Archive for March, 2011

The Hochderffer hills

March 31st, 2011 | Category: Arizona

These hills sound like they should be wearing lederhosen.  They’re a group of cinder cones in the north west corner of the Kachina Peaks Wilderness, which contains the highest mountain in Arizona – a 12,600′ collection of volcanic ridges collectively named the San Francisco peaks.  The SF peaks eclipse everything else at first glance, but the region is pockmarked with hundreds of volcanoes which afford varying degrees of climbing difficulty and wonderful views.  Recently I decided to go into the Hochderffer hills, just because I could, and they have a great name.  Here are some pictures.  In some of them (where the road points to the horizon)  you can just make out the north rim of the Grand Canyon, about 90 miles away.

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A visit to Wupatki and Sunset Crater

March 31st, 2011 | Category: Arizona,Travel

Last weekend, Amy visited me and we had a whirlwind day.  I took her to the south rim, and also to Wupatki national monument – one of my favorite places.  Stormy weather made for a cloudy, interesting sky.  Throughout the day, as we traveled through different climate zones, we experienced all kinds of temperatures from spring warmth to wintry blasts of hard snow.

On the way to Wupatki, we drove through sunset crater national monument, which is adjacent to Wupatki.  The two monuments are dense with beauty and history, and are unsung gems; many people come here to see the canyon and don’t know that these things are here.

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Above: In the foreground, a jumbled strip of lava hosts a few hardscrabble trees which struggle to survive.  In the middle distance lies the ponderosa pine forest that stretches to the San Francisco Peaks in the background – Arizona’s highest mountains (Actually volcanoes).  Even though the lava is tens of thousands of years old, in places it looks like it flowed yesterday.

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Above: The road from Sunset Crater swings down into the painted desert; the forest disappears within a mile.

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Above: Wupatki Pueblo, the grandest of the ruins at Wupatki.  There is an “apartment building” to the left, a round gathering place with built-in seats to the right, and all the way to the right in the distance (with some people in front of it) is a “ball court.”

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Above: Amy examines some fascinating wind-carved sandstone.

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Above: Amy looks into the “blowhole,” where cold, dense air from a cave expands into a strong breeze.  It smells like a damp basement.  When weather changes, the air sometimes gets sucked into the blowhole.

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Above: Wupatki is littered with many ruins, tucked organically into the landscape so that the visitor is constantly surprised.

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Above: it’s early spring and there’s plenty of vegetation growing.  Many animals scurry through the underbrush; at first glance, it seems like there’s not much life here, but actually there’s a lot going on!  In this one spot we saw several types of mammals and lizards.

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Above: graffiti on a water tower in the Navajo Rez south of Grand Canyon.

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Amy & I visit the south rim

March 31st, 2011 | Category: Arizona,Travel

My old friend Amy visited me and I wanted to show her a good time, so we went to the grand canyon.  I love watching people see the grand Canyon for the first time!

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Some fool stood here and thought it would be awesome to write his name with a highlighter.  Prick.

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Above: the perfectly flat mesa of cedar mountain sits between desert view tower and the painted desert.

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Above: weather began to move in, blocking the light and bringing in blustery winds and wispy clouds of hard snow, which can be seen falling in the distance.

Here are some more images.

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Montezuma Castle

March 18th, 2011 | Category: Arizona

There are so many cool things nestled away in Arizona.  I’ve driven past Montezuma Castle national Monument many times, always in a hurry and not able to stop.  Not this time!    This one is really easy to get to; you can see it in an hour.  There are a few others close to Flagstaff, like Walnut Canyon and Wupatki.

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Natural History Museum

March 18th, 2011 | Category: Travel

A short visit to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum with Rachel.

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Great Falls in Rampant Flood

March 18th, 2011 | Category: Travel

Great Falls – the gorge of the Potomac just north of Washington, DC – is a spectacular natural wonder that feels like it should be in the west somewhere; it just doesn’t seem like the northeast corridor should house such majesty.  Of course, anyone who lives in the region knows that there are all kinds of natural gems hidden away amongst the superhighways that wind around them like strangler figs in a grove of trees.

When it rained and I had some free time (and a visitor!) I wanted to show it off in its flood stage, so I took Rachel to see it.  It was a roiling, foaming, roaring, ground-shaking, rainbow-generating cataract.

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Why do I keep this animal?

March 17th, 2011 | Category: animals

The cat is so on my shit list right now.

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In addition to this activity, she has learned how to open cabinets and drawers, and extracts what she needs at will.  I’ve said it many times: “It’s a good thing she’s cute – otherwise, she’d be dead.”

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