Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My last month in Arizona

I always enjoy camping out at Phoenix International Raceway when I am in town during race week.
For $60 you can camp all week in the unreserved section.

We were pretty isolated early in the week, but it filled in as the weekend got closer.

We had several beautiful sunsets.

When you are not watching the races, you can watch these guys do stunts on their dirt bikes.   

And they had the Budweiser Clydesdale's there, too.

But my favorite time is the race.  As Michael Waltrip says, "Boogity, boogity, boogity, let's go racing".

During that week I had dinner with my grandson and his girlfriend.  We met at the Buffalo Wild Wings out by the Cardinal's stadium in Glendale.  As we arrived, we saw they were having a car show, which happens every Wednesday during the winter. It wasn't just a classic car show, they had some new cars and lots of corvettes, specialty cars and low riders and one car had over 20 TV screens of all sizes throughout the car. 

But we had to take a break to eat.  Next to me is my grandson, Joshua, and his girlfriend Caitlin, while across from me are Max's grandkids, Cooper and Carter.

I especially liked this car with the cut away and the light up engine.

I'm back in Mesa and it's St. Patrick's Day, so a trip to the Irish Cultural Center was on tap.  They had advertised live music and food and I assumed it was going to be Irish music, but the music was folk music, and although the food was traditional corned beef and cabbage, it didn't look so great, so we opted to go searching for something better.  But I did like the building which housed the Irish Cultural Center.  It is built like a castle and has a museum, gallery and library inside.

Back towards downtown, we found what we were looking for in front of Seaman McCaffrey's Irish Pub.  They had a tent set up with real Irish music.

And we found good Irish food.

And even a leprechaun.

Well, it's time to head to Texas and the SI Dance Rally in Bandera.    More on that in my next blog.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Cirque Du Soleil and Tucson

I really, really love Cirque du Soleil.  For those of you who don't know what it is, it is not a traditional circus.  There are no animals, no popcorn or cotton candy, no midway.  It is a story with acrobats with wild costumes, performed more like a play.  I have seen several previously and when I heard Varekai was coming to Phoenix, I knew I had to go.

They don't allow photos during the performance, so I could only take pictures of the stage before.  It was a great performance and if you have never heard or seen a Cirque du Soleil before, go see one.  They have traveling shows, like this one, as well as the permanent shows.  I believe there are five permanent shows running in Las Vegas, one in Miami, Orlando and I believe Seattle.

The performance was held in the stadium where the Phoenix Suns play basketball when home.  I think these basketball players are just a tad larger than me, don't you?

I spent a week in Tucson with Max visiting with Kenny and Charlotte, friends from California.  They had never been to Tucson before, so we played tour guide to some of the more popular places.  One of the first visits was to the Titan Missile Museum.  I got to open Blast Door 7 and it was easy, even though it weighed 6,000 lbs.  They even gave me a card to certify I moved than 6,000 lb door.

Here we are in the Command Post.  Look at all that old computer equipment.

I once ran a punch tape machine.  Wow, I must be really old.  I'm glad they haven't deactivated me like they did the Titan Missile.

Seven stories down and looking up at just the nose of the missile.  The entire structure is 140 feet below ground and the missile is 103 feet.

There were multiple layers of security when it was operational.  Nicknamed "tipsies", these scoop shaped units projected a doppler radar motion sensing beam which alerted those stationed below of intruders.

The missile here has never had a warhead, nor has it ever been fueled, and the doors are permanently blocked from opening more than halfway, allowing it to be displayed to visitors

The next visit was to the Pima Air Museum and the Boneyard.  

Oh no, Max is stuck out in space!

The Air Museum was like many other air museums I have been to before, lots of airplanes on display, both inside and out.  But the highlight of the trip was the visit to the Boneyard.  The Boneyard is really the grave yard for planes and helicopters which are no longer in use.  Some are maintained for parts, others are held in storage, just in case they might need to be activated again.  When I worked at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma, I dealt with the Boneyard when we needed parts quickly land couldn't wait for them to be fabricated.  

Rows and rows of planes and helicopters.  Some have been here over 50 years.

Our last tourist venue was Old Tucson, which was a first for me.  It was originally built in the 1930s as a movie set.  In fact, it was just used for a movie shoot a few months ago.

Here are just a few of the buildings I remember seeing in popular westerns.

They have gunfights in the streets and dance hall shows daily.

Max's new Steam Punk hat.

Just a few of the many movies made at Old Tucson.

The Reno, originally built in 1872 and used in Nevada's Comstock Lodes before becoming a movie star.  Just a few of the famous people who have ridden this train are:  President Ulysses S. Grant, President Theodore Roosevelt, John Wayne, James Stewart, Kathrine Hepburn, Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood and Elizabeth Taylor.  The Reno has been in over 100 movies and television shows such as Rawhide, Twilight Zone, Tombstone and Wild Wild West.

Friday, April 24, 2015

More Adventures in Arizona

These are some of the continuing adventures during my stay in Arizona.  After Quartzsite, I returned to Apache Junction and moved into Silver Spur RV Park for a month or so.  During that time, the Superbowl came to town.  Lots of activities were going on all around the Phoenix area.  In the downtown, it was called the NFL Experience.  Max and I took the light rail into town one Saturday to see what it was about.  The activities inside required tickets, which we didn't want to purchase, so we wandered around, listening to the outside bands, getting free pizza from Poppa John's, and just overall enjoying the afternoon.  

At one corner we saw this young man playing the fiddle.  What was so amazing was what he was doing.  He would start playing a simple tune (which we found out later he was recording).  Then he would stop, start the recorded tack and play another tune at the same time.  Each time he was recording an additional track onto what he already had played.  Here is just a small sample.

One weekend there was a car show in Fountain Park in Fountain Hills.

The fountain goes off for about 10 minutes every hour on the hour.

Mid February saw the WINs gather at Phon D Sutton Recreation Area on the Salt River, just north of Mesa.  They were there for 10 days and we had lots of organized activities.  One day the group took a hike out to Massacre Trail.  One or two of the people were not familiar with the desert and hadn't seen the chain fruit cholla cactus before.

We never did find the Massacre cave, but we did climb to the top of this saddle.

Rather than hike back the way we came, we headed across to this formation west of us.

As we got closer, we saw people were rock climbing.

Another evening the group headed to Organ Stop Pizza, famous for entertaining you on this organ while you dine.  The organ is on a pedestal which ascends from beneath the floor when it is time for the show.

Nearby was Usary Park and the Wind Cave Trail.  Not a long hike, but relatively steep.  Here the trail has just reached the base of the mountain.

Most of us made it in time for a group picture.  Several were watching for wildlife and were rewarded by seeing a desert tortoise.  Sorry, no picture since I didn't see it, although I did see pictures.

Most of the group turned around and headed back down the trail.  Officially the trail ended here at the cave.  But there were a few who were more adventurous and decided to keep going to the top.  Here they are at the top of the mountain (basically, on where the cave is).

An early blooming cactus.

The trail to the top was more like scrambling than hiking and it was tougher coming down than going up.

And this was there only casualty for the climb.  My hats go off to you!

The different colors of strata on the rocks was beautiful.

And of course, if you are in the area with a group, you just have to drive bulldog canyon.  Located behind locked gates in the Tonto National Forest, you have to get a permit and the code for unlocking the gates.  Some years it is really just a nice scenic rough road, and other years it truly is 4-wheel only.  I know my Chevy HHR wouldn't have made it.

Most were in 4-wheel drive vehicles, but Mike was in his side by side.

We had one 4-wheel drive truck and it was even a long wheel base, but it still made it through.  Here, Dave is going ahead spotting for Marty as he maneuvers through the deep ruts and over the rocks.

Filly's in Apache Junction has a live band outside every Saturday and Sunday, and you have to check it out if you are in the area.

Our group brought there own chairs and a good thing because they were packed.  Notice all the horses tied up behind where people have ridden in for a little music, dancing, food and beer.

The gathering is now over and everyone headed down the road except me.  Back I go to Silver Spur RV park, but there are more adventures to come.