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City Paint Phoenix 14 – Find Your Direction

It’s been almost two months since I posted any of the street art images that I’ve collected since my return to Phoenix, and while this one isn’t typical of the city’s offerings, it is a rather grand image on a down-town building in the central corridor.

Find Your Direction full mural

The mural is on the south-facing side of the Fast Signs building at 2517 North Central in Phoenix.  I’m not sure how long it has been there and I don’t know anything about how or why it came to be.  I searched for what appears to be the artist’s information via the website information that they provided on the far left side of the mural, but was directed to a nail-fashion site…so it’s probably not related.  When I Googled the name of the mural, I found this link with photos that show the artists actually painting it….

If you would like to see more of their work, you can click on each of the artists’ highlighted names to be taken to their individual websites:  Lalo Cota and Isaac Caruso.

Find Your Direction mural focused shot

And if you’re interested in viewing earlier posts on street art in Phoenix and Salt Lake City, you can scroll to the bottom of the page, find the Categories widget toward the right side, and click on Street Art – Graffiti.

Thanks for visiting…now go Find Your Direction…..

Prickly Pear “In-sight”

We’re used to seeing them like this, out in the desert wilderness of Arizona and other southwestern locales, or possibly even in other parts of the world….

Prickly Pear Cactus

Or we take a closer look and see the spines in their protective glory and the plump fruit that is awaiting harvest by desert creatures…and humans, too.

Prickly Pear cactus closer

But we don’t often get a view of what is inside those cactus “leaves” to witness what must be the vascular highway that provides the overall structure while transporting water and nutrients from one part of the plant to another as the seasons demand….

Prickly Pear cactus inside 1

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Prickly Pear cactus inside 2

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Prickly Pear cactus inside 3

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Prickly Pear cactus inside 4

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Prickly Pear cactus inside 5

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Prickly Pear cactus inside 6

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Prickly Pear cactus inside 7

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Prickly Pear cactus inside 8

I think there is a particular “something” about the structure of the cactus’s leaves…a sort of compelling and abstract beauty….

Prickly Pear cactus inside 9

 

Navajo hogan beneath Echo Cliffs

I had thought these were the Vermillion Cliffs, thought I had seen them named as such on a map somewhere, but when I was researching them to be certain, I found that they are the Echo Cliffs….  The Vermillion Cliffs are a landscape feature and national monument a bit to the north and west of these.

Navajo hogan and Echo Cliffs

Some might argue that this structure is not a proper hogan…and they might be right.  But I have seen several of them scattered about this bit of the Navajo reservation and they fit the concept of what I understand a hogan to be…a traditional Navajo home or lodging.

Navajo hogan closer view

Some of the ones I’ve seen along this stretch of road have been more circular in form, but overall, they are similar in construction and style to this sand/flag-stone house.  While this structure appears to be abandoned with its missing window panes, it might still be used for ceremonial purposes…but, I really don’t know.

Echo Cliffs with hogan looking south

The Echo Cliffs are a prominent feature of the drive for about 45 miles along Highway 89, stretching from Gap (yes, that’s the name of a town/community) to about 25 miles south of Page.  The images above and below are looking south…and if we could see past the extreme right edge below, we would be able to look out over the Painted Desert to the east.

Echo Cliffs southern panorama

This last image is looking north from the same location…with the hogan being a couple of hundred yards to the right.

Echo Cliffs northern panorama

That’s all for now…..

just passin’ through….

This was a return, of sorts, to that former place, that home in the “used to be,” an incomplete migration, however…just a trip, a delivery, an instance of human transport from one place to another…taking my Little One to a halfway point between here and there where we would and did meet his older brother and family; a drop-off, an hour’s visitation, and then the return trip to the southern desert that is now home.

A red mesa south of Kanab, Utah

I’ve passed along this stretch of road countless times, now…back and forth, from Phoenix to Salt Lake City, this way and that, comings and goings, to one home and another, cars and trucks journeying over a familiar expanse of time and distance, emotion-laden memories, heartbeats, racing minds…acceptance….

Wild grasses and fence posts

With hours alone in the truck with my eyes and mind racing over the landscape, I recalled places in the contexts of other trips, heard echoes again of old conversations held on this road or in the places at each end of it…I remembered the road, too, and anticipated landmarks that would soon appear on the various horizons or at the end of a particular curve, around that far bend in the road and up against the fence-posts that remain in their ever places.

Reddish purple mesa south east of Kanab, Utah

The images come from a particular stretch of that road, US Highway 89, heading south from Kanab, Utah, and representing in their randomness the terrain that exists up to just a mile or so north of the Utah/Arizona border.

Purple mesa and fields of sage, south and east of Kanab, Utah

It wasn’t intentional, really…it just happened this way….  After I made a few images of the fence-posts wending their way through the waist-high grasses and the carved-away, undulating fields of silver-gray sage, it struck me that the connecting threads of what I was looking at through the camera were those lines of wire and post…the common thing drawing together that changing landscape, keeping it whole as it was separate….

White mesa behind rose mesa, east of Kanab, Utah

Red and purple mesas, white and gray and tan and brown rock with their layers of ancient sediment fading into cone-shaped forms of sand and dust riding down from their tops and sides onto an even lower sea-floor…golden grasses, verdant shrubs of various hues, richly green juniper trees, and the constant silver-gray of the unflowered sage…all connected and drawn into a constant vision of roadside landscape by the unspooled wire with its metal and wooden posts so ordered.

Approaching white cliffs, closer to Lake Powell

Looking north from the road at this point, in the photo below, one sees what is likely the southern edge of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument….

Edge of Escalante National Monument

…and looking south, one can see what is likely the extreme northern edge of the Paria Plateau, the mass of land that is bounded by the Vermillion Cliffs and The Grand Canyon…south from here.

Looking south

The grasses in the foreground struck me as more compelling than the skyline with the low mesa in the background of the below photo.

Fence posts among wild grass, north of Page, Arizona

Several miles down the road and the fence looked the same, but the vegetation was changing…looking west…

Fence posts south of Kanab, Utah

…and looking south and east…to the northern reaches of Lake Powell….

Early glimpse of Lake Powell from Utah

The other side of the road revealed more “plain” cliffs of dirty brown and gray…that end-up having gray/blue sediment cones running down from their edges as this mass gets closer to the lake.

Whitish cliffs, north of Lake Powell, Utah

The road is now heading southeast, flying straight and fast towards the imaginary line that separates Utah and Arizona from one another…a contrivance that means nothing when watching the land flow into itself from one region to the next.

White cliffs north of Lake Powell, just inside Utah

The last three images are essentially facing west, with Lake Powell to the east behind us.  Notice this first image is looking directly over the fence-line…

Ancient sea-floor sand-stone cliffs

…and this one, above, is looking to the left/south at another sediment mass that is slowly losing itself with large chunks falling out of its wall and creating a cavern that has also lost its ceiling…and the last image is looking to the right/north at what is actually the forward extension of the mass (to the right and out of frame) in the first of these last three photos.

White sand-stone monolith, north of Lake Powell, just inside Utah border on Highway 89

I guess that’s it…representing approximately 75 miles of scenery between Kanab and the Utah/Arizona border, these 16 images are only a handful from the several-dozen that I made along this roadway…little delays that combined to add more than two hours to the five-hour drive home.

Thank you for enduring the longer post…I hope you enjoyed the drive.

Sheep Gulch walkabout….

If you remember seeing that ribbon of green in the third-to-last photo, three posts back, this is what it looked like from the inside….a bit of an unusual micro-environment full of fantastic trees, shrubs, and grasses that appeared rather unexpectedly, smack-dab in the middle of the desert.

Sheep Gulch streambed 1

I don’t know the names of most of the larger trees, but there are mesquite and assorted palo-verde on the fringes.

Sheep Gulch streambed 2

I don’t know the origin of the name of the place, either, but if we were to follow the stream-bed forward, in the above photo, a couple/few miles, we would run into, or at least approach, the proximity of Sheep Gulch Spring…….that’s the way it looks on a map of the area, anyway.

Sheep Gulch streambed 3

Maybe it’s not a miner’s shack, maybe it belonged to a shepherd, I don’t know…it was just a guess…and quite possibly wrong, as there were none of the other signs indicating that a mine had been dug there….no slag or tailings pile…no water chute….

Sheep Gulch Miner's shack with shaft opening

I didn’t explore the little cave/shaft beneath the shack, either…it seemed rather imprudent at the time, given the poor lighting and the propensity for hidden and biting things to be lurking in such a place…okay, maybe not lurking, but certainly things that had tucked themselves away from the direct sun and would not have been welcoming of my curious bipedal disruption….

Sheep Gulch miner's shack closer view

And below is the shack in the context of its surroundings…quite a place to perch one’s self, if you ask me….

Sheep Gulch miner's shack in context

I kept walking upstream a little bit, as I was looking for a soft place to sit in the shade and recoup myself before heading back for the next 2.5 hours hiking to return to the truck.

Sheep Gulch streambed 4

After a quick snack, I headed back toward the main trail, the Black Canyon Trail going south again toward Bumble Bee Road.  Those are the Bradshaw Mountains in the background of the below photo, and a distinctly misshapen Saguaro in the upper right corner.  It looked something like a smashed finger…or perhaps the still-webbed fingers/hand of an embryonic life-form.

Sheep Gulch streambed 5

Lastly, this is the view looking east on the bridge that crosses the stream, and the exact place that has the moniker of Sheep Gulch on the map.  I know that some of those trees are cottonwoods, but, as I mentioned earlier, I’m not sure of the majority of the others.  At any rate, they seem to thrive in the stream-beds of this portion of the Sonora Desert…and they cast a beautiful shade during the near-noon portion of the day.

Sheep Gulch streambed with desert panorama

 

Storm clouds over the Bradshaw Mountains

The high for the day was supposed to be below 90 degrees…and there was a 50-60% chance of rain in the area starting around 11:00.  The image is from two minutes shy of noon and I had yet to feel a drop of rain…and I wouldn’t for the next hour that it took me to make it back to the truck…but it was beautiful in its potential.  Sometimes that has to be good enough….

Storm clouds over the Bradshaw Mountains

nearing sunset

approaching the end of a long day on the road, i saw clouds over the mountains and foothills and cinder-cones north of flagstaff, it appeared as though it might rain and i even thought i smelled it on the air as i came nearer to the mountain town, looking south and west at what was north and west of the settlement, i didn’t notice a wind, but maybe that is water falling aslant from the darker sky, above a fence-line dividing the earth in someone’s imagination

cinder-cones north of Flagstaff nearing sunset

Beyond Bumble Bee

For the past several years, I have used the website “Weather Underground” to follow the temperatures and weather patterns in the places I have lived…and to even look back nostalgically at places where I used to live to see how things are going there, as well.  Two weeks ago I was watching the temps for Black Canyon City and hoping the high temperatures for the coming weekend would be lower than they were a couple of weeks earlier when I was out in the murderous heat and so desperately needed a Coke after my hike.  I was in luck…the high for this past Sunday was supposed to be under 100 degrees, which meant that I could get out on the trail around 6:00 or 6:30 in the morning, have a nice long hike, and still make it back to the truck before the heat became too ugly.

This first image is of the Bradshaw Mountains, looking northwest at 6:25 am.  The larger trees in the foreground are a variety of Palo Verde.  During drought conditions, the trees lose their leaves and are still able to perform photosynthesis through the chlorophyll in the “bark” or exterior covering of all of the branches and trunk….  You can also see several Saguaro cacti in the background….

Bradshaw Mountains Morning

Most of my hiking in recent months has been along the Black Canyon Trail.  I’ve been out six times and have covered nearly half of the 78 mile long trail.  If you care to look at a map, find Interstate 17 (I-17) going north from the Carefree Highway at the extreme north end of Phoenix, and imagine a trail running in the desert just west of the interstate and east of the mountains further west…and follow that space northward for about 80 winding and curving miles up toward the Prescott National Forest.  The portion of trail featured in this post is what can be found heading north from Bumble Bee Road, about 25 miles north of Phoenix.

This second image is primarily of the “Pancake Prickly Pear” cacti and the dried wild grasses common to this area.

Worn "Pancake Prickly Pear" cactus

If you’ve ever driven that same interstate north from Phoenix and remember seeing a rest-stop sign for “Sunset Point,” and you stopped to look west at the huge, folding and flowing mountains, this hike took place on the stretch of trail just west from that Point.  The first part of the hike was mainly in the shade, as the trail followed the contours of the west facing side of the hills and was situated far enough below the ridge-line that I was out of the sun for quite a while.

Colors of the earth, slope of trail

It’s been a while since I shared multiple photos as single images, instead of presenting them in the “gallery” form, but I thought the photographs from this hike would be easier to appreciate in this larger form…so here they are, placed in chronological order and covering the first two and a half hours of the hike.  There will be a couple of other posts in which I share groups of photos from particular stopping-places along the trail.

Bradshaw Mountains Northwest perspective

These “desert hills” and mountains are quite different than the ones I hiked for the last few years, but they are still inviting…and tempting me to go off-trail to explore the draws and ridges that we can see off in the distance.  I won’t likely do that until the temperatures are much lower, however, just in case some “unplanned” event occurs and I’m out there for longer than I had planned to be.

Bradshaw Mountains with folds and layers

In the below photo, you can see an unpaved portion of Bumble Bee Road in the lower right corner, a couple of hiking trails further in the distance, and then a section of what might be the Agua Fria River bed in the area just left of center.

Bradshaw Mountains with tracks and trails and river-beds

I had knelt to take some closer shots of Prickly Pear cactus fruit and saw this single piece of bone lying nearby.  A quick search of the area failed to reveal any other bones, so this one must have been carried away and left here when the predator or scavenger was finished with it.

Black Canyon Trail "ossi-findings"

At just past 7:30 am, the sun was sufficiently over the ridge to highlight the shrubs and grasses along the trail in the next photo.  This one, right here, is where peace comes out on the desert’s trail, to me anyway…I love this image, this piece and the broader whole that it represents…the light, the smell, the quiet whisper of the morning breeze among the branches and grass, the un-nameable feeling that comes with being right here…is wonderful, and compelling, and alluring, and causes me to go out into the unpleasant heat that I know is quickly approaching, so that I can be here on a trail like this one.

Welcoming trail in the morning

I would prefer temperatures in the 60s or 70s, but it was far from ugly-hot when I stopped to make this next photo.  At only 7:45 am, it was still rather nice for desert hiking.

Black Canyon Trail and Bradshaw Mountains

My only companions for the day were two mountain-bike riders who passed me on their way out and back in again…and the occasional cow, a couple of dozen lizards, multitudes of desert birds, and a single rabbit…

Line of demarcation

Lines of demarcation, thine and mine, in the images above and below, but I was and am thankful that there was a gate or opening that allowed passage…so many places we’d like to go, it seems, have fences around them….  At 8:10 in the morning, I wondered how many mornings and afternoons these fence and gate posts have seen….their colors and textures speak of years…decades, even.

Character of Place, gates of passage along Black Canyon Trail

The photograph below shows another view of an image that you have likely already seen…but I wanted to share it again within the context of the hike, moving from place to place, with the morning green of the desert hills and mountains, and the richer green, like a ribbon of life that thrives along a desert waterway, a sometimey waterway that likely runs below ground for most of the year, but rises again with the various seasons’ rains and floods.

Riparian Greenbelt of Sheep Gulch

I usually become aware of the Gambel’s Quail when they burst from the underbrush as I pass too close to their hiding place, but I happened to spot this silent sentry as she sat alone in the tree some 20 or 30 yards off-trail.  Even at this distance you can tell that this one is a female, as her head is missing the distinct color pattern that is common to the male.

Wildlife of Black Canyon Trail

And lastly, several blooms on a Graham’s Pincushion cactus.  I found several of these along the trail and, upon first seeing them, thought they were headbands that some hiker had lost along the way…they were so very bright, so vibrant in the middle of all the earth-tone, desert colors that surrounded me, they just seemed so unnatural and out of place.  And if you’re interested, the flat, paddle-like leaves around this cactus belong to the Jojoba plant….

Graham's Pincushion Cactus blossoms

So…that was most of the hike, on the way out, anyway…and minus a couple of detours that I will share later.  Thank you for visiting…and I hope you have a nice week.

 

Making friends in Arizona………again….

Today’s installment comes to you from the Black Canyon Trail, about five miles south of Bumble Bee Road, where I have finally had occasion to meet more than just a few dozen lizards, rabbits, and birds….

I was minding my own business, hiking down the trail, when I heard an instant of “noise,” and then the tell-tale rattling coming from somewhere nearby.  I immediately stopped in my tracks, looked all around me, saw nothing of concern, walked a few more steps down the trail and the rattling became fainter, turned around and walked back the way I had come and it became louder, passed a few more steps beyond the precise spot where this guy was hiding and it became faint again, and then walked back, peered into the brush, and saw him/her sitting pretty, just waiting for me to make a photograph.

The truth of the matter, when it comes to how the photo came to be, is that I was looking through the middle of the brush while holding the camera down at ground level and pointing blindly through the underbrush, hoping that something good would come out of it.  For only a moment, I considered lying prone in the trail to have a better view of the subject, but then thought better of it, and remained squatting there, pointing the camera and hoping for the best.  This is photo number five, and the only one that turned-out well.  I was surprised and thrilled when I got home, downloaded the photos, and beheld this little treasure….  And no, I was not this frighteningly close to the creature…the “zoom” function on my point-and-shoot camera is wonderful!

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake from Black Canyon Trail

 

If you’d like to revisit the earlier post, “Making friends in Arizona,” where my Little One and I encountered our very first rattlesnake in the “wilds” of Arizona, you can click on the highlighted name to do so….

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