February 12, 2011Left the house at 6:20 this morning and met Joe Freedman and his wife Linda and their son Jacob at the office, then took off in separate vehicles for Wickenburg. I drove my Ranger with the back loaded with 1,390 back issues. Enjoyed the drive over in the predawn silence. No radio, just enjoyed the desert coming alive. When I topped out just past Lake Pleasant, the western sky began to lighten with a darker blue on the bottom, then a rose band of sky giving way to light blue. A phenom I don't recall seeing before.
Met Rock Holliday and his son at the Twin Wagon Wheels Cafe next to the movie theater in downtown Wickenburg. Rock asked me if I had ever eaten in this place before and I said, "Well, yes, a couple times: in 1963-64 and 65, the Kingman high school sports bus, The Traveler, stopped here every trip on our way to the Valley to play Peoria, Agua Fria, Tolleson and Phoenix Christian. If I remember correctly, in those days it was called Jean's Cafe.
The Gold Rush Days parade came off at ten and was quite fun. As a sponsor of the parade we were in the honorary division right behind the Bill Williams Mountain Men (they weren't there when we arrived, and some local wag said they "never show up because there are too many bars now between Williams and Wickenburg," but five of them showed up, looking grizzled, mean and fantastic. I've always loved those guys) Had lots of help this year with Rock Holliday, his son, the Mohave Mule Skinners (three saloon girls and two gunslingers), plus Ermil, who dresses like John Wayne and has a striking resemblance to the Duke, with his wife Paula (America's Yodeling Sweetheart). Handed out all the magazines. Joe Freedman donned roller skates and worked the crowd from start to finish.
Got home at noon, and went right out to my studio to try and capture that twilight sky I saw going over. Did three roughs. Here's one of them:
There is a butte out there that resembles this one. I call this "They Took The High Road", or "High Road Riders." I'll post the others on Monday.
"Beautiful day for a parade."
—Mary Brown, of Festival of the West fame