Friday, April 23, 2021

"The Symbolic Cemetery," My Newest Published Work

 Head on over to the Baltimore Review to read my non-fiction piece about mountain climbing and the sometimes-deadly lure of the mountains.  

But first, some pictures.  Memorial plaques at the Symbolic Cemetery in the High Tatra mountains:


Me at Kôprovský štít, which I mention in the piece:


That lake you see in the picture above is a glacial tarn, Veľké Hincovo pleso,  Here's a shot from its banks:  


Near the Symbolic Cemetery in winter:


Want to know more?  Read The Symbolic Cemetery 

Friday, April 16, 2021

More Birdwatching at Hassayampa River Preserve

 So, my novice birdwatching continues.

Note: pictures taken mid February at Hassayampa River Preserve near Wickenburg, Arizona.

Some cool raptor (Cooper's hawk maybe???)


Great Egret:



Ladder-backed woodpecker?


What a great day, even if I'm not sure what I saw.  



Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Hummingbirds at Hassayampa River Preserve

Pictures from mid February (yes, I'm late in posting) at Hassayampa River Preserve, just out of Wickenburg, Arizona.

Here I reveal my stellar skills at bird identification.  Below you'll find a...hummingbird.  Probably female.  


And here, what I believe is a male Anna's hummingbird on an ocotillo (I'm sure about the ocotillo):


And more...hummingbirds.  We have several common species around the Phoenix area.  I just can't differentiate any except the male Anna's and the male Costa's, and even then I'm usually not 100% sure.  Sigh.  One day I'll be a better birder.    












Saturday, March 27, 2021

The List of Things that Will Not Change, by Rebecca Stead


I really enjoyed this. 

The voice was charming—and carried throughout the book.  The flashbacks and asides were a touch confusing at points, but it matched the way Bea talked and told stories, so I liked it, and it deepened the story.   

The details were imaginative. 

Many of the supporting characters were a bit too perfect, but I don't mind that sometimes.  The only problem was that it made the one character seem over-the-top bad.

The events of the plot were unusual, interesting in a quiet way.  I'd just read an action-packed book before this.  Yet I found "The List of Things that will not Change" far more page-turning than the other.  So, if you're a reader like me, you'll love it.

From the description, I thought it would be more about Bea's relationship with her new sister, so I felt a little disappointed that there wasn't more interaction between them, but I liked everything else that filled the book. 

The writing itself was excellent. 

I will certainly read more by Rebecca Stead.

4.5 stars. .      

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Dinosaur Wash, Arizona

Dinosaur Wash  is a great hike, accessed from Sophie's Flat near Wickenburg (though you can also access it from the other end)

Ocotillo, about the only thing blooming
in mid February after a dry winter

Doesn't that rock formation look like a rabbit?  


The most dangerous wildlife I saw.
You can't see the bees much in the photo,
but they were sure buzzing.  And look at that honeycomb!

Some of the fun dry wash hiking
Almost like mini slot canyons


A mine shaft just past the coolest, rock-scrambliest, part of the wash

This is a very fun trail, first through very pretty Sonoran desert trails that cross washes, climb small rises for good views, and weave past interesting rock formations.  Then you get into the wash, which brings its own interest, especially the mini red slot canyons and bits where you have to scramble up or down rocks.  When calculating distances and times, factor in the extra effort of walking in the sand.

I saw a hawk of some sort on a saguaro, several large beehives, a jackrabbit, lizards, and lots of birds.  

Trailhead:

Take Constellation Road northeast from near McDonalds in Wickenburg.  When the pavement ends, it turns into a good dirt road, suitable for most cars.  Just be careful of the ATVs out and about.  After about three miles, turn left on Blue Tank Road (there are signs for Sophie's Flat).  It's less than two miles on another pretty good dirt road to the trailhead, which has an outhouse, picnic table, and room for dispersed camping.  Hint:  on the way, there's a hairpin turn where a wash beckons at the bottom and where you'll often see people parked with their trailers and ORVs.  Park and walk a bit up the wash.  It's a much more accessible wash with cool rock walls.   

Length:

Somewhere around 8-12 miles, depending on where you start and how far you go in the wash before turning around.  

Difficulty:  

Moderate.  There's not a lot of elevation gain, but it's not boringly flat either.  The trails's fairly well marked.  There is a lot of walking in sand, which simply takes more effort.  And beware of cholla on an around the trail.  Wear good boots and consider sticking a cactus-removing comb in your backpack.  Always be sure to take plenty of water and do not hike this in the heat unless you are a seasoned desert hiker.  There's very little shade.    

Route:

I started where the A trail crosses Blue Tank Road and turns quickly into the C trail connector.  When the C connector gets to the other side of the A loop, I went left.  I took the D spur north to the wash, then followed the wash left (west) for around 1.5 or 2 miles until a little past the mine cave and some slick rock scrambling.  Apparently if you go about a mile further you can get all the way to Box Canyon and Mistake Mine, but I was going to run out of daylight (I got a late start after lunch).  I returned via the trail that appears to be on State Trust Land (permit required) and then part of the A loop back to the C connector, then to the B connector, then to the A loop to the outhouse at the trailhead.  I made it back to  camp just as the sun was setting.  A great hike.       





Saturday, March 13, 2021

No, Pat, no. Don't sit on that!

In the words of Dr. Seuss (from Hop on Pop):  No, Pat, no.  Don't sit on that!


In case you can't tell, that antelope squirrel has just scampered up an ocotillo--which is a prickly, prickly lookout spot.  But he didn't seem to mind at all.

Sonoran Desert near Wickenburg.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Find the Wildlife--Tres Rios

Spot the wildlife:


Answer at the bottom.  

Also seen that day at Tres Rios Birding area in Phoenix:

Belted Kingfisher?? (I'm not a very good birder yet)

Black-crowned night heron?


Not a bird at all

First picture:  ground squirrel.