Luci’s 2017 Journey North and West; Montana Fiddle Camp Photos

Here are some photos and maybe even a video of our week at camp.

Fiddle Camp memorabilia. 

My lanyard for meals and concerts. 

Brochure info on instructors. 

Lupine and chokecherries were in bloom. You can just see Luci peeking out above the lupine. 

Buckley family concert. Taylor, Fred, Ried, Jeanne and Katelyn. Behind them Isaac Callender and Mark Leslie. 

Upper photo; Chirps Smith and Warrie Means. Lower photo; Blaine Sprouse and April Verch. 

Isaac Callender on bass, Mark Leslie on banjo, Katelyn Buckley singing and Greg Blake also singing. 

Mark Leslie, Marty from Cody, WY, Dave and Taylor Buckley 

Warrie Means and Blaine Sprouse

Katelyn Buckley; head chef, artist, bass player and singer!

Luci’s 2017 Journey North and West: Wyoming and Montana

The first stop in Wyoming was to have lunch in Casper with Al Kalbfleisch. We needed to catch up on his music adventures and get news of his wife Mary who lives in a care home. We had a good visit. He and Dave posed for a picture.

Our next stay was near Frannie,Wyoming at the country home of good friend and fiddler, Kelly Wells. She had reserved a wonderful grassy area in her yard with valley and mountain views. It was a pleasant and peaceful spot with an irrigation canal gurgling in the background and lots of birds for me to watch. Kelly and Dave got out their fiddles for lots of tunes, alternating on fiddle and guitar, sharing licks and stories. The second day, friends came over in the afternoon to play fiddle and visit. I listened with one ear, read my book and watched for birds. I saw robin, magpie, yellow warbler, kingbird, goldfinch, pheasant, western wood pewee, meadowlark, starling and bullocks oriole. 

Kelly Wells

The next day, after a few tunes on a perfect sunny morning, we were on the road to Big Timber, Montana. Diane and Arn Berg welcomed us with big hugs and a “sweet grass” (county name for Big Timber and environs) spot for Luci on their acreage on Meadowlark Circle.  Diane and Arn winter in Arizona. We met them while we were boondocking in the desert with other musicians and snowbirds. Arn took us for a drive around the town, pointing out local landmarks. Diane invited me to do laundry which I was glad to do. Hanging the linen on the clothesline was a treat.  Winston, their granddog, accompanied my outdoor efforts and guarded the clothes as they flapped in the Montana wind. We visited the Pioneer meat shop of Brian Engle, the son of good friend and Surprise neighbor Susie Pangle. If you are ever in Big Timber, go there and get some of his wonderful hand made sausages, bratwurst and other tasty meat. Susie is a sister to Diane. 

Good pickers and singers, Steve and Cheryl joined us on our last afternoon. Many new and old tunes were shared on the Berg’s deck and in the living room after dinner. 
Diane and Arn have a beautiful yard with trees and shrubs, flowers and gardens and a flowing waterfall that the birds enjoyed as much as we did. In their yard and nearby ponds, I spotted chickadee, blue heron, killdeer,western and eastern kingbird, robin, meadowlark, yellow warbler and kingfisher. 

 North and west from Big Timber we turned onto the grounds of the Montana Fiddle Camp beside the swift flowing Belt River in the Little Belt Mountains near Monarch. People were arriving from near and far. Cars and trucks pulling big and little trailers.  Dorms and houses filled with people and instruments.

 Tents and hammocks were strung among the pines. Men, women, young and old were gathering to learn or to teach fiddle, banjo, mandolin and guitar. The atmosphere is electric with anticipation of the good time we would have. Summer camp! This is a beautiful, verdant place of pine-covered mountains rising above the camp with the river singing a constant accompaniment to the instruments and voices.  The Buckley and Flikkema families welcomed us on Sunday and introduced all the others who will make the camp run and be fun. There was an impressive line up of musician instructors to teach the Sunday to Friday camp. An equally impressive squad kept us fed and entertained. What’s not to like? Three meals and snacks and all the music you can imagine. In my case, birds to watch, two books to read, a blog to write and no meals to cook! Each day was filled with group lessons, workshops, informal sharing of tunes, evening concerts and dancing. All instructors and students gathered in the lodge on the first day. The instructors said a few words about their teaching style and aims for the week and played their instrument.  The students choose which class seemed to fit them best with the understanding that they could switch groups if needed. Each group would perform in concert at the end of the week. Wednesday evening after the evening concert, a raucous live auction was held. The proceeds defray costs and keep tuition as low as is possible. A silent auction was also underway. Donated items were artfully displayed around the lodge with bid sheets alongside. Bidders watched their special items to see if their bid was still good and settled up as the auction was completed the final night of camp.

Dave taught 16 students of all ages in Level Two fiddle. They met twice a day for an hour and worked on four tunes. The class performed Dave’s original tunes; Bluegrass Bounce, January Waltz and Going to Montana. He also taught them the Animus Valley Waltz. 
Everyone agreed that the weather had been as excellent as any in recent memory. Everything turned out well. Teaching, learning, picking, grinning, eating, sleeping, basking in the sun, carefully wading in the river, hiking, visiting, making friends and  making plans for next year. 

My special treat was a pencil drawing for my birthday present commissioned by Dave. Katelyn Buckley Swanson was the artist. She was extremely busy planning and executing the meals at camp but found time to frame and wrap my present. Thank you Katelyn, for the Great Blue Heron drawing. 

Luci’s 2017 Journey North, and West: Arizona to Nebraska

Our trip began with a quick side trip to Montezuma Castle ruins just off I-17 near Camp Verde. Historians say Southern Sinagua farmers built this five story, twenty room dwelling between 1100 and 1300 AD. Nearby was a 45 room castle like structure which is now in ruin. The Verde river is close by providing irrigation for corn, beans, squash and cotton. No one knows why these people left this area to migrate north to other villages or if they returned to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. 

Proving the “small world” theory, we saw music friends LuAnn and John Roos who just happened to be visiting this National Monument on their way to a Verde Valley Railroad excursion. 

Camping this first night after a swing through Winslow to see the “Standing on a Corner” statue, was at Homolovi State Park. North of Interstate 40 near Winslow Arizona, this park was established to protect the ruins of the Hisat’sinom (Anasazi) who lived here and farmed. They built Pueblos using stone and adobe construction. Today the Hopi people claim these people as ancestors and were instrumental in encouraging Arizona to preserve the area. The campsites had small trees, electricity and water and was perfect for our one night stay. We toured the ruins and I watched for birds. 

Onward through Arizona on I-40 to our destination KOA in Bernallilo New Mexico. It is Mothers Day, a perfect time to eat an early dinner at the Range Cafe. Yummy New Mexican style Mexican food and Lavender Cake for dessert. Lavender seeds top the cake. It looks like mice may have been gnawing but….just us. We took it home in a box and enjoyed it several times. 

The next night was spent at Clayton Lake State Park in New Mexico. The scenery changes that happen between Phoenix and the eastern plains of New Mexico are major in elevation, geology and ecology. Clayton Lake State park was built at the edge of a man made reservoir on the high plains where farming and cattle feeding are prominent. The wind was blowing, making us think about the dust bowl days. Our campsite had a gravel pad with electricity and water. Facilities included a large shelter for group meals with a sand volleyball court. The information cabin had a birding guide and information about dinosaur tracks that were found when the dam was built. I watched birds and Dave hiked over to the dam to see the tracks. I saw turkey vulture, cliff swallow, robin, lark sparrow, meadowlark, western kingbird, horned lark and canyon towhee. Here are the tracks!

One night and away we go again across the plains of a small part of Oklahoma and most all of Kansas. Our destination for this night is Chautauqua Park on the Solomon river. Electric hookups and water a picnic shade with a table and grass to park on. It was a warm day and humid! Old friends from teaching days at Sandy Creek, Wyatt and Vickie Frohling welcomed us. Their daughter has a nice bistro downtown Beloit called “Kettle” where we joined them for dinner. As we were eating a rain storm dumped three inches of rain. Consequently, we were stuck when we tried to leave the next morning.  A tow truck made short work of getting us back onto the pavement. A lesson learned? We’ll see.

Mary, Dave, Vickie, Wyatt and their grandson Wakefield at Kettle cafe. We ate breakfast there after getting unstuck. 

A fairly short drive north into Nebraska and to a spot for Luci at Camp Away just minutes from our kids in Lincoln. This is an opportunity to see the kids and grandkids, do our laundry and take a good shower. Daniel is just finishing seventh grade and has his last performance in Boys Choir of Lincoln this evening. Katie is taking end of year tests as a sophomore at Lincoln High.  Matt is at work at Nelnet and Jennifer at Tetrad. Dave and I get our chores done and are ready for the Choir performance and dinner at the Oven. 

The Brinkman guys at the Choir venue in Lincoln. 

Daniel and Katie on last day of classes. 

The next day we pick Katie up from school and take her to piano. The evening is spent cooking dinner and visiting. Katie and Daniel played their recital pieces and amazed us with their talent. The family is up and off to school and work. We are on the road again heading west to Hastings where we park in our son Ross’ apartment parking lot and stay in his guest room.  He has reservations for dinner this evening at Odyssey a nice resturant in downtown Hastings. We had a lovely meal and a good visit. Two nights catch us up. So good to see our kids and know they are doing well and hug the grandkids and find out their summer plans. We are lucky to have Face Time to be able to see them at any time. 

Riverside Park in Neligh is the next campsite. Green grass, electricity and water plus a shower house/restroom and wifi are the amenities. We are invited for dinner by Gloria and Brian Christiansen. Fried chicken with all the trimmings and pumpkin dessert. Can’t be beat. Jerry Schrader comes later to visit. It is good to see our friends from teaching days in Neligh and playing with Sweet Corn band. Lots of memories are shared and we get caught up on everyone and their kids. 

Brian and Gloria Christiansen. 

Two nights in Neligh and on west to Atkinson, our home town. My sister lives here and brother lives nearby in O’Neill. Luci has a nice gravel pad and full hook-ups at the Wheel In RV Park. Next to us is a park like lawn with bird feeders and lots of birds. Sandy’s house is our headquarters. We hang out there, cook and eat, pet cats, sort fabric, rearrange furniture and just relax. Dinner out with brother Robb and Sandy at the Flat Iron grill downtown Atkinson.  The next few days are spent catching up, sightseeing in the country where Sandy and I pick wild asparagus in lush green meadows in the misty rain with songbirds all around. Memories from childhood surround us. We are on property that once was owned by our grandparents and now belongs to a cousin. Meanwhile, Dave is playing fiddle tunes with friend Jay Kelly and getting ready for a reunion of his high school class of 1967. A side trip to Springview NE was made to see and play music with a bunch of friends at the Senior Center. 

LaVern Billingsley from Douglas WY and Jay Kelly from Atkinson. 

Vanessa Kenaston in above photo. Sharon Kenaston on bass, Roger Kenaston on dobro and Mary Channer Paul singing. 

Class of 1967 got together for dinner and lunch the next day. Some even made it to the Alumni Banquet! The class graduated 35; two are deceased and 19 attended the 50th class reunion. 

Memorial Day the Legion men are out early placing flags along the city highway and Legion women placing flags on veteran’s graves. Sandy, Dave and I take flowers to family graves in Atkinson and Stuart. 

After a last coffee with Sandy and a brief hug and visit with Uncle Lawrence, the last surviving Slaymaker of our father’s family, we took off across the sand hills for our last night in Nebraska at Fort Robinson State Park near Crawford NE.  Beautiful green hills and meadows, Angus, Hereford, Charlois cattle in pasture alongside Highway 20 and the vacated railroad now a walking/biking trail. Goodbye Nebraska and the first leg of our summer trip.

Bluegrass and Fiddle Season in AZ



As I write this blog in March, the desert is blooming. California poppies cover the hillsides and blue lupine are profuse along the roadsides.   

The AZ Season always starts for us with the State Fiddle Contest in September in Payson.  Dave fiddled and played guitar for other fiddlers. A special treat was seeing Katie Glassman perform with her excellent group.

In October the fiddlers, pickers and grinners gathered at Salome for a weekend of enjoyment. Performances were held on stage at the Lions Club house with fiddlers and other performers taking turns entertaining an appreciative audience.

The Wickenberg Bluegrass Festival begins the bluegrass season.  The November festival is held at the fairgrounds and the events are on a stage in the arena. A highlight for many is the “Ragtime Annie Joke Telling Contest” sponsored by Laura Barry and Corrine Garey. Impartial judges are appointed and hilarious jokes ensue.


Thanksgiving found us in the desert near Bouse AZ with Susie and Harold Pangle (turkey griller extraordinaire) and others. Meals were held out of doors in the warmest part of the day. Picking and fiddling were indoors in Pangle’s big fifth wheel trailer.


We made it to Nebraska to see our family in mid December. Matt and Jennifer were great hosts. Sandy and Ross were able to be with us as we celebrated Matt’s Birthday, Christmas and Jennifer winning a seat as Lancaster County commissioner.

Another December event was to join Pangle’s, Denny and Elaine Carlson, Jim and Juany Dixon, Harold’s daughter and family for Christmas in the desert on American Girl Mine Road near Yuma AZ. More picking and fiddling and petting Charly the poodle.


Back to Yuma we go as the new year rolls around. The first fiddle contest of 2017 is held at the Jaycee clubhouse. For Yumans, it is the kickoff of the rodeo week. The truck gardens in this lush valley are overflowing with produce; the salad basket of the USA. Camping alongside us are Denny and Elaine Carlson, Laura Barry and Tom Rude.

After the contest we follow the Carlson’s trailer to the Dome Valley of southwest Arizona and back our little Luci trailer into a sweet spot in Larry and Pat Rose’s yard. Electric hookup and fresh water are a plus! Already in place are the trailers of the Pangles, Diane and Arn Berg have made it from Montana, Jim and Juany Dixon from Idaho, Tom and Katie Bonn, also from Idaho. Evening meals are taken in a very well appointed “Chicken Coop.” Chairs are set in a circle and jamming happens. A grand piano sits in a corner. To the enjoyment of all, Susie plays the piano, Charly keeps her company near her feet and Dave plays the fiddle.

From the Dome Valley we head to Blythe California, just across the border from Arizona. Friends, Gary and Millie Vannoy have saved us a spot near their jam tent. Cool weather makes jamming inside the tent with propane heaters a good thing. This is a big festival. Jake and Jeannie Jacobs, friends from Washington state, always work here helping folks find a good spot to camp. Lots of good bands are performing on two stages and inside when the weather turned nasty. We enjoyed the Boxcars, Big Mill, Flint Hill Special, Flatt Lonesome, Old Blue Band, The Sonoran Dogs, John Reischman and the Jaybirds, Chris Jones and the Night Drivers and Justin Sherfey and Rye River. Three full days of music.

Back home in Surprise we welcomed Sandy for several days in February. We put a 2000 piece puzzle together, went shopping and cooked meals. She accompanied us camping in the desert on the mine loop road near Ajo AZ. We hiked and loved the desert views and sunsets and meals with all our friends who were camped there too.


We relocated to the Ajo Country Club for the fiddle contest. Dave and Katie competed in separate divisions and together in twin fiddling. Laura Barry’s kids and grandkids also competed. Lots of other good fiddlers were there too. Watching the resident Great Horned Owls was a treat for Sandy and me. She and I spent a day at the Sonoran Desert Museum near Tucson enjoying flora and fauna and especially the hummingbird pavilion. I found a very nice Navajo wedding basket at the gift shop.


We dropped Sandy off at Mesa Gateway Airport on our way to Safford Fiddle contest She made it back to Nebraska about the time we made it to our hotel in Safford. More good fiddling and fun watching Jess Barry and his three kids fiddle. Listening to Jess Barry and Jesse Stockman tear it up on their fiddles and guitars was a treat. John Kennedy was there from Mayer AZ, a smooth fiddler. Lots of competition made for a good contest.

Our son Ross flew down from Nebraska the third week of February. It was good to see him. He got in some golf, helped us shop for a new car and helped cook. We all took in a college baseball game that the Nebraska team was in. We also visited Taliesin West built by Frank Lloyd Wright.

As Ross was returning to Nebraska, we were heading for the fiddle contest at Tucson. This is a one day only contest that Dave had never been to.  We went early and had lunch with Tom and Katie who had parked their trailer at Billie’s place just west of the city. Laura Barry invited us to stay with her for the contest and had a great meal fixed. Sue and Bill Elsclager came over and pretty soon Jess and kids came plus Jesse Stockman and his son. The place was rocking.

The contest was held in a school gym  with a good amount of young fiddlers attending.  In the evening we went to Sue’s house and had pizza and a jam. Back at Laura’s house the band Crucial County was practicing. The place was still rocking and rollicking. Sunday Laura fixed a great breakfast, the menagerie departed and Laura suggested we visit San Xavier Del Bac mission. We piled into the big white truck with Tom driving and motored a few miles south of Tucson to see this white mission compound. The parking area was packed with church goers and sight seeing tourists. Food vendors were selling to everyone. The mission was spectacular. Beautifully restored and historically curated. It was stunning.


Now March is here and the days are longer and warmer. No need for two blankets on the bed in the trailer at the Lake Havasu Bluegrass on the Beach festival. Denny and Elaine had saved us a spot near them and Jake and Jeannie. The stage sat at one end of a lovely green lawn with the white sand beach and lake to one side. Great parking lot picking went on all hours. The Boxcars, Country Current, Kevin Prater band, Wayne Taylor, Bluegrass Etc. and more were on stage. Many of our snowbird friends said goodby and were heading home. We hope to see them all next year.

Dave will play with Nehemiah band and Jerry Dunnaway at the Glendale AZ Folkfest and the last festival will take place in Marana AZ at the end of March. Dave will be playing there with the Side of Grits band.  We look forward to hearing Crucial County there too.