We head west out of Phoenix on Interstate 10 and then south on AZ 85 past Buckeye to Interstate 8 at Gila Bend. We pass through some high desert covered sparsely with shrub and saguaro. There is evidence of mining and lots of trucks but no signage. Then we drop into the Gila River drainage. The town of Gila Bend is located where the Gila River bends and flows west to join the Colorado River at Yuma. There is a motel in Gila Bend that begs for photos to be taken. Here it is.
Interstate 8 is a busy highway with truck and rail commerce coming and going east and west to the port at San Diego. The Gila valley is flat and supports big farms raising cattle feed for dairies that dot the valley and truck farming of all sorts of vegetables nearer to Yuma. We also saw large acreages of solar arrays which track the suns movement for best solar collection. We stop at the rest area near Sentinel and notice lava looking rocks strewn about. In the Roadside Geology of Arizona it says that this is one of "the youngest displays of volcanism in Arizona" and the flows are less than 2 million years old. Up and over the Mohawk Mountains which look like a Mohawk haircut. As we travel west, the Copper Mountains and Gila Mountains are to the south and north of the highway are the Muggins Mountains.
We made it to the venue on the southern edge of Yuma passing many RV parks loaded with snowbirds in large RV's and park model trailers packed cheek to cheek along paved streets with the occasional palm tree. Didn't look like that much fun to us.
We seemed to be the first campers in the lot so had our pick of the spots. We were warned to look out for puncture vines with spines called goat heads but the lot had been raked clean. We were happy.
Araby Road which bordered the parking lot was a hub of activity with nearly constant truck traffic. This is high season for produce, fruit and hay. Trucks hauling pallets of crated vegetables and oranges went east while trucks carrying empty pallets went west. Tractors and light trucks hauled irrigation pipe and tillage equipment went both directions. White buses carrying workers and towing port-a-potties and hand washing stations traveled to and from fields and groves.
We are surrounded by orange groves which have tall towers bearing fan-like blades possibly having to do with preventing frost damage. There were turkey vultures overhead and I notice that they perch on these towers in the evening.
Also overhead are screaming jets from the marine aviation field just to the north of us. We notice different kinds of jets flying at different times of the day or day of the week? They looked and sounded different is all we could tell but they were low enough that we could see missiles and landing gear.
That afternoon, Dave attended a fiddle and guitar workshop presented by two of the judges. Denny and Elaine Carlson parked their RV next to us and another pickup camper came plus a Van camper. That was the extent of the campers in the lot.
The contest bagan the next day, on Saturday. People started to congregate and soon the lot filled up with vehicles of all sorts. There were the usual contest divisions with the senior division being the most populous. Numbers of contestants were down but the quality was good so it was a good contest. Dave placed fifth in the senior division playing tunes that he wrote and accompanied ably by Denny.
Lots of tunes were played with all sorts of styles and instruments.
After the contest was over on Sunday, we followed Denny and Elaine east on the interstate to the Dome Valley and the home of Larry and Pat Rose. The Roses love to host their musician friends who are welcome to pull their RV's up next to big metal airplane hangers and plug in to the electricity and play some music in the Chicken Coop. Larry has a collection of airplanes, being a pilot and owner of a crop dusting business. He also collects and restores antique cars and motorcycles. The Chicken Coop is really a nice house built onto the hanger and is used by his family and friends. Larry offered to let us take one of the motorcycles for a spin but we declined. Dave did play the antique, fully restored Steinway grand piano, though.
Suzy and Harold, Denny and Elaine, Diane and Arnold and Jim plus Dave and myself and Larry played lots of tunes Sunday evening after a nice supper put together by Suzy, Diane and Pat. Dave played fiddle, Suzy and Larry played Dobro, Elaine played the bass and the rest of us guitars. Suzy and Jim harmonized well as did Arnold and Diane. Denny is a great songwriter. He and Elaine sang wonderfully together. My fingers got pretty tender after a while so I tried my luck at the 1000 piece jig saw puzzle.
We had to leave Monday but not until more tunes were played and Larry toured us through his big house up the hill from the coop. What a great time we had with our new friends! The good news is that we will see them all again later in the week at the Salome gathering.