February 4, 2004: Two days ago a cold wet storm hit
Fresno, dropping a third of an inch of rain in an hour. Itís more normal
to get two tenths of an inch in a day-long light rain. The temperature dropped
from 50 to 40 in about 15 minutes. This told me it was time to leave
the frozen wastes of central
and head for
still not warm yet, since Iím in the high desert town of
Barstow, which had a dusting of snow last night. Itís all gone, but
freezing temperatures are possible tonight. There was light rain
coming up the Tehachapi Grade on Highway 58 from
to Tehachapi. The hills around that town had snow, and the
temperature at mid-day was 39 degrees.
dropped down to the desert, about a thousand feet lower, the
temperature went up to 57, but itís 47 here now at dusk. (Twenty
minutes later it was down to 45.)
I will be heading for
for a bluegrass festival, then Monday I will go to
Mesa where my parents are spending the winter. Bullhead is farther south
and much lower in elevation, so hopefully it will be relatively
a warning, I will be going to
to visit a cousin for a few days in March, but probably wonít do a
report on that trip. However, a long trip is planned for this
summer, taking me through Enid OK,
MO, and to
County OH. I am hoping my six-year old grandson will accompany me. He has a
friend near his age living in
St. Louis, but heís worried about being away from his mom for a whole
5: The temperature got down to 31 degrees at
last night. It was in the 50ís most of the day, then as I got
closer to my destination it got warmer and warmer, up to about 67.
However, it also got windier and windier, and it has been very
unpleasant outside here at
City. The weather forecast is that possibly the wind will die down, but
if it doesnít, donít blame the forecaster.
festival site is in a public campground right on the river, by the
bridge to Laughlin, so we will have the amusing sight of old time
bluegrass music on one side and the high rise casinos of
on the other.
after having lunch at a rest stop near Boron, I realized that I had
no DC electrical power in the trailer. This means no water, no
lights, no refrigerator Ė and the festival has no hookups.
However, after I got set up at
Barstow, I briefly turned off the AC electric, and everything seemed fine.
It also seemed fine when I disconnected this morning, but at the
first stop, it was no longer fine. It appeared that I had a tiny bit
of power Ė for example, the exhaust fan would turn a couple of
times, then stop. I knew that one of my battery terminals was a
little funky, so I pulled off in a big parking lot in
City, and cleaned the terminals and cables, using a file to remove the
crud from the cable ends. This seems to have corrected the problem,
and is a reminder to do a better of preventive maintenance.
festival starts at 10 a.m.
tomorrow, and goes till about
each day. However, four of the groups are performing either Friday
or Saturday night at the Ramada Express in Laughlin, with a free
shuttle and $5 admission, so I may check out one of those shows.
February 7: This festival has been a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly.
The music has been good, sometimes great. There is an outstanding
lineup, including a number of top name national acts (Doyle Lawson,
James King, Rhonda Vincent, Lost & Found, Karl Shiflett). The
weather Friday was bad Ė very windy all day. I wore four layers
most of the day, cutting down to three for about an hour. Today was
much better Ė it was cold this morning, but there was not much
wind, and I was able to go down to a T-shirt for a while in the
afternoon. By the time the sun went out of sight, I was back up to
four layers, but the show was soon over.
were a couple of gate crashers annoying people for a short time this
afternoon. However, the promoter and about six large men, including
at least one retired cop, soon sent them on their way.
it has been a good weekend, even though yesterday I was fairly sure
I would not return here again. As good as it has been, many of these
same acts can be seen at other festivals when the weather should be
better, and this location has a reputation for being cold and windy.
always, there are a couple of groups I liked very much that are new
to me Ė Lost and Found which has been around for 30 years, and the
Chapmans, a father and three sons (the oldest is 25). Both of these
groups have had considerable success with their recordings and
February 8: Well the festival is over, and Iíll be moving on in the
morning. It was windier and cooler today Ė three layers all the
time and sometimes four. The music was good and the people friendly
as usual. I sat next to a couple from
who are spending the winter out here. They will go on to
from here. It should be warmer there, but there was snow where they
live, so as usual,
is warmer than ďback home.Ē Several of the groups were from cold
Missouri), so they were glad to see sunshine, even with the wind.
closing act was Rhonda Vincent, who has won several female vocalist
of the year awards, and who is probably the number one artist in
bluegrass today. After her regular show was finished, she invited
any musicians who were still around to join her on stage, and they
had a big finale with about 20 people.
I will go more less straight east on AZ 68 and US 40, then take
93, which heads southeast directly to
Phoenix. Itís about 225 miles Ė not a bad dayís drive. My first day
was 243 miles, although day two was a short one, only 168 miles.
There is a festival next weekend at Apache Junction, east of
Mesa, so I will probably drive out there Saturday. Itís only 20 miles
or so from where Iíll be staying.
10: I had a good trip yesterday from
(except for the usual big metropolis traffic problems in a couple of
places after I got near
Phoenix). It was still very windy, with gusts blowing dust while I got
hitched up. As I headed east I went through a few miles where the
temperature was 37 and it was windy; fortunately I was inside my
drive southeast on US 93 is mostly very scenic Ė lots of areas
with saguaro and other cactus. It goes through some nice mountains
with big piles of rounded boulders. At one point several miles of
the highway is designated the
Joshua Forest Parkway
Arizona. This area has the thickest stands of Joshua trees I have ever
seen. In the places I have seen them, mostly along CA 58 and US 395,
they tend to be fairly sparse.
looked like a pretty nice vacation spot. Itís in the mountains at
2,000 feet, but was 63 degrees and there was only a slight breeze.
arrived in the
area about , but did not get to the RV park in
till nearly . After I got set up, my parents and I visited a while and went out
to dinner. It was about 63 degrees with thin clouds and NO WIND!
we will go to the local senior center for lunch, then who knows
after that. Itís still sunny, though it got down to about 35
February 12: Yesterday I took my regular ďwhen in
desert hike.Ē East of Mesa and Apache Junction, AZ
highway 88, also known as the Apache Trail, heads northeast into the
Superstition Mountains, and soon enters the
National Forest. There is a dirt road that goes in 2.5 miles to a trailhead. A few
hundred yards from the parking area the trail forks; last year I
went right, so this year I went left. This country is the way I
desert should be Ė mountains and washes, with mostly gentle up and
down hiking. There are several varieties of cactus, as well as
desert trees and shrubs, with Palo Verde and mesquite being the most
common. There has been some rain this year, so there is quite a bit
of grass and other green annual plants Ė all in all a very
until I feel like I have gone half as far as I want to, then rest
a while and hike out. I took my current book and settled down under
a big Palo Verde for a candy bar and water snack. The map by the
trailhead indicated I went about three miles round trip.
weather was absolutely perfect for hiking Ė about 63 degrees, and
hardly any breeze.
we went to visit some of my motherís cousins who live in Surprise,
on the western side of the metro area, near Sun City. It was a little over 60 miles there, but there are several new
loop freeways around the city, so most of the way we were on
freeways (lots of traffic in some sections, and heavy traffic when
we had to get off and drive a few miles on a major city street). We
came home a different way that our cousin suggested; it was about 10
miles shorter and took at least 15 minutes less, despite going
closer to downtown Phoenix. We were saved by a diamond lane where we
zipped along between 40 and 60 miles an hour past hundreds of
single-occupant cars moving bumper to bumper at 20 MPH or less.
mother has a doctorís appointment in the late morning, then we
will go out to eat at a Mexican restaurant.
a bit cooler today and quite breezy; tonight the wind has been
gusting some, and it is about 45 degrees. It is supposed to be about
the same Friday, then warm up Saturday.
13: This morning I lazed around and read the paper. After motherís
doctor appointment, we went to Garciaís, a restaurant about six
miles west of here. Had a very good lunch, of which I still have
half in my refrigerator.
drove out to
State Park, off the Apache Trail. Dad and I walked around the short
self-guided nature trail, and I bought a couple of items in the
visitor center. Had pretty good weather, about 60 to 65 all day,
with a strong breeze this morning, tapering off this afternoon.
Tomorrow I am going to a bluegrass festival in Apache Junction. We
drove by there today; itís about 12 miles from where we are
18: Iím back home and facing the hardest part of doing this report
finishing it up when I am back home among all the distractions and
chores that await me here.
Superstition Mountain Bluegrass Festival turned out well. There were
five groups appearing on Saturday, each one doing two sets. I had
seen only one of the groups before, and all were good. On top of the
list was The Lonesome River Band, which is one of the bigger names
in bluegrass. I have several of their CDs, and they immediately
became one of my favorite groups to see live. Another widely known group, Special Consensus, is in
its 29th year. I had heard about Pine Mountain Railroad
on the Internet and bought their CD; they also proved to be an
excellent band in person.
weather was a big improvement on
City, with a high of about 65 and some light breezes. It was getting
dark when the final group played, and as usual in the desert, the
temperature dropped significantly, but I was prepared for it. The
performers from the south were enjoying the sunshine, but were
somewhat surprised at the quick cooling that came with sunset.
Sunday my parents and I went out to dinner and did some shopping.
There are various special events at the RV park where they stay, and
Sunday night was an ice cream and cake party, which included
entertainment by a couple from Nebraska who sing and play (guitar
and organ). They were quite good.
my usual ďearlyĒ start Monday, leaving just before10 a.m.
I made it a long day so I could stay in
and have a shorter drive the second day. I got home about
yesterday, to be welcomed by a forecast of heavy rain for the
evening. I got most of the stuff unloaded from the trailer, and part
of it put away. The rain did not appear till after , and continued steadily till this afternoon, but was never very
hard. That storm is on its way to
Arizona, with heavy wind warnings for travelers going west from
Phoenix, so I made my getaway just in time.
Estel, February 2004
(Photos open in a new window)
Colorado River Festival - Bullhead
Lost & Found
Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
James King Band
Shiflett & Big Country
Rhonda Vincent & the Rage
Pine Mountain Railroad
Pine Mountain Railroad bus
Superstition Mountain Festival
Ron Spears & Within Tradition
Lonesome River Band
Cholla near Arizona
Saguaro in notch
in need of Viagra
rock mountains north of First Water hiking area