Deserts and Beyond

Deserts and beyond...places in and around the southern California deserts and beyond. Photo taken at Canyon Lake, in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona, December 2011. A few minutes later, after the sun disappeared, these cliffs were their normal color. They were only golden for a short time and I'm glad we were able to view them in their glory.






Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Weekend storm, Joshua Tree



I wasn't sure what kind of afternoon we would have up at Joshua Tree National Park on Sunday.  We arrived right after a major downpour.  The streets were running with water, roofs had been torn off buildings, and debris was all over the city of Joshua Tree.  But, the storm moved on to the west and the skies were clearing when we entered the park.  It was a good day to be there, after all.

Monday, August 29, 2011

How do you air condition your house in the desert?

HA!  Not really...these two little homesteads are on the way into Joshua Tree National Park.  They've been vacant for years.  There was a huge storm up there yesterday afternoon and of course, hubby wanted to grab the cameras and head up there.  Er...uh...it was RAINING!  Fortunately, we arrived as the storm moved to the west of the park, out over Whitewater Canyon.  Hey, Spare Parts, did you witness the storm?  Apparently it rained 1/2 inch in 15 minutes!  That's a lot of rain for an area that only gets 4 inches in a YEAR!  There was water running through the streets and a lot of standing water around the park, but the park itself was clear and smelled wonderful~that wonderful wet, fresh, desert smell! We actually saw more animals in the park yesterday than all of our previous visits and I'll be posting about our trip all this week.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

"Mail"~Sunday Series 52 ~082811

This is my first time participating in A Rural Journal's Sunday Series 52 and I'm so excited!  This sounds like a fun weekly challenge.  I took the Canon out this morning and decided to focus on the different mailboxes here in my town, since our post office looks like a prison.  (I'm NOT doing a series on our post office!  It is neither historical nor interesting!)  But, while driving around this morning, I discovered that there are some VERY interesting mailboxes here in Palm Desert!  Some are rock, some are metal, some are straight, some are curved, and some are very creative (like my neighbor's!)...In fact, I think she has the most unusual one I saw all morning!  So, let me introduce you to the mailboxes of Palm Desert, CA! The last one belongs to my neighbor.  Sunday Series 52, "mail", for August 28, 2011. To see this challenge, please go to:  http://www.aruraljournal.com/

Storm on the Rim ~ Sunday Best~ 082811

This area of the Mogollon Rim, which is near Black Canyon Lake, has always been creepy to me.  First, it's in a burned out area of the forest because of the Rodeo-Chediski fire of 2002.  Second, it is very isolated.  There is only a forest road through this area.  Hubby and I took that road a few days after we drove by on this afternoon and we only saw two other cars the whole afternoon.  NOT a place to get a flat tire!  I like the darkness of this photo and the one I used as my header.  Yes, it really was that dark!  The rim gets some incredible thunderstorms up there during August afternoons.  I miss being up on the rim and I look forward to our next visit.  "Sunday Best" for August 28, 2011. Please visit this link for "Sunday Best"  http://www.aruraljournal.com/

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Lookout tower, Mogollon Rim




We don't have fire watch towers in Southern California. At least I've never seen any.  But, up on the rim, at Gentry Lookout, we found this one.  Nobody was in it (I imagine nowadays they "watch" electronically?)  It had a wonderful view of the rim, from the edge to the coming thunderstorm to the north and east.  Those dead trees are from the 2002 Rodeo-Chediski fire.  There's a small campground up here at the lookout and we might camp there someday.  There were a lot of woodpeckers around, too, and it was soothing to listen to them, although they were NOISY!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The gathering storm~SkyWatch Friday ~082611

Thunderheads gathered up on the rim once again on our last afternoon there.  We were out by Black Canyon Lake and we could hear the thunder of the approaching storm.  The booms became closer and closer until the storm was upon us.  Skywatch Friday for August 26, 2011. To visit SkyWatch Friday, please go to:  http://skyley.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Predator and Prey~Nature Notes~082511




So, the story of the hawks and the squirrel continues (see previous posts).  One afternoon, I took a nap, only to wake up to hubby stating, "If you want to save that squirrel, you BETTER get out here NOW!"  I stumbled out of the bedroom and looked outside.  That CRAZY squirrel was out in the open, on top of a stump, eating some "critter food" which I had very foolishly left there.  And, guess who was perched right up in the tree across from the stump?  TWO of the hawks! (I only got a photo of one of them...).  I mean, they both had that squirrel in their line of flight and sight.  She was completely oblivious of them...or was she?  Does nature provide IDIOT squirrels with some kind of defense?  She had used her nose to find the critter food...would her nose alert her to the hawks?  Would she hear them fly over her as they swooped down?  I really didn't wish to find out, so I ran outside screaming and waving my arms.  The two hawks took off and so did Madam Squirrel.  Only, she stuck her foolish head out and came back to scavenge for more food.  I was beside myself...Here was this beautiful, young squirrel, certainly easy prey for the hawks and I could do nothing to save her.  But, did she have some kind of internal defense?  Was her hearing acute enough to hear the hawks leave the tree and swoop down?  I don't know.  I do know that one morning I took my reading book outside to read on the back porch.  A crow flew right overhead and, for the first time ever, I hear the "flap, flap, flap , flap" of its wings.  I mean, I HEARD it.  Then, two of them flew right by the end of the porch and I heard both of them...I HAVE heard an owl fly by and my hearing is no way near that of a prey animal.  Also, it is a well known fact that predators don't always get a meal...lions don't.  Leopards don't.  Cheetahs don't.  I'm hoping that Cooper's hawks don't always get a meal, too, and that Madam Squirrel lives to put peanuts into the ground for the coming winter.  I don't know how this tale ends as we left the next morning...Nature Notes for August 25, 2011. To see other Nature Notes, please go to:  http://ramblingwoods.com/

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cooper's hawks~Outdoor Wednesday~082411



When I awoke that first morning, I heard a screeching call over and over and over.  It was very high pitched and was coming from right across the wash behind the cabin.  It wasn't completely light yet (that's why the photos are so dark).  I followed the noise and found two hawks in a nearby pine tree.  A third was below them.  It was a mother and her two "youngsters".  As an animal observer and photographer, I stood and studied them.  It was very interesting over the next 4 days for me to watch their interactions and their actions with their prey.  Later that morning, the three of them took off across the street (I presume to find their breakfast...).  Mom came back and so did one of the youngsters, but the other one didn't.  She called and called all morning and was silent for a couple of hours.  When she started up again in the afternoon, I had to go out and see what was going on because her cries were quite pitched.  The "missing" young one had returned and had "lunch"...some kind of rodent!  And, he wouldn't share it!  They were up and she was calling every morning as soon as it started to get light, which was 5:30 a.m.  They all took off in the morning to find breakfast and returned soon thereafter.  They were out there in the afternoons, too.  I'm glad I got to observe and watch them.  It was sad to leave them.  One afternoon, two of them were up in "their" tree (they did claim one tree as their own...) and the beautiful squirrel that lived around the cabin area was out hunting for food.  I had fallen asleep and hubby called to me, "You better get out here.  That squirrel you've been watching is about to become supper for the hawks!"  I ran out and yup...two of them were up in a nearby tree and were triangulating on the squirrel.  It was completely oblivious.  Fortunately, she managed to survive.  The hawks flew off to find an easier meal. Outdoor Wednesday for August 24, 2011. Please go to http://asoutherndaydreamer.blogspot.com/ to see other participants in Outdoor Wednesday.

Monday, August 22, 2011

First night's sunset



I couldn't wait for the first night's sunset up on the rim.  I remember, from when we were there in 2000, how beautiful the sunsets and sunrises were up there.  So, at dusk, I walked down to the highway.  Across the road from the cabins is a western town, full of shops.  These were some of the views that evening.  The whole time we were there, we saw beautiful sunrises and sunsets, like this one.  Each one was different, but unique in its own way.

The cabin (Part 2)




Hubby and I rented a cabin up on the Mogollon Rim, in Overgaard, for 3 nights (4th night "free").  We had discovered these cabins back in 2000, on our first trip to the rim.  At that time, we were staying at another cabin in Forest Lakes.  These are across the highway (Highway 260) from the Bison Ranch, with stores and western fascades.  We stopped by these cabins over the Memorial Day weekend and rented one of them, the "Coffee Plantation".  This was a 2 bedroom cabin with beautiful aspen wood on the inside.  It had a big back porch and a BBQ (all the cabins have a BBQ).  Some even have outdoor spas, but we opted to rent one without a spa.  Some also have lofts, but since it was just the two of us, we chose this one at the back.  We tried to get out daughter and SIL to come with us, or our son and his girlfriend, but none of them could get the time off work. So,  we had the cabin all to ourselves (except for the rabbits, squirrels, woodpeckers and hawks!)  I immediately discovered a family of Cooper's hawks that lived right out back of the cabin and I'll be telling their story later. Since it came with a full kitchen, we had stopped at Whole Foods and AJ's down in Scottsdale and purchased steak, baking potatoes, coffee, and other items for the week.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Arizona trip, Part 1~ to Payson




Hubby and I just returned home from 9 days in Arizona~3 in Scottsdale and 5 nights up on the Mogollon Rim.  For those of you not familiar with Arizona, the Mogollon Rim, at one time, was below sea level.  It was gradually pushed up and is now over 7,000 high.  This is one of Arizona's forest areas, with huge ponderosa pines and squirrels and elk and deer.This area extends from Payson to the New Mexico border.  And, yes, unfortunately, this summer's Wallow fire was right in this area~down by Springerville, Alpine, and Hannigan Meadows.  Acres and acres of thick forest were burned and one day, hubby and I took a drive down that way.  It was depressing. But, back to the beginning!  We drove up Highway 260, which runs from Payson across the Mogollon Rim.  At this ranger station (we ALWAYS stop here...), you can park and walk out and see the view from the rim.  You can literally see for miles and miles and miles...nothing but pine trees.  We always like this little station because they have very informative items there.  Unfortunately, somebody broke in during the spring and stole some items, so they don't have much right now.  They did have this collection of bird skeletons and bones and feathers.  Oh, and this beautiful poster of Arizona's rattlesnakes (I've yet to see one of them, thank goodness!)  We did see several logging trucks, which we don't see here in Southern California, and hubby shot this photo right out of the car windshield.  While we were there, we saw a sign which announced the Payson rodeo over the weekend.  Unfortunately, we left yesterday, but we did drive by it and I've NEVER seen such huge horse trailers!  My goodness!  Hubby saw the Wells Fargo coach and team while I was pumping gas.  We did drive by it as they were loading the coach into an 18-wheeler.  So, part 1 of our trip was from Scottsdale to Payson.  Payson is at about 5,000 feet.  There were thunderstorms every day we were there and, on this first day, thunderheads were overhead.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Forests and wildfires~Nature Notes~081811

Yesterday hubby and I drove down by Alpine, Arizona, scene of this July's massive Wallow fire.  We had previously been to Alpine and Hannigan Meadows and Springerville back in 2000, when I first bought my Honda Accord.  We enjoyed seeing all the lush forests and green meadows.  This trip, however, was depressing.  Much of the area off the highway down to Hannigan Meadows had been burned.  Tall, stark, black trees lined the road.  There was a road crew working to remove dead trees and debris and as I sat there waiting for the road to open up again, I wondered, "Why are people so darn STUPID?"  If I remember correctly, both the Rodeo and Chedeski fires were human-caused...one by a motorist who was stranded, the other by an arsonist.  These two fires then merged to become Arizona's largest wildfire...that is, until this July's Wallow fire.  We saw so many beautiful animals yesterday~gray squirrels, chipmunks, elk, deer, eagles, osprey...what happens to their homes after a fire?  How do little chipmunks outrun one?  It just boggles my mind even thinking about that.  Most (nearly ALL) of the forest roads were closed, due to the fire.  Hubby even saw one cabin which was burned.  All that was left was the fireplace...so sad.  Someone lived there~that was someone's HOME.  As I sit here this morning, in our rented cabin for the week, I hear the cries of a Cooper's hawk.  What would become of its home, its territory?  I'm sharing a photo this morning and I hope that it isn't too depressing...while fire IS a natural part of a forest, certainly HUMAN caused ones are another story. Nature Notes for August 18, 2011. ** The cause of the Wallow fire is currently under investigation, but it is believed to be human-caused.*** To read other Nature Notes, please go to:  http://ramblingwoods.com/

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Saturday sunrise~SOOC Sunday~081411

Hubby woke me up yesterday morning at...4:40 a.m. because we were having a terrific thunderstorm.  So, we just sat and watched the light show and listened to the thunder.  It finally moved to the west, toward the California border and at dawn I headed out around the villas for a morning walk.  And, this is what greeted me!  Ahhhh.....Arizona sunrises and sunsets!  We just don't get colors like this in my Southern California desert!  This is SOOC Sunday for August 14, 2011.  To visit SOOC Sunday, please go to:  http://www.murrieta365.com/

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Playing with Picnik


Now, I don't have PHOTOSHOP and I've never used it.  Hubby uses it all the time at work and he has it on his laptop, but I don't.  So, I was playing around with Picnik (part of Picasa) this morning.  I've done some sepia scenes with Picnik, but I wanted to try some other effects.  This one is the matte effect.  Just go up to the "effects" heading and scroll down the sidebar.  Some of the effects are only available if you are a premium member, but I've read so many complaints about their paid programs, that I just use the free ones like matte.  Do you use Picnik?  Are you a premium member?  What is your opinion of it?  I'm dying to know...If you want to see the sepia ones, please go here:  http://desertsandbeyond.blogspot.com/2011/07/playing-with-sepia.html

Friday, August 12, 2011

Palms and sky~SkyWatch Friday~081211

A view of palm trees and our sky today.  It was so nice to have some clouds!  We've had over a week of clear, blue skies, but now some monsoon moisture is moving into the Coachella Valley, bringing clouds with it.  SkyWatch Friday for August 12, 2011.  To visit SkyWatch Friday, please go to:  http://skyley.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Egret and flamingo~Watery Wednesday~081011

A cattle egret and a flamingo at the Desert Springs Marriott in Palm Desert, CA.  Egrets frequently land at the lakes there, along with gray herons, Canadian geese, and various ducks.  The resort has 4 black swans and they were out by the golf course the other morning.  The Marriott is a designated bird sanctuary and because they have so many water courses, all kinds of migrating birds visit it during the year.  In fact, the other afternoon, when I was picking up hubby after work, a flock of SOMETHING flew overhead.  I was driving and I didn't get a good look, but I believe they were cormorants. I can't wait to see the flocks return this fall! Watery Wednesday for August 10, 2011.  To visit Watery Wednesday, please visit:  http://waterywednesday.blogspot.com/

Monday, August 8, 2011

A view in the morning~That's My World~080911

I usually drive by the resort in the afternoons, but I've recently been dropping hubby off in the mornings, and on this morning, I wandered around, camera in hand.  There were no clouds, and there was a beautiful reflection in the lake out by the golf course.  That's My World for Tuesday, August 9, 2011.  To see other worlds, please go to:  http://showyourworld.blogspot.com/

Sunday, August 7, 2011

"Water"~Community Photo Challenge 080711

I stopped by the Marriott early this morning to drop hubby off and spent some time out with the flamingos.  This one had just dipped his/her beak in the water and I noticed a drop of water on its beak.  Community Photo Challenge, "Water" for August. Be sure to visit http://communityphotochallenge.blogspot.com/2011/08/cummunity-photo-challenge-water.html for other participants.

More flamingos~SOOC Sunday~080711





There were 3 flamingo chicks born this spring to the flock at the Marriott Desert Springs in Palm Desert.  I have to drop hubby off there this morning, so I'll take some new photos.  The chicks are the ones with the gray heads and gray feathers.  If you click on the bottom photo and enlarge it, you can see them and there is one in the second and third photos from the top.  I'm glad they all survived.  I seem to recall that a coyote once got in there and got a few flamingos a couple of years ago (they can't fly as their wings are trimmed)...easy pickings, I guess!  The guests always enjoy seeing this flock and so do I.  I frequently wander over there with my camera to see how they all are doing.  Isn't it a beautiful place?  SOOC Sunday for August 7, 2011. To visit SOOC Sunday, please go to:  http://www.murrieta365.com/