A blog for people who don't want to spend all their free time in the real world. After all, we live and work there. Escape the mundane with books, travel, and writing.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Butterflies in Tubac

These wild butterflies (and one bee) were practically posing for me on the grounds of the Tubac Presidio, southern Arizona. 




Friday, December 8, 2017

The Already-Built Wall--Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Mexico

Here's the wall that divides the town of Nogales into two countries. 





Maybe not so beautiful, but some people might take comfort that at least it's big.  I, however, just think it's sad.  As the artists at the local art museum said, "the wall should be a bridge." 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Sahuaro National Park--East

Here are some pictures from my little walk around the Cactus Forest of Sahuaro National Park East (Rincon District).  There were so many types of cactus! 

A giant chainfruit cholla, with prickly pear on the side and a youngish sahuaro hiding in the back to the right.

A barrel cactus with lots of fruit next to a palo verde tree with an old saguaro in the background
Funny Story...

I was impressed by the diversity, but I've lived in Arizona most of my life.  The car in front of us on the scenic loop was more than impressed.  More like flabbergasted. 

We came upon them when they were stopped, taking pictures madly from their windows.  Then they took off, driving at a breakneck speed of about 3 miles per hour.  Then they stopped again.  We figured they had to have seen some animal, but no...just cactus.  We weren't too annoyed, since their license plate said Florida and we felt proud to show off our state.  They finally got to a place wide enough for us to pass and we did. 

About 2 miles in, we came to the Mica View trailhead/picnic ground.  We took a nice little stroll, slowly admiring the cactus, inspecting plants, pondering different types of cholla and prickly pear, excitedly discovering blooming Christmas cactus, which we rarely see.  Then I took off on a somewhat faster walk around a loop trail. Almost an hour an a half later I got back.  Florida was just arriving!

They took an hour and a half to drive two miles!  Awesome! 

Take all the time you want, non-Arizonans.  Our cactus is super cool. 

A closer look at the chainfruit cholla

Some sort of purple cholla.  Buckhorn that's turned purple because of drought?

Christmas cholla--with seasonal red fruit

The newer spines of a young sahuaro

Barrel cactus with its wicked fishhook spines and beautiful fruit


Visit Sahuaro National Park:  https://www.nps.gov/sagu/index.htm

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Widow's House by Carol Goodman


I enjoyed this, especially as I read it in the days leading up to Halloween.

The writing is very good, though a bit descriptive at times for my personal tastes. The characters are interesting. The plot is creepy. The ending is exciting, and during that excitements it's hard to guess exactly what is real and what is not—in a good way.

I would read more of Carol Goodman.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Speckled Rattlesnake in Skyline Park, Arizona

The other day I was hiking at Skyline Regional Park, a desert area on the edge of Phoenix, Arizona.  I was on a little summit trail when I got to a really rocky section and thought, "This would be a good place for rattlesnakes." I looked down and...voila!



The end of its tail was hidden in the coils and it looked a LOT lighter than most rattlesnakes I've seen, without the common diamond pattern, but its head appeared to be the right shape.  It was coiled and calm, so I went ahead and hung close enough to get some nice pictures (though not TOO close--I have a good zoom).

The most common rattlesnake people see around here is the western diamondback, but I didn't think that's what it was.  When I got home, I did some internet research.  I found a description of a speckled rattlesnake that claims that they come in different colors, depending on the predominant color of the rock in the area. Isn't that amazing? It said that the speckled rattlesnakes on both South Mountain and in the White Tanks (and probably the contiguous Skyline Park, where I was) tend to have white-gray coloring to match the rock there.  Nature is amazing.



Here's a fascinating article about the different colors in different communities:
And one about the common types of snakes in Phoenix:

Friday, November 17, 2017

Rim Lakes Vista Trail #622, Mogollon Rim, Arizona

Just a few views from the easy and beautiful Rim Lakes Vista Trail along the Mogollon Rim. 

Caveat:  if you're particularly afraid of heights, you might want to upgrade "easy" to "moderate" or just stay away from the edge. 

Trail #622


Stone bird?

Nice place to sit?  
The trail goes for over 4 miles, but not all of it is right along the Rim.  If you're just looking for a nice stroll, park at one of the viewpoints along Forest Road 300 on the way to Woods Canyon Lake.  Get out and walk to the next viewpoint or however far you want.  Parts of the trail are paved near the Military Sinkhole Vista and the Woods Canyon Lake Vista, so it's quite accessible.  You'll also find benches with nice views. 

Be careful with kids.  The drop-offs can be dangerous. 



Tuesday, November 14, 2017

See Canyon Trail #184, Up the Mogollon Rim, Arizona

This great trail leads from a trailhead a couple of miles out of the village of Christopher Creek.  The trailhead is popular with campers, but once I got a few minutes down the trail, I hardly saw anyone.  And this was one of the first cool weekends of the season, a beautiful mid-October day of blue skies.

The trail's relatively flat at first, and goes through what looks like former fire damage.  Take the fork to See Spring.  The trail follows the creek, making it relatively lush, and very relaxing for a nice creek-side picnic.  Though not as impressive of Horton Spring, the source of the creek is still very cool, just flowing out of the hill.  You can walk around on the rocks above the spring and hear the water beneath you, but you can't see it anywhere.  Very cool.

On the fork to See Spring
Return to the fork and continue straight at the cliffy hills above you.  It soon gets steep as it climbs up the to the top of the Rim, but the trail is good and it's never very steep.  There aren't great views off the Rim, like the views you get from the Rim Trail or such, but it's still very nice.

Look for rock cairns like these if you lose the trail.
I had it easy.  My Dad did the shuttle run, dropping me off at the bottom and then driving the longer-than-expected drive up to the top, so I only did the trip one way (about 4 miles).  If you do it round trip, and want to dawdle like I did, plan plenty of time.

A new friend on the trail
I personally wouldn't recommend it in full summer, but if you love sun and don't mind heat and have plenty of water, you might like it.  I fully recommend going in autumn when the leaves are turning.

Mid October