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After six weeks in Weber’s campground in San Miguel, it’s the middle of March and most of the campers have headed north.  For now, there’s just three other campers here:  the MAN overlander, pictured above, and our neighbors to the right of us from Canada in a beautiful Leisure Unity; and the folks from Montana:

Steve and his wife Bing have been staying here for several months.  He introduced himself the first day we arrived.  He is a level 5 Spanish student studying Spanish language at Academia Hispano Americana, the same school Jackie and I attended back in June and July of 2010.  He spent five years in Cuba, speaks fluent Spanish, of course, and has a very cute Louie-like dog named Fidel.

When a camper first enters the Weber’s campground, they are immediately met by a rough cobblestone and brick driveway.  In the background of the photograph below, just behind the tall, spire-like trees, sits one of the three beautiful clay tennis courts.

Below, one of the clay tennis courts getting some doubles action:

Along the east side of the compound, are three small departamentos.  They are rarely occupied.  Notice the fairly intricate brick jali walls.  As the winter sun sets, the intense sunlight shines directly on the walls. I’ve come to learn that Mexican masons are very skilled craftsman. The genius of this kind of construction is in its simplicity:  The cool evening breezes can flow naturally through the perforated brick wall, while at the same time blocking out the sun.

The entrances to the departmentos below are a typical example of Mexican gardening and landscape design.—a wonderful combination of stone, brick, desert plants, colorful bougainvillea, and shrubbery.

The driveway leads to a kind of bricked, circular turning area.  Rocinante can be seen to the left.  Off to the right is another driveway leading to another exit, entrance to the campground.

Pictured below is a little covered patio, game room, and a library of donated books, many in German and French.  I actually found a copy of Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple and Cervantes Don Quixote in Spanish in the little library.  At many of the campgrounds we’ve stayed, I’ve found little “take one, leave one” libraries.  Sometimes it’s just one shelf of books.

The library here has a couple hundred books.  During late afternoon, when the sun gets intense, and the temperatures hit 85 deg F., the patio offers some respite from the heat.  In the foreground are two unoccupied camp sites.

To the left, my camper’s sewer, water, and electricity hookups.  Like many campgrounds in Mexico, electrical service at Weber’s is just barely adequate.  The circuit breakers are 15 amp, so I have to be aware of appliance wattage use, otherwise, I could trip the breakers.  Which happens often.

Also, there’s not enough water pressure to hook up directly to the camper’s plumbing system.  I’ve had to fill and refill the fresh water tanks and run the 12 volt water pump.  But again, we’re in Mexico and that’s the way it is.

Below is a picture of our “backyard.”  On the extreme left side of the photo, you can see the clay color of the tennis court behind the fence.  Leaning up against the electric jack stand is the wet bath shower sliding door, which I had to remove because one of the slides failed.  Bearings fell out all over the floor.  On the ground is a five gallon bottle of agua puro.  We go through one of those bottles every three days. Can’t make a Margarita without ice.  Javier, one of the workers in the compound, will bring one of these bottles to me whenever we need it.  We’ve used the brown camping mat at every campsite in Mexico.

We don’t need to stretch out clothes lines here.  Someone picks up our laundry every Monday and Friday morning, washes, dries, and folds everything, and brings it back the same day.  Average cost is 180 Pesos or about $7.50 USD for what would normally be about three loads wash, three dry.

One morning I was awakened by the odd sound of loud, rushing air.  Looked out the back door and saw this low-flying hot air balloon.  I read a recent article in the Atención about these balloons.  Tourists love them, as you can well imagine.  I’m sure they offer incredible, heart-stopping views of this beautiful city.  However, they’ve become so popular that residents are starting to complain about them:  there are too many of them; they make too much noise; they fly (float?) so low that it’s dangerous; hell, they might explode over the backyard pool.

As I conclude this blog entry, I’m noticing out my window that Steve looks like he’s getting his rig ready to move on.  They’re heading north, way north to Canada.

And our new friends across from us, Marshall, Bonny, and Griffin, are leaving for Helena, Mont., tomorrow morning.  It’s currently 25 F. there; here, it is 75 F.

In Warrenton, OR, it’s not too bad:  clear skies; high of 56 F; low of 41 F.  In any case, we’re here for another sixteen days.  We plan to savor every minute of it before we have to move on.




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Rio Lobo Guitar

I’ve written about Tommy Tedesco and jazz’s “unsung heroes” on this blog before.  It bears worth mentioning once again that many jazz musicians relied on their studio session work more than anything else to put food on their family’s table.  While Tommy Tedesco played guitar as a session musician on albums that garnered millions for well-known artists, he never had a successful recording career himself.

Sadly, Tedesco’s highly influential and often brilliant studio work mostly went unaccredited (cf. Denny Tedesco’s Wrecking Crew documentary and Guitar World‘s 2014 interview with him).  I recently discovered a powerful example of this when I watched the 1970 John Wayne western Rio Lobo.

The opening sequence was fascinating and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.  William H. Clothier, cinematographer for countless westerns, including many John Wayne westerns, and main title designer Dan Perri, who for many years remained uncredited as the creator of the guitar sequence (Perri, along with George Lucas is best known for creating the famous “opening crawl” main title sequence for the very first Star Wars film:  Star Wars:  Episode IV – A New Hope, 1977) collaborated on the Rio Lobo opening sequence.

The Rio Lobo title sequence shows a Spanish style guitar being played from a variety of different angles, including an “inside” shot of the guitar from behind the strings. Composed by Jerry Goldsmith, the guitar instrumental itself is a rather run-of-the-mill sentimental Spanish melody.  The musician is filmed while he fingers the chords and notes, using standard Spanish sounding arpeggios.

Curiously, I discovered that the guitarist was Tommy Tedesco, though he goes uncredited for his work.  However, the musician shown playing in the film, according to Denny Tedesco, is not Tommy Tedesco.  Tedesco never played using only his fingers; he only played using a pick.

Here’s the main title sequence to Rio Lobo:

How Tommy Tedesco’s playing ended up on the opening title sequence of a John Wayne movie is probably the same way he ended up playing on the Beach Boys Pet Sounds album:  as a dedicated studio musician willing to lend his virtuoso guitar talents to anyone who needed him.

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It’s been over a year since my last brew session.  I brewed a Belgian wheat style beer using my new brewery set up that includes a small 12 volt hot water pump I modified to work on 120 volts.  Some pics:

Here’s the end result: about three cases of freshly bottled Belgian wheat.  Twenty-four bottles are capped and thirty bottles have flip-tops:

New brew set up.  Finally out of the kitchen.  Hot water (150 deg.) being pumped from kettle into my new mash tun.  Smaller kettle to the right of mash tun used to hold first “runnings.”  Runnings from mash tun are gravity fed to pump which pumps the wort to the smaller kettle where it is “held” until sparge.  Sparge water is pumped into mash tun and slowly drained by gravity directly into the boil kettle below.  Remainder of the wort is then gravity fed into the boil kettle.  Pump is used only to pump hot water from boil kettle up into mush tun:

Mashing in—150 deg. water is pumped from the boil kettle below up into mash tun.  One problem I faced is that the silicone hoses are “thin walled” and bend/crimp too easily as the hot water is pumped through them.  Need thicker walled hoses to prevent pinching:

The real test of a good mash tun is its ability to hold the “target” temperature for 60 minutes.  There is always heat loss due to transference of hot liquids through hoses, temperature of mash tun (necessary to preheat tun), and temperature of the grains that are added to the hot water.  To ensure a stable temperature for the duration of the mash, I wrapped the tun with a heating pad (the kind that does not automatically turn off after a period of time), a car windshield sun reflector wrapped around the tun, and a blanket.  The mash held a temp. 0f 148 deg. for the entire mash time of 60 minutes.  This tun is far superior to my old chest style cooler for holding mash temps.

Missing a photo of pumping wort into secondary kettle to the right of mash tun.  In the past I’ve had to transfer hot liquid by hand using a two-quart container.  Pump eliminated this step.  Photo below shows wort being transferred directly to the empty boil kettle using gravity during the sparge step.  After first runnings are pumped into secondary kettle, 170 deg. sparge water is pumped into the mash tun.  That leaves the boil kettle empty.  After the step pictured is concluded, the first runnings being held in the secondary kettle are gravity fed into boil kettle.

Starting the boil of about 7.5 gallons of wort which will boil down to about 6.5 gallons of sweet wort.  Propane burner worked perfectly.  Far more efficient use of BTU’s with propane than with natural gas on kitchen stove:

Spent grains get dumped on compost pile in the back yard for the hungry birds.  They make short work of it.  Still quite a bit of sugar content in these grains.

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