Camping in the Snowies

Camping in the Snowies

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Safford AZ fiddle contest

Safford AZ is four hours south and east of Surprise. We could have gotten on Grand Avenue ( AZ highway 60) and stayed on it all the way to Safford but that would have taken us right through downtown Phoenix. Dave decided to go east to the 101 loop and south to I-10 and take the I-17 truck bypass back to I-10 and onto Hwy. 60 from there. The truck bypass misses the downtown tunnel and Sky Harbor traffic.  After the city driving, the rest was pretty easy and scenic, too. Eastward and upward by the Superstition Mountains on the left of the highway.  Boyce Thompson Arboretum S.P. Near Superior, AZ is on the right side of the highway and is a place we want to visit. The Arboretum/State Park is named for mining engineer and financier, William Boyce Thompson and is run by the state park, the arboretum board and the University of Arizona.
We were on a scenic highway climbing through narrow canyons of the Pinal Range; through the mining towns Miami, Claypool and Globe.

                                        Queen Creek Tunnel

Several mines appeared along the route with mine tailings and evidence of reclamation with vegetation being planted on the steep side hills. Curiously, someone was feeding a small herd of cattle on one of these steep hills.
            Up ahead on the right and about in the middle of the photo; a pen of cattle.

    Wasn't there an old joke about breeding mountain cattle with legs shorter on one side?

 We dropped into the Gila River drainage through the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation and stopped at the casino to stretch our legs. Barbara and Dick Garrett from Florence Junction and Weiser ID were doing the same. We drove the rest of the way with them. We turned south at Stafford to the Graham County Fairgrounds and find our musician friends already in place. We have electricity. Life is good.

                     Barbara Garrett with father and son, the Carlisles.

                       Katie Bonn, Denny Carlson, Dave and Rich(banjo)

The Kennedy family bus. John Kennedy made sausage gravy for the free biscuits and gravy breakfasts Saturday and Sunday.

The view of the sun hitting the top of 10,000+ foot Mt. Graham out our trailer door Saturday morning.
Dave contested in the Senior division and played twin fiddle with Katie Bonn. He also played guitar back up for some contestants. This is a big contest with lots of good fiddlers in Dave's category. He got a 6th place and a 4th place. Arizona native and high school senior, Ben Shu, won the "Show Your Stuff" $1000 prize this year. 

Out in the parking lot were cars and trucks from several states.

                                                        Tom Bonn's truck

                                    Safford is about 40 miles from New Mexico

I did a little birding around the fairgrounds and saw Blue Winged Teal and a Say's Phoebe plus some other more common birds.
Back home in Surprise with Bambi Luci snug in her RV spot, Dave and I are ready to stay put for a couple of weeks. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Fiddling, camping, and birding at the Ajo Country Club

The tiny town of Ajo, Arizona has an 9 hole, grass green and fairway golf course thanks to the US military. During WWII this golf course was built for the airmen who manned the airbase here. A landing strip remains and is used by private pilots.  There is a clubhouse and cafe with a meeting room attached. This is where the 37th annual Ajo fiddle contest was held.  On Thursday some fiddlers played for the seniors at the Ajo Senior Center and played again on the plaza in downtown Ajo on Friday. 

                                                             Ajo Country Club

Once again folks said that attendance was down, especially the number of RV's but the fiddle contest events were well attended with an appreciative crowd. There was parking lot picking around campfires into the night and jamming in the nooks and crannies of the clubhouse. 

                                Barbara Garrett and Katie Bonn fiddling

The sisters (I've forgotten their names) played and sang together like only sisters can. Jim Dixon  and Susie Pangle play along. 

                          Some of the crowd at the dance on Saturday night.

                           Dave took this photo from the stage at the dance.

This contest began after lunch each day of the weekend. There were  the usual categories according to age. Dave was in the Senior division. After the first day of the contest, awards were given. The first three places in each division were asked back for a championship contest the next day. All others who placed were invited to play in a runner up division. Dave took third place in the Seniors and got a trophy.

      Dave and his back-up musicians, Tom Bonn and Dennis Carlson

Dave played really well in each of his rounds but the competition was exceptional. The second place in the championship was won by a contestant from Dave's division. 

                                              Dave backing up Corrine Garey

We found time to hike around the desert golf course and spotted some interesting birds. I noticed a wash just east of the golf club and went bird spotting. Here are the birds I saw. Some were new birds for me. 
Black tailed gnatcatcher
Brown crested flycatcher
Red faced warbler
Great horned owl 
Gambel's quail
Along the wash I could see tracks of javelina, cattle, rabbits, and coyotes.
It was another fun weekend in the desert. We will see most of our friends next weekend at Safford, Arizona for another fiddle contest.