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Desert Vista

Not to be confused with Desert Vista Hospital where I spent an hour the other day meeting some phone-colleagues (people with whom we frequently speak, but rarely, if ever, meet) and having an interesting conversation with a patient about rich porn stars who eat at the homeless shelter so they can avoid the paparazzi….

Looking northeast from the White Tank Mountains on a past October morning…worlds away from the above-mentioned hospital….

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Walkin’ Jim Trail and beyond….

The morning started with the alarm and coffee and then a neighborhood street that led to Bell Road, to the Sonoran Desert Parkway, to Lake Pleasant Parkway, to the Carefree Highway and west past Lake Pleasant, then to Castle Hot Springs Road, and finally, five miles north to a trail-head in a parking lot that has been re-fenced with silver wire that is new against the morning, untarnished and unvarnished with desert sun and windblown sand, unrusted in the elements, bright and confining, restricting of early hikers looking for familiar portals that ride now in memory alone.

Common and uncommon things mix in a November sunrise.

Somewhere between light enough and yet not enough…we see destinations unfolding with the trail…like the white caps on the tips of the many saguaros’ arms with their densely packed and unfolding new spines…things to come.

One of many crossings of Cottonwood Creek…a familiar place with wild burros, great horned owls, and collared peccaries….

and lying on the desert floor, looking east…and finding that “distant fairyland of wonder and bright alarm.”

A creosote frame leaving an aromatic resin on fingertips….

…and the tiny treasures of desert wildflowers….

Still heading west…with the destination in the upper right corner…after many winding turns, hills, valleys, dips, and desert meadows….

A distant spot of white in a green and brown world….

Zoom….

Gaining elevation and looking east…we can see a bit of Lake Pleasant tucked into the haze covered hills…

…and south…faint waves of them…green, purple, blue…white…and gone….

Higher now, more of the lake…and the landmark of Castle Hot Springs Road.  You might remember that the haze is from California’s wild fires back in October/November.

The stark contrast of yellow against the greens and browns of the desert is a welcome change…it is even a surprise sometimes.

Walkin’ Jim Trail follows Cottonwood Creek up into the mountains, all the way from Castle Hot Springs Road…when the occasional mis-adventurer loses the trail on the way down the mountain, all he has to do is locate the proper drainage down from that mountain and follow it back into the stream-bed…and back to the parking lot where he started….

There were tadpoles larger than jellybeans in the pools along the way…more desert mysteries…marvels…Sonoran Desert surprises….

mountain home

while in the salt lake valley for the family event and celebration that I mentioned in the last post, i found myself standing in a restaurant parking lot with camera facing east

i heard a young female voice to my left saying “excuse me sir…what are you taking a picture of…?

“is there a bird up there on a lamp post or something…?”

“i’m taking pictures of the mountains,” i said, “aren’t they beautiful?!”

her response….”you must not be from around here”

on the consideration of clouds….

Driving north for a family event and celebration….

A small collection of roadside images made over the span of two hours and five minutes….

Traversing approximately one hundred and fifty miles….

And representing three of the United States….

Nevada…Arizona…and Utah….

desert stream in black and white

An image from early August of the year past…bounty from summer rains…Agua Fria riverbed…muddy crossing of the Black Canyon Trail.

a distant fairyland of wonder and bright alarm

I have lain in morning soaked grass with dandelions prowling rolling hillsides along slow moving mountain city streams and I have lain in the middle of desert trails with camera touching my face and the earth before me; sun has filtered here into the captured realm on her rise and landed prismatically aslant in the tiny orbs of life that have come bidden to the surface of their hosts; a near enough though distant fairyland of wonder and bright alarm.

desert hills and distant mountains….

smoke from california’s november wildfires drifted across the desert and found a temporary home in the sonoran desert north of phoenix…lake pleasant under haze…as seen from the distant end of the walkin’ jim trail

Sunday Sunrise…Sonoran Style

Looking east on the Walkin’ Jim Trail at 7:06 a.m. this Sunday past…five miles north of the Carefree Highway…about half a mile west of Castle Hot Springs Road…which is just west of Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Maricopa County, Arizona.