Thursday, February 28, 2008

A quick trip to Meridian road

It was another beautiful day. Got up to about 80. It felt so good and toasty getting into a car at lunch time and after work. I went out to the end to Meridian road after work to see if there were any flowers out there. There were millions of tiny yellow flowers along the trail, and some larger yellow flowers on the mountain side. I couldn't tell what kind they were, though.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Motorcycle on Apache Trail

OK, it finished processing. Here it is.

Like a lunar landing, only rougher

Back in the late 60's, I watched everything that was on TV about the lunar missions. From the very first Apollo shots that just orbited Earth, through to the last trip to the moon, anytime there was live video, I was watching. I remember when Apollo 11 was orbiting the moon as the astronauts prepared for landing, the news announcers were talking about anything and everything they could dig up about the mission. That's what they always did, of course, and there was always interesting information, though usually what they put on TV just scratched the surface of the topic; it was just a teaser. I found that very frustrating. After all, we didn't have the internet. I couldn't run over to the computer and find out everything I wanted to know about any topic. Anyway, as the astronauts prepared for the first attempt at a moon landing, the announcers talked about some of the obstacles they would face. I've always remembered one of them; I just wish I could remember what it's called, too. It has to do with what you see, or don't see, when your head is directly between the sun and what you are looking at. Under that condition, there are no shadows where you are looking (except yours, of course). The effect is not very noticeable over short distances (like when you are standing on the ground and looking at the shadow of your head), but if you stand on a cliff in the desert and look at your shadow 50 or 100 feet away, it starts to show up. What you notice is that the area around your shadow looks brighter, and it is difficult to discern much detail. Color differences are obvious, but any contours or elevation differences are washed out and invisible. It's really obvious if you are in a plane flying over the desert southwest. You can't see the shadow of the plane, but you know it would be in the center of the bright, featureless spot below. Anyway, if you are piloting a lunar lander that is heading for a landing spot in that bright featureless spot, you may not be able to make out the large boulder there that will topple your lander when you set down on it. I bring all of this up because I bet that is what happened to the officer driving the patrol car in the first picture below. It was late afternoon and he/she was driving due east, and being February, the sun is just a little south. So the officer was going to pull into the median for some reason, and looked over there to check out where he was going, but the median along Apache Trail is pretty much barren so you don't have to check very closely at all. Without any shadows, the culvert would be invisible. I'm sure that was a very nasty surprise. (Click on the pictures to see a larger version.)


Look how green the lower slopes of the Superstitions are.

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I drove on out towards Canyon Lake. On the way out there, I had an idea for a different kind of video. So here it is; Apache Trail from the viewpoint of my armpit. The wind kind of blew the camera around, so you might get motion sickness.

Oh dear, after more than an hour the video is still processing. I'll have to add it to the blog later.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Mexican Gold Poppies

The weather forecast made today sound like a good day to get pictures of flowers, and it is. Blue skies with a few puffy clouds. I think Mexican gold poppies look best with the sun shining on them.

I almost didn't go out to get pictures. Suzanne was going to go with me, but she bent over to pick something up and hurt her back. It didn't feel right going by myself when she was supposed to be with me. Then, on Usery Pass Rd, a girl on a bicycle swerved in front of me. The only reason I can imagine that she would have done that is that she is suicidal. I was planning to go to Four Peaks road, and as I drove down Bush Highway, I kept thinking about the construction at 87 and how I might have to drive through town on my way back because of that. I was looking for a place to turn around when I came to the road to Butcher Jones park (just north of Saguaro Lake). I decided to see if there were any flowers at that entrance to the Rolls.

Less than a mile into the Rolls, I came to a patch of Mexican poppies on the side of a hill. I spent almost an hour there taking pictures. A couple of them turned out OK. The poppies are the only flowers that are blooming in any numbers so far. I did take a few pictures of an Arizona lupine, but they are all out of focus. Anyway, click below to see the pictures.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The other side of Bulldog Canyon OHV area

When we left work today the sun was shining, there were puffy little clouds around, and the sky was very blue. It looked like good mountain picture weather. Also, I thought I might be able to get out to the desert before the Mexican poppies closed up. I decided to go into Bulldog Canyon on the side near the Superstitions.

On the road approaching the entrance, I stopped to snap a few pictures of the Superstition Mountains. I'm glad I did, because a few minutes later a sheet of thick, dark clouds moved in from the northwest and it got dark.

I decided to try driving up a road that Skid and I had been on with our ATVs last summer. Back then I thought that I wouldn't want to take my truck on that road, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I was afraid it would be. When I stopped and got out to look around, I thought about how yesterday's short hike had made my chest tickle all night. That and the neighbor's dog barking resulted in me getting only 2 hours sleep. The hill I was looking at was a little steep, so it would make me breathe hard, which would make my chest tickle even more tonight. I just couldn't resist it, though, and up I went. The pictures would have been much better if the sun had been shining, but here they are.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I'm back!

I finally made it back to Bulldog Canyon. I've been doing some traveling, and on the first trip I picked up a cold. It's still bothering me after two weeks. Today I finally felt up to going out to the desert again. Unfortunately, I got there after the Mexican poppies had closed up for the night. I'm planning on taking lots of flower pictures this weekend. I hope a couple turn out.

The desert is soggy from all the rain. It's humid out there; you can see it in the pictures.


Friday, February 08, 2008

Cure for cabin fever

I've stayed home from work the past couple of days with a cold. I think I'm finally getting over it, which is good since I'm about to leave for Texas. Since I've been cooped up for a while, and since I'm going to be away from the desert for a few days, I decided I'd better take a short drive around today. I almost didn't go because I feel so worn out, but I'm glad I did. I feel more energized now than I did before I went. I went to Canyon Lake to see if it was being filled again. It looks like it's almost full.

There were a lot of tourists out today. It looked like there was a crowd at Tortilla Flat. I didn't drive all the way down there, though. They seem to have put up a couple of new buildings there. Maybe they're restrooms; I think that's why most people stop there. If I ever stop there, it's for the ice cream.

Click below for the pictures.


Monday, February 04, 2008

Mountains, clouds, and snow

It rained a lot last night and today. The back yard is flooded. I mean besides the pool, there is a lot of water there. Lindsey called me at work this afternoon to tell me that she thought she saw snow on the Superstitions (they were mostly shrouded in clouds all day, so it was hard for her to tell for sure). I decided I had better go check it out after work.

I wasn't even half a mile from home when I looked over at the mountains and saw that the clouds had lifted completely off them and sure enough, the tops were covered with snow. I called Richard to let him know and he told me about a rainbow, but I couldn't see it from where I was. Check his blog for all that. He got some pictures. I was headed towards the Superstitions when Richard called me back to tell me that there was a lot of snow on Four Peaks, too. I could see a little of Four Peaks and decided to head out Bush highway, hoping the clouds would lift from Four Peaks, too. It looked like better picture potential in that direction.

As I was driving towards Four Peaks, I looked back at the Superstitions. The sun was shining on them. The snow on top was brilliant white. The base of the mountains was emerald green. In between were red, orange and brown rocks. I was in heavy traffic. I couldn't get a picture. Man, that would have been a fantastic picture, even if there were light poles and car headlights in it.

I stood on a group of about 5 rocks, hopping from one to the other to see around cacti or palo verdes, taking pictures of the snow and clouds around Four Peaks and the Goldfield Mountains for about 45 minutes. I was thankful when it got too dark to take pictures, because my fingers were too numb to button my coat. It was so pretty I didn't want to leave, but I had to thaw out. On the way home I had to stop a couple more times to get pictures of clouds and mountains. Ah, it's good to be back in the desert.

Click below to see the pictures.