Monday, January 23, 2017

Notes from the "The Old Pueblo"

January 1 - 23, 2017:

Tucson is affectionately referred to as the "Old Pueblo" as it has historically been a crossroads for many cultures over the centuries and continues as such today.

I start the New Year with a trip to Borderlands Brewery in the afternoon for the weekly Kevin Pakulis “Summer Sessions”.  They have a good turnout and are bolstered on guitar by one of Tucsons best young players, Connor “Catfish” Gallagher.  This has now become a regular event to me, it's big fun !  I see Kevin as the Bruce Springsteen of Tucson.  I also went later in the week to the Tucson Songwriters Showcase at Monterrey Court where Kevin was also the featured performer.     Be sure to read the press, so true !

These guys are my Sunday Happy Hour

Catfish has an array of switches and pedals like an
aircraft cockpit

Riding around a few weeks ago, I had noticed a walled area near “A” Mountain with a Tucson Gardens sign.  It appeared to be a historic site and an internet search confirmed that it was.  Archeological study has determined that this area in the flood plain of the Santa Cruz River is the origin of Tucson and has been an agricultural area inhabited by various people for approximately 4,000 years.  The original Tohono O'odham indian name for the area was S-cuk Son, meaning "at the foot of the black mountain" which evolved into Tucson.  The San Augustin Mission existed here from 1700 to 1828.  This original walled garden area has become the “Mission Garden Project” which will eventually become part of the "Southern Arizona Origins Heritage Park".  The walls have been rebuilt and they are currently planting  garden plots using native plants representative of the various periods of habitation.  

"A" Mountain also known as Sentinel Peak

Mission Gardens inside the wall

Site of the Mission San Augustin

Area slated for redevelopment and park

Riding through Tucson, I almost always stop and admire the Cathedral of Saint Augustin on Stone Ave, it's a incredible sight.  Years ago, I was contacted by an agent who wanted to use my photo on Flick'r in their travel guide.  I felt like a real professional even though no money was involved.

This is a quickie from the Jeep

January 2nd took me to the Chicago Bar in the evening for the Ronstadt Generations Y Los Tucsonenses Band. They had a few musician guests, the music was great and the crowd lively.

I like the setting for the Poster

An similar poster with Papa Mike in front remains posted
by the Chicago Bar doorway

Inside the Chicago Bar

There is a geology group at Desert Trails this year that interests me so I went with them to nearby Saginaw Hill which is a former Copper mining site from the late 1800's to the mid 1900's. It was a large group and we mostly wandered around looking for interesting rocks with quartz veins and other mineral traces.  Geology is somewhat difficult to comprehend, possibly even scary, as the changes to the earth's surface over the millions of years is mind boggling for us short time residents to understand.

View from Saginaw Hill

Twinkles and I go to Saguaro National Park for a hike on the Valley Overlook and the Wild Dog trails.  These are trails that our campground hiking crowd seems to disregard, not challenging enough perhaps, although they are very scenic.

On the trail lined with Saquaro's

I never tire of these views

Twinkles just can't help but take photos of me ?

On a more serious side, I went on a 10 mile hike with about 10 others at Saguaro National Park East on the Douglas Springs, Three Tanks, Wild Horse and Garwood trails.  Due to the recent rains water was flowing in the washes with several waterfalls, we have never seen this much flowing water before. It was a beautiful hike and a good workout.

It's unusual to see water flowing this time of year

Incredible arms on this Saguaro !

Nice lunch spot

I watched a classic 1961 english murder mystery,  “The shadow of a cat”, on the Saturday night “Svengoolie” TV show.  It’s was about a “killer” cat who revenged the murder of its wealthy owner by killing off the murdering family members and servants who had plotted to get her fortune. It ought to be a classic, but somehow it isn’t ?
On that note, Alice is doing very well and quite comfortable in the RV, but  about once a day she turns into a climbing up the walls "killer cat ".

Alice sitting on Twinkles' lap on a quilt being
made just for her

I attended a Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore concert at a venue called 191 Toole.  It was a super crowded event, lots of funny stage banter and a great performance by these guys.  I have seen seen Dave Alvin a couple of times in concert with his brother Phil which is always an excellent show.  I also had seen Jimmie Gilmore perform once many years ago, in the mid 1990’s, almost across the street from my house at the former Hightstown High School.  These guys are veteran performers who have pretty much seen and done it all.

It was an intimate setting

I lucked out getting standing room just behind the seats

My son bought us tickets for a Eric Johnson concert at the Rialto Theater on January 17th.  I had never heard of him before but an internet search showed him to be an outstanding guitar and piano played.  We had excellent second row seats and I would have to say he is an amazing guitar and piano with with a classical flavor.  

Every birthday celebration in our row seems to become a party scene.  At our ages, I suppose that is understandable.  We attended a birthday celebration for Canadian friends Linda and Gary (Gary turned 70) and Laurel (we won't tell) at LaCocina and then a very special happy hour party for our favorite campground dog, LiLi, (70 in people years).  A birthday song was sung, mostly woofs and barks, and her present was a huge bone.  Another birthday was celebrated for Jim at the Texas Roadhouse with most of the vegetarians going only for drinks and eyeing our delicious steaks and ribs with contempt.

The birthday crowd at LaCocina

The Happy Hour group watching LiLi open her bone present

The days are now getting warmer, it appears that we have made it through winter without a deep freeze, but we are getting considerable rain, the desert will be greening up fast and hopefully this will result in great flower blooms this spring. 

I replaced the fuel pump and filter on the Onan Generator, a nasty job due to their location and lack of an underside access panel on the Generator.  I can’t understand the lack of maintainability on this as the fuel filter is something that you should replace on a regular basis, although I don't ever plan to do it again.

Now to potentially piss off some of my former co-workers and family members, we took part in the woman’s march held in downtown Tucson along with approximately 15,000 other people.  It was a vast array of people, all ages and ethnic types, all united and enthusiastically supportive of Women’s rights.  We went with about 40 others from the campground and it was a colorful, beautiful spectacle of democracy in action.  As you would expect and see below, the signs being carried were quite interesting.

Assembling at the campground

Nasty Baby ready to march

Cool to be Canadian, they may be building
a wall soon to keep us out

One of my favorites

Nasty Grandma

Don't mess with her

Makes sense to me

Another favorite

Another personal favorite

Many were wearing "pussy guards"

Not so sure about Arizona, but Tucson does

Native Americans were out too

Planing and packing for the trip to New Jersey and Florida is always a challenge, maybe I should just new clothes when I get there ?  I will be going solo as Twinkles has far too many social activities here and must babysit Alice.

Hopefully there will be no mention of or discussion of Trump on my trip, 
Twinkles and Slick

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2016 Christmas and New Years

December 16 -31, 2016:

I had been feeling like I’m doing a lot of running around, not accomplishing much and somewhat out of control when I saw an interesting quote;  If everything seems to be under control, you’re just not going fast enough (Mario Andretti).  I feel better now !

I go to the Hotel Congress for a concert by Billy Hedlmayr and the Mother Higgins Children’s Band.  Billy Helmayr is, depending on your point of view, either a Tucson folk hero or a drug crazed criminal.  Anyhow, I find it inspirational to see him limping to the stage to perform, smiling after having survived years of drug addiction and 12 or so years of Prison.  It’s mostly a sad story.  The bands name derives from a Tucson woman who ran a house for troubled kids for many decades.  She was very caring and probably should be elevated to sainthood.  The band is a steller group of Tucson musicians led by the incredible Gabriel Sullivan.  I managed to get up front for a while and have to say I thoroughly enjoyed feeling the sound waves blasting from the speakers.

The lovely Louise LeHir opens the show

Billy Hedlmayr in the spotlight

The Mother Higgins Band enveloped in purple haze

In the morning I go on a solo hike in Tucson Mountain Park into a scenic area I haven’t experienced before.  I like unchartered territory, but surprisingly this area has good trail signs !   There are several sharply pointed peaks in this area that appear mystical in the right light.  There are areas with piles of old tin cans, broken bottles, car parts and other assorted junk which is a mystery, former mining activity, former residents or just a neighborhood dumping spot ?

I found a shrine of sorts along the trail

One of my goals is to summit the peak ahead called Cat Mountain

Great views along the trail

Another short hike on a cloud morning on the Bajada Wash Trail in Saquaro National Park.

I love to hike in the washes, always great rocks

A Dam originally built by the CCC in the 1930's

Teddy Bear Cholla with distant mountain views

I couldn’t avoid the Saturday night dance at Desert Trails with the Bad News Bears Band.  This is a band that has been inducted into the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame.  They are great musicians but not exactly a favorite of mine, they play a more smooth, danceable type of Blues.  I prefer the more raw country delta blues variety played with old beat up pawn shop guitars.

I had a real struggle getting Canon Utility software loaded into my computer to upload photos from a new Canon camera that I have just purchased.  I originally planned to download, organize and edit these photos using canon image browser.  After loading it in and trying it, I didn’t like it and will return to the built in Apple “photos” application originally used.  I will then import my “favorite photos” into a new version of Photoshop Elements where I can do additional editing, add tags, etc.  Then there is the matter of 58,000 photos currently stored on my external hard drive.  I also want to import the best of these into photoshop Elements which may be a lifetime project.     

On December 20th at Desert Trail we have a concert by Johnny Bencomo known for playing an 18 string guitar.  I believe the 18 string to be mostly hype, not very practical, or all the guitar gods would be using them.  He is a real old cowboy type who has an amazing repertoire of western and country songs and a great deep voice. We have seen him several times here and also recently at the farmers market in Bisbee, Arizona.  As we were listening to him there, an elderly man greeted him and when Johnny asked him how he was doing, he replied, “Well I don’t move so fast anymore”.  Johnny’s classic response was “You don’t need to move fast, you just need to keep moving”. 

Johnny Bencomo

Of course, I visit my friends Kevin Mayfield and Lane Rebel at LaCocina where they perform every on Wednesday night.  They also have a very cool record shop at LaCocina called “Old Paint Records”.

Lana and Kevin on stage at LaCocina

A couple of days later Petie and Bobby Rondstadt along with Alex Flores of the Rondstadt Generation Band play at the campground.  They do their usual excellent show covering a multitude of musical genres.  This is the first time I have seen Bobby Rondstadt play with them, but he is another talented member of the Rondstadt clan that all seem to have music running through their veins.

We have an extended “happy hour” for the “M” row and friends on Christmas Eve.  It was planned to be an outside event, but as 50 MPH winds and rain were forecast for late afternoon it was moved into the gallery building.  It was a good move as the rain did come on schedule and was heavy.   On Christmas day Bill and Linda McMeekin invited us and five others to their RV for a pancake breakfast followed by a hike in the desert and a Turkey dinner in the evening.  It was a little crowded, not so easy preparing and serving a large meal for 9 people in an RV, but it was a big success.

Twinkles and I visit the Tohono Chul Botanical Gardens and Galleries after Christmas, it’s an amazing place, a combination botanical garden, art gallery, cafe, gift shop, educational and performance venue. 

These are owl skulls

A very interesting crested Saquaro

A very twisted crazy Saquaro

Sexual method of the Roadrunner is interesting, the photo
was too graphic for this blog

A Yucca leave up close is quite beautiful

Afterwards we take the scenic drive to the park area atop “A” Mountain overlooking Tucson.  The real name for “A” Mountain is Sentinel Peak, but after the University of Arizona students built the huge “A” on the hillside in the 1910’s it has become known as “A” Mountain.

The Cactus on the hillside are very abnormal

The view from the summit

View from the "A" on the Mountain

Observation stone house

I had a copy of Rolling Stone with a very interesting article on the Rolling Stones and their latest album called “Blue and Lonesome”.  The quotes from Mick or Keith tend to be very interesting.  I was especially amused by Keith’s quote on their longevity.  Sue bought me the excellent CD for Christmas.

On the cover of the Rolling Stone

The best way to go ?

I go for a group hike with Bill, Linda, Laurel, Jeff and Craig in the Dove Mountain area.  We do the Alamo Springs Trail to the end and then return on the Wild Mustang Trail, a total of approximately 9 miles. It’s beautiful terrain with plenty of ups and downs for a good workout.

View from the trail

Our hiking leader is Li-Li getting in the photo with
ancient indian grinding holes in foreground

A neighbor at the campground had a sister visiting who gave a group of us an introduction into Eco-dying.  This involves collecting various plants, placing them on paper, stacking 3 paper layers on top of one another, then rolling and tying them up.  The paper rolls are then steamed for a couple of hours and dried.  The colors of the plants stains the paper into interesting colors and shapes.  The finished paper can be used for decoration, note card or other art projects.

The girls starting starting the eco-dye process

Looking over Twinkles shoulder

The end result is something like this 

We attend the gala New Years Dinner at the campground followed by the gift exchange.  We skipped the dance this year, too many cold germs floating around.  Regardless, I’m coming down with one right now.

Bill McMeekin giving me the finger

Alice the cat continues to adjust nicely and is now into everything at times, practically climbing the walls, but is amazingly well house trained and people

Alice on top of the window ready to pounce down onto the bed

2016 was a very successful year traveling north through parts of Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, then into Canada and through the providences of British Columbia and Alberta, then returning south through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and back to Tucson, Arizona.  

We visited six National Parks in the US, Death Valley, Mt Rainer, Theodore Roosevelt, Wind Cave, Rocky Mountain and Great Sand Dunes and three Canadian National Parks, Jasper, Yoho and Banff. We also visited two National Monuments, Organ Pipe Cactus and White Sands and nine State Parks.

We spent 7 1/2 months on the road accumulating 6,567 miles on the RV and 17,000 miles on the Jeep without a real breakdown other than a tree crashing threw the RV roof (big deal) while parked.  We stayed in sixty five campgrounds and dry camped (no electric, water or sewer hookups) for approximately 3 months. 


Happy New Year;

Twinkles and Slick