Archive for the ‘Arizona Desert’ Category

Selfies in the Desert   Leave a comment

Here follows an exercise in narcissism, or at least proof that when I say I go out and walk in the desert I really do go out and walk in the desert. I arrived at my favorite hiking place about 1:30 this afternoon. The weather was clear, warm, and perfect for hiking. It’s kind of late in the day, so I don’t expect to see any animals. My goal was to hike at least 3 miles.

Start of the journey in the parking lot. I am wearing the Trollgod's hat, my oldest, most battered fedora. It will protect my head from low hanging  mesquite branches and cactus.

Start of the journey in the parking lot. I am wearing the Trollgod’s hat, my oldest, most battered fedora. It will protect my head from low hanging mesquite branches and cactus.

 

A better shot of me at the beginning. centering my face for these selfies is going to be a problem.

A better shot of me at the beginning. centering my face for these selfies is going to be a problem.

 

Behind me is the road ahead.

Behind me is the road ahead.

Behind me is the road behind

Behind me is the road behind

.26 miles into the hike

.26 miles into the hike

Troll country

Troll country

Mountain side. Missed. I was trying to do a profile shot of myself.

Mountain side. Missed. I was trying to do a profile shot of myself.

Half a mile into the hike.

Half a mile into the hike.

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8 tenths of a mile into hike. All distances measured by pedometer.

8 tenths of a mile into hike. All distances measured by pedometer.

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Turn around point. Quartz cairn. 1.5 miles into the hike.

Turn around point. Quartz cairn. 1.5 miles into the hike.

2 miles into the hike on the way back.

2 miles into the hike on the way back.

The friendly Arizona desert has places for you to sit down and rest.

The friendly Arizona desert has places for you to sit down and rest.

2.5 miles into the hike. The end is in sight.

2.5 miles into the hike. The end is in sight.

Back in the parking lot. Reflection of a desert hiker.

Back in the parking lot. Reflection of a desert hiker.

I am happy to be back at myu car to drive out of here. Total distance 3 miles. Time about 2 hours. Lots of climbing, and I am now officially tired.

I am happy to be back at myu car to drive out of here. Total distance 3 miles. Time about 2 hours. Lots of climbing, and I am now officially tired.

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Troll Country–Easter Morning Desert Walk   1 comment

On Sunday, April 20, Easter mornng, I managed to get myself out the door and headed off for a walk in the desert. Unlike most of the people I saw out there on the trails, I was not hiking just to get in a nice hike in pleasant surroundings. No. I was lost in my own imagination and exploring the wilderness. Walter Mitty, I am your brother.

 

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Not that way.
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Not that way either.2014-04-19 20.24.16

This way. Right up the middle.

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Not planning to climb a mountain. Another hiker told me it was exactly 5 miles to the other parking lot and back. Well, that’s not my plan either, but I take the low road at the beginning.

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Optical illusion. Those people in the distance are above me, not below me.

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Jogging.

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I turned off the main trail, then looked back.

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In explorer mode now.

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Down, then up, except . . .

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I turned into the gully. I like to walk in these desert washes.

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Good place to look for rocks.

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I was going to photograph my shadow, but thought why not take a selfie? Holding camera out with both hands in front of me and laughing at myself and the situation.

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Onward, into the unknown.

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An on.

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And on.

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Through tunnels of wood.

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Into the golden forest. The mesquite trees were in bloom and covered with tiny yellow flowers.

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The landscape is mostly igneous. Quite a bit of quartz, and this was a huge lump of rusted quartz in the middle of the stream.

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Getting into rock troll country now. Caves are appearing in the creek banks.

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This was a big one. In my imagination, it leads to underground realms.

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The further I go, the wilder it gets.

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I have my hiking stick with me. It is very useful in rough terrain like this.

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Am I blocked? Not yet.

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And on.

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And on.

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And on.

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Where the wild things are, or should be.

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Another obstacle. I climb around it.

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Troll country, part 2

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Troll country, part 32014-04-19 20.59.26

Find the lizard!

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Troll country part 4

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Back door to Trollhalla. End of the trail.

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Looking down. I climbed out of the gully here.2014-04-19 21.01.59 2014-04-19 21.05.13 2014-04-19 21.11.43

The edge of the elven forest beyond the desert.

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Another explorer.

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I am heading back now. Exploring another gully, I find this natural staircase of desert cement.2014-04-19 21.17.56 2014-04-19 21.24.10

Looking back at Phoenix

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The body of a fallen giant.

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Tangles.

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Two roads.

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The walk is almost over.

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After a good walk, I’m always glad to get back to my car.

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Another self portrait.

2014-04-19 22.10.01Of course a few rocks followed me home. Three quartz, one tufa, one hematite. I picked up this little red rock because it was so out of place. Lots of basalt, tufa, quartz and other volcanic ejecta, and this guy. How did he get into this landscape?

Sometimes I identify with rocks. I mean, really, we are all just pebbles in a huge stone field.

Posted April 22, 2014 by atroll in Arizona, Arizona Desert, Ken St. Andre, Uncategorized

The Most Boring Blog of All Time   1 comment

Maybe I should start a Geology blog! Boy would that be boring on a regular basis.

Sunday I walked 3 miles in the Salt River Wetlands city park, and brought back some striped rocks that I found.

Last year, a friend (Ellen)  clued me in on the relative rarity of rocks with stripes in them.  This year I have been questing for them. I have looked at millions of rocks, uncountable numbers, and found less than 30. Although my eyes are always open for them  now, sometimes weeks go by without spotting one.

But, I found a few on Sunday while walking through the river.  Most of these stripes are inclusions of one kind of rock that should not be there, but some are just a richer vein of the mineral giving the rock it’s color. I’d love to get a real geologist’s comments on these little fellows.

 

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These guys are posing on a brick wall beneath my balcony. I don’t know what kind of stone this is, but the black streak is unusual, and it was the first one I found on Sunday.

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This guy looks kinda like a clam.

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Not just one stripe here, but a whole network of lines going off in all directions.

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One streak of quartz zigs and zags through this stone.

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This rock has its stripes on the inside. You can’t really see any from the outside surface.

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Wash the rocks with water to make the streaks more vivid said my friend. The black streak on this little guy is subtle until you get it wet.

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There is a thin white stripe of quartz in this little red rock.

2014-04-14 03.56.58Red rock with orange stripe. Guessing that some form of iron is involved here, but this kind of coloration is very rare. All the other stripes were black or white.

And that’s all, folks. Two hours of hiking netted just this many stripers I could bring home with me. There were a couple of really big ones too heavy to carry.  These guys have been introduced to each other and now they all have a new home, and their very own cactus to guard.

If you’ve ever gone hunting for rocks of a particular nature, why not leave a comment?

–end

Posted April 16, 2014 by atroll in Arizona, Arizona Desert, Ken St. Andre, Uncategorized

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Salt River Morning Walk   3 comments

Greetings, Friends, and welcome to another ramble through the Arizona desert with me. Today, Sunday, April 13, 2014, I have returned to the urban wilderness of the Salt River greenbelt about 2 miles south of downtown Phoenix. This is literally a couple of miles of what the Salt River would have been like before 6 dams got built on it upstream that diverted every bit of water into irrigation canals and city water supplies.  It has water now because the City of Phoenix pumps some waste water back into it, thus creating a number of pools and a little bit of running water.  We have been walking in this park before, and will probably go again. It is one of my favorite places around Phoenix. I had two motives for visiting it today. 1. I need a 2 or 3 mile walk every day for my health, and it sure would be nice to get some of those walks somewhere other than around my slummy neighborhood.  2. Lately, I’ve been questing for striped stones. I’ll tell you more about that in tomorrow’s blog, but riverbeds are a good place to look for them. The river cuts through many different sorts of terrain and has carried many different types of rocks downstream with it, mixing them all up in the process.  A place that is all the same kind of rock is not a very good hunting ground when you want a variety of rocks

This is actually a good deal for you, dear Reader, as you get to see the best of what I saw on what was about 3 miles of meandering without the actual negative effects of getting sore feet along with being hot and sweaty.  Ready? Let’s go!

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I entered the park at the northeast entrance on 7th Avenue. Once beyond the parking lot, I found a sign that gave me my choices. I decided to go east toward Central.

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I am looking sort of southwest from here. The nearer range of hills is part of South Mountain Park, and the farther range is called the Estrellas. (Estrellas is Spanish for stars.) There’s a bridge. I’m a troll. Trolls love bridges, so you’ll see a lot of bridge photos when I go walking. 🙂

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There is an asphalt access road here for the use of park rangers. I decide to make the walking easier for myself by staying on the paved area, at least at the beginning. The hill in the distance marks the western edge of Tempe.

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Looking down at the river. I’m staring at it to see if I can locate the source of a strange honking noise coming from somewhere down there.  Might be a goose, or a bullfrog, or a river monster. I’m not that great at identifying animal noises.

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Still hearing the honking. Sometime I would like to come out here with a tape recorder and just collect weird noises.

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I stopped here because of the rock field. I collected my first striper here, a hefty fellow that probably weighs about 5 pounds. Then I got distracted by the pretty flowers. This is desert spring–when the cacti flower. The broad-leafed cactus you see is a prickly pear. It has an edible fruit, and some lovely orange and gold flowers.

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A closer look at the flowers from right above them on a different cactus. Yikes! There are bees in some of these flowers. Stay calm. Don’t bother them, and they won’t bother me. You will be happy to know that I did not get stung.

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I really am not very far from downtown Phoenix.  This is a telefoto shot, but the high-rises are probably less than 2 miles away.

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Here’s another shot toward town. The double arches you see are the east and west ends of Chase Field where the Arizona Diamondbacks play baseball. The roof is open The tall peak you see in the distance is Piestawa Peak, renamed about 10 or 15 years ago (time flies when you’re not paying attention) for an Arizona Native American woman who was killed while serving with our armed forces during the Iraq war. Before the Arizona Legislature changed its name, this big hill was called Squaw Peak.

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A better shot of Phoenix without the iron fence in the way. I kind of love to take pictures of my hometown city, so you will probably see a lot of them if  you keep reading this blog.

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Woo hoo! Arizona sky and a jet heading for Skyharbor airport. I don’t have a really great camera, so I’m kind of surprised I was able to get this good a picture of it.

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I came to a fork in the road. The bridge up ahead is on Central Avenue which divides Phoenix into an eastern and a western half. I took the low road . . .

2014-04-12 21.05.09and found a bridge leading to a bridge!
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The small bridge crosses this channel and waterfall bringing water from the city into the river.

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Who knew? Walking under the Central Bridge, I found art.  This art has a message. Recycle and don’t pollute.

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Looking south there’s art in the other direction too.

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The next span over has more art. Looking toward the city we see the city. That dates the art as sometime after 1998 when the D-backs and Chase Field both got their start.

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Another message: Every Drop Counts was a slogan for water conservation in the desert about 20 years ago.

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I like the foreground with all the different kinds of animals you might encounter down here in the river park. Look! There is that prickly pear cactus in bloom that I showed you.

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The state flag of Arizona.

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What the hey? What are these four broken pillars doing out here?

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Here’s another park sign, but with an error. 7th Street might be relatively close, but it’s not four one-hundredths of a mile to the east–more like four tenths of a mile. I had only planned to walk to Central, but with the next bridge only .4 miles away, what the heck? Walk on, Ken!

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This path crosses the river. 100 yards to the west is water and a wetland forest. Here it is dry as a bone. I walked across, found a couple more rocks for my collection.

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It didn’t take long to reach the 7th Street bridge.

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There is an oasis here too, but no art under the bridge.

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Ever wonder what the bottom of a bridge looks like? Now you know. When you are down here, the cars passing above you sound like thunder.

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I am walking back to the car now. I already have at least 10 pounds of striped stones. I have probably seen a million rocks, and found about ten worth picking up. The camera says the batteries are low. I find this little stream and in my imagination it becomes a wild river leading into an unknown wilderness.

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As long as my imagination is running away with me, this iron door becomes the sally port of a castle. This wall looks a bit like the base of a castle tower.

2014-04-12 22.00.07And the last picture my camera would take is of this beautiful trash can. I tell you, art is everywhere in Phoenix.

The distance between 7th Ave. and 7th Street is 1.2 miles according to the signs. I actually wandered off the straight line several times, so I figure I walked at least 1.5 miles each way, thus making a 3 mile hike.

I took pictures a little while ago of the rocks I found on this expedition. I’ll show them to you in a really dull geology blog tomorrow or sometime soon. Or maybe I’ll just post them on Facebook.

If you would go walking thru urban wilderness with me, why not leave a comment?

–end

The Roadrunner Cafe   1 comment

Sunday, March 30, 2014, I jumped in the car, and drove up the freeway to the desert town of New River. The plan was to hike the desert and look for striped stones, and take some pictures. Didn’t find any striped stones, but I did take some pix, and the plan sort of changed into getting breakfast about halfway through . . . (grin).

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I found a way off the main roads and a little trail leading into the Arizona brush. The desert north of Phoenix and at a higher elevation is a great place to find the saguaro cactus.

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At this point I parked the car and continued on foot. All I really want to find are a few good sedimentary or metamorphic rocks with stripes built in.

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Typical rock field. No luck. Proof I’m there. My shadow with Trollgod’s hat.

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Desert wildflowers in the spring, predominantly yellow. I saw a rabbit hop into this thicket but the camera is way too slow to catch the rabbit.

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Suddenly I heard a strange whirring noise not far from my feet. Hello, Mr. Rattlesnake! This picture is actually taken after I took about 3 large steps backwards. 
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And back a little more. He did not seem inclined to relax while I was anywhere near. This is a brown diamondback rattlesnake. If you look closely you can see the distinctive diamond patterns on its body.

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I headed back toward the car and into a wash, thinking there might be some better stones there.

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I really like walking in desert washes. The scenery is so variable.

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I left the undergrowth and headed into New River. There were some bikers enjoying the early morning sun and breeze.

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I decided to stop for breakfast at the Roadrunner Cafe.

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This is THAT desert bar for bikers you see in all the road movies.

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Beer, especially cold beer, is very important in the desert.

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Little rodeos still thrive out here away from the big city.

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Here’s the corral where the bucking broncos show their stuff.

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No seating discrimination at the New River rodeo. They all cost the same, and they all feel the same and everyone is close to the action.

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What good entertainment facility doesn’t have a space for musicians? Here’s a western stage.

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The main business is the restaurant. In nice weather the good seats are outside on the patio.

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Here’s a look at the bar. Look at that assortment of beers! Some time when I’m not driving, I’d like to come up here and try some of those flavors in the second and third columns.

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Bartender, boss, manager is slicing lemons for the day. I don’t know for sure that she’s the boss, but she was telling the other waitresses what to do.

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I ordered black coffee. It came in a styrofoam cup. Things are basic in the desert. Why waste time, water, and money washing coffee cups when styrofoam is cheap.

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I wondered about the picture and the crosses, so I asked. Not Willy Nelson–just a regular long-time customer who died a few years back. The crosses have no real connection to the picture. They are made by a local who leaves them at the bar and sometimes sells a few to tourists who see them.  (Amazing what you can find out if you just talk to people and ask questions, isn’t it?)

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I kinda like the neon bullhead used as a Bud Light sign. This bar has all the modern conveniences, too.  Big screen tv for those who want to watch sports. Just inside is a pool hall with 3 tables. Dang! Made me want to play pool and drink beer.

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Breakfast finally came. Two fried eggs, hamburger patty, hash browns, and the largest fluffiest biscuit I’ve ever had.  So good!  Worth driving 20 miles and paying $10 just to have it.

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Country bathrooms remain politically incorrect.  These babes are on the door of the Men’s Room–I had to visit it before hitting the road again.  The Ladies Room door was decorated with hunks–at least the outside was–I didn’t see the inside.

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The mirror is a little chipped up, or someone went to a lot of trouble to give it that ragged outline.

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This lovely lady makes and sells rhinestone jewelry. I didn’t buy any. What’s the point? I have no one to give it to, though if a lady admired it in my presence I might get her one. It’s cheap and flashy, but I like it.

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Rhinestone rattlesnakes and crosses.

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I stopped to admire this motorcycle. Beautiful black–what a great ride. The guy is named Soto, rode up from Buckeye with some friends.

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I was ready to return to Phoenix, but with that heavy breakfast inside me, decided to go for one more walk. I decided to walk up to that green sign you can see about 1/4 of a mile up the road. I was searching the roadside for stripy rocks. 🙂

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I found some big beautiful yellow flowers.

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I saw desert dune buggies out for a ride. Looked like fun. Got a thumbs up from the passenger in the second vehicle.

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I think it might be safer being a flower photographer than a desert wildlife hunter.

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The closest thing I found to a striped rock. I decided not to bring it home with me. Also some tiny yellow desert wildflowers.

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Not all desert wildflowers are bright yellow. These little desert buttercups are golden orange.

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A piece of twine, a flat rock, and a chewing tobacco tin. These were my roadside finds for the day, and the photo is taken on the trunk of my Kia. I kept the twine and the rock, washed the tin, and then decided to throw it away. I have no use for chewing tobacco, and it had a strong odor, not unpleasant, minty actually. The tin says: Warning: this product can cause mouth cancer. Even though I don’t like tobacco, I thought the package was rather elegant.

And that was my big adventure for Saturday. It may not seem like much, but I just really like to get out of the house and see places that I’ve never seen before.  It’s not so much seeing–it’s being there that satisfies me emotionally and makes me feel good about life in general.

If you like to wander out into the countryside and see how other people live and have breakfast, or if you’ve ever been up close and personal with a rattlesnake, why not leave a comment?

–end

Mystery Castle   Leave a comment

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 I went, on a whim (and in my car), to the south end of 7th Street. Some day I need to do an end to end trip on 7th Street and show all the significant things that are located on that one vital thoroughfare in Phoenix, but not today. Today I found something else, and since I had my camera with me, I took pictures, and mainly for those of you who might actually enjoy vicariously strolling through the Arizona desert with me, I have this record of the day’s adventure. With the right attitude, every day is an adventure–do you agree?

 

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South Mountain Park is, I believe, the largest city park in the world. It contains an entire mountain range and is about 20 miles long and  ten miles wide. There are numerous ways into the park, only one goes by the park ranger station. In a lifetime in Phoenix, this is the first time I have ever seen this entrance.  There is a nice trail, and I want to walk a mile or more every day, so I decided to enter. The time is near 11 a.m.

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There is an unnatural depression/valley/crater near the entrance. It might just be the end of a gully that has widened out a lot, but perhaps it is the remains of an open pit mine that is so old that the desert has reclaimed it. You can’t tell from the photo, but the bottom of this depression is a good 50 feet below where I am standing, and is quite flat.

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Do you see the far walls on the other side of the pit. These are typical of gravel pits and other big open mines in Arizona. The houses over there are very nice, upper middle class dwellings, and all this flatness is not typical of the bottom of a mountain range. Everything should be sloping downward toward Phoenix in the north. It’s a mystery, and I don’t suppose I’ll ever know how this place came to exist, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t natural.

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Once I got past the dirt trail I started on I found a paved road. That seemed kind of strange because there is no way for a vehicle to reach that road.  The entrance I used is a foot trail barely wide enough for a car at the beginning and too narrow for one a little further on, and it is blocked off by thousand pound boulders placed across the entrance. Perhaps there is a way in through the fenced-off water tanks at the ends of the trail, but I don’t know how the city made this nicely-maintained stretch of asphalt.

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Broken rock landslide area. Desert scenery. I just like to look at and discover such places.

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Looking back the way I came in. The huge tank is probably storing water for South Phoenix. It’s not like any explanation is posted for it.

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Another view of the depression. Some time I may return and climb down into it.

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Mountain slopes and mesquite trees.

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A view across the pit. The eroded slope in the foreground is more typical of an Arizona gully.

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This is the southern end of the pit. The mountain slopes become very steep here, and a true gully appears.

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My walk has taken me to the end of the big pit where a real desert wash empties into it. The tumbled rocks and the undercut caves on the far side are typical of such watercourses. The caves provide shelter for all manner of desert wildlife.

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This area is well explored (by others). Here is a trail leading across the wash.

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Back on the road. Such scenes always make me think of Tolkien’s song: The Road Goes Ever On. I want to see where this one will take me. And also it’s easier than climbing through gullies. 🙂

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The road climbs to this other big tank nestled between two hills and fenced off from the world.

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Looking uphill. This desert is not real good country for saguaro cactus, but there are a few, and here is one that has found a home.

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A trail on the ground.

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A trail in the sky.

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Looking back down the road. I had to climb a bit to get here. I think the climbing should be worth extra credit in the big scorebook in the sky. (I’m so obsessive. I have to count and score everything I do these days.)

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That desert trail I’ve been talking about apparently has a name. I will wind up on this trail that leads to the summit some 2.5 miles away, but I’m not prepared to climb any mountains today.

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As I was looking at the signpost, this woman came down the trail. I said good morning, and asked her where the trail led. This developed into a short conversation. I told her my name (Ken), found out her name is Barb.  She hikes in the desert two or three times a week and goes many different places including the Superstition Mountains and Prescott. I offered to walk her back to her car, just to continue the conversation. We stayed on the lowest reaches of the Holbert trail for another quarter mile, just chatting about the desert, and hiking and such. I probably should have asked her to get a picture of me, but, oh well, didn’t think of it.

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I have seen petroglyphs at South Mountain before, but wasn’t really expecting any. This is clearly a lizard.

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This is more likely to be a man, or perhaps a horse or coyote.  If that is a tail, then it’s an animal.

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Barb had taken a guided walk with a ranger on this trail before. She told me that the ranger said these petroglyphs are relatively modern, and not made by the Amerindians who lived in this part of the country.

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But these petroglyphs are authentic. You can see a solar symbol, a desert tortoise, and a snake. The rangers have erected a small fence to keep people away from these glyphs.

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Near the end of the trail I noticed these glyphs. I think they look like camels because of the humpy back and curving necks. The U.S. Army did import some camels into the Arizona desert after the Civil War, although the experiment was not a great success. Or they might be horses, though I like my camel hypothesis better.  A wonderful thing about such scratches on the rock–they make one think, wonder, and dream, but there is really no way for me to ever know the truth.

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Back at the parking lot, I take one last look back up the hill. I wonder what caused that big scar up on the mountainside. I think I’m about done here, but my adventure isn’t quite over yet.

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Barb gave me a lift in her van back to my car some 7 blocks to the east. Looking around I see some signs I hadn’t noticed before. I have found the location of Mystery Castle. There is quite a story about this place. I visited it once as a teenager 50 years ago. I tell Barb what I remember about it, though I haven’t given the place a thought in decades.  It looks kind of sealed off and forgotten, doesn’t it?

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Raising my sight, I see the castle itself. Someone is living here.

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This sign is so worn out. I wonder if they still give tours of the place.

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By walking off the road I find a better angle to photograph the house.

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This is how I know someone is living here. They have a guard dog. He barked at me once, even though I didn’t approach the fence or make any effort to get inside. Just being friendly, I guess. He didn’t get up and come over to the fence to see me.

And that is my last photo from Tuesday morning. Although I did not find a striped stone, it turned out to be a morning well spent. I got a good walk of a couple of miles, made a friend, rediscovered a fabulous place that I had visited once 50 years ago.

If you’ve ever hiked around the desert, admired petroglyphs, or visited strange architecture, why not leave a comment?

–end

Sunday Morning Desert Walk   1 comment

The secret to losing weight is to move more, eat less. I’m doing the move more part lately; not doing so well on the eating less part. In fact, all this extra moving is making me hungrier, so I’m eating more.

Sunday morning, 9 a.m., Feb. 23rd, I set off for another desert hike. I put fresh batteries in the camera, and took off for Dreamy Draw city park, a piece of desert entirely enclosed within the city of Phoenix.  This blog is dedicated to all the people who have been kind enough to “like” all the walking comments I’ve been making on Facebook for the last month or so.  I’m going to put on my tour guide hat, and tell those of you who don’t live in Arizona, some things you might not know, and probably never wanted to know, about the desert around here.

Even tough it is early on a Sunday morning, the park's main parking area was already full. I had to park about 1/4 of a mile up the road. The air is cool and fresh with some high clouds.

Even though it is early on a Sunday morning, the park’s main parking area is already full. I have to park about 1/4 of a mile up the road. The air is cool and fresh with some high clouds.

Spring in the desert--wildflowers are in bloom. Most of them are small and bright yellow like these.

Spring in the desert–wildflowers are in bloom. Most of them are small and bright yellow like these.

If you look carefully right in the center of the picture, you will see a desert quail. A whole flock of these ground-running desert birds were feeding in the gulley about 20  yards off to my left. They move quickly, and I was lucky to get this picture.

If you look carefully right in the center of the picture, you will see a desert quail. A whole flock of these ground-running desert birds were feeding in the gulley about 20 yards off to my left. They move quickly, and I was lucky to get this picture.

How many quail can you find in this picture?

How many quail can you find in this picture? There is nothing spectacular about these birds. Their dull plumage is good camouflage for living in the desert.

I have taken some of you readers to this park before. There is a broad paved path that leads along the western edge of the park, perfect for the more sedate hikers and for bicycle riders. Here we are looking south toward the hills. That is the direction I have always gone in earlier visits to this park.

I have taken some of you readers to this park before. There is a broad paved path that leads along the western edge of the park, perfect for the more sedate hikers and for bicycle riders. Here we are looking south toward the hills. That is the direction I have always gone in earlier visits to this park.

And here we are looking north from the same spot on the path. Today I will be walking north into unknown (for me) territory. You know it doesn't have to be the Amazon jungle or Mount Kilimanjaro. I am happy just to be going off into an area where I have never gone before.

And here we are looking north from the same spot on the path. Today I will be walking north into unknown (for me) territory. You know it doesn’t have to be the Amazon jungle or Mount Kilimanjaro. I am happy just to be going off into an area where I have never gone before.

More desert wildflowers. A different plant, but the same bright yellow with larger flowers.

More desert wildflowers. A different plant, but the same bright yellow with larger flowers.

Looking down into a gully. These hills are cut everywhere with dry streambeds where the water only runs during heavy thunderstorms.

Looking down into a gully. These hills are cut everywhere with dry streambeds where the water only runs during heavy thunderstorms.

I stopped to look at a signpost. It has a "you are here" spot on it, so if you look closely you can tell exactly where I was this morning. Bwa ha ha ha ha!

I stopped to look at a signpost. It has a “you are here” spot on it, so if you look closely you can tell exactly where I was this morning. Bwa ha ha ha ha!

I left the paved path and made my way down into that arroyo I showed you earlier--either that one or a branch of it.

I am looking at a hobbit path and wondering if I can get down there to follow it.

These washes get more water than the rest of the desert, and so you find the lushest, thickest vegetation either in them or on the banks nearby.

These washes get more water than the rest of the desert, and so you find the lushest, thickest vegetation either in them or on the banks nearby.

I'm leaving this trail behind.

I’m leaving this trail behind.

Big chunk of quartz on the ground. I am continuing yesterday's quest for striped stones, but I don't expect to find any on this trip. The rocks in this park are mostly quartz, shale, flint, and andesite--mostly igneous, some metamorphic amalgamations, unlikely to have stripes.  My shadow on the ground is as close to a picture of me as you will get in this blog. You can see I'm wearing the Trollgod's hat.

Big chunk of quartz on the ground. I am continuing yesterday’s quest for striped stones, but I don’t expect to find any on this trip. The rocks in this park are mostly quartz, shale, flint, and andesite–mostly igneous, some metamorphic amalgamations, unlikely to have stripes. My shadow on the ground is as close to a picture of me as you will get in this blog. You can see I’m wearing the Trollgod’s hat.

Here's a trail leading eastward away from the paved path. I always like to get away from the main thoroughfare.

Here’s a trail leading eastward away from the paved path. I always like to get away from the main thoroughfare.

And now I think I'll shut up and just walk through the desert for a while.

And now I think I’ll shut up and just walk through the desert for a while.

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2014-02-22 21.45.23See the tracks in the sand. I believe these are coyote tracks, and probably not more than a few hours old.  No human or horse made these prints, and they are about the right size for a dog or coyote.  There are no human prints around them, at least not until my own tracks get added to the mix, so it wasn’t a dog.  Earlier I overheard a man say he had seen a coyote right up on the paved trail, and I have seen a coyote in this park before, so we know they are here. You don’t have to be a trained scout to deduce what made these prints.

As you can see, I am walking up a dry streambed. Although there are lots of rocks around, it is mostly sand, and a far cry from the dangerous rocky terrain of the Salt River bed that I showed you yesterday.

As you can see, I am walking up a dry streambed. Although there are lots of rocks around, it is mostly sand, and a far cry from the dangerous rocky terrain of the Salt River bed that I showed you yesterday.

The desert is full of holes. Small animals like snakes, rabbits, and other rodents live and take shelter in these cavities.

The desert is full of holes. Small animals like snakes, rabbits, and other rodents live and take shelter in these cavities.

2014-02-22 21.47.58I took this shot because the rocks are green. Most of the rocks in these hills are not green, but every once in a while, you find a place where they are. I am not sure what this means. Perhaps the rocks are travertine, which is a greenish mineral. Perhaps it indicates the presence of copper ore in these rocks. There is a lot of copper in the Arizona deserts, and it would not surprise me to learn there are low grade deposits right here inside the city park.

This pic shows you layers of rock laid down atop each other, probably shale or slate, but tectonic movement that made these hills has turned the horizontal layers of rock vertical.

This pic shows you layers of rock laid down atop each other, probably shale or slate, but tectonic movement that made these hills has turned the horizontal layers of rock vertical.

This is a side pocket of the wash that caved in, probably in the last year or two, and all the loose soil has washed away. You can see exposed tree roots, and at the top center, looking down like a curious tourist, a fine example of the great saguaro cactus.

This is a side pocket of the wash that caved in, probably in the last year or two, and all the loose soil has washed away. You can see exposed tree roots, and at the top center, looking down like a curious tourist, a fine example of the great saguaro cactus.

a rough spot in the trail.

a rough spot in the trail.

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Human tracks in the sand here. I am not the only person to go walking in this gully.

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Somebody built this little cairn inside the gully. I added the rock you see on top.

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Still searching for striped rocks. Lots of stones. No stripes. Another self portrait of a hiker's shadow.

Still searching for striped rocks. Lots of stones. No stripes. Another self portrait of a hiker’s shadow.

I came to the end of the trail, and climbed out of the gully. This is not a desert oasis. Some multi-millionaire lives over there. I am so jealous. I would love to have such a secluded home on the edge of the desert.

I came to the end of the trail, and climbed out of the gully. This is not a desert oasis. Some multi-millionaire lives over there. I am so jealous. I would love to have such a secluded home on the edge of the desert.

My gully continues, but we are back in civilization. It passes under a road ahead, which means I have walked out of the park.

My gully continues, but we are back in civilization. It passes under a road ahead, which means I have walked out of the park.

Houses! I think I took this picture because I saw more quails here. The desert has suddenly turned into the suburbs.

Houses! I think I took this picture because I saw more quails here. The desert has suddenly turned into the suburbs.

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It's my old pal, the Yellow Dwarf!

It’s my old pal, the Yellow Dwarf!

Distant hills I

Distant hills I

Distant hills 2

Distant hills 2

Turning around and headed back now. See all the white rocks on the ground? These are all little flakes of quartz, the most common rock on the planet.

Turning around and headed back now. See all the white rocks on the ground? These are all little flakes of quartz, the most common rock on the planet.

Another tribute to quartz, which is my favorite rock, though not my favorite gem. I am walking back on a trail that parallels the gorge I followed to get here. I'm on the High Road instead of the Low Road now.

Another tribute to quartz, which is my favorite rock, though not my favorite gem. I am walking back on a trail that parallels the gorge I followed to get here. I’m on the High Road instead of the Low Road now.

King of the Hill! Quest complete! This is the only rock I found on the whole trip with bonafied stripes in it--veins of quartz in a darker, probably granitic matrix. This is no loose stone that I could pick up, but an out-thrust of the hill's bedrock.  In what was close to 3 miles walking today, this was the only rock with stripes, and it is on a high spot in the hills. Hail to his Majesty!

King of the Hill! Quest complete! This is the only rock I found on the whole trip with bonafied stripes in it–veins of quartz in a darker, probably granitic matrix. This is no loose stone that I could pick up, but an out-thrust of the hill’s bedrock. In what was close to 3 miles walking today, this was the only rock with stripes, and it is on a high spot in the hills. Hail to his Majesty!

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Walk!

Walk!

Walk

Walk

Walk!

Walk!

Walk!

Walk!

Walk!

Walk!

Walk!

Walk!

Walk!

That brown-gray thing that looks like a twig in the center of the picture is really a lizard.

Walk!

Another picture of the lizard. I try to photograph any animals I actually see in the desert. I did see a rabbit at the beginning of my hike, but they are usually much too fast for me to actually capture them on film. I need a ring camera where I could just point and shoot.  If it did video, that would get some good shots in the desert.

Ranger Station. A few minutes later I met the ranger. She was driving a big pickup truck and hauling trash out to a dumpster for city pickup.

Ranger Station. A few minutes later I met the ranger. She was driving a big pickup truck and hauling trash out to a dumpster for city pickup.

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People bring their horses up her to go riding.  I like the white one, and wish I could have gone for a ride.

People bring their horses up here to go riding. I like the white one, and wish I could have gone for a ride.

My little black Kia car--end of the trail. I have walked for a little more than an hour, probably traveled between 2 and 3 miles, not walking fast, but a lot of uphill and down. I should not wear tennis shoes on these hikes--my toes are killing me from pressing them into rocks going downhill. I should remember to take my walking stick for the unsteady terrain. It was in the car. I just forgot it. My lower back and hip flexors hurt after all this walking. I am tired and sweaty, and for the moment, relatively happy.

My little black Kia car–end of the trail. I have walked for a little more than an hour, probably traveled between 2 and 3 miles, not walking fast, but a lot of uphill and down. I should not wear tennis shoes on these hikes–my toes are killing me from pressing them into rocks going downhill. I should remember to take my walking stick for the unsteady terrain. It was in the car. I just forgot it. My lower back and hip flexors hurt after all this walking. I am tired and sweaty, and for the moment, relatively happy.

And that concludes another walk in the desert with Ken–nothing special, but it made me feel good for a while. I hope you enjoyed it too.

–end

Posted February 23, 2014 by atroll in Arizona, Arizona Desert, Ken St. Andre, Uncategorized

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