Monday, February 21, 2011

Yuma, Algodones, and Dates

      We took advantage of the extra day off that President's Day gave me to take a trip to Yuma and cross over the border into Algodones, Mexico.    
       I work in Parker, Arizona, which is now in La Paz County.  But at one time it was part of Yuma County.  In the early 1980s they divided the county into two parts.   The northern part became La Paz.  So it was closer to leave from work on Friday than drive home and back-track down to Yuma the next day.  
      The drive was a fairly straight shot down Rt 95 through Quartzsite and into Yuma.   I was hoping to see some wildlife since a couple of wildlife refuges border the highway, but they were hiding.  
       We stayed at a Clarion that was clean and comfortable.   Close to lots of restaurants and only 10 miles from Algodones.   We planned to cross the border on Saturday morning, which we did, but earlier than expected.    We were rudely awakened by unexpected and very loud thunder early Saturday morning.    The usual sunshine that Yuma is known for was nowhere to be seen.   Rain was pouring and puddling around the motel.
        By the time we got ready to leave the rain had slacked off, but it drizzled off and on past noon.   But it didn't stop us from having a fun time in Algodones.
        The border is easy to cross going into Mexico.  Just drive up to the parking lot, park your car, and walk across.  The imaginary line that causes the politicians so much worry around here didn't bother any of us.  Coming back in took a lot longer due to computer problems, but we didn't know that was coming.
     In Mexico, everyone was friendly and eager to sell you their items.  The rain kept a few of the street vendors away for a while, but they returned later.   It takes a bit to get used to the constant attention of people wanting you to look at their stuff, but everyone was polite about it.
     We were on a mission to check out drug prices for when I retire and no longer have prescription coverage.   The prices were very low on some items, but still high on some specialty items.   But they were all definitely lower than what things cost here without insurance.    And I don't need a prescription for any of the drugs over there.   Very handy.   Lots of people were going to the dentists there due to the much lower cost.  Everyone seemed happy with the quality, too.
      I priced new glasses, too, but decided to hold off on them for a while.
     After checking out pharmacies and opticians, I was ready for some fun shopping.  We met a really nice man named Fix in Casa del Sol.  He makes decorative metal items, and I couldn't resist the lovely sun he made.
     In addition to being a good artist, he was a really good sport.  He spoke Spanish with me, even though I am just learning and must have hurt his ears.      His sculpture now decorates our casita.

      We had lunch in a small cafe that had really good food and even better atmosphere.   We would have eaten outside in the courtyard, but the rain had left all of the chairs too wet to use.   But we were treated to some unexpected entertainment inside when a young musician began playing and singing his guitar.   He was very good.
     After lunch in Mexico, we returned to Yuma and toured the historic district.   I found a rubber stamp store, and Kent found a wine shop.  We were both happy campers and came home with some souvenirs.   Mine will last longer. 
      We had a great dinner at an Italian restaurant, Ciao Bella.  I had Seafood Fettuccine that was fantastic.   Kent tried their Eggplant Parmesan and said it was very good, too.   The decor was eclectic elegant, with candles, white table clothes, flowers, and a variety of small lamps that gave it a quaint, comfortable feel.
      The next morning we went back to the Historic District.   We wanted to have breakfast at the Garden Cafe     They are known for their Swedish pancakes that are made healthy with oatmeal and served with ligonberries.   Kent said they were delicious.   I had a Southwest Quiche, which was cheesy and packed with fresh vegetables.   
       Next door to the Cafe is a museum that has a large display of birds.   We loved sitting outside on the patio watching the birds while we ate breakfast.   It was still chilly, but they turned on gas heaters that made it possible to enjoy the outdoors.   
       After breakfast we decided to head home since it was too chilly to do any walking around the town.   I wanted to see camels, too, which I thought were at Dateland, Arizona.    It turned out I was wrong, but we did find the famous Date Shakes.   Yummy!!!!
      So after looking at this Post, I realize we pretty much ate our way through Yuma.   Not a bad way to spend a weekend.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Drinkin' in the Desert - The Nellie E. Saloon

     Last weekend I went with friends from work to the Nellie E. Saloon, or Desert Bar as the locals call it. It’s fun, quirky, and remote. The Bar is located 5 miles into the Buckskin Mountains on a winding, up and down trail-of-a-road called Cienega Springs Road, outside of Parker, Arizona, off of State Route 95.

     Jackie drove us in her HUGE truck since she knew the way and her truck is tough. I’m not sure my Accord could have made the trip in and out. Most of the vehicles in the parking lot were trucks, jeeps, ATVs, or otherwise desert-prepared.
Taken from the parking lot looking toward the Bar.   Solar panels are the only source of power here.

There’s a chapel in the parking lot that the owner built. It’s open so you can enjoy God’s handiwork more. But we didn’t spend much time here-- we had come to find the Bar! From the parking lot you cross a covered, wood bridge to reach it.

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      The site was once copper mine called the Nellie E. A man named Ken bought the land in 1975. The full story is at The Desert Bar.
     The Nellie E. Saloon is unique. The main level has a really cool bar with wagon wheels and mining memorabilia adding the ambiance. There’s a lower lever with more food options, and an upper level with umbrella tables and a really great view. Tina, another friend, works at the grill in the lower level so we bought our lunch there. My sandwich was great—grilled beef smothered with onions and peppers. Yummy! Restrooms are up another hill, and there’s a great view of the mountains from the Ladies.

     The Bar got some bad reviews in a web site I’ve seen, but I think that’s unfair. The Bar is limited but it’s in the middle of the desert. No one should expect it to be “Cheers”. Its uniqueness is part of the charm. A major complaint was the limited hours. It’s only open on the weekends from Labor Day to Memorial Day. But the population of Parker is small, and summers here are way too hot to have folks driving into the desert to go to a Bar.

     Just like in “Field of Dreams”, if you build a bar, people will come. We got there early, before the place officially opened, in order to get a parking spot. By the time we left a few hours later, the place was packed. The band was really good, too, and played a variety of old favorites.   We had such a great time; we’re all planning our next trip.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hoop Dancers - Senior Division

Brian Hammill  

     The Senior Division in the Hoop Dance Competition is  for dancers over 40.    We saw six competitors initially, from which three were chosen for the Final Round.    Brian Hammill was one of the ones who made it into the Final Round.  He is HoChunk and from Wisconsin.

Montee Sinquah is Hopi, Tewa, and Choctan.

Daniel Tramper is Cherokee.   He was also selected for the Final Round.

Celina Cada Matasawagon, who is Ojibway, was the only woman in the Senior Division. 

Tommy Draper is Navajo.   He was a crowd pleaser.  He made a dragon or perhaps it was a dragon fly.  Very unique.   He was the third dancer to make it into the Final Round..  

Allenroy Paquin is Ticaricca Apache. 
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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tony Duncan - Hoop Dance Champion

   Tony Duncan, pictured below, became the World Champion Hoop Dancer today.   Check out for information about him.

Hoop Dances at the Heard

      This weekend was the 21st Annual Heard Museum World Championship Hoop Dance Contest.  Native dancers from across the U.S. and Canada competed for the title of World Champion.   Yesterday everyone danced, from toddlers to seniors.  Then the judges began selecting the best dancers from the teens through seniors, the ages that compete for prized money.  
     We saw the Second Round of the Adult and Senior dancers, and the final rounds for everyone.   We arrived early and stayed all day, but left before the final votes were tallied.  I'll post the winner later,  but they are all champions in my mind. 
      Here are a few of the dancers from the Adult Final Round.
     Jasmine Rae Pickner, who is Crow, Creek and Sioux, was the only woman in the Final Round.  I love her dancing.   She is graceful and has the most unique style.  She makes baskets out of the hoops, which I had never seen before.    I'll post more of her pictures later.  

Tony Duncan is San Carlos Apache and from Mesa.   
     The hoop represents the Circle of Life and the continuous cycle of summer and winter, day and night, male and female.  The dancers are judged on speed, precision, timing or rhythm, showmanship, and creativity. 

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Lane Jensen is Navajo/Maricopa.  He is a talented designer, and made his own dance regalia.  
Drummers and singers performed all day, too, to provide the music for the dancers.   Northern Drum was performed by Mandaree Singers from North Dakota.  Southern Drum was provided by Bad Medicine from Oklahoma.  Dennis Bowen, Sr. was the Master of Ceremonies and teller of great jokes.   He's from Tuba City, Arizona.    

Friday, February 4, 2011

Arizona Chilly

         The whole country is in the deep freeze at the moment, even Arizona.   Currently it's a cold 27 F.   Yesterday was even colder and windier.   When I went walking at 6:30 a.m. with my friend, Chris, I was bundled up from head to toe.  I noticed that she had on two layers of coats, and we both were wearing gloves.   
         I had another Ariziona first--I spent an entire day wearing long johns.  !!!    I had bought a beautiful set from Winter Sillks before we went to Yellowstone.   But although it was cold at night in the Park, it warmed up quicky during the day.  I never needed to wear them in Montana.   Yesterday I put them on  before my morning walk, and I kept them on all day.   The casita was chilly, and it never warmed up outside enough to be comfortable.   
         Kent moved as many courtyard flowers as he could to the garage and covered up the remaining ones.   But yesterday the wind blew all day and night, and the frost cloth wouldn't stay on the plants.   The back yard is the same.   We put as many as possible next to the house under the patio roof, but we couldn't get the covers to stay on.   The wind was fierce.  We'll just have to wait and see how many have to be replaced.    

           A few years ago it froze our irrigation pipe, and many people lost their ficus trees.  We had never planted any of the them, but our former neighbors were from California and had one in their side yard.  After the freeze they replaced it with an Arizona tree, which was a good decision.    We put extra insulation around the irrigation pipe. 
           Today is suppose to be less windy, and a little warmer.  By the weekend we may be back to normal.    We going to the Heard for the Hoop Dance competition on Sunday, and I'm hoping for warm weather to return.       

 BTW--Winter Silks is having a great sale right now, and they have a lot more than just long underwear.  Happy shopping!
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