Camping in the Snowies

Camping in the Snowies

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Jerome AZ day trip

Our son Ross, visiting from Nebraska, had not seen the mining town of Jerome. It was a perfect day trip distance from Phoenix of just over 100 miles. We took Interstate 17 to Cordes Junction and AZ Hwy 169 to Dewey turning north onto Hwy 89A. This narrow scenic highway climbed into pine forests twisting and turning upon itself many times as it traversed the mountains into Jerome. 
At one of the few turn outs, this was our first view of the Verde Valley in the distance. The highway is in the lower left. Dave's phone camera made this black and white photo.  Here are some other photos taken at that location.

Looking around us, we noticed a trestle that probably supported an ore tram car loaded with copper laden rock.

Around the bend and on a steep side hill Jerome suddenly appeared. Now an artists colony, Jerome came into being in 1876 when three prospectors staked claims on rich copper deposits. The name of the town came from an investor of the United Verde Copper Company that bought out the prospectors in 1883.  Eugene Jerome never visited the town. Another investor bought the company and built a railroad that made the mine profitable. A second major copper strike was discovered by James Douglas and the Little Daisy Mine came into being.  Along with the United Verde Mine, the area has produced over a billion dollars worth of copper, gold and silver. 
The pine covered hills were denuded to build the copper camp and vegetation never returned until the toxic fumes of the ore smelters ceased when the mines shut down.  A history of devastating fires, slumping hillsides and cave-ins has changed the face of this mining town. 

Thanks to historic preservation efforts by artists and historians, Jerome thrives on tourism nowadays.  The very narrow main streets are lined with art galleries and eateries using the old storefronts and maintaining the flavor of the mining town. We ate at a cafe that was once a car dealership and later a firehouse. 
This nifty Stella with side car could be had by inquiring at a store named Nelly Bly.

We toured the Douglas Mansion, built in 1916 by James Douglas just above his Little Daisy mine. He designed and built the home/hotel for his family and mining dignitaries and investors. Ahead of its time, it was built of Adobe bricks formed on site and concrete floors. It also had steam heat, a central vacuum system, a marble shower and a wine cellar.  The house was donated by the Douglas family to the Arizona State Parks system in 1962 and now is a museum worth visiting. It has great views of the Verde Valley and the San Francisco Peaks to the north. To the south are views of what is left of Jerome. 
                                             Jerome AZ

                             The view northwest from the Douglas Mansion. 

After an interesting day, we head home by way of Cottonwood, AZ and stop briefly to say hello to Arizona fiddler and fiddle maker Leonard Cook and his wife Laura. Back to Interstate 17 and home to Surprise by 5 PM.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

AZ Bluegrass at Wickenberg

Our first Bluegrass festival in Arizona and the first one we didn't have to drive hours to attend. It was great!
We had reserved a camping spot and passes in advance so pulled into our site and set up camp. 
Our friends from Salome were camping at the "penthouse" they said. We strolled over to the rodeo arena where the festival stage was set and Old Blue Sound was getting ready. A friendly Wickenberger told us where the penthouse was.  The rodeo grounds where the festival is held are located up a canyon a little ways east and north of the town. There were A and B campgrounds then various other lettered and well marked areas and far up the canyon and uphill all the way was the campground labeled "Penthouse." We decided to driving, not walking was best. There we found Dennis and Elaine Carlson and Jake and Jeannie Jacobs camped together as they had in Salome with their awnings touching and tarp wind and sun baffles held in place with clamps. We agreed to return after dinner for jamming. 

                           I think this is a kind of yucca called Yucca rigida

                                       Our site number and Airstream birdhouse.

                                 Saguaro cactus near the campground.

Dave finds a jam or a jam finds him. It all started with him playing banjo and blossomed into a great jam.  
         Jake Jacobs, Paul Smith, Gordon Acri and Dave (hat and ear).

Gordie Acri and a banjo of his own design. Yes, you are seeing angled frets up the neck and no headstock. His finger picks and thumb picks are sold by Elderly Instruments. His banjos look weird but sound good. Here.'s Dave with another Acri banjo. 

Up the hill later on for a great jam with the Penthouse gang. The night got pretty chilly and we were glad to have an extra blanket along when we got back to our camp. 

The next morning the guys from Driving Grass showed up for practice before the bluegrass band contest. 

Charlie Ray Robinson, Dave, Paul Schuler, Dennis Talbert and Rick Rhodes are Driving Bluegrass. They took third place. 

Sights in the festival area. The Fest was well attended with a parking lot full of day trippers. 

More good picking ensued on the grounds that evening with picking tents among the big rigs and three shiny Airstreams. An RV caravan group from Sun City West had a big fire pit. Many other fire pits spewed wood smoke at night. It smelled a bit like a high, dry and bare Walnut Valley Festival. 
There were food and souvenir vendors and a T shirt booth. Fancy Native American turquoise, sand painting, weaving and pottery caught my eye. Homemade ice cream and peanut butter cake got my money, though.  
   Dave in the Senior fiddle contest backed up by Laura Berry and Norm Long. He got fourth place. 

             Senior fiddle contest winners. Three classy ladies.

Dave in the banjo contest backed by Denny Carlson and Dennis Talbert.

Dave took second place in the banjo contest.

There were three professional bands who played sets between each contest. A few bands but they played a lot.
Blaine Sprouse was gracious to pose for me backstage. He played a beautiful version of Maiden's Prayer.
The Dry Branch Fire Squad played a great gospel set on Sunday morning. Ron Thomason had everyone standing and singing a hymn on the last song of their set. He did an impression of a revival preacher that was believable and funny at the same time. 
After good-byes to our new friends who we'll meet up with in Ajo or Yuma or Tucson we were on the road home. Luci is snug in her berth at the Sun Village RV lot and the Tacoma has had a much needed bath. We are home from camping until January 2015. Life is good. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Salome AZ fiddle jamboree

We enjoyed the state fiddle contest at Payson and were able to meet some Arizona fiddlers. Now we have an opportunity to meet fiddlers and other musicians in a jam setting without competing. Our first outing in Luci since the trip south. 
Salome is a wide spot in the road on Highway 60 with a Lions club that seems happy to sponsor this weekend. They provide a hall and a chili dinner on Friday noon; a pancake breakfast and a beef stew dinner on Saturday. Beer and wine were also available. Coffee was a free will donation.  Camping is willy nilly across the street in a big dirt lot. We pulled up and camped beside some folks we met at Payson. 

The awning was deployed the entire weekend as the sun is fierce even this late in the season.

Mostly big rigs, trailers and fifth wheels. No tents. Most of us were retirement age. Some travel with their dogs and one couple had a cat. 

A picking tent was made in this case by joining two awnings and clamping white plastic tarps to the awning arms. In the daytime air movement was facilitated by rearranging the tarps. You can see the clamp in the upper right hand corner of the photo above.  The clamps were bought in quantity at the swap meet in Quartsite. In the evening the tarps kept out the chilly desert air. 

This is the Salome Lions club hall at breakfast on Saturday. The stage is a raised platform so is accessible to even the least mobile of us gray-haired folks. Yes, those are frogs on the wall.  One has a fiddle and the lady frog has a microphone. We asked about the significance of the frogs and were told that the Salome athletic teams were the Fighting Frogs. That was the explanation. 

In this jam, a roster was kept for signing up to play on stage. Anyone could perform as long as no electric instruments were used. An electric piano was allowed. The performer was allowed three tunes.  A fiddler always performed his tunes between the "others." After all, this was a fiddle jam. 

This fiddler is Blaine Cone, a venerable performer who knew the words to "Peek-a-Boo Waltz and other fiddle tunes we all knew but hadn't heard them sung.  He is a treasure and also hosted the gospel sing on Sunday morning. 
There were many good musicians and lots of pretty fiddles, mandolins and basses. There were even some banjos including a clawhammer style banjo.  

OK, I said that there were rules at the hall and one was NO DOGS ALLOWED.  Well maybe just one.
Rules are made to be broken, I guess. 

Dave did a nice job on his tunes, with Laura and Denny as backup. He stuck to familiar ones that the local guitar players knew. No Warrie Means in this group. 
I said that this wasn't a competition but there was a little band contest. Those wanting to participate put their names in a hat. Four names were drawn no matter their specialty so it could be four singers or four banjos, etc. The band members were given only a few seconds to come up with two numbers and away they went. Interesting, huh? 
Anyway, it was a fun weekend in the desert. The moon was full, sunsets were pink and purple and the sleeping was good providing that you had a blanket and your socks on. 
Next weekend Luci travels to Wickenburg for the Bluegrass Festival. We are ready to go!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Our first week in Sun Village

This has been an eventful week.  We have internet, TV and mail service established and have visited with the neighbors. Our address is 14300 West Bell Rd. #421 Surprise, AZ 85374. 
                    The front of our condo. We are asking for better plantings. 
Several hummingbirds visit our feeder plus some house finches, a verdin and a cactus wren. Mockingbirds serenade us morning and night and a couple of skinks visit our patio. 
These are a few of the plants that are showy, blooming in our village now. Sorry Hollis, no wildflowers here. Another blog. 

The landscaping folks have power raked and over seeded the green areas including the golf course so we anticipate a return to greenness in the next few weeks. We do get nice shade from this pine tree but also get pine needles falling into the patio. Since we have pulled up the rotting patio carpet, the needles will be easier to get rid of. Now to decide what kind of patio floor covering to choose.

The west valley of greater Phoenix is getting to be big city like but Sun Village is more like a small town. Most of the activities and services we need are here except for a grocery store and post office. Walmart (whoopee) is just out the back gate and Albertsons, Safeway, Bashas, Sprouts, Trader Joes and Frys are just a few blocks away and so is the post office. 

So what have we been doing this week? Dave has been swimming a few times and I've been there once. It is a beautiful pool and especially so at night when the underwater lighting is on. It's heated so especially inviting on a warm evening after a hot day. 
I have gone to yoga twice. It is offered, free of charge, at the clubhouse on three mornings a week. I plan to try Zumba which is offered on Monday morning at 7. Will see how it goes. 
Yesterday we attended the city of Surprise's first annual Fiesta celebration. Located in the older part of Surprise on Hollyhock street, there were food vendors, games for kids, free swimming in the area pool, information tents, a stage for entertainment and a car show. 
We saw two excellent mariachi bands and folk dancing by a young group from Mexico.

There were lots and lots of restored cars and trucks of every kind and we realized that cars from the era that we went to high school are now considered vintage!! We so are we, I guess. Note the Star Trek sign I'm giving. Low rider cars with fancy paint jobs were especially admired.
But did I mention that it was hot? Everything was pavement and the temps were pushing 100 and no wind. We lasted a couple of hours watching the mariachi and walking through the car show and then home and a cool shower. Not much more was accomplished that day. 
To Lord of Life Lutheran church this morning and coffee afterward to meet some folks and reconnect with Gloria Lien who is the music director. She has a place for Dave in the brass quintet and the polka band which will perform at the church's Octoberfest. Like I said, a busy week. Go Broncos. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

AZ State Fiddle Contest In Payson and on to Surprise

Dave didn't get to play his fiddle but he got to meet a lot of fiddlers from around Arizona and played a lot of guitar back up. He got a certificate for third most popular back up person without even trying as guitar players are in short supply at this contest. 

Dave and Fiddler Leonard Cook practicing tunes and visiting. Leonard and Laura Cook are from Cottonwood, AZ. 

Kimmy Calderone and Dave practicing her tunes for the championship division. She is from Casa Grande and just got back into fiddling competition. 
Dave also played for Kevin DeRusha from the Safford Arizona area. Kevin got fourth place in the championship division. 
The Payson Chamber of Commerce treated the fiddlers, back ups and their families to a pulled pork barbecue with entertainment by Cisco and the Race Cars from Chandler. 
                          Yes, that's a cello in a bluegrass band!
 Bright and early on Monday morning we headed for our winter destination, Surprise AZ.  South and west on the Beeline Highway, down and down on steep grades but thankfully a four lane road. I watched the changing scenery as Dave watched the road.

From Ponderosa pines in Payson to Saguaro cactus in the valley. The aloe plants were blooming, sending impossibly tall broom like blossoms up into the sky. Spent agave blooms looking like funny trees and some yucca blossoms along with ocotillo and cholla and dinner plate cactus plus mesquite, rabbit brush, juniper and other kinds of vegetation. The valley has gotten more rain than usual so the desert is lush. 
We are at the condo by ten and unloaded by ten thirty and had Luci the Airstream moved into her new quarters at the RV corral next to Sun Village by eleven. 
Glad to be here, we are ready to stay put for a while.