John & Anne Wiley

2013/05/29

Tucson (2)

I’m looking thru more pix from our Islander Adventure (flying Tripp to the Bahamas, Quebec, and home). I’ll be posting more pix and details from the trip in coming weeks now that I have some time. So here are some I like from our time in Tucson. First up, the terrain we passed in our rental car on the way to the Sonora Desert Museum.

5154 Textured Terrain

5154 Textured Terrain

The plants and animals of this region are fascinating, and I like to imagine the people who lived here blending perfectly into this scene a few hundred years ago. Did they make use of the shelter at the bottom of this huge boulder that we’re now zipping past on the highway? Did they scramble among these smaller boulders that to me look like something along a Disney ride, with that one on top wobbling as if to fall on the tracks?

5070 Rock Ride

5070 Rock Ride

We spotted these Bighorn Sheep blending perfectly into their setting.

5144 Sheepish Setting

5144 Sheepish Setting

No, we didn’t spend hours silently stalking them to get close enough for this pic. This pair was in an exhibit at the museum. So many other exhibits we enjoyed, and we didn’t have time to tour the whole museum. The local plants on exhibit are also fascinating, and this is one of my fav pix that captures some of their beauty.

5102 Desert Blooms

5102 Desert Blooms

But this was a flying trip, and soon we were climbing up for this closer look at the cliffs towering above the campsite where we’d enjoyed our only tenting on this two-month adventure.

5197 Campsite Cliffs

5197 Campsite Cliffs

Then out across the massive and ever more dry and barren desert toward the night’s destination of Las Cruces, NM. In the late afternoon light I spotted this giant yin/yang symbol.

5214 Yen Yang Yard

5214 Yin Yang Yard

It’s apparently some sort of rail yard, maybe for sorting trains. To me it also symbolized the ebb and flow of our unfolding adventure. The up and down, walking and flying of a male and female exploring both sides of the continent.

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2013/05/21

Grand Canyon

Well, I’ve finally looked briefly through all of the pix from our Grand Canyon encounter. Only these two came out fairly well, due to smoke from all the wildfires in the West and the fact I decided not to fly the narrow corridor over the main canyon. I like how the river stands out in this one.

6644 Grand Canyon

6644 Grand Canyon

This is from the South rim a few miles East of the lodge, looking toward the East where it joins the Little Colorado and bends up into Marble Canyon. Here’s a closer view from the same area looking more across the canyon.

6619 G.C. Detail

6619 G.C. Detail

As you can see by the cloud shadow changes, the wind was fairly strong so it was pretty bumpy. Makes it more challenging to get good pix, so I’m glad at least these two are pretty good. We got much better pix of the Little Colorado River Gorge (southeast of the main canyon), as you saw in yesterday’s post. Here are a few more I like from that earlier part of the flight.

6514 Little Colorado

6514 Little Colorado

The river’s very muddy here. The gorge is spectacular, but relatively few people see it.

6528 L.C. Gorge

6528 L.C. Gorge

The river turns to turquoise closer to where it joins the Colorado River at Marble Canyon.

6540 Turquoise River

6540 Turquoise River

Where the rivers join there’s a powerful feeling but this is the best pic I’ve found so far, of that meeting.

6557 Rivers Meet

6557 Rivers Meet

You can just make out the very end of the Little Colorado as she disappears into her much bigger sister and bends toward Bright Angel where we saw lights twinkling in the gathering darkness beyond Silver Bridge at the campground after hiking down Kaibab Trail on our first big trip together years ago. The next morning we dabbled our tired feet in these healing waters to rest for the daunting climb up past Indian Gardens back into Winter in the thin air at the lodge. It was sweet to remember that time as we soared on Tripp’s stout wings and surveyed it all again from a new perspective.

2013/05/20

Home Again

There’s no place like home.

8587 Sweet SB!

8587 Sweet SB!

The mountains, ocean, greenery, and most of all the delicious gentle air that caresses your entire being. Oh, we’ve traveled far and enjoyed so many wonderful people, places and things. But none can compare for us, to our little home tenderly embraced by the Pacific. It’s almost impossible to believe that we woke in Flagstaff and made the short flight to the Grand Canyon this morning.

8432 Grand Canyon SE

8432 Grand Canyon SE

Because I didn’t have the narrow main canyon corridor programmed in any of the three GPS units I use, I didn’t want to chance navigating it using only the paper chart. By entering the Southeast corner of the restricted area at 10,500 feet, I would be above the minimum 10,000 all the way to the western exit near the airport. But the air was especially turbulent over the canyon, making it challenging to hold altitude and all but impossible to find the landmarks to visually navigate the exit corridor. I haven’t looked at all the distant views we snapped of the main canyon yet, but the corner we did fly over was still remarkable as you can see here.

8424 Grand Canyon SE

8424 Grand Canyon SE

There was haze both from distant fires and the humid air from surrounding rain squalls, so it’s likely the photos won’t begin to match how our eyes took in this vista. Since it’s only a few hours from home, chances are good that we’ll go back and try again sometime soon. In coming days I’ll share more pix as we review them all. For now, it’s delicious to be Here. Comfy in our home with our familiar stuff, and tonight a deep sleep in a cozy bed with nothing that interferes with sleeping until we wake refreshed from dreams of our Islander Adventure. 🙂

2013/05/19

Amazing Day

Today was simply amazing. More warm times with dear Deb and then her son Scott met us at the airport for quick catch up and promises of coming to SB for a visit. Then with some trepidation we launched into strong gusty winds and scattered rain squalls, to try for Monument Valley. Almost immediately we were treated to beautiful desert views at Jemez.

5864 Jemez Valley

5864 Jemez Valley

Now to me this is an interesting photo. Shadows and light, colors and shapes, and that shaggy sky created by the distant rain squall. But just wait until you see the rest of the very few pix from today’s collection of 1209 – the most per mile we’ve ever shot in a day. It’s amazing to look at each one and remember being there. On the way to Monument Valley I realized a short detour would take us for another look at Chaco Canyon, so we got new views of the ancient site.

5964 Chaco Semicircle

5964 Chaco Semicircle

Those tiny dots at the lower left edge of the curve are people apparently about to get a tour of the ruins. A crazy angular seasonal creek seems to defy explanation.

5979 Zig Zag Creek

5979 Zig Zag Creek

Much of the flight was bumpy due to hot air rising in patches from the desert floor and winds mixing aloft, along with the scattered squalls that happily didn’t include any thunderstorms on our path. But the battalion of dust devils in this valley is one example of the areas we avoided flying through on our own slightly zigzag route.

7863 Dust Devils

7863 Dust Devils

Then our flight really began to overwhelm us with spectacular views as we chanced upon the Red Rock area.

6036 Red Rock Blade

6036 Red Rock Blade

The enormous stone blade standing at the lower-left of this pic adds to the already interesting sculpted butte beyond. Then on cue a squall line started to dust the landscape dotted with pools of light where sunlight blinked through.

6052 Weather Accents

6052 Weather Accents

The earth colors somehow washed up into the clouds at the right of this next pic.

6061 Rain, Sun, Stone

6061 Rain, Sun, Stone

I like the play of light on the foreground carved cliffs in this pic.

6067 Lit Clifftops

6067 Lit Clifftops

So many of our pix from this day are delightful for us to look at, and they take us right back to the moment.

6079 Magic Theater

6079 Magic Theater

I even caught this distant dusting of snow (click for a better look), melting minutes after the fast moving squall has frosted the rocks.

6084 Desert Snow

6084 Desert Snow

Then a mini-haboob menacing another path we didn’t take.

6149 Haboob-ette

6149 Haboob-ette

Nearly all of these hazards were on one side or the other as if guiding us on a destined tour of the four corners region. The few hazards we did need to detour around only served to increase the beauty unfolding along our enchanted way. So many more beautiful sights (and pix) I won’t share here. Then what we imagined at takeoff to be our destination: magnificent Monument Valley.

6175 Fairy Ring

6175 Fairy Ring

This ring of spires standing in a family circle formed a welcoming party for our tour of the valley. The textures and shapes here are far beyond what words can convey.

6209 Beyond Words

6209 Beyond Words

Even this wider view of a large portion of the main sculpture garden can’t compare with being immersed in the whole panorama.

6218 Giant Gallery

6218 Giant Gallery

Some of the stones defy logic, like the one at left with an angular hole clear through it.

6257 Window Spire

6257 Window Spire

It’s easy to see faces and other human shapes in these ancient stones, making us wonder if ever in the dim past humans or some other hand had worked them.

6274 Totems

6274 Totems

The back of the “Egyptian falcon” spire at the right in this pic even has a square window!

6297 Square Cutout

6297 Square Cutout

One last view, as we left the valley headed for Flagstaff. We saw many deep winding water cuts into rock like this, so I included this one for your enjoyment.

6348 Stone Snake

6348 Stone Snake

The show certainly didn’t stop here, but it’s late and we may backtrack a little to fly over the Grand Canyon tomorrow before turning toward home. What a day this has been!

Back and Forward

We took a giant leap back in time today, flying over enchanting Chaco Canyon on our way from Santa Fe to Monument Valley.

5950 Enchanted Chaco

5950 Enchanted Chaco

If you search this blog (and also the Photo Page), you’ll probably find pix of Chaco and Monument Valley from our prior flights here. But this time the light was more subdued due to high clouds and I have a camera I like, so these probably came out better.

I have almost 1,000 pix from our four hours and some from S.Fe to our landing here in Flagstaff. Needless to say, there’s an excellent chance I’ll be posting some stunning pix in a few hours. Right now I’m just sending this update post while waiting for the pix to download onto my laptop. Meanwhile, I made this pic a little larger so you can click to see a bigger version.

My eyes more and more,
Like a sea without shore,
Continue expanding,
The heav'ns commanding.
   -William Blake
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