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American Bison in Context

August 14, 2019 was the 33rd Wednesday of the year….the 54th day of Summer…and the 226th day of the year.  It was also Pakistan Independence Day…and World Lizard Day…six police officers were shot in Philadelphia on this day…and the Arizona Diamondbacks lost to the Colorado Rockies by the score of 6-7.

I was up from the desert to visit my Utah kids and to hike on Antelope Island…and to see a summer sunrise from a favored place.

It may seem odd to find American Bison on a large island out in The Great Salt Lake in northern Utah…but they’re there anyway and they create something of an allure to visitors from both home and abroad.

Wikipedia provides that there are between 550 and 700 individual bison on the island during any given year…and that, because of the lack of natural, non-human predators, the herd can increase by about 25% per year.

I saw 5-6 different groupings of the bison during my hours on the island that day…including this medium-sized collection and another one that I will share in a later post.

Commuter Sunset

I suppose one could say that it’s worth the occasional blinding sunset when heading west in the evenings after work…because of the occasional treasure one finds smack-dab in front of them on other days…..

iPhound art two nights ago….

Sycamore Canyon – presentation of trails

The first day of Summer last year, 6/21/2020, brought me back to a place that I had first explored on 3/29/2015, Parsons Trail in the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Area…which is located just north and east of Clarkdale, Arizona…which is a bit south and west of Sedona.

I left the canyon with almost six hundred photos after my first exploration…

…and brought home a bit under four hundred this last time.

So after browsing and examining the recent cache, I was able to whittle-down the presentable images to a few dozen…

…some of which I have already presented, here, and the remainder of which will appear in following posts.

Given that there were so many photos that I thought were “share-worthy,” I have separated them into the general categories of…

…trails, fauna, water, grass seed-heads…

…and one set of two images that will present the Sycamore Canyon version of Kermit….

It took roughly two hours to make it to the trailhead, some eleven or so miles beyond Clarkdale, from my house in the far northwest corner of Metropolitan Phoenix.

The very first image in this post was from the cliff edge where the trail drops from the trail-head parking lot into the canyon, at just shy of 7:00 am…so the sun was already up and well enough over the horizon to remove the shadows for a good portion of the canyon, but as you can see, was not sufficiently high to do so entirely…there was still a softness to the light in the canyon and a strong remainder of shadow to effect the images with a broader view.

In the eighth and ninth images above, to the right side of each, you can see raspberry bushes…a nice surprise for a high-desert, canyon hike.

Incredibly diverse plant life…just wonderful stuff.

The “focus” of this post is supposed to be the actual trail itself…a general subject of which I am quite fond…whether they’re winding through a mountain forest, through a “typical” desert range or flatlands, I find something very alluring about them; compelling, drawing, inviting….  In the below photo, you may notice that the trail is actually on the lowest level of the tiered rock just above the waterline…leading us back into the greenery…

…and this bit of trail takes us to the right of the fallen, sharp edged blocks, and skirting the cliff wall.  By the way, the sand that you can see in the foreground was finer than beach sand…almost dusty at that location…making for awkward and struggling foot steps.

Now going beneath aged cedar trees….

…and now pass along the flattened rock, again, taking us beyond another larger pond that has formed in the length of stream.

On the way back, now, in the below photo, with the sun full overhead…

…and welcoming the shade again, of the branching mesquite and other canyon trees…at just after 11:00 am.

And below…the price one pays for going north to hike on a weekend day…the drive back to the Phoenix valley…..

The wrecked juju or Zen aside, it was well worth the drive to hike in Sycamore Canyon again.  Thank you for joining me.

Election Day and Jesse Girl

It was Tuesday morning after an anxious Monday…stressful months.

So many things have happened so far in this year of 2020…

…lies revealed, viruses emerged, taxes not filed, bountied soldiers’ lives not acknowledged, quarantines served…

…promises broken, tallies marked, masks unworn, lives lost, children caged, families torn, secrets revealed…

alliances broken, and real heroes scorned.

Sometimes it hurts to pay attention.

My morning commute down quiet streets, following taillights…

…watching the eastern sky gray into dawn, encountering silhouette cityscapes of buildings…

power lines, and ubiquitous palm trees.

Others heading in the same direction, south on Central Avenue…the light rail…bicyclers…

…a far off desert “mountain” that defines the lower edge of the Valley of the Sun.

Art museum, opera, loft apartments, pharmacies, coffee shops, attorney general office, city athletic club…parking meters…

…cameras watching to see who steals through a light….

Heading east now and ever approaching my destination, passing charter schools, groceries, fast food, temp agencies…

…ever present construction zones…and hospitals.

My bride and I ate lunch at this city park decades ago…when our children were little and life was difficult, though less complicated….

I could go straight and then left and reach the office…or I could get on the freeway and go somewhere else…head west, then north and away.

When I found a pedestrian bridge on an evening walk in Utah, a local spray-can artist had adorned the walkway with “Seek Life.”

Looking west from the bridge…contemplating the day…desiring that it fulfills hopes…that more ballots are cast for my guy than the other….

An overhead ornament on the bridge…a simple thing in a complicated time.  Breathe….

On a Desert Morning

My morning today, November 1, was spent in part at my desk, reading and looking at images from friends’ blog posts across the country…with the office window open only inches away from me…cool autumn breeze slightly chilling my fingertips, with my cat lying next to the laptop with his nose and front paws occasionally touching the window’s screen as he intently watched the birds on the ground outside, or freezing to an unusual kitty stiffness as hummingbirds approached the honeysuckle a foot away from his twitching whiskers.

Sunrise eight months ago…a Sunday morning in March.

Bouys in a sea of clouds….

Nature’s gifting on a cloudy and rainy day just over two years ago…radio towers atop the White Tank Mountains in the far west valley of metropolitan Phoenix.

a fence in context

From July 2019…heading north for a hike….

You might remember earlier posts with the images of sunrise through the seed-heads.

To use John Muir’s favorite word, it was “glorious.”

Wildfires earlier this year have turned this into a charred mess…posts and wires strung across a wasteland.

But it will come back…glorious splendor will return…after a season or two of restoration….

Colorful Desert…”supellex varia ad desertum”

I believe I have already shared some images from my springtime wanderings in the state trust land north of the White Tank Mountains in northwest Surprise, AZ…but I didn’t share many of the floral images…so here they are…covering a range of something like 22 days…three Sunday morning visitations.

Interesting name for the ones below…”Blue Dicks.”  I prefer the alternative name of Desert Hyacinth…just sounds better, somehow…Dichelostemma capitatum.

Chia, below….Salvia columbariae.

Rounded a bend in the trail and found this mass of lupines…Arizona or Coulter’s lupine…something like Lupinus sparsiflorus.

Closer….

….with their telltale eight leaves….

Lupine and a single Golden Poppy…Eschscholtzia mexicana.

A view to the north and east from the state trust land….

Lupine and Desert Fiddleneck…Amsinckia tessellata….

And the near ubiquitous Brittlebush…Encelia farinosa.

Orange Globe Mallow, Sphaeralcea munroana, with Lupine.

Probably Buckhorn Cholla, Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa…as the spines are much closer than we usually see on the Staghorn Cholla, Cylindropuntia versicolor.

Probably Buckhorn Cholla, not Staghorn

Red Brome…Bromus madritensis.

Lupine…in preparation (parabatur).

Desert Chicory…or New Mexico Plumeseed…Rafinesquia neomexicana.

Desert Bluebell…Phacelia campanularia.

That’s all for now…Quod ut ‘quia iam omnia.

Clouds…and hope for a high-desert rain….

Day trip north on Saturday of last week…US Highway 89 from north of Wickenburg, through Yarnell, into and out of Prescott, brushing up against Ash Fork, heading west on I-40 and skirting Kingman, and then back down US 93 to US 60 and “home” again….

It was good to see cottonwood trees along roadways again.

Maybe Argemone pleiacantha, Southwestern Pricklypoppy…maybe, quite possibly…also found alongside the roadway…high desert travels.

Fat, fluffy clouds are a welcome sight in the high and low deserts…even if they are accompanied by high winds and the general ugliness of broken branches and occasionally uprooted trees and downed fences; they’re seasonal treasures that truly freshen and sweeten the air and leave a rich verdure in their passing.

Windows down on the truck, just me and my thoughts…green rambling forests…the smell of warming juniper on the breeze….

Someone received the distant rain…rather, it was received somewhere, maybe not where any people could feel it…although, by the time I arrived in Prescott, further north and west of where we see the rain in the above image, I did receive a little of it…something like 13-17 drops on my windscreen…a regular downpour.

An anvil cloud in preparation, above, is usually a good hint that rain is coming.

This section of US 89 was new to me.  I’d driven it plenty between Flagstaff and south of Salt Lake, but never this stretch.

Low clouds…

…wide horizons with a lot of green in between…

…and then out of the mountains into the high desert flat-lands north of Prescott…

…raw desert with compelling geologic formations…

…some kind of caramel ball wildflowers along the roadway…

…and southern clouds that didn’t leave a drop in their passing….

Sycamore Canyon – Parsons Trail, Stream in Context

This was my destination when I was on the road and spotted the fire on the desert morning mountains in an earlier post…Parsons Trail in Sycamore Canyon.  You might remember that I visited here in March of 2015…before Spring had sprung…that’s over five years ago, already.

More images will follow, of course, but I hope you’ll enjoy these three…all taken from the same spot, more or less, accounting for shifting feet…

…starting with a closer look down the stream beneath the canopy of overhanging trees…

…and then slowly widening the view to encompass more of the surroundings.

Yes, this is Arizona…just north of Cottonwood…which is north and east of Prescott…and a bit south and west of Sedona…if you’re familiar with those places.