Friday, June 29, 2007

Picasa Web Album Maps!

No hike today. It was just too darn hot!

I wanted to tell you about a cool new feature in Picasa Web Albums. You can include a map showing the general location at which you took pictures, and you can even place album pictures on a map to show exactly where they were taken. I've mapped some pictures in a few albums (usually not all pictures in an album, or it would be too cluttered), so browse through and check it out. Scroll to the bottom of an album and click on "View Map". For the places I tend to take pictures, you will need to click on Hybrid in the upper right corner of the map so see anything meaningful. The map will have some pictures on it; click on one for an enlarged view, and then you can scroll through them, too. In case you haven't figured it out, you can get to an album by clicking on the picture in some of my blogs.

You can also click on "View in Google Earth", which is really cool because you can change your viewing angle and get a feel for the terrain.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A bad lie

It was 108 when I left the house for today's hike. It was only 104 when I parked the truck, though. I went to Bulldog Canyon, near the deer funnel. Since it was so warm, I didn't really hike. I just kind of moseyed around the in shade of Lone / One Mountain. There was not any wind most of the time. It was very, very quiet. I could hear birds now and then and the occasional lizard skittering around. A couple of cicadas tried to scare me by going BWAAAAAAAAP! when I got close to them. Once I thought I heard sirens, then realized it was coyotes. More started howling, some of them pretty close by. I stood there listening, and watching a bird that was circling me for some reason (it wasn't a buzzard). It was so relaxing that I had to start walking again so my blood pressure wouldn't get so low that I passed out. I don't know what I would do without the desert to calm my nerves.

As I was approaching my parking spot, I saw a bird perched on top of a saguaro. I wondered why they never did that while I had my camera out. Well, today a bird posed on top of a saguaro for several pictures. I even got pictures of it eating the fruit. Unfortunately, it was in the shade of the mountain and against a bright blue sky, so the pictures are mostly silhouettes. I like the one I uploaded because the sky reflecting off its eye makes it look like it has a hole in its head. I would appreciate it if somebody could tell me what kind of bird it is.

One of the pictures is of something I find in the desert now and then. I understand how beer cans, balloons, and Wall Mart bags get out there. I can't figure out why I find so many golf balls, though. I'm not a golfer, but I think this one would be called a bad lie.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Stop the carnage!

This post is not for the squeamish. If you are squeamish, close this window and go do a crossword puzzle or something.

Skid is out of town this weekend and asked me to take his trash out and put the can up after it was picked up. Naturally, I take care of other things while I'm there, like getting the paper out of the driveway and scooping drowned animals out of his pool. Today, the death toll was mind boggling. Five drowned chipmunks in just one day. Cute little chipmunks. Well, I suppose the were cute, at one time. But not when I found them. Some pictures are below. I made the first one a flower so people wouldn't accidentally see a drowned chipmunk. Don't look at the pictures if you are still eating breakfast, or lunch, or dinner, or if you have eaten within the past two hours, or if you plan to eat in the next day or two. Don't look at them if you are one of those people who, when they are in the middle of a meal, thinks of something gross and then can't eat any more. Just close this window if you happen to live with people who might trick you into looking at something gross because of their sick, twisted sense of humor, even though they know you won't be able to eat for days afterwards. Well, maybe they aren't all that bad. But don't look if you are squeamish.

Skid put noodles on the sides of the pool, held in place by blocks of concrete, hoping the chipmunks would use them to climb out of the pool. But they don't. Maybe since they live in burrows in the ground instead of in trees, they aren't very good at climbing. Maybe they didn't see that they could use the noodles to get out of the pool. Maybe they think only nerds use noodles. I don't know, but they drowned anyway.

I can't stand it. I had to take drastic measures. I hooked a couple of hoses together and put one end in the pool and the other in the wash. It's siphoning now. I figure the pool will be drained by the time Skid gets home. Oh dear, I just thought of something. I hope the chipmunks don't die from falling into an empty pool. I'll have to fill it in. Tomorrow.


A weekend drive

Suzanne isn't on call this weekend, so we went for a drive. We went through Superior, Globe, Miami, Punkin Center, Jake's Corner, Sunflower, and back home. Well, there aren't many towns to name along the route, so click here to open a new window with a map of where we went. The scenery was beautiful the whole trip, but I only took pictures at Roosevelt Lake.

Since we went by Tonto National Monument, we decided to stop and see what that's all about. I didn't have time to go all the way up there today, and I didn't have my backpack with me. I'll have to hike up there another day.

The lake was a pretty turquoise color today. I tried to stitch together a panorama of the bridge near the Roosevelt Lake dam, but it didn't quite line up. The stitch program is not very bright, and not adjustable. You have to take your pictures perfectly, or your result looks like my panorama. Anyway, here are the pictures.

Weekend drive

I only put a couple of pictures on the map. Most of them were taken in the same vicinity.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Unexplored territory

Richard and I throttled the day today. At least I feel like I did. I'm worn out and can't believe I'm not falling asleep right now. After work, we took our ATVs out to Bulldog Canyon. We went in the Apache Trail entrance and went down a road I hadn't been on before; at least not on that part of it. It was very pretty, so I'll have to go back when there's enough light to get some pictures.

I want to make a Google map to show you where we went, but I'm falling asleep now. Maybe some other day.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

A little warm

I thought I was going to explain something I didn't have time to explain several days ago, but it's gotten late again and I still have to make the bed and I'm tired and nobody has expressed any interest in an explanation (does anybody even read this?), so that will have to wait until later.

The high today was supposed to be 107 but it was only 102 when I parked the truck. I decided that today would be a good time to perch on the side of Lone/One mountain (the east (shady) side) and watch for deer on their way to or from the Salt River. You would know why I picked this spot if I was not too tired to explain. I sat up there for at least half an hour, watching for any movement. I saw a lot of birds flitting around. No deer. No coyotes. Didn't hear any coyotes, either. Click below to open a new window with the pictures.


The first picture shows what is either a shadow or a cave. It's going to be difficult to get up there to find out which. Maybe this coming winter. The next picture shows the pass that I suspect funnels a lot of deer on the way to and from the Salt River. Then there are several pictures of items of great public interest. The last is a panorama showing almost everything visible from where I was. When shooting "stitch" photos, the exposure is set on the first picture and all the following pictures use that setting. That's why the center of the picture looks overexposed. If the camera didn't do that, though, the boundaries between pictures would be obvious. You should be able to find my truck in there if you blow it up to full size. No hints. Well, ok, one. It's the only silver truck in the picture. It's the only truck in the picture. It's the only vehicle in the picture. I had that whole place to myself. Nobody even drove past my truck for the 2.5 hours I was there (I checked for tracks). I guess most people thought it was a little too warm to be out in the desert. It's fine if there's a breeze, though.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Funny videos

OK, this has nothing to do with the desert, but it's a couple of videos that I thought were really funny.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

An old new road

Today, Richard and I went down a road in Bulldog Canyon OHV area that I thought I hadn't been on before. When we got to the end, I realized that Lindsey and I had been there last summer. Silly me. I only got one picture that I like.

We were walking around looking at stuff when Richard stopped so suddenly he almost did a somersault. He pointed at what stopped him but it blended in with the surrounding dirt so well that it took a while for me to see it. Here's a picture.


We watched it for several minutes and it never moved. It never flicked its tongue. We couldn't even tell if it was breathing. We left it alone.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Celebration hike

Today I went for a hike to celebrate not being caught in the RIF. It was very quiet in Bulldog Canyon OHV area today. No wind; only a few birds twittering here and there. On days like this, my footsteps seem so loud. Especially when I'm trying to sneak up on deer. I'll have to write about that some other time, though. It's late and I'm tired.

Click here to see a map of where I hiked today. You might have to click on "satellite" or "hybrid" in the upper right corner of the map to get a view of something besides solid white.

I did see a deer as it sailed through the air over a bush or something as it ran away from my crunching footsteps. I'm going to hide in a spot where I can watch them go by some day. I know just the spot. More on that later. Here are pictures.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Apache Trail sunset

There were storms south east of here today. Late this afternoon it was cool and breezy. I drove out Apache Trail, just past the Superstitions, to enjoy the cool weather and get some pictures of the sunset.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Spooky Canyon

That isn't its official name. That's just what I call it.

Yesterday there were some high clouds in the late afternoon. I went for a hike hoping that there would be some today, and there were. Bad for photography, but great for keeping the blazing sun from frying you. I headed for a small peak I had decided I should climb a few weeks ago. The summit was only 223 feet above where I parked my truck, but I was huffing and puffing all the way up. I thinks it's the Flomax. When my free samples run out I'm going to quit taking it. I don't think I need it and I don't like the way it makes me feel.

Anyway, I hiked around to the hill and was about to start up a ridge when I was overcome by this feeling of dread. When I looked up the canyon I had this feeling that something very bad had happened there or that there was something very bad there now. Fortunately, I have learned from past experiences like this that it means nothing at all. I'm not psychic. There was probably just something a little odd about the canyon that I wasn't consciously aware of, but somehow I was aware of it.

I continued up the ridge and stopped to check for echoes. The sound vanished as soon as I made it, swallowed by the desert. It's very unusual to find a place with no echoes. It reminded me of that movie based on a Steven King novel, "The Langoliers" or something like that. There's that spooky feeling again.

There was a very nice breeze at the summit. I stayed there for about half an hour enjoying the view and taking pictures and a movie. I came down in a kind of round about way not shown on the map. Oh, the map. Click here to see a map of the hike. Click on the blue icons to see a description and pictures.

On the way back to the truck, I hiked up the canyon a short ways. It was eerily quiet in there. I hiked to a large rock in the middle. I was nervous so I was being very careful, looking all around for rattlesnakes. I was standing there when I heard a growling noise. I was looking around for the monster when I realized it was a car or motorcycle engine being revved in the distance. I heard a loud hissing and looked around for the giant snake, and saw a bird fly by near me. I was telling myself to quit being so jumpy when I heard a loud, inhuman moan coming from up the canyon. It was an awful, terrifying sound, the kind that makes wish you could quit hearing it and forget you ever heard it. Before it ended, though, I realized it was tires on a road in the distance. The canyon seems to funnel in sounds from a couple of miles away. Maybe the reason it "looked" spooky when I first saw it was because it didn't sound right. One of the reasons I hike in the desert is to enjoy the quiet, but that canyon was too quiet, except for the occasional sound piped in from who-knows-where.

Not all of the pictures are on the map. Unfortunately, movie resolution is lost during upload. Here are all the pictures and the movie.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Lauren in Bulldog Canyon

Lauren and I went for a short hike in Bulldog Canyon this afternoon. She's still a little sore from her surgery but she even climbed a rock. It was still pretty cool today, but I didn't want to do a lot of hiking because of all the dust that is still in the air. We wandered around in an area where lots of people camp and hang out, though there was nobody there today. We had the whole place to ourselves. Anyway, there were pieces of washing machines, lots of broken dishes, millions of pieces of glass, and spent shells galore. If you looked past all that, there was beautiful scenery all around.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sunset on FS172

After work today, Richard and I went for a drive along FS172. It's very pretty out there. Today wasn't the best day for enjoying the scenery, though. It was a lot cooler that it has been lately (in the 60's by the time we started back), but it was very windy today and there was a lot of dust in the air.

We were out there for about 2 hours, surrounded by spectacular desert scenery. We had the whole place to ourselves. We didn't see anybody else the whole time. That just boggles my mind. Were we the only ones out of the 3 or 4 million that live near here that were willing to forgo the TV or video games or bar scene or whatever and get out here to enjoy something so real and so beautiful? It doesn't bother me if we are. I don't like crowds.

On the drive out after sunset, we saw some bats. They would fly along about 20 or 30 feet in front of the truck, 15 or 20 feet in the air, for 5 or 10 seconds. I wonder if they thought we were following them.

There are a couple of pictures of Richard, one of the sunset, and several of the desert in the gathering gloom of nightfall.


Sunday, June 03, 2007

Richard tours Bulldog Canyon OHV area

I've been taking all our guests on tours of Bulldog Canyon but never thought about asking Richard if he wanted to go. He moved out here a few years before me, so I guess I always assume that he has already been everywhere. Good thing he asked me to take him with me.

I parked for a while in a spot where it's convenient to get out and look around. I had stopped there with Kasey and James and Kasey pointed out that my truck looked like it was in a Toyota ad. The lighting was better today (earlier in the day), so I included that picture. Unfortunately, I didn't get many good pictures today. Here's both of them.