Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Desert Wildflowers and Migratory Birds

The time is flying by.  We are down to our last 2 weeks working as volunteers here in Arizona.  March was a very very busy month.  Wore this old lady out!  We had some days in the 90's which brought out the locals by the hundreds well maybe a bit less but .....the last couple of weeks it has been in the 70's and 80's during the day but pretty darn windy.  March winds right...Currently we are down to just 3 volunteers in the park, two of us in the office and just Al doing maintenance.  Our new friends Mark and Paulette left this weekend.  We miss them.  Mark and Al usually worked maintenance together and aside from looking like twins, they had a great time working together and got lots done!  They would confuse the campers thinking they had just talked to one of them only to find out it was the other.   


This the small cactus rock garden by our trailer.  We had fun making
rock cairns in it.  The cactus do not really like the soil by the lake so they do not grow too fast.  Al started watering them when we arrived so they are doing a lot better and a few might even have a blossom this summer...but not while we are here to see them.

A picture of Al and Mark working.  Notice how they would even dress they did not plan just happened.  Al called them my other "my other brother Darryl"  Mark would say they are the Roper Lake Mint Twins....remember the Doublemint gum add.....

There is a huge salt cedar tree/bush beside the trailer and behind us.  Right now they are blooming, a pretty purple flower that attracts lots of birds coming to eat the insects in the blossoms. 
 waiting line

All day long you hear the Yellow Headed Blackbirds, there are hundreds here.

The Hooded Orioles arrived about a week ago.  There are several at our campsite in the trees just chasing each other around.  The hummingbirds are moving back north now too.  We had at least 3 all winter but now we have lots more and more than one species.  So with the Orioles and Hummers flying around chasing each other, it keeps you busy trying to watch them.  Then the Gambel's Quail come marching through with their odd little dignified strut....

This is a Rufus Hummingbird....brown tones, we also have the Anna's and Broadtail Hummingbirds, should have lots more coming in the next week...we will find out!

Al and Mark saw this pair of white faced ibis while working the other day.  They stopped for a break before heading North they most likely wintered in Mexico..

Along with the heat it has been windy and gusty here .... and lots of cloudy days in between the sunshine.  The clouds were reflecting the sunset over the lake, so I had to stop making supper and snap a few shots.  Love the sunset colors in Arizona. 
Different night but awesome moon

 We had noticed a large hole dug into the rock along our trailer and were wondering just what it was.  The one day we saw these two little faces looking at us.  The bunnies had been hopping all around, but we have not seen them lately....people have been seeing snakes and some scorpions in the park since the warm weather arrived.  We have not seen any snakes...thank goodness....but have seen some scorpions.  But Al did find a large crab spider on the patio in back.  Yuck!!!!
So cute...the bunnies...not the spider

  I still find it hard to believe that the desert can be so beautiful and how animals and birds survive here.  Last week we went on some drives, out in the desert to find wildflowers, and we found them..

When we leave here we plan to spend a few days in the Benson area before heading North.  We want to go to the Saguaro National Monument, there should be some good cactus blooms happening there!  The above was one of the few in bloom here now.   If we have time, I still want to see the Hummingbird banding event either at Sierra Vista or Patagonia State Park too.  Time will tell...last year they were not catching very many at the time we were here.

So till next time.....we are on the countdown for our travel North! 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

February 2017
February has been a busy month.  My brother and sister in law were here for a week and our friends from Custer were here the next week.  We spent lots of time exploring.
Had to check out the old jail in Clifton....

Tried to leave Doug there......but

Ginny and Bill, our friends from Custer, spent a month exploring our route here in Arizona from last years Huffy Trails, plus they added a few spots we have never been too.  While they were here we went up to Tonto National Monument up by Superior, AZ.   There are several cliff dwellings up in this area, with one being open to the public. 

We had a beautiful day for exploring! 

On our way home we stopped in Globe, AZ to check out Besh Ba Gowah which is another type of settlement the early inhabitants lived in.  We all found it interesting that these early inhabitants were so good at building their dwellings and cities.  Not like todays builders whose buildings will not last hundreds of years.  These dwellings have been here a long time!

The locals have been telling us that with all this rain we have had this winter the spring flower show should be awesome.  Well it is starting!  Right now it is mostly the Desert Poppy blooming in all shades of yellow to orange.  But they are not the only ones the couple weeks off we have been out traveling looking for spring blossoms.  That is in between laundry and grocery shopping.. 

I like the rock, see the face???Quit groaning!
Oh one of the things we have never seen or helped with before is the removal of cattails from the lake! 
The lady in charge of maintenance drives the machine into the cattails.  The cutting bars go down about 2 feet below the water and cut the cattail off.  The mud hens were going nuts eating the broken pieces.  They had no fear of the machine and all the activity! 

Next the cut cattails are pushed over to the shore.
 At the shoreline the guys grab the cattails with a backhoe and put them into the back of a truck and they haul them away.

Looks like a full load...of cattails...ahem....
The weather was a bit cooler and rainy for this area.  The lake here is very full!  Some of our winter waterfowl birds are already heading north, but more are arriving from their winter homes further south of us as they start heading north again too.  Well back to work tomorrow.  We work Friday through Monday.  Weekend crew.  The park has pretty much been full every night this month.  Time has been flying fast.  We have been here 3 months now and pretty soon some of our coworkers will be leaving and new ones arriving.  We are here until April 18th, understand Easter is crazy here!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Bonita....Wilcox....Duncan.... and Coolidge Dam....
In the last two weeks we went on a few drives in the area.  The weather has been hit and miss, it has been cooler than normal and we are getting a bit of rain, a bit as to measures in the Midwest but for this area when you get 7/10 of an inch on any day it is a lot of rain.  It seems it has rained about every 2 or 3 days.  The lake here is way up and the mountains had snow down to about 4,000 feet which makes for some good pictures.

One day we drove around the west side of Mt Graham starting at the long lost town of Bonita.
This was the only store we found...

Some interesting rock formations along the drive
The town of Wilcox has an annual celebration called Wings over Wilcox.  They celebrate the fact that sandhill cranes winter in the area.  So we drove down to Wilcox for a day.  We had a good barbeque dinner in a cafĂ© located in an old railroad passenger car.  Then we drove around Wilcox and Duncan looking for sandhill cranes.  We found a few groups of them along the way.

Last Wednesday we were looking at the incoming weather  and decided we had to go for another drive before the rains came.  So we looked at the map and decided to check out the Coolidge Dam just south of San Carlos.  The roads to this dam are not used much anymore but at one time they had to be the main route.  The dam was built in 1928 by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and it was dedicated by President Coolidge.  The attention to detail was first rate and the unusual round domes over the turbines were also unique. 

There were two eagles made of concrete, in great detail on one side of the dam.

Note the round concrete domes over the turbines

The detail in the concrete was very unusual as were the light fixtures that no longer are functioning.  This at one time was something to see.  It still is but again, the roads to the dam are not really used anymore.
Because of the weather we had to stop our exploring as those old dirt roads get a bit muddy and we are both too old to push the truck out of the mud...But heavy clouds do create great sunsets....

On one of our walks around the lake here, we came across the game and fish dept as they were stocking the lake  with trout.   As we watched the egrets and blue herons started showing up.  They know when a meal is being served!   Poor fish did not even get a chance.....

Our view of My Graham covered in snow this week.  Not sure but the forecast sounds like there may be about 3 feet of fresh snow at the top.  Mt. Graham is about 10,000 feet.  The park is around 2700'.
 Until next time, be good..........

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!
Here's to 2016...and a wish that 2017 be a good year to all!

It has been a cool and wet week down here.  Last night it rained all night.  There is water standing everywhere, but they tell me that means we will have a great spring flower season!!! 

Two more couples arrived this week.  Both have been here before but had taken a year or two off.  The last couple of days Al and I have been working with one couple reacquainting them with things.  The park is full for New Years, maybe one or two spots left.  Last night we were booked! 

On Thursday some friends we worked with in 2015 at Custer State Park showed up for a visit.  They are from Illinois and will be spending a Month and a half retracing some of our steps exploring Arizona last year at this time.  It was fun to see Bill and Ginny again, and we can't wait to hear their experiences and impressions.  They were surprised to see how pretty this park is with the lake and waterfowl. 

This week we went exploring by taking a drive up to the Salt River Canyon.  This area is just north of Globe.  The canyon was very pretty.  Wonderful colors in the rock.  The drive leads you up into the mountains and would eventually take you to Show Low, AZ through the national forest.  But we were running out of time, always the case, one of these days we will head back that way.  There is more to see in Globe too, so we will definitely be back.  Here are some pictures of the canyon and Salt River.

 It was a semi cloudy day...but we will definitely be back up there.  There are ancient indian cliff dwellings and villages to go back to see.

Again, Happy New Year to everyone!

The Huff's