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  1. I was invited by Rattler (John) to come down to Tucson and shoot with the Pima Pistoleros. Rattler said it was a nice group of folks - With some folks that I know and respect trying to make a real go of a small club. But since it is a LONG stinkin' way from Las Vegas to Tucson (410 miles one way) for a monthly shoot (I guess technically, it is a long stinkin' way to Tucson period - but that's immaterial); Painted Lady, Desert Scorpion and myself decided we would make a weekend out of it. I skipped out of work on Friday, (it's nice to be the boss sometimes) and we got on the road. Into Phoenix - right as afternoon rush hour began. (I have driven thru Phoenix an infinite number of times - I know you drive thru Phoenix either early - early or late - late and yet every time - I manage to do it at rush hour.) So after an hour and a half covering 20 miles of fabulously maintained Phoenix highways (I certainly hope they eventually find the folks in that Mini Cooper that fell into a pothole and vanished); we were thru and driving toward Tucson. Passing signs for Rooster Cogburns ostrich farm inviting me to "Pet the Stingrays" and signs for me to see the "THING" (mummified mother and child from the late 1800's and an assortment of oddities). I regale Scorpion and Lady with stories from my youth traveling Michigan to Florida and the myriad of roadside attractions from "See Rock City" painted on (it seemed) every barn roof and side to Mystery houses where gravity and physics were defied. Part of me wonders (somewhat sadly); with the advent of Google and smartphones, how many of these attractions have lapsed because the traveler no longer has to stop and explore. A few keystrokes and decent WiFi tells them all the secrets. We end up at our hotel in Tucson; unload the SUV and carry all our guns and gear inside. Then back on the road to "Trail Dust Town" (a longtime Tuscon western town themed attraction with Horse Soldier Museum, Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse, various shops, gold panning, quarter shooting gallery and Wild West stunt show). A cowboy steak dinner and we shuffle into the stunt show arena for deliberately bad jokes, intentional bad acting and pretty nifty falls and fights. My girls responding proudly when asked where we from and why we were in town, "We are here to do some real cowboy shooting... We don't use blanks" After pointing out the use of blanks ensures the actors can do a 2nd evening show - we clarified our game for the actors and audience and perhaps gained some interest. Full bellies and a long ride make for sleepy cowboys - so off to bed and to Pima in the morning. We make our way to the Pima Pistol Club and check in; as I stand waiting my turn in my stupid big hat, high waisted pants, suspenders, and striped shirt - The fellow at sign up still felt required to ask if I was here for the cowboy match? The match was a lot of fun - I shot decently (other than a 97 shotgun that went rogue on me); but ended up 3rd overall behind some really good shooters. Scorpion shot well and Painted Lady, well, lets just say she had fun. A really good group of folks and the opportunity to catch up with some old friends and make some new ones. We shook hands all around after the match and headed back to the hotel. A change of clothes and a quick rest. A little Google searching had alerted us to an Asian Lantern Festival taking place on the zoo grounds. So enter the address into the phone and make our way to Reid Park Zoo, adjacent to the ASU baseball stadium. We enter the zoo intent on finding animals as darkness fell; but as the darkness grew; suddenly we were surrounded by beautiful illuminated lanterns with intricate designs, patterns and meanings. A giant dragon (approx. 20 foot high and perhaps 40 yards long), reined supreme over the grounds, along with life size lanterns representing the animals that occupy the enclosures nearby. Asian troupes performed dances and tumbled to music. And all too soon; yet another day was complete. Desert Scorpion enjoys Renaissance fairs and the sight of an advert. regarding the Arizona Renaissance Festival in Gold Canyon sealed the deal - Painted Lady and myself were made aware, in no uncertain terms, where events Sunday would be taking place. Ok; no big deal. I have been to a couple Renaissance fairs with Scorpion here in Las Vegas; an hour at most - in and out. See some bad costumes - chomp on a turkey leg... We will be on the road home by noon. Uhmmm no. 300+ acres of festival grounds - theater groups - live jousting events - elephant rides (not sure where the elephants fit into the theme, but Scorpion and Lady enjoyed their ride). Jugglers, sword swallowers, mermaids and fire eaters. Lords and Ladies, Elves and Hobbits, Squires and Wenches (I do have to admit; I enjoy the wenches attire {or lack thereof}... perhaps i shouldn't have committed that to writing?) We leave the festival at 6pm closing time - dust covered and exhausted (and in the case of Scorpion and Lady - smelling a bit like elephant). Having zero interest in driving 7 hours home after this day - we find another hotel for the night. Going to dinner; we are served by our waitress "Raven" - when I ask if her parents were Edgar Allan Poe fans, she stares at me blankly. A quick, "Quoth the Raven, Nevermore" reference and she walks away quite unsure about the giggling sunburned weirdos seated in her section. I hope we sparked a desire to read the poem or at least inspired a smart phone look up. This morning was Monday - while most have started their work week; we are still playing tourist. (did I mention, it is sometimes good to be boss? Of course - I spent most of the morning on my phone putting out fires {poorly}) A casual get up and around - it's time to make myself a waffle for breakfast (tho it actually went, make a waffle, which was then promptly stolen by Scorpion; make a 2nd waffle which somehow ended up with Painted Lady), THEN make myself a waffle. (I'm not even a huge fan of waffles - but if your hotel chain provides me with the opportunity to make waffles - doggone it, I'm making waffles) I notice that we are not that far away from Wild West Mercantile; so yet another side trip is created and we visit the long time SASS sponsor. The girls keep looking at all the gorgeous finery and I keep pointing out the signs directing shoppers to the Bargain Corral... A horrendous beating of my Discover card and a few bags of goodies later and it is actually time to head for home. A tank of gas, a potty break or two and we are home. When the folks at work ask what we did this weekend - Ill keep it simple and say; we went shooting. And that's what we did - that's why my family piled into our vehicle and traveled nearly a 1000 miles. I love shooting; but the shooting is just a reason to go. And the shoot is only a couple minutes of shooting time. But the rest of the time - we laugh. We share stories. We explore. Make memories and grow closer. Like I said, I love to shoot... But I think, the real reason I love this game is all the wonderful experiences we have together because of the places we go shooting.
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