Friday, March 17, 2017

LAST VISIT TO OUR PART OF THE DESERT FOR THIS TIME

The motor home is stuffed and the car is loaded including my bike hanging on the back.  Friends have been stopping by to bid us safe travels.  Supper is at and with friends then an early start is hoped for in the morning.   Its not that we have far to go, it is that I have a meeting at 10 am and need to be set up first.  As is usual, we wonder how this day has arrived so soon.

Some of the hillsides are covered in Brittlebush

Looking to the mouth of Box Canyon

More Brittlebush along with cholla, saguaro and palo verde

Ocotillo blooms

Exserted Indian Paintbrush

Desert Tortoise



American Kestrel

Long-tailed Brush Lizard shot from the driver's seat over the hood of the RZR

Hawk sitting on her nest

Sunday, March 12, 2017

ALMOST DONE HERE FOR ANOTHER WINTER

Yes, we are again down to just five days left in Caliente.  We are moving down to Tucson on Saturday morning to attend the Escapees Escapade RV Rally.  We will likely stay until the 24th when the rally ends then begin our trek north to the border.  My current projection has us taking eight days to get across the border but of course that could change depending on weather and projected weather events.
From being a cool damp winter, it has changed dramatically in the past few days and the forecast shows temperatures in the 90s F for the next while.  It is a good thing we selected a site with electricity in Tucson so Aileen can have the air conditioner on.
We have no idea what to expect at the rally since this is our first time attending.  My understanding is there will be lots of informative workshops one can attend.  I volunteered to represent our Vancouver Island Chapter with a display so we'll see how that goes.

The Ocotillo are finally blooming

Ocotillo grow on these long spindly whips.  They change rapidly depending on rainfall.  They will leaf out soon after rains.  If it turns dry, they will shed their leaves and go back dormant until more rain.  This can happen several times over the course of the year.

A group of my neighbours joined me on a ride to what we call Top of the World on Friday.  I remembered to take my tripod along so we could get a group photo.  All but one of these couples live on our block and the others are friends of one.

The poppies are giving us a good show this year

Poppies and Wild Heliotrope

This is a Swainson's Hawk, one of nine hawks we saw on Friday.  The rest were Red-tails

Another poppy covered hillside

Zooming in

We watched this Red-tail Hawk having his lunch of some little furry creature.  Possibly a rabbit or a rock squirrel.


A hillside covered with Wild Heliotrope

A female Gilded Flicker out behind the park spotted while walking with Mitzy yesterday morning

We visited with our friends Dave and Sandi last evening.  Their old Basset Maggie, and Aileen have a special bond.

Sadly, Maggie has cancer and has been given only a short time so this would be our last visit with her.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

MORE BEAUTY IN THE DESERT

I went out in the RZR by myself yesterday afternoon.  It was fun to be able to poke along at my own pace.

I drove up a side trail I hadn't been on for years and was rewarded with these poppies

Lots of poppies on this hillside

South Butte from a vantage point I had never been to 

Poppies, daisies and lupines

Desert Globe Mallow in the sun

Desert Globe Mallow in the shaded overcast

I haven't identified this one yet

Twist Flower

Wild Hyacinth also called Blue Dicks

I haven't identified this one yet

Desert Globe Mallow

Desert Lupine

Another globe mallow

This is looking at the bottom of Box Canyon

Thursday, March 2, 2017

ALL OUR RAIN IS STARTING TO PAY DIVIDENDS

Boy, time is marching on, we are down to just over two weeks left here in Florence.  Two weeks today is the last day I can ride.  The 17th is put everything away day then first thing on Saturday March 18th we head for Tucson for a week attending the Escapees Club RV Rally.  From there we will begin to make our way back north to BC.  
This has been a very wet winter and the desert is getting incredibly green.  I think the first year I rode an ATV there was some water in Box Canyon.  This year it started running through the canyon in mid January and it hasn't quit yet.  In all the years in between, the canyon has remained dry.  With it staying cool, the flowers are running late this year but I expect that after we are gone, there will be a bumper crop of bloom.
We actually surpassed 80F today and it sounds like we will be getting some fairly warm weather for the next while.  There was frost on the roofs when Mitzy and I were walking before breakfast this morning.

A hillside of poppies

Saguaro Cactus

The poppies are getting nice


Wild Heliotrope


Our friends joined Aileen and I on an afternoon ride last Friday and we had our supper out in the desert

Richard and Judy, myself and Aileen

I stopped for this image on our way home just after the sun had set

While the rest of the ATV community stayed home on Tuesday because it was raining to start, three of us went anyways.  It threatened a few times but other than one intense ten minute shower of rain and hail, we had a darn nice day.  There was no dust and no traffic

These next three images show how great our weather was.  This is looking southeast.

From nearly the same spot, this is looking north west with Superstition Mtn on the east side of Phoenix lurking under the clouds

As we approached the bottom of Box Canyon, the colour was beautiful

This is an Antelope Jackrabbit

Their ears can be seven inches long

Desert Chicory

I have been trying all winter to capture a picture of one of these male Gambel's Quail and yesterday while Mitzy and I were on our regular morning walk out in the desert behind the park, we found this guy posing just for us.

Here he is vocalizing 

Aileen wanted to walk up Poston Butte yesterday morning so I went with her and captured this Desert Evening Primrose 

One of my neighbours has lived here for years and never been to Box Canyon.  He asked me awhile ago if I would take him so today we did it.  He lucked out as we saw a large group of Desert Bighorn Sheep.

This is the first set of twins that I have seen