Sunday, April 25, 2010

A view of Saguaro Lake

Last weekend, when I was looking at Saguaro Lake in the distance, I was thinking that I should go to the top of the cliffs that overlook the lake again. So that's what I did yesterday.

A picture from last Sunday, showing the cliffs looming over the lake.

The last time I was up there, I went to a spot that looked like it would be easy to get to. This time, I decided I would try to get to the highest spot on the cliffs, no matter how far I had to walk or how many pointless ups and downs I had to traverse. It turned out to be easier than I thought it would be. With all the flowers along the way, the hum of honey bees was almost a roar.

I saw a few Mexican gold poppies along the way.

A buckhorn cholla with lots of flowers.

Almost to the final climb. Looks like solid rock for part of the way.

It is solid rock.

There's a very nice view of the lake from up there. There weren't any loud boats displaying their rooster tails, which seemed strange. There was one very fast boat but all the rest just seemed to be run-of-the-mill family boats. It was quiet for such a busy lake.

Saguaro Lake, with the Goldfield Mountains in the background.

Looking southeast.

A fishing pier 340 feet below. I couldn't get closer than 6 feet from the edge. Too scary.

I got out there early enough that I didn't have to race sunset back to the truck. I sat and enjoyed the view for a while. When I was about to leave, a red tailed hawk flew by. I had the same problem getting pictures of it as I do with Richard's planes. With the lens zoomed in, the depth of field is very narrow. Between focusing and taking the picture, the subject moves out of focus. I only got one picture of the hawk that's in focus, when it was going directly overhead. I'm glad the sky was clear so the exposure turned out OK.

A red tailed hawk.

Click below to see all of the pictures.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Oops, missed the clouds

There were fluffy, Simpson-ish clouds around for most of the day on Friday. Every time I looked at them, I thought about what nice pictures they would make. After work, I left the house to get some pictures of them. I thought Canyon Lake would probably make a good setting. As I headed that way, though, it seemed that the clouds in that direction were solid sheets of gray. I kept going that way, anyway. I figured I'd be able to get the fluffy clouds from the east side of the lake.

Kind of gray at Canyon Lake.

I was wrong. All I could see from the lake was sheets of gray clouds. I stayed there and took pictures of flowers.

Prickly pear.

I saw a flower there that I don't remember seeing before. There weren't many of them. They have a beautiful orange color. They're called Desert Mariposa. Mariposa is Spanish for butterfly. They don't look like a butterfly to me, but it was late in the day and I think they were closing up.

Desert Mariposa.

I took a few landscape pictures but they look pretty boring in the gray light.

The one lane bridge at the marina.

Kind of windy today.

I think those gray clouds moved over the valley while I was at the lake. They made for a nice sunset.

Click below to see all of the pictures.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wandering in the desert

I had trouble deciding where to go on Sunday. I wanted to go someplace different, but I didn't want to drive a long way. I decided to wander around just west of Saguaro Lake. I had been to a couple of places in that area and decided to go to a place I hadn't seen back behind the mountains.

The buckhorn cholla flowers are coming out.

I also wanted to go someplace quiet, and I thought I'd be able to get away from the road noise back there. I did manage to get away from the road noise, but there was other noise I'd forgotten about. Boats. I could hear them for most of the time I was out there.

Teddy bear cholla flower.

I wandered around trying to go in a generally westerly direction. There are a lot of horse trails out there. I would follow them for a while, until I decided they weren't going the direction I wanted, then I'd follow the path of least resistance, then I would meet up with a horse trail, etc.

A horse trail.

Some of you might be wondering what makes them horse trails and not just hiking trails. No, it isn't the horse dodo on them. You find that on a lot of hiking trails, but that doesn't make them horse trails. Horse trails seem to be used almost exclusively by horses. So now you curious people are wondering how I know there aren't many people walking on the horse trails. The rest of you have gone on the the pictures or have dozed off in your recliner and now have drool running down your right cheek. Anyway, I know that not many people walk on these trails because people are sloppy. They couldn't color in the lines when they were kids and they refuse to do it now but now they call it freedom of expression instead of lack of skill. They continually wander off the edges of trails and trample the plants and kick the rocks out of the way and their trails get wider and wider and the edge is always diffuse and poorly defined. Horse trails, on the other hand, are narrow with sharply defined edges. In places the cut a foot into the dirt but they don't get any wider. I don't know why horses do that. Maybe a horse doesn't get distracted by the beautiful scenery surrounding it, which would be a shame. Maybe it doesn't dare offend its master by straying from the designated path, which would also be a shame. I'm sure there are good reasons for the people's sloppiness, and we would be a pretty dull species without that.

Ocotillo flowers.

Speaking of dull, that reminds me of my next rant. Remember the boats? These aren't fishing boats (though that might be the story fed to the wives) or ski boats (at least not as used by any serious skiers). They sound like they have very large engines and no mufflers. Their roar echoes through the canyons around the lakes for miles in every direction. As I walked along listening, I noticed that they would roar for 20 seconds or so and then die down. Does it take them that long to cross the lake, and they have to slow down to turn? I couldn't see the lake, so I didn't know. In between admiring flowers, cacti, rocks, mountains, etc., I kept getting back to thinking about the loud boats. I decided that the boats must be owned by young males and that they owed their existence entirely to testosterone. The guys were trying to impress the girls by having the biggest, loudest boat. Some of you will argue that girls don't like loud boats, and I agree that that is probably true. What girls do like is guys with money. Unfortunately, they are often duped into believing that guys who spend a huge wad of money on something as frivolous as a muscle car or a loud boat has a lot of money. They don't wake up to the truth until one or two babies later when Bubba is spending half his paycheck on a new chrome plated air clean for his baby (the car). Also, I've always kind of suspected that the guys were trying to compensate for some deficiency in their manhood. That's what was so funny when I finally got to a spot with a good view of the lake. I could watch the roaring boats strut their stuff. They would get lined up at one end of the lake. They must use a water jet for thrust, and the direction of the water jet can be changed; side to side to steer, and up and down to adjust trim. These guys would adjust the trim so the water jet was shooting into the air. I guess that doesn't leave them with much steering control, and that's why they have to slow down after crossing the lake. Anyway, they make a huge rooster tail as they cross the lake. The analogies are hilarious, but this is a family friendly blog so I won't go into details.

Deep voice (trying to impress): "Man, that water's cold."
Deeper voice: "Yeah, and deep, too."

There are lots of brittlebush flowers.

Near the beginning of the hike, I decided that I didn't want to cross a ridge between me and where I wanted to go, especially after I saw a swarm of bees along the top (there have been lots of killer bee attacks in the valley this year). I wound up walking along that ridge, though. The sun had gotten low enough that it wasn't hot by then, and the breeze up there felt wonderful. It was a pleasant stroll through the desert, and near the end I found the route I should have taken to get where I wanted. Next time.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

A quiet hike

On Saturday, I wanted to hike someplace that I wouldn't be bothered by traffic noise. There are lots of places in Bulldog Canyon OHV area like that, though on the weekend there can be lots of ATV and dirt bike noise. I went to Bulldog Canyon, anyway. There were very few people out there for such a beautiful Saturday afternoon. I saw one truck when I came through the gate, heard one vehicle when I started my hike (I was out of sight of the road at the time), and didn't see or hear anything else out there the rest of the time.

I'm going in this direction.

When Gary and I were out here a couple of weeks ago, we were looking at some mountains and talking about how it looked like a person would be able to find a couple of routes to the top, but you can't really tell until you go up there and try it. I went to that place. As I approached the mountains, I stopped now and then and looked at the possible routes and planned where I would go. Unfortunately, when you get closer, you can't really tell where you are in relation to where you wanted to be, and you can rarely see more than 100 feet beyond where you are. That applies to looking both uphill and downhill. Looking downhill is scary because it looks very steep. You can see where you might descend safely for 30 or 40 feet, but beyond that it looks impossible. You just have to go that 30 or 40 feet and hope you see something else from there. Since I had just gone up there, though, I remembered most of the route down. Even if I don't remember the exact route in situations like this, I find that I usually retrace my steps because finding the best route down is just a mirror of finding the best route up.

I saw a desert tortoise at the beginning of the hike. This is a small one.

There are lots of flowers. These are blue lupines.

Desert marigold.


I eventually got to a point where it didn't look safe to go any higher, at least not in the direction I was going. Also, I was getting tired. I sat down to relax and eat snacks for a while. I took off my shirt to work on my tan and a hummingbird came to check me out. I guess I looked like a big, white flower.

When I downloaded the data from my GPS data logger, the @trip PC software removed some of the data points. It must have some algorithm for deciding what data is wrong and then deleting it. It did the same thing to the data from my last hike, and it deleted all the data from when I left the trail, which was where I took most of my pictures. It has no knowledge of trails, so that can't be it. Maybe it deletes data with large elevation changes in a short distance. Anyway, I had to export the data to a GPX file and use Microsoft's Pro Photo Tools (a free download) to geotag the pictures. Several were still incorrectly located. I think the data logger wasn't getting a fix, which is hard to believe since it had visibility of at least 50% of the sky. I'm starting to wonder if it is flaking out when it gets warm. I guess I'll know if that's it when the weather really warms up.

Click below to see all of the pictures.


Monday, April 05, 2010

Back to the desert

I was lazy on Saturday and didn't go anywhere. On Sunday, I was planning to try hiking up White Canyon again, but due to a fortunate set of circumstances, I went on a much shorter hike. I relaxed so much on vacation that I'm kind of out of shape. My legs were getting wobbly by the time I got back to the truck.

I saw a few flowers on this hike. These are Mexican Gold Poppies.

Blue Lupines.

Hedgehog cactus.

I haven't looked these up.

I had been in the area I went to yesterday before, several years ago. At that time I had seen white markers on posts off in the distance. I wondered what they were, but not enough to go look at one. Well, I probably wouldn't have learned anything if I had gone to look at them, anyway. Unless I had gone to this one.

A marker that has fallen over.

Hey, I bet there's something interesting in here. I hope it isn't a practical joke.

Paper, in a baggy to keep it dry.

A mining claim, filed on 1/2/1998. I figured it was something like that.

I wonder if mining claims expire if you don't do anything with them, and how long it takes to expire. I might have to put back all that gold I found. Ha!

On a completely different note, and inspired somewhat by yesterday's earthquake and by this funny feeling I have that something is about to happen, I hereby predict that on either 4/6 or 4/9, there will be a mostly unexpected event related to a volcano that will make world headlines.

Have you every heard somebody say, "I thought that was going to happen!" I think things are going to happen all the time, but they don't. It's probably something I got from Mom. She's the best worrier in the world. Anyway, I'm wrong 99.9% of the time, which I think is probably worse that random chance would allow, which is probably why worriers think it's a good thing they worried about something (as if they somehow prevented it from happening). Anyway, I figure that by writing this prediction down, I will be able to see how wrong I was in a few days, and maybe I will be able to dismiss such premonitions more quickly in the future. Gee, I hope Mount Rainier doesn't send a pyroclastic flow through Seattle. Click below to see all of the pictures.


Thursday, April 01, 2010

Not the desert

I finally made a trip to Texas. I've been wanting to for several months, but things were just too hectic. Mom was worried about me being bored, but it was nice to just sit around for a change and to not have to get anything done or even worry about not getting anything done. I flew my helicopter around the living room a lot. Haven't had a chance to fly it since I got back to Arizona, though. I've been working on pictures.

Saul blinked when I took this, and the slow shutter speed makes it look strange. Saul picked me up at the airport. He was telling me and Peggy stories about jobs he'd had in the past. We were rolling laughing.

Mom at the spaghetti supper the first evening.

Anthony's spaghetti won second place. I couldn't hear what he was saying here, but I remember thinking that he sure seems comfortable in front of a large audience.

Anthony and some of his team members.

On my second day there, I mostly sat around and did nothing. Peg got some pictures of my helicopter flying around the front yard (no wind in the morning). That evening, she and I went to see a Passion play at Julia's church.

Action shot of Peg texting.

Mom has quite a collection of skulls in the yard.

At the Passion play.

Julia and Willie were in the play.

The next day was very relaxing. I mostly just hung around the house. That evening, Anthony cooked boiled crab, boiled shrimp, fried shrimp, fried oysters, and some other stuff. It was excellent. I thought I was gonna explode.

I met trouble. He seemed like a nice kid.

The helicopter had a run-in with some flowers. Petals were scattered 10 feet. Still, the flowers prevailed in the altercation.

Peg is growing some pretty roses.

Some more skulls. Julia says she's going to paint them.

Crabs protesting their selection as a dinner item.

A rather large coral snake on the back porch. It wouldn't pose nicely for pictures.

The old shed looks like it's leaning more. It'll probably fall over within the next 30 years or so.

The next day, Peg and I went to Brazos Bend State Park. I used to walk fast, but I think I've slowed down since I'm usually going up or down hill. I had trouble keeping up with Peg. The weather was a little cooler than the last time we were there, and there weren't as many alligators posing for tourists. There didn't seem to be many birds, either (except for buzzards). Maybe they got blown away by the 30 mph winds, or maybe it's just too early in the year for them.

We saw things we hadn't seen before, like Hale Lake.

I think I took a picture of this stick last time I was here.

Peg thinking, "That's enough pictures. Stop."

Lots of trees haven't put out leaves yet. Don't step on the gators.

The buzzards had a fly-in.

That's about all I did. That's all I'm going to write about, anyway, because it's late and I'm tired. Click below blah blah blah.