Thursday, March 7, 2013

Return to Lost Dutchman State Park

Sarah had a good time at Monte Vista RV Park while I was in Massachusetts. She spent every day in the metals and lapidary studios. Resulting in new sterling ring with a beautiful fire agate. It's not quite finished. She still has a few other small stones to add. But, it is a very nice piece.

Early Saturday morning we got ready to move back to Lost Dutchman State Park. We have learned that when one doesn't have a reserved campsite, it is best to arrive shortly before checkout time in order to have the best chance of getting a non-reserved or overflow site. Having been at this park before, we knew how nice the overflow section is. As luck would have it, there was one site left. It was right next to the site we had occupied on our last visit. We paid for 3 nights, with the ability to extend for up to two weeks.
Moon rise at Lost Dutchman State Park

After getting settled in, we decided to climb to the top of the "Flat Iron". It was just after noon and the temperature was 73 degrees. With the bright sun, we were quite warm at the beginning of our climb. Soon, however, there was a cool breeze coming down Siphon Draw that we were ascending. The trail is rough and as one gets higher it is not very well marked. We got off the trail a few times and had to scramble and climb to find it again. In some places where the trail is well marked, the ascent can be a challenge requiring short climbs over vertical rock or long stretches walking up steep exposed ledge.
Sarah decides to do a little bouldering
We haven't seen many reptiles, but Sarah found this pretty one

We gained 2,800 vertical feet and were rewarded with dramatic views from atop the Flat Iron. I admit that I had butterflies in my stomach as I approached the cliff overlooking our campsite. The descent was not as difficult as the climb, but we had to stop and rest our poor legs. Taking large steps down from high rocks put a strain on our screaming quads. We had a real case of "sewing machine leg". The round trip took about 5 hours. I estimate that the climb felt like about doing four Tuckerman Ravine head walls.
Yes, it is as steep as it looks
The top of the Flat Iron was like being on the bow of  a 2,000 foot high ship

In the short time we have spent in the desert we have learned the importance of hydration. Even without physical exertion it is necessary to drink lots of water during the day. Sarah and I took a gallon of water. We finished the water just as we came off the steep part of the trail. Still, I drank a couple pints more when we got back before I even thought about having a beer.

The town of Carefree, just north of Scottsdale, hosts an annual arts and wine festival. Sarah knew about one of the artists showing work there, so it was must do for us. A website promoting the event advised those attending to arrive early to avoid the traffic that inevitably occurs. We took that advice and were rewarded with a very convenient parking space. As we wandered around looking for a place to have breakfast, a gate attendant pointed us to a nearby cafe. The cafe has an outdoor patio looking out onto the event. The cafe was not busy, only 5 or 6 tables were occupied, but the service was excruciatingly slow and the two wait persons bordered on rude. Fortunately, we had plenty of time and accepted the service for what it was.  Sarah and I both had the breakfast burrito. They were very well made but they were huge. One would have been enough for both of us to share. That is one downside to eating in unfamiliar restaurants, especially when you can't observe what other diners had on their tables.

Shortly after finishing our breakfast, the gates opened and we strolled through the grounds to see the works of all the different artists. We were both unimpressed with the majority of the art that was for sale. I would classify most of it as garish, awkward and unoriginal. Of course, there were some outstanding exceptions; pottery from Nicaragua, Native American woven rugs, jewelry by Kit Carson, and beautiful alabaster vessels.  Sarah bought a beautiful pendant from Kit.
Beautiful pottery from Nicaragua by Santiago Guitierrez
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High quality woven rugs by Mendez rugs
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The Musical Instrument Museum was not very far from our route back to Apache Junction. I had seen advertising for it, but had not made it a priority until a friend of Sarah's who had been there told us it was not to be missed. She was correct. The MIM is impressive for the size, scope and engineering of the display of its immense collection. Despite the ache and pains from the previous day's hike and having been on our feet all morning, we could not stop until we had seen the entire museum and were told that it was finally closing time. An outstanding feature of this museum was the use of LCD screens and portable personal audio devices that automatically linked to the screen that one stands in front of. There is an LCD and short videos for each country whose musical instruments are on display. The videos show the instruments being played by the people of that country in typical settings. In addition, there is a section of the museum dedicated to musicians who had a major influence in American music.
The personal audio device automatically tuned to the video that you are watching. 

Steel Drums, invented in Domincan Republic. Nice explanation of how the drums are made.

Colorful drums and masks from Bahamas

Native American Loon flute

'57 Fender Amplifier and Stratocaster

Many exhibits dedicated to musicians that made major contributions to their art.

Beautiful collections of many types of instruments.

Janis Joplin's "hummingbird" made by Gibson. she played this when she recorded "Me and Bobby McGee"

Many individual instruments that represent their genre, here is a classic Cajun accordian  

Many instruments played by famous musicians. Here is John Denver's grandmother's guitar that he began playing when he was nine years old. The guitar was lost for five years and when he found it, he wrote the song "This Old Guitar"

Elvis' last performance guitar. Martin D-28 made around 1974. My D-28 is only a couple years younger. Proof that the guitar is only the instrument. It takes talent to make real music.

Do we really need a caption?

The very first Steinway. Made in Germany in his kitchen.

George Benson's "johnny Smith" by Gibson

John Lennon's Steinway Upright at which he composed "Imagine" 

One would think, that after such a busy two days we would sit back and relax for the rest of the evening. Not so. We had one more destination on our agenda, dinner at Filly's Roadhouse. Just four miles from the park, we had stopped there when my mom was with us. But, Filly's would have been too long a wait that night. When Sarah and I arrived this evening we were told there would be a 30 minute wait for a table in the dining room. But, I spotted an empty table in the bar area and was told we could take that if we wished. Of course, we would take it.

Some of the reviews I found about Filly's on the internet painted a bleak picture. Honestly, anyone that walks into Filly's with any power of observation, and believes they are going to get five star service needs to reassess their reasoning ability. This is a roadhouse, it is rough around the edges. Our waitress took a while to find us and take our order for drinks. I had to ask for a glass of water. When she brought the water, it was one for me, not one for Sarah also. Clearly, she thought that if Sarah wanted one, Sarah would have asked. But, when that water glass was empty, as soon as our waitress spotted it, the glass was refilled. I ordered the "special", a buffalo burger and Sarah ordered the spicy catfish.
Filly's Roadhouse

Our seats near the bar gave us a good view of the stage upon which a country/western band was playing some decent music. Sarah and I both thought the lead singer to be the weakest part of the band. I thought he seemed out of place. Just as we mentioned this to each other, he left the stage and was replaced by another singer who had been seated at a table near us in the bar. We realized that this was a form of live karaoke. Singers could just come up and sing with the band. Unlike karaoke, there was no teleprompter for the lyrics and the band could adjust tempo and key for the singers. As with any karaoke, some performers were very good and enthusiastically welcomed by the crowd, others were only politely applauded. There were no really bad performers.

Despite our sore muscles Sarah and I joined the many other happy couples on the crowded dance floor for a few numbers. From our vantage point, we could see people coming and going through the front door. New arrivals immediately greeted or were greeted by those already here. Clearly, this roadhouse was populated by a lot of "regulars", many wearing Filly's t-shirts or sweatshirts.  At one point, we observed two young women entering. The were dancing as they passed through the door into the bar. The joy that the people experienced here was on display everywhere, even by the broad smiles on their faces as they left.

Reluctantly, we left the revelry of Filly's by 9 PM for a softer and quieter seat in front of a campfire by the Mary Joan. We burned small pieces of bone dry Palo Verde that would be consumed quickly because we knew we would soon be ready for sleep.

So ended another day. Tomorrow is a day of important errands. Mary Joan will get her bearings re-greased and her breaks inspected. The truck has a minor leak in the power steering system that needs to be addressed. Stay tuned.

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