Cloudy Skies Over Phoenix   3 comments

As I headed out to the post office this morning, I noticed that the air was cool and the skies were cloudy.  That doesn’t happen around here very often, and since stormy skies always make dramatic photos, I went home, got my camera, and went out to see what pictures I could get.  This blog is called Atroll’s Entertainment, and yes, I did entertain myself this morning by driving around, admiring the mountain scenery to the northeastern corner of the city, and taking pictures of cloudy skies.  Once again, here are a series of pictures that show the beauty of Arizona, along with a few comments on anything unusual.

The sky above my house about 11 a.m.


The morning was well advanced before I started my trip. The sun, nearing midheaven, was trying to break through and dissipate the clouds.  i was afraid it might succeed and spoil everything, but decided to go out and get some photos anyway.

View to the north.


I still had to go to the post office before the expedition could really get under way.  I had two books going to England, and two that were going to Texas.  I wrote them all, and I say unto you, it is good to watch your creations go out into the world to people who will be glad to get them. It’s an aside to this blog, but I think that motivates me more than anything else these days.

The clouds make their comeback and the sun is hidden.


The richest people in Phoenix live on Camelback Mountain and its surrounding hills. I'm heading into their territory.


If you look carefully just to the right and slightly above the bright white mansion on the mountainside, you can see a castle–an honest to God castle with crennelated walls.  As I understand the story, a rich but crazy dentist built this edifice on the mountain side because he wanted to live in a castle.   I’ll show you closer views of the castle down below, although this is a place for the very rich, and I have no access.

Approaching Camelback Mountain.


Looking across the city at the South Mountains.


There is a narrow, winding road that climbs about one fourth of the way up Camelback Mountain, and the general public is allowed to drive on this road.  The ordinary multi-millionaires have houses lining this road, while the billionaires all have private drives leading to their residences. From this road you can get a spectacular view of the city of Phoenix.  I like to come up here every once in a while and dream about being rich. 

About thirty miles away you can see the other mountain range that guards the southern approach to the Valley of the Sun–the South Mountains.  That whole range is part of a city park–I believe it is the largest city park in the world, and it is one of the Wonders of Phoenix.  Some time this winter, I will take my camera into the South Mountains and show you what they are like.

This is the view to the southeast towards Tempe. You can see the Papago Buttes where I showed you Hole-in-the-Rock in an earlier blog.


There are hills and mountains on all sides of Phoenix, some larger, some smaller, some nearer, some farther.  But get up where you can see above the houses and the trees, and you will see mountains.  I love mountains.

Rough terrain.


Camelback from another angle. Here we're looking almost due east.


The butte to the left is called the Camel's Head. There is a long neck of hills between it and the Camel's Hump to the right.


This is a slightly closer view of the Castle. You really have to look close to see it, because it was built from the same stone as the mountain.


I consider the Castle on Camelback to be one of the Wonders of Phoenix.  I’d really like to tour the place some day, but I don’t suppose it will ever happen.

Car window view of downtown Phoenix and the South Mountains.


Phoenix has a relatively small downtown area.  All of the tallest buildings in the state are clustered in an area about 2 miles long and half a mile wide.

Another view of the Camel's head. If you look closely you can see that it is pocked with dozens of erosion caves.


Although my captions are all about the mountains and landmarks here, the pictures are really all about the sky.

A truly magnificent saguaro cactus. I've been all over the desert and have seen thousands of saguaros. I think this is the best one ever.


There is a hiking trail that leads to the summit of Camelback Mountain on the north side.


I drove around the mountain and approached it from the north.  There is a small park on the north side, good for hiking and climbing.  In the center of the picture you can see a strange rock formation that is visible only from the north and the west sides of the mountain.  I think of it as The Gorilla, but it is called The Praying Monk.  The trail to the summit goes right by this erosion-carved monolith.  I was hoping to take some pictures of the park and the trail, but I couldn’t even get inside–too many people there in the middle of the day.

There are several hills north of Camelback, and they are also filled with the houses of the rich.


Someone owns a house perched exactly on top of that hill in the center.


Piastewa Peak as seen from the west.


To the west of the Camelback region is another set of hills and small mountains called the Phoenix Mountains Preserve.  The tallest eminence in the area is called Piastewa Peak–named after a native American Navajo woman who was killed during the Iraq War–she was a corporal, I think, in the U.S. Army.  Before that the mountain was called Squaw Peak.  There is a hiking trail that runs to the top.  It is rigorous, although hundreds of citizens climb it every day.  I’ve been up there exactly once.

View of my favorite hiking trail at the eastern end of the mountain preserve.


The trail at the eastern end of the park is not particularly steep, and mountain bikers climb up to the pass between the hills all the time.  The trail ends in a region of spectacular quartz boulders weighing tons and scattered all over the mountain side in this area only.  Ten years ago when I still went hiking once a week, I used to rest my weary legs by sitting on those sharp and shiny rocks.

View to the east down my street as I get home around 12:30 p.m.


I started this blog with clouds, and I’ll end it with clouds.  The purpose of my whole trip this morning was simply to admire the clouds from many different angles and perspectives.  Here we are, back at my house. The sun has lost its struggle with the mighty mountains of water vapor.  As an Arizonan I can only hope that it will actually rain before the day is over, but not too hard.  I don’t want to contend with a howling storm the next time I have to leave the house.

Singing (with apologies to Simon and Garfunkel): Cloudy! The sky is gray and it is cloudy. Sometimes I think it's coming down on me.



Posted October 25, 2010 by atroll in Uncategorized

3 responses to “Cloudy Skies Over Phoenix

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  1. How high are those mountains?

  2. Piestawa, FYI.

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