Thursday, August 23, 2007

A cloud

Date: August 23, 2007
Location: Meridian Road
Time and temperature: Nineteen hundredish, one-oh-eightish
The numbers:
26 Pictures taken
1 Cactus thorn in my foot
1 Helium birthday balloon retrieved

Ramblings: Wanna hear a funny story about my yard? OK, but anyway, I haven't been giving the yard the attention it requires in order to make the HOA happy. We decided to hire somebody to take care of it for us. Well, it's been almost 3 weeks since the last time he was here. He says it's been too hot for his crew. They can't work all day. So I mowed the front yard today. I know I couldn't do that all day.

It's that time of year when it is not only hot, but also humid, and the constant heat just wears you down. All week long, when I would get home from work, all I wanted to do was stay someplace cool. So sad. It's like I'm getting old or something.

While I was mowing, I saw a really nice cloud to the south. I hopped in the truck when I was done and headed up Meridian to get some pictures. Sorry about all the power lines. I didn't have time to get to where they wouldn't show up.


Oh, and just for completeness:

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Helicopters buzz the Salt River

Date: August 18, 2007
Location: Salt River, near Blue Point
Time and temperature: Start - 1725, 109
End - 1905, 104
Distance hiked About 2 miles
The numbers:
57 Pictures taken
3 Helicopters seen
2 Kayaks seen
1 set of miniblinds seen

Ramblings: It was a little dryer today. It didn't feel too hot until I got close to the river. That's where the mosquitoes were hanging out, too. The river seems to have changed since the picture on Google Earth was taken. It has a small side-stream that breaks off from the main river for a couple of hundred yards or so. At first I thought the side stream was the river and I was wondering how people could stand to go through such slow moving water (with green gunk on top) that had tree branches dangling in the water all the way across. Then I found the real river. I was surprised at how much water was flowing through it.

You can tell that a lot of people visit the river along here. There's a lot of strange stuff laying on the ground, and large areas where plants have been wiped out.

When I started the hike, a sheriff's SUV went by in Bush Highway with lights and siren going. A couple of minutes later a helicopter came the other direction and went right over me. At first I thought it might be rushing somebody to the hospital, but it turns out it was a sheriff's helicopter. It flew back and forth several times and would sometimes fly slowly over some areas. It was mostly following the river. I wonder if they saw me snapping pictures each time they went by. A couple of other helicopters flew along the river, too. I also heard a couple of airboats on the river. I wasn't close enough to the river at the time to see them or get a picture, though. It might have been useful to have had my scanner with me, but there's a limit to how much stuff I can carry around in that heat.

Speaking of the heat, I wonder if I might have gotten a little too warm. I started feeling woozy just before I got back to the truck and felt that way until after I got home and ate. Maybe I was just hungry. I felt fine, except for my feet. I forgot to take my Celebrex this morning and my feet were killing me after an hour and a half of walking on river rocks and loose sand. They're much better now, though.


Thursday, August 16, 2007


I got home a little early today (dentist appointment close to the house) and there were storms building to the east and north. I was going to see if I could make a stop-action movie of a thunderstorm building up, but by the time I ate (very late lunch, long story) the storms were too close for that. I drove around and took a few pictures.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A stroll near Canyon Lake

Date: August 15, 2007
Location: Apache Trail, just west of Canyon Lake
Time and temperature: Start - 1730, 103
End - 1820, 102
Distance hiked: About a mile
Elevation change: Less than 50 feet
The numbers:
23 pictures taken

Ramblings: It was pretty muggy today, so I wasn't planning to go for a hike. A storm was building to the east, so I drove out that way thinking I might get some pictures of rain, flooded washes, or maybe even waterfalls. Ha ha. As soon as the cloud started to produce a light rain, it evaporated.

I stopped at some stock pens near the lake and started wandering around. The scenery was beautiful. It sure was muggy, though. The light rain raised the humidity without dropping the temperature much. There was only a light breeze, interspersed with long periods of dead calm.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Ack! Hot! Ack!

Date: August 12, 2007
Location: Salt River, downstream of Saguaro Lake
Time and Temperature: Start - 1412, 115
End - 1443, 115
Distance hiked: One mile
The numbers:
15 Pictures taken
6 Pictures worth keeping
0.5 Liters of water consumed
0.7 Liters of Gatorade consumed

Suzanne and I drove up to Payson yesterday and I was amazed at all the bus loads of people going tubing on the Salt River. I thought maybe I could get some interesting pictures of them, but I was wrong. I went out there today because tubing season is almost over. When I got out of the truck, the thermometer read 120, but that couldn't have been right. It was around 115 as I approached my parking spot. I took pictures in one spot for a few minutes and was thinking about going to another place half a mile on the other side of where I parked. By the time I got back to the truck, though, I had had enough. It was just too hot to be out there without being in the water. There were rain clouds on the horizon, but they weren't going to cool things off any time soon.

I snapped a few pictures of mountains and clouds while I was out there. I like them. I guess I would like the pictures of the tubers if I knew them, but I don't so I don't.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Spooky Hill conquers Lauren

Date: August 8, 2007
Time and Temperature: Start - 1800, 100
End - ~1930, ~95
Location: Spooky Hill, in Bulldog Canyon
Distance hiked: 0.9 miles
Elevation change: 140 feet
The numbers:
26 Pictures taken
>6 Lizards seen
1 Lizard photographed
1 PVC pipe sticking out of the ground with a screw duct taped to it seen
1 mine shaft discovered
1 Rattlesnake seen (and photographed)
0 Snake bites (Woohoo!)

Ramblings: Lauren and I went for a hike in Bulldog Canyon. I thought we should go to the top of Spooky Hill, since that isn't a very difficult hike. I forgot to take into account that Lauren is a pasty white WoW person now, though. We were slowly trudging up the hill when she had to sit down. She was nauseated and turned even whiter (if that's even possible). For about half an hour, all she could do was lay there trying not to throw up. I felt bad for making her feel so bad. We were about 30 feet from the top, but when she felt good enough we headed back to the truck. It was getting late so it was time to go home anyway. Also, unbeknownst to us, a party was being planned and we wouldn't want to be late, if we knew about it.

OK, Lauren is looking over my shoulder and saying that since I embarrassed her, I have to mention that I got my Taco stuck in the sand. I've been worried that I would do that for a while. Now I don't have to worry about that anymore. We scraped sand away from in front of the tires and put some rocks there and got out after about 10 minutes of work.

On the way out, we came across a rattlesnake crossing the road. It's the first rattlesnake Lauren has come across in the wilderness. He posed for a picture with her.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A drier day

Date: August 7, 2007
Time and Temperature: Start - ~1820, 98
End - ~1930, 94
Location: Bulldog Canyon OHV area, near Pass Mountain
Distance hiked: About 1.2 miles
Elevation change: 370 feet
The numbers:
21 Pictures taken
2 Beetles photographed
2 Squirrel traps escaped from
1 Owl heard
1 Liter of water consumed
0.3 Horse shoes found

Ramblings: What do you suppose most people did after work today? Watch their favorite sitcom, laughing when cued by the laugh track? Watch a CSI rerun for the third time, to see 6 different re-enactments of the brutal murder of a bright young college student? Maybe they went to a noisy bar and exchanged various communicable diseases with other loud obnoxious people. Maybe they played a computer game, getting all worked up about something that nobody will even remember 1 month from now. Then they went to bed feeling not quite right, but not able to put their finger on what might be wrong. That is not what I did.

I walked among amazing plants, listening to various birds sing, surrounded by incredible scenery in every direction, breathing in the subtly sweet smell of desert plants after a rain. I might do it again tomorrow, too.

I watched a Star Trek rerun as I ate before the hike. I left the house halfway through the show. I'll never know how the crew of Voyager foiled Species 8472's plans to wipe out all life in our galaxy. Oh, well.

The dew point was below 55 this afternoon. That's the driest it's been for a couple of weeks. I didn't get too drenched, even though I did a little climbing. I headed towards Pass Mountain (see map) and almost got to the trail that goes around the mountain. The view is nice from up there.

I was out there until it got dark, and had my night vision monocular with me. It does allow me to see a lot. The infrared LED is useful for illuminating things more than 30 feet away.

OK, it's late and I'm sleepy. Here are the pictures.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Another Arizona first

Date: August 6, 2007
Time and temperature: Around sunset, low 80's.
Location: Along Meridian Road
The numbers:
13 Pictures taken
8 Pesky mosquitoes

Ramblings: One thing that always comes to mind when I try to think of things that Texas has and Arizona doesn't is lots of mosquitoes. Tonight I drove north on Meridian Road, snapping pictures of the sunset. I even got a picture from the 60 overpass. Traffic was light. I stopped at one of my favorite places for photographing sunsets and got out to take a few pictures. That's when the mosquitoes started pestering me. By Lake Jackson standards, they were next to nonexistent, but there were a lot more than I've seen in the past 4 years (except for on trips to Texas). I was glad when it was to dark for more pictures. I drove north to the end of Meridian, planning to try out my new night vision monocular in the desert. I strolled out a few feet and waited for it to get dark enough, but there were more mosquitoes. I finally got tired of swatting at them and headed home. That's the first time I've been chased off a trail here by mosquitoes. I may go again tomorrow for vengeance, with the electric fly swatter.


Sunday, August 05, 2007

Oak Flats

Date: August 5, 2007 (Happy birthday, Kyle!)
Time and temperature: Sunday afternoon, upper 70's to lower 80's.
Location: Oak Flats, Arizona
The numbers:
35 Pictures taken
2 Drilling rigs seen
1 deer seen

Ramblings: Somebody in Texas might not mention seeing a drilling rig, but they are a rare item here. The road went by one of them, and if I had been familiar with the roads, I would have known that a pickup belonging to one of the workers was blocking the road that I really wanted to see. Still, I enjoyed the road I was on. I took 60 east past Superior and turned right on the road to Oak Flats campground. At the campground there is a big yellow sign that says, "WARNING: High clearance vehicles only beyond this point!" I have a high clearance vehicle, so I went beyond that point.

It was a very bumpy road, but I only had to lock the rear axle a couple of times. The rocks had lots of black marks. Seems like you would have to be a real noob to spin your tires that much, though.

One reason I went out there was because I thought it might be cooler, since it's at 4000 feet. The vegetation is certainly different. Not as many cacti. No saguaros. Lots of small bushes that I think are manzanitas. A few pine trees and some cedar. The area looks like it's pretty much solid granite, too.

I didn't hike for a couple of reasons. First, even though it was only about 80, it was a Houston 80; very muggy. Second, it was overcast and I heard thunder now and then. I didn't want to be far from my Taco if the lightening got close.

I mapped some of the pictures in the web album. Be sure and click on "hybrid" so you can see the terrain on the map. Better yet, view the map in Google Earth.

I took a few pictures of balanced rocks and then quit because that's almost like taking a picture of a saguaro in Bulldog Canyon. They're all over the place. One of the balanced rocks was very interesting, though. It's in the pictures.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Lizard hunt

Date: August 2, 2007
Time and temperature: Start - 1754, 94
End - 1921, 89
Location: Near the Massacre Grounds trail head
Distance hiked: Maybe half a mile
Elevation change: Not much
The numbers:
62 Pictures taken
10 Lizards spotted
3 Lizards photographed
3 Millipedes seen
3 Chipmunk attacks
0 Broken ankles!
1 Bat seen
1 Tarantula seen

Ramblings: I've gotten almost no pictures of lizards over the past year, despite having a camera that can really zoom in on them. I used to see lizards hanging out all the time, but lately they seen to run hide the minute they see me. Then I realized that the ones I used to get pictures of were always near a well-traveled trail. I guess they get used to people walking by. So I headed for the Massacre Grounds trail.

I haven't been to that trail for a couple of years. It hasn't changed much. I could tell that there had been some heavy rains out there recently. I expected to find water in an old stock tank near the parking lot. I was surprised to find the water covered with some plant.

I was able to get pictures of almost every lizard I saw while on the trail. Then I wandered off the trail and watched as lizards scurried under bushes or rocks.

As I was driving out, I saw a tarantula crossing the road. I'm not used to seeing them until about October.

Lizard hunt

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Sultry weather

Date: August 1, 2007
Time and temperature: Start - ~1800, ~85
End - ~1900, ~80
Location: Bulldog Canyon OHV area
The numbers:
25 pictures taken
1 air filter found
1 golf ball found.
1 jack rabbit seen

Ramblings: It looked like it could get stormy, but I hadn't been to Bulldog Canyon for a while (over a week), so I had to go out there. One reason I haven't been hiking much lately is the humidity. The weather the past couple of days reminds me of Houston. Yuck. Today I just strolled slowly along mostly level ground. The air felt cool. Still, I had sweat running down my temples. OK, I'll quit whining now. It's just that the desert has spoiled me.

Another reason I haven't been hiking much is I don't like to be out during storms. Getting wet wouldn't be a problem; I carry a poncho in my backpack. Lightening is dangerous. It kills a lot of people in Arizona. The dust kicked up by the wind is also dangerous. People get valley fever from it, which is a fungus that can make you very sick and is very difficult to cure. I can steer clear of rattlesnakes. Lightening and fungus are too tricky for me.

Sometimes I come across something in the desert that makes me imagine somebody sitting at home trying to think of something totally bizarre to do that will really make people scratch their heads and say something like, "What the heck is THAT doing here???" So, not being the sharpest tool in the shed, they decide to take a beat up old air filter that they took out of their car 8 months ago and go put it out in the middle of the desert, far from any road. Well, I did scratch my head when I found it. I'm thinking maybe I need some Tegrin shampoo.