Imagine that you’re out walking with me in the hot Arizona sunlight. There is a cactus garden just a couple blocks from my apartment. It has attracted my attention lately by coming into bloom.
A few days ago, I took these pictures. I made a special trip to come back and take these pictures because I saw the flower at night but did not have enough ambient light to get a picture of it then.
While I was there I noticed these outstanding buds. Remember this picture. It is the “BEFORE” shot.
Although I have lived in Arizona all my life, I had no idea what kind of cactus it is. I tell you one thing. You don’t find this plant growing wild in the Sonoran Desert. I asked about it and got this reply:
smile emoticon It’s a night-blooming cactus called Cereus Peruvianus or Apple Cactus.
Night blooming, eh? I decided I wanted to come back and catch a picture of a flower blooming at night. The one above was still blooming by day–early morning anyway.
When you cut or break through the big pulpy limbs you can see that each branch is a kind of 3-D star. This caused me to mentally name it a Star cactus. There were many stars I could have photographed, but I chose this one because it has 8 points, and 8 is the number of Chaos. Those of you who know me also know of my allegiance (or at least lip service) to Chaos.
Last night I went by it again at night and caught this flower in full bloom.
I took this picture just before midnight. This flower, not here three days ago, is a star. The condo unit that created this cactus garden had a floodlamp lighting up their name sign and also providing enough light for me to get this picture.
Night blooming, yeah. There were some others in bloom, but not in as good a position for me to catch them in a photo.
This morning (June 12, 2015) I wanted to see how my night-blooming buddy was doing, so I got out of the house early and went to see him/her/it. Do flowers have sex?
and here it is. This is the exact same flower that was in full bloom 8 hours before. You can see that it has closed itself up. I am amazed that plants have this much mobility.
Remember those big buds I showed you up above in the “BEFORE” picture? This is the “AFTER” picture. You can see that they are not as tightly closed as the flower up above. That means they are already starting to wilt and lose their essence. The life of a flower does not last long.
And is this the famed Peruvian cactus apple itself? It looks more like a plum, but definitely the same kind of fruit like a prickly pear. I think this might be edible. It might even be nutritious. However, I am not going to pick it and try to eat it just to find out.
The stars come in many different forms. A lot of them have 6 limbs. Let me digress into geology for a moment. This is a mixed assortment of roughly sorted river gravel, obviously brought in from somewhere else, since you won’t find that much variety in rock forms in this neighborhood. As you may know, I always keep my eyes open when I see a lot of rocks. I am looking for those with stripes in them–they are special.
Here is another flower hiding from the sunlight.
This one looks like it has an eye, and is watching.
These young ones are curious and happy to see me.
This guy is a real optimist.
It might be my imagination, but I got the impression that the cacti were pleased that I came to see and celebrate them.
So, at the end they gave me a gift–a striped rock (milky quartz with basalt intrusions blasted into the vaculoes). This rock has a face, maybe more than one. Can you see it there in the top left part of the picture?
If you have communed with nature lately, and maybe learned anything from it, why not leave a comment?
I went looking for man-made art this morning, but didn’t find any. So, I went down to the river to see what God and Man could do together.
Proof that some trolls have no difficulty with sunlight.
I have never been to this section of the river bottom before. I found a one-lane park road that allowed me to drive right down to the edge of the river. (Not really the edge . . . as you can see I’m still a good 30 yards away from the edge of the water.)
It almost looks like there are the ruins of a stone house down by the water.
Looking back at my trusty car and the 24th Street bridge . . .
Looking east toward the 32nd Street bridge . . . part of the attraction of these walks is all the bridges. I just like bridges. On the left side of the picture you can see Phoenix’s biggest landmark, Camelback Mountain. In the center are the McDowell Hills that separate east Phoenix from Scottsdale. Dimly visible in the far distance are the Superstition Mountains. Those mountains are at least 30 miles away. Although the weather is getting hot now (this picture was taken on June 7, 2015), you can still see a smattering of desert wildflowers. In fact, tiny yellow and white flowers are everywhere you look in the desert this time of year.
Looking across the river toward eastern Phoenix. The green line in the center of all the brown desert soil is the actual river with water in it.
This is the road that took me down to the river. The low green shrubs beside it are Russian thistle, also known as “tumbleweeds”. These are not ready to tumble yet. By the end of the summer they will be all dried out and dead. That’s when they break off at the base and get blown around by any wind that comes along.
Tumbleweeds have flowers! Who knew? When I was a kid (50 to 60 years ago), tumbleweeds were common in Phoenix. They grew anywhere there was some open ground. Now they are hard to find. Usually one thinks of them as brownish gray, detached, and bouncing across the desert. They are very light, and any breeze can pick them up and move them.
Was there a bridge or a boat landing here once upon a time?
Troll under bridge equals happy troll, even though the art that should be adorning these wide-open spaces has obviously been removed.
Looking up, up, up . . . . . . .
West of the 24th Street bridge I found several little monuments of rocks stacked and balanced atop each other. Someone had fun making this letter M.
Here is the whole monumental complex. Does it look like a face to you?
View of downtown Phoenix from across the river at 16th Street. This picture was taken about a week earlier than the others, but it makes a nice endpiece.
If you’ve ever gone walking in a riverbed, or even beside one, why not leave a comment?
On Sunday, May 31, 2015, early morning between 7:30 and 9:00 a.m. I walked up and down 16th Street between Thomas and McDowell Road, and I saw a lot of wall art–some of it was pretty great. This blog only offers a small sample of what I saw, and the theme is motorized transportation–as a pleasure. The pix don’t really need much explanation.
Two wheels can be as good or better than four.
Low riding . . . into the sunset.
If you’ve ever cruised through Aztlan, why not leave a comment?
Instead of going to Phoenix Comic Con today, I went to the Rio Salado (Salt River) and entered the big city park from 16th Street. This is farther east than I usually go, so this was all new territory for me.
This was a simple walk and rock hunt, just to see what is out here. I like to walk under bridges, I like to get to the bottom of things. This pictorial blog will show all the pix I took on the walk, in the order in which I took them. Come walking with the Trollgod on a warm May morning, just before summer gets started in June.
There was only a small parking area near 16th street with room for about 7 cars. The riverbed is 100 yards to the north, but just east of where I parked was a huge open pit gravel mine. This huge open hole in the ground looks like it is a mile long, and about 1/4 of a mile wide. It is separated from the river’s main channel by a huge wall of earth–some of it looks to have been piled up deliberately to isolate it from the river, although it would have been part of the original flood plain.
I didn’t know what I was doing at the beginning of the walk, so I didn’t take any pix until I had walked about a mile back and forth along the stream. At the very start of the walk I saw a rabbit and a quail. They both ran away from me pretty fast, so I didn’t get any pix of them. But it always makes me feel a little better to see wild animals in the desert (or any other natural place).
Here I am under the bridge. I haven’t shaved in 3 days, and I’m looking kind of trollish.
Rocks. Trolls like rocks. I compare rocks to people a lot. No two are the same. Bigger, smaller, whiter, darker, some with flaws and cracks, some are real jewels. The rock field beneath a bridge is a good place to look for these special rocks (with stripes in them) that I want to collect.
The glare of the Arizona sun makes it hard to see what the camera is seeing. Thus, I like to stand in shadow to plan out my pix.
Looking to the northeast from beneath the bridge, I can barely see the river itself from here. That thin line of darker green in the center of the pic shows where the water is.
There were a lot of animal tracks beneath the bridge. These are definitely coyote tracks–larger ones mixed with smaller ones. Could a mother coyote and puppies have been here last night? The tracks seem clean and fresh, so they can’t be too old.
Here is a nice clean coyote track out in the open, and just the tip of my left shoe.
You find strange things out in the bush sometimes. I found this boy’s bathing suit just lying crumpled in the rocks. It is fairly clean and new. The Phoenix Parks department has build a one lane paved road beside the river, and apparently the road has a walking lane in it. I posed the shorts with the stick figure to make some kind of cryptic comment.
The longer I spent under the bridge, the better I felt. In this shot I have just found a hefty black stone with red stripes in it, and have decided not to carry off this 10 pound quartz boulder I found.
It has rained recently in Arizona, and the desert is in bloom. I don’t know what these yellow flowers are, but there are a lot of them growing in this part of the desert.
More wildflowers. You can see that the blooms don’t last long as there are plenty of dead flower amongst the living.
I am now west of the bridge. I started on the eastern side. Just below me is on very green little oasis of trees and brush. I am always attracted to such places. This one is well protected from intruders by the difficult nature of the slopes around it. I’m not going down there, no matter how green and pretty it is.
This was my last photo of the walk, taken as I climbed out of the riverbed on the park road. I came out of the river on the western side of the bridge, and had to risk my life crossing 16th street in busy traffic. Heh. Much safer to walk under the bridge. As you look out across the brushy riverbed you can see the towers of central Phoenix rising in the distance.
After I left the river, I drove north on 16th Street and noticed a lot (muy mucho) of Chicano street art that I hadn’t seen or noticed before. I am already planning my next expedition to get the art of 16th Street.
If you’ve gone under any bridges lately, why not leave a comment?
I don’t suppose anybody really cares where I walk or what pictures I take. That’s ok. This blog is Atroll’s Entertainment, and it’s part of my extended diary documenting ordinary life in the early 21st century. I probably should be writing a review of Mad Max: Fury Road instead of showing a bunch of cell phone pix of me staggering around in a forest, but the two hours spent hiking with my sister was every bit as much fun as the two hours spent watching Mad Max. My two hours in the woods were a first-hand experience in the world, and watching Mad Max: Fury Road was just a rerun of Mad Max: the Road Warrior. The faces have changed, but the action is the same in the movie. Crazy vehicles zoom all over a barren wasteland, and lots of people, if you can call them people, get shot. Yay! Actually, it was fun to watch, but this is real, not a Hollywood fantasy that really doesn’t make any sense.
Hiking with the Trollgod
On Wednesday, May 20, 2015, I visited my sister Neloa in Payson, Arizona. After lunch the two of us went for a hike in the manzanita forest a few miles from her house. We parked the car across from the country club, and found a trail leading into the woods. Have you ever noticed that there aren’t many flowers inside the forest, but always lots of them on the edge?
Have you ever wondered why real wildflowers are always so small? I don’t know what thise little violet things are–probably a weed.
Neloa promised to show me an Indian ruin. This wasn’t the one she had in mind, but was the only one we actually found. Actually there isn’t much left after a couple hundred years of being abandoned in a forest. The trained archaeologist recognized that such nice circles of rocks are not natural.
I don’t have to lead the way into the unknown. My sister claimed to know the path, so she’s the one out front.
The dead trees were more interesting than the living ones. This old stump would be really spooky by night.
Come on, Ken! Try to keep up! Yeah, she outwalked me pretty easily. Graciously allowed me to stop and catch my breath once in a while. To be fair, Payson’s elevation is 4000 feet higher than Phoenix, and climbing hills at a steep pace is a bit of a workout for me.
Not far from town, but it feels like the wilderness. There is nothing artificial or manmade in this picture except the trail itself and maybe our tracks in the dirt.
That big granite boulder in the distance is our primary goal.
How to be a real outdoorsman–learn to recognize different kinds of animal poop when you see it. All these little black pellets are elk scat. Watch where you step when walking in the wild.
Another dead tree monster by the trail . . .
When we reached our destination and climbed up on the biggest rock on the mountain, Neloa wanted to point out various landmarks. I wanted to sit down and catch my breath. That line of mountains you can see in the distance is the actual Mogollon Rim.
I got this selfy of the two of us together at the high point of the trip. The yellow safety glasses we are wearing function as sunglasses and also make everything appear more vivid. Greens are greener, blues are bluer. As you can see, Nel has a level head on her shoulders, but I’m at my usual tilt to the world.
This was taken from the top of a second boulder even higher up the hill than the first. The houses in the woods belong to the upper class of rich people. Only they can really afford to live out here in the woods.
We took a few minutes to admire the view.
Somebody planted an American flag on top of the higher rock. Someone else planted a flower on top of the flag.
One of the things I love about hiking in Arizona is that you can see for a long way. This is small town northern Arizona, nothing special, but I think it’s beautiful.
After a couple of hours we came back down and went home. That’s the way to hike, folks. Pleasant trips that get you out into the fresh air, make your heart beat, but don’t kill yourself at it. We were going to go to antique shops afterwards, but my legs were kind of wobbly, so we just sat around and talked.
Final reward for the day’s adventures . . .
Home made banana split, Trollgod style. The perfect banana was cut into fourths and lined the bottom of the bowl. Two big scoops of vanilla pecan ice cream topped with strawberry jam and Hershey’s chocolate syrup and whipped cream on top. Yum! What a nice reward for an afternoon of hiking.
So, Arizona is full of wonderful places to hike and explore. Thanks for sharing the trip with me. Atroll is not always out in the desert.
If you’ve ever hiked around in the forest and stepped in wild animal poop, why not leave a comment?
Saturday was a very busy day for me.
First, I went to see the Avengers Age of Ultron movie with my friend Daniel Horton and my son James St. Andre. Terrific action movie. I’m not reviewing it here. If you’re a Marvel fan, you should see it. My one comment is that the movie has almost noting in common with the big apocalyptic Marvel crossover series that inspired it.
This is a graphic novel compilation of the original Age of Ultron series from early 2014. Because I saw the movie today, I wound up buying the graphic novel later in the afternoon when I visited the Poisoned Pen bookstore.
After the movie I had James take this picture of Daniel and me standing gy the Age of Ultron display inside the theater.
I had just received my first Marvel Collectors package in the mail a few days before. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to wear the Ultron t-shirt that came in it. These collectors t-shirts will be relatively rare, but they are also very light and cheaply made, so I can’t wear it much or it will wear out too quickly. In case you don’t know me, I’m the man with the hat.
After the movie we decided to go to lunch together. My suggestions of the CostCo food court or Denny’s at 35th Avenue and Bethany Home were not chosen. Instead we went to a Vietnames Restaurant that Daniel knew about located at 17th Ave. and Camelback, about 1 mile from the theater. James and I had never eaten in a Viet restaurant before. He had a sub sandwich. I ordered the same thing Daniel ordered, and it was delicious.
Drink. The coffee brews itself right in front of you. Very strong and sweet and served over ice. You can see the finished product in the picture above.
Here I am enjoying lunch. My glasses only have one lens in them these days after cataract surgery on my right eye a couple of weeks ago. I will get the left eye corrected on May 12, 2015 and quit wearing these glasses entirely.
The restaurant is just a hole in the wall place in a little strip mall, but it has a lot of beautiful art inside.
Later in the afternoon, I went to Scottsdale to participate in the grand opening of Cafe 64–an upscale bistro co-owned by my friend Scott Hagen.
Here I am arriving at the Cafe 64 about 4:30 p.m. The table on the far right is where I wound up sitting and talking to the guys sitting there.
The place was really very busy. It had all the customers it could handle.
The place was so busy that I could not get a table inside or even a seat at the bar.
Although the place was jammed, Scott took a few minutes to talk to me. He got me a dark chocolate beer and I bought a souvenir jug from him. It features an art pun done by artist Steve Crompton, and has a tentacle on it along with a picture of Howard Phillips Lovecraft. The bar is called Craft 64. Get it? We love Craft.
Scott is the perfect restauranteur host.
Here he is showing off what I think is a very unusual souvenir item. I don’t think I’ve ever been tempted to buy a big old moonshine jug before.
Scott seemed quite proud of this jug. I think it must have been his idea, and he got our friend Crompton to do the art for it. See the tentacle. We love tentacles–they are kind of a fannish joke favorite of mine.
I got a drink and had to go outside to find a place to sit and drink it. This guy, Victor, gave me a Phoenix Ale beer glass. Last time I got one of these was at the grand opening of the Changing Hands bookstore in Phoenix, and that one cost me $10. Getting one for free was nice. These glasses are the perfect size for holding a bottle of beer.
Victor, another hat guy, and a contact for me at the Phoenix Ale brewery.
I wound up taking home glass from my trip to Craft 64. They also make great gourmet pizza, but I was in no mood to wait around to get one. So one glass of dark beer and out–see what a moderate guy I am?
I like the way Lovecraft seems to be peeking over the Phoenix Ale sign. Talk about the Mountains of Madness . . .
I finished my drink, only 1/3 empty in the picture above, and walked back to my car, which I had cleverly left in the parking lot of the Poisoned Pen bookstore. Because I love bookstores, I had to go inside before going home. I was hoping to see a friend that I used to work with at Mesquite Branch Library some 7 years ago.
I was in luck. My friend Patrick King was on duty that afternoon. It was pretty slow, but he actually had to take a phone call and do a little work while I was there.
That gave me a reason to just wander around the store and take pictures of books and things that looked interesting.
Star Wars for young readers . . .
I don’t know what the book is really about, but I loved the cover and Collins is a mystery writer.
The bookstore brings in a lot of well-known authors to do signings. I have attended a couple of them, and if I were a true mystery fan, I could see better authors than me at least four times a month or more. I missed somebody that day. The celeb was there at 2 p.m. and I came in a bit after 5. Truth is, I’m not that big a mystery fan.
8 X 10 glossies of some of the authors that have been there, and a whole section of autographed first editions for those who collect such things.
And now, here’s something you probably never expected to see–the inside of the Poisoned Pen bathroom. And yes, there is a bookstore cat, but this one doesn’t require any kibbles and bits.
I don’t know why the cat is trying to get into the garbage can.
Parker has pride of place here. :) Even though Parker has been dead since 2010, his best creation, P.I. Spenser continues.
By the end of the day I had spent about $70 enjoying myself, but this is how I felt, and I think it was worth it.
Ok, too much good stuff. Time to wrap it up, and go home.
Home again, home again where I could now watch the Agents of Shield episode that tied into the Avengers movie I saw in the morning. All in all, Saturday was an excellent day for me.
If you’ve had a really good day lately, why not leave a comment?
I have been thinking lately about Beauty. The urge to beautify the world seems to exist, in different forms, in almost every human being. The south end of 15th Avenue–just before you reach the Rio Salado–is an ugly, utilitarian part of the city. There are no parks, no beautiful homes, nothing very nice–just warehouses and railroad tracks and empty lots and a freeway going through it. And that’s where I discovered another manifestation of the Goddess, bringing color and beauty to one of the dingiest places in my fair city of Phoenix.
The hand gesture is peculiar, not really a pointing or a liberating gesture. It seems more like a magical gesture, and if it is Magic, then this may well be the Goddess creating and releasing this butterfly.
Look at her face. She is either in a trance or deep concentration. If she were watching butterflies, her eyes would be open, and she would probably be smiling, but if she is creating them . . .
The butterflies are going in all directions.
You can see the life energy coming out of the hand here.
Many butterflies float through the sky on this underpass.
Butterflies need flowers. The Goddess provides a sunflower for them. The sunflower is a plant that grows mostly in the Southwest. When I was a boy 60 years ago, they grew wild, like weeds all over the city. Now they are hard to find unless some homeowner has deliberately chosen to plant them.
I’ve been showing you the details, but let’s step back and see the big picture.
Tagged and defiled by graffiti and the grime of decades, the Goddess endures beneath this bridge.
I may be reading all kinds of symbolism and meaning into these murals that was never intended. These paintings were done decades ago. My city has a strong hispanic heritage. Chicano artists bring their own cultural themes to their work. Perhaps this was meant to be Our Lady of Guadalupe, another form of the Virgin Mary. Perhaps the butterflies are just butterflies and not metaphors for souls.
Perhaps, but I like my interpretation, and now you have a glimpse at why trolls like to spend time under bridges. A world of beauty, undreamed of by those who pass above, hides under the bridges of Phoenix.
If you’ve ever found anything cool or beautiful beneath a bridge, why not leave a comment?