Saturday, January 30, 2010

"A Prairie Home Companion" comes to Tucson

A Prairie Home Companion, with non-other than, Garrison Keillor.
Arizona Public Radio, celebrating 50 years in Tucson this year, was proud to host a special live presentation of Minnesota’s own “A Prairie Home Companion” at the Tucson Convention Center tonight. Arriving in Tucson this past week, red socks and all, Garrison Keillor and all his friends from St. Paul, Minnesota spent the past week writing the show with some local talent, and getting the scoop on Tucson and all it’s current events and southwest ways. He’s a bit of a star in these parts, and especially Tucson, where so many Minnesotans choose to winter here. Don and I were introduced to this Grand Ole Opry style radio program, which airs on Saturday nights from frigid Minnesota, when a movie about the show was in theaters three years ago. All Donald needed to hear was that Meryl Streep was in it and it became a must see movie rental. (We never knew that Meryl had such a great singing voice till then. Of course, she went on to do “Momma Mia”, the Abba movie; a somewhat silly flick with great music, but Don wouldn’t have missed that either, or for anything. )

So…. thanks to our friends, Lena & Steve, we had tickets to see the live show tonight, and, as Keillor says, “with all the Minnesota frostbacks passing through Tucson on their way to Mexico”. A sold out show long before we arrived Tucson in November, it didn’t disappoint. A show unlike anything you would see back East; where time stands still for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon. Where Dusty and Lefty come to Tucson to work for the O.K. Corral Condos and songs like "There’s No Rust in Tucson" play between The Weekly News From Lake Wobegon. (where the residents get cranky and eccentric as the winter drags on, and refuse to take telephone calls from warmer area codes.) It’s live radio with all the jokes, commercials, small town stories, and comes complete with all the sound effects by Fred Newman. And at the end of the show, everyone sings “Goodnight Sweetheart” and “I’ll Fly Away”.
Let the credits roll……….
I certainly hope everyone gets to see this in one’s lifetime, …… or will find one of those 590 radio stations on the radio dial some lazy Saturday afternoon. You will be hooked too!
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: A Prairie Home Companion
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A little bit of history for the unacquainted.......
”If you showed up on July 6, 1974, at the Janet Wallace Auditorium at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota and plunked down your $1 admission (50 cents for kids) to attend the very first broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion, you were in select company. There were about 12 people in the audience. But those in attendance thought there were worse ways to spend a Saturday afternoon, so Garrison Keillor and the APHC team went on to produce close to 500 live shows in the first 10 years alone. There were broadcasts from this venue and that, until March 4, 1978, when the show moved to The World Theater, a lovely, crumbling building that was one plaster crack away from the wrecking ball. (Now fully renovated and renamed The Fitzgerald, it is the show's home base.)

In June of 1987, APHC ended for a while. Garrison thought it was a good idea at the time, but only two years later, the show was back, based in New York and called American Radio Company of the Air. But there's no place like home. So in 1992, it was back to Minnesota and, soon after, back to the old name: A Prairie Home Companion.

There has been plenty of adventure in the past 30-plus years — broadcasts from Canada, Ireland, Scotland, England, Germany, Iceland and almost every one of the 50 states; wonderful performers, little-known and world-renowned; standing ovations and stares of bewilderment. We've missed planes, coped with lost luggage, dodged swooping bats and hungry mosquitoes, plodded through blizzards, and flown by the seat of our pants.

Today, A Prairie Home Companion is heard by more than 4 million listeners each week on some 590 public radio stations, and abroad on America One and the Armed Forces Networks in Europe and the Far East. Garrison recalls, "When the show started, it was something funny to do with my friends, and then it became an achievement that I hoped would be successful, and now it's a good way of life."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lull before the big storm.......

Dark sky...
Storms a comin....... and an alert is being broadcast all over the airwaves to take cover and bring in the pets and patio furniture. Heavy rain will definitely fill up the washes fast and there will be flooding all over Tucson. There will be driving detours for sure; 70 mph winds, thunder and lightning as well. Possible snow....Glad we left Nevada early on Tuesday. Would have been traveling in this today.... This is how Arizona does winter.....

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Road trip...Red Rock Canyon, NV., day 3

Always a favorite place for a day trip when in Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon and it's 13 mile scenic loop drive is one of the area's best bang for your tax dollar..... A National Conservation Area, your National Park "America the Beautiful" pass is welcome here. And if your age qualifies, a senior pass costs you only $10 for a life time membership and includes all the travelers in your vehicle, regardless of age. We've had ours for years, (thanks to Donald) and use it as often as we can. Free baby!

Less then an hour's drive west of Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon has many significant geologic features. The area is a good place to kick back and just enjoy nature's wonders and take endless pictures of amazing rock formations. This photographer was on over load, but will only tease you with a few........ The pictures say it all.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Road trip.......Oatman, AZ., day 2

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Oatman, AZ

Leaving Lake Havasu City and heading north and west on Rte 40 for a few miles, you exit the highway and pick up Historic Route 66 and travel into a former gold mining town call Oatman, AZ. Once home to more than 10,000, the population now numbers less than 200, and a few dozen wild burros. Of the estimated 1,500 burros that live in the surrounding hills, fortunately, only the dozen or so wandering the downtown streets today were seeking handouts and posing for pictures. Each has and knows it’s name, and by tradition, the first person that sees a new baby burro, gets the privilege of assigning its birth name.
As in all tourist towns, galleries and gift shops line the main street. The Gable/Lombard suite #15 at the Oatman Hotel is named for the famous movie duo who spent their honeymoon night here. We had lunch here; a Navaho Taco and Sarsaparilla for my Cowboy. Oatman offers tours of the Gold Road Mine, which tunnels under Route 66. Gunfights happen in the streets about three times a day and the gunfighters even perform actual marriage ceremonies they prefer to call “Shotgun Weddings”. We didn’t find any gold here, but did manage to get out of town with any gold we came with, minus the cost of grub and a souvenir magnet.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Road trip.......Lake Havasu City, AZ., day 1, part 2

Is not falling down..........
Leaving Quartzsite on Rte 95, and heading north for about 70 miles, you will see Lake Havasu City, which connects AZ to a California island, via the London Bridge......... As strange as it sounds, it's true. This five-arch bridge that spans the Bridgewater Channel on the Arizona side of Lake Havasu is the real deal. It's the creation of Englishman John Rennie and originally built in 1825 to span the River Thames.
Not the Tower Bridge that certainly comes to mind, but one of the London Bridges just the same. Almost a 200 year old piece of masonry that shares in the other London Bridges reputation for falling, burning, sinking, or being torn down. In Lake Havasu City, AZ., the London Bridge spans a small man-made channel connecting Arizona to an island once used as an army air field in California.
So how did it get here? In the early 60's, Robert McCulloch Sr. who's company produced outboard motors, small engines, etc...and worked on the California island, imagined developing a town that could be used as a recreational destination. While building up the town, now known as Lake Havasu City, he realized he needed a tourist attraction to draw people here. Finding out that a London Bridge was condemned to demolition and put up for sale on the world market as a piece of English history, McCulloch's $2.5 million bid sealed the deal. He now had his tourist attraction..... Dismantled, each stone was numbered and shipped. It took three years and approx $7.5 million to ship and reconstruct over dry land. The blocks were re-assembled like a jigsaw puzzle with the help of huge mounds of sand and dirt. Once completed, the dirt was then dredged from underneath the arches, forming a one-mile channel. Then the waters of Lake Havasu were allowed to flow through the channel for the first time in August 1971. Officially dedicated on October 10th, 1971, over 100,000 people, including the Lord Mayor of London, attended the hugh celebration and marvel. Bring on the tourists!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Road trip.......... Quartzsite, AZ., day 1, part 1

Having been in Tucson for two months now, Donald is getting antsy and ready to take a road trip. So yesterday, Ada spent some time working out the logistics of where we will go, where we will stay and for how long. The route will be Quartzsite, Lake Havasu City (London bridge), Oatman, Vegas, Death Valley and few other adventures not planned as yet. We leave tomorrow and will be back the following Thursday. For sure, with Ada's new camera, pictures will follow.......... gems and more gems.......

The first stop, Quartzsite, Arizona is a favorite place for Donald and he can't wait to get going. Located west of Phoenix, at the junction of Interstate 10 and US 95, and 17 miles from the Colorado River, Quartzsite is not just a town, it's an event. Established in 1867 on the site of old Fort Tyson, (constructed in 1856 by Charles Tyson for protection against Indian raids) and named Quartzite because quartz was occasionally found in the area. The name evolved to Quartzsite through an error in spelling.

Rocks, rocks and more rocks……. a true rock hunter’s paradise. Piled high with agates, limonite cubes, gold and quartz being just a few of the stones and gems known to be prevalent here. In town, the Hi Jolly Monument honors the Arab camel driver, Hadji Ali, who took part in an unsuccessful 1850’s U.S. War Department attempt to use camels as beasts of burden in the desert. There are many points of interest including the Gem and Mineral Shows, historical sites, day trips and many off-road ATV trails. Donald is in heaven here. Not sure how many stones he can fit in the car.

Quartzsite is world famous for its winter show season………
Quartzsite hosts thousands of vendors at its famous outdoor and indoor swap meets. Shoppers can find anything and everything they could possibly want to buy. There are dealers and sellers here from all over the world with some of the most unusual items you can find. Several of the bigger show areas specialize in rocks, gems, and minerals from all over the continent.
Amethyst from Brazil, opals and crystals from Australia, turquoise from Africa and the U.S., fossilized geodes and ancient bones from everywhere.

If antiques are your thing, there are dozens of vendors who bring them in from all over the country----dishes, pans, lamps, jewelry, wagons, household items and much more. If you are looking for homemade craft items, there are plenty to choose from, and some you will not see anywhere else. There are several craft shows going on all the time, and major craft shows during the peak season.

If jewelry is your thing, there are hundreds of vendors selling handmade and commercially made necklaces, earrings, brooches, etc. . Made with some of the hundreds of kinds of gemstones found all over the world as well as in the desert area around Quartzsite. This is a dealer’s paradise, with hundreds of booths filled with gems, minerals, findings, ready made items and raw material for making jewelry and anything else you can think of. If you are a RV’er or sportsman, there are some shows that specialize in the things you may need for your traveling and pleasure. Looking for T-shirts, souvenirs, socks, windchimes, pottery, polished rock eggs, and other items, slices of rocks for any craft use, wood carvings, clothing, medical aides, dolls, Indian blankets and jewelry, and much much more, then Quartzsite is the place to come to in the winter. There is an old saying here that if you can’t find it in Quartzsite, then it hasn’t been thought of yet.

The “season” in Quartzsite starts in November and lasts until March. The main shows are in January and February. Some vendors stay all year. Quartzsite also has many many year round business that are happy to help you find anything you may need or want. Quartzsite certainly has something for everyone and Ada hopes Donald can resist buying every geode in sight.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Livin on love............

It's Saturday night in the old pueblo, so get your hunny and take a spin around the dance floor, kitchen or anywhere...........

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Arizona Girl wins "SalemCity" Fantasy Football

The games have all been played and the final scores are in. Hallelujah, Fantasy Football is all over for the 2009 Season. While Ada will admit it's definitely more fun to win, especially after coming so close last year, the real deal was sharing the sport with all her friends back in Salem. Certainly, it will be pizza for everyone when she gets back home. Let the post season begin, but Ada will
only be rooting for the Patriots and hoping they make it to the SuperBowl. Beyond that, her Sundays will be spent paying more attention to Donald, who has been most accommodating by watching more football than he ever bargained for.

It's do or die.....the last Fantasy Football Sunday

Week 17 and it’s the final Fantasy Football Sunday for team: SalemCiy…… and Donald can’t wait for it to be over. All 32 NFL teams will play their games today and then the playoffs begin. Fortunately for Donald, Ada’s “SalemCity” teammates have only signed up for the regular season, so her victory or misery will soon be over. Currently in first place, but only by a point, “Arizona Girl” has felt the pressure of “Guy is a Girl” on her heels for the whole season. Up against a formidable player, Ada has had a lot of lucky breaks, but Jane is real good. The real deal is that both of them are leaving Mr. Frank n’ Beans in the dust. The girls rule for sure. We’ll just have to see which one…………. WE ARE READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL!

Friday, January 1, 2010

NHL Winter Classic…. Bruins Hockey at Fenway Puck!

Rink looks good...... a few out to test the ice

A Zamboni on the field...... a change on the scoreboard...... and will Sweet Caroline be sung? How weird is all this!

Not many people in Tucson AZ. are spending their New Years Day watching the Boston Bruins faceoff against the Philadelphia Flyers in Boston Fenway Park, but an outdoor rink on the Red Sox infield is such a different sporting event, any true Boston sports fan couldn't miss this. Donald says, probably just Ada is the only one watching out west. For sure, everyone else is watching College Football....

With James Taylor performing the U.S. national anthem and Daniel Powter, a native of British Columbia, performing the Canadian anthem just prior to the opening faceoff, both singers were joined by members of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard; and a military flyover really got the crowded roaring to sound barrier breaking levels.

And of course, the Bostonians offered one of their loudest ovations when Hockey Hall of Famers Bobby Orr (retire # 4) and Bobby Clarke met at center ice for the ceremonial opening puck drop. The two shook hands and then each skated off as players from the Flyers and Bruins entered the surface. The weather is a "ice comfortable" temperature of 39 degrees with cloudy skies. (no melting sunshine in sight.) No score yet............ Where's my skates.......... the Bruins might need my help!
Update: Bruins score in OT.... and Win 2 to 1.