A favorite spot for barrel cactus

Joshua Trees in bloom

Saguaro, icon of the Sonoran Desert


Dick's 2008 Nevada-Arizona Trip


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Hockey in Nevada          Quartzite Bluegrass          Surprise & Wickenburg          Parker Bluegrass


WARNING: This report contains 5% hockey, 60% bluegrass, 33% visiting friends and relatives, and 2% BS.


Hockey in Nevada

February 14, 2008 : Looking back, I realize that a small but significant percentage of my trips begin on a negative note – flat tires, oil leaks, etc.

This morning I had a two degree fever, a sore (which I believe may be a bug bite causing the fever) in a location where it gets sat on all the time, and the sewer blockage that has become an annual event in the antique hovel I call home.

I logged on to the Kaiser web site, and all my symptoms produced the advice “Wait a day or two and see what happens.” I found a soft cushion to sit on, and tried to put the sewer problem out of my mind, realizing I can’t deal with it now and it will still be there when I get back.

This trip takes me first to Las Vegas, where my younger grandson, Mikie, is playing in a hockey tournament this weekend. Then I will head to Quartzsite AZ, joining friends and former classmates Bryce and Alma Green at the Soggy Mountain Bluegrass Festival (hope the “soggy” part does not come true).

Next I will visit some of Mother’s cousins in Surprise AZ, then drive up to Wickenburg for a couple of nights. Finally I will go to Parker AZ for the sixth annual Bluegrass on the River festival, returning home about March 4.

My daughter, son-in-law, and grandson will join me in Las Vegas Friday, and will be staying at the Circus Circus hotel. I'll be in my trailer in a park operated by the hotel-casino.

It has been clear and sunny in Fresno, getting up close to 70 degrees in the afternoon, but it was quite cool and breezy this morning. That was to prepare me for the weather in Tehachapi, where it was 45 degrees with a strong wind, making it feel like about 35.

As I have so often, I drove south on California highway 99, and east over the mountains on highway 58, planning to stop (as I have so often) in Barstow. It was a bit warmer here, about 55 degrees, but the park manager said they have been having freezing weather at night, which they don’t like, since it was 70 and sunny here last week.

I arrived around 4 p.m., and after setting up, took my temperature, happily finding it was back to normal (still need the cushion, however). Normally when I arrive and get set up, I fix a bourbon and soda and read a while. To demonstrate my present condition, this time I just took a nap. Now it’s nearly 6 p.m., time for dinner and some TV.

February 16: I had an uneventful trip yesterday, arriving at the Circus Circus KOA Campground about 1 p.m. It was cold and windy everywhere I stopped, but much nicer here, so that I was able to sit outside for a while.

I walked over to the casino and contributed a few dollars to the Nevada economy. Actually I doubled my first $5 investment, then lost all of it and another $5. Back at the trailer I did a lot of resting, since I’m not feeling 100%, although the thermometer says my fever is gone. I ate lunch/dinner here and settled in for the evening.

Tim, Teri & Mikie arrived about 8:30, but took quite a while getting checked in, especially since the first room they were sent to was already occupied. They explored the complex and Mikie had a great time at the amusement park and circus. This morning there was a pancake breakfast here at the park, so I ate there. We will get together early in the afternoon and head for the Tropicana, where the hockey tournament takes place. Mikie’s game today is at 3:20, but we need to get there a little early, and being unfamiliar with the area, will probably leave by 2 p.m.

Tonight we are going to an ECHL hockey game between the Las Vegas Wranglers and the Victoria Salmon Kings.  We will cheer for the Salmon Kings, since the Wranglers lead the division and conference that our home town Fresno Falcons play in.

February 17: It was good that we left early for the tournament. At home I had printed out driving directions for the Wranglers game location (Orleans Arena) and the tournament, which it turns out was the Fiesta. I wrote “Wranglers” on one and “Tournament” on the other, but gremlins came in and switched the names, so carefully following the directions marked “Tournament” soon brought us to Orleans Arena. Once we figured out the problem, it did not take long to get to the Fiesta in plenty of time for the first game.

It was an exciting game, but not close, as the Junior Falcons lost 9-2. Once the kids got dressed, we decided to head for the Orleans, which is a casino/hotel/etc.like most such places, and have dinner there. We had the buffet, which was very good, then went upstairs for the game.

The rink was very nice, smaller than the Savemart Center in Fresno, which is too big for the crowds we get; the Orleans Arena was not full, but was much closer to capacity. The visiting Salmon Kings jumped out to a two point lead, but the Wranglers came back and ultimately won 5-3, so it was a satisfying game for the home town crowd.

We got back around 10:30. Mikie spent the night with me at the trailer, but we went to bed almost immediately, since the game this morning was at 7:20. We got up about six and got to the rink in plenty of time, with less traffic, less people at the rink complex, etc. Our boys lost again, something like 10-1, despite playing better than yesterday. It should be noted that the Jr. Falcons are a “house league” team, while the other three teams in this tournament, Las Vegas, Beach City, and Anaheim, are all travel teams, so we are playing above our level. But as we tell the boys, you play the team that you’re scheduled to play, and do your best.

After the game we had breakfast at the Fiesta, then came back here for ice cream for dessert. Later I’m going over to watch Mikie and his best buddy on the team, Griffin Flores, play Whack the Chicken and whatever other games are offered at the Circus Circus. By the way, Mikie scored one of the goals yesterday, assisted by Griffin, and Griffin scored today assisted by Mikie – a fairly normal scoring combination on this team.

February 18: I ended up spending the day reading, resting and watching TV. The kids were riding rides, not something I really wanted to watch. We headed for the rink a little after five, and were rewarded with a better game. The Falcons came back to tie from 5-2, although the Beach City Lightning ultimately scored twice more to win. Mikie scored twice, and Griffin once, but the big thrill of the game for team members and parents alike was when teammate John Davis scored the first goal of his career with this team. It’s great to see the kids celebrate each other’s success – proof the team concept is taking hold.

We ate at the Fiesta Buffet with the Flores family. I had registered for a club card, which reduced the cost of the meal quite a bit, and also gave me $3 in free slot machine credits. I had to put it some real money first, but I ended up with a slight win on a penny machine.

After dinner we came back to the Circus Circus and I got my first look at the big attractions – carnival rides including an indoor roller coaster, and endless midway games. I watched for a while, then contributed a final $20 to the Nevada economy. Having won elsewhere and only lost here, I decided I was done with Circus Circus slots. Teri, Mikie and Griffin stayed at the Circus area till it closed at midnight, and Griffin spent the night with them.

This morning Tim, Teri & Mikie will check out, and we will meet for the game at the Fiesta at 9:50. This is the consolation round for 3rd or 4th place, and seeing how well the kids played yesterday, hopefully than can pull out at least one win.

It’s now about 6 p.m. The Falcons lost 3-2, but came close to tying it at the end. Another kid, Maddie Maloney, got her first goal, and the boys (and girl) played their best game of the weekend. I would be remiss not to give a shout-out to Bubba the Goalie. The team’s long time goalie quit suddenly two or three weeks ago, so Bubba Pintor was recruited. He had been playing on the travel team as a backup, so had very little playing time, and his inexperience showed, but we had the fun of watching him turn into a real goalie as the weekend went on. Big things to come!

We had lunch at the Fiesta coffee shop, and Tim, Teri & Mikie got started home about 12:30. I went back into the casino and put a $20 bill into one of the machines. I moved around between several different machines for about an hour, and in the end, left with my $20.

This afternoon I got some things picked up and ready to go, emptied the holding tank, took a shower, then had a drink and read for a while. As the sun went down, so did the temperature, so I’m inside for the night. Tomorrow I head for Quartzsite, which is either 179 miles (Google mileage calculator), or 235 miles (Rand McNally Tripmaker), hardly an insignificant difference. Looking at the Google page again, I see it is calculating air miles, quite worthless for someone with a pickup and travel trailer. It seems there are very few Internet sites that let you input two locations just to get road mileage – the only reasonable one was Rand McNally, which says it’s 212 miles, still a bit of a discrepancy from their commercial program.

Teri called about 8:30 p.m. from Tulare. They were making good time on that part of the trip, but traffic had been backed up for seven miles at Kramer Junction, where US 395 crosses State 58. I’ve experienced this traffic jam myself, and it’s very frustrating – stop and go for miles till you get through the four-way stop at the junction. The traffic was bad on I-15 from Las Vegas to Barstow also, so I was glad I did not have to head for home.

Quartzite Bluegrass

February 19: If you’ve been holding your breath, hoping the mileage question would be answered in the next paragraph, it was 214 miles from where I was to where I am, which is the Tyson Wells RV Camp in Quartzsite AZ, location of the Soggy Mountain Bluegrass Festival.

I got a good start this morning, about 9 a.m., with a couple of long stops, one for lunch, and one for a nap, which also involved cleaning up a mess. When I’m rolling, I put the soap bottle, comb, sink stopper, and sponge in the bathroom sink to keep them from sliding off. When I made the second stop, I discovered that the bathroom drawers were both open, and that the stopper and sponge had leaped into the bathtub. Somewhere I apparently hit a bump that caused a full five-gallon plastic water container to jump up enough to let a half case of coke slide partially underneath. It also broke open another full case that was standing on end and opened at least two cans, so I had 36 cans of coke loose in the tub. Something, probably the water jug, hit the shower faucet and turned it on to a trickle, so everything in the tub was wet with water and/or cola.

I don’t remember hitting any bumps that were worse than those normally encountered here and there on a long trip, but there must have been a good one. Oh yes, all the clothing in the bathroom closet had fallen off the hanger bars. Things in the refrigerator and cupboard shift around even on smooth roads and sometimes fall out when the doors are opened, so I checked there, but everything was in its place.

I went down US 95 from Las Vegas through Needles and about 30 miles south of there, where I took CA 62 east into Parker AZ. Then I came down Arizona 95, which joins US 95 at I-10. The festival location is just a little south of I-10.

I arrived about 4 p.m. and got set up next to Bryce and Alma Green, Mariposa County residents and former classmates. We went out to dinner with his cousin, Richard Cook and wife Joyce, and brother, John Upton and wife Marie, who was the person who arranged the reservation here for me. Now they are trying to set up their satellite TV. I will be content with my DVD player, plus working on this report, and getting things set up inside the trailer for a six-night stay.

February 20
: This was a lazy day. With no official performances till Friday, I had no schedule. After breakfast I walked around the park a bit. There are a lot of vendors set up, not for the bluegrass festival, but as a fairly permanent fixture during the winter, in an area that gets a million seasonal visitors.

Other than that, I did a lot of napping. I’m feeling pretty good and my bug bite, although still swollen, does not bother me much.

This evening Bryce made shish kebob for all of us, a total of seven people. He is quite an accomplished cook, and it was excellent. After dinner we had a pretty good look at the lunar eclipse. It’s partly cloudy and very windy, but the clouds cleared away several times, including once when the eclipse was almost complete and the moon was an orange glow.

It’s too windy for me to hang around listening to jams, so I am in for the night at a little before 8 p.m. Mountain Standard Time.

February 21
: This was my day for exploring the area, something I like to do on one of the “off days.” This is a big flat valley surrounded by mountains, so I wanted to find a place to drive and/or hike into the hills. I went to the Chamber of Commerce, which proved to be worthless, sending me to a road that just looped back into town. John Upton had mentioned some areas off the road south of here that goes to Yuma, so I headed south on US 95, and turned off at the first road I came to, into the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. After three miles of dirt washboard road, I found an information center with a map that showed several other roads into the mountains, including one that sounded intriguing, Palm Canyon.

I went back to the highway and went south another ten miles, and again headed into the refuge. Seven miles of rough road brought me to the Palm Canyon trailhead, where a half mile trail leads into a narrow canyon. At the end of the trail you can see up and into a very steep, narrow side canyon, where there are over 40 California palms. The spot they are in is shaded most of the day and has adequate moisture to support the trees, which normally avoid desert conditions. Some botanists think the trees are descendents of palms growing in this region during the last glacial period, and that they spread into the protected areas of the mountains. Other researchers say the seeds were probably carried in by birds or coyotes. Regardless, there they are, and I was fortunate to be there during the brief period when the sun shines on the trees, making them visible in the otherwise dark notch where they hide..

I came back to town and got gas, ate lunch at a Mexican restaurant, showered at the Laundromat, and got some groceries. Back at camp, I’ve just been taking it easy. I had to turn down a spaghetti dinner invitation from John, since eating again so soon would be bad news for my stomach. I am feeling pretty good, but still not back to 100%. I have another apparent bug bite on my hand, which hurt a lot last night, but has been getting better today. I guess I need to fumigate myself.

Tomorrow marks the official start of the festival, so the days (and possibly nights) will now be busier.

February 22
: Today the Soggy Mountain Festival lived up to its first name. We had a slight sprinkle Tuesday night, then it was sunny and warm. Rain started about 6 a.m. today and continued off and on most of the day. Fortunately they have the festival sound on a low power FM station, so I was able to listen while staying out of the rain. I did sit out for a while during two or three groups, but mostly stayed in the trailer.

The rain stopped in time for the final group of the day, which was that group that I always find – not known to me, but way above average. In this case it was the Wildwood Valley Boys, which is more or less descended from a group I did know, The Boys from Indiana. The latter no longer exists, but I heard them on XM Radio, acquired a reissue CD of some of their songs, and was highly impressed. The Wildwood Valley Boys includes the lead singer-songwriter from BFI as well as his son, who does most of the leads for the current group. Bryce also liked the group, vowing to buy their CDs tomorrow when they return.

The rest of the groups, new to me or not, were mostly average. One that I enjoyed seeing, although still average, was Digger Davis & Tombstone. He was the banjo player with the Liberty Bluegrass Boys, a group from Texas that I saw twice at Logandale. His current group consists of his wife, son and daughter, all of whom play competently, but do not have much vocal strength yet.

I also always enjoy Cliff Wagner and Old No. 7, who I’ve seen at least a half dozen times. They were on The Next Great American Band show a few months ago, and returned for a number of appearances, but did not make the final cut. Actually I was amazed that a bluegrass band was even on the bill, but they emphasized their non-bluegrass side on that show.

The sun actually came out during the last ten minutes of the show, although there’s a fairly cold wind now. They are promising weather in the 70s and 80s tomorrow, so hopefully things are getting better.

February 23: More good stuff today, including two sets by the Wildwood Valley Boys, plus sunshine, without too much heat – just right most of the day. A new group that was above average was Stuck in Reverse, a part-time regional band from Las Vegas. We also had the treat of seeing Eric Uglam and Sons, who seem to get better every time. The sons, age 15 and 17, have been playing for four years, and I’ve seen them from their earliest public performances. All three of them now play with Chris Stuart and Backcountry, my favorite unknown band, and just got back from a tour of Europe. The crowd reaction seemed to agree with me, but then, the crowd claps for bands that I consider average or below too.

It was starting to get cloudy and cool as the show ended, but there is not supposed to be any more rain. I’m invited to dinner with the Greens and their bunch, though having had a barbecue sandwich for lunch, I’m not as hungry as I’d like to be. But there’s still some time before dinner to get hungrier.

February 24: It’s 8:30 p.m. The festival ended with a bang. Eric and the boys were the closing act, and were better than yesterday. In fact, some of the groups I call very average seemed better, or maybe I’m less fussy. I especially enjoyed the set by Flint Hill Special, a traditional band from Arizona that I’ve seen a number of times. Anyway, it was a very enjoyable festival overall, despite the rain Friday. At the end of the show, many festivals have a bunch of musicians from different bands come on stage for a big finale, and this one was the best I’ve ever seen. With 13 pickers on stage, it can be a bit disorganized, but promoter/singer/mandolinist Bill Bogan would say “you and you sing this” then “you and her sing that,” and of course, everyone else was able to join in, picking and/or harmonizing. It was almost like a planned and rehearsed set, and a great ending to the festival.

Bryce barbecued hamburgers tonight, so once again I am too full for a late night snack. Bryce and Alma and the others have made me welcome and treated me like family, and as I told them, taken better care of me than my HMO. Bryce even drove over to the store to get Epsom salts for me to soak my hand, and every one of them asks how I am doing every time they see me. They will all be at the Parker festival next week, so we will have more get-togethers. I told them I am taking them all out to dinner, since my main cooking skill is pushing “start” on the microwave.

I’d like to say a few words about the town of Quartzsite. It is mainly 100 RV parks with a few stores and gas stations, all of which charge high prices. Gas in Arizona is usually cheaper than most anywhere in California - $2.89 at Parker where I stopped on the way down, but here it is at least $3.05. A half-gallon of ice cream was $7.50. So by all means come on down, but bring everything you need if possible.


Surprise and Wickenberg

February 26: Yesterday I drove from Quartzsite to Surprise AZ, 123 miles, on I-10 and the Sun Valley Parkway. The latter goes north from I-10 at Buckeye, then east into Surprise, and was built on behalf of savings and loan crook Charles Keating, who planned to build housing in the area. Apparently there was some political payoff involved (in the 1990s several of Arizona’s governors were charged with crimes and/or went to prison). Keating’s development never came about, and the 36-mile, 4-lane divided road has almost no traffic. It’s a great time and frustration saver, allowing one to get into the northwestern Phoenix metro area without driving in metro area traffic. With no warning and no outlying scattered development, it suddenly becomes Bell Road in Surprise, with large housing tracts and commercial developments, after passing through mostly empty desert.

I visited my mother’s first cousins, Gloria Samuelson and Jeanette Wittekindt (sisters) and Gloria’s daughter Margaret Meister, all of whom left the winters of Ohio, Illinois and/or Nebraska to live in the Valley of the Sun.

We had a nice visit and a great dinner, joined by Kip, a long-time family friend of Jeanette from their days as neighbors in Downer’s Grove IL. I brought some old photos, letters and other items that I found while cleaning out my parents’ house, triggering some nice memories and discussion of various family ties.

I left about 11 this morning for the 30 mile drive up US 60 to Wickenburg, once the main crossroads of the state and an old mining town that was settled in the 1800s. On US 60 I was following the path taken by my father and his parents when they first came to California in the winter of 1934-35. Although Route 66 was then, and for many years after, the main route to the west, wise winter travelers avoided its 7,000 foot climb to Flagstaff, and took the more southerly highway 60.

After setting up and having a drink, I went to Anita’s Cocina, a Mexican restaurant highly recommended by my cousins. I agreed with their recommendation. Then I walked around the town a little, and spent an hour or so at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum. This facility has various displays of artifacts and pictures from mining days, an extensive gallery of cowboy art, and a reproduction of stores and living quarters from the early days of Wickenburg. There is also currently a major exhibit of Bola neckties, which will be there only until September 7, 2008.

I will stay here tomorrow and plan to do some driving and walking out in the desert countryside.

February 27: Today I drove north on US 93 about 40 miles. Part of this road is designated the Joshua Tree Scenic Parkway, and in some areas has the thickest forest of the trees that I have seen. Unfortunately, most of it is fenced, making it difficult to get out and enjoy walking through the trees.

I did make three stops, first at a small river (I think it was the Santa Maria) that actually had water, unlike many Arizona waterways that have much of their flow underground. Then I found a dirt road that crossed a cattle guard, so I walked in and around a hilly area, which included a few Joshua Trees, but mostly Palo Verdes and other shrubs and cactus. Finally I stopped at a “roadside table” (basically a rest stop) where there was an angled passage through the fence that would allow a human, but not a cow, to pass, and walked up a rocky hill. This turned out to be a good place for observing barrel cactus – at the top I could count at least 25 of them.

The desert in most areas is green, indicating a good series of winter rains. There are some flowers, mostly yellow daisy-type flowers, but also some poppies around Wickenburg. Also for the first time I saw blossoms on some of the Joshua trees.

On the way back, about eight miles from town, where the first scattered housing developments begin, I saw a roadrunner, the first one I’ve seen in probably 30 years. He ran across the road, hopped the ditch, and headed on into the desert. I used to see them in the country roads in the San Joaquin Valley, but haven’t seen one for decades.

Once back in town, I stopped for a few groceries and gas. I had read that Wickenburg was once the busiest crossroads in Arizona, and sometimes I think it still is. The only way to turn left on to the main highway is to turn right, then go around the block.

Back at the trailer I had a light lunch, then drove up a nearby road for some more walking. I went to the end of the pavement and about a half mile beyond, on a good dirt road, and then walked up a wash. This is almost always easy walking, with wide, sandy flats at the start, and short steps up where the water (when there is water) runs down over some rocks. This area had a lot of Ocotillo, Cholla cactus and other small cactus, and a few Saguaros.

I haven’t said much about the weather the past few days, which usually means it is good – not too hot, cold or wet. This morning it was 72, and this afternoon about 76 with a slight breeze, very comfortable for slow walking. It’s been mostly sunny with just a few streaks of white clouds. Now, all I need is for it to stay this way during the next bluegrass festival.

Parker Bluegrass

February 29: I had a nice trip from Wickenburg to Parker yesterday, about a two-hour drive. I went west on US 60, a route I had never taken before, then turned on to Arizona 72, which I’ve traveled several times. The road went through several small towns, and down through a mountain pass from about 2,500 feet to less than 1,000 near Vicksburg. This is an agricultural area, irrigated by the Central Arizona Project.

AZ 72 joins AZ 95 a few miles south of Parker. The Greens and Uptons had come to this area Monday, but stayed at the Bluewater Casino, where they could dry camp for free in the parking lot. It cost $15 a night at the festival grounds, also with no hookups. Of course, staying at a casino has its own costs.

After stopping to talk to them, I came on out to La Paz County Park, with Bryce and John following in the latter’s pickup. We asked if we could all camp together, and found a spot, so I set up my trailer and put up a rope to mark off their space, with plans for them to come out early in the morning.

At Quartzsite I had informed everyone that I would take them out to dinner, since they have invited me to their dinners every night. We decided that this was the night, so I went back to the casino around five, had a drink, then we went in for the buffet. Although the selection was much smaller than the buffets at Las Vegas, I thought the food was better. Of course, after dinner we had to try our luck at the slots, discovering that we had none.

The Greens and Uptons arrived right after 8 a.m. and got their trailers set up with no problems, then we headed for the festival. The music started late because of a power outage, but once underway, the festival was good to great. I had previously seen all the groups that performed today except the Gibson Brothers, and since I have two of their CDs, I was sure they would be good. Overall I thought they were second only to the Navy Band, which surpasses most groups in the bluegrass world. Other performers today were Honi Deaton & Dream, who I saw at the first Plymouth festival I attended, the Bluegrass Brothers, who I have seen several times, the Chapmans, my third time to see them, and Williams & Clark Expedition, who were at Plymouth last year.

We had a great finish to the day with a steak dinner, barbecued by Bryce, along with fried potatoes, cheese cauliflower and coleslaw. My contribution was a card table so we could eat outside, and Reese’s cups for dessert. We found out that Richard and Joyce are not coming, so our dinner parties are down to five people.

March 1, 2008: Today was a great day of music, with the standouts being once again the Gibson Brothers, the Navy Band, and a group I’d heard of but not heard, Monroe Crossing from the great bluegrass state of Minnesota. Today was the final appearance with the Navy Band of lead singer and guitarist Wayne Taylor, who is retiring. He will continue in bluegrass, but will be missed in this setting. He has written many of the songs they perform and sings lead on most of them. He received quite a tribute from several people who’ve known him over the years, as well as from his band mates. They did an extra long set to close out the day, and it will be hard for tomorrow to match today’s show. However, there are a couple of good bands on the bill.

The weather has been close to perfect. Last night was probably the warmest night of the trip, and the first night that I did not close all the windows. It was still cool, and felt good to get down in the sleeping bag after getting up during the night. It looked like today might be too hot, but a nice breeze and some clouds came up to make the final two hours very pleasant. I even put on my long sleeve shirt for the last half hour.

Now once again I am invited for dinner with the Greens and Uptons, with spaghetti on the menu. It is already smelling good!

March 2: The good weather ended with a bang about 2 a.m. today (Sunday), when a big wind came up and started rocking the trailer. With my awning flapping and threatening to rip, I got up and took it down. I also ended up weighting down doormats and a few other items. By morning the wind had blown over most of our lawn chairs, and blown trash and some other items, including a collapsible canvas trash barrel, into our camp. I had left windows open in the trailer, and had to contend with a layer of fine dust all over the counters on that side. Bryce had left the windows of his pickup cracked slightly due to the warm weather Saturday, and had a major layer of dust all over inside.

The wind also took down a large wooden pole, one of six that held up a big shade over the audience area, and ripped the shade to shreds. The pole damaged about a dozen lawn chairs, and most of the others were blown over or even missing. The power went out, and for a while it looked as if the show would be cancelled. However, the crew got generators going and the show started about an hour late.

The wind died down some, but it was windy and very cool all day, so instead of trying to move into the shade, people were moving into the sun, and jackets and sweat shirts replaced t-shirts, except for the Minnesotans.

The lunch break was eliminated so the show ended on time, with good music throughout the day. Digger Davis & Tombstone made their first Parker appearance, and were well received and sounded better than in Quartzsite. We also had two sets by Frank Ray and Cedar Hill, an excellent traditional band that I’d seen before in Plymouth. In addition, we saw Honi Deaton, Monroe Crossing, and Sawmill Road, a group that came together just before the Plymouth festival last September, and includes a bunch of musicians I’m familiar with from other bands.

Once again dinner was served by the Uptons, some especially delicious tamales, along with rice and a beet salad provided by Alma. My contribution was to run my generator so the tamales could be heated in a steamer.

March 3: Everyone got an early start this morning, although none of us could match Bryce and Alma. Since he has some business to take care of Tuesday, he wanted to go all the way home to Cathey’s Valley in Mariposa County, a distance of around 530 miles, and got started at 7 a.m. Arizona time (6 a.m. in California). No doubt he succeeded, since they were in Mojave well before noon, about four and a half hours from home. I left at 8:30 AZ time, and considered going all the way home also, although John told both of us to stop and relax and not drive too long. John has the same philosophy about RV travel as I do; anything over 300 miles is too much. He was ready to leave right after I did, but was only going 30 miles back to Quartzsite. They live full time in their RV, so they are always home no matter where they are.

I have driven all the way from Parker to Fresno, about 470 miles, several times, but it is about an eleven hour day, and I know from experience that the last two hours are the hardest. The mental alertness level deteriorates, and physical fatigue sets in. Therefore I stopped in Bakersfield at 4 p.m., about two hours from home. Besides the reasons given, this will give me time to finish up this report without the usual home distractions of unloading the trailer, getting caught up on stuff that has piled up in my absence, and getting ready to go to Mariposa on Wednesday. In addition, I can empty the holding tanks in the morning, and get home relying only on the one rest stop between here and Fresno.

I would like to publicly thank Bryce and Alma, John and Marie, and Richard and Joyce for their hospitality, dinner invitations, medical care, and general good friendship, all the more so considering it was my first meeting with four of them. Hopefully we can do it again someday.

--Dick Estel, March 2008

March 14 Update: A few notes on some of the artists pictured but not discussed above: In a band scramble, musicians (pro and amateur) who want to perform put their names in a box. Names are drawn at random to create two or more bands, with adjustments as necessary to give the right instrumental combination. The bands usually have 30 to 60 minutes to pick two songs to perform, rehearse, and think up a band name. The performance is usually a contest, with prizes for the winner.

Carter Cash Revisited was a couple who got together recently and found they enjoyed performing some of the duets made famous by the late Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash.

Trusting Heart is a group put together by festival promoter Bill Bogan, who is featured on vocals. Jay Stewart is an accomplished non-professional who appeared with some of his friends from jam sessions, and performed five or six songs that he had written.




Arizona Scenic          Soggy Mountain Festival (Quartzsite)          Bluegrass on the River (Parker)



Looking west from the Palm Canyon trail A steep, narrow side canyon
provides needed shade
The palms
Roots Palo Verde tree In other words, "Don't go there"
Joshua Trees in bloom Close up of Joshua blossom Barrel cactus in a dramatic setting
A favorite spot for barrel cactus Ocatillo bush Saguaro, icon of the Sonoran Desert
Soggy Mountain Festival (Quartzsite)
Bost Family Tradition Wildwood Valley Boys Virtual Strangers
Shasta Daylight Cliff Wagner & Old No. 7 Stuck in Reverse
Stuck in Reverse - Peggy Ruesch,
Vera Vann-Wilson
Digger Davis & Tombstone Trusting Heart
Eric Uglam & Sons Flint Hill Special Jay Stewart (center with cap) & Friends
Band Scramble: Plum Pitiful Band Scramble: Q Mountain Orphans Carter Cash Revisited
   Tangled Strings   
Bluegrass on the River (Parker)
Honi Deaton & Dream The Bluegrass Brothers The Chapmans
Williams & Clark Expedition US Navy Band Country Current Gibson Brothers
Sawmill Road Frank Ray & Cedar Hill Monroe Crossing
Digger Davis & Tombstone  Bluegrass on the River program cover Bryce & Alma Green, John & Marie Upton


Related Links

Monroe Crossing Digger Davis & Tombstone (Video) Bost Family Tradition
Cliff Wagner & The Ole # 7 Virtual Strangers Wildwood Valley Boys
Shasta Daylight (Video) Stuck in Reverse Eric Uglam
L & S Bluegrass Festival Honi Deaton & Dream Bluegrass Brothers
The Chapmans Williams & Clark Expedition Country Current (Navy Band)
Gibson Brothers Sawmill Road Cedar Hill
Orleans Arena Quartzsite AZ Kofa Wildlife Refugee
Circus Circus

Bryce & Alma Green, John & Marie Upton

Travel Reports
Before 2002     2002     2003     2004     2005     2006     2007     2008     2009     2010     2011     2012

2013     2014     2015     2016     2017     2018    2019     2020     2021     2022     2023     2024     Other

Before 2002
Early Trips Later Trips
Camping Trips Backpacking Trips
Early Stargazer Rock Camps 1961 Monterey Jazz Festival
Bluegrass Odyssey
Multi-Year Compilations
Fresno Area Canal Walks Clovis Trail Walks
Journey of 2002 (Ohio & Back) Logandale & Utah Parks 2002
Arizona & Bluegrass on the River 2003 Grand Canyon & Logandale Bluegrass 2003
Parkfield & Huck Finn 2003 Early Frog Camps (2003-2005)
Paso Robles & Parkfield 2004 Road Trip 2004 (Ohio & Back)
Bullhead City Bluegrass, Mesa, Superstition Bluegrass 2004 Bluegrass in the Foothills 2004
Arizona-Southern California 2005 Huck Finn Bluegrass 2005
Morro Bay 2005 Stargazer Rock Camp 2005
Parkfield Bluegrass 2005    
Huck Finn Bluegrass 2006 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2006
Rock Creek Non-Camp Stargazer Rock Camp 2006
Parkfield Bluegrass 2006 Oregon 2006
Bluegrass in the Foothills 2006    
Bullhead City, Bakersfield, Joshua Tree 2007 Frog Camp 2007
Eastern Sierra Journey 2007 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2007
Stargazer Rock Camp 2007 Roundup #1
(Mother Lode; Kings Canyon, Yosemite)
Bluegrass in the Foothills 2007    
Nevada-Arizona Hockey & Bluegrass 2008 Parkfield Bluegrass 2008
Frog Camp 2008 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2008
Stargazer Rock Camp 2008 Bluegrass in the Foothills 2008
Hobbs Grove Festival 2008     
Roundup 2009
Las Vegas, Mariposa, Table Mountain, Orange County
Frog Camp 2009 Southern Journey 2009
Parkfield Bluegrass 2009 Stargazer Rock Camp 2009
Bluegrass Tour 2009
Brown Barn, Plymouth, Hobbs Grove
Hensley Lake Camp
Mojave National Preserve & Havasu Bluegrass Roundup 2010
Hensley Reservoir, Mojave Preserve 2 & 3
Parkfield Bluegrass 2010 Lake Almanor & Mt. Lassen 2010
Las Vegas Expo Summergrass
   Brown Barn, Watsonville & Hobbs Grove
Roundup 2011
Mariposa, Hensley, Table Mountain
Frog Camp 2011
Parkfield Bluegrass 2011 Frank, Pat, Dick & Ted's Excellent Adventure
Northern Coast Journey 2011 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2011
Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival Chilkoot & Stargazer Rock Camp
Kings River & Brown Barn Bluegrass Festivals Hensley Camp 2011
Parkfield Bluegrass 2012 Four Squaw Leap Hikes
Northern Coast Journey 2012 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2012
Stargazer Rock Camp 2012 Bluegrass in the Foothills 2012
A 3-Event Weekend
Farmer's Market, Kings River Bluegrass, Antique Fair
2012 Las Vegas CAN AM Hockey Challenge
Fall Hikes
Finegold Trail; Bower Cave
Into Los Gatos Canyon
Silver Stick Tournament - Canada Sierra Foothills - Winter 2013
Finegold Trailhead, Hensley Lake, San Joaquin Gorge
Death Valley - Alabama Hills - Whitney Portal Sierra Foothills - Spring 2013
San Joaquin Gorge Hike, Big Creek Drive
Parkfield Bluegrass 2013 Shaver Crossing Station & Big Creek
Lake Almanor & Caribou Crossroads Mono Hot Springs
Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival A Wedding in Duluth
Sequoia Park Hiking Roundup 2013
Kings River Bluegrass, Buena Vista Peak Hike, Hensley Lake Camp, North Fork Mono Museum, White Rock Road, Hockey in Denver
2014 Winter Hikes
Millerton South Bay Trail, Clovis Trail, Hite's Cove Trail
San Joaquin Gorge Campout
Colorado Springs Hockey Tournament Lake Havasu Bluegrass
2014 Spring Hikes
Stockton Creek Preserve, San Joaquin River Trail, San Joaquin Gorge, Millerton Lake, Sycamore Creek, Buena Vista Peak Again
NORCAL Hockey Playoffs and Santa Cruz Visit
Greeley Hill Road Trip Parkfield Bluegrass 2014
Journey of 2014 Journey of 2014 Photos
Nelder Grove Hikes 2014 Sentinel Dome Hike
2014 Fall & Winter Hikes
San Joaquin River Trail South & North, Red Rock Canyon Nevada, San Joaquin South Again
California Flat Campout
Snow Day with the  Upshaw's   
Rambler Hikes 2015 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2015 Part 2
Adventures of 2015 - February to May
(Goofy Smith Flat, Coast Redwoods & Big Sur, Pine Flat, Finegold Trail, Edison Point Trail, Nelder Grove)
Adventures of 2015 - June to December
(Lewis Creek Trail, Kaiser Pass, Kaiser Pass Again, Taft Point, Kings River Bluegrass, Shaver Logging Road, San Joaquin River Trail, Lewis S Eaton Trail, San Joaquin River Gorge, Thanksgiving at the Gorge)
Lake Tahoe & Virginia City Parkfield Bluegrass 2015
Colorado Springs Cousin Convention 2015 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2015
Stargazer Rock Camp 2015 Grand Canyon & Arches National Parks
Adventures of 2016 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 1
Adventures of 2016 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 2
Adventures of 2016 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 3
Adventures of 2016 Part 4 A Pennsylvania Adventure
Adventures of 2016 Part 5 Parkfield Bluegrass 2016
Adventures of 2016 Part 6 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2016
Adventures of 2016 Part 7 Stargazer Rock Camp 2016
Adventures of 2017 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 1
Adventures of 2017 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 2
Adventures of 2017 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 3
Adventures of 2017 Part 4 Hiking and Hockey
Adventures of 2017 Part 5 Lake Almanor
Adventures of 2017 Part 6 Northern California Redwood Hike
Parkfield Bluegrass 2017 Stargazer Rock Camp 2017
Travel Blog 2017 (an experiment) Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks
Adventures of 2018 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2018 Page 1
Adventures of 2018 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2018 Page 2
Adventures of 2018 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2018 Page 3
Adventures of 2018 Part 4 Parkfield Bluegrass 2018
Adventures of 2018 Part 5 Northern California Journey 2018
Adventures of 2018 Part 6
Adventures of 2019 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2019 Page 1
Adventures of 2019 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2019 Page 2
Utah National Parks Rambler Hikes 2019 Page 3
Adventures of 2019 Part 3 Parkfield Bluegrass 2019
Adventures of 2019 Part 4 Adventures of 2019 Part 5
Adventures of 2020 Part 1 Adventures of 2020 Part 5
Adventures of 2020 Part 2 Adventures of 2020 Part 6
Adventures of 2020 Part 3 Adventures of 2020 Part 7
Adventures of 2020 Part 4 Rambler Hikes 2020 Page 1
Adventures of 2021 Part 1 Adventures of 2021 Part 5
Adventures of 2021 Part 2
Adventures of 2021 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2021 Page 1
Adventures of 2021 Part 4 Rambler Hikes 2021 Page 2
Adventures of 2022 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2022 Page 1
Adventures of 2022 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2022 Page 2
Adventures of 2022 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2022 Page 3
Adventures of 2022 Part 4 Utah Parks
Adventures of 2023 Page 1 Rambler Hikes 2023 Page 1
Adventures of 2023 Page 2 Rambler Hikes 2023 Page 2
Dinosaur National Monument Rambler Hikes 2023 Page 3
Adventures of 2023 Page 3 Rambler Hikes 2023 Page 4
Adventures of 2024 Page 1 Rambler Hikes 2024 Page 1
Adventures of 2024 Page 2 Rambler Hikes 2024 Page 2
Mendocino Coast Rambler Hikes 2024 Page 3
Fresno Area Canal Walks Clovis Trail Walks
Butch's Blog Walker Family Trips
Parkfield Earthquake Kim & Morgan Brown Trips & Photos
Travel Report Menu Estel Home Page
Photo Albums Slide Shows
Laurie Lewis' High Sierra Hikes Email


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Updated October 20, 2021