Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Desert Is Getting Greener

It's time to go hiking! There are lots of trails near the Superstition Mountains in Apache Junction. The moonlight hike we went on earlier started inside Lost Dutchman State Park and required a $7 entrance fee. But if you go just past the park, and turn on First Water Road, there are lots of free beautiful trailheads.

This hike started about a half mile up the road at Crosscut Trailhead. Lots of beautiful cactus, and even a few flowers.

On the way back, you get a view of Four Peaks Mountain in the distance.

Just west of Apache Junction is an interesting sign on the Usury Mountains. There's quite a story behind it. Back in the 1950s, a pilot named Charlie Merritt was looking for a project for his Boy Scout troup. He decided that transient pilots needed a navigational aid to find Phoenix, then located far to the West.

I found this old cartoon from 1956 that tells the whole story.

On Wednesday, Phil and I went back to Superstition Skies to see our favorite band, Brant and Kerry, who play there from 5-8. We met up with Sandie and Jim of "Where Are the Dixons Today?" They are a really fun couple and we're planning to meet up again next Wednesday. Anybody want to join us?

I couldn't resist putting in another clip of B&K.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Love Is in the Air

These two Mourning Doves have been doing a lot of necking right next to my rig.

They are determined to build a nest on top of Phil's car under his kayak.

Seems like the perfect spot. Each day they start from scratch, the previous days work having blown away. I tried to tell them that this is NOT the perfect spot, but they just wouldn't listen.

Uh-oh! They need to find a permanent home really soon!

Two days before the big full moon, there was a moonlight hike in Lost Dutchman State Park. I got there early enought to get a shot of the Superstition Mountains as the sun was setting.

This was apparently going to be a very popular hike, as more and more people showed up.

In the end, there were 235 participants! The line stretched out for a good quarter mile.

The leader stopped periodically to speak, and fortunately had a microphone.

There it is - the Supermoon - the biggest moon in 18 years!

Friday, March 18, 2011

More Fun in AJ

I've been here in Apache Junction for some time now, but there is lots to do and I'm far from being bored yet. On Wednesday, my sister, Roaming Barbara, and "Brother-in-Law" Ron invited friends still in the area to Happy Hour at their house.

Barbara got out the bags and the picker and strongly encourage everyone to take grapefruit, oranges, and lemons. She been working very hard to get rid of this year's banner crop.

We're still doing a fair amount of dancing, and recently discovered Superstition Skies in AJ. My favorite entertainers there are Brant and Kerry, who perform every Wednesday from 5-8.

They are terrific singers, and 2 of the best guitarists I've ever seen. Here's a short clip of the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun."

It certainly beats Filly's where everyone sits in the hot sun, that is if you can even find a seat.

The only good thing about Filly's is all the cowboys that arrive on horseback.

I saw a few poppies blooming in the area so we went out to an area where I had seen lots of them 3 years ago.

Unfortunately, it is not a good year for wildflowers and I saw not a one, so I dug out a picture from 3 years ago. (Is that cheating?)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lost Dutchman Days

The Lost Dutchman Days are an annual celebration in Apache Junction, AZ. They actually happened 2 weeks ago, but with the contest and all, I'm just getting around to reporting on it.

There were lots of vendors and more than 30 carnival rides and 3 days of rodeos - all beneath the beautiful Superstition Mountains. WINs may recognize fellow member Ruthie's booth on the left.

I enjoyed the vendors, but the the best things for me were the animals from the BLM Wild Horse & Burro Adoption Program.

They were just beautiful! This pinto horse had the most gorgeous blue eyes.

Looks like I found a friend!

I always have to take eyelash pictures and this burro was very cooperative.

There was a petting zoo, where most of the animals were for sale. Wait a minute! They're selling their kids?!?

Oh, maybe they mean those kids, the baby goats.

Looks like the only guy not for sale was the turkey. Hmmmm.... Maybe they're saving him for Thanksgiving??

Back home, I walked around the neighborhood trying to get pictures of nests in saguaro cacti. But every time I got close, they would fly away. This Mourning Dove stayed just long enough for me to snap a shot. The Mourning Doves require some pretty big holes in the cactus.

I'm just amazed at the wonderful sunsets here, almost every night.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Look What I Got - Finally!

I have been looking forward to, and talking about, this day for almost 20 years! At the earliest moment I could, I hurried over to the local Forest Ranger station, and forked over the best $10 I ever spent.

And I got a little plastic card in return. What is it? Let's zoom in and enhance it like they do on TV...

(Well, maybe they do it better...) But here it is - my very own Senior Pass!!!!! I can now go to any National Park, National Monument, or any other National Area for FREE! I can also get half price camping in most of those areas with campgrounds.

After all that excitement, Max led us on a back country trip through Bulldog Canyon north of Mesa. It's an Off Highway Vehicle area and requires a permit, which I got for FREE!!!

The scenery was great.

We looked a little lost with the kayaks on top of the cars - no water around here.

While we were stopped, Judy saw this butterfly or moth, and we were all running around trying to get a picture. I should have taken a movie of that instead! There aren't very many flowers out yet, in spite of the rain we've had, but this little fellow managed to find one.

They try to keep you on the road, but there were a few places where you could be a daredevil if you were so inclined.

I loved the outfit on this spectator. Not the kind of thing I'd ever think of wearing to go 4-wheeling! (Looks like the car has seen better days...)

Ooooh! A cowboy! Or maybe a wanna be.

And another one!

This looked like a tourist ride - 2 mules pulling a "surrey with no fringe on top." All in all, a great day! Thanks, Max.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

And the Winners Are!

What a great response I had to the contest! I received a total of 60 entries for the random drawing, and 10 entries for the "Guess Where This Is" contest. Before I get to the winners, here are the answers to the "Guess Where This Is" contest. As you may recall, all are in one of the 46 National Parks in the Lower 48 States. You had to name both the National Park (1 point) and the feature in the photo (1 point.)

Number 1
Anacapa Island or Inspiration Point in Channel Islands National Park, off the coast of California. A beautiful place, especially at the end of April, when the whole island is covered with flowers.

Number 2
Horseshoe Canyon or the Great Gallery in Canyonlands National Park in Utah. It's a difficult hike because you must climb out of the canyon in the heat of the day at the end of a 7 1/2 mile trek.

Number 3
Fort Jefferson or Garden Key Light in Dry Tortugas National Park, 70 miles west of Key West, Florida. You can take a ferry there, but I took a seaplane. The fort is the largest brick structure in the western hemisphere, and has a fascinating history.

Number 4
Druid Arch, also in Canyonlands National Park. A 10-mile round trip hike, I have been there twice, but the last time was in 2000.

Number 5
Bumpass Hell, in Lassen Volcanic National Park, in Northern California. A very pretty, not-too-long hike.

And now, the winners!

Two entries had a perfect score of 10!

The first was my sister Barbara, not surprising since she accompanied me on most of the trips. But we didn't think it was fair that she win, so I gave her my copy.

The other perfect entry was Marius A., who had not been to any of the parks, but did a lot of research. Congratulations!

One entrant had a score of 9, and is the second winner - ZoAnn L., aka O. B. Sirius.

There were 4 entries with a score of 8, but the earliest entry, and the third winner, is Cyndi H. of Wanderlust.

Now, for the random drawing that determines the final 2 winners -

The first slip drawn was Rsalcedo of Tucson.

Number 2 was John C. of Trikepilot.

If the five winners will email me your full name, and the address you want your prize mailed to, I will mail them off on Monday. (dianatolerico at Congratulations to all the winners and thanks to everyone for participating. I had a great time doing it!

If you didn't win, there are still several other bloggers with contests going. The ones I know of are:
Al & Kelly of The Bayfield Bunch
Sam & Donna of 5th Wheel Vagabonds
If you also have a contest going, leave a comment and I will add a link to your blog.