: Almost everything is packed and ready for my departure tomorrow
for the Colorado River Bluegrass Festival at
AZ, across the
NV. I attended this festival last year, and although the weather can
be very windy there, the price is below average and the talent well
probably not be where I can start sending these notes till about a
week from now, when I arrive at
National Monument. So instead of writing more now, I think I’ll finish getting
9: As usual, I like to limit my daily driving to 350 miles or less,
so I am staying tonight in
(239 miles), where I have previously stopped three times. I arrived
at 3:30, which gives me lots of time to work on this journal, read, watch
TV, and fix dinner. The hills around here are green, not their usual
color, and evidence of the above average rains we’ve had all over
this year. For those not
familiar with Barstow, it's located in the high Mojave Desert.
drive will be even shorter, about 180 miles, which will let me get a
leisurely start, and arrive in time to unhitch, get gas, explore the
grounds, and put in a request that the Weather Channel is wrong
about rain on Friday and Saturday.
today was mostly good – some light fog from south of Kingsburg to Delano
County). It was around 60 degrees most of the way, with a light breeze (55
at Tehachapi, 4,000 foot elevation). Until the sun got down low, it
was pleasant to sit outside and read the paper here in Barstow.
10: I am in Bullhead City, and just like last year it is cold and windy here. Last year I said I would not come to this festival
again, but the weather improved as the weekend went on, and they
tempt you with an outstanding lineup, so here I am. But if it rains,
I will never come here again! (Might have to reconsider, since next
year’s tentative line-up is even better.) (May 2006 update: I did not attend the 2006 festival, not because of my vow,
but because it just didn't work out. I heard it was quite cold, but
other hand, the rains have turned the desert hills green, and there
are lots of yellow and purple wild flowers along Interstate 40
coming into Needles.
about , and after setting up, spent my time wandering around listening to
people playing in the camping area, reading, and drinking bourbon
and soda. It is now 5:15
and it is too cold for me to stay outside any longer, so I am inside
reading, working on this journal, and getting ready to fire up the
generator so I can watch TV. Like many festivals, this one is “dry
camping,” meaning no hookups of any kind.
I am not a gambler, since the lights of Laughlin are just across the
river, and anyone with the itch to contribute to
Nevada’s economy can zip over there very quickly.
cloudy and quite cool in
this morning, but the temperature got warmer through the day, and
was about 67 at Needles. It is cloudy, but not heavily overcast, so
I am hoping the Weather Channel forecast for rain tomorrow and
Saturday turns out to be wrong.
is a lot of new housing construction around here, with the usual
sign “if you lived here, you’d be home now.” Actually, if I
lived here, I would be making plans to move!
11: The festival got off to a late start, due to rain that started
around midnight, and continues to fall off and on now at
Today’s show was moved across the river to an auditorium in the
Ramada Inn in Laughlin. Lots of slot machines to tempt you on the
way in, but not good for the festival vendors, who could not pack up
their booths and move over the river. If the rain stops, the
festival will be where it should be tomorrow, which everyone
prefers. Right now it’s not promising.
camping area is dirt, so there is mud everywhere, although the
ground is hard-packed and driving in and out isn’t a problem.
Parking lot picking is pretty much out of the question, although
some people were getting together and renting rooms at the Ramada. I
am contenting myself with reading and TV.
groups were the “lesser lights” of the schedule, but still quite
good. The sound in the auditorium was not as good as the usual
outdoor setup, however.
12: The festival is 2/3 over already. Today was 100% better than
yesterday, both in music and weather. The rain continued into the
night off and on, but this morning there were streaks of blue sky,
and the festival started on time at the right place. We had clouds
and occasional cool breezes, but by the end of the day it was mostly
clear, and much warmer than Thursday night.
groups today were great – some I had seen, and some I had not, but
all were groups I had heard of. The best was Mountain Heart, who we
saw at Mariposa in 2000, when they had been together about a year.
They are all veterans of other great bands, and are now truly
course a major
when you can see them is the Cherryholmes Family. My daughter Teri
and I saw them at Parkfield in 2001, when they had been performing
in public for about a year. In their own words they were still
“rough around the edges,” but they have gotten better each time
I’ve seen them.
are a family band – dad, mom and four kids now aged 12 to 20. They
started out picking in the parking lots around southern
California, but were pleasing audiences on stage in short order. In 2002 they
headed east to try their hand at making a living playing bluegrass
– always a long shot. Since then they have performed on the Grand
Ole Opry, appeared with major artists like Rhonda Vincent and Jimmy
Martin, and won a number of awards. Twenty year old Cia is the
reigning Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass in America (SPBGMA)
banjo player of the year, and 12 year old Molly was a finalist as
fiddler of the year. In addition, Molly performed a song she wrote
on Rhonda Vincent’s last album. And they left behind their “day
job” and are in fact making their living only from performing. Due
to their success, we don’t get to see them as much in the west,
but they will perform again tomorrow, and will be at the Huck Finn
Festival in Victorville in June.
Another group that was at Mariposa a few years
Continental Divide. The lead singer, David Parmley, was part of a
very popular California group back in the 1980s and 90s, the
long ago I read an article in Bluegrass Unlimited magazine
about Lost and Found, a group that's been around for 20 years,
although I had not heard of them. I was glad to find them on the
the biggest attraction for me, causing me to brave wind, cold and
rain, was banjo player J.D. Crowe and the New South. After
performing with well-known groups back in the 1960s and 70s, Crowe
formed his own group, which soon became legendary as an incubator of top
bluegrass talent, including Tony Rice, Keith Whitley, and Doyle
first arrived, there was a young man next to me with a compact car,
removing a car-top carrier and placing it in his site. He explained
he was saving the site for his dad, who had just bought a new motor
home, and who would be arriving about
the next day. In fact, dad actually came in about 3 a.m., waking up several of the neighbors. It seems they had spent six
hours in nearby Searchlight
NV, working on the carburetor. The motor home was in fact “new
used,” and they spent the entire festival working on it. About the
time the music ended on Sunday, they fired it up, sending a huge
cloud of black exhaust smoke through the camp area, and filling my
trailer and the one next to me with fumes. The neighbor complained,
and they finally pulled the rig down the hill away from other
campers. They worked on it a while, but finally left, and it was
still sitting there unmoving when I left the next morning.
festival, I encountered my first
A**hole. At every festival the M.C. reminds people not to talk
during the music, and at every festival there is some talking.
Usually a look, a “shhhhh,” or a polite request to take the
conversation away from the audience area solves the problem.
However, there were two couples behind me who talked continuously.
During the intermission, I made the usual polite request. One of the
men told me in so many words that they came to the festival to talk
to their friends, and if I didn’t like it, I could move. The man
next to me told them he would ask the festival staff to take action,
but it did not prove necessary…they were mostly quiet the rest of
evening I am fighting a cold, so I plan to stay in, keep warm, and
get to bed early.
14: The final day of the festival was the best, with mostly clear
skies and warm enough temperatures to unbutton the flannel shirt.
The festival concluded with the Cherryholmes Family joined on stage
by members of three other groups that had performed that afternoon,
so we had the pleasure of hearing five fiddles together at once,
plus various other combinations, vocal and instrumental.
time in this location is always confusing for groups from the east
– they are attuned to Central or Eastern time, they are staying at
the Ramada Inn in Laughlin where it’s Pacific time, and performing
Arizona, which is on Mountain time. Two groups were late due to the
confusion, but others played longer or switched places, so no harm
night I set my watch back to
time, then got an early start this morning, hitting the road before 9. I
headed across the Laughlin Bridge on Nevada Highway 163 to US 95,
south to I-40, and west about 20 miles to a section of old US 66
that heads southwest from the Interstate and goes through Essex,
Chambless and Amboy, three towns that were someplace in the hey day
of Route 66, but are no place now – no gas stations, no stores, no
restaurants. Just past Amboy I went south then east on
into Twentynine Palms, where I will stay for three nights. Tomorrow
and Wednesday I will visit
National Park, which is just south of here.
were light clouds all night and all day today – thin enough for
the sun to shine through and make it fairly warm in the daytime, and
to allow the moon to be visible as a hazy crescent tonight. No stars
visible, however. (It cleared off almost completely during the
night, but was cloudy again by morning.)
got set up here, I went into town and had dinner at a Mexican
restaurant, did some grocery shopping, and bought gas. This evening
I enjoyed a rare treat – watching a hockey game. There is a
lockout in the National Hockey League, but the American League’s
All Star game was on.
15: I made my first visit to Joshua Tree National Park today. The
weather was perfect – partly cloudy, cool, just right for walking.
The park has two main sections, the Mojave Desert (3,000 foot
elevation and above) where there are rock formations and Joshua
trees, and the Colorado desert, lower, dryer, warmer, and with lots
of flowers (so the visitor center attendant said). I spent all my
time today in the upper part, and will return there tomorrow to see
some places I missed.
are miles of rock formations, composed of tan granite. In some areas
they are house-size boulders, with a few bigger and smaller ones; in
other areas the rock is extensively fractured. There are short
hiking trails all over; I went on a 1.7 mile hike in the morning,
then a one mile hike in the afternoon. The rock is weathered so
there are some interesting shapes, but not like you see with
are lots of Joshua trees, plus piñon, mesquite, juniper and many
other desert plants, including several species of cactus. I saw a
number of birds including quail, as well as one possible lizard and
one chipmunk. The highest point I visited is about 5,000 feet, and
overlooks the Coachella Valley and the Little San Bernardino
Mountains, but visibility was poor (southern California smog
were several areas where the land was mostly flat, and heavily
covered with Joshua trees. In the rocky areas, there are fewer
Joshuas. All in all it is a beautiful place, and I’m glad I
decided to come here.
16: Today was mostly sunny with a light breeze, again very nice
weather for walking. I went on one “official” loop trail, and a
couple of “cross country” walks. It was a better day for
wildlife spotting – I saw a redtail hawk, two jack rabbits,
several chipmunks and a dozen or so lizards.
trees grow in the southwestern deserts at elevations of 3,000 feet
or more – but they grow bigger if they happen to be in a spot
where they get well watered. Two of the best specimens I’ve seen
are growing in Oakhurst, at about 2,500 feet in the Sierra
foothills, 15 miles from the southern entrance to
National Park. At first they seem out of place, but the similarities to desert
conditions actually fit – hot summers with considerable cooling at
night and cool winter weather with an occasional dusting of snow.
The biggest difference is probably the rainfall, about 30 inches or
more in Oakhurst – but Joshuas thrive with extra water.
I will be heading for
LakeElsinore, south of
Riverside, to visit my uncle and cousin.
18: After a slightly roundabout trip in which a shortcut turned
long, I arrived at
Thursday. After I got set up at the RV park, I went to visit my
uncle Herb Hall and my cousin Diane Davenport (his daughter), who
lives in a separate house on the property. We had a good visit and
ate dinner there.
lake here fluctuates in elevation depending on rainfall. When my
aunt and uncle first moved here, the lake was quite low, and had
been so for decades. No one expected any significant rise, but about
20 years ago heavy rains and a drainage outlet that had been blocked
caused the lake to rise many feet, to where it jeopardized homes.
The Halls' house was at least a quarter of a mile from the lake
when they moved there, but with the flood, they had to build a dike
just off their back deck to keep the lake from getting under the
succeeding years the lake dropped back close to its old level, but
it is up this year. They opened the drainage line after the previous
flood, so it’s not anywhere close to the danger point, but it’s
a much closer walk than it has been for many years.
and uncle enjoyed the lake for many years – sailing, water skiing,
wind surfing, as well as hang gliding, but the boats are sitting
idle now. At 87, Herb doesn’t leave the house much (he
passed away in the fall of 2005).
afternoon I will drive up to Aliso Viejo in
to visit my cousin Katie, her boyfriend Chuck and her daughter
It’s about 50 miles, over the Ortega Highway
(state 74) to
San Juan Capistrano, then up I-5.
20: When the weather is nice and traffic is light, the
is a beautiful scenic drive – over the coastal mountains through
National Forest, and down to
San Juan Capistrano. My trip Friday was quite the opposite. A big rig had overturned a
few miles above
Elsinore, so all traffic was halted at the bottom of the hill. A CHP officer
announced what had happened, and said it would be about 15 minutes.
Changing my route and finding out how to get to Katie’s a
different way would have taken more than that, so I waited. The wait
was more like 25 minutes, but finally a tow truck came down the road
pulling the damaged truck.
mile or so of bumper to bumper traffic started moving, but we soon
had to stop for about five minutes, since only one lane was open.
The truck’s cargo was a load of sacks of cement, and crews were
still cleaning it up.
finally got moving again, but as soon as I reached the top of the
pass, it started to rain. The rain was more or less continuous the
rest of the way, very heavy at times. This highway is narrow and
winding, but just like the crazy drivers who don’t slow down in
Fresno’s fog, many of the cars on the
wanted to go full speed. Those behind me were disappointed, at least
until I came to one of the many turnouts.
arrived at Katie’s, everything went well. Shauna had just started
working at Chili’s, and was not at home, so instead of the planned
barbecue, we went out to dinner at On the Border, an excellent
Mexican chain restaurant. Shauna worked in the same shopping center,
and joined us before we finished.
next morning rain was falling, and it looked as if our plans to go
down to the ocean would fall through, but it soon stopped, and we
had blue sky and fluffy clouds the rest of the day. There was one
small rain cloud that came over while we were in
Laguna Beach, but we went into the lobby of a beachfront resort and waited it
out. The ocean in that area was brown, due to runoff from creeks
during the heavy rains of the previous night and that morning. Out
about 100 yards there was a definite line where the water color
changed to green, and beyond that, near the horizon, a strip of
a nice walk on a path above the beach, then drove up the coast a
ways and saw the spot where they placed the ashes of my aunt and
uncle (Katie’s parents), who passed away ten days apart two years
evening we enjoyed the barbecue that had been postponed from Friday
night. Both evenings we spent some time looking at home movies,
starting when Katie served as flower girl at my wedding in 1963, and
going through recent visits to her sister in
Florida, as well as other vacation trips they’ve taken.
left the trailer at
and stayed in Aliso Viejo Friday and Saturday night. I left about
nine this morning, and had an outstanding drive back over the Ortega
Highway – no rain, very little traffic, and lots of nice scenery,
ranging from desert shrubs at the bottom to oaks and other trees in
the upper section. I hitched up the trailer and left about . Following Chuck’s suggestion, I stayed on Highway 74, which goes
through Perris and Hemet, and then climbs up into the San Bernardino
Mountains, to just over 5,000 feet at the top. This was another
scenic drive, with a number of unfamiliar shrubs at the mid
elevation, and Ponderosa pines and oaks at the top.
road then drops down to I-10 at Indio, going through Palm Desert and
Indian Wells – and “drop down” is an accurate statement –
Indio is just 17 feet above sea level, and the highway goes down to
zero elevation just east of town. On the way down, there was some
spectacular high desert scenery, with piñon, juniper, yuccas and
other drought-tolerant vegetation, as the road travels through
rugged canyon country.
I-10 the drive was less interesting but required much less “active
driving,” and I arrived at Blythe about six, as it was getting
dark. From here to
is about 200 miles, so I should get to the RV park where my parents
spend the winter by mid-afternoon.
21: I arrived in
after an uneventful trip. Since it’s a holiday, traffic was not as
bad as usual through
Phoenix. There was no rain during the day, and in fact, the sun came out
for an hour or so this afternoon, but it’s been raining off and on
since 8 p.m.
There is supposed to be rain every day at least through Thursday. So
much for the Valley of the Sun.
23: I’m set up here in Park Place RV Resort in
Mesa for nine days, so not a lot to report. Yesterday Dad and Mother
I went out to an excellent Mexican restaurant, Macayo’s, which is
about ten miles from here, on the west edge of
Mesa. Today we had lunch at the
(not quite as good, but 1/5 the cost, including no margaritas).
night when I went to bed I found a wet spot on the sleeping bag. No,
not what you’re thinking, but rain coming through the roof. There
was some leakage through a seam in the same spot last spring, and I
had caulked the seam. Since it was raining, and bedtime, I duct
taped a folded towel to the spot, and it absorbed everything that
came in during the night. The next morning I borrowed a ladder and
caulked the roof in that area again. Of course, there has been no
significant rain since, so I don’t know how successful I was. (May
2006 update: Having stayed dry in the trailer through two more rainy bluegrass festivals after
this repair, I guess the job was successful.)
a sprinkle yesterday while we were inside the restaurant, and it had
rained about a mile west of here when we got back, but I don’t
think there has been any rain here since early Tuesday morning.
Today has been sunny with a few clouds, perfect
weather, but I hear
is getting ready to send more storms this way. The forecast is for
possible thunderstorms today and tomorrow, and showers Friday.
25: Well, it’s another day of sun with some clouds. The forecast
has been for rain every day, and so far it has not rained in eastern
since Tuesday morning. There have been some showers and quick
thunderstorms around the area, mostly in the west. The reward for
all the rain that had fallen previously is that the desert outside
of town looks like pastureland – lots of green grass, an inch to a
foot tall between the shrubs, plus many flowering annuals.
we visited my mother’s cousins in Surprise, on the west side of
the metro area, about a 60 mile drive. Although her entire family
grew up in
Ohio, she has two cousins who now live in the
area, and one in
Tucson. Gloria lived in
till about ten years ago, when she and her daughter Margaret
relocated to Surprise. Like every city in the valley, it has grown
from a few thousand to over 100 thousand people. Also visiting were
Roy and Jeanette, who spent their working lives in the
area. For their first decade or so of retirement, their trailer was
their home, but they bought a house in
about 12 years ago. Another cousin who still lives in
has a daughter in this area, so they also come here for a visit in
the winter. The
contingent of the family is always increasing.
a great home-cooked dinner, and spent time looking at photos and
discussing our genealogical research. Margaret is the official
genealogist for her branch of the family, while I seem to be taking
over that job for the Estel and Mason families (although mother did
all the dirty work, visiting court houses and cemeteries in
with her sister back in the 1980s and 90s).
we went to the big semi-annual rummage sale at the church Dad and
Mother attend here. I didn’t need anything, so of course I came
away with a couple of bags of stuff. Actually I bought three
zippered tote bags, some books (Elmore Leonard and Kurt Vonnegut), Arizona
Highways magazines, and some picture frames.
still had a lot of stuff to look at, so I came back to my trailer
for a nap and a little lunch, and to work on this journal. We’ll
probably just laze around the rest of the afternoon.
27: We had lunch yesterday at Midwest Meats, a restaurant-bake
shop-butcher shop down the road a couple of miles. Had an excellent
NY strip steak – possibly one of the best tasting grilled items
I’ve ever had. The place was full at 1:30 p.m.
and getting waited on took quite a while, but the food came very
quickly after that. The crowd had thinned out quite a bit by the
time we finished.
way in I made my annual purchase of Girl Scout cookies. I used to
have a Girl Scout across the street, but she moved away (and then
grew up). I also counted on fellow employees who were selling for
their daughters or granddaughters, but I don’t have any fellow
employees any more. So I have to come to
Arizona, where I find Girl Scouts selling outside restaurants and markets.
was my annual hike in the
National Forest. A drive of about 10 miles east from here brings you to Apache
Junction, which marks the start of Arizona Highway 88, the Apache
Trail. It goes into the mountains, to lakes on the
Salt River, and destinations beyond, which I have never explored. About three
miles from Apache Junction is
State Park, which has a nice, short marked nature trail. Just beyond that is
the dirt road to First Water Trailhead. It’s two and a half miles
in, over a road that has previously been dusty, but this time had
two running creeks to be crossed.
trail goes into the
Mountains, mostly following a series of shallow canyons, with views of the
distant mountains to the north, and rugged, rocky hills and cliffs
all about. There are lots of saguaros, cholla, prickly pear,
hedgehog, and pincushion cactus, as well as mesquite, creosote bush,
scrub oak and palo verde.
small creeks that cross and run along side the trail have been just
trickles in the past, but they are running quite strongly this year,
and it is necessary to cross them several times on stepping stones.
The plants in the desert normally have plenty of dry dirt in between
them, but this year there is greenery everywhere. I saw a number of
plants and flowers I’ve never seen in the area before – wild
cucumber, brodeia, and others. I believe the seeds lie there year
after year waiting for the appropriate amount of rainfall before
saw a jack rabbit hopping up a dry wash (yes, not every drainage has
water, even this year). On my hike I saw a cardinal and a number of
lizards, as well as other small unidentified birds. It was a perfect
day as far as weather was concerned – probably about 70 degrees
with a slight breeze, mostly clear skies with some clouds around the
1: It’s the last night in
Mesa, and I have done a lot of the “getting ready” stuff – emptied
the holding tanks, put away the DVD player, washed and put away the
dishes, filled the water tank. In the morning I will put everything
that’s sitting on the table or counters into its “traveling
location” (so it doesn’t slide around, fall off, get broken,
etc.), then hitch up and head for Parker.
didn’t do much yesterday. We went to lunch at the
Center, and I did some grocery shopping and got the truck washed. This
seems to be a good place to be in the car wash business – they
were very busy, and it took about an hour from when I drove in till
the time I drove out. People getting a wax job were waiting three
we ate at the
again (best meal of the three – chicken parmesan), then drove out
past Apache Junction to
State Park. We walked around the nature trail. It’s about a quarter mile or
less, but a slow trip since Dad and Mother can’t go very fast. We
saw another cardinal, as well as a number of doves and other birds.
2: I left Mesa about ten a.m. today, getting on Arizona 202 Loop,
then taking Interstate 10 to Quartzite, where I turned north on AZ
95 to Parker.
of you who drive in
are used to freeway on-ramps that take you almost in a 360 degree
circle at 20 MPH, then dump you onto the freeway with 50 feet or so
to get up to speed. In the
metro area, most of the freeways have merge lanes that are a half
mile long. In addition, the newer freeways are beautifully
landscaped. The 202 loop has miles of sandstone-red concrete
fencing, and the overpasses are decorated with bas-relief lizards,
birds, and Indian symbols.
my right of way dispute with a cow in
last summer, I am alert for and aware of large animals near the
freeway. Fortunately, the Interstates are fenced, and the cows I saw
today were minding their own business, enjoying the rare lush grass,
and staying on their side of the barbed wire.
I drive on Interstate 10 between
Phoenix, I think of my trip with my older grandson, Johnny, about seven or
eight years ago. We spent the night at a motel in Blythe, and happened to tune
in to a “true crime” show on TV. It concerned a perpetrator who
had cut up several bodies, put them in large cardboard boxes, and
dumped them in the countryside. The next day we stopped along the
highway so Johnny could get his first close-up look at a saguaro
cactus. We were wandering through the desert when we spotted a large
cardboard box about a hundred yards away. We headed toward it to
investigate, then looked at each other, and mutually decided we
really didn’t care to find out what was in it.
of Parker the land is usually fairly barren, with a number of small
creosote bushes, separated by dry dirt with nothing growing. This
year there are plants all over that country, one to two feet tall.
They hide the small bushes, and leave the large ones sticking up
like islands. Since it hasn’t rained for a week or so, these
plants are already drying out quickly.
arrived at the bluegrass festival site in Parker, La Paz
Colorado River, about
When I was here two years ago, I arrived about the same time on a
Wednesday and was able to camp much closer to the stage area. It
looks like the attendance may be double that first year. There are
no hookups, but I ended up close enough to a water faucet to connect
to it. This not only preserves the water in my fresh water tank, but
also eliminates the need to use the battery-operated water pump. I
got set up, took my chair to the audience area, ate dinner, and did
3: Today I went hiking up a dry/damp wash that crosses the road about a
mile from the park,
the same place I went two years ago. There is a good place to pull
off the highway, where the wash comes out of the hills, runs under
the road, and into the
easy walking most of the time, with a bit of rock stepping when it
starts to rise. About 200 yards up from the highway, there was
running water. In a number of places, water ran down over rocks, and
disappeared into sand. I probably went up a half mile or less,
taking a smaller side canyon at the end. There are lots of flowers,
mostly a large yellow daisy, but also white and purple flowers,
creosote bush in bloom, and others. There were lots of flowers that
look just like the orange fiddle necks that are common in the Sierra
foothills, but they were purple. There are also barrel and beaver
tail cactus up on the slopes above the wash. As well, I saw a
number of paw prints in the damp sand, not accompanied by human
prints. Most likely the running water is the logical drinking spot
for coyotes and other animals.
are two ways to get past a thorny bush that blocks the way. The
first way is to push the branch out of the way, then drag your arm
through it after you’ve passed, resulting in punctures, scratches
and blood. The second way is to hang on to the branch after you’ve
passed, then grab it with the other hand, let go with the first
hand, and gently move it back into place. I tried both ways, and I
recommend the latter.
4: Day one of the festival brought the usual ups and downs – a
group I saw three years ago that seems to have gone backward instead
of getting better (best left nameless); a famous group whose CDs I
have, but had not seen in person (IIIrd Time Out); a very upbeat
family band who are reaching the pro level (Lampkins Family), and a
completely unknown but excellent band from Tennessee (Blue Moon
weather was also up and down – a few clouds in the morning, with
temperatures warming up, then lots of clouds in the afternoon with
intermittent showers and cooling off quite a bit by the end of the
show. I had my poncho with me, and that was adequate to keep me dry
with the light rain we had. Quite a few people left at the first
drops. It’s still pretty cloudy at 10 p.m., and this morning’s forecast was for a greater chance of rain
tomorrow, so I hope the weatherman was wrong.
I had a
long conversation with my neighbors on either side. The people on
the south have three cats with them, which bothered the dog
belonging to the guy on the north, but they kept them apart. Dog guy
is a full-timer (meaning he lives in his RV and travels where the
spirit takes him). Cat couple live in
(maybe North, not sure) in the summer, and
in the winter. She still works full time – as a nurse, she can get
a job anywhere. During our talk we watched an absolutely sensational
sunset, with bits of cloud sticking up on the horizon like flames,
then cloud shapes changing and moving as it grew dark.
5: Today was another mixed day weather-wise. Up till about
it looked like there would be no problems, then a strong wind came
up, and dark clouds headed our way. A mountain to the east that is
normally clearly visible slowly faded and disappeared. Many people
tried to brave the storm, but it was clearly going to be a harder
rain than yesterday, and the promoter cut short the final
performance, by an hour or so. It continued to rain for about an
hour, but has stopped now at 7 p.m., although it is still cloudy.
came back to the trailer to have some lunch, I discovered that my
belief that I still had one full propane tank was sadly misguided.
Fortunately there is a mini-market about three miles away that sells
propane, so I got a tank filled. Although I missed James King and
most of the next group, I heard part of both, because they are
broadcasting the festival on a low power FM station. It only comes
in while you’re in or close to the park; it faded out quickly as I
music today was all good – mostly groups I have heard before
(including yesterday), and one that was new to me, the Wilders, a band from
that performs old-time music and country honky tonk. Also fun was Doodoo Wah, a couple of guys from northern
California who perform mostly original humorous material.
6: Good news and bad news today. The music was great. Due to the
rain yesterday, the U.S. Navy Band played only three songs, so they
extended the program by an hour today and they played two sets, one
in the morning, and one in the afternoon. The other groups that I
saw were all good. I missed James King yesterday, but saw his entire
I discovered last night that I had a flat tire. I have roadside
service for the trailer, so I called Good Sam Club, and after going
through a series of calls, including giving directions to the
service man, I got the tire changed. I missed the first group of the
day, but I had seen them yesterday, so it wasn’t too big a deal.
However! My spare is also leaking. I think I can inflate it in the
morning and get by.
was warm and mostly clear, but we also had our regular afternoon
rainstorm, although it was really just a sprinkle. I never had to
put on my poncho; I got by with an umbrella. People were raising and
lowering umbrellas for about 45 minutes as the edge of the storm hit
us. The really dark clouds that came at us yesterday went across the
today, so we didn’t have any problems.
10: As always, the hard part is getting this report finished after I
return home, where there are so many other things to do, and so many
distractions. At the festival, once the music is over, you can
socialize, watch TV, read, or write. At home, the list is endless.
checked my leaky tire Sunday night, I discovered that it was leaking
at the valve stem. Putting the cap on tightly seemed to hold it, and
in fact, it did not go down during the trip home. However, it does
lose all pressure over a two to three day period, so a trip to the
repair shop is required before my next trip.
an early start Monday, but still thought I might take two days
(actually more like one day and a couple of hours the next day).
However, I reached
Bakersfield, 105 miles from home, at , and it did not make sense to stop there, or anyplace closer. So I
kept going, and got home about 7. That made it an eleven-hour day,
which is more than I like, but I was really ready to be home. It was
a warm, sunny day, and the weather got warmer closer to home (it’s
been close to 80 in
the last two days).
stopped for lunch at Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner near
Barstow. It is one of those places with lots of 45 RPM
records on the wall, plus photos of movie
and music people from the mid 20th century, and also a
couple of plastic Elvis statues.
Estel, March 2005
(Click to enlarge; photos open in a new window)