Sunday, December 30, 2007

Wandering around

Today I was going to climb a hill near Canyon Lake. When I finally got to the base of the hill, I decided I would have to push through too much brush and trees to get started up the hill, so I wimped out. It was a nice hike, though, and I saw some cool (literally) stuff. Who would have thought there would be ice around when it's in the 50's every afternoon? I made a rather lengthy video of the ice. It doesn't seem like ice would be a good subject for a long (relatively speaking) video, but it was doing some interesting stuff.

The other video that I made at Tortilla Flat is still "processing", so I can't put it on here yet.

Here are some pictures.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

No, I don't get tired of Bulldog Canyon

Date: December 29, 2007
Location: Bulldog Canyon
Time and temperature: Start - 1625, 52
End - 1727, 47
The numbers:
22 Pictures taken
1 Mylar balloon extracted from the desert

Ramblings: Two or three years ago, I went hiking near this same place (just a couple of hundred yards south, actually). It was then that I decided that Bulldog Canyon was one of the best places I have ever been. I still think it is. I'm so lucky to live so close to it. I'm also very happy that my Sweetums tolerates living out here with me. It's like having my cake and eating it, too!

I got out there kind of late. Stupid computer games, interfering with my hiking. Anyway, I didn't want to go too far when it was so late, especially since it was so cool. I'm plenty warm while I'm moving, but after sunset I can't stop or I'll freeze. I think I found a route that will get me near the top of the mountains; something I've been trying to do for a long time. I may pack a lunch and try for the top in a day or two.


Friday, December 28, 2007

Tortilla Flat video

This first one is a little shaky. I was standing on a rock in the middle of the creek and twisted around during the video, so I was having trouble maintaining my balance.

The other video is still "processing". I'll have to add it later.

Tortilla Flat

I guess it was more of a stroll than a hike. It wore me out, though. I must be out of shape. Wait, no, I have a shape. Mostly tubular. Oh, never mind.

I climbed around on a large hill behind Tortilla Flat. It was nice because I got to listen to water flowing through the stream down below most of the time. It was annoying because I also heard cars on the road and people yakking. It was nice to see something different, too.

I thought that place would be deserted on a weekday, but I guess a lot of people are off work this week. It was really crowded. It was really tempting to drive back and forth across the creek at about 30 and splash water on all the tourists climbing around on the rocks in the creek bed, but I didn't. I saw one guy that tried that, though. There was a truck at the end of a line of cars (see pictures). It stopped when it got to the creek, until the cars had gone across. Then it zoomed across making the biggest splash it could. It had to hit the brakes as soon as it got across to keep from hitting the cars that were only going about 5 mph. I don't think it succeeded in splashing anybody, though.

I took a couple of videos. I'll add them after I get them uploaded (takes a while).


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Same place it Bulldog Canyon

Date: December 26, 2007
Location: Bulldog Canyon
Time and temperature: Start - 1413, 57
End - 1630, 56
Distance hiked: ~3 miles
The numbers:
36 Pictures taken
2 Attempts by squirrels to break my ankles

Ramblings: I went to the same place in Bulldog Canyon that I went to last time I went hiking. I wanted to gather up all those gun shells. I took some bags with me to carry them all. I'm sure I got within 50 feet of them, but I couldn't find them. Rats. I did find another pile just like the first one, but not as many shells. Probably shot from the same gun. I gathered them up. They were several hundred yards from the first pile.

As I strolled along, I saw what I thought were pieces of plastic bags caught on tree branches. I went to pull them off. When I got there I saw that they were tied to the trees. They were marking a trail (see the pictures). The trail was also marked by rock cairns. The trail was 10 or 15 feet wide and looked like a herd of elephants used it every day. Why somebody thought it also needed to be marked with plastic, I can't imagine. I started to take the plastic down but then imagined some city slicker wandering lost in the desert until he died and decided to leave it. You're welcome, slick.

There is also a picture of a more subtle trail. When looking at that trail from the top of Spooky Hill, I thought it had been made by deer. While on the trail, though, I could see that it was probably cleared by horseback riders. I can't imagine deer kicking all those rocks out of the way.


Friday, December 21, 2007

Finally, back to the desert

Date: December 21, 2007
Location: Bulldog Canyon
Time and temperature: Start - 1430, 58
End - 1623, 58
Distance hiked: 1.5 miles
The numbers:
40 Pictures taken
1 Deer seen
1 Zanol (The American Products Co) bottle extracted from the desert

Ramblings: It's been a couple of weeks since I've been for a hike. I felt a little bad all week, like I was about to come down with a cold. I thought maybe it was because I had been cooped up for too long. I felt much better while I was hiking, but now that I'm back home I'm ready to get to bed and sleep for 12 hours. Anyway, it was very pretty out there today. The air was clear and there were some nice clouds on the horizon.

I just wandered around today. I like to walk around in an area that it seems like not many people would visit. I can always tell people have been there, though. There were horse tracks criss-crossing all over the place where I was today, and some were very fresh. I saw some very fresh deer tracks today, too, and saw one of the deer making them. I came over a ridge and it was in the wash below me. It was a large doe. It was bouncing along on all fours like deer do in cartoons, then it trotted off down the wash. It was gone before I could get the lens cap off.

It wasn't very cold, but the wind was blowing at least 15 mph. I had to put my hood on now and then to thaw my ears out. I'm so glad I don't live someplace that gets cold.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Water at Tortilla Flat

Last weekend I made a very short video of water flowing over the road at Tortilla Flat. Just now remembered to put it here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Snow on Four Peaks

We have officially had more rain during the past two weeks than we have had during the previous 11 months. It's very wet around here right now. There was even some pretty thick fog this morning. All the clouds and fog were gone by this afternoon, though, so we could see that there is a little snow on Four Peaks. I didn't have much time to get pictures before the sun set.


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Apache Trail, near Canyon Lake

I drove out Apache Trail this afternoon. I think if I'd been out there yesterday morning, I might have seen some waterfalls. I bet I wouldn't have been able to cross the creek at Tortilla Flat, though. When I got out of the truck at the lake, it stunk pretty bad (the lake, not the truck). I hung around a while anyway, and was able to get a couple of pictures of a blue heron. Actually, I took a lot of pictures of it, but you can't see it against the background in most of them.


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Back to Bulldog

I felt like getting out of the house this afternoon so I went back to Bulldog Canyon. When I was there this morning, it was easy to drive around because the rain had compacted the sand in the washes, so I didn't bog down any. This afternoon, though, some kids had been riding dirt bikes up and down the road (and everywhere else). It's like they had been working as hard as they could to loosen the sand up. I kept getting bogged down.

I didn't drive very far down the road. I stopped in a place that I don't usually stop because too many people hang out there. You can tell from the pictures that a lot of people go there, and leave their trash.



We had a lot of rain last night. I left the house this morning planning to drive around the neighborhood and see how much water was in the catch basins. I wound up in Bulldog Canyon. Here are a few pictures.


Friday, December 07, 2007

New hair color

Lauren colored her hair again. I keep wondering who that girl with the black hair is.

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Lazy day

I went for a short stroll in Bulldog Canyon today. Not enough daylight to do much else. The small washes are full of magnetite after the recent rains. There were a few clouds around this afternoon. I guess it's gearing up for Friday and Saturday, when it's supposed to rain again. We'll see.

I found a large hole dug right next to the road. I've probably found it before, though, so it's nothing new. I also found a saguaro that branched like a tree instead of a saguaro. I've probably found it before, too. Let me know if you remember seeing this stuff before.


Monday, December 03, 2007

Ghost fire remnants

It was a beautiful clear day today. The brown cloud stayed out of the east valley. The Superstition Mountains looked so pretty on the way home, I had to go take some pictures. They are familiar "poses", but taken with my new filters. I'm finding out that the filters make it difficult to take pictures in low light; some of them turned out pretty dark.

After I took pictures of the mountains, I drove down Apache Trail looking for something else to photograph. I pulled over in an area that was burned by the Ghost fire on June 29, 2005. The area still looks devastated. It takes a long time for the desert to recover from something like that.


Sunday, December 02, 2007


Date: December 2, 2007
Location: Bulldog Canyon
Time and temperature: Start - 1500, ??
End - 1700, 59
Distance hiked: 1.6 miles
Elevation change: 390 feet
The numbers:
69 Pictures taken
1 Golf ball left behind (I've got to get rid of them)

Ramblings: It was overcast and gloomy the whole time I was in Texas over the Thanksgiving holiday. I was looking forward to getting back to sunny Arizona. When I did get back, it was cloudy here, too. It kept getting cloudier and gloomier. It even rained (a lot, which was nice). The sun finally came out today; beautiful clear blue skies. I had to take some pictures.

Another reason I had to take some pictures is because I got some filters for my camera. A few weeks ago, I was looking through somebody else's pictures and realized he must be using a polarizing filter to get the sky to look the way he did. I looked into getting one for my camera, but couldn't find one for it on the Canon web site. I figured that I would have to buy an SLR and at least two lenses to get the zoom capability I wanted and a polarizing filter. It would cost $3000 or $4000. Then I Googled Canon polarizing filter and discovered LENSMATE. They make adapters and sell filters and lenses for Canon Powershot cameras. So I ordered my Christmas present early. Thank you, Suzanne, it's just what I wanted!

I hiked up to my favorite ridge in Bulldog Canyon, snapping pictures along the way. I took some with the polarizer adjusted and then another one with it mis-adjusted, for comparison. I also took some with the UV filter and polarizer in place and another one with them removed. I really like the way the polarizer makes the pictures look. There are a few pairs of pictures in the web album, with captions explaining the differences.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Rain! Lots of it!

It rained quite a bit yesterday and today. This afternoon, Lindsey and I drove out Apache trail and took some pictures near the Superstition Mountains. When we got to a wash that had a fair amount of water crossing it at a pretty good clip, I decided to stop and take pictures instead of crossing. Several small sedans zipped across. A couple were missing pretty bad when they got to the other side. Some crossed it at high speed. I wanted to get pictures of those, but another guy and I were standing by the road with cameras, and I think it tipped the drivers off. They all slowed down as long as we were in sight.

We drove up the Firstwater Trailhead road a little ways before we came to the same wash crossing that road. It was narrower - and therefore deeper - there. We didn't see anybody cross there. Did see one guy wisely decide to wait a while.

As we got back on Apache Trail to go home, we could see that the water level had dropped a little. There was also a line of cars, because the Forest service had shown up and closed the road.


A couple of vehicles crossing the wash.

Here's how to cross a flooded wash on a bicycle.

And now a Ford Mustang crossing the wash.

Lastly, some folks that needed encouragement.

Monday, November 19, 2007

One more hike before Thanksgiving

Date: November 19, 2007
Location: Bulldog Canyon
Time and temperature: Start - 1707, 76
End - 1805, 63
Distance hiked: 1.3 miles
Elevation change: 360 feet
The numbers:
14 Pictures taken
2 Movies made
1 Mylar Pooh Bear and Tigger balloon extracted from the desert.

Ramblings: On my last two or three hikes, I've been close to heavily traveled roads or roads with ATVs and loud people on them. I haven't been able to enjoy the quiet of the desert. I decided that today I had better find a quiet place and give my ears a rest. I thought I would try to get to the top of a ridge in Bulldog Canyon before it got dark. It was after 5 when I left the truck, and sunset was at 5:23 today. I got to the ridge in 17 minutes, which amazes me. It looks like it's far away when you start out and you have to cross 2 deep washes and a bunch of smaller ones before you even start climbing. My heart was pounding on the steep part, but not as hard as it did last summer when I was walking slowly up small hills in 107 degree heat.

I didn't take many pictures on the way up because I was in a hurry. I didn't take many on the way down because it was dark. I made a couple of movies at the top to try to capture the quiet, but that doesn't work. When I watch them, I turn up the volume and discover that my camera makes all sorts of noises I had never heard before. At the end of the first video, I quietly whispered, "Silence". After I had downloaded it, I was watching it and turned the volume up to listen to the camera noises. I could hear it zoom in or out now and then, and I heard the lens cap swing and bump something, and there was a constant wunk-wunk-wunk-wunk-wunk in the background. I don't know what that might be. I was trying to figure it out when the video got to the end and I jumped out of my chair at the not-so-quiet "Silence".

On the way back to the truck, I figured I would have to get a flashlight out. On the way down into the first deep wash, though, I noticed that I could see my moon shadow. Strangely, no Cat Stevens songs popped into my head.

Once I got off the slope of the side of the ridge, every wash and dip, even the shallow ones, was filled with cool air, at least 3 or 4 degrees cooler that the high spots between them. It made all the ups and downs more fun than work.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Wandering around Bulldog Canyon

Date: November 17, 2007
Location: Bulldog Canyon OHV area
Time and Temperature: Start - 1555, 82
End - 1705, 72
Distance hiked: 0.8 miles
Elevation change: 360 feet
The numbers:
41 Pictures taken
15 Other people seen

Ramblings: It was a very nice day for a hike; cool with a light breeze. I headed out to Bulldog Canyon without much of an idea of where I would wind up. As I drove along the dirt road, I decided to hike out to Spooky Hill. On the way, though, I got sidetracked. I started to hike up the side of Horseshoe Mountain a little ways, taking a different route to Spooky Hill. I kept going higher and higher, though. I thought I might be about to find a new route to the top but I was stopped a few feet short. I might have been able to make it to the top, but I would have had to violate a couple of my hiking rules (rules about not putting myself in positions where I could fall to my death), so I stopped before disaster had a chance to strike.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Late afternoon stroll

Oh, I can't do all that stuff I usually do for a blog. I'm too tired today. That's because I was so tired yesterday I tossed and turned all night thinking that I really needed to get to sleep, so I didn't.

There were a lot of people on ATVs in Bulldog Canyon today. They were constantly zipping up and down the road. I was headed for some mountains and had to cross a lot of washes, so I didn't get as far as I had hoped. That part of Bulldog Canyon is heavily traveled. I saw horse hoof prints just about everywhere I went. Maybe it's popular because it's close to Bush Highway.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Another odd saguaro

Found this one tonight. Looks like it's had vertical cuts made all over it.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Camera experiment

I'm still experimenting with different ways to take pictures and different effects, but it doesn't cost near as much as it did with that instant-print camera I used many years ago. I was trying to make the flowers on this bush stand out. I think I need to polish my technique a little. I'm not sure why the leaves turned out so green.

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Odd saguaros

I forgot to mention in yesterday's blog that when you are hiking on Picketpost Mountain, you never get away from the noise of cars and motorcycles on 60. It was kind of annoying. So today I thought I would go out to Bulldog Canyon for some peace and quiet. This was the first time I went out there this November. The combination for the gate locks is changed every month. The combination on my pass didn't work at either of the gates I tried. I figured my feet were too achy from yesterday's hike to get to a quiet spot in Bulldog Canyon without driving, so I just parked near the Salt River and wandered around there for a while. I found several saguaros that had something strange about them. Here are pictures.


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Picketpost Mountain

Date: November 3, 2007
Location: Picketpost Mountain, near Superior, Az.
Time and temperature: Start - 1123, 82
End - 1718, 78
Elevation change: 1757 feet
The numbers:
51 Pictures taken
7 Other hikers seen
6 Times I lost the trail
4 Times I seriously thought about turning back

Ramblings: Wow, what a hike. What a killer of a hike. I did have fun, though.

I started out by starting too late. I should have shopped for supplies last night. It was a little warm by the time I got on the trail, but it wasn't hot enough to be a problem. The problem was limited daylight. A sign said the parking area closed at sunset. There was a caretaker there that would probably have my truck towed if I was late getting back.

The trail was not bad for the first mile or so, except for how far away the mountain looked. I kept thinking that I wouldn't want to walk that far on level ground, much less on ground that looked like it went straight up. Then I met Conrad. He was sitting in the shade of a large rock on the side of the trail. He was waiting for his son and grandson to get back from the top. He seemed embarrassed that he had to sit there and wait. He talked about training with a heavy pack and coming back. He turns 75 next month. I think he's doing pretty darn good.

Just past Conrad's rock, the trail got steep. Then it got steeper. The trail was also difficult to follow in places. It's marked with cairns and paint spots, but a lot of times I would be walking (or climbing) on what seemed to be the trail, and it would just end. I would look around for a few minutes trying to find a trail marker and sometimes explore a little ways in various directions before I found it again. One of those times was when the trail was going up the middle of the canyon and up ahead I could see that it was nothing but polished rock going almost straight up. I might be able to climb it, but it looked too risky. That was one of the times I thought about going back. I looked around and saw that the trail went to the left, though, so I continued my quest.

There were also times when I knew I was on the trail because I could see markers up ahead, but the trail still looked treacherous. Several times I had to stand there and pick a route, take a few steps, then stop and make sure the route still looked like it would work from this new vantage point. Sometimes I would stand there planning the next 2 or 3 steps and going over the plan again and again before moving. The trail was sort of scary on the way up.

At about 2 in the afternoon, I stopped to have a snack. I got to thinking about how much sunlight was left and thinking that maybe I should turn back now. I got out the GPS to see how far I was from the summit. It was 0.3 miles distant and 400 feet higher. I thought about coming back next weekend and realized that the memory of how difficult the climb had been would be too fresh. I had to go on; it's now or never.

The rest of the way to the summit wasn't too bad. There's a mailbox full of notepads for people to write stuff at the summit. A note written on aluminum inside the door of the mailbox explains its history (see the pictures). The note reminds me of Dad's humor.

I figured I should leave the summit at 2:30 to get back to the truck before sunset. I got to the summit at 2:40, though. I took a few pictures and left at 2:51. That reminded me of going on trips with Dad. Drive for hours and hours, stop and look around a few minutes, then drive back.

The hike back down was really scary because I could see what I had my back to before. I would be walking along a steep downward slope and it would look like it ended at a sheer cliff ahead. Sometimes that was because I had lost the trail. Sometimes it was because that's what the trail was like. Well, I didn't have to go off the cliff, but I would turn up ahead or it wasn't quite as bad a cliff as it looked like. I was going slowly and carefully. Fortunately, my thighs didn't start cramping until I was back down to Conrad's rock. I felt relieved because the trail wasn't nearly as steep from there on down to the parking lot. It was a lot steeper than I remembered, though. It was a shame I had to hurry. I think I could spend several days on that trail taking pictures of all the neat stuff.

I Geotagged all of the pictures, but the ones in the canyon are just guesses. Google Earth isn't detailed enough there for me to figure out exactly where I was.


Friday, November 02, 2007

Sunset near the Superstitions

No time for a hike before sunset today, but I went out to the Massacre Grounds trailhead and climbed a rocky hill to watch the sunset. It was very nice. I took some pictures of the sunset for Peggy.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Lindsey was a pirate for Halloween. She handed out the candy, which was really nice. There were some cute kids. I should have taken pictures of them.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More lake pictures

I went out to Canyon Lake after work to get some close up pictures of the lake, or the lack of lake. I'm surprised it doesn't stink out there with all the dead mollusks. As I suspected, there was a lot of trash where the water used to be. It's much quieter out there without the boats zipping back and forth.


Sunday, October 28, 2007


Date: October 28, 2007
Location: Bulldog Canyon
Time and temperature: Start - 1710, 91
End - 1900, 72
The numbers:
33 Pictures taken
11 Gnats killed
1 Fly thumped, stomped, and buried
0 bats seen

Ramblings: Remember the pile of rocks that I thought might have bats living in it? Well, I do. I was even able to find it again. I got out there a little before sunset and tried to get comfortable.

I was also conducting research into another puzzling aspect of the desert. Often, when I'm driving through Bulldog Canyon OHV area, I see the side of the road littered with beer cans. It seems that drinking beer in the desert must be lots of fun, because a lot of people seem to do it. I had to find out how much fun it is for myself. So I carried a lawn chair and a small ice chest with beer out to the pile of rocks. I set up the chair on the east side of the rocks, so any bats that came out would be visible against the glow in the western sky (not only does the sun set over there, but Phoenix and its metropolitan glow are in that direction, too). I sat down, popped a top, stretched out my legs, and started swatting at gnats and flies. They've hardly bothered me this whole year. I think they were trying to make up for that tonight.

One fly kept buzzing in my ears, then landed on my leg. I thumped him, and he landed in the wash a few feet away. He wasn't moving, but I knew from experience that he was probably just stunned. I walked over and stepped on him THREE times, grinding my foot each time. There was an inch deep depression in the gravel, with him in the center. I sat down and shooed the gnats away from my beer and watched the rocks. I glanced down and the fly was WALKING AROUND! Super fly! I got a rock and shoved him so far into the gravel that it should take him at least a couple of hours to dig his way out.

It finally got dark and cool enough that the flies and gnats went to bed, or where ever they go at night. I relaxed and watched the rocks and the mosquitoes silhouetted against the western sky. I watched and sipped beer and wished I had brought a long sleeved shirt. I never saw a single bat. Maybe they've migrated already. I'll have to do this again next summer.

It was pretty dark by the time I headed back to the truck. I thought about tossing my beer cans out with all the others to lighten my load; then I thought about growing a mullet, jacking my truck up, and putting a really loud muffler on it. I didn't have a gun with me to kill the cans, though, so I packed them up. The moon wasn't up yet, and it was too dark to walk without a flashlight. I would have been tripping over brittle bush and cholla. Fortunately, I had the headlight that Suzanne gave me for my birthday. It's an LED flashlight on a headband. It looks really geeky, but is is so handy in the desert at night when you have a chair in one hand and an ice chest in the other. The bad thing is, it isn't real bright. I could only see about 15 or 20 feet, and everything was a ghostly gray. Nothing looked familiar, but I always try to go to different places, so things usually don't look familiar. I used Alex's hill as a reference and tried to go south. If I did that and turned right when I got to the road, I would get to my truck. Every time I got to the top of a small ridge, I didn't have enough light to see to the bottom on the other side. It was like looking over the edge of the wall at Grand Cayman. Inky black bottomless depths. Spooky. It was tempting to follow the ridge, but it went the wrong way. I finally got to the road and turned right. I turned the headlight off so I could see outside my little pool of light. I walked and walked and hoped I hadn't missed the truck. As I trudged along, I got pretty close to a palo verde. The 4 or 5 birds in it took off. I hopped all the way to the other side of the road when they did. Heck, they make me jump in the day time when they do that.

The rest of the trip was mostly uneventful. Drinking beer out there didn't seem all that great. Maybe I was drinking the wrong kind. Desert beer drinkers seem to prefer Bud Light. Or maybe it's the ones drinking Bud Light that tend to throw the empties out the window. Who knows.


Dam Maintenance

The dam that forms Canyon Lake needs maintenance, so the lake has been drained some. Here are pictures.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Big Red Stripe

Date: October 27, 2007
Location: Bulldog Canyon
Time and temperature: Start - 1405, 91
End - 1720, 83
Elevation change: 700 feet
The numbers:
79 Pictures taken
1 "Happy Birthday" balloon removed from the desert
1 WalMart bag removed from the desert

Ramblings: There's a red stripe on the side of the mountains in Bulldog Canyon. I always assumed that the rocks there had a lot of iron in them or something like that. A couple of weeks ago, I was hiking near the red stripe and found red spots on rocks, gravel, plants, etc. I thought that maybe it had rained a little, then some dust from the red stripe blew over and stuck where the raindrops had hit. I hiked up to the red stripe today to test that theory. Now I know what really happened, and you don't. Neener neener.

I doubt that it got over 93 out there, but it sure felt hot. I was stopping to rest is saguaro shadows. It's a pretty long walk from the road to the red stripe. With all the washes I had to cross, I climbed a lot more than 700 feet today.

It was unusually quiet out there today. There were some people on dirt bikes and a few trucks; even one of those desert tour hummers. I didn't hear much though. I usually enjoy the quiet. Today, on the way downhill, it was eerily quiet. It's like it was so quiet, the desert was sucking sound out of my ears, and it felt weird. It wasn't so quiet on the way uphill because I had the sound of myself gasping for air. There were hardly any birds chirping and I didn't hear any bugs. Strange.

Anyway, when I got closer to the red stripe, I saw that the rocks had red dots on them. When I got close enough to the red stripe, I could see that it looked like paint had been dump on the area. Of course it wasn't paint. It must have been fire retardant. You can see in the pictures that a lot of saguaros have darkened bases. That's from being burned. I could also see a lot of charred bush stumps. The fire retardant seems to be very persistent. I wish I knew when it had been dumped out there.

I climbed on up to the peak over the red stripe. The view was nice from up there. I kept looking for the truck but couldn't find it. I was getting worried and got the binoculars out. I found the truck, but I also discovered that it isn't a good idea to leave binoculars in your truck over the summer. There's $12 down the tubes.

I was thinking about leaving a golf ball at the peak, but when I got there I found a comb that somebody else had left. I didn't want the place to get cluttered, so I didn't leave anything.

While I was near the peak I saw a trail that I'll need to explore some day. It's going to be tough, though. I can't park anywhere near it.

I was watching a nice sunset as I drove out. I wasn't going to take any pictures, but then I remembered what Peg said. I jumped out of the truck, ran up a nearby hill, and snapped a couple of pictures for Peg.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Two cool things!

Date: October 22, 2007
Location: Bulldog Canyon
Time and temperature: Start - 1615, 81
End - 1715, 70
The numbers:
19 Pictures taken
1 Lizard seen that I never saw before
1 Bat seen in the daytime
1 "Happy Mother's Day" balloon extracted from the desert

Ramblings: Two posts in one day. It sure is a lot of work trying to keep up with Alex.

I saw a long nosed leopard lizard today. I've never seen one of those before. It's pretty. It was in the loose gravel on the side of the road and stayed there while I took several pictures.

There have been several occasions when I've been driving out of Bulldog Canyon at dusk and have seen bats flitting about. I've always wondered where they spent the day. Are there large abandoned mines? Are there caves that no one has discovered? I think I might have solved the mystery today.

After a weekend in LA, I had to get back to the desert, away from all the people. It was an unusually beautiful day, too, so I had to get out of the house. I forgot to take my backpack, though, which has my GPS receiver and flashlight in it. Also, I didn't get much sleep last night. All of this is important because it explains why I might have solved the mystery. I need to go back and make sure. I did have water and pliers, though.

I was just wandering around and was about to head back to the truck when I spotted an intriguing pile of rocks. There are a lot of those out there. Some are more intriguing than others. I don't know why. I always think I'm going to find something in them, and sometimes I do find some beer cans. Anyway, I was climbing to the top of this one when I saw what I thought was a small bird fly out from the base. I looked and watched a bat fly back to the rocks and land on a side that I couldn't see at the time. I looked all over the pile of rocks but I couldn't find the bat. That isn't surprising though; the piles of rocks are full of nooks and crannies and chinks and all sorts of places that small animals could hide. So maybe that's where the bats spend their days. Only one way to find out. I'll have to watch the pile at dusk and see what flies out. I couldn't do it tonight because I didn't want to hike back to the truck without a flashlight. I usually don't use one at night, but I figured it would be a bad idea to be out there without one. Also, I was tired and didn't want to be up real late. It was getting cool, too, and I can't stay warm when I'm so tired. No problem. I'm always looking for excuses to go back out there.


Weekend trip to California

Suzanne went to a nursing conference near LA (Agoura Hills) on Saturday. I tagged along. The weather was beautiful on Saturday. I drove along the Pacific Coast Highway for a while and also went for a short hike in the hills. I wanted to check out the Backbone trail, but the parking lot there was overflowing. People even parked next to tow-away zone signs. I was thinking about going out there early Sunday to get a parking spot, but I turned on the TV and saw that there was a fire near there and decided we should probably head north.

It was pretty windy. It was also surprisingly dry. I didn't know the relative humidity could get down to single digits so close to the coast. We drove up the PCH to Santa Barbara. On the way there the wind suddenly stopped and the humidity went way up. As we did touristy things in Santa Barbara, I kept looking out at the smoke blowing out over the water. I thought it was all from Malibu.

We were heading northeast from Santa Barbara and got into some smoke. It was very dark. I couldn't believe all the smoke was coming from Malibu so we turned the radio on and discovered that there were about a dozen fires burning around LA. Oh, and we were headed right for one of the fastest growing ones. We got past it without incident, and before the roads were closed. We decided to drive on back to Phoenix. I was trying to avoid LA traffic, so we were trying to skirt around the north side of LA. We had to take interstate 15 south for a few miles, though. We got on it after sunset. The road snaked downhill for miles, and it was solid red with brake lights. Yuck. I don't know if the traffic was bad because of the fires or what. We were flying again by the time we got on 215. For about the next 40 miles we were battling some fierce headwinds. Fortunately they didn't pick up much dust. We did get hit by gravel now and then. We heard on the radio that 18-wheelers were getting blown over. I was really nervous whenever we passed one.


Video of the Agua Dulce, or Buckweed, fire:

This NASA satellite photo shows locations of the fires. We drove past the two topmost. The Malibu fire is directly below those two.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Return to the end of Meridian Road

Date: October 17, 2007
Location: The north end of Meridian Road, Mesa
Time and temperature: Start - 1720, 78
End - 1808, 74
The numbers:
50 Pictures taken
2 Aluminium (thanks Clyde) cans extracted from the desert
1 Coyote heard howling

Ramblings: I haven't been to the end of Meridian road for a while. I went today because I had to get back to the desert and it's close and the sun sets pretty early these days. It was 78 when I started up a hill to get a look around. I went all the way to the top (maybe only a hundred feet or so) without pausing. In a Houston 78, I would have been drenched with sweat. However, not even one drop formed on my temple. Eat your heart out, Houston. Oh, ignore the fact that there aren't any hills to climb in Houston and even if there were, you wouldn't climb them to look around because there wouldn't be anything to see. Well, I suppose all that moisture in the air does make for some nice sunsets now and then.

Speaking of sunsets, I took pictures of one today. I had decided to quit taking sunset pictures because I have so many of them, but it was a pretty one and I was standing there watching it anyway, holding my camera, so what the heck. I only put two of them here, though.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Climbing a hill

Date: October 13, 2007
Location: Bulldog Canyon
Time and temperature: Start - 1445, 76
End - 1730, 74
Distance hiked: 2.4 miles
Elevation change: 605 feet
The numbers:
81 Pictures taken
10 Other people seen
1 Liter of water drank

Ramblings: You know, that elevation change is a little misleading. It doesn't take into account all the washes I go through. It's just the difference in elevation between where I parked and the highest point of the hike.

There were high, thin clouds the morning (bad for photography of landscapes) and it was supposed to be windy, so I didn't climb Picket Post mountain. After lunch, all the clouds were gone. Too late for Picket Post, so I headed for Bulldog Canyon. It was a gorgeous, cool day. Lots of people were out enjoying the desert.

There's a hill I've been thinking I should climb the past couple of weeks, so I did that today. There was a nice view from up there. No evidence of people having been up there, either. That's strange. People always head for peaks, and you can usually tell that they've been there.

Speaking of strange, I came across an area where everything was covered with red dots. I've seen that once before, and that time it was also in Bulldog Canyon, but several miles from where I was today. My theory is that it sprinkles and then some really red dust blows in and sticks to the wet spots. They are so red, though, it doesn't seem like it could be dust.


Sunday, October 07, 2007

Massacre Grounds trail

Date: October 7, 2007
Location: Massacre grounds trail, Superstition Wilderness
Time and temperature: Start - 1440, 82
End - 1727, 82
Distance hiked: 3 miles
Elevation change: 900 feet
The numbers:
30 Pictures taken
6 Other hikers seen
0 Beer cans seen

Ramblings: I hadn't hiked to the end of the Massacre Grounds trail for a while. When I started out, it seemed kind of boring because I had been on it so many times before. By the time I got to the end and the spectacular view, I decided it was well worth it. The weather was perfect today. Clear blue skies (no brown cloud!) and a nice breeze; not so cold that my ears hurt. I didn't see as many people as I had expected to see on that trail on such a pretty day. Maybe most people went for their hike in the morning. I prefer the afternoon.

The lizards usually sit on rocks and watch me go by on this trail. They skittered away before I saw them today. Didn't get any good pictures of them.

It looks like somebody got tired of getting "lost" on that trail. Near the end, it splits and rejoins itself a lot, except that it doesn't always rejoin. If you take a wrong fork on your way down, you can wind up at an impassable cliff and have to retrace your steps a long way. I've done that twice. Today the trail had a lot of rock cairns marking it. It's easier to stay on the right path now.

I didn't take a lot of pictures on this hike. That's because I've already taken pictures of just about everything along this trail.


Saturday, October 06, 2007

Short hike

Date: October 6, 2007
Location: Off Apache Trail, just before the pavement ends
Time and temperature: Start - 1513, 74
End - 1644, 70
Items removed from desert: One small ice chest, 3 bottles, one can, pieces of a motorcycle (maybe), one balloon, miscellaneous pieces of plastic
The number:
36 Pictures taken

Ramblings: It was really nice outside today. I went out Apache Trail almost to where it turns to dirt. I was thinking that I would try to get down to some mines I had seen at the bottom of a canyon several months ago. I didn't get very close, though. The sides of the canyons in that area are very steep. I started in a side canyon, thinking I could follow it down, but I kept encountering pour offs that dropped 10 or more feet. I was able to get around a couple of them, but I finally decided it was getting too dangerous. There was the danger of falling, the danger of getting lost (as you descend, side canyons join; don't take the wrong one back up or you're hosed), and the danger of rattle snakes. I didn't see or hear any, but I was walking around so many perfect snake hiding places that I was a nervous wreck. Gee, sometimes I make these hikes sound so unpleasant. It wasn't. It was beautiful out there, and peaceful, and cool.

You'll see some puddles of water in the pictures. You know what comes with puddles of water, right? This was the second time I've gotten mosquito bites in Arizona. For some reason they went after my left elbow.


Friday, October 05, 2007

Kite flying weather

It was really windy this afternoon. We had a strong breeze out of the south. That means it's going to cool off. I haven't figured out how that works yet, but it happens every time. Anyway, it was so windy, there was a lot of dust in the air. Not like during monsoon season, though. It was fine dust dispersed evenly through the air.

Lindsey thought it was perfect kite flying weather, so we went to wally world to get a kite. They only had two, but we only needed one. It's small; 26 inch wing span. By the time we got out to fly it, the sun was setting.

We could barely see the Superstition Mountains through the dust.

The kite's motion makes it look like it's against a gray wall in this picture.

The flash makes it look like it's glowing.

Here are the videos.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Cauliflower Saguaro?

Date: October 2, 2007
Location: Bulldog Canyon
Time and temperature: I forgot to look. Sure was humid, though.
The numbers:
23 Pictures taken
1 Weird saguaro found
1 Spectacular sunset witnessed

Ramblings: Lauren went to Bulldog Canyon with me this afternoon. I was thinking about climbing Alex's hill, but then I remembered that she didn't have her hiking shoes on, so we just wandered around near there. She spotted a really deformed saguaro. It isn't a crested saguaro. I don't know what you would call it. I got the coordinates so I will be able to find it again.

I walked right past the saguaro without seeing it. I also got back to the road over half a mile from the truck. I was wearing my glasses today, and that's like wearing blinders. Can't see anything or tell where I'm going. I sure hope my eye feels better soon.


Monday, October 01, 2007

Tarantula video

I never did figure out why my uploaded videos look so lousy, unless it's because they are shown in a bigger window. I finally uploaded my latest tarantula video.

The Barrel

Surprisingly, nobody has guessed the contents of the barrel. I had decided that if anybody even got close, I would declare them the winner, but nobody even got close enough. There were some pretty far out guesses. For example: treasure map, pesticide bottle, wind chimes... Well, I guess those were all from Ww, before she had her coffee. Either that or she touches those things just about every day. Maybe I should have said that it's something that regular people touch just about every day.

So, the contest will be extended for another week or until somebody guesses. No more clues. Just kidding. I've already given you one. I'm about to give another, but it makes the answer so obvious, I've got to change the rules. New rule is that you must post your guess as a comment on this blog. You may post anonymously, but you must provide sufficient clues as to who you are, or I won't be able to send your prize to you. Guesses that are not posted on this blog will be ignored like a homeless window washer with a snotty rag at a green light.

OK, the second clue. You've seen that TV show, "Dead Like Me", right?

Cloud cover

Ever wonder what the cloud cover is like outside?

Check this out.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

ATV in Bulldog Canyon

Date: September 29, 2007
Location: Bulldog Canyon
Time and temperature: Start - 1520, 93
End - 1855, 81
Distance driven 10.6 miles
The numbers:
16 Pictures taken
3 Other people seen

Ramblings: Maybe all I did was ride around today (except for one small side hike), but I'm worn out. I drove down 10, a road through the center of Bulldog Canyon OHV area, on my ATV. I drove down that road once before in my truck and I was very worried that I wouldn't be able to get my truck out of there. Driving down that road today, I was astonished that I had made it in my truck. Maybe it's gotten worse since then, but some spots are just the way I remembered them. I remember standing there thinking, "How the h**l am I going to get past this?" I kept going forward back then because I didn't think I would be able to climb back up some hills I had descended. Even on a nimble little ATV, there were some tricky spots. I'm worn out from all of the jostling and jerking around. My neck hurts from being jerked around. My hands are raw from hanging on with a death grip. It's a good thing I drove real slow. It was well worth it, though. I'd go again tomorrow if it weren't going to be so hot.

Something unusual happened. Every picture I took turned out OK. Well, you may not like them, but I do. The air was so clear I didn't even have to tweak the contrast on any of them.

On my way out there, I was worried it would be crowded on such a nice day. I didn't see anybody else until I was about to leave, though. All that incredible beauty so close to town, and I had it all to myself for most of the afternoon. That's just mind boggling.


Since nobody has even gotten reasonably close to guessing the contents of the barrel, and since there are those who are grumbling about this contest being like the "riddle" that Bilbo Baggins posed to Golem to escape his clutches in that deep, dank, dark cave (anybody remember?), I will give two more clues some time in the next couple of days. I already have the clues in mind. I'm afraid it's going to be a dead giveaway, though, so I'll have to put some new rules in place.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Hike around Spooky Hill and Horseshoe Mountain

Date: September 25, 2007
Location: Bulldog Canyon
Time and temperature: Start - 1735, 90
End - 1905, 77
Distance hiked: 1.9 miles
The numbers:
14 Pictures taken
1 Birthday balloon extracted from the desert

Ramblings: I missed a great YouTube opportunity today. I had just left the truck when 4 people on ATVs went roaring by. I thought about making a video but didn't. One of them didn't make it around a curve and almost slammed into a rock wall. He got stuck in the soft sand and it took two guys to get it out.

What was strange is that when they were about to drive off, the one that was stuck pointed at my truck and kept saying, "Who's truck is that?! Who's truck is that?!" I don't know why he was so excited to see my truck. I was wondering why they hadn't seen me (I was on a bare hill side). Finally the other guy pointed at me and said, "It's probably his". I waved. The goofy guy said "Oh" and they drove off.

It's so nice and cool (almost) in the desert now. The problem is that the sun sets so early. It was pretty dark by the time I got back to the truck. I was struggling with whether to get my flashlight out or not. If you use a flashlight, all you can see is your little circle of light. If you don't use one, you run the risk of scaring a rattlesnake, and it might bite first and ask questions later. I took my chances and stumbled through the dark.

The wash on the western side of Horseshoe Mountain seems to have been a popular place for people to hang out for many years. There's trash all over the place, thousands of gun shells laying around, and lots of animal bones. Which brings me to the contest. In the pictures, you will see a picture of a rusty barrel. The object of the contest is to guess what's in it. Some clues: it's man made, it's broken, I didn't take a picture of it, everybody touches one just about every day. I hope that doesn't make it too easy. The person that guesses closest to what it is wins the prize. Yes, of course there's a prize! The prize is an autographed, framed picture (taken by me). You can either tell me which picture you want, or I'll pick one out. Is that cool, or what. OK, some rules. There is a limit of 20 entries per person. No pseudonyms or aliases. You have one week. Remember, this is a family oriented blog; lewd guesses will result in disqualification. Finally, it's my contest, so I make the rules, so I can do whatever I darn well please.

Here's a map of the hike.

View Larger Map

And here are the pictures.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Soooo cool

Date: September 24, 2007
Location: Bulldog Canyon
Time and temperature: Start - 1720, 84
End - 1830, 71
Distance hiked: About 2 miles
The numbers:
8 Pictures taken

Ramblings: Hmm, not many numbers. I didn't find any golf balls. That's twice in a row that didn't happen.

Today when I got out of the truck and started walking, I felt guilty or something. It was like I shouldn't be out there when it isn't blazingly hot. I got over it, though. It was nice to be able to walk around and not have to stop to cool off. It was nice to just walk without planning my route from saguaro shadow to saguaro shadow.


Saturday, September 22, 2007


Date: September 22, 2007
Location: Apache Trail, somewhere past Tortilla Flat
Time and temperature: Around 5 or 6, upper 80's
The numbers:
33 Pictures taken
1 Tarantula seen
0 Golf balls found. How odd.

Ramblings: Wow, I wonder if I've lived here so long that I'm starting to take it for granted. On the way back to the house, I was trying to decide whether to get a mint chocolate chip ice cream cone in Tortilla Flat or take pictures of the sunset. Fortunately, I didn't have to decide. I got the ice cream cone before I got to a place for good sunset pictures. Then when I got there, it was raining.

I just strolled around for a while near the road today. In the pictures, you will see one of a narrow canyon. There are a lot of those in that area. They would be the downfall of anybody that got disoriented out there. You might figure out which direction you need to go, but if you find one of those canyons in your way, tough luck. There is no way to cross it, and it could be a long hike to get around it.

I made a movie of the tarantula. My movies lose a lot of resolution when I upload them, though. I'm going to try to fix that before I upload this one.


Photo editor

No, Lauren didn't really do this. I edited an old picture. Turned out pretty good.

Posted by Picasa