Ignore All Warnings

Ignore all the warning signs. Ignore the suggestions. Don’t read any signs. Go about your day oblivious to your surroundings only concerned with your own personal immediate happiness.IMG_0694

I’m starting to not care anymore. I’m starting to hope you suffer the consequences.

No, not a healthy mindset is it? But it’s true. For every eye roll I have received, for every “oh I know”, for every mock laugh I have heard when giving out honest words of encouragement and safety, I now hold a special place in my evil little heart.

I wear boots while working in a barn for a reason. We post signs about rattlesnakes for a reason. IMG_0322We suggest you stay on the trails for a reason. We tell you to drink water for a reason.

But you insist upon shuffling your way through the desert with tiny flip flops, open toed sandals, even high heels.IMG_0549 You proudly tell me your plans to hike at one in the afternoon to a destination you haven’t even arrived at and it’s already 90 degrees. You carry a bottle of Diet Coke and tell me you know all about staying hydrated.

You have no idea there is not a gas station for miles if you continue on the road you are on or that reckless driving on that same road helped three cars go off the cliff last weekend. So yeah, go ahead and check  Google maps on your phone.

Continue being dismissive to friendly locals who just might know a thing or two. The ones that suggested closer, shorter trails. Only partially listen to the those who have the desert ability to rescue you when you get lost.IMG_2092

Don’t take a second out of your oh so busy and important life to hear that if you take two more steps forward you will get impaled by the cactus you aren’t paying any attention to.IMG_1739.JPG

Don’t smile or be considerate as you travel. Don’t say thank you or please. Openly make fun of the things and people around you. Oh, and be sure to throw your plastic tooth pick right on the ground. No need to locate a trash can…IMG_6425.JPG

I love the desert I live in.

I will continue to protect it and offer words of wisdom from an honest and pure heart only looking to keep you safe.

…roll your eyes…you’re on your own…

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Intro to Wildlife Photography: Second Semester

If this were an actual class and the teacher asked me what have I learned so far I would have to say ” Oh honey grab you a drink and sit down…this is going to take a while…”img_7172-2

I live in Gold Canyon Arizona. It is at the base of the Superstition Mountain. Though there are golf courses and mansions all around there is still  plenty of natural desert for all the native critters to roam. Our house sits on top and over looks 2.5 acres of desert. Home to coyote, javelina, jackrabbits the size of a dog, snakes, birds, and the list goes on and on.

The amount of nature plus stunning beauty out here is almost overwhelming to me. I want to photograph everything I see but it is not that easy when you are talking about wild animals and I work with an iPad. Instead of making the excuse of needing high-powered equipment, I push to see what I can do with what I have. ( read Intro to Wildlife Photography if you are confused)

The local coyotes I have recorded and posted numerous times. I wish someone would pay me to study them and the howls they make. They are beyond ridiculous. They yip and howl and party all night. Then, they do that gangsta style trot on the way home in the morning. I love them. But me taking a good picture of one is not going to happen unless it’s blind luck. Oh I see them in the day time quite often but has never been close enough or me quick enough. Honestly sometimes I’m still just in awe watching them roam that I don’t want to miss the random glimpse to run off and grab a camera. The most coyote I have seen in our back acreage at a time was six making their way over to a seventh that had been howling earlier. This was in the mid-morning and sunny out.Construction is happening over on the golf course and I think the coyotes were having a meeting about it.img_0250

The Javelinas deserved and got their own article posted “…wasting the day away in Javelinaville” They are a handful and I have no plans on getting closer for your entertainment.img_8474

Which leads me to having a huge tarantula on the front door. Another experience that prompted a full post ” Shut the Front Door!” img_1404

I no longer hope to take a simple good picture. Oh no! Nature out here says ” You wanna come play? Let’s do this.”img_6714

The awareness of what is actually living in some of these holes has changed my flopping onto the ground with abandon. img_1429

I have been circled by a bird large enough to do me some damage. Seven vultures one day made me question my dog Tucker’s safety. Again another post.img_3954-2

Zooming in requires me to now forget my surroundings. Ask the bunnies or the quail, pay attention to your surroundings.img_7274-2

I have learned about old wives tales and birds in your house. One in the house is supposed to fore shadow death! img_6503

Not too sure what it means if it happens regularly except close the doors. Of course I wrote about that ” An Old Wives Tale”img_6592I have learned patience.

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Wild animals have their own rhythm. They do what they do.img_6797

If I’m lucky I see it. img_4733

So for this semester I give me a B.

 

 

perspective

Apparently, it’s possible to piss off a hummingbird. I’m guessing little bird complex.

There are two hummingbirds I see regularly. One has red on its chest or throat. The other is more of a green. Their feathers are iridescent. Really, they are pretty birds, but as you all know I use an iPad mini so I have no shot at getting a good close up. I don’t even try.IMG_7680.JPG

I have been waiting for our bird of paradise bush to bloom in hopes of a good picture. It’s right by the living room window so I keep a pretty close eye on it. This time of year here in the desert random plants are blooming because the weather change has been so drastic.

Yesterday morning the bush seemed to be covered in new orange blooms. The little tube like flowers wilt easily and have a very short shelf life. Something hummingbirds are aware of also. As with everything in life, it’s all about timing.  I needed to get out there quickly.img_7695

I’m frozen and wearing my oversized white fluffy robe so I need to change before I go out. With an expected high only in the 70’s, the morning was cold for a desert kid like me but I’m pretty sure I don’t need to hover over this poor plant looking like the abominal snow man so I go and change.

The red hummingbird has beaten me to the bush. I hear the hum as I step closer.

As expected, due to this weather snap, it’s slim pickin’s already for me to find blooms that haven’t started showing signs of stress. Red however is having absolutely no problem locating happy orange tubes to insert it’s face into.

Not that long ago after the last good rain, our purple flowers bloomed and were immediately covered in desperate bees stocking up. I was able to stick my arms into these bushes holding an iPad without one sting.IMG_4864.JPG It was busy and bustling but as long as everyone stayed out of each other’s way lots of work was getting done. I took some amazing pictures that day.img_4877

Apparently, hummingbirds aren’t as cooperative. I can guarantee you Reds not.

Not concerned in any way for my safety, I lean in to the orange bush to get a closer look only to have a hummingbird whiz past my head then fly up to the tree and land on a branch making noises I took as hummingbird cussing.img_7686

The bush is covered in flowers but, unlike working with the bees, me and Red CANNOT share and I’m being told about it.

My head is now the tower and Red is requesting a fly by. I feel the side of my head vibrate as this miniature jet fighter screams past. Faintly I hear “…gonna take you right in to the danger zone…”

This makes me laugh. I say out loud “you’re serious right now?” and throw up my hands as if I’m saying “bring it little bird.”

No big crazy humming bird fight happens next. Red didn’t tackle me and flop me around with his surprising hummingbird strength. No, just another talking to from the branch above.img_7680

But now I feel guilty. I’m in the way of food and trust me no one wants to be in my way when I’m “starving” so I get it.

For me, minutes of snapping unnecessary pictures is nothing. But to this hardworking, fast moving hummingbird I’m some huge, incredibly slow moving creature who isn’t even eating, just staring at the food, slowing down the buffet line while the food goes bad, until, infuriated, it screams “move bitch get out tha way!”

It’s all perspective.

 

 

 

 

November Monsoon?

Just spent the last two days getting hammered by wind and rain. We had a very monsoon like storm hit us. I say “monsoon like” because it is November. Monsoon season supposedly ends in September.img_7364

Our heat had started to drop back down into the low 90’s and a few 80’s. So that would be one difference, monsoons are usually during our extreme heat. Storms seemingly pop up out of nowhere and beat the heck out of us from June through September when we reach record setting heat almost every year. Think 110 degrees for days and days. I believe it is one of the reasons people start going crazy out here. Too many days in an oven. We can discuss that another time.img_7376

Nov.3 2016 the valley also saw a haboob roll its way on in along with some serious rain. A haboob is a massive wall of dust blowing across the open and mostly flat desert. When a storm comes up from the south it pushes miles and miles of extremely dry sand into the air and blows on towards PHX until it swallows us up, surrounding us in brown. The valley saw it but we did not because we are kind of tucked into the hills and mountains.img_7386

The radar and most of the weather focus for our news is PHX and the millions who live in the cities surrounding it “The Valley of the Sun”. I would say Gold Canyon is on the far right of the screen where they show weather or traffic. They don’t seem to be as concerned with us and Apache Junction.  We have flooded out here and in AJ before the news even mentions a “possible chance of showers”.

I send my videos in to the T.V station regularly with subjects like “It’s flooding in Gold Canyon!” I don’t expect them to use my videos. I am trying to let them know immediately that in the two minutes of rain they failed to warn us of, we now have dangerous flash flooding. PDR (positive desert reporting)

Flash flooding is just that. It happens in a flash. All that rain hitting concrete like baked earth rolls FAST into the washes and gulley’s. It’s not a day of rain, not even hours of it that causes devastation. It can be as little as a couple of minutes of heavy downpour that turn roads into dangerous riversimg_7536

If you are from a place that it rains a lot, this makes no sense to you. I get it. Go dump a bucket of water down your driveway. That’s what our ground does when it gets hit with a lot of water fast. It doesn’t absorb the water; it almost repels it. Still, all of that water needs to flow somewhere.IMG_7515.JPGimg_7523

We see people all the time out here get stuck in their cars. AZ has a stupid motorist law that if you try to drive through one of these washes and need to be rescued you are in trouble…that is if they were able to  save you. IMG_7553.JPG

We also had extreme wind gusts and thunder and lightning the past two days. Very Monsoon like. But again it is Novemeber and the experts will just say it was just a storm.IMG_7429.JPGNov.4 2016

Today is Nov.7 2016. Most of the water has dried. We have a few spots of muddy and the driveway will need to be raked back into place.

 

Bird Watching

Have you ever had one of those moments where you question advice you have given?

It’s been about two weeks now that my husband and I hiked the Peralta Trail so we could see Weaver’s Needle. A few months back I introduced some of you to the Peralta Trail and its history but needed to wait for the deserts high temps to break before I could go hiking and get pictures for you. The story is very cool. Go back and read it if you haven’t. I creatively titled it The Peralta Trail.IMG_7074.JPG

Anyways, the weather lately has been fabulous with highs somewhere in the low 90’s. For us desert folk, that Sunday morning felt “chilly” so we waited and left for our hike “late” at 8 am. Peralta is a good four-hour hike, grand total up and back, unless you are running and I’m not going to recommend that ever.IMG_7142.PNG

Peralta is a real hiking trail for sure. It’s far from flat. You are hiking up into the Superstition Mt. over big rocks and boulders to get the spectacular view of Weavers Needle. This spot has so many claims of gold, mystery and death surrounding it not to mention the Apache Indians, their belief this is the home of their Thunder God, and all 200 of Peralta’s men being massacred trying to leave this general area with gold, the Peralta Trail will forever draw visitors from around the world to come and see the view for themselves.

We call our seasonal visitors “Snow Birds”. They come from where ever it is cold and gloomy and enjoy the fabulous weather we have this time of year.IMG_7112.JPG

About twenty minutes into our hike back down from the top of the Mt. we could hear a group coming up. Men, women, probably a few teens too, not really sure, but a good sized group. I didn’t count. What we did over hear as we approached were disgruntled women who had been told this was an easy two-hour hike. Obviously whatever other plans they had for the day were now ruined thanks to whoever had sent them on this sightseeing excursion.

They all are basically lost at this patch of the trail until they see us and that solves their navigation issue. Excited men and a few frustrated women ask us how much further to the top. We answer honestly “about twenty minutes”. With this news most of the group seems ready to run the rest of the way to the top but a few are debating turning around.

(Now mind you at this point they have driven about 6 miles on a lovely bumpy dirt road to reach the start of this trail, hiked about 2 maybe 2 and a half HOURS up into a cactus covered Mt. to see a view, then will have to turn around and get back down for another 2 plus hours! What hateful friend or relative did this to them I don’t know)

Now this is the part of the story I have replayed over and over again in my mind. Should I have…?

I turn to the women and smile and say “You’ve made it this far…you don’t want to miss the view…”

and we hike past.

I guess the size of the group made me feel less concerned about safety or if they really could make it. No one appeared hurt in any way. Also, I figure if you can complain that loud about not wanting to do this anymore then you probably DO have the strength to hike another twenty minutes to the top.

But I should know better. Encouraging tired hikers can be a bad idea. A wonderfully “warm” day to a desert kid like me is not the same to a relative from the East Coast. Strong accents told us at least some of this group was not from around these parts. It is painfully dry in the desert and honestly very few transplants can come out here and hike for 4 hours without feeling seriously dehydrated.

And as I always say, there are no life guard towers out here! No one is going to come rescue you if you flop over. Know your limits.IMG_7328.PNG

The flip side, had I sounded worried or concerned about them making the last twenty minutes they would have assuredly turned around when really the only challenge they were facing was mental. Plus, that just makes for even worse complaining if you didn’t even reach your goal and turned around in defeat because wandering around the mall or watching T.V. seemed like a much better idea for the day. (Admit it ladies, that’s a guaranteed bitch and moan session ALL the way back down the Mt. and no one needs that. Besides, your butt will thank you for this hike later.)

We don’t hear them after a few more minutes and can see up the side of the Mt. they have decided to go the distance. I’m happy for them. I truly am. I almost feel proud. I knew they could do it. Going back down will feel much easier.

I’m reminded it’s that time of year again, our birds are back. We need to watch them. Keep them safe.

(I am also grateful to not know any of the complaining ladies personally so later when they are beyond sore I will have no part in the blame.)

Tent Camping

Ever wonder what would happen if you couldn’t get the zipper to open on your tent?

Stuck, trapped inside.

What if none of the zippers move?

The air unable to blow through any of those flimsy windows.

Suffocating desert heat making breathing inside your all weather, temporary shelter unbearable…

Did the zippers lock in place?

Did the safety features turn against you? Manufacturer defect?

Or was this done to you on purpose…?

Has someone been watching you…?

Eyes watching you set up this tent.

Eyes filled with hate that you are invading this space.

Eyes watching you leave on that hike so they can creep in and “fix” those nasty zippers of yours…

You had a knife.

That would solve your dilemma.

Seems to be misplaced.

That’s a shame.

Maybe you could scratch or claw your way out of that increasingly hotter and hotter tent.

You didn’t want to stay in a campground.

Oh no, you thought you could just drive onto my land and set up…

But see, I don’t like you.

I don’t like you “camping” in my desert.

I don’t like the noise you make.

You shatter my silence.

I don’t like the trash you leave behind.

I don’t like how you behave out here.

So I’m going to make sure you don’t come back.

Campers go missing all the time.

You will be one more statistic.

They will find you eventually I’m sure.

At least parts of you…

 

Might not want to build that fire so close to a tent you won’t be able to get out of.

Don’t you know you can get in to a lot of trouble for not putting out a campfire properly?

…and you don’t seem to have water anymore.

Oh hey, if you do happen to manage to find a way out of your malfunctioning tent…

Go ahead, hike your way out.

I have not trained my dogs to hunt down anything moving in the desert.

No, I fed them a week or so ago.

They are fine and would be more than happy to help show you the way out.

Night of the Scorpions

Scorpions are no strangers to the desert or to those who live there. For the most part, scorpions go about their business unseen. If you live far enough out into the wide open desert you might see more than your fair share of scorpions but still not enough to cause panic.

A long time ago on one extremely hot night, a patch of desert simply came alive…alive with scorpions.

As the sun started to set that evening, the heat radiated across the horizon as iridescent waves clinging to the desert floor. Further off in the distance, the ground appeared to be moving. Dismissed by most who had seen this vision as just a simple heat mirage, the locals went back to their normal routines. Most already preparing to settle in for the night. By morning it would be long forgotten. Lights went off across the desert valley as bedtime approached.

But there was one old desert dweller who knew that the moving desert he was seeing was no mirage. No, something was happening out there in that patch of desert and it wasn’t good. Once the sun set, the moving desert would no longer be so easily visible. That thought alone sent chills through the old desert dweller.

As most of the small town’s lights turned off, the night sky grew even darker than before. Any movement made harder to see unless you were very determined.

Well, one old desert dweller was just that determined. How could he just turn off his lights and rest his head when he knew something was creeping towards him? Terrified his childhood nightmares were coming back to haunt him. Could those old stories have been true? Stories he hadn’t thought about in years.

The old desert dweller sat alone in the dark on his porch armed only with a blue light. He had his suspicions.

See, this old desert dweller had been told some pretty fantastic tales as a kid. Tales of scorpions taking over entire towns. Crawling over walls and into houses. Covering entire streets. Swallowing up horses! These stories were always told by adults sitting around a roaring campfire. No surprise, a strong drink or two had been had by the story teller himself. Usually it was just meant as a harmless session of wild tales intended to scare the kids off and give the adults a good laugh. But some of those stories seemed pretty close to the truth…

Alone in the dark on his porch, the old desert dweller recalled every word his young ears had ever heard. Was it possible hundreds or even thousands of scorpions were creeping towards his town?

There was no breeze that night. Only a stillness, a quiet in the heat, that made sleeping easy for all those who had ignored the moving vision on the horizon.

The old desert dweller sat at high alert. Ears tuned in, trying to hear the approaching silent invasion. Flashing his blue light across his front yard looking for anything glowing or scurrying its way toward him. He knew it was coming. He could sense something was out there. This was his desert. He had been there all his life. This night did not feel right, the same uneasy feeling he had inside when he first saw the horizon moving towards him.

The hours ticked by. Maybe he was wrong he thought as he yawned…they were just crazy old tales told a long time ago…

Staring out into the quiet darkness alone, the old desert dweller nodded off in his chair on the porch. Fast asleep his flashlight dropped to the ground at his side.

The night grew even hotter making sleep almost impossible. With no breeze blowing through to cool everything off, the hot and heavy air hovered over the desert like a thick smothering blanket.

The stifling heat woke the dweller from his momentary nap. Sleepily he rubbed his eyes then fully awoke to the unbelievable horror as he watched hundreds of scorpions fall off of him and down to his scorpion covered patio! He had fallen asleep before the invasion and now it was too late! They were everywhere!

Horrified, he helplessly watched as his home virtually disappeared, entirely covered in scorpions. Crawling and stinging scorpions covered his entire body. The only sounds were the shrieks and gasps from the old dweller as he shuffled his way towards the one thing he knew could stop this nightmare. Fire.

Dying from shock and pain, the old desert dweller reached for his lantern and matches. Struggling to stay alive through the excruciating stings of literally thousands of angry crawling scorpions, he managed to light his old lantern then throw it into his house setting the whole unbelievable scene on fire.

Thick smoke and flames woke nearby neighbors who were unable to save the old desert dweller.

They say his act of heroism saved the town that night. The fire had alerted the towns folk and they were able to escape mostly unharmed.  After the fire was put out, hundreds of thousands of dead scorpions were found all around the property of the old desert dweller. Locals say it is that very patch of desert that will come alive again one day… alive with scorpions.

So beware…Next time you look out onto the horizon make sure it really isn’t moving before you go to bed that night.

The Closet

One day a mom was in her kitchen doing the dishes when her little one came running in very upset. Seems the toys in his closet kept telling him to be quiet. Not really understanding what he meant his mother smiled and nodded and said “uh huh…”. The little boy insisted his mommy listened, yanked on her pant leg and said “the toys say shhh!” With a smile and a hug she assured him everything was fine and sent him off to play.

Later that day she found the little one sitting in the hallway outside of his room. “Why are you playing out here?” the mom asked slightly puzzled. “My toys yelled at me really loud to be quiet so I got mad and left.” Again just thinking this was a normal child whose imagination was running wild, she smiled and told him maybe he should just go outside to play.

The little one happily ran to the back yard with the family dog chasing close behind. His mom went back to her chores thinking nothing more of it. He just needed some fresh air.

That night as the family was settled in for bed the little one came to his mommy’s side to wake her up. This time the closet was moving! Hearing this strange statement, his dad rolled over semi awake and confused. The mom assured him it was just an overactive imagination from a little boy who has been playing all day.

She wandered the little one back to bed, re-tucked him in and said good night once more.

Only a few short hours later the little one was back to his mother’s sleeping side. “…something is moving in the closet…” he whispered into her ear. Fast asleep she did not stir.

Tears of fear streamed down the little one’s cheeks.

He wandered to his daddy’s side of the bed. “…something’s moving in the closet daddy…” the little one whispered so quietly that it was never heard.

The next morning the mom came out to the kitchen to find her little one had slept on the couch. Feeling guilty she had never even really checked his closet, she walked down the hall to his room to investigate.

Besides a few toys left laying here and there, the room was neat, the bed barely slept in. The toy chest in the closet overflowing. His mom now on her knees rummaging through the piles of stuffed animals and cars. Arm deep into a huge pile, searching for possibly a windup toy that is the cause of all this fuss, the distinctive sound sends chills through her spine. Her hand frozen in place with intense penetrating fear. The closet didn’t just “shhh” her. It rattled! There’s a rattlesnake in there somewhere!

Seering hot flashes of pain shot through her arm. Screaming for help she is repeatedly bitten by an angry and surprised snake. Her husband rushes to the room frantically dialing for help. Out of her mind with fear and pain, she flings her arm out of the closet sending the large snake flying across the room. In a dizzy haze she runs to her little one crying on the couch where she collapses at his feet moaning “I’m sorry…”

Rescue and paramedics arrive with lightning speed and were able to save the young mom’s life though her recovery would be long and painful.

Just hours home from the hospital, trying to settle back in after such a horrifying event, the phone rings. Her husband answers and listens to the news. The snake recovered from their home was determined to recently have given birth.