We lost a Ghostrider

Alice Rendon, Cactus Jack’s wife, passed away. She was a huge supporter and always gave us great ideas for skits (as well as make us laugh).
She will be missed greatly.

Next week is Empire Ranch Roundup, the day after her funeral. We will keep the memories of her wit and wisdom close to our hearts.

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Superior and YouTube

So, another fun year at the Apache Leap Mining Festival in historic Superior. The show went well, we deputized kids and scared the heck out of an audience participant named Molly. All fun (maybe not for Molly). Arizona Red and Cactus Jack weren’t there this year, which made me a little sad. However, we kept on truckin’.
We got helped by Batjac JW, a transplant from Hawaii who jumped in and added his talents to our troupe. Thanks, Batjac!

The YouTube channel is growing, with 9 months behind it. My hope is that it will continue to thrive and bring Old West history and entertainment to the folks who can’t get to the shows we do. It’s fun for me to learn filmography and editing. It’s been a great experience and whatever happens to the channel I plan to do more of this type of thing!

Only one cigar was smoked! We were pretty busy.

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The Gunbelt….Done!

The lacing of the belt loops was a piece of cake for the first five loops, then turned tedious as the threading end of the strap got soft. It’s all done and I’m pleased with it. Learned a lot about natural dyes, patience, and that Jack Daniels whiskey went up a $1.15.

The holster color doesn’t match…but that’s OK for now. I may throw it into the rust tank for a couple of hours…or make another one.

I used to think people charged a lot for gunbelts, but now that I’ve made one, I don’t think they charge enough!

On to the next project…the Strongbox.



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The Gunbelt Project…Day 6

Got the hardware in and sewing done. Starting to look like a cartridge belt now! Just got to thread the loops through and secure on the other end. That may require some whiskey.

I keep hearing of potential loosening of the loops over time. Because of that, I’m going to use a Chicago Screw on one end. That way if they do loosen up, I can easily tighten it.


Thoughts on copper rivets: over the past 46 years of wearing jeans I haven’t given them their kudos. Thanks, copper rivets! I will mention, although you outlast the material you are affixed to, you are a pain in the ass to finish nicely. I also used some brass black on them to coincide with the aging of the rest of the belt.

Ya know…I hope this belt fits.




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The Gunbelt Project…Day 2, 3, 4 and 5

Day 2
I left the leather parts in the rust-tub for about 8 hours. The color I want to achieve is a faded black, with an underlay of dark brown. What I’m getting is dark brown with an occasional black section (like a russet). I realize each leather hide is going to react differently to the dye. However, three of the pieces are from the same hide…and one is not cooperating.

The belt seems to be the stubborn one, here. He only wants to get a medium brown. More dye…more whiskey.

Day 3 & 4
OK, this is crazy. The belt looks good, but it just isn’t turning the dingy black color I hoped. I may have to settle for the russet look or supplement with commercial dyes. At this point it’s had over 12 hours in the rust-tub!

Day 5
OK, after a wash of walnut stain, two coats of Neatsfoot Oil and a day in the Arizona sun, it’s a russet. That’s what this leather really wants to do. Leatherworkers, you all get that! I’ll work with it.
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This process, while cheaper and more historically accurate, is time prohibitive. It teaches me patience. Whiskey helps.
This weekend is sewing/riveting the billet and chape, and lacing the loops! More later.

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The Gunbelt Project….Day 1

The majority of cartridge belts available for reenacting and Cowboy Action Shooting® are built with 24 or less bullet loops.
Many surviving belts of the era are loaded with loops. It seems to me that if I have to go through Apache territory on my way to town, it would be in my best interest to have enough cartridges. We could ask Elfego Baca about this type of preparation…were he alive.

My 10-year old belt only has 24 bullet loops. My new one will have a whopping 45! Yes, it will make it heavier. However, it will be historically accurate and look ominous.

To make a natural dye that will penetrate the leather and not rub off, I dumped steel wool and some rusty bits of iron in a bucket of water (thanks Will Ghormley). Depending on how long I leave it in this mess, I’ll get dark brown all the way up to black.
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A New Era

Well, the holidays brought some change in our merry band. Cave Creek was a success, but it was also the last performance for Jim and Donna. The former leaders passed the torch down to me, which is a great honor.

So…I own a group. Now what?

Well, we have a meeting and discuss any changes that need to be made and continue on. I made some cast changes and scaled the group back to a manageable size. I took the opportunity to rebuild the website to make it smartphone/tablet friendly. There weren’t smartphones when I built the old one. There were tablets, but the kind you pop in your mouth when you have a stomach ache. Nowadays we read books on them. Go figure.

Next up is my annual cowboy presentation at Rita’s school and the Western Heritage Program at the Arizona Historical Society (new). Then we all gear up for Superior’s Apache Leap Mining Festival and Prescott’s Shootout on Whiskey Row.

Jim and Donna left me props, blanks, and the responsibility to carry on. I asked Steve to share in that responsibility, so I can get some help. He also will be the cigar backup in case I forget to bring them…which would be disastrous. I mean, really!

Check out the new site!  http://www.arizonaghostriders.com


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All Points North

So, Prescott’s Shootout On Whiskey Row was another success. Hard to believe we’ve been going up there almost a decade. It’s a fun trip with gorgeous scenery and a great venue to do shows. The Prescott Regulators and their Shady Ladies do an incredible job with it. Even though we placed second this year, I am scrutinizing the judges’ score sheets for ways to improve.

November 7-8 we and three other groups are invited to go to Cave Creek for their Wild West celebration. It appears that we will have our own set and a 3-hour time slot to entertain the masses. I haven’t been to Cave Creek since before there was a creek and it was just the town of “Cave”. Not a very catchy name for a town, so I’m glad they changed it. The weekend should prove to be an exciting new adventure for us Ghostriders.

Cigars will be smoked…don’t you worry.

Joey and Jack, Apaches.

Joey and Jack, Apaches.

Jim and Donna, Fearless  Leaders

Jim and Donna, Fearless Leaders

Steve winning a Best Actor award

Steve winning a Best Actor award


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Roundup at the Ranch

Steve and I are back at the Empire Ranch for their annual “Roundup”. This year we decided to go as a couple of border outlaws, to change it up a bit. Some folks were not sure what to make of us, others thought we created fine ambience. We ran into some old friends and made some new ones. As seems to be the norm, we ended up in a bunch of photos.

This year there seemed to be more vendors. Leatherworkers, ironworkers, authors. One couple wrote a cookbook accentuating dutch oven food and were giving out samples. I tasted some of the finest beans known to man. Here is their book: http://www.amazon.com/Southwest-Dutch-Oven-George-Dumler/dp/142363635X.

All in all, a great day. Tons of fun, and for a good cause too! See the cigars? Yeah…’nuff said.

11-1-2014 Empire Ranch -A 093 11-1-2014 Empire Ranch-B 034


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Harkers Old West Museum Grand Opening

Some folks take their backyard and put in a pool or vegetable garden. Not Rick Harker. No, this former western movie actor went and built an 1880’s town. Seriously, a saloon, livery, mercantile, jail, assay office…the whole works. It happens to be the perfect place for gunfights, saloon brawls, and boy scouts. Wait..what? Yeah, Explorer Post #6039 resides there. Rick and his team of Old West enthusiasts teach the youngins leather craft, set building, acting, stunts, survival skills, and other cool stuff. Every lesson is laced with a heavy dose of respect and hard work. Rick’s friend, James Lovin, maintains the town and is instrumental in the kid’s education.

Robert "Trooper" Lansdown, one of the Explorer Post teachers.

Robert “Trooper” Lansdown, one of the Explorer Post teachers.

Yesterday folks from all over Arizona came to support Rick and his crew of Rapscallions-To-Be. There were raffles, stunt shows, fast draw artists, and a presentation by a member of the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Garrison to tell us about soldiering in the 18th century. We started the day off with a “bang” (those of us who were there will get that reference). I was fortunate enough to die and share the ground with so many Old Tucson Studios stunt legends. One day I’ll be too old to fall down, which is why I have such an interest in these young kids learning how to do it. Then I can be the one living and they can die. Rick was presented with a wonderful and much-deserved award by Chaz Lee. It was heartfelt by all of us gun-toting miscreants. But we didn’t cry, lest we lose our outlaw status. Don’t know what the total donations were, but I feel it was a good day in that department, too. All in all, fun was had. Black powder was burned. Cigars were smoked. A good day to die.

The final talk-through of the skit was attended by all.

The final talk-through of the skit was attended by all.


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