We finish out 2018: Lots of activities but not all involving Luci II

A new travel trailer and hot temperatures in Phoenix this September help us decide to get away into the high country. We camped just north of Payson at Houston Mesa Campground. We got a big pull through site with good privacy. This campground has a nice trail and an amphitheater for programs. Strawberry and Pine and the Tonto National Forest are summer retreats for many “Phoenicians”. There was a little rain around but it only added to the beauty of the drive from Payson to the Monument.

The Natural Bridge Visitor Center has an information office and gift shop. The building can be rented by groups for family reunions or conferences. The park has a paved lot with lots of parking and various trails to hike to the Natural Bridge. The trail to the bottom of the canyon is rather steep but there are nice walkways and handrails at the bottom.

You can climb rocks at your own risk and scramble to the other side of the bridge then take another trail back to the top. This was not encouraged.

The oldest school in Arizona is in Strawberry. We stopped to see it. We also stopped for an ice cream cone.

Later on in September Dave played for a fun evening with his regular jamming buddies at the Desert Rose Steakhouse in Glendale AZ.

Dave, Charlie Ray Robinson, Rick Rhodes and Dennis Talbert

Dave also played with Jerry Dunaway for his set.

The cactus near our front patio was full of blooms near the end of September.

The Arizona State Fiddle Contest is always held in the last week of September at the Fairgrounds in Payson. The weather cooperated this year for lots of good fiddling.

Ellie fiddled and her Dad, Jess Barry, accompanied her.

Maggi Cucitro was also in Ellie’s division. Dave helps her with her tunes.

Dave fiddled, backed by Corrine Geary and Laura Barry then Corrine fiddled, backed by Dave. John Kennedy did a nice job being emcee.

This bus photo showed up on Facebook. In an earlier time, we would see it and the owner, Gordon Whitten, at a festival in Nebraska. It sure looks lonesome.

In October, we went to the Greek Festival in Phoenix at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. Good food, crafts, dancing, cute kids.

Lamb on the spit.

A trip to Lake Pleasant north of Phoenix capped off the month of October. We had a great camping spot, level pad and shaded table and a wonderful view. Trails around the reservoir will take you to the visitor center above the dam.

Tom and Katie Bonn were going by and stopped to visit. We would see them again soon in Salome AZ for the fall jamboree camp out.

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The Salome fiddle event is the first weekend in November. Other Salome camp outs happen in January and March (before the weather gets too hot and all the snowbirds fly).

Dave and Terry Schwindt (wintering in Yuma) share some tunes. Sue Elsclager from Tucson is probably playing her rendition of “Sunrise on the Guinea Farm”. Janet Shelby also wintering in Yuma can play a wonderful version of Dave’s “Arizona Twilight Waltz”.

The sign up sheet for the Saturday evening entertainment. Since this is a fiddle event, fiddlers get to play every other time slot.

Over at Tom and Katie’s house after the show, someone made “snakebites”. Good conversation and fellowship.

Wickenburg Bluegrass Festival is our first festival of the season. It is held in mid November and is the closest festival of all for us at 35 miles. We arrive on Wednesday for the weekend festival and occupy our usual spot.

We take the opportunity to climb one of the hills. Can you see our Airstream in the sparsely populated campground?

Gary and Millie Vannoy soon arrive in their motor coach. Time to play some tunes and sing a few songs. We help Gary deploy his picking tents. Millie organized a memorial and pot luck supper in memory of Doug Piper who was one of the founding members of Traditional Bluegrass band. He died of cancer this year.

Bluegrass Band Headliners this year were Mountain Heart, Old Blue Band and Hillbilly Fever. Also on the line up are contests for fiddle, banjo, mandolin, guitar and vocals.

Corrine Geary and Laura Barry accompany Dave on his tunes in the fiddle contest. I regret not moving aside and getting a better angle on this photo.

Dave backs up Corrine and Maggi Cucitro and seems to enjoy the experience.

After the fiddling, the Barry adults pose for a family photo. Corrine Geary, Laura Barry, Amy’s Mom, Amy and Jess Barry; fiddlers all. They were hanging around the stage to see Ellie Barry and other young talent play with Hillbilly Fever.

Our kids; Matt and Jennifer and family, Katie and Daniel; and son Ross, live in Nebraska. They invited us to Lincoln for Thanksgiving. We were lucky with the weather, only one snowstorm while we were there. We had a great time staying with Ross in his well appointed apartment and enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving feast at Matt and Jennifer’s welcoming home.

On Thanksgiving morning, Ross and I made stuffing, stuffed the turkey and put it in the oven. Then I got dressed and we went over to the party, returning for the turkey just in time for dinner.

Sandy, my sister, was there with friend, Katie Brown. Daniel played through some music for his grandad. Jennifer’s dad, Rick and wife Laura brought pies. Rick mashed the potatoes. I made the gravy. The table was beautiful and we all ate until we couldn’t eat any more. Thank you all for a memorable holiday. Dave even got to go to a Nebraska men’s basketball game one evening.

Good friends, Joyce and Jay Kelly from our hometown of Atkinson were in Lincoln having Thanksgiving with their kids and were on their way to Texas for the winter. They came over to see us at Matt and Jennifer’s house. The guys played some fiddle tunes, Joyce shared her paper craft with us and Jennifer played some Christmas music.

Before we left, we all had a rousing game of UNO! Good fun. We laughed a lot. We got a school picture of Daniel and Katie’s Senior photo.

Time flys and so did we, back home to Surprise. No snow! More music awaits in AZ.

Barn dance time in Sonoita AZ. Susie Pangle got a band organized to play for her cousins Richard and Mary. A fine band it was, too.

Jimmie Dixon played and sang.

Terry Schwindt played guitar and sang. Mary, his wife came along for company and to see a new part of Arizona. She and I took walks along the roads but not into the wash below the house. There might be snakes.

Dave played banjo and fiddle. Susie played dobro and bass and sang. They made lots of good music.

The barn was decorated, Arn and Diane Berg danced. Folks feasted on barbecue by Richard and pot luck contributed by everyone. There were cold and hot drinks and mittens for chilly fingers.

Susie and Harold Pangle organized the event and the sound system.

Dave and I enjoyed the weekend camaraderie.

After the evenings festivities, we gathered for a photo in front of Mary’s beautiful tree. Charly the dog was there too.

Dave plays with this group, the Whistling Porch Band. They perform occasionally. On this evening they played at the Peoria AZ library’s Monday Night Melodies. Band members are Ken Killebrew on bass with some vocals, Steve Christiansen does vocals and rhythm guitar, Ray Scalf on lead guitar. He sings a bit too. Dave fiddles and does a few vocals. There was a good crowd on hand this evening.

Dave also plays fairly regularly with Steve and Ken in a band called All In Cash. Steve does a Johnny Cash tribute and sounds just like the Man in Black. Dave plays fiddle and keyboard in that group.

Another band Dave plays with is Dry Heat. This band plays often. Members include Mike and Carol Blackburn, Tony Miller and Dave. Dry Heat has been performing popular and gospel tunes in this area for many years. Dave plays fiddle and banjo with them.

Sandy came for a visit mid December. We visited, shopped, cooked, watched birds and took short trips.

This Costa’s hummingbird visited the feeder just outside Sandy’s window several times a day. He posed nicely for this photo.

On one short trip to Wickenberg, we hiked the trails at the Hassayampa Nature Preserve. We saw lots of birds but we were startled by this Great Blue Heron just standing near the trail. He must have been napping. He didn’t seem bothered at all by our nearness.

Sandy came with us to a jam in the Cave Creek neighborhood in north Phoenix. Millie and Gary Vannoy hosted the jam and potluck.

Many of our bluegrass friends were on hand for this breaking up Christmas jam. There were grinners as well as pickers enjoying this well decorated house.

We enjoyed a lovely meal at Portofino’s before Sandy had to return to the snowy Sandhills of Nebraska. Her visit brightened our Christmas. Come again soon, my sister.

Our kids. Matt and Jennifer, Katherine and Daniel. Christmas 2018

Our other kid. Ross and his new car! It was a good year. Hope yours was too.

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