Saturday, April 11, 2015

South Mountain Park

Thanks to a good friend, Lloyd and I have discovered a new fun place to visit in the Valley of the Sun here in Arizona.  I'm amazed we didn't know about it sooner.  The Phoenix area is surrounded by old mountains...totally different from the ones we're most familiar with in Alberta, but beautiful regardless.  South Mountain Park provides a view of the entire valley, after a twisty turny road to the top.  It is so amazing that we went back twice in the past month...once with our daughter and grandsons, and again yesterday with my friend, Mickey.

The Ranger Station

Lloyd, Micah, Jenny and Nathan on the foot trail

The road up the mountain is twisty, turny, steep and narrow making driving a bit of a challenge, but we finally made it to the summit.  There's a nice little park up there and a wonderfully cool stone structure called Dobbins Lookout.  Apparently it is a favorite point for taking pictures.

Phoenix, in the distance, down the mountain and far away, as seen from
an opening in Dobbins Lookout.

Mickey, with Phoenix over her right shoulder.

Looks like I'm standing on top of the world.

Micah making his way down to the shelter at Dobbins Lookout.  The
valley was spread out as far as you could see from up there.

Jenny, Me, Micah and Nate in the lookout.

At the foot of the mountain there's an old deserted trading post called Scorpion Gulch...a very interesting spot to explore.

Jenny, Micah and Nate at Scorpion Gulch.  Micah was disappointed
he didn't see any scorpions on his first trip to Arizona

An ancient cactus towers over the buildings, and the boys.

A better view of the trading post and adjacent building.

It looks like it might have served as an inn at one time.


We watched as a trail ride set out from the neighbouring ranch.  I
heard a mother saying as they set out, "Dianne you have to relax."
I don't blame the poor girl for being a bit tense.  Hope they had fun.
If you ever come to Arizona, this is a must-see.  Picture don't do it justice.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Birds of a Feather

We've had lots of company here in Arizona these past two months, which has made life interesting and fun and busy.  During our quiet times though Lloyd and I have enjoyed peaceful mornings relaxing in the back yard while being entertained by the multitude of birds who make their homes in our trees and cacti.  The air is always full of birdsong and someday I'd like to be able to identify the birds by their songs.

For the first time since we've been coming here we've been visited by a pair of Gambel's fun to watch them as they scurry through the yard on their way to somewhere else.  I love their distinctive little black topknots.

Lots of hummingbirds visit our yard.  There's always something in bloom that attracts their attention.

I'm not sure whether or not this is a hummingbird or another
small bird.  He/she built a nest between the spines on our
toothpick cactus.

This hummingbird was very cooperative and perched on the
ocatilla long enough for me to take several pictures of him.

We hear and see the Gila Woodpeckers a lot.  They have pecked sizable holes in two of our saguaro cactus and lay their eggs inside them.  They've also been pecking holes in one of our large palm trees.  Aside from the knocking sound, they have a very nice voice.

There are other birds around that I've been unable to identify.  I think this is a mockingbird.  There are a lot of them around and they make a wide variety of sounds.  I took this picture outside the Heard Museum in downtown Phoenix, but we have lots of them around our neighborhood.

I think this one is a cactus wren.

 and maybe this one is too.

The mourning doves are the first ones we hear in the morning.  They have a lovely soft cooing voice.

We were so excited the other day when a roadrunner scurried across the road in front of us as we were driving down a busy road at the edge of town.  The first one we've seen.  Of course I didn't have my camera ready, and he was too fast anyway, so this picture is from a Birds of Arizona website.

This is another bird I've had a hard time identifying but I've seen him/her in the yard several times.

There's nothing quite as peaceful as sitting out by the pool in the morning listening to all the birds.  I think I'll go out there now and relax.

Have a lovely day today.