Sunday, December 19, 2010

Population growth

I had some deep thoughts as I was driving for many hours. Partly about the differences between Arizona and Montana. Both were settled initially because of mining and then cattle/agriculture. Both have lots of wide open space, a history that is similar and so on.

I think that Montana has more natural resource to offer, with actual rivers with flowing water, more grass and fewer thorny plants and our most unpleasant insect is the Mosquito. But Arizonas population has boomed, with two very large cities (Phoenix and Tucson) and several which rival our "big towns" of Great Falls and Billings.

Why all the industry and growth in Arizona compared to Montana? The most obvious answer is weather. People seem to be more comfortable in the extreme heat of Arizonas summer as opposed to the extreme cold of a Montana winter. Actually, the southern Arizona winter weather is pretty much what I expect during a Montana summer which brings up the old joke: "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in Montana."

Since I am not what you'd call a big fan of cities, I'm all for some more cold and snowy Montana winters. Yay for sub-zero temperatures!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Home from Arizona

Well, I finally made it home from my journey around Arizona. It was a good trip. I had a great time, learned a lot and maybe even lined up more for next year which was the whole idea in the first place.

I left Townsend on the 3rd of December, right after getting back from the hunting camp and I headed to Wayne Nelson's house for the night. As usual, Wayne and I talked until way late before we finally gave it up and went to sleep for a while.

The next evening, I played at the Cowboy Corral in Elsinore, Utah, along with several other great poets and pickers, including Sam DeLeeuw, C.R Wood and David Anderson. I didn't make anything there but we had a great time together. I played pool for a while at the Detour bar in Richfield, Utah but couldn't get any cash games going so I gave up and went to my room.

The Days Inn Motel in Richfield was the most expensive room I payed for on the whole trip at $49.60. I managed to stay under $40 everywhere else. In figuring my total costs for the trip, if I had used my pickup camper, thus not staying in motels or eating out, the added gasoline costs would have doubled my total trip cost. If I were staying down there longer or going farther, maybe it would be worth it but the better gas mileage from taking the camper off made it actually cheaper to stay in motels and eat in cafes.

Anyway, I had moved on from Richfield on sunday morning and went to Flagstaff, Arizona. On the way, south of Page, AZ, there is a senic lokout where some Navajos have a jewelry and crafts stand. They were all huddled in a shelter made of umbrellas, wearing coats with hoods, wearing their gloves...all of that kind of thing. I was in jeans and a T-shirt. I teased them a lot about being cold at somthing like 60 degrees.

I like Northern Arizona a lot. It's empty, pretty and wild. Lots of open empty dessert populated by primarily low income people. I fit right in.

In Flagstaff, I went to Uptown Billiards and rented a table. I was just practicing by myself and noticed another guy doing the same. I asked him if he wanted to play some for a little bit of cash. He asked me how much and I said: "Cheap. I don't have a lot. How about a race to 5 for $20?" He kind of laughed at me and said: "I might for $200 or $100 but not that cheap." I told him I'd play a race to 5 for $100 but he just kind of waved me away so I went back to practicing alone. About 20 minutes later, after watching me practice, he came around and said that he'd play for some if I wanted. That kind of scared me a little. He's obviously wathced me practice and then offered to play so I only played a race for $50. The guy was terrible. After the first two games, I started laying back, giving him some room to play cause I wanted to keep hiim at the table. It didn't work. I won 5-3 and he quit and left.

I made it to Mesa the next day and settled in at Bev Hunsakers. She was nice enough to offer me the use of her trailer, parked in the back yard so I could afford to hang out for a while.

I won 3rd in a 9ball tournament at Main Street Billiards in Mesa collecting a few bucks and meeting some of the local players. I like Main Street Billiards. It's a nice, open, clean, upscale pool room with (I think) 42 tables. Mostly 8' or 9' rentals and a row of bar boxes. The tables are all well maintained and the whole facility is clean and pleasant. There are a few people who play for cash but I didn't see any big games and never managed to get any cash games there but it sure is a nice place for practice. Check their website for tournaments and specials.

A guy I met there recommended Kolby's Corner Pocket on University Ave in Tempe. I checked it out and it is a really good room also but for different reasons. The tables aren't as nicely maintained and the room isn't as clean but the prices are good for both table time and food and there are a lot of cash games there. I was watching some guys playing One Pocket for $200 a game and I got a few low dollar games there. Won sopme, lost some, came out even at the end of the stay. Nothing memorable.

Wednesday, I played my gig at the Palmas Del Sol East in Apache Junction. The activities director is new and was not the one who had heard and hired me so I could tell she was a little apprehensive about what my show might be like. Everyone had a great time, though. I sold some CDs and she invited me back next year so I must have done something right.

I went out to the Queen Valley area and got some pictures of the dessert and the Superstition Mountains. It would be nicer country if it weren't so close to the Phoenix area. Big cities do not endear me to an area.

Thursday, I played at ElDorado of Sun City in Sun City, AZ. It was another great gig and everyone was happy. I met a couple of ladies there who are from here in Townsend! What a small world! I know their family well.

I headed south Friday, down from US 60 to Florence and then to Tucson. It was a great drive with lots of dessert vistas to enjoy until I got into Tucson. Some of the worst traffic I dealt with on the whole trip was in the Tucson area and I was really glad to get to I10 and head East on the freeway. I went to Sierra Vista and stayed the night then went to Tombstone for the day. Tombstone is like a SW Virginia City except that it's a little more commercial. I talked with the managers of a couple of bars/restaurants there and might be setting up next winters gigs.

I went straight from Tombstone to Flagstaff and stayed there for Saturday night. I couldn't get any cash games so I just gave up and went to bed.

Sunday, I headed north again. Just south of Page, I took 89A to Kanab instead of staying on 89 to Page and Kanab. What a great side trip! Vermillion cliffs, Glen Canyon, the Kaibab plateau! It was really pretty and well worth the little bit of extra time. If you're going that way anyway, take that cutoff and bring your camera.

I checked into the Days Inn in Richfield, Utah again. I told the lady there that even if she did have the lowest rates in Richfield, they were still more than I had paid anywhere else. I was thinking about going out and shopping around a little more but it was too much trouble so I accepted the rates and went to the room. It hadn't been cleaned! I went to the top of the stairs and asked the lady if I was the only one staying in that room. She said: "Yes, Why?" and I said: "Because somebody's been sleeping in MY bed." This was at 6:00PM. Anyway, they put me into another room so they could clean the first one.

Monday was a 12 hour run from Richfield to Helena and then home, getting home about 10:30PM and thus winding up my journey.

I posted pictures on my facebook page but some of them are here also.