Thursday, October 22, 2015

Arizona Trip - Meteor Crater and Petrified Forest National Park

On the way to Sedona Arizona we passed a few things we thought would be interesting. On the way back we broke up the trip with a night in Holbrook so we could visit the Meteor Crater and Petrified Forest. They were kind of side trips off the highway and definitely deserved a day on their own! First stop was the Meteor Crater. This is the "world's best preserved meteor crater in the world" and they did a nice job with a narrated walk to the rim. An asteroid traveling at 26,000 mph hit earth here about 50,000 years ago. The hole is a mile across and about 2 and a half miles in circumference and over 550 feet deep! It is a huge hole! At the bottom there is a mine shaft and a bunch of stuff too small to see. We heard about a lot of the history of how they figured out what made the hole and all about different people who staked claims and made a hypothesis about the hole's origin. Very interesting. The interpretive center is nicely done with a movie and great displays.
Next up was the Petrified Forest National Park and Painted Desert. We went at sunset and then again in the morning when we had more time. The light was much nicer in the morning. The park has all kinds of "painted" hills and neat geology that are part of the Chinle Formation dating back about 200 million years ago. The trees are conifers, about 12 species, and are trunks only. The area was a large river basin and the trees were carried a long ways before settling in what is now the park. They look pretty weird because all the pieces look like they have been sawed into chunks. The silica/quartz mineralization fractures cleanly, which is why all the chunks look like they were cut and placed here. The longest single tree in the park is 141 feet. The colors of both the desert and the wood were amazing!

The Southwest is full of interesting and beautiful landscapes to explore. There are badlands and hoodoos and arroyos...vast open landscapes...big skies in all directions!

Sedona Arizona

We have some great friends! Mike and Sandy have a condo in Sedona and they invited us to stay for a week. We have a lot in common - we are all from Seattle, Mike did all the art fairs I did (he stopped about when I started), Mike and Jeff are both engineers and both he and Sandy are Master Gardeners (like me). Mike also is a photographer. We drove down on Tuesday passing what looked like a bunch of neat stuff. It took about 6 hours and when we arrived we went out to eat. It was really nice knowing where we were going to stay and Mike and Sandy knew all the places to see, hike, and eat.

The first day was kind of cloudy so we spent it walking around town going in and out of art galleries. The second day Jeff and I headed out for a hike ourselves. We all rounded up for a second hike to Devil's Bridge which was pretty neat. The entire landscape in Sedona is just gorgeous! There are many trails within a few miles of the condo. We headed out for dinner afterwords.

The next day we all went on a hike along a river. Jeff and I continued on for almost 10 miles. I had a slight mishap slipping on some rocks. My elbow immediately grew a large horn that was scary. Even now it is tender and all bruised more than a week later! I survived though and the camera wasn't damaged! At the end of this hike there were all kind of neat reflections in the river that I tried to photograph with limited success! We spent that night in the hot tub relaxing and later watched a movie. Very pleasant!

On Saturday we all headed out on the road trip home. The plan was to visit the big meteor crater, book into a room in Holbrook, continue at sunset to the Petrified Forest then back to the room for the night. I'll post Saturday's excursion separately. This trip was 6 days away from the kitties, the house and routines. It was a nice thing to do with great friends that are easy to be around. Arizona is a really neat place. We enjoyed Tucson last year and Sedona did not disappoint. Both places are a long drive away but totally different landscapes. There is a lot to do here in the South West!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Animals in the Yard

It is really nice to have a variety of birds and other wildlife around. From every window I can see the bird feeders and bird baths and for being a pretty barren landscape there is a surprising amount of life. Puerto Rico surprised us with its LACK of living things and NM surprisingly has a lot of life. I don't know what I expected from the desert but it wasn't this. But actually we are in "high" desert which is different. In 30 minutes we can be in mountains with huge trees and running water.

The courtyard was originally going to be enclosed with gates and wire mesh along the bottom of the sculpture so rabbits wouldn't eat everything. I had the wall builder turn one of the cinder blocks so the holes made a doorway into a "rabbit room" where rabbits could freely come and go and munch freely where we could see them. Every one uses the rabbit room doorway - birds, rabbits, chipmunks, snakes. They can freely get in any where but that doorway is grand central station! Different times of day and different times of year bring different things. This time of year the hummingbirds are starting to leave. We used to see 12 at any time at the feeders chirping and fighting and now maybe 2. I had no idea there were so many different kinds...different beak shapes and lengths and sounds. We are also hearing all the coyotes now at night and are finding poop and tracks so we know they are around. All the scaled quail have grown up and the other day I saw 3 separate "armies" of scaled quail marking across the property to the doorway. 35 of them! The horses are still around - at least one herd. It is magical when they come around.

These are the "bubbles" of scaled quail when they were little. Now they are all quite large and they all still come around walking on top of the wall single file!

We haven't seen many snakes despite everyone being freaked out about rattlesnakes around here. Pretty sure this was a bull snake. He has a den under one of the junipers and sometimes comes out and goes under the rock that is part of the wall.

Here the quail are bigger and escaping the 90 degree sun by hanging out in the rabbit room doorway!

How cute is this? a chipmunk eating a grape!

Winter and Smokey eyeing the chocolate mint. Sultana expecting treats and Ghost just giving me his smile.

How many people get to open their door and find baby horses zonked out in their yard? Winter was resting in the snakeweed and Smokey was just out of it. Watching and caring for the animals is my favorite past time. This year there are loads of juniper berries which will bring in more birds. The pond will be a good water source and we will continue to put out feed for every one...