Monday, July 28, 2008

Back to the desert again

It's been a long time since I've been out in the desert. I felt like I could stand a short walk, so I headed out to Bulldog Canyon. I went in at the Usery Pass entrance, but I didn't get very far. The sand was very chewed up and soft. I just couldn't move through it. I think it got that way from all the ATVs and dirt bikes that race around near that entrance (and that are eventually going to get Bulldog Canyon closed to all vehicles). Anyway, I went around to the Bluepoint entrance. I drove a little ways in and was getting out of the truck when I realized that I didn't have my camera with me. I felt naked. I decided I would have to use my phone camera. It's much better than the last phone camera I had, but it's a lot worse than my Canon. I sure was wishing I had the Canon. There was water flowing in a wash, with lots of tadpoles in it. I took some pictures of them, but it's hard to tell what is in the pictures. I also saw a light gray but with what looked like a fuzzy tail curled up over it's back. Whenever it stopped walking, it wiggled its rear end up and down, like it was fanning itself. It was one of the strangest bugs I've seen in a long time, and I couldn't get a picture of it. Oh, well, here are the pictures I did get.


I made a couple of videos of the tadpoles, but they seem to be in some format exclusive to Verizon. Google Video doesn't recognize them. Quicktime will play them, but I haven't found anything else that will, yet. Anyway, I guess you can't watch them. Sorry.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


We watched Beowulf this afternoon. While we were watching it, I noticed that it would get dark outside every now and then. Clouds. Maybe there was a storm building. Turns out that they were, but they were up around Flagstaff. We just had puffy little clouds here. They were pretty.

I drove out Meridian road a little ways to get some pictures of the clouds (without houses in the way). Got some pictures of a hanging fruit cholla flower, too. While I was taking pictures of the flower, I wondered if I could make movies in super macro mode. I made a very short movie of the flower, thinking I might get the ant crawling on it. Well, it turns out that I can make movies in super macro mode. It also turns out that there were a lot of ants behind that flower that I hadn't seen, and some of them can move very fast. If you look close, you will see them zipping around. There are some moving slowly, some moving fast, and one or two moving very very fast.

Click below to see the pictures.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sunset from the back porch

Every time I looked at the sky this afternoon, I thought that it looked like there would be a nice sunset. It was very nice. I wish I could have been out in the desert to get pictures. I took pictures from the back porch until the heat made my legs too uncomfortable (socks and long pants actually make a sunburn feel better when it's over 100; I was in shorts and barefoot). Click below to see the pictures. Don't worry, there aren't any pictures of my legs.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Clouds and fishhook pincushion flowers

It's been miserable being stuck in the house. For the past week, by the time I get home from work, my legs hurt so bad I just want to prop my feet up and chill. Today I thought I should be able to drive around and get some pictures of the pretty clouds, though. I was going to use exposure bracketing and Photomatix so that the landscape and the clouds would show up in the pictures. The problem with using exposure bracketing is that a tripod must be used. Normally that isn't a problem, but this sunburn hurts more and more the longer I stand still. I don't like to stop moving more than 1 or 2 seconds. So I would mess with the camera a little, then walk around, then change another setting or two and walk around, and then take some pictures. All that work and I didn't get many pictures that I like. At least not many of the clouds.

There was a pleasant surprise out there. The fishhook pincushion cacti had flowers. I've never seen so many of those flowers before. They bloom very briefly, so it's hard to catch them when they're open. Most of the pictures are of the flowers. Click below to see all of the pictures.


Monday, July 14, 2008

The burn

I almost didn't go to work today. It took two attempts to make it to the bathroom. I think the swelling goes down during the night, then when you stand up in the morning your feet and ankles swell up fast, stretching that burned skin, and that hurts. I've got blisters now.

Lindsey says that most people she works with say that No-Ad is no good. Only one person there hasn't had a bad experience with it. Wish I'd known that 3 days ago. I should let CR know that their lab tests do not approximate the real world very closely.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008


This is what my feet and ankles looked like last night.

This is what they looked like this morning.

They're a little swollen. It hurts to stand still. Once I get moving, walking feels OK.

I've been hiking in the desert for over 4 years now. This is the first painful sunburn I've gotten. Maybe because I was floating instead of hiking.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tubing on the Salt River

Lindsey finally did it. She drug me (and Kyle) out to the Salt River to go tubing. It wasn't as bad as I was afraid it would be.

First the good stuff. Salt River Tubing Company is well-run and efficient. There's plenty of gorgeous scenery along the river, and lots of pretty birds. The cool river water keeps you from getting too hot. In fact, when we first waded in, Kyle and I both thought the water was too cold to sit in an inner tube. It isn't bad once you get used to it.

Then there's the down side. Tubing on the Salt River is a very popular summer activity. There were several times that we were jammed tube-to-tube with crowds of people. At least most of them were very nice. But most of them are pretty loud. Lots of stereotypical Nascar types. Loud, lame jokes, and borderline crude, with cheap boom boxes tied to an inner tube with the volume cranked up far beyond distortion. A histogram of words used by people on the river would show the f word being used twice as much as any other word in the English language. Most people were drunk and a lot were smoking. All the commotion made it difficult to enjoy the desert. All this is why I've avoided tubing on that river. Now it's done and over with. I can't wait to get out to the desert by myself.

I bought NO AD SPF 45 waterproof sunscreen for this trip. It's a CR best buy. I'm disappointed in its performance, though. We all got burned. I put in on thick before we left the house, especially on my mayonnaise white legs (I never wear shorts on hikes; there are too many things out there to poke and scratch your legs). Part way through the trip, my thighs were looking a little pink. They were still greasy with thick sunscreen, but I put some more on. They still got burned. I also had sunscreen on my arms, and they are tan from hiking, but they burned, too. I'm glad I wore a hat with a brim all the way around. Maybe the noon Arizona sun is too severe a test for any sunscreen.

Lindsey has been on a few tubing trips before and always comes back with scrapes and bruises. After seeing her in action on this trip, I've decided that she must be afflicted with the same curse as her aunt Julia. Poor kid. At least it only affects her, though. Kyle and I weren't drug into any disasters by her presence.

I couldn't take my camera on this trip, though there is very little that I would have wanted to take pictures of. There were a few drunken idiots that would have made funny videos. I'll hike down to the river to get pictures of the herons and other birds some time.

Friday, July 11, 2008

About yesterday's hike.

Let's see, where was I? There was a storm to the south when we started our hike. Here's a picture of it.

It looked like it was going west, so I didn't worry about it. When we started back to the truck, Kyle asked me if I thought the storm by Four Peaks would bring us some rain. At first I said, "No". It started moving towards us very quickly, though. Before long, I was walking as fast as I could. I had baggies in my backpack to keep things dry, but what if they leaked? What if I got wet and froze? What if one of us got hit by lightening? Faster, faster! As you know, we beat the rain to the truck. Click below to see all of the pictures.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Just a brief update...

Kyle and I hiked up to the aluminum bench on the west side of the Superstition Mountains this afternoon. There were storms to the south when we started out, and there was an ominous looking storm by Four Peaks when we started back down. I was worried we wouldn't get back to the truck before it hit. We beat it by at least 10 minutes, though. Here's a picture of the storm when we were about halfway back.

It's late, and I'm falling asleep at the keyboard, but I still have a lot of image processing to do. Here are a couple more pictures to tide you over for a while.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Sunset from First Water Trailhead

Kyle and I drove out to the First Water Trailhead this evening. I haven't gotten any sunset pictures for a while, so I got a bunch tonight. Not very spectacular, though.

We saw a few bats on the way back to Apache Trail. I wish I knew where they spent the day.

Click below to see the pictures.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Kyle and I climb Lone Mountain

It was kind of warm today (low 100's at Lone Mountain), and there wasn't much of a breeze when we started out. On the way home from work, Richard and I were watching a storm trying to develop far to the east. About a third of the way up the mountain, we noticed dust blowing across the valley (you can see it in the first picture). Before too long, we had a nice breeze (about 25 mph). The view, as usual, was grand from the top. Here's a video of Kyle hopping around on some rocks part way up.

Click below to see the pictures.


Monday, July 07, 2008

A drive along Apache Trail

This afternoon, Lauren and I went for a drive along Apache trail, past the Superstitions, past Tortilla Flat, and almost to the unpaved portion. I stopped at several places along the drive to take pictures.

Just before Tortilla Flat, there was a lizard that was shedding. It looked really strange before we figured out what it was. He would run against rocks to get the skin off. You can see that he has removed some between two of the pictures. I tried to get a video of him doing that, but couldn't.

There was a big storm east of the Superstitions. I got a few pictures of the rainbow. Lauren kept finding heart-shaped prickly pear platyclades, and there are pictures of those.

Now, the contest. There are some pictures of bugs on platyclades. If you correctly identify the bugs, you win an autographed and framed print of whichever one of my pictures that you want. The most specific answer will win.

Click below to see all of the pictures.


Saturday, July 05, 2008

A ridge near Canyon Lake

It's been a long time since I've been on a hike. It's just been too hot. We've had a long string of 110+ days. It was only about 103 today, but I think the temperature was lower because the humidity was higher. I went for a short hike anyway.

I was driving along the road to Canyon Lake and stopped at a place that didn't look very exciting. I stopped there because sometimes, if you check out the things that don't look exciting, you'll be pleasantly surprised. Also, if I didn't check it out, I would never know what was there. I'm glad I stopped there.

It wasn't a very long climb to the top of the ridge. It got very pretty near the top. I stopped and took a bazillion pictures of hanging fruit cholla flowers. I've heard that very few hanging fruit cholla grow from seeds. Most grow from pieces of the cactus that have broken off. They're pretty flowers, though.

Then I topped the ridge. I could see the Superstition Mountains, Weaver's Needle, Canyon Lake, Four Peaks, and colorful rocky landscape and puffy clouds all around. I could also see a long trail of smoke from the fire burning on the west side of Phoenix. It's been burning a long time. I was planning all the places I was going to check out while I was up there, and started to walk towards one of the peaks, when I noticed it was kind of dark. Darn it, the sun was setting! I'll have to go back.

Click below to see the pictures.