Monday, March 31, 2008

Two more videos from Boulder Canyon

The first video is a short one of a zebra-tailed lizard demonstrating an "explosive burst of speed". That's why I haven't been able to catch one waving his tail, yet.

Next is a video of the eastern collared lizard. The camera shakes a lot, though, for several reasons. I was trying to sneak up on it, so I was walking very slowly, so I was on one foot a lot of the time. The wind kept blowing me around. Also, I had to keep looking down to see where I could put my feet, and then the camera would point in the wrong direction. At one point in the video I zoom out far enough that you can see how long the lizard's tail is. It's really long. Looks like the tail is about 150% as long as its body.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

First video from Boulder Canyon hike

Here's the first video. Turn up the volume so you can hear the wasp buzz when it sticks its head in the hole.

First look at Boulder Canyon Trail

As you approach Canyon Lake from the west, you can see a trail going up a mountainside on the far side of the lake. I've been looking at that trail for years and saying I'm going to hike it some day. I finally got tired of hearing me say that and today I went out there and checked it out. It's a great trail. It's heavily traveled, so it's wide enough to hike with shorts if you want to (you won't be getting cholla balls embedded the the backs of your legs).

It was in the low 80's while I was out there, and very windy. I had to use the chin strap on my hat. I was out there in the early afternoon, so I had to have my hat on. I spent 4 hours on the trail. A lot of that time was spent taking pictures and movies (about 150 pictures and 5 movies). It's taken me a couple of hours to decide which pictures to put on the web album, geotag them, etc. The geotags may not be very accurate. The trail is in a low resolution area of Google Earth. It isn't possible to tell where the trail is on the map.

I think I hiked about 3 miles. It felt like 6. My legs are tired and my feet hurt. I'd be out there again tomorrow if it weren't for work, though. The views are spectacular. I saw dozens of lizards. One of them is an Eastern Collared lizard. It's the most beautiful shades of blue, yellow, aqua, etc. Suzanne even thinks it's pretty, and she used to cover her face whenever a picture of a lizard came up on the computer screen.

I tried to get a movie of a zebra-tailed lizard. They run a little and when they stop, they wave their tail back and forth in the air. I never caught one waving his tail, though.

I think I'll have to wait until tomorrow to add the movies to the blog. It's getting late and I'm tired and it might take hours to upload the video. I'll try to identify the rest of the lizards tomorrow, too.

There were a lot of people on the trail. I saw at least 10. Most of them looked like they weren't having as much fun as me, though.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

About two weeks too late

The sun is rising early enough now that it comes up before we get to work. This morning I looked over at the east-bound lanes and saw something that I thought might make an interesting picture. Sunlight was reflecting off of the little red reflectors between the traffic lanes. So today I went to an overpass just before sunset thinking that I could get a picture of those reflectors in the westbound lanes. I think I'm a couple of weeks late, though. The sun was too far north. I'm not sure an overpass is the best place from which to get a picture like that, either. I am sure I don't want to stand in the middle of the freeway to take that picture, though. Here's a picture of the reflectors.


Here's a picture of some distant planes flying hither and yon.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A new mystery plant

I went wandering around in a relatively flat area of Bulldog Canyon OHV area today. I saw, but did not get a picture of, a roadrunner, a deer, a cottontail, and a plump, brown jackrabbit (they are usually gray and ripped). I only saw one lizard today, too, which is strange this time of year. It ran across the road, holding its tail up high.

I crossed several small washes as I walked. Just about every one of them had horse prints in it. Horses cannot go anywhere in the desert without leaving a trail. I worry about the damage they are doing to the cryptobiotic soil. At least the riders seem to stay in the washes when they can. Anyway, I was wondering if deer ever dig up the soil when I ran across some deep deer prints in cryptobiotic soil. They don't usually do that, though. Their hooves dig in when they jump over something, but there are surprisingly few deer prints out there, considering how many deer there must be. I know there are a lot of them because there are places where they pass between mountains to get to water, and the ground is solid deer prints in those areas. Boy, that's a lot of yakking about one picture of a deer print.

I took a lot of pictures of one kind of plant. It's a very small plant that I have never noticed before. What is unusual about it is that it seems to be covered in something that looks like spider silk. Anybody that can identify it wins an autographed print of one of my pictures. Get busy, though, because you have to identify it before I do.


Monday, March 24, 2008

More pictures from Tempe Diablo Statium

Keith Kendall also took a lot of pictures at the game. He seems to be better at people pictures than me, maybe because he wasn't trying to be sneaky about it. Keith, I hope you don't mind that I made slight edits to a few (brightness changes, mostly).


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Just another hike

I kept thinking it was too hot outside to go for a hike today. Don't know why I was thinking that. I went outside and it wasn't hot. In fact, I wore a black T-shirt so I would be warm enough. I was mostly planning to drive to a part of Bulldog Canyon that I hadn't driven to before, but I wound up parking in the same place I parked last time I was in that area. I hiked in a different direction, though. It's a very nice place to hike, too. Very pretty, with good views of the Superstition Mountains. I went in the Packsaddle Road entrance (Click here to open a new window with a map).

As you will see in the pictures, there are still lots of flowers out there.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Desert tortoise on Lone Mountain

I climbed Lone Mountain after work today. There have been further improvements to the new trail going up there. Small stone benches have been placed at intervals along the trail. You wouldn't notice them if you weren't looking for them, though. They are especially hard to see with all the spring growth around them right now.

There was a humming bird at the top of the mountain. It wouldn't let me take its picture. There were also clusters of butterflies up there. I could hear their wings beating as they fluttered back and forth very fast. I couldn't get a picture of them, either.

As I was headed down the trail back to the truck, I came upon a desert tortoise. He was headed down the trail in the same direction as me. When he saw me, he tucked into his shell. I got out of sight, planning to get some more pictures when he came out of his shell. He cleverly kept a bush between me and him, so I didn't see him leave the trail. I caught him sneaking away, though, and made a short video. Pictures and video are below.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

An afternoon at the ballpark

A bunch of coworkers and I spent the afternoon at Tempe Diablo Stadium, eating pizza and watching the Angels play the Giants. Naturally, I took my camera along. I don't like pictures of bunches of people standing around smiling at a camera, so I tried taking candid shots. The problem with that is that not very many of the pictures turn out very good. In fact, I really like only one of the candid shots. Many of them would require me to hire a body guard if I put them on the web. I'm thinking about making a collage of people stuffing pizza into their faces, as a testament to my lack of skill at photographing people. I didn't realize I was taking so many of those.

Click below to see the pictures. If you see one of yourself that you want removed, let me know and I will do so immediately.


I got a video of the first run scored by the Angels. You'll see why I don't work for the networks.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Quiet afternoon

The weekend was cloudy and gloomy and cold. Today, it was sunny and warm and a beautiful day. I headed out to Bulldog Canyon for a short hike. The Sky Harbor traffic was going someplace else this afternoon, so it was pretty quiet. Not extremely quiet, though, because the bees were busy and the flies are starting to come out. It was very nice.

The past few times I've gone out to the desert, I have felt obligated to take pictures of the flowers. I already have so many, and everybody else is probably getting as tired of them as me, but they are so pretty I just have to take pictures.

It's very hard to walk around now with all the plants covering the ground. It's taking me a long time to get anywhere because I spend so much time picking a route and then carefully stepping in the barest spots. I miss being able to walk across the barren ground. I'm not complaining, though. The scorching heat will blast all the pretty little flowers to hades soon enough.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Be careful out there...

On Saturday afternoon, 3/15, a couple of young hikers ran into some trouble in the Superstition Mountains. Around here, you often hear warnings about being careful in the desert. They are usually about the heat and taking plenty of water with you. People just need to remember that when you step into a national forest or a wilderness area or whatever, it is not an amusement park. It doesn't have handrails on the stairs or warning stickers by anything that might be even mildly dangerous, or any of the thousands of safety features built into amusement parks as the result of thousands of lawsuits. Nature will always allow you to go places you really shouldn't be, without giving so much as a sigh of discouragement or a hint of the disaster that could be just moments away. It's up to you to think about what you are doing, and keep thinking about it all the time you are out there, or you could wind up falling 80 feet and landing on your face, too.

Click here to read about the guy that survived such a fall with minor (compared to death) injuries.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Reymert Road

I didn't know it was Reymert Road until I got home and was geotagging the pictures. I have been wanting to drive out towards Superior for a while, to check out the flowers in that direction. I left the house about 8:30 this morning so I could beat the Renaissance Festival crowd. There were a whole lot of flowers all along the sides of the road. Silly Mountain is completely yellow, covered with brittle bush flowers. The brittle bushes didn't have quite so many flowers where I stopped, I guess because of the higher elevation; they'll bloom later.

I drove down Reymert Road for a little ways to see what's out there. There's a rock quarry, and I think you can drive through it, but I didn't. I wandered around on a small hill taking pictures of flowers for a while. The air is very hazy. I don't know if it's pollution or dust from all the wind we had yesterday.

On the way home, I passed by all the Renaissance Festival traffic. It was astonishing. Stop and go traffic from the festival until I exited 60 (12 miles). I wonder how much further the traffic jam went. It must be one humdinger of a festival if so many people think it's worth sitting in a line of cars that long to get there. I guess I'll never know, though. I'm not that crazy.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Too much

Suzanne found the listing on line for the property I saw yesterday. Not surprisingly, it's more than I can afford. I might be able to buy it, but I would have to live in a tent. Click here to see the listing. To summarize, no water, no sewer, $350k.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Looking for a place to park

There's a part of the Goldfield Mountains that I've been wanting to explore. Today I went over there looking for a place to park. The place that I thought I could park had a big sign that said something like "GO AWAY". As I was driving away from there, I saw another sign laying on the ground. It was a "For Sale" sign, in front of an empty lot. Wow, it would be so cool to live that close to the mountains. I probably can't afford the property, though. Even if I could, I wouldn't have any money left for the trailer to put on it (the people that lived there before took their trailer with them).

Click below to see a few pictures of the lot and some flowers.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Flowers along Apache Trail

Suzanne and I rode out Apache Trail today. There are lots of pretty flowers all along the way. We didn't stop and get out to get any pictures until we go to the part where it turns to dirt, though. There sure was a lot of traffic, all along the whole road. Tortilla Flat is jammed with tourists these days. I can't even get an ice cream cone anymore.

Before you go to the pictures, I have a correction for yesterday's blog/pictures. The geotags of the pictures are completely wrong. I didn't go 2.5 miles and then back again. That's the problem with trying to geotag pictures in those low resolution areas. Last night I was thinking about how I had hiked for a little over an hour before I turned back. There is no way I could have gone 2.5 miles in a little over an hour. I was going kind of fast towards the end (I was curious about whether my legs or my lungs would give out first; I ran out of uphill before I found out, but my legs were beginning to feel like jelly), but I stopped a lot to take pictures of flowers and look around. Anyway, I'm pretty sure I went less than 2 miles round trip. I'm not going to correct the geotags on all those pictures; too much trouble, and it won't affect my review anyway.

Speaking of anyway, here are today's pictures. Enjoy.


Saturday, March 08, 2008

Flowers near FR80

I wanted to go someplace slightly different today, so I went out to FR80. I hadn't been there for at least a year. I had forgotten how much climbing is involved on that trail. I tried to geotag the pictures. It isn't easy, since that part of Google Earth is low resolution. The geotags are only approximate. I was mostly trying to show where the trail is. According to Google Earth, it's about 2.5 miles long one way. No wonder it takes so long. With all the twists and turns, it's probably a little longer than that. Click below for the pictures.


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Crosscut trail

It was a pretty, clear day today. There was some wind earlier, which blew the pollution away (from the east valley, at least). I haven't been on the crosscut trail (next to the Superstition Mountains) for a while, so I went out there today.

I wore a T-shirt because it seemed warm enough for that when I left the house. I was warm enough on the trail since I was moving. By the time I got back to the truck, though, my forearms were so cold and stiff, I could barely open my water bottle. It was only 58, with no wind. I just get cold easily. I don't think I would survive someplace where it got down near 0 all winter.

I took a lot of pictures of the mountains, so you're going to get tired of seeing them. Notice how green it is out there. Well, I guess that will look normal to some of you. It isn't normal for here, though.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Lindsey attempts Spooky Hill

It was another pretty day today. It was a little cooler than yesterday, and very windy. Lindsey went with me, and we tried to climb Spooky Hill (see my map of Bulldog Canyon OHV Area, there's a link to the right of this page). We tried, but we ran out of energy. I'm worn out now. I tried to take a shortcut to the hill, but we probably wound up walking much further than we would have if we had taken the usual route. Silly me.

There were almost no Mexican gold poppies where we went. I got pictures of some different flowers.


I also made a video of Lindsey opening the gate.

The golf ball

This is what it looked like when I left the golf ball up there on 12/2/2007. It wasn't quite as green back then.

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Gold poppies galore

Wow, it was a gorgeous day today. I was out hiking in it from 2:05 until about 4:55. Mid 70's, light breeze, no clouds, blue blue sky. I was amazed at how few people I saw out there today. I thought the place would be packed. I saw about 4 ATVs and 3 pickups. Must have been something really good on TV. Too bad I missed it. NOT.

Driving into Bulldog Canyon, I could see that there were Mexican gold poppies all over the place. I decided to hike up to a ridge pretty far in, to get away from the noise of the gun range on the other side of Usery Pass road. It took a long time to get up to the top of the ridge, for three reasons. First, I'm out of shape, but I always seem to be out of shape these days. Second, I had to keep stopping to take pictures. After I had taken about 40 pictures, I noticed that the camera batteries were low. I should charge them more often. I managed to get about 120 pictures before the camera refused to turn on any more, though. OK, third, I was hopping from rock to rock as much as possible, to keep from stepping on plants. I'm glad I didn't twist an ankle. Once I almost fell on a barrel cactus. I had stepped down onto a rock and lost my balance. As my arms whirled round and round, I could hear Linda Hurd doing her imitation of the robot on "Lost in Space"; "Danger Will Robinson. Danger". I think of that every time I whirl my arms around, ever since she said that as I was trying to ice skate in Houston many years ago. Now you should have a good mental picture of what I look like when I ice skate.

Several months ago, I left a golf ball up on that ridge. Ever since then, I've been thinking I should go get it. As I approached it today, though, I decided I would leave it there until I can get somebody to go up there with me to get it. Any volunteers? It was next to the rock on which I had left it. I put it back on the rock. I wonder if anybody else has been up there and seen it.

If I weren't so lazy, I would go to Todd's Desert Hiking Guide and look up the names of some of the flowers I got pictures of. He has pictures of lots of animals and plants on his site, and he seems to be adding to them all the time. The pictures are very good, too. Most of the time when I look up a plant on the web, the pictures are low resolution or can't be distinguished from the background or are too small or all of the above. The pictures on Todd's web site are excellent, though. He also has great advice for any newbies to desert hiking.

Click below for the pictures. You're probably going to get sick of pictures of Mexican gold poppies. But, as Peggy would say, "Too bad, so sad".