Sunday, February 11, 2018

ANOTHER BUSY, FUN WEEK

Yes, another busy week for us.  I led a group of twenty one ATVs on Monday which went well.  Nobody got lost and no mishaps.  On Tuesday, Aileen and I took friends Mitch and Carol to Tucson for lunch at the Gourmet Girls Restaurant.  The restaurant is completely gluten free so celiacs don't have to ask any questions about the food or prep.
On Wednesday we went with our Colorado friends to another performance at Barleen's Arizona Opry.  This was a country music show and it was as good as the variety show we saw a couple weeks ago.  Our friend Marie has been in and out of hospital the past week and has now been diagnosed with type A flu.  Another Colorado couple came down and we got to visit a short while with them.  They were to come back today but she took ill so they are on their way back to Colorado instead.
On Friday I led a small group, just four other ATVs, over the mountains to Superior.  It was only about 34 miles there and we did over half of it in the first hour.  However, it is quite rough and the last half took us another 3 1/2 hours.  After lunch in a restaurant, we came home a different route that took 3 1/2 hours so it was a pretty long day.  I was already tired as the night before, Marie was taken to hospital by ambulance and later I drove Ken over to check on her.  It was nearly 1 am when we got home so after 1 when I got to bed then I was up by 6:30 to get ready to go to Superior.   No trouble getting to sleep that night!
Only five or six weeks before we start making our way north to the border!  Time is whizzing by.

The cast at Barleen's put on a rousing, high energy show

From the high spot looking down on the Ajax Mine and out on to the flat land near Florence while on our way over the mountains to Superior

And now looking toward Superior

Superior way off in the top left

On the way to Superior

Superior is getting closer







Almost there

Cooper's Hawk out behind Caliente when Mitzy and I were on our before breakfast walk

Aren't we pretty?

An Ocotillo bloom on a barren stem.  No green showing on the Ocotillo yet because of the extended drought but the odd one is blooming anyway.

Some of the trails radiating out from Box Canyon Wash

Twenty one machines seeking shade for lunch



Looking up to the bottom of Box Canyon

Sunday, February 4, 2018

A SUCKER FOR PUNISHMENT

Yes, I was a sucker for punishment this week.  I did four major rides, three as leader.  Covered a lot of ground doing so.  In addition, I took the car out into the desert the night before the full moon and spent several hours working that.  I went out midafternoon and looked for the best location.  I took some scenic images then it clouded over for a while.  I sat and read and hoped the sky would clear and it mostly did.  It was still daylight when the moon suddenly popped over the mountains so I had to get busy.  I had all three of my cameras in action.  Good thing for having backup as my SX50 which is better for distant objects is having difficulty focusing at times and after two shots, decided to take rest.  Out with the Canon 5D with a 100-400 lens with a 2X doubler on to give me 800mm.  I stayed out past 7 pm so I was able to use my 6D and 24-105 lens to capture the railway tracks in the moonlight.  I also use the 6D for the scenics.  Of course after five photo sessions in one week, that entailed quite a bit of computer time getting them edited and sorted.  Whenever I go our with a group, I send my edited images out to them.
We also played cards and had potluck suppers with out Colorado friends twice this past week.  Aileen's knee is getting a bit better but it is sure taking its time.  That's three of the ladies in my extended family that are down now.  One had surgery and another severely broke her ankle a few days ago.

North and South Buttes framing Grayback Mtn from where I set up for the moon shots.


This is South Butte taken a few days later from further south

And suddenly the moon popped up

These top two were with the 100-400 on the 5D

These next two were done with the SX50



So then I stumbled around among the prickly cactus and other desert nasty plants, trying to place the moon in different scenes.  It is amazing how fast the moon actually moves in a short time.  I would get the tripod positioned and before I could squeeze the shutter, I would have to move it a tiny bit again.




Moonlight on the rails. Taken at 7:17 pm 28mm, f8, 1.6 sec, ISO 12,800 for those who might be interested in exposure details 

Mitzy and I spied this American Kestrel on a morning walk 

On Thursday, I went with a large group, twenty machines, to Montana Mtn.  When going with another group, photography is very challenging because they tend to move faster to cover more ground and they don't necessarily stop at a good photo op.  Luckily, Rick made this a rest stop.

Being suitably frustrated over the day, Richard who was riding with me and I went back in the afternoon to pick up a few that we had missed in the beginning.  These two images show a bit more of the great scenery.  We plan to go back on our own one morning to more thoroughly explore the first five or six miles.


After climbing up out of the valley, we were rewarded with this view.  Greater Phoenix is down on the flat land to the right out of the photo.

Another break at the highest viewpoint

After driving along the top of the mountain for a few miles, there are a large number of switchbacks to drop you about 3,000 feet in a hurry.  That's Rick and June, our leaders passing below me.

An old stone cabin that may have been a line shack in the old days with a brand new windmill

Spotted this hawk having breakfast on our Friday ride

Had a couple new to ATVing with their new RZR1000 out on Saturday and they got to see some bighorn sheep below Box Canyon


Along the Martinez Mine Road


There were just three of us on Saturday which was nice

Up at the end of what we call Top of the World.  There is a brush fire down south that's causing the smoke.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

ANOTHER BUSY WEEK HAS SPED PAST

Yes, no boredom around here for me.  I led three rides again this past week after three the week before.  It gives me lots of photo opportunities which in turn leads to a lot of computer time to get them edited and organized.   On Wednesday, we along with four friends, went to Barleen's Arizona Opry in Apache Junction to a midday musical variety performance.  On February 7th we will return for a country jamboree show. 
We got together with the four friends several times for games and meals as well.  Aileen's knee is still improving, but very slowly.

I led a group on the south side of the Gila River the other day.  This is South Butte.

Moving a bit more to the south gives us this view of Grayback Mtn


I liked the colour on this prickly pear cactus even though it may be a sign of impending ill health 

We call this the waterfall even though there is water flowing only during the monsoon season

A male Gambel's Quail

An American Kestrel hanging on in today's wind

And just down the road this Red-tailed Hawk was hanging on in the gusts in a tree

A resting hummingbird on one of our afternoon walks

A male House Finch on our morning walk

Mitzy and I walk past this fan palm on our way out to the desert

Ranching Arizona style

Lunch on the trail

Looking down on our lunch spot

We call that pillar in behind The Thumb, so here we are giving it a thumbs up

Top of the World trail

The ridge north of Box Canyon along the Martinez Mine Rd

Desert dwelling cow

Hummingbird resting

At this time of year, there are a lot of sheep grazing the fields between Coolidge and Casa Grande

White-crowned Sparrow

A nice grouping of Saguaro Cactus

More cactus in Cottonwood Wash

From our riding area looking across to Superstition Mtn in the center.  To the left of it is Gold Canyon and Apache Junction.  From there to the left is greater Phoenix for about the next 50-60 miles.

A dead end trail a couple of us explored the other day.  You might be able to spot our RZRs.  Greater Phoenix is on the distant horizon. 

Male Gilded Flicker