Monday, September 28, 2009

A new template

I finally switched my blog to the new template about a week ago. Been putting it off for a year or two. I've spent the past week adjusting the details. Like today, I added a picture behind the title. Then the text didn't show up so I tried changing the font color. I couldn't. It seems that HTML can't be put in the blog title, just text. I was bummed. Then about an hour later, I accidentally noticed that there was a place to adjust colors of fonts, and font sizes, and styles, and backgrounds, etc. I guess I'll figure this out eventually.

I also added some buttons at the bottom of each blog. If you're shy about leaving a comment, you can click one of those buttons to say that you thought the blog was interesting, funny, or cool. Gee, I can already hear you smart alecs suggesting some different choices.

Let me know what you think.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Pinal Peak

Recently, the paper had an article about places to go to see fall color (we don't get much of that in the valley). One of the places discussed is Pinal Peak, near Globe. It's still a little early for fall colors, but driving up the mountain sounded like fun.

Finding the road out to the mountain is a little tricky. I thought a sign was saying I should turn right at the next intersection. What it meant was that I should turn right in about half a mile. I took a tour of the poor side of Globe before I found the road I wanted.

It's a dirt road most of the way up. It's in pretty good shape but the washboard is bad in spots. It isn't very steep. There weren't many people on it, either, which is good because it's barely wide enough for two vehicles to squeeze past each other most of the way.

A glimpse of the Superstitions on the way up.

There are several peaks, all bristling with antennae.

There are several trails that either leave from or cross the road. There is no place to park near most of the trailheads, though. I came across one that had a spot I could park, so I decided to explore it for a little way. Just before I got to that trail, I had seen Globe through a gap in the trees. Maybe I would find a better view along the trail and get some pictures.

The Ice House Canyon trail, with a place to park.

The trail went downhill in thick forest. The scent of pine was wonderful. The soil was soft with rocks mixed in; it gave good traction in the steep parts. I kept hearing woodpeckers and catching a glimpse of them as they flew from tree to tree, but couldn't get a picture. It was about 67 when I left the truck. There was no breeze in the trees but it was still very cool.

It was shady and cool in the trees.

I may not have gone even a quarter mile before I decided that I was not going to find a break in the trees and started back up. That's when I realized that I must be at a higher altitude than I'm used to, and even higher than last weekend on the flanks of Iron Mountain. I moved uphill at a crawl, desperately searching for something to stop and take a picture of. It was so dark in the trees, I would have to wait until I stopped gasping for air so I would be able to hold the camera still enough.

I wound up driving back to the gap in the trees and stopping in the middle of the road to get some pictures of Globe. I didn't have any trouble with traffic, though.

Globe from above.

Can you find the drive-in theater?

Click below for all of the pictures.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

West Pinto Trail

I didn't hike much of the West Pinto Trail today. Just the first 820 feet. Eight hundred twenty feet up, that is. That's a long way to climb in a little over a mile. Plus, it starts at over 4800 feet. No wonder I had to keep stopping.

Roger's trough had more water in it this time.

The view is nice from the trail.

I was getting the camera ready and thinking that hummingbirds would like these flowers, when one flew up. It flew off when I lifted the camera, though.

It felt very cool (low 90's?) as I walked away from the truck. It quit feeling cool when the trail turned uphill. It felt humid, instead. For some reason, sweat waits until I'm taking a picture to run into my eyes. Trees shade a lot of the trail, and some of the breeze still got through.

Parts of the trail were covered with pine cones.

Ranchers build fences in some incredible places. This could not have been easy to build.

I went as far as a saddle, so I could see what was on the other side. It was very nice and peaceful. I had the place to myself. Mine were the only footprints that far along the trail since the last rain. That trail doesn't seem to be used much. It was very overgrown and a little difficult to follow in spots. I almost lost it on the way down. It would be bad to lose that trail. You would quickly find yourself on the wrong side of a canyon or at an impassable cliff. I started thinking that I should keep my GPS receiver with the map turned on when I hike in unfamiliar places so I don't get myself hopelessly lost. I've got my SPOT, but it would be so embarrassing to have to use that. "I'm fine. I just lost the trail, and it's past my bed time. I get cranky when I'm tired."

The view.

Another view.

Click below to see all of the pictures.


Goldfield Ghost Town

It was really cool (about 90) and windy yesterday afternoon. I didn't get away from the house until kind of late, though. Too late to do any hiking. I drove out Apache Trail to see if I could find anything interesting to get a picture of over there. I looked over at the Goldfield Ghost Town parking lot and it wasn't very full, so I decided it would be a good time to take some pictures there. I'll have to go back earlier in the day some time to see what's in the shops there. I'll have to check out the restaurant some time, too. The smell of food coming from there sure was tempting.

Looking up the street.

I'll also have to go back on a sunny day. I think a blue sky would make a better background.

A regular picture of the bordello. Blah.

An HDRI of the bordello. I think this looks better.

This shop lists items for sale along the banister. One of the items listed: Fetishes.

There's a lot of old mining equipment scattered around.

It was nice not having to deal with crowds of people. I have to go back when the crowds are there, though, to see what's in those shops.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Catching up

I've been kind of busy lately, doing things around the house, running errands, etc. I have been able to get out to the desert. I just haven't had time to write about it. I didn't think I would today, either. It was only 95 when I got home, and I was thinking about going for a short hike. I had to put the recycling can away, first. As I did so, I was reminded of another chore that needed my attention. There are two bougainvilleas on the side of the house. They are out of control. One blocks access to the trash cans for people taking trash out. The other makes it almost impossible to get the cans out to the curb. It was time to cut them down to size.

I got the electric hedge trimmer, oiled it up, and started cutting. That trimmer is great. I was slicing off chunks of bougainvillea left and right. The ground was piled high with trimmings. Flower petals were wafting across the neighbor's yard. I was about 3/4 of the way through the second bush when the trimmer stopped suddenly. I jiggled the trigger. Nothing. I looked at the business end and spotted the problem. That crafty bougainvillea had grabbed the extension cord and fed it into the blades. Well, I was about done anyway. That bush does look a little odd, though. I didn't get the top done. It looks sort of like a punk rocker. Let's see, I wonder if I have any purple spray paint...

By the time I had repaired the extension cord, it was too dark to do any more trimming (as if not being able to see what I'm doing would adversely affect my bush trimming abilities), so here I am updating my blog.

I went for a drive on Sunday afternoon, mostly planning to take some pictures of clouds. I went out to a part of The Rolls that is near Saguaro Lake. I didn't use the Butcher Jones entrance, though. I don't think the entrance I used closes at nightfall, but I had another reason to get out of there by then. I had been in that area a few times about 3 or 4 years ago. Being close to town and right by the road, it was heavily used, and heavily abused. ATVs were reducing the desert to bare hills. Wait, I guess that's like saying that guns kill people when it's really the people holding the guns that kill people. OK, knuckleheads on ATVs were blah blah blah. The forest service has put fences along the roads and signs all over the place in attempt to stop the destruction. Judging from the tracks, some ATV knuckleheads know better than the forest service. I don't have anything against people riding ATVs. It just bugs me when they decide it's OK to tear stuff up as long as they are having fun. But I digress...

I was following the signs that indicated where one of the roads was. I got to a point where a sign pointed to the left for another road, and the road I was on ended. The sign for the other road seemed to indicate that I should follow one of the trails made by a knucklehead. I looked around for a while and sure enough, that was the way the road went. I followed that road until I got to a point that if I went down a hill, my truck would not be able to make it back up. I'm glad I noticed I wouldn't be able to get back up before I drove down there.

Since the road was like a labyrinth for a while, with a maze of dead end trails all over the place, I wanted to drive out of there before it got dark. I might have been able to find my way out in the dark. Well, I'm sure I could have, but then I might have been up past my bedtime, and I get cranky when I'm tired.

There were some nice clouds around and I took a few pictures before I hurried out.

Four Peaks looks big when the sky is clear. This cloud dwarfs it.

Looks like virga falling from small clouds.

This looks strange.

Click below to see all of the pictures from that trip.


On Monday, Lindsey and I went up Meridian road to get pictures of the sunset. That afternoon there were some clouds that would make for a great sunset. They were gone by the time sunset arrived. That's no reason to not watch a sunset, though.

We found another one of these strange skulls. $5 to whoever can correctly identify the kind of animal it belongs to. Hint: "Dead" is not the right answer.

Looking at these pictures made me realize how dirty my polarizing filter had gotten.

It was a pleasant sunset.

Click below for all of those pictures.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

A short hike

There were some nice fluffy clouds around on Saturday afternoon. I needed to get some pictures of them. I would have to hurry, though, because Suzanne and I were going to a party that evening. Since there was a storm building far off to the east, I decided to go to a place with a view of the Superstitions, so I could get pictures of the mountains and the storm.

A growing storm. Oops, got my shadow.

Fluffy clouds to the north.

I was in the eastern side of Bulldog Canyon. I climbed a hill there so I would have a good view of the Supes. Sometimes, all the other stuff you can see from up high is interesting.

The view of the Superstitions. There's an old open-pit mine in the foreground.

A mine to the south.

Goldfield Ghost town, a popular tourist attraction.

It was noisier that usual out there. There were a couple of helicopters that kept buzzing around the mountains. I don't know if they were involved in rescues or were taking people on scenic tours. One of them that I saw was too small to be a rescue helicopter. One of them was large and white. It's the only one I was able to see with the mountains in the background.

The storm was far enough away that we didn't even get any wind from it.

The storm continued to grow while I was out there. I saw a flash of lightening as I drove away. More storms are forecast for today. Maybe I'll hang out until it gets dark and get some lightning pictures.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

A scenic view

The drive out to Canyon Lake is amazingly beautiful. Of course, the drive back from the lake is, also. It's on the way back, though, that you will see a sign that has always struck me as very funny. It points to a pullout to the right and says, "Scenic View". It's hard to believe that anything could be much more scenic that what you've been looking at for the past hour or so. Maybe it is, or maybe it isn't, but it's easier to enjoy when you stop the car and get out. There's a nice view of Four Peaks. You can't see the lake from there.

There are some large hills to the northwest of the parking area. I've often wondered what the view would be like from up there but was stymied by the canyon between the parking area and the hills. It's deep and it's steep. I doubt that I could cross it. As I drove away from the house yesterday wondering where I should go, I decided that there has got to be an easy way to get to those hills, and that's what I would look for on this outing.

Just past where this road curves out of sight is a scenic view

I parked at the side of the road just a few hundred feet from the scenic view. I was at the very beginning of the chasm that has hindered me in the past, so I was able to hop across. Woohoo! There used to be a road going in the direction I wanted to go, so I just followed it for a little while and then turned up one of the hills. It was easy going, not very steep. I was on top in just a few minutes. The reward far outweighed the effort.

From the hill I could see Four Peaks and Canyon Lake.

In the other direction, the Superstition Mountains.

A slightly different view.

Yes, a cloud.

As you can probably tell from the pictures, it was getting close to sunset. Also, when I got to the top of the hill, I had accidentally pressed the "Help" button on my SPOT. I noticed it right away and turned it off, then sent an "I'm OK" message. I was worried that Suzanne and Skid would be on their way to rescue me, though. I had left my phone in the truck because I don't get a signal out there anyway. I figured that if they were on their way out there, I would get to the truck about the time that they did. I'm just glad I didn't push the "911" button. It would have been embarrassing if a helicopter had shown up as I traipsed around the top of those hills. I kind of doubt that insurance would cover accidentally pushing the wrong button.

Click below to see all of the pictures.


Monday, September 07, 2009

A Sunday drive on Monday

It rained all Saturday morning. It was nice listening to the thunder and the rain on the roof. We got about an inch at our house on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, Skid and his family came over, so we spent Sunday morning and afternoon getting the house ready. It felt cool outside all day, but it was a Houston kind of cool. If you moved around much, you got soaked. I'm sure it wasn't nearly as humid as Houston, but I've really gotten used to the dry air out here. Anyway, after spending the weekend at the house, I was ready to get out in the desert Monday afternoon. It was still muggy so I wasn't too keen on hiking. I drove along a road I haven't been on before and stopped to take a few pictures. I also got out a few times and wandered around listening to the quiet.

There are still a few clouds around.

On several trips to Tucson, I've seen barrel cacti there that have orange flowers. All of them that I've seen near Phoenix have yellow flowers. I've wanted to get some pictures of the orange flowers for a few years, but I've always been driving by them when they're in the median of a busy road. It's hard to get good pictures under those circumstances. I saw some on my drive today. Since I was on a lightly traveled dirt road, I just pulled to the side of the road, got out, and took some pictures. Finally.

Tucson style barrel cactus.

I also got a picture of an Arizona style grasshopper. Lindsey says they are dirt-hoppers because there isn't any grass. They do look like dirt.

Dirt hopper.

Click below to see all of the pictures.