Thursday, April 30, 2009 

Winton, CA. 20 miles. Grass. Cool. Perfect circus weather.

We're set up at a school today and hundreds of children visted during the set up. Trey Key moved a tiger cage from group to group and introduced the kids to the cat. As she opens the show, the kids were thrilled. Thus far the growing fear of a flu epidemic hasn't impacted circus business, at least here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009 

Wednesday April 29th, 2009. Delhi, CA. 70 miles. Grass. Cool.
Perfect circus day, neither too hot, nor too cold. Short jumps for a couple days with the same sponsor in several towns. On the jump today I saw a sign for Monterey – 87 miles. I laughed thinking about the rushed drive to Oklahoma and the long miles since we opened. To be so close to home. But home really isn’t home at all during the circus season. Home is today’s town and the corner of the lot where I’ve parked my house. It’s still spring and we’re chasing a summer that remains long weeks and thousands of miles away. There’s time for "home," wherever that may be, come autumn.

Tuesday April 28th, 2009. Firebaugh, CA. 65 miles. Cool. Grass.
Nice lot in a city park. The economic recession and the California draught are taking their toll on these small farming towns, but circus day is still bringing people to the shows.

Monday April 27th, 2009. Fowler, CA 35 miles. Cooler. Dirt lot.
Probably the dirtiest, dustiest lot of the season. With the breeze, a bit like eating grit. Fine layer of grim on sno-cones and floss as soon as they leave the candy wagon window. These are farming towns in the Central Valley. Farm workers come late.

Sunday, April 26, 2009 

Sunday. Lemoore, CA Naval Air Station. 105 miles. Warm, sunny. Grass. A perfect circus day.

My soon to be 15 year old kid is now convinced that he wants to work tigers. Would be so much wiser if wanted to train a jack rabbit liberty act. Problem of course is that dad would do the heavy lifting.

Thursday, April 23, 2009 

Bakersfield, CA. 50 miles. Warm.,. Grass. First day of a three day stand.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 

Lake Isabella, CA. 135 miles. Field. Warm, sunny. Over the eastern Sierras this morning and out of the desert. Mountain town today, then into the Central Valley tomorrow for the long run.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 

Adelano, CA 30 miles. Hot. High desert. The last real desert town. Tomorrow into the Sierra foothills, then Bakersfield.


Monday. Lucerne Valley, CA. 70 miles. Hot. High desert.

Lucerne Valley has been winter quarters for Circus Vargas off and on for many years, and several old Vargas trucks still sitin the desert at the WQ.

Sunday, April 19, 2009 

Saturday. Blythe CA 114 miles. Dirt. Hot.

A few weeks ago we were buried in the snows in Texas. Now it's the triple digit heat of the CA desert.

Sunday. Desert Hot Springs, CA. 123 miles. Grass. Hot.

Playing at a kids festival in a park. Temps in the 90's. The Osorio Circus played here less than a week ago.

Friday, April 17, 2009 

Thursday April 16th, 2009
Maricopa. AZ. 114 miles. Dirt lot. Warm. Long jump over the mountains from Globe and down into the Phoenix valley south to Maricopa. Busy day stocking up on all of those essentials to be found in a major city. Meat for the cats, concessions supplies, vehicle parts.

Friday April 17th, 2009
Wickenburg, AZ. 100 miles. Dirt lot. Warm, windy. Last date in AZ. Tomorrow it’s into California. Wickenburg is a beautiful little western desert foothills town with shops, and art galleries, and cafes. Less developed and undiscovered than Sedona, and well off the beaten path at the end of the Carefree Highway. In California the show will turn north after the long run west. In the dust and dirt it’s hard to imagine that in a couple months this circus will be playing grassy summer lots in the midwest.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009 

Day two in Globe, AZ.  Here in copper country mines and smelters have been shutdown in the current economy.  Given the cyclical history of copper mining it may be years before some mines reopen.  Tough times for local miners and workers in ore processing.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 

Globe, AZ. Warm. Dirt lot. 200 mile jump this morning into AZ. The drive was beautiful at times. Only one show today because we traveled so far. Two shows tomorrow. We enter CA on Saturday at Blyth, then play Desert Hot Springs on Sunday before heading north.

Monday, April 13, 2009 

Silver City, NM. 60 miles. Rodeo grounds. Warm, sunny.


Sunday April 12th, 2009. Deming, NM.. Warmer. Windy.
Off day for Easter. The Border Patrol is everywhere here in southern New Mexico. It’s 28 miles to the nearest border crossing at Columbus, NM. In a terrible economy with unemployment continuing to climb I wonder how much worse the numbers can get before the whole notion of legal workers versus undocumented alien workers becomes a moot point? Will things get so bad that all foreign workers are viewed negatively because so many actual Americans are unemployed? Will that be a problem for circuses and carnivals where we depend on public perception and good will (a lesson we’re reminded of regularly in the debate over animals) and where we employ so much foreign labor under the H2B Visa program? The H2B program has been the primary source of labor for many shows for a generation now. Guest workers are honest, hard working, and they rarely blow the show. It’s a big difference from the labor forced recruited in missions and homeless shelters in the 1960s and 1970s. When asked why more domestic workers aren’t on tent crews or working in concessions most show managers will honestly state that reliable domestic workers don’t want the job. Circus hours and circus wages don’t look as good as working at 7-11. It’s not exactly an accurate argument. What foreign workers bring to the table is the screening process. Shows pay for foreign labor. Recruiters screen for reliability, and the INS further screen background. Few shows have ever tried actually tried hiring an agency to find domestic workers with good work habits and backgrounds. I don’t know that we can say for sure if such domestic help could be found, or not. What’s worrisome is that if unemployment hits 10% and domestic workers start to regularly seek jobs frequently filled by H2B workers, there will be political pressure to reduce the size of the program, and for circuses and carnivals there may be pressure on the community level to hire American if we intend to play a town. Hopefully unemployment will begin to go down and the economy will improve and such a possibility will never become a real issue. After twenty many tent bosses, concessions managers, and midway bosses would be hard pressed to work with English speaking crews. And frankly many of today’s workers are actually related to their bosses. For now it’s just something to think about, sitting on the border. But if the economy doesn’t improve in future seasons we might have to consider a "Plan B."
Great holiday feast prepared by Robin Dykes.

Saturday, April 11, 2009 

Deming, NM. 70 miles. Cold. Windy. Empty field.
In the 1960s the best collection of rattlesnakes in the world wasn’t found in Arizona, or a big zoo in California, or Illinois, it was on Staten Island. Staten Island zoo director Carl Kauffeld spent his carreer amassing the collection. The hardest animals to find were the small montane rattlesnakes of Arizona and New Mexico, some species barely hard of and occurring only tiny mountain ranges known only to herpetologists and the border patrol. Driving south today headed for Deming I could see those ranges along the border south of the interstate and I remembered what it was like visiting them twenty years ago with my first wife Sharee Carton who has gone on to make her mark working with seasnakes back home in Australia. We were married in Reno and spent our honeymoon collecting the Great Basin Rattlesnake, so it made all the sense in the world to visit the Animas Mountains when we traveled through New Mexico a afew years later. In the circus I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about montane rattlesnakes. But here in Deming where in the 1950s Clyde Beatty wintered his circus, I look to the south and I remember the talus slopes on the mountains there and the living jewels that call it home in their splendid isolation.
One week from today we arrive in California.

Friday, April 10, 2009 

Thursday we jumped 70 miles to Socorro, NM. Winds was blowing at 50 mph sustained when we arrived. Building was available on the fairgrounds, so we moved the show indoors.

Today we continued south 75 miles to Truth or Consequences, NM. Gravel lot, warm, sunny.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009 

Mountain Air, NM. 50 miles. Overcast, windy. Dirt lot.

We're off to buy a new truck for the electrical department today, replacing the old 402

Tuesday, April 07, 2009 

Edgewood, NM. 90 miles. Dirt lot, warm, sunny, with breeze.

Jumped into outer Albuquerque suburbs. Great pre-sale. Clowns on another circus are blogging about cold and snow flurries in Missouri. I'm sorry they missed our own snowbound experience in TX. South tomorrow.


Santa Rosa, NM

Sunday, April 05, 2009 


Tucumcari, NM. 130 miles. Grass. Sunny, clear. Twenty-five miles below Tucumari the road angles to the right toward a down-grade and suddenly as you round that turn before you are mesas, and arroyos, chaparral, pinon, and bits of high desert. It's a breath-taking view. You aren't in Texas anymore.

Lot and license today. Billposter had only an afternoon last week to lay down tickets.

Tent crew hit a water main stake driving -- after groundskeeper swore there were no underground lines. We've been without water all day, so has much of Tucumcari.

Saturday, April 04, 2009 

Muleshoe, TX. 35 miles. Grass. Very windy.

Our last day in Texas. Wind gusts today to 50 miles an hour. It’s time for the tale of the generator. The day before Culpepper & Merriweather left winterquarters in Hugo, OK the show’s generator threw a rod. Ended up renting a smaller generator (about 25KW) from a company in OK and started shopping for a new generator. A week ago a surplus generator purchased from United Rentals arrived. Expensive, but low hours. From the first it didn’t work, and we’ve continued to use the rental for the past eight days. Two trips to United Rental shops, and three visits from generator techs, and today the 50KW generator is finally up and running as it should be. Now to figure out how to return the rental 500 miles to OK.

Tomorrow, New Mexico.

Friday, April 03, 2009 

Littlefield, TX. 25 miles. Grass, asphalt. Warm.

Tomorrow is Muleshow, or final TX date this spring.


Thursday, April 02, 2009 

Heartfelt and warm congratulations to Natalia and Armando Rosales (Loyal) on the birth of their new son. Blessings on Mother, Father, and child.


Levelland, TX. 75 miles. Grass. Cold. Windy. Wind has been gusting to 45 miles an hour since 3 AM. Dust clouds cchased across the highway during the first hours of darkness while we jumped to today's town. Three more days in Texas, then New Mexico. In two weeks we'll be in California, turning north toward the spring, then later east toward the summer in the middle west. Hope to start adding pictures in a day or two.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009 

Lamesa TX. 80 miles. Grass lot. Warm, but windy with 40mph gusts expected.

Jumped through Lubbock in the predawn, then south on Rt 87. Passed the Dan Blocker Museum in ODonnell, TX. I suppose that on cable somebody still airs the saga of the Cartwrights, the cleanest cowpokes in the old west, and Dan Blocker lives on.

Show generator threw a rod back in Hugo the day before opening, so the circus opened with a rental. Less than a week ago a new generator arrived, purchased with low hours from United Rentals. It's probably run less than 40 holurs since we picked iot up. Today it requires its second repair under warranty. Pain in the ....