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The Learning Curve

002Well, since yesterday I’ve learned to add another feature to the appearance of this blog – The Gallery that I titled “From the Road”.

As many of my posts are related to traveling I decided to create photo features of some of the places I’ve been.

The current collage is from the Gone With the Wind museum in Cleburne, Texas. You can read more about it here. The museum houses the collection of a Gone With the Wind “fanatic”, who I’m certain is not the only one!

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Blog Renovation

Do OverIt is well past midnight as I write this. I’ve been experimenting with various themes available at WordPress for presenting this blog to friends, family and the general public. For now I’ve settled on this new look. I don’t know how long it will be before I decide to change it again. The previous theme seemed ‘dated’ somehow, and I am observing that my posts might be more interesting, or eye-catching if placed onto a different framework.

For those of you who follow my posts, I welcome your thoughts about this new arrangement.

Tumacacori Fiesta 2014

Every first weekend in December, for 44 years, Tumacacori National Historical Park has presented two days of the Fiesta de Tumacacori. It’s a time when the community celebrates the cultural history and diversity in the Pima Alteria of southern Arizona and Sonora, Mexico.

TumacacoriFor the past four years I have been a volunteer at this event. This past weekend I gave two days to assist, and I had a great time. In the past I’ve photographed the dancers, musicians, and awesome views of the Santa Rita Mountains.

This year as a greeter and representative at the Tumacacori National Park Service booth I had the pleasure of presenting a new focus for the Discovery Center. The Discovery Center is a section of the fairgrounds filled with booths of hands-on activities, from writing with a quill pen to inspecting chain mail to making adobe bricks.

This year, those who visited the Discovery Center booths could receive rewards for collecting stamps on the printed programs they received when entering the fairgrounds. On returning to the NPS booth they could choose their reward based on the number of stamps they collected. The rewards were a book for five stamps, up to nine, and a metal Tumacacori water bottle for 10 or more. The smiles and giddiness of the children, and even the adults who participated were wonderful. The most selected items were the Tumacacori cook book with recipes by staff and volunteers, and the water bottles. I think it was a very successful new program for the Fiesta.

I also enjoyed talking with the members of the U.S. Border Patrol who brought a couple of horses from their horse patrol unit. These are fabulous horses that are trained to track and detain persons illegally entering the U. S. over rugged terrain. They are also trained to be around people. I took these photos of a little boy reaching out to touch them.

Boy with Horse

Mustang-Draft and Boy2This brown horse is a mustang-draft horse, a very unique breed. He is very large and requires a large rider. Currently he is backup horse and not on regular duty.

Another activity for children is the piñata. Twice daily children could try their luck. This is one of the piñatas they opened.

Pinata2For two days there was cultural food and music and dancing and demonstrations of traditional crafts such as Tohono O’odham basket weaving, making cornhusk flowers, and making leather and horsehair rope. And on Sunday there was a traditional processional and mass at the Mission of Tumacacori church.
For more information about Tumacacori National Historical Park, the horses of the U. S. Border Patrol, and the Tohono O’odham people you can visit these sites.

https://images.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search;_ylt=AwrTceIL8oVUocsAWM0PxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTBsOXB2YTRjBHNlYwNzYwRjb2xvA2dxMQR2dGlkAw–?_adv_prop=image&fr=yhs-mozilla-001&va=tumacacori+fiesta&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-001

http://www.nps.gov/tuma/historyculture/index.htm

http://www.tonation-nsn.gov/

http://www.borderpatroledu.org/2013/04/the-horses-of-the-border-patrol/

“Thirsty Ol’ Goats” Get Shaved for Charity

Terlingua - Cookoff 002-2Toward the end of last week my friend and I headed to Terlingua, Texas, a small western Texas town in the region of Big Bend National Park to experience the Terlingua Chili Cookoff. When we arrived we were surprised to learn that Terlingua was actually the site of two venues of chili cookoffs, one connected with the Chili Appreciation Society International (CASI), and one known as the Original Terlingua International Championship Chili CookOff (OTICCC). The latter is the one we decided to attend from Thursday through Sunday, based on the admission price – $25/person versus $40/person. As it turned out we chose the venue that we had learned of when we visited Tolbert’s Restaurant in Grapevine, TX this past August. What newbies we are!

As noted on its web site, “The OTICCC is a 501(c)(3) Corporation. The purpose of our Charter is to raise Money for Charity through the Love, Appreciation and Promotion of Chili!” The charity associated with this effort is the ALS Association.

Near the Rio Grande - Big Bend Ranch State Park
Near the Rio Grande – Big Bend Ranch State Park

Borrowing from the Big Bend Now web site, “(The cookoff) was founded in 1967 by Frank X. Tolbert, a Dallas journalist and author of the chili book “A Bowl of Red,” Carroll Shelby automotive genius and innovator, and others. The first cook-off featured Wick Fowler, chili expert and Texas journalist, cooking against H. Allan Smith, a New York reporter. Wick Fowler died of ALS a few years afterwards. He is the motivation behind these efforts.”

Tents and RVs of all descriptions, untethered to any hookups, dotted the dusty hills, along with privately rented privies.  And plenty of hopeful cooks pulled out their tents, tables, cookers and ingredients to stir up batches of their delicious specialties.

Big Bend-Terlingua 002-cropped

Terlingua - Cookoff 013

The competition included not only the celebration of chili, but also beans (pintos and black-eye peas mostly), salsa, chicken, ribs, brisket, and margaritas. Finalists received their trophies in an extended and suspenseful presentation on Sunday, and winners of various raffles were announced.

A judging table - with a judge from Arizona, on left
A judging table – with a judge from Arizona, on left
Containers of chili for judging
Containers of chili for judging

Terlingua Chili - Ol' Goats 001croppedA big feature of the event is showmanship, and in the effort to raise awareness and funds for the ALS Association one group found a unique way to do so. Within the cooking team of “Pants on the Ground” several members began growing goatees. They called themselves Thirsty Ol’ Goats, and for about six months while competing in other chili events they let their chin hair grow. On Friday they auctioned off Thirsty Ol’ Goat aprons, and whoever won an apron also won the honor of cutting off a Thirsty Ol’ Goat’s beard.

Thirsty Ol' Goats - Before
Thirsty Ol’ Goats – Before

Following submission of the final entries by chili competitors at high noon on Saturday, the apron winners met at the Thirsty Ol’ Goats’ “Barber Shop” to shave their ‘goat’. Now, these opportunities don’t come cheaply! One apron went for $2300! And then there was the counter bid to keep one of the Thirsty Ol’ Goats from getting shaved. The counter bid was final at $1700, in addition to the apron winner’s bid (which happened to be from the Thirsty Ol’ Goat’s wife who really wanted that goatee to come off!)

Outbidded - Hubby kept his goatee
Outbid – Hubby kept his goatee

Thirsty Ol' Goats - After
Thirsty Ol’ Goats – After

As things progressed, we had the bearded lady who attached a goatee to her chin and then had it trimmed. She wore it until the end of the event. And the Thirsty Ol’ Goat who had to keep his goatee had his head shaved – by his wife. Another participant also got his head shaved – I only saw it with the ‘Mohawk’ cut, and I don’t know if he went totally shaved.

His shirt says it all.
His shirt says it all.
The Mohawk
The Mohawk

So, all in the name of Fun, and with the spirit of charity, the OTICCC raised approximately $35,000-$40,000 (maybe more) to benefit the ALS Association.

Other venues at this event offered Bear Whiz (I think it was apple cider), and a chili history museum. My friend and I even had the opportunity to judge the black-eye pea entries – 14 in all at our table. We are now doing research into how we can enter these contests ourselves – Yikes!

I was tagged - "You've been Bear Whizzed"
I was tagged – “You’ve been Bear Whizzed”

Here are some links that might be of interest.
Tolbert’s Restaurant – http://www.tolbertsrestaurant.com/about/about.htm

OTICCC – http://www.abowlofred.com/news.htm

Article at Big Bend Now – http://bigbendnow.com/2014/10/two-terlingua-chili-cookoffs-this-weekend/

ALS Association – http://www.alsa.org/about-als/what-is-als.html

The WASP Nest

WASP Museum croppedI recently began another explorative journey with a travel partner, and on Monday we left Tucson with a small toy-hauler, loaded with two recumbent trikes, in tow behind the pickup, heading for parts of Texas, mostly unknown to me.

On Wednesday, as we drove toward Dallas, we saw the sign that read “WASP Museum”, located in Sweetwater, Texas. Being curious, we took a small detour and stopped there, at Avenger Field, the training ground for the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II.

The information about these brave and adventurous women is astounding. The museum has handprints of many of the women who earned their wings to fly several different aircraft, often as the first pilots of the aircraft.

Aircraft

In 2010 NPR did a story on these women who filled the void of pilots needed during the war. You can read it at http://www.npr.org/2010/03/09/123773525/female-wwii-pilots-the-original-fly-girls

As mentioned in the article President Obama signed a bill awarding the WASP the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor given by the U. S. Congress. Although this was a civilian award, the WASP eventually were given military status in the 1970s.

Upon graduation from their pilot training they received their silver wings…Wasp Logo

The WASP wings–perhaps the most unique wings in all the world, were designed for the WASP–with a diamond in the center that symbolizes the shield of Athena–Greek goddess of war, take center stage on the floor of the hangar. Standing at the top of the WASP Wings is a bronze statue of Fifinella loaned to the museum by the Sweetwater Woman’s Forum. ( http://waspmuseum.org/about/)

Rather than paraphrase the history of how Fifinella became the mascot of the WASP, here is the explanation provided by Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gremlins):

Fifinell 2

The Gremlins is a children’s book, written by Roald Dahl and published in 1943.[1] It was Dahl’s first children’s book, and was written for Walt Disney Productions, as a promotional device for a feature-length animated film that was never made.

The story concerns mischievous mythical creatures, the Gremlins of the title, often invoked by Royal Air Force pilots as an explanation of mechanical troubles and mishaps.[4] In Dahl’s book, the gremlins’ motivation for sabotaging British aircraft is revenge of the destruction of their forest home, which was razed to make way for an aircraft factory. The principal character in the book, Gus, has his Hawker Hurricane fighter destroyed over the English Channel by a gremlin, but is able to convince the gremlins as they parachute into the water that they should join forces against a common enemy, Hitler and the Nazis, rather than fight each other.

Eventually, the gremlins are re-trained by the Royal Air Force to repair rather than sabotage aircraft, and restore Gus to active flight status after a particularly severe crash.[N 3] The book also contains picturesque details about the ordinary lives of gremlins: baby gremlins, for instance, are known as widgets, and females as fifinellas, a name taken from the great “flying” filly racehorse Fifinella, that won both the Epsom Derby and Epsom Oaks in 1916, the year Dahl was born.

Fifinella WASP“It was “The Order of Fifinella” and Fifinella, of course, was our little good gremlin that took care of us and sat on our wings, supposedly. Walt Disney made the design and we got permission to use it and that’s how we started “The Order of Fifinella.” ~ Faith Buchner Richards, 43-W-4, Oral History (http://www.twu.edu/library/wasp-fifinella.asp)

Too often women’s history has been moved aside, allowed to fade, only to become almost a myth, it seems to me. So stumbling onto this museum has given me the motivation to once again put at the forefront a women’s history of powerful, brave, adventurous, and daring women who prevailed during a difficult time in this country’s history. These women were the women of my mother’s generation. They stepped forward into a “man’s world” to show that they could achieve on an equal basis the same as  men, and maybe more.

 

Triker on the Road Again

015Last year I purchased a Terra Trike Rambler model recumbent tricycle.  I rode it nearly every day from the day of purchase until the weather in Tucson got to be too cold to ride.  Over that time I lost 15 pounds, And then the winter set in.

Since spring I’ve been riding on and off, it seems, not getting into a regular routine.  I think I can attribute this to the fact that last year I was riding with a partner who was helping me learn about cycling.  And this year I’m on my own when it comes to setting out for a ride.

Over the nearly one year I’ve been riding I’ve had three spills.  The first one, about a month after I began was the worst, with large bruises, a numb rear end and pain for several months.  But I got back on that trike two days afterward and kept riding.  Two weeks later I had another spill.  Both of these I attributed to operator error in learning about the ‘character’ of my vehicle, although I was concerned that the brakes were too ‘grabby’.  Following that second spill I seemed to be done with that until…

A couple of months ago I was riding with another rider on the local Tucson bike path when I had another event.  Each of these was connected to an abrupt ‘panic’ style stop.  And each time the brakes grabbed quickly and threw me out of the seat.  After this last time, I waited until my scrapes and my psyche healed up.  And then I took the trike to the bike shop to have the brakes adjusted.

(As an aside, this third spill was followed on the same ride by a near miss from a car that clipped my left wheel as I crossed a road toward the end of our ride.  Although I looked, and signaled my intention, apparently the car was in my blind spot, and he had barely enough time to react.  Another reason for my resting psyche.)

That was about two weeks ago, on a Friday.  I went on a group ride the next day and during the ride I noticed that I had a squeaking sound on my left wheel and the brakes were very uneven when braking a coast downhill.  After the ride one of my riding companions assisted me in readjusting the brakes.  We got the left wheel/disk brake adjusted, but when we tried to adjust the right wheel/disk brake the spring gave way, so that the brake was non-functional.

The trike went back to the shop the same day and I picked it up the next day, supposedly fixed.  I didn’t check it out before loading it into my car, waiting to do so until the day before the next ride.  This was a wrong move on my part. The right brake was stiff and noisy and not acceptable to me.  I called one of the members of the recumbent group to see if he could help me.  Luckily he doesn’t live too far from me and he agreed to try to get that right brake adjusted better.  When I went home I was satisfied that things were good.

On Saturday (last) the group met again for a ride. I realized I had a flat tire I didn’t know about until the morning so the group was delayed in their start in order for me to change tubes.  Timing is everything, because as I was taking care of this chore, two more two-wheel recumbent riders joined us – they were late. So we finally left.  Five miles into the ride my right brake failed again and I couldn’t continue the trek through town.  One of the late arrivals to our outing graciously volunteered to ride back to their truck and pick me up.

So once again I took the trike to the bike shop after they opened that morning.  The owner was very surprised to see me.  I told him that something was definitely wrong and just repairing it was not acceptable.  He said the manufacturer had just recently provided instructions about their brakes (what?!!!) And once again I left the trike.

I received a call on Tuesday to say the trike was ready for pickup.  Later in the day I drove over to get it.  There was no written indication of what they did to it, but I did notice that the brake assembly on both wheels had been replaced. This time I took the vehicle for a ride to get a feel for the brakes before loading it into the car.  They worked perfectly, and didn’t grab, even though I tried to get them to. So I took the trike home in preparation for the next ride with the group, which is tomorrow.  I want to thank the owner of Ajo Bikes for making the changes and adjustments himself, and for placing the cost of the changes on a warranty basis.

Look Ma, No Hands croppedLate Wednesday afternoon a member of the group invited anyone who wanted to to ride with her near her home in Sonoita, AZ on Thursday.  I decided to put my trike to the test, so early in the morning yesterday I drove the 30 miles from my house to Sonoita.  The day was overcast and therefore not too hot.  We got started about 7:30 and rode 16 miles round trip over some very hilly country, on a main highway.  Although there was traffic the drivers were pretty mannerly by moving away from us as they passed. We did the ride in about two hours, making it about eight miles an hour, which is not too bad for those slow hills!

Then we rode together in my car to Patagonia to check out another possible ride.  We stopped in a restaurant and split a breakfast meal – the perfect size!  Then to the coffee cafe for some java and very sweet cookie bar.  We were both so tired from our ride we could hardly move!

I took my friend home and as I left a thunder storm was approaching. I took photos of some of the hills we conquered on our ride while driving back to Tucson.  I look forward to our outing tomorrow morning, and expect all to go very well. Very well, indeed.

This photo is the turn-around point of our ride, at the Border Patrol check-point, eight miles north of Sonoita.

Shanty Lilies and Sonoita 018cropped

 

 

 

 

Shanty Lilies and Sonoita 012

Storm coming in Sonoita

 

 

RV Friendships

032croppedIt’s been quite a happy idea that even though I’m ‘off the road’ I can still travel and visit friends that I’ve made through RVing.  This past weekend I had quite a good time visiting with my friend in Sierra Vista (Arizona).  He’s been wintering there now for the past couple of years.  In the summers he can be found in Colorado.  A few weeks ago he called me about coming to Tucson to visit and hike in Sabino Canyon, northeast of Tucson.  We had a good time, enjoyed a nice lunch, and I was invited to visit in Sierra Vista.

I’d been wanting to camp for a while and had checked out a campground on the western side of Tucson, a place where I could also ride the trike.  Another option I considered was traveling to Organ Pipe National Monument where I’d volunteered a couple of years ago.  I still have friends there.  But I decided to take my friend up on his offer, and went to Sierra Vista.

I ‘camped out’ in my car, parked next to my friend, and was given a key to the ladies room/shower, and had plenty of roadway to ride the trike in the RV park.  We shared our food and had lots of conversation.  We talked about how it is to be older folks, still wanting companionship and maybe a little romance, and he caught me up on some of the gossip from the RV club we both belong to.  The phrase that we found common to all of our conversation was “That’s what (we, they) do.”

010On Saturday we went to Ramsey Canyon and took a leisurely walk up the hill to view the birds and plants that were presenting their spring colors.  It was an overcast day, so it didn’t get very hot.  The climb was easy because we were going slowly.  A very nice way to spend a couple of hours.

On Sunday we went to the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area along the San Pedro River, just a few short miles from the RV park.  There we saw and listened to the birds that draw so many visitors.  The cottonwood trees along both sides of the river were green and beautiful.  The river itself was very low, and dry in some places.  Desert drought has been hard on nature there, and elsewhere in the desert.

I’d not been to Sierra Vista before – only drove through it on my way back from New Mexico after my Thanksgiving visit to the club’s headquarters.  The traffic was awful and for the 30 miles to the interstate from there it was hell.  My friend, however, gave me directions that allowed me to miss the traffic this time, and I was much happier about that!

From time to time I hope to travel to the places where my RV friends are staying.  Meeting up, even though I no longer have my rig, is fun.  I so enjoy knowing that I can get around the country, and am able to talk to others about places we’ve seen.  And as I don’t have too many friends in Tucson yet, and I love to travel, visiting the friends I made while on the road makes traveling very enjoyable.