Wednesday, April 30, 2008


There's a hill just north of Lone Mountain that doesn't look very exciting. I decided I had better go check it out and make sure I wasn't missing something. I also wanted to go someplace I hadn't been before. Since I was so close to Usery Pass road, there was a lot (relatively speaking) of trash around; empty water bottles, broken beer bottles, kitchen sinks, etc.

I was trying to walk quietly, which is hard to do when you are walking on crunchy rocks. I was coming up to the top of a hill and looked around and saw some deer. Here's a video of them.

It was very hazy today. Has been for a few weeks. You can see that in some of the pictures. Here are the pictures.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Attack of the gnats

Suzanne and I tried to go for a hike near the Superstition Mountains today. I had a feeling it might not be a lot of fun, though, because on the way out there, I could see that the wind had quit blowing. That's a bad thing during gnat season.

It started out nice. As soon as we got out of the truck, Suzanne spotted a red tailed hawk circling not too far away. Then the gnats moved in. She didn't complain near as much as I did, even though she must have snorted at least 4 up her nose. We walked a little ways and I just couldn't stand it any more. Every time I tried to take a picture, they went for my ears. It's like they knew I was too busy to swat. There were some very pretty prickly pear flowers out there. Anyway, since we didn't hike for very long, we drove out to Canyon Lake to look around. There was very little traffic. It was nice and quiet out there.


I think I'm going to take a shower now. I still feel like I've got gnats crawling on me.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Zebra-tailed lizards are similar to cows

I was hesitant to go to Bulldog Canyon today. I thought it might still be full of the surly church crowd. I didn't think about it being Sunday until later, though. First I drove over to Saguaro Lake Ranch. It looked like I could park there, walk across Stewart Mountain Dam, and easily get to the top of the mountains that are just across the river from Bush Highway. No dice. Of course, I couldn't park at the ranch. That's for customers and that is understandable. There isn't enough room to have hikers parking there, too. And there ain't no way anybody is going to set foot on that dam. Since 9/11, anybody with a back pack that's near a dam is a terrorist hell-bent on the destruction of the American way of life. Anyway, I had a nice conversation with the pleasant woman at the ranch. Maybe I can talk Suzanne into spending a weekend there in cooler weather (they close when it's hot, anyway). They do provide canoes so guests can get to the other side of the river, but they don't let people hike alone. Good grief, I don't know if it's BO or my personality, but I can't get anybody to hike with me.

I thought about the parking areas at the Bulldog Canyon entrances being empty and decided to go there. I saw people on 3 ATV's as I was driving in, and that's the only other people I saw the whole time I was there. Nice. (Hmm, maybe it's my personality.) I headed for Spooky Hill.

I was planning to walk around Spooky Hill and Horseshoe Mountain. As I walked, though, I felt lazy and decided to just climb Spooky Hill. As I approached it, though, I felt even lazier and decided to see what I could find in Spooky Canyon. Next thing I know, I'm up on the side of Horseshoe Mountain, looking down on Spooky Hill. So much for going on a lazy hike.

While I was up there, it seemed that the buzzing of bees was exceptionally loud. Then I spotted a stream of bees spewing out of the side of a cliff. It was a little scary. I made a video. It's shot into the sun, but that way the bees show up better. Trust me, it's the only way you would have seen them after the upload compression. I didn't want to get too close to that hive.

You may be wondering by now how Zebra-tailed lizards are like cows. Down on the ranch (the one in Wharton), you can walk out into the pasture and the cows will run away from you. You can't get very close to them. Richard and I used to throw aerobies out there and try to get ringers on cow horns. We never did, but we figured we would have to use the truck to get the aerobie off the cow horns, because cows don't run away from a truck. I've had trouble getting pictures of Zebra-tailed lizards because they keep running away. As I drove down the road in the truck today, they just stood on the side of the road and watched. What is it about trucks that sets animals at ease?

At the beginning of the pictures, there are a couple of blurry pictures of a red tailed hawk. It came soaring up out of the canyon near where Suzanne and I had parked to watch the lesser nighthawks.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Traffic jam

Lindsey went out to Bulldog Canyon with me today to see the goatsuckers. We saw a bunch, but we could hardly hear them because of all the traffic. A church was having a father / son campout there and there was a constant stream of trucks going by. I even saw a couple of minivans. I would never take a minivan out there myself. I guess there were enough trucks to pull them out if they got stuck, though.

Lindsey asked one of the drivers what was going on. That's how we know it was some sort of church function. I wish she had asked what church it was. On the way out, there was a guy sitting on the (closed and locked) gate. He sat there as Lindsey opened the lock and the gate. I pulled through and stopped just outside the gate. Then a guy sitting in a large diesel pickup started his truck, as if he was going to drive through. I asked the guys if they had a pass. They dodged the question. If I let people in there that don't have passes, I could lose mine. I'm not about to give up my Bulldog Canyon pass for a couple of yahoos. Anyway, the pickup driver was very upset because I wouldn't let him in. I'm guessing he was one of the church members because he didn't cuss. He was extremely rude, though. What's up with that? He gets mad at me because I don't want to help him break the law and risk losing my pass? What a total and complete moron. The one and only thing I don't like about Bulldog Canyon is the surprisingly large number of idiots I seem to run into out there.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sunset in Bulldog Canyon

Suzanne and I went out to Bulldog Canyon to see the goatsuckers again. I don't know why they're called that, but that's what the bird book says. I'm glad we saw them last week, because there were hardly any tonight. It was not a disappointing trip, though. The weather was fantastic; mid to upper 70's (and dropping fast) and a nice breeze. We saw an owl, too. It perched on top of a couple of saguaros. I tried to get pictures, but it was too dark. Here are the pictures.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Red tailed hawk?

I went to Bulldog Canyon (I know; "Surprise, surprise") after work today. I got out of the truck and looked up and there was a large bird (as big as a vulture) circling above a mountain ridge. It had different colors than a vulture, though. I tried to get a couple of pictures, but it was very far away. Suzanne checked our bird book and we think it might be a red tailed hawk. Before you look at the picture and scoff and say, "How could you possibly determine that from that picture?", remember that I have the full resolution picture and you don't. Nanny nanny boo boo.

While I was perched on the side of the ridge, I was looking to the north and noticed something unusual. What's missing from the picture below? Hints: I'm in the Sonoran Desert. They are all over the place (except here). It's rare to see such a large area without any; I think they may have been wiped out here by a fire.

Click below to see all of the pictures. I think I got some nice ones of some rocks.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Near Picketpost Mountain

Today Suzanne and I went for a hike near Picketpost Mountain. There was a nice breeze blowing that kept most of the gnats away. I got some pictures of Prickly Pear flowers and other flowers that I can't identify.


A long hike

There is a canyon in Bulldog Canyon OHV area that I've tried to get to the end of on several occasions. I made another attempt yesterday. I took extra water. I took food. I started early (2 pm). I didn't make it. The further I went, the rougher the terrain got. I was accumulating scrapes, bruises, thorns, and rocks in my shoes. It turns out that I didn't take enough water, either. Remember a couple of weeks ago when I stood on a rock and it rolled out from under me? I was careful about that this time. I didn't think I had to be careful about rocks the size of a Buick, though, especially when half of it is embedded in the side of a wash. I had to climb over one of those to get out of a wash. I found a foothold and was on my way up when the part my foot was on broke off. What a surprise. I found a plant with lots of thorns (see below) when I landed on my side on the ground. I also have matching bruises on my shins now. I saw lots of cool stuff, though, and planned my route for the next attempt.

The forecast said sunny and windy. Bulldog Canyon was overcast and calm, though. Temperature was around 80, so it was comfortable.

Here's a bush I never really noticed before. It's covered with flowers now, and they are very fragrant. It smells like cheap cologne. The first time I smelled it, I stopped and was looking all around for a rhinestone cowboy. I couldn't believe that smell could be natural.

I saw a lot of these lizards. I think it's a whiptail of some sort, but I can't figure it out for sure. I didn't see them until they were running to hide from me, so I didn't get any good pictures.

I've been close to this cave a couple of times. Maybe next time I'm out there I'll hike on up to it.

These plants cover the desert now. They are everywhere. I used to think that they made me itch, but yesterday I discovered they are covered with thorns. At least the thorns come out easily. See the full set of pictures for a close up of the thorns.

On the way back to the truck, I followed a wash for a long way. I did that because I was tired of those thorny plants and going up and down and up and down and up and down... My ankles were actually tired from the rough terrain. I followed it too far, though, and came out close to the Salt River, which is further north than I wanted to be.

From there, I headed in the direction of the truck. I wound up on top of a large plateau. I spotted the truck on the other side of a canyon with veritical sides and crawling with rattlesnakes.

The snake was a nice surprise. It gave me a shot of adrenalin that got me the rest of the way back to the truck. I posted a video of the snake yesterday.

Click here to see all of the pictures.


Saturday, April 19, 2008


I didn't just seize the day today. I throttled it. I'm worn out. I'm not going to have my pictures ready to post before I fall asleep. I did get a video uploaded, though. This gave me a shot of adrenalin that got me the rest of the way back to the truck. Listen to it rattle as it slithers away.

While I'm posting videos, here's Cameron. Do you know what he's saying?

Lesser Nighthawk video

I've been having some trouble with Google Video the past couple of days. Hope this works. If you turn the volume up you might be able to hear the birds.

Flower collage

Here's a flower collage created by Picasa2.

Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 18, 2008


No, not chupacabras. They are birds with wide mouths that catch flying insects. I saw some at sunset on my last hike. They flap their wings in a unique way. Suzanne came out to Bulldog Canyon with me tonight to see them. They also make unusual sounds. We really enjoyed watching and listening to them. Suzanne found them in our bird book when we got home. We think they are Lesser Nighthawks. I made a video of them and have uploaded it, but Google Videos is experiencing technical difficulties right now so I'll have to add it to the blog later. For now, here are some pictures of flowers and the sunset and some mountains.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Staghorn cholla flowers

The staghorn chollas are covered with flowers now. Saguaros are starting to get flower buds. I hiked out to a small hill in Bulldog Canyon and took a lot of pictures of staghorn cholla flowers. I might try to make a collage with them some time.

I think the quiet hikes are over for a while. I was surrounded by the constant buzz of flys and honey bees today. I'm considering carrying the electric fly swatter with me again. Some of those flys are just looking for trouble.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Updates coming soon

I know everybody is anxious to see pictures from the trip. I'm still sorting through them. I spent this evening trying to figure out where some were taken. They are pictures I took from the air on the way home. One of them looks like it might be the location of an underground A-bomb test. I've been trying to find it on Google Earth to see if there is a note about it. I know it's in south central New Mexico. It isn't real big, so if it's in a low res area I may never find it. Anyway, I'll have a blog and pictures ready "soon".

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Deer, tortoises, and bees

I'm going to be away from the desert for a few days, so I had to go out for a quick hike after work today. I went out to a ridge I haven't climbed for a while. I piddled around so much on the way up that I didn't get as far as I wanted, but I saw lots of cool stuff.

I saw a helicopter fly over, as usual, but what was unusual is that I didn't take a picture of it. I think helicopters pilots must fly out there every chance they get, because it's so pretty. I wonder what it looks like from the air.

Here's the usual "find the truck" photo. Nobody ever says that they found it. Either it's too easy or they don't even try. I know that Lauren doesn't even try. When we lived in England, they newspaper had a weekly contest. There was a picture of a soccer game and you were supposed to find the ball. I never could. They would show where it was the next week and you would wonder how you could have missed it. I think the picture in the contest must have been edited to make the ball less visible, though. Anyway, lots of people tried to find the ball, and you would hear at least one person talking about it during the week. Maybe the reason people aren't interested in "find the truck" is because I don't offer thousands of dollars in prize money.

As I climbed along the ridge, I saw a few bees flying around a cliff face. I went to investigate and sure enough, there was a colony of bees there. This is the honeycomb that was visible.

There must be a lot more that is not visible, in that hole behind the honeycomb. I made a video of a small cave (with windows!) that also has the honecomb at the end. You can hear a few bees buzzing around the outside, but if you turn up the sound and listen closely, you will hear the hum of thousands of bees that are out of sight somewhere.

I was headed back to the truck, clomping along noisily, when I thought I heard another noisy hiker to my right. It was a deer, though. I started to say that it ran a short ways, but it didn't run. It bounced along, springing through the air with all four feet hitting the ground at the same time and then all for feet in the air at the same time. I wish I could move through those areas as easily as the deer seem to. It stopped and watched me for a little while, then bounced away. I thought I was making a video as it left, but it wasn't running. Drat!

Right after the deer left, I spotted this.

I could think of only one animal that would make a trail like that, and it isn't one that bounces along on all fours. It must have been a desert tortoise. Lindsey and I saw one in this area a year or two ago. I followed the trail around for a while, hoping to find the tortoise at the end. Never did, though. The sun was setting fast and I couldn't follow all the trails.

The next picture is either sad or funny. Some moron acted like he was locking the gate, but all he did was lock a chain to itself. I wonder if his house gets burglarized a lot.

Click below to see all of the pictures.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

End of Meridian road

This morning, Suzanne and I went for a hike at the end of Meridian road. It was still comfortably cool (to me, anyway). I saw lots of lizards, but none of them would hang around long enough to let me get a picture. I did get pictures of some flowers, though.


Saturday, April 05, 2008

The most dangerous...

I've talked about how those little ground squirrels or whatever they are, are very dangerous because their burrows collapse under your feet and threaten to twist your ankles. I think I discovered something more dangerous though. I parked at the Massacre Grounds trailhead and was headed towards a nearby hill. I stepped on a rock about 2 feet long. It wobbled. I thought I would be able to steady it when I got the other foot on it. I got the other foot on it, and it rolled downhill. I fell to the ground rather ungracefully. It hurt. A sharp rock jabbed me in the left hand, making it ache and throb. My wrist is still stiff. My left leg scraped along the rock as I fell. What a klutz.

Remember the three classic conflicts you learned about in high school English class? Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Man, and Man vs. himself. I think that last one is going to do me in some day. Until then, I'm going to be more careful about which rocks I step on.

My hand throbbed. I thought about going back to the truck. Well, my hand will hurt there, too. I might as well wander over that way while I'm out here. I'm not going to the top of that hill, though. I think I strained a groin muscle, too. What a klutz.

It hurt to open my water bottle. It hurt to take the lens cap off and put it on. I pressed on. Carefully. Very carefully. Pictures must be taken.

Back before I had a blog, when I used to send pictures out in emails, along with silly stories, I talked about how we sometimes are derailed from our planned paths. If we pay attention, though, we can find new and wonderful things on our new path. As I circled back to the truck on a much-shortened hike, I came across several rectangles outlined with rocks. They are hard to see in the pictures because of all the growth from the winter rains. They have been there long enough to have soil piled up on their uphill sides from the occasional rain. At least a few years. There were also shards of clay pigeons scattered around. Maybe the rectangles were made by the bored children of skeet shooters. Or maybe they mark the final resting places of the Peralta family miners (who were killed by Apaches at the Massacre Grounds, and their gold scattered by the Indians). Hmm, I wonder...


Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Salt River

My Bulldog Canyon pass has expired. I didn't remember that until I was halfway there today. I parked at the Blue Point entrance and was planning to go explore south of the river, but from the top of a small hill I could hear water roaring through the river in the distance. I decided to go check it out. It did seem to have more water than usual flowing through it.

Last weekend, on the Boulder Canyon trail, I saw a couple of large, red and black bugs. Today I found a bunch off them. They were acting like Texas love bugs. No, not splattering all over car windshields. The other thing.

I don't think it could have been a better day for a hike. Beautiful blue sky, temperature in the upper 70's (which is cool when the air is dry), and a gentle breeze.

I made a couple of videos so you could hear the river and the birds. The first one was taken standing on the river bank.

The next one was taken from up on a cliff overlooking the river.

I think some of the pictures turned out nice.


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Crosscut trail

Suzanne and I went for a short hike on the crosscut trail today. It was a beautiful afternoon. Not a cloud in the sky, a gentle breeze blowing, birds twittering all around. There were two strange things about the hike, though. We didn't see a single lizard, and we didn't see any people. I think that's the first time I've been on that trail without seeing anybody.