Camping in the Snowies

Camping in the Snowies

Friday, March 18, 2016

January through March: Music Season and family visit

 The annual Bluegrass Campout on the first of January starts the season. We didn't camp but took in the jamming at the White Tank Mountain bluegrass camp.

Dave tunes up his fiddle before the jam starts. 

Bluegrass breakfast. Dave and Terry Hutson. 

A pretty full jam on a warm January day.

Early in the month our sister Sandy, from Atkinson NE, came to stay in our Casita. She brought her sewing machine, quilt making material and two cats, Puppy and Doctor Sheldon Cooper. They settled right in enriching our lives.  Sandy helped me with many projects. We bought and planted succulents; got just the right outdoor rug for under the patio table and chairs;  installed hummingbird feeders and a bird bath; went to estate sales in Sun City West where we found just the right artificial tree for the living room (and installed a fairy garden beneath it); hiked and camped in the desert; enjoyed each other's company and watched birds over coffee in the courtyard. She blessed our lives in so many ways and left us with a beautiful handmade wall hanging titled "Magic in the Desert". 

Hiking at White Tank Mountain Park. 

Sandy at the Musical Instrument Museum. 

In the desert south of Ajo AZ. 

Sandy and I followed this Phainopepla down the road into Ajo. 

The perfect fake tree and its fairy garden complete with gnome house and dragonfly-chasing frog. 

Our brother Robb flew down mid March to keep Sandy company on her long drive back to Nebraska. We took in a Spring Training game between the Royals and Brewers and had a great time. They made the trip back home in three long days. There are so many more things we want to show them. Hope they come back soon!

Dave has had a fun winter playing fiddle and occasional banjo in bluegrass bands in addition to attending fiddle contests and camping. 

Traditional Bluegrass Band at Blythe California festival. Dave, Ray Foster, Doug Piper, Millie Vannoy, Bob Denoncourt and Dick Brown played twice at this big festival. 

Millie does quilting as well as bass playing. Her husband, Gary, always has a jam tent set up complete with heaters for cold January and February evenings. Millie cooks a big meal for her bluegrass family and we eat well. Here is a quilt Millie entered in the Blythe quilt show; winning best of show. 

In early February we three joined our good friends in the desert south of Ajo.  Sandy loved the organ pipe cactus and rambling in the washes, collecting rocks and other found objects. Our friends the Pangle's and Charly, the Bergs, the Bonns and the Carlsons always make us feel welcome. 
The Darlands from Salome host the fiddle contest which is held at the Ajo Country Club. Dave and Katie Bonn compete, Tom Bonn and Denny Carlson do backup for fiddlers. Denny and Elaine Carlson sing beautifully together. Susie Pangle plays Dobro and sings and Diane and Arn Berg play guitar and sing. Sandy and I rambled around birdwatching and rock hunting. Many other campers and pickers arrive making for a fun and sociable time. I saw my first Roadrunner on the eighteenth tee box but didn't get a good photo. 

Dave is playing guitar for Molly Sunshine Loring while she fiddles and whirls a hula hoop then plays fiddle while doing an acrobatic back bend. 

Katie Bonn fiddling. 

Dave playing for Corrine Garey.

A few days after returning  from Ajo, we were back on the road pulling Luci the Airstream to Safford for that fiddle contest. Held at the Graham County fairgrounds, the camping was not as scenic but the fiddling was good. 

Dave and Denny

Laura Barry accompanied by Frank Moore.

Sue Elsclager. 

On the way back to Surprise, we stopped at Boyce Thompson Arboretum for a nice hike at this lovely spot. We saw a cardinal pair as a highlight of the hike and lots of interesting plants. This place is worth a visit. 
Our condo in Sun Village sold in February after being listed for about a month. It was a great place for Dave's folks to be for the winter for many, many years and a great place for us to visit over Christmas and spring break. Good memories but we don't regret moving to a house for a minute. 

A bobcat stalking a rabbit on the golf course on the other side of our fence. 

Traditional Bluegrass Band played at the Bullhead City bluegrass festival the third weekend in February so we had another interesting destination on an Arizona highway that some would like to make into an interstate connecting Phoenix and Las Vegas. It takes off north from Wickenberg and goes up through high desert and Joshua tree forest through som mountainous areas to Kingman and then west down to the Colorado River at Bullhead City. This city is a snowbird tourist mecca for water sports and gambling with Nevada casinos just across the river. 
Gary and Millie Vannoy had a spot saved for us to park. It is nice to have good friends looking out for us. Traditional Bluegrass played for two sets on Friday and then hosted friends and musicians in the big jam tent. 

Good fiddling just outside the Bambi with Steve Day, Ronnie Reno's fiddle player. Our friends the Bluegrass Patriots from Colorado played some good sets and enjoyed Millie's good cooking. Carl Shiflet's band and Goldwing Express also played. 
We were saddened to hear that Sharon Severance died suddenly after playing gospel music that she loved. We attended her memorial service. Dave played at the service with Charlie and Charlie Ray Robinson, Rick and Leslie Rhodes. 

A jam after the memorial service. Sharon was well loved and will be missed. 

Mary Thiesen and Lynn Severence listen to the jam. 

Dave has had several gigs with Mike Blackburn and Dry Heat and also with the Nehemiah gospel bluegrass group. He jams regularly with Charlie Ray and gives a fiddle lesson now and then. It keeps me busy just getting these things on the calendar. 
The Lake Havasu bluegrass festival at a state park on the lake was the first weekend in March.  We again saw high desert going north from Highway 60 at Vicksburg. No mountains this time until we got to the Colorado River which is scenic from Parker all the way to Lake Havasu City. We camped near Denny and Elaine and saw many bluegrass friends that we have come to know this year. Sandy was with us for this camping and bluegrass trip. She enjoyed the scene on the beach, bands; Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper; Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers, and Nothin Fancy. We all enjoyed the vendors and sitting in the sunshine, dipping our toes in the lake. Dave was able to pick with Gary and Millie before they returned to Iowa. 
Many of our friends will be returning north in the next month but we are looking forward to seeing them next year as the music season begins again. 
Fruit harvest is finished in our backyard. We harvested many pounds of oranges and grapefruit. Now is blossom time here in AZ with beautiful blooms everywhere. 

Ocotillo blossoms are loved by the birds. Hummingbirds sip, finches snip the blossoms off and sip the nectar then let it drop. A hooded oriole was doing the same. Bees are busy here and in the citrus and butterflies are soaring and fluttering. 

Orange blossom. The new leaves of the orange and grapefruit trees are fragrant but the blossoms are unforgettably sweet smelling. 

Grapefruit blossom. These blooms only seem to appear under the leaf canopy. Looks like another abundant harvest next spring if all the blossoms mature. 
Birds are pairing off and nesting. We see Gambel's quail couples scratching for insects and seeds, flying up onto the fences and rooftops. The male crows from these perches to announce his territory. Curve billed thrashers, Abert's towhees, house finches, and cactus wrens frequent our yard as do the flickers and woodpeckers if I remember to fill the suet feeder. 
Our guest house/casita is empty now that Sandy is back home. We would enjoy a visit from any of you.