Friday, December 28, 2012

An route home today

-Store RV safely in Phoenix. Check

-Eat big lunch ( so w don't have to stop for dinner). Check

-Cross over Colorado river

-Drive nonstop through SoCal en route home. Ongoing.

-Pray for rain to not happen tomorrow. Unceasing.

-Watch beautiful sunset. Check

- blessings from the road

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Cave Creek Regional Park

We have been staying in Tucson much of our time in Arizona but this year were invited to my downs Christmas near Scottsdale.

As we drove up from Tucson, we agonized over whether we made the right decision to stay here. Our other option, trying to be near my family in Scottsdale, was Macdowell Mountain park, east of them.
We are really happy we are staying here. Quiet And the Internet works.

We visited the nature center at the park and saw this tee shirt.

Needless to say Sraddha liked this. Too bed it wasn't in her color palate.

Location:E Coyote Wash Dr,Cave Creek,United States

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Raking Leaves

Ok, I confess.. I am home this week instead of out cruising around the southwest. Why? Still have work/service related repsonsibilities and commitments to honor.
Oh, yes, and the leaves around the house needed raking. Heh, heh.

We have someone who has been taking care of the oak leaves above the house, however, when I returned, I noticed the wisteria in back deck had shed about 90% of its leaves with 3 inch thick coat on the deck.

With another storm poised to arrive tonight (which it has), I decided that the morning hours would best be spent removing the dry leaves before the rain. Glad I did..
2 hours later, the compost pile was taller than ever.

And the back deck was clean

I also raked out the kitchen garden a bit, actually quite a bit.
Sure enough, later in the day, the bright blue sky turned grey and clouds filled the air.

As I write this, I can her the rain drops tut side and am glad I spent the wee hrs of the morning with the rake.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

VLA with Night Sky

See photo below.
Last Saturday night, after a full day of bird photos in the Bosque, Sraddha and I drove out 50 miles to the VLA, or Very Large Array where the 27 big radio telescopes live. I mean BIG! (click on photo to enlarge).

One of the 27  telescope from the Very Large Array at night
(24 mm, F4, 30 sec, 4000 ISO)

Anyway, it was pitch dark, as the moon had not yet risen. As we approached the huge plain, we crossed the railroad tracks and found a little pullout, stopped and got out of the car. Low and behold, across the north side of the highway, we saw the silhouette of one of the big telescopes looming. I grabbed my camera and tripod and we crossed the road. A barbwire fence greeted along with a locked gate. Undetterred, we figured out a way through the fence, walked across the dry desert floor and approached the monster. It began to move. yikes! will it see us? Will some federal guard show up and haul us off to jail for entering the property?
We stood in awe of the immensity of this man-made object then broadened out focus to the sky around it. We spent the next hour photographing this scene from various angles and exposures. Last night was the first chance at reviewing the images. I processed several then opened them up. This is the best one and, it is pretty amazing, if you ask me. I wanted to share it with you.
It is best opened on an ipad or a big screen rather than merely your email program. i now have it as my desktop.
Hope you find it as expansive and humbling as I do.

another angle

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Awesome Sunrise Alert

Woke up this morning in south Tucson area. Peaked outside to this.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:S Paseo Rio Bravo,Tucson,United States

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pie Town, New Mexico

The lady at the VLA visitor center suggested we stop at Pie Town as we drove west. Located essentially on the continental divide, we found the Pie-O-Neer Cafe.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, December 1, 2012

River of Lights

Yesterday we drove up to Albuquerque for some supplies and attended the annual River of Lights show at the Botanical Gardens. I could have shot 200 different pix this night but only shot a small few.
Pickup truck at entrance
Fountain comes alive
Peacock and cotton candy (no I didn't)
for Liam - Choo Choo
Way down yonder

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dancing Cranes.

Dramatic sunset last night. Got some great pix. Stay tuned. Her is what it looked like.

This morning's sunrise very different from yesterday

Yesterday we saw some cranes landing that looked almost like they were water dancing
Tickling the water surface

Is it too cold?
This morning we observed several cranes in the mating ritual
You pick your right foot up!
Hi There!
Catch me if you can

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sandhills Cranes in Bosque

Photographing the Sandhill Cranes taking off and landing is really fun. They glide inbound to their landing zones in such a fashion that we can capture them pretty easily. Click on the thumbnails below to see it in full view.
Sandhill Crane taking off
When they get easy to take off, they lean into the direction they are headed them begin to walk the zoom.
Leaning into the takeoff
Off they go.  At night they reside in shallow pools for protection from predators.  During the day they fly off miles away to feed in fields.  As we were driving along, I clocked some sandhill cranes flying high in the air about 30 miles per hour so they can feed quite distant places.

Late afternoon on one of the  pools (iphone photo, click to enlarge)
So far in the day and a half I have been here, I have shot over 1,500 photos.  Thanks to digital photography it is inexpensive to do so.  Well, inexpensive when you don't count the equipment because I don't have`to buy and process film.  So we shoot away trying to get good shots but, especially when shooting birds in flight, not worrying about how many photos until later on.

My camera set up this morning (iphone)
I am slowly working my way through the photos.  First to eliminate about 85-90% of the pics for one reason or another, then do a second cut, when I usually begin to actually "process photos" which means, adjusting color, exposures, clarity, cropping etc.  So far I have managed to process the following 3 photos for your enjoyment.  I have also shot a few "snapshots" with the iphone here and there to give you a quick flavor of location and environment.  These are labeled as iPhone photos.

Another takeoff
Still fluffed up from night.  thinking about takeoff but not yet ready.
We had a magnificent sunset this evening.  One of the best. I did get some nice photos.  Here are  couple from the iphone. Teaser: Wait til you seen the photo of the geese in front of the moon. (another blog post)
Bosque Sunset (iphone)
Bosque Sunset (iPhone
Much more to come.  Have to get up in the morning at 5:00 AM to make it to the  morning "blast off".

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Talk about the ultimate off-road RV.

As we departed early this morning from our little stay north of Albuquerque, I saw this RV sitting in the park. Had to stop and snap a pic.

Wow. Custom built somewhere in USA because I saw a video on them. Don't need a spare jeep with this puppy.

Anyway, we arrived in Socorro about 75 miles south and watching pro football while waiting for photo buddies to arrive from Tucson.

We don't have cable here at our RV spot and antenna doesn't work so watching satellite. We can't receive the network channels because we are out of Sacramento range. We do get the NFL package so watch the games.

HOWEVER, and this is big, if a game is being shown on the Sacramento network channel, it is blocked on the satellite. Thus, we don't get to watch the 49er game. Bummer. Well we can watch it on the redZone channel that bounces around the different games. There are 3 afternoon games so we get to watch some of the 49er game but not all of it. Oh well.

Almost time to go out and photo shoot the Sandhills cranes as they return, at sunset from feeding all day out in the fields, to the pools of water in the refuge.  The best time to photograph them is the hour before dusk which, today, is around 5 PM, so we will head out around 3 or so.  It takes about 25 minutes to get there and set up.  Will have to see where the best place to photograph depending on the wind because the cranes land into the wind.  More later on this whole scene.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Black Friday in Old Town

We drove down to Old Town Albuquerque on Black Friday.  Named because it is the biggest shopping day of the year, we found the touristy Old town area to be quite calm and tame.  Seems all the locals head to the mall.  We found some good deals, or rather, Sraddha found some beautiful earrings, and almost purchased a real Navaho rug.  Probably would have but didn't have the measurements for where we would put it.  Just as well.
Amber, the Chihuahua, standing guard
outside of Navajo Code Talker HQ
While walking around the plaza we happened upon a little shop that billed itself as the Albuquerque HQ for the Navajo code talkers.  We were standing outside photographing this little Chihuahua named Amber when one of the original Code Talkers walked out.

Bill Toledo, a Navaho Code Talker, is on the left.
Bill Toledo was 18 when he signed up in the Marines a few months after Pearl Harbor. He is now 87 yrs young.  Bill served in south pacific beginning in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands and all the way to Iwo Jima as a Code talker.  This is where these men used a special code comprised of Navajo words to send message around the battlefront via radio.  The Japanese enemy decoders could never figure out the code.  It is quite a story and as I listened to him talk, I was almost brought to tears.  Humbling experience.

Chile reception
Strolling around the area, I was struck by all the chiles hanging everywhere. Duh.  New Mexico may be the "Land of Enchantment" but it is also the chile capital.

Hot, Hot, Hot
We ate lunch nearby at Garcia's where they make fresh tamales which we both love.  The Veggie chile tamale was a hit with "mild" green chile sauce.  I also had a chile relleno with red sauce which definitely tingled the nerve endings.  Yeeeowww.  Still we returned today for lunch and also bought a dozen frozen tamales for the road.

Painting on wall of Garcia's restaurant in old town.
Oh, yes,  we rode our bike after old town but only a short 10 miles because it was getting dark.
Then today (Saturday) we returned to the area near the botanical gardens and rode the bosque trail a second time for 18 miles, with the last 8 miles against a head wind.  Satisfied by our workout, we journeyed back to have more tamales.
She made me ride the bike again.  3 days in a row now.
Sraddha is up front  and I shot this one-handed with my iPhone
We found a wonderful food co-op named Mantonito where we purchased some great produce, fruit and a local product called Chocolate Hazelnut butter.  Yum.  Had planned to go to the "Lincoln" movie but had forgotten we were in an urban setting where movies on Friday nights sell out early.  We arrived late after getting the bum steer from both our Garmin GPS and iphone maps only to find out that the movie was sold out.  Another day perhaps.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Riding our Bikes on Thanksgiving day

With the temps in mid 60's today and the skies clear, we elected to work off our dinner early with a long bike ride along the Rio Grande river. The Paseo del Bosque Bike Trail, also called the Riverside Bike Path in places, is a lovely 16 mile-long paved bike path, uninterrupted by roadways. The trail parallels the Rio Grande bosque on the east side of the Rio Grande

We drove over to the parking lot on the north end of the 16 mile trail.

Sraddha had already ridden off.

Nice level ride at 5,000 ft elevation.  We cruised along at about 10 mph, then she said, ok to go ahead so I quickly picked up the pace to about 18-19 mph for about 8 miles to the zoo area then turned around to reconnect.  We then road together past the zoo a ways until we had to turn around to get back by 2 PM.

I caught up with her.  Actually this is on the way back

Since I was riding it was hard to shoot pix. All in all we rode 25+ miles. We passed several parks and the zoo where we could see the elephants enjoying their dinner.

Albuquerque is very bike friendly with several bike paved non-road paths and many miles of bike lanes.  We plan to ride again tomorrow and again, hopefully, Saturday before we depart on Sunday morning

Later we drove out to the Tamaya resort for dinner. I snapped this pic as the sun descended in the late afternoon sky.

Sandia mountains in distance

That's Sandia mountain in background. It reminded me how grateful we are for the beautiful country we live in and the clean air to enjoy scenes such as this. There you have the obligatory Thanksgiving note.

New Mexico Railrunners

Arriving Albuquerque, Monday night just at dusk, we settled in to rest. Whew. Long trip of 1242 miles. Yesterday, we rested, replenished supplies at Trader Joes and whole foods, then I went to a movie and visited a model railroad club.

The New Mexico Railrunners operates their little N scale (same as mine) trains in an older empty storefront in a light industrial section of town near the tracks. Club name comes from the commuter train which runs from Santa Fe to Albuquerque. 2 of the members has visited my layout during the national convention back on summer of 2011.

The layout itself is assembled from sections or modules they can take these portable sections to exhibit in other locations.

Each module is unique in design. The module above has a crop dusting plane.

This module above has Peter Pan in the forest. Cute.

Finally here is a brief movie I shot with my iPhone. Set in corner by the lumber mill.

YouTube Video

The guys were most accommodating. Real fun.

Location:Albuquerque, NM

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How high can we go?

try 10,378 ft.  By Eastern Sierra Mountains standards that is where our favorite trailhead begins.  However, in high desert of New Mexico, it is stands out.  Sandia mountains rise out of the east side of Albuquerque.  After a day of cleaning up from road travel and replenishing supplies, we ascended the west side of these mountains on the Sandia Peak Tram.

Rocks masquerading as Trees

Yesterday, we toured Through the petrified Forest national Park. Was a fascinating experience of looking at 2 million years history.

According to scientists this geographical area used to be the same latitude as the country of Panama about 200 million years and there were dense forests rivers similar to the Amazon River area

We explored a couple trails and shot a few photographs of some of the huge blocks that were left over when volcanoes exploded and buried them in a fashion similar to Mount St. Helens.

Now we are in Albuquerque area for Thanksgiving. Here are some photos.

We photographed the Painted Desert in the background

A perspective of the size of the petrified logs

This is the biggest one in the area.  Huge roots

Amazing colors.  They sit naturally where they are found

Long Bubba broken in pieces

More crystalline than agate like in this one.

Posted from my iPhone