Come along with me as I ramble along a different path…

I am taking my blog, which has been inactive for oh so long, into a new direction, reflecting some of my changing interests and passions. I will celebrate my 70th birthday soon, and I have decided that it is time to stop talking about wanting to do this or that. It’s time to figure out how to do what I want to do … or stop talking about it. It’s time to get off of my pandemic isolation couch, stop bingeing on cookies and Netflix, and start living.

After several years of trying to get someone … anyone … to take me camping, I started researching how to take myself camping. I spent a year or more reading blogs, watching vlogs, and following FaceBook pages by and about women traveling and camping solo; I finally embarked on my first solo camping trip a few months ago.

My campsite on the top of a mountain near Crown King, AZ
My campsite on the Mogollon Rim, near Strawberry, AZ

While I will continue to post images of my life near home, I will also share with you my camping experiences. Come along with me as I explore new paths and ramble along the highways and backroads of our United States of America.

Bear Canyon Lake

Twilight in the High Country

It’s not all dry, hot desert in Arizona. Bear Canyon Lake, one of several fishing lakes built by Arizona Game and Fish, is nestled back a series of dirt roads on the Mogollon Rim. The lake, with a depth of 50 feet and set at an elevation of 7600 feet, is accessible only by foot trail from the undeveloped campgrounds above.

Summer Peace at Bear Canyon Lake

Bear Canyon Lake is located just a few hours northeast of Phoenix, Arizona.

As if the earth reflects our lives …

The harshness of the desert landscape with the flat grey sky, dried grass, and formidable, imposing boulders hit me hard while I hiked through Boyce Thompson Arboretum a few days ago. This image is a visual representation of the relentless record-breaking soul-sucking heat (34 days of 110+ temps) and drought in Arizona, the bizarre nature of our world with pandemic isolation, unemployment, and online classrooms, raging wildfires, and the endless vitriol of this election cycle. I pray for rain, for healing, and for peace.

A bit further along the trail, I noticed this desert tree softening the jagged edges of the landscape. I stopped and gazed on the tree a while, taking into my mind and spirit the refreshing green life, and I was reminded to be grateful for all of creation … to be grateful for all that life offers. Without the difficult times, how would we recognize the good times? Without the sad times, how would we recognize the happy times?

While it shows evidence of Arizona’s drought, the arboretum is still a treasure of plants and trees from the Arizona and Sonoran desert as well as from around the world.

The Boyce Thompson Arboretum is located east of Phoenix, AZ on Hwy 60.

Respite

It’s Friday evening after work and I need some quiet space. I am blessed to have the Desert Botanical Gardens, a small piece of nature amidst the concrete and glass and noise, just a few miles from my house.

IMG_3378The cacti are in various stages of blooming here in Arizona.

IMG_3367Fragile blossoms atop such dangerous spikes

IMG_3311The Palo Verde in full bloom presents a soft contrast to the majestic saguaro. Soon the blossoms will drop and blow away and we will see the green tree with its ever so tiny leaves. The Palo Verde relies on its green trunk and branches for photosynthesis because the leaves are too small to produce enough nourishment for the tree.

 

IMG_3335The sun begins to set on our day.

Butterfly or Dragon

She reminds me of one of Dany’s Dragons. That could be because I just finished watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones (and audibly gasped as I watched the last 30 seconds). Can you see it? 

Salt River Wild Horses

This herd of about 40 wild horses has captured quite a bit of media attention lately because of a federal proposal to remove them from their Salt River home near Phoenix. Howard-9179

I felt blessed to spend a few hours with these breathtakingly magnificent animals.Howard-9350 Howard-0408

It’s easy to forget that the Salt River Wild Horses are just that … wild. I got this closeup using a 100mm lens, which means that I was very close to the horse, who had approached me. Within a few minutes, the horse got bored and moved on.

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Most of them have deep gashes and cuts, evidence of their power and strength. They fight. They bite. They jostle for dominance. They are pure beauty.

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Peaceful Silence

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

from Desiderata by Max Ehrmann (1872-1945)

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The weather was simply too beautiful to stay inside today, so I took my camera out to a local park to photograph, just for the sheer joy of capturing the image. As I sat near the small lake, my eye was drawn to the reflections of the columns in the water; I then noticed that the ripples of the water are projected onto the columns, creating a double reflection. The symmetry of the lines and curves and the muted brown and grey tones brought to mind this line from the poem Desiderata (“essential things”).

Majestic Canyon Lights

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I took a friend from Shanghai to photograph our state’s treasure, The Grand Canyon. I was disappointed that I could not “give” her one of Arizona’s fabulous sunsets which would paint the canyon in a riot of colors and hues. When I viewed my images later, I realized that what we had captured might be as good as, or better than, the typical sunset photograph that is ubiquitous throughout the gift shops in Arizona and on the Internet.

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We had waited patiently for sunset, just sure that the clouds would shift ever so slightly to allow the sun to give us a show. We watched the rain as it moved around the butte to form a soft curtain which made its path steadily toward us.

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I’m sure that we looked absurd when we donned rain ponchos and held umbrellas above our cameras as we stubbornly stayed to capture the last bit of light and shadow in The Grand Canyon (and before the last shuttle departed).

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Throughout the day, I had wished for a break in the clouds for the dance of light in the canyon. We got a few glorious moments.

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