Saturday, March 30, 2013


Follow the rabbit tracks...

To find Easter eggs...

Walk In The Desert

When I arrived at this RV park almost two months, I met up with the weekly hikers one morning. There was a slow hiking group and a faster hiking group. I decided that I would go with the faster group. Heading over to nearby Saguaro East, don't recall how long the hike was. But no doubt we did it in record time. There was no stopping to smell the roses or admiring the view. Or capture the scene with a camera.

The following week I went with the slower group. Lots of time to admire the view and take closer looks at the desert flora. A little slower than I would have liked, but it was much more enjoyable than the running pace of the the other group. I hiked with the group a few more times over the next couple of weeks. Then it was the end of the hiking season as the snowbirds headed north. Already!

In addition to hiking with the group, there were many solo hikes. The plan is to go hiking at least three times a week. We all know how plans work.

Saguaro East is the closest for hiking. There is a network of hiking trails at the end of Speedway and Broadway where I still have not been on all of them. Hiking alone, observing the variety and shapes of desert flora is a pleasure that I never tire of. There is the occasional spotting of rabbits, lizards, and ground squirrels. Fortunately, the rattlesnakes are rare.

This is a great time to be hiking the desert as the desert begins to take on color.

Without comment, here are some observations from a recent hike.

It was a good day for a walk in the desert.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Minimizing Media -- Again

Satellite TV via DirecTV was no longer part of my life about five years ago. Determined that I didn't watch it enough to justify the monthly expense. With over 150 channels available, there seemed to be nothing of interest -- to me. Rather read a book with no commercials and the story moves at my pace. So looking for a TV free zone in my own home, the DirecTV service was canceled.

I've kept the TV in the outside possibility that I may view a DVD movie from the library. Perhaps someday I will actually borrow a movie based on friends' recommendation.

Access to the internet when I embarked on my nomadic wanderings 12 years ago was via a dial up line and on rare occasions Ethernet at Kinko's (before they were part of FedEx). In those twelve years, I've had internet access via a tripod mounted satellite dish that I focused at a pinpoint in the sky above. It worked. No longer did I have to find a dial up line or a Kinko's. Technology developments continued and soon a device called an air card could use the cellular networks to access the internet from my laptop computer. Not about to give that up.

Satellite radio came into my rootless existence after two years on the road. With numerous music streams to choose from, two classical music were the streams that I regularly listened to. I enjoy classical music varieties from the baroque to the modern with few exceptions. Selections with harpsichord are the major exception. Could never stand the sound of "two skeletons copulating on a tin roof in a thunderstorm". Credit to Sir Thomas Beecham for that quote.

Seems I prefer silence. At home or on the road. With a receiver in Silver Slug and another in Wandrin Wagon, I was paying $28 a month to Sirius/XM for something that was little used. So I canceled satellite radio.

Playing my preferred music through a radio, I have an iPod that contains over a weeks worth of music from the CDs that I had when I hit the road. Naturally, it is music I like. Best of all there is no harpsichord music in there.

Speaking of silence, it is time to head off for a hike.

Regarding silence... In the previous post I wrote about the encounter with the rattlesnake. What I didn't write about was the couple I met about 100 yards from that rattlesnake meeting. Both were wearing earbuds. As they approached, I told them they might want to remove the earbuds so they could hear the rattlesnake.

Come on people. If you are going to be out and enjoying the natural world, leave the earbuds at home and hear the birds, the wind whistling, the crunch of your shoes on the trail -- and the rattlesnake.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Perfect Hiking Day

Hiking in the myriad of trails in Saguaro East at the end of Speedway this morning, there was plenty to keep my interest and take many photos.

With the sun at the right angle, this tarantula's web was visible as I walked the trail. Centered under the web was the hole for the tarantula. The hole didn't measure much more than an inch in diameter. Since my hike had just started, there was no reason to stay and watch for something to become tangled in that web. Looked like a small lizard could be an intended victim.

Soon the view seemed to be right out of Jurassic Park as I noted the giant preying mantis. Actually a dead saguaro, but it does resemble an insect. Or a martian with a head of antennae.

Thought I might see more crested saguaro. However, I spotted just one.

Some flowers were in bloom. These LBF (little blue flowers) were spotted several times along the hike. That flower is about a quarter of an inch across.

Some of the brittle bush provided yellows to the landscape. Noted that many of the brittle bush plants had frost damage. Would that affect the blooms this spring. Guess I will have to keep coming back to find out.

The most frequent seen color was that of the fairy duster. They were in full bloom.

There was a very rare ocotillo with blooms. As I tried to get a photo of one, I noted a hummingbird flitting from blossom to blossom sucking up precious nectar. A visit to each blossom may have lasted a second before moving to another. At this same ocotillo, a butterfly was also dining. (Never did get a decent photo of the ocotillo and the hummingbird photos were blue sky.)

This weekend hike meant lots of activity. In addition to hikers (and runners), the equestrian set was well represented on the trails I was hiking. Stepping off the trail yielding to some riders coming my way, I noted the riders were atop mules. I made the comment to the riders that it was unusual to see mules out here on the trails. The rider responded that this would certainly be my lucky day. Guess it was.

Next unusual spotting was this group of saguaros. Looking closely, it looked like several individuals. Wonder how they all manage to survive. Or could this have been a single plant specimen with shoots coming from the single root system.

That was when I heard the buzz of the rattler. Struggling to maintain my balance on the trail and not step into the sound, I managed to stay upright. Spotted the diamondback in the grass and shadows about three feet off trail.

Sadistic little creatures. That rattler could have laid perfectly still and it would never have been spotted. Making all that noise was a sure way to attract attention. No doubt he was training a younger buddy in the art of scaring hikers. His younger buddy may have actually had a video to post on SnakeYouTube. Considering my flailing upon hearing the rattle, it would have made a great video. They had their fun and they scared a couple of minutes out of my life.

These warmer days and warm nights will mean more rattlers along the trails. Considering that they want to scare me, no doubt I will see more of them before leaving the area.

Comfortable 70 degree day. Perfect for hiking.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Portrait -- The Saguaro Family

Standing for a family portrait -- The Saguaros

Moving to the right for another photo, 
a deceased ancestor appeared in the photo.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Springing Forward

About ten days ago during the Book Festival, the temperature barely got over 50 degrees. Less than a week later it was over 90 degrees. This body wasn't used to that. Two days later temps were back into the 80s comfort zone.

Although I don't write about daily living, I've managed to keep myself busy. Doing laundry or grocery shopping is not something worth writing about. One major laundry event was that the six silk Hawaiian shirts in the collection were laundered. Six shirts in one load. Cheaper than dry cleaning. Results: They are wearable.

With only a single scheduled item every day, it appears I am busier than I really am. Exploring around Tucson, friend visits, errands for living or hiking has managed to be that single scheduled item for many days.

The greens and browns of the desert are beginning to take on accents with the orange of the poppy or the feathery pinks of the fairy duster.

How about a photo of a yucca:

... or cactus:

... or the iconic Sonora desert Saguaro 
as prim and proper:

... or wild and crazy

Desert scene includes a Saguaro death.

Rick strikes a pose by this saguaro 
to prove that six foot two is not very tall.

Rick also joined me for a 
hike to black sheep cave

Temperatures in the 80s and wild flowers beginning to bloom. Life is great as we spring forward to the Vernal Equinox.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hiss and Rattle

Looking at me was this western diamondback rattler. Scary. Huh? Fortunately, there is glass between that face and me. This was at the Sonora Desert Museum. Stepping back some, here is a full body view.

Could it be one way glass. Perhaps we can see the snake, but he can't see us. Just wondering. Didn't seem to matter what movement was on this side of the glass. As the snake waved back and forth on the glass, the movements recalled the image of cobras being serenaded by a snake charmer.

The raptor show is on my "must see" list when I go to the museum. After the Chihuahua Ravens soaring over head, the next was the gray hawk swooping over the crowd of watchers from one baited branch to another.

Look at the size of those talons. They appear as large as the hawk's head.

Don't recall if there was another raptor following the grey hawk. Soon a ferruginous hawk was flying from the release area about 100 yards away. That was the last of the show as the hawk dived into the brush obviously finding some movement that looked tasty. These are wild birds. With the ferruginous hawk's disappearance, it was a short show compared to some I have seen in past visits.

At one of the education spots throughout the museum grounds, handlers are holding the kestrel as the docent describes its life, how it hunts and its range. Sure is a cute little specimen.

At the exit to the museum grounds, a handler was holding a Harris Hawk explaining its range, how it hunts in a pack, and the pecking order of the hunting group.

It was a warm day and late in the morning most animals were hiding out in the cooler places of the enclosures. Hence no photos. With no bear running around in its enclosure, there was this chuckwalla checking out the area. Wonder if this guy is a permanent resident of the bear enclosure. Or is he just passing through.

It was another very enjoyable visit to the Sonora Desert Museum. Even if the raptor show was shorter than usual.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sotol and Comet

There were several sotol yucca plants spotted on the hike today. Always wonder how plants get names. This plant is so tall when it blooms. Perhaps that is the reason for the name. ;-)

Agave plants bloom once and then the plant dies. The sotol yucca doesn't bloom every year but several times during its life.

This was my best sotol shot of the day with the blue desert sky background.

That spike makes a good hiking stick. This one might be a bit too large for a good hand grip -- unless you are a twenty foot giant. If you're going to make one, look for a sotol yucca with a smaller circumference.

The comet Pan-STARRS... With the aid of this graphic, Rick's help and a pair of binoculars, I saw the comet in the western sky.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

An Imperfect World

This is the fence along the front of the Corbett House at the Tucson Museum of Art. Nature is not always perfect. To mimic an imperfect natural world, the Indians building the fence in 1907 installed one of the posts upside down. That is the story according to a docent at the museum. Being an imperfect person, that certainly works for me.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Sound Of Silence

Do you have a TV-free zone? That was the question I asked of the receptionist in the out patient waiting room at the hospital. The lady just smiled at this foolish old man. I wanted to find a place where I could concentrate on my reading rather than being distracted by some mindless TV voice and laugh track. With no TV-free zone, I relocated to a far corner where the TV sound was less, but I was still able to hear when my name was called.

With the flat screen TV technology, they are becoming more ubiquitous. In a restaurant after that Sabino Hike, on the wall in the main dining room of the Mexican restaurant was a huge TV in a frame. If displaying a changing scenery of photos of Arizona and beyond, it would have been an acceptable distraction. Why a TV tuned to some sports channel in a restaurant dining room?

Why is there a TV everywhere? Waiting rooms for doctors, hospitals, dentists and automobile service. Seen them in banks and hotel lobbies. No doubt there are more venues where a TV can be found. Seems most people would prefer passing time watching some mindless TV rather than reading, meditating or just relaxing. This is the world I live in.

Heading out for a hike is one way to get away from the TV. However, even there I've seen the occasional jerk playing their personal music drowning out any nature sounds within a hundred feet. Fortunately, that is a rarity.

Going on a hike searching for the sound of silence. Bye.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tucson Botanical Gardens

The tropical butterfly exhibit is the draw for me to visit the gardens. A greenhouse with tropical plants makes a perfect home for tropical butterflies. This hibiscus flower was about eight inches across. For the right room decor, this would make a great wall hanging.

Hey. Didn't come here to look at flowers. How about some photos of butterflies, Wandrin Lloyd.

Butterflies seem to be on the move. I did manage to get many blurred photos of butterflies. In my recent concerted effort to keep the collection of digital photos in check, I deleted those poor photos. :-)

A most attractive butterfly is from Mexico to Columbia -- the Blue Morpho. When not flying and its wings are parked, the beautiful blue color is not visible. The underside of the wings are brown shades with large shapes resembling eyes. I did manage to get several blurred versions as it flitted through the air space. As soon as it lands, it folds the wings upright. This one seemed to be having a hard time getting a footing and get balance. That struggle allowed me a photo to actually see that blue.

Not sure how many different butterflies were in the exhibit, but here are some photos that I was able to capture when they aren't flying around the green house. 

Since this is a desert botanical garden, the flora presented outside the tropical greenhouse are examples of cactus and succulents from around the world. This is a garden of some cactus plants representing just one of the world's desert flora. 

Just photos today. Wasn't close enough to the cactus to get hooked or stabbed. I will leave that challenge to another day when hiking (once again) in Arizona's Sonoran desert.

Today was no different. Every day is a great day. 

Monday, March 4, 2013