Thursday, May 29, 2008

Another contest!

Late today I saw something I have never seen before. I have never even heard anybody talk about seeing one of these. More about that later.

There were two general topics of conversation at work today. During the morning, it was the guy who apparently committed suicide by running across the freeway. He had to run back and forth several times before he succeeded. In the afternoon, people kept talking about how hot it was. It was only in the 90's. They've already forgotten what hot is. It was only about 90 while I was hiking. The gnats still weren't very bad, either.

I didn't want to do a lot of climbing today (my legs are sore from sweeping the driveway), so I decided to walk around Horseshoe Mountain and Spooky Hill. I forgot how many washes you have to go in and out of on that hike. Oh well, it was fun.

When I was almost back to the truck, I came across something that, as far as I know, is sort of unusual. The recent rain followed by an ATV spinning its tires created the perfect conditions for it. It's difficult to see, and almost invisible in the picture. I tried adjusting color and contrast to make it stand out better. Anyway, whoever can identify it wins a framed and autographed print of the picture of their choice (taken by me). Entries must be sent to my gmail address to count. Leaving a comment on this blog or my web album will result in an email being sent to my gmail address, so that will work. Contest ends at midnight (MST) Saturday, 5/31/2008. Oh, the contest photo is the last one in the web album for this blog. It's labeled "Contest photo".


Monday, May 26, 2008

Missed the shot

I went out to Bulldog Canyon early today because I've got to go to the airport this afternoon. I didn't stay very long because I was worried about traffic coming home. There was a long line of cars going towards town as I drove out. I'm glad I went, though. I saw something I've never seen out there before. Didn't even know they were there. Wild horses. No, I didn't get a picture. They ran across the road in front of me as I was driving to the exit. I got a short video, but it's very frustrating to watch so I won't subject you to that. Here are some pictures of other stuff I saw.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Someplace new in Bulldog Canyon

It was a beautiful day today. No clouds, and only about 80 degrees, with a gentle breeze. I had to go for a hike, but I was having trouble deciding where to go. I wound up in Bulldog Canyon and was thinking about hiking up that canyon that it seems like I will never get to the end of. I was wandering in that direction but missed a turn and went a little south of there. It was someplace I hadn't been before, so that was real nice. The buzzards circled me on a couple of occasions. I guess I disappointed them, though.

I only hiked about 2 miles, with a 650 foot elevation change, but my legs are tired. They cramped a little when I started downhill, and were about to give out by the time I got back down to level ground. I guess I got out of shape with all the weird weather last week.

I tried to get some people pictures for Suzanne. As usual, though, the only person around was a sweaty old fart who won't smile for a picture.

A really great thing about the hike is that I encountered only 1 or 2 gnats the whole time. It was amazing. Maybe they drowned in all the rain last week!

Here are a couple of videos of buzzards. I couldn't tell if they were smiling or not. In the first video, you can hear an airplane. That's an airplane. It is not buzzards making airplane noises.

Here are a lot of pictures. They don't even begin to show how pretty it is out there, though, but it's the best I can do.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Saguaro flower

Suzanne and I went for a short drive this afternoon. I thought there might be some cool clouds on the mountains, but we didn't see any. I took a few pictures of saguaro flowers and a nice little bungalow next to the Superstition Mountains.


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Friday, May 23, 2008

Odd weather

Earlier this week, the temperature was around 110. Then one day it was so windy, you could hardly see the mountains through all the dust in the air. Then it got cloudy and cooled off. The high today was only about 70. We got about an inch of rain, too. Typical rainfall for May is about 0.1 inch. Suzanne and I drove out to Canyon Lake. It was very pretty out there with the setting sun peeking through the clouds, and all the moisture in the air. I was never in the right place at the right time to get a good picture, though. Here's a few of the ones I got, though.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

It's warming up

We had our first day over 100 today. It's kind of late in the season for that. It was 104 when I got out of the truck about 4:15. I was thinking I would hike in the shadow of Lone/One Mountain today, but I went too early. I was in the sun except for when I stopped in the shade of a paloverde or saguaro.

When I started the hike, there were not many gnats bothering me. I think it was because I wasn't fragrant enough, though. After I had been out there about 45 minutes, they moved in.

It didn't seem very hot when I started out. I wondered if my thermometer could be wrong, but my camera felt hot. Then I started to wonder if there might be something wrong with me, but I started sweating and decided I was OK. I felt fine. I decided I had better not hike too far on the first hot day of the season, though.

It was a pretty day. There were lots of birds zipping around. I made a couple of panoramas. When you are taking pictures for a panorama, it's critical to get the pictures lined up correctly. It's also when the camera shrinks the image in the viewfinder by about 50%, which makes it difficult to get the pictures correctly aligned. I don't understand that. The second panorama would look a lot better than the first, except that I didn't get the pictures lined up very good. By the time I was taking those pictures, a couple of gnats had fallen in love with my ears. Made it difficult to concentrate on pictures. Anyway, only the first panorama is in the pictures. Here they are.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mountains and clouds

I spent the day at a seminar at a hotel conference room. I didn't look outside the whole day. I was surprised when I left to see that it was sprinkling. It was very windy on the way home and the air was very clear. I had to go get some pictures.

I kept changing my mind about where I would go. I eventually wound up at the end of Idaho road. I started to hike around the side of some mountains, but they blocked the wind and the gnats attacked. The gnats are really bad after all the rain last winter. There were hardly any gnats last summer, but it was a lot hotter then. I'd rather have heat than gnats. Boy, I really wandered off that time.

Anyway, with the clear air and slightly stormy looking clouds, I took about 116 pictures. I took most of them on the way back to the truck. I would take several of the Superstition Mountains, take a couple of steps, and decide I needed to take a few more. I was playing around with shutter speed and aperture, trying to get the clouds and virga to show up better. I put 66 of the pictures on the web album. I hope you don't get bored.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Saguaro flowers

It was unusually cool today. When I got home, the neighborhood smelled like creosote bushes after rain. I love that smell. I decided to go out to the end of Meridian road so I could smell it better. Turns out it didn't rain as much out there. I got a few pictures of saguaro flowers, though.

I got pictures of other stuff, too. Here's a picture of a couple of cholla cacti. There's a bird nest in the one on the right. It all looks like one cholla at first, but if you look closer you will see that the one on the left is a hanging fruit cholla and the one on the right is a teddy bear cholla. The hanging fruit is a dead giveaway, but you will also notice that the two varieties branch differently.

Now that you know how to tell them apart, which is this? There are a couple of staghorn cholla in the picture, too.

I came across something that at first I thought was fungus. Then I started to wonder if it was one of those alien pod thingies. See if you can tell what it is.

Something has been digging a lot of holes out there lately. Here's one. This is an easily accessible area, so notice the bottle shards and .22 shells all over the place.

And, finally, here are all the pictures.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Lindsey sings "Yesterday"

Lindsey made a video of herself singing "Yesterday" for her Grandpa Cook.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The dead dog

I was looking through today's pictures again and noticed that the dead dog sort of shows up in one of them. Not good enough to be gross, but good enough that if you go out there, you will know what area to avoid (if possible). In the picture you will see a blue motorcycle parked behind a paloverde. On this side of the tree there is something red in the, uh, well, what is it? It isn't grass. It's those plants that had rows of tiny yellow flowers and are now all brown and dried up and covered with billions of tiny thorns that at least come out easily. Anyway, back to the dog; the red thing is the blanket in which the dog is half wrapped. You can't see the dog in the picture. So, if you happen to be out there, avoid that area.

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FWO trail coordinates

I went back to the first water overlook trail this morning to get some coordinates. I may not have the pictures in between located perfectly, but at least I know where the beginning and end of the trail are now.

I saw some of the same lizards that I saw yesterday. I didn't see the collared lizard, though. I saw a zebra tailed lizard with a forked tail. I didn't know about the tail until I got home and was looking at the pictures.

I'm going to avoid that trail for a while. The trailhead is very unpleasant right now. Some moron dumped his dead dog there. I know it was dumped because it's wrapped in a blanket. There are lots of places around town to dump things that you don't want. I can't figure out why people go all the way out there to get rid of stuff. Idiots.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

First water overlook trail

I didn't feel real energetic today, so I hiked the First Water overlook trail. It's near Canyon Lake and ends at a waterfall that drops 90 feet to First Water Creek. Well, there's a waterfall if it's raining. It hasn't rained for a long time. Turns out you would be able to see the waterfall from the trail, anyway. Not unless you went over the waterfall yourself, and that would probably hurt.

I played around with taking pictures with the polarizing filter on and off. It doesn't seem to affect the quality of the pictures. I'm glad. Like Skid says, it must be the combination of the polarizer and the UV filters.

I wanted to geotag the pictures, but there is no way I can figure out where I was by looking at Google Earth. It's low resolution out there and you can barely tell where the road and the creek are. Maybe I'll go out there with my GPS some time and figure out where that trail is.

I got a picture of an eastern collared lizard today. They're very pretty. It isn't a very good picture, though. Whenever I see something like that, I stop and take a picture right away, even if it's into the sun or too dark or there's something in the way or whatever. I want to get at least one picture in case whatever it is runs away. This was a very skittish and very fast lizard. I wish I had a video of it as it ran off. It looked like it was running on its back legs. Little rocks were flying. Here are the pictures.


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Lens trial

I went to Bulldog Canyon today, thinking that I would experiment with various lenses and see which one or which combination was making my pictures look bad. I don't think it was bright enough, though. I can't tell much difference between any of the pictures. I need to go out to the lake on a sunny day again. I think some of the pictures turned out nice, though.


Sunday, May 04, 2008


I also got a couple of good pictures of buzzards today.


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Something's fishy

Today, Skid and I drove around taking pictures so we could compare the results (I have an S3 IS and he has an S5 IS). The biggest difference doesn't seem to be due to the cameras, though. We both had our UV filters and polarizing filters on our cameras. I took one of the pictures below with the filters on my camera and one without. The one without looks much better. Now we have to figure out which filter does what to the pictures.


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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Dead batteries

The weather was almost perfect for hiking today. A little on the warm side (mid to upper 80's) but still very nice. Since I was in the middle of a bunch of mountains, there wasn't much of a breeze most of the time, so it was kind of gnatty (new word; notify Webster).

On the way into Bulldog Canyon I pulled over to let a Hummer load of tourists by (the road is only wide enough for one vehicle most of the way). I sat there while 6 Hummers went by. That's the most tourists I've ever seen out there. Maybe it was a wedding party or something. Hope they had a good time.

I studied Google Earth this afternoon to decide where I was going to go. Well, it's hard to tell on Google Earth if you'll be able to cross a small canyon or not. More about that later. I was on my way to a long canyon that I've been meaning to explore for several years. I was getting close to it and was following a wash when it got too rough and full of plants, so I went up the side, but that was almost too steep to walk along. Anyway, I had stopped to take pictures and catch my breath (when you carry a camera, you never have to admit you're out of breath; you just stop to take a picture) when I saw that my camera batteries were almost dead. On a cold day you can get a few more pictures by warming up the batteries, but today the batteries were already warm. I didn't want to go someplace new and wonderful and not be able to take pictures. I turned off the image stabilization to save some power. I didn't know how much further I would be able to go on that difficult terrain, anyway, so I decided to wander around near where I was. That was probably a good idea. I thought I had taken more than enough water but I only had half a liter left when I got back to the truck.

As I was wandering around, I was thinking about taking a different route back to the truck. I had enough water for that, and if it didn't work out, I would be in shade as I retraced my steps. It turns out that it didn't work out. I didn't go far before I came to a small canyon (maybe 25 feet deep) with steep sides. I could probably have gotten across, but it would not be easy and what if there was a more difficult one after that? I turned back.

The scenery was beautiful where I was wandering around. The pictures don't do it justice. You just have to stand there and look around. I made a short video of looking around, but it just isn't the same. I was hoping to get the constant background hum of hundreds of honey bees, but all you can hear in the video is the breeze and my feet crunching on rocks as I turn.

And here are the pictures.


As I was driving out of Bulldog Canyon (on a different road than when I went in), I came across two groups of people (who were not associated with each other) that had campfires going. I can't imagine having a campfire in a place with so much dry vegetation. Actually, these were more like bonfires. The flames were higher than the heads of the people standing around. Why do people need huge fires when it's in the 80's? Judging by the way they were swatting, it didn't keep the gnats away. Maybe it's for the same reason they buy F250's to commute to work; masculinity issues. Truly bizarre. I tried to get pictures as I drove by, but the camera would only focus on the bugs and dirt on my windows.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Another Superstition hike

Suzanne and I went for a hike out by the Superstition Mountains again today. The weather was much better this time. The temperature was in the low 80's and the wind was blowing. No gnats in the nose. We walked a pretty good distance. We were out there for 2 hours.

On the way back to the truck, we came across a tarantula hawk that was dragging a tarantula back to its burrow. Suzanne was grossed out and had to keep walking while I stopped to take pictures and a video. Here's the video.

There are a lot of pictures of the Superstition Mountains in the pictures. Every time I looked up at them, I felt like I needed to take a picture, so I did. Here they are.