Camping in the Snowies

Camping in the Snowies

Saturday, March 28, 2015

White Tank Regional Park; a spring hike

Dave and I took a short drive to the White Tanks this week to see the spring flowers and birds. The park is an easy 20-30 minute drive west on Bell Road and then south on 303 to the Peoria exit which is a mile north of Olive. There is no signage on 303 indicating that this is the proper exit to the park and there is no exit for Olive Avenue from the 303 which is the street that leads into the White Tank Park. People who live here know these things and GPS devices likely give the right directions so be forewarned if you plan to make this trip. There is a $6 day fee per vehicle. Camping is also available as is hiking and biking. A competitive mountain biking course is located here as is a regional library that has a neat shop for all things desert; books, hats, nature guides, etc. You can visit the library without having to pay the fee for the park. A trail riding venue is also located nearby if you like horse riding. 
We got to the park around 8:00 AM and I decided that the Black Rock Trail loop would be the place for our hike. It is an easy trail with a short loop and a longer loop and is adjacent to Area 4 which has a car park, restroom and day picnicking area with a covered play area for children. The trail is mostly flat and abuts a wash in several places. This wash is a good place to spot birds. 

There is a black tailed gnatcatcher in the center of this photo. My old pocket Canon camera does not do this kind of photo well, but I took the shot anyway and cropped it so you might have a better chance of locating the bird. We also saw white crowned sparrow, Gila woodpecker, thrasher, cactus wren, and a buzzard.

The first blooming cactus we saw was a spectacular hedgehog cactus grouping.
This cactus, the beaver tail cacti and the various kinds of cholla were blooming now. The barrel cacti and saguaro will not bloom until later in the summer. 

                           I believe this is a clock face beavertail cactus.

                                        Cholla cactus just coming into bloom.

                                            Another hedgehog along the trail.

                                    This beavertail will be spectacular soon.

Also blooming along the trail were a variety of shrubs and trees. 



                 Brittlebrush with cholla and saguaro in background.

              This is a male jojoba. It has the flower.

This female jojoba has the fruit which is rich in an oil that is used in hand creams. 

                                                 Mesquite in bloom.

Paloverde blossoms just about to pop open. When the tree is fully in bloom, it is an amazing yellow spectacle. 

            Not a good photo of the paloverde blossom. Use your imagination.

Also along the trail and in many other areas of the park were petroglyphs.

This looks like a happy person jumping up and clicking her heels! That's the way I felt the entire time we were hiking.

I took some photos of reference materials that were helpful to me in identifying the desert flora and fauna.

                                         Beautifully hand done.

        Note the neat rubber banding to get the thing to hold together and stand upright.

I am intending to get out and take some photos of the gorgeous blooming plants here in Sun Village. That may be the next posting!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Glendale AZ Folk Fest

This free festival has been put on by the city of Glendale for 26 years. The festival seems to be popular with local folks and some out of town people like us. There was very little advertisement in newspapers that I noticed so word of mouth must be the way many found out about this two day event. It is held at the Sahuaro Ranch which used to be a working ranch and fruit producing farm at one time. Now it is used as a living history museum run by the city. There are fruit orchards which are in full flower and excruciatingly fragrant.  Old grape vines had fresh leaves and fruit starting. Rose bushes in beds were in full bloom and the lawns around the historic house and guest house were green and lush. 

There were three stages with sound systems and five other areas designated for performances and workshops. 
Lots of folks carried instruments and impromptu jams cropped up all around the grounds.

            Food and drink vendors were doing a brisk business as the day warmed. 

A blacksmith was demonstrating his craft and old farming implements were displayed. Tours of the house and guest house were given. Some craft, tee shirt printing and information booths were on the grounds as was a wool spinning demonstration. Peacocks strolled the grounds and cats napped wherever they could.

This man was singing songs and playing guitar and was accompanied by Kathy Barton and Dave Para, who do folk presentations and are well known performers.
                                             Kathy Barton and Dave Para

                       Kathy Barton demonstrating hammered dulcimer

Dave was jamming with some fellows he knew and felt a tap on his shoulder. It was a friend and fraternity brother and former music teacher from Nebraska, Bill Roehrs. He was just as surprised as Dave was to meet up here. 
                                               Bill and Dave

Dave was playing with the bluegrass gospel band, Nehemiah, at the mechanic shed.
 Dave is subbing in this band until the regular bass player heals from wrist surgery. The regular banjo player is on bass in this photo.  Dave, Rick Rhodes, James Tarrance and Terry Hutson.

The other group Dave plays with found some time to practice before their afternoon performance.
               Charlie Ray Robinson, Rick Rhodes, Dave and Dennis Talbert.

                                                             Driving Grass

A good crowd was on hand and were enthusiastic for both performances of both bands. That is always welcomed when the band is donating their time. 
After a hot and tiring day of nonstop entertainment, Dave was glad he rigged up Grandpa B's old golf cart to carry his instruments (and two folding chairs).

Back home to Sun Village, a cool shower and something cold to drink. We are looking forward to having lunch with Bill and JoAnn Roehrs and catching up with them. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Fiddle Association Campout Spring Valley AZ

This Campout pretty much marks the end of the season here in Arizona.  The hot weather coupled with the northern migration of snow birds combine to make the number of attendees dwindle. As I see it, there are few fiddle association members who live full time in Arizona who attend the events like this. Younger folks do come and participate in fiddle contests but those of us coming to these get-togethers are in our sixties or older. Anyway, the spring Campout at Mayer High School in Spring Valley was fun and pretty well attended. 
               Mayer Junior Senior High School. Home of the Wildcats.

The high school is located on a hill above the town. At an elevation of nearly 4000 feet it is above the saguaro and ocotillo belt but there are plenty of beaver tail cacti in this hilly country.

Spring Valley is predominantly a retirement community. Quite a few of the "old guard" fiddlers and pickers live here. Ben Sandoval, Glen Wilborn, Charlie Robinson, Don Poindexter, Howard Matthews and Charlie Frenn live here and have difficulty getting to fiddle and bluegrass events so it is great to have an event near them so the rest of us can learn from their vast repertory of tunes. 

                The irises were blooming here at the school and in town.
Our fiddle friend, Mary Tieszen, offered to walk with me around town. She and husband Bob lived here for a while and own several properties here. We walked up hill and down, passing many groomed places and several neglected ones.  There were many blooming shrubs including lilac and plum and forsythia. Bird calls abounded. I spotted house finches, cardinals, phoebes, flycatchers, and white crowned sparrows. We stopped in at the community church and talked to a friend of Mary who was doing some care-taking work around the pretty church. The pastor who serves this community is in his 80's and drives up from Phoenix twice a week. Wow.

Here is Luci parked between two rigs from Idaho. Dick and Barbara Garret, on the left, live in Weiser ID and winter in Florence. Katie and Tom Bonn are from Salmon ID and winter in their RV camping for the most part on BLM land with other snow birds. 

This bus belongs to John and Roni Kennedy who live on a ranch near Mayer AZ.  It has very faint lettering on the side saying Powder River, a bus company doing business in Wyoming and Montana. John said that the bus transported coal miners to mines in Wyoming before it was returned to the company needing refitting. They sold it to him and he made it into a family bus that has traveled to Alaska and back and to various fiddle events all around. It practically drives itself, he says. 

Inside the school over the three day event there was jamming, workshops, dances, a band scramble, a fiddle contest, a pot luck dinner, a corned beef and cabbage meal put on as a fund raiser by the 4-Hers and a Hall of Fame presentation.  Outside the school there was jamming and more jamming inside and outside of RV's late into the night. 
Sunday morning a gospel sing was held and after that we all said our good-byes. See you in the fall!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Bluegrass on the Beach at Lake Havasu

                                                          Festival program

This trip to our first 2015 bluegrass festival took us into the northwestern corner of Arizona. We headed west on Highway 60 past Salome and turned north on Highway 72 at Vicksburg. We were surprised at the amount of traffic all the way to Parker. Our destination for this day was Buckskin Mountain State Park just north of Parker. Our site had a nice level pad with electricity and a lovely view of the Colorado River. The park was full of rigs big and small. Luci was not the smallest trailer. That honor went to a tiny Casita pulled by a Jeep. There were nice bathrooms with showers, play areas for kids, a marina store and boat launch, hiking trails, a cactus garden and birdwatching opportunities for me. I saw Phainopepla, Says Phoebe, Vermillion Flycatcher, Yellow Rumped Warbler and house finches in the trees. On the water were Coots, Mallards, Cormorants, a White Pelican and a big Blue Heron. I watched the heron catch a fish by stabbing it with his beak and then managing to swallow it while the fish was still flopping. We visited the Bill Williams River Nature center a short drive on up Highway 95. It had paved paths and viewing areas along a narrow peninsula with a bay to one side and the river on the other. The vegetation was irrigated and tended with nice labels so we could tell what we were looking at. We tried driving up a trail along the Bill Williams River but it was rutted and rocky so we turned back after trudging up the road a short distance. My binoculars didn't pick up anything interesting to look at anyway. The area along the Colorado River is mountainous on both sides so the scenery was great. We read about the geology of the area in the book we got from Bill McKee: "Roadside Geology of Arizona." It is a wonderful reference to have along on our trips. 
         A view of the campground from a hiking trail above the river.

          The full moon from Luci's door.

The next day we headed north again on Highway 95 to Lake Havesu City and Lake Havesu State Park, the venue for "Bluegrass on the Beach." The State Park stretches all along the waterfront in my map including Lake Havesu Island which is connected to the mainland by the London Bridge. Parts of the park are commercialized with jet ski and other water sport rentals plus the English Village that was a bit run down with vacant shops. Maybe the Spring Break crowds will bring some business back at least for a while. 

We could almost walk all the way back to the festival along the river. A ferry took passengers from the bridge to a casino several times a day and personal watercraft were always on the water during the day but had to obey "no wake" rules until out onto the lake.

Denny and Elaine Carlson had saved us a camping spot next to them and across a little catch basin from Jake and Jeannie Jacobs. Jake had started a jam at 7:30 that morning and it was still going when we pulled in close to noon. 

You can just barely see the stage structure above the campers in the middle of the screen. I took this photo from our camping spot. The stage and festival area was maybe a block away. The venue was located on an area of green grass with a white sand beach and picnic cabanas. A small lighthouse was on a jetty of land separating the river from the lake.
     There were several lighthouse replicas along the lake. We didn't see any but this one.

The parking areas were full of big rigs, mostly the really big ones. There were few tents, a few pop-ups, many fifth wheels and larger trailers with slide-outs but only two Airstreams, both Bambis. 
Two vintage buses caught my eye.

This greyhound ceramic was in the front window of the older bus which was kitted out inside with shiny steel and neon. 

                Tarps and stoves make late night picking and grinning more comfortable.

Three days of concerts and workshops kept us entertained. We enjoyed all of it and now that we are retired we stayed for all of it, did some picking Sunday night and went home Monday morning.

    Karl Shifflet and Big Country. The young banjo player was terrific! We saw Karl for the first time at the Douglas Wyoming festival many years ago. He still puts on a good show. 
All in all, a great way to celebrate our 45th anniversary!