Sunday, May 14, 2017

Another Week of Traveling

We have just returned from another lovely road trip.  This time it was a journey east to visit my sister in South Carolina.  Here she is with one of her grandaughters.  

Highlights were a tasty dinner at an English Pub and a visit to the Carolina Raptor Center where their main job is to treat injured birds. They also have a large educational program for area schools.







 Sunday featured a get-together with my nephew, his wife, and his family.  Their three girls have grown quite a bit since we last saw them.


On Monday we set off for Greer, SC to spend some time with an old friend Tom Kent.

We go way back with Tom who came to Monmouth to work on an engineering project and met and married Anna Marie Davison, one of our college librarians.  Some years later, Tom was assigned to a large water project in Egypt and we were able to visit them and do the big Nile Cruise experience.  Anna Marie passed away some years later, but we have kept up our friendship with Tom and his new wife Katie.  Again it had been three years since we had seen them and our two days there were filled with all sorts of re-living old times as well as discussions of the new political world.

Back on the road again Thursday morning.  Sunshine and clear views made the scenic drive through the Blue Ridge on I 40 a true delight.







Wednesday night saw us settled in at a motel in Shelbyville, IN.   We were lucky to have a tasty dinner at an Italian  restaurant within walking distance.  We both took boxes back to the motel to deposit in our cooler.

We were up and at em Thursday morning for the short three hour drive to Urbana, IL to visit George Waltershausen and his wife Cindy.  They have just recently moved there from La Crosse, WI to be nearer to their daughter Peggy and her family.


It just happened to be George's birthday so  afternoon cocktails were followed by a visit to a nearby eatery for a lovely meal.  Friday morning saw us continuing to eat well with a visit to a renown Urbana bakery.  The Walterhausens had Omelets; I had an Almond Croissant and Jan a Blueberry Lemon Scone.  We washed down our sinful sweeties with Cappuccinos.

Then it was off for the last three hour trip back to Monmouth. Thanks again to all our hosts.  And right along with Rick Steves we urge readers the world over to "keep on traveling."



Monday, April 17, 2017

A Little Walk on an Easter Afternoon in Monmouth

I suddenly realize that it has been almost a month since I have posted on my blog. What is it that fires up the neurons to document one place and not another?  Probably that Arizona still seems a bit exotic and home seems not so.  Home is so familiar that the notice becomes subliminal.  This is unfortunate because even in the familiar there are things worth documenting and looking at and remembering.

For a start let's take a thirty minute walk around a few blocks in our home town of Monmouth and just look at what I pointed the camera at.  It is spring and tulip time.  Multi, purple, red, and yellow.








Tiny little wild flowers and violets, each one smaller than a dime, seem to be peppering all the lawns.







Saw a woodpecker and heard him, but he didn't stay put long enough for me to capture him at work.
Just this guy fat and sassy checking up on things.


Every yard seemed to have at least one bloom.

 

Or a flowering tree



Little oddities abound from books to mail.






And watched over by kind little gnomes.


Oops!  Back to reality. 


Happy Easter 2017!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Good morning at Sabino Canyon

We opened our day with another spectacular sunrise at our condo.


With breakfast stowed, we set out for Sabino Canyon. It was sort of quiet at first with just some fiddlenecks to look at.









The birds also seemed to be taking the day off,    but finally we saw a nice cardinal in the distance. 





Then our luck changed. We had reached the Bear Canyon Road on the Esperero Trail and turned back on the road trail when a herd of Javelinas started marching across about 70 yards in front of us. It was our first javelina sighting of the year. I wish the pics were a bit better, but they did not stop to pose. 

 



 
  Bye Bye big fellow

 


We started walking again and then saw a female peeking out of the brush.  We stopped, I took a quick photo and she backed off and turned further into the foliage followed by a young one. 






 
   A little further along some unidentified high flyers were holding my attention when Jan pointed out  a tree full of Cedar Waxwings who were more cooperative in sitting still.
 
 
 
 
 
 
They are indeed pretty birds.


 

To top things off we stopped to admire one of the  few early blooming Saguaros. 


My sharp eyed spouse then said that there were hummingbirds hovering.  And sure enough it was nectar time.


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It was a perfect end to the walk.





 
 
 
 

Monday, March 06, 2017

Sabino Canyon's Spring Flowers

My wife and I are not naturalists or even long time Tucson residents, but she loves flowers and I like to take pictures of them.  We are a bit too elderly to climb the heights yet there is plenty to see within a mile or two of the visitor center.  We carry our little book and try to identify at least some of the plants we see.  You are encouraged to let me know if we have made any egregious mistakes.  Along the way we have discovered that a lot of plants have more than one general name in additional to their scientific classifications, which can add to the amateur's confusion.

So here goes some pictures of some of the more common blooms we have seen in the last couple of weeks.

The Mexican Gold Poppy is starting to pop up everywhere and can literally cover whole hillsides in magnificent yellow when it reaches its peak.

 
The brittlebush also has bright yellow daisy like flowers.
 
 
 Smaller but still yellow is the common London Rocket.
Unfortunately it is an invasive non- native species and is not loved by the naturalists we have talked to in the Canyon.
 


 
More of a native and also small is the Fiddleneck with its hairy stems, leaves, and tiny yellow flowers that will bend over in maturity to look like miniature fiddles.
 
 

 
 
White is standout color in the desert. So far we have tagged the Desert Chicory. 
 


The desert zinnia is also big enough to see from a distance.



Fleabane is more delicate, but is still fairly easy to spot.



The tiny Crypthantha takes a bit of looking for underneath nurse trees or shrubs. It's a "borage" like the Fiddleneck.




 
We've also seen a few nice stands of Rattlesnake-Weed. The redish stems here hold multiple tiny cup like flowers with deep red centers. Not sure why the rattlesnake name.  Perhaps the snakes like to crawl under this low down bush.

 
A final more delicate white flower is on the Big Root or Wild Cucumber.  At least we think that is what it is.
 
 
 
Blue is a nice color as well and in the past two weeks we have seen more and more of the elegant Blue Dicks poking up on their long slender stems




This one has even attracted an early pollinator.





Don't get them confused with the lovely Desert Lupin which does not have a long slender stem. .

 
The Lupin also has a signature star shaped leaf that is a perfect identifier.
 
 



 
The Caliche Globe Mallow takes us into the red or orange color palette.
 

 

 
 
 
And let's finish the abundant and beautiful Fairy Duster
 
 
 
 
The first stage of their bloom is a five pointed star.
 
 
As they mature they simply explode into a wispy cottony ball.
 



 Thanks for looking in and we hope we have not made too many errors in our classifications.