaro skeleton

They are a work of art

The lowly creosote bush has beauty too !

As does the spines of Teddy Bear Cholla trunk

If put an empty box out, our baby "Alice" will find it and crawl inside.


We have a big activity filled weekend coming up so this is a good place for a break.  Keep watching, it’s going to get crazy in December !

Also watch other obsessive wanderers on:

Twinkles and Slick