Fascinating courtly intrigue and bloody power games set on a generation ship full of secrets―Medusa Uploaded is an imaginative, intense mystery about family dramas and ancient technologies whose influence reverberates across the stars. Disturbing, exciting, and frankly kind of mind-blowing.” ―Annalee Newitz, author of Autonomous

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Great Wickenburg Escape

When Ernie and I don't get to go out and hike on a regular basis, we get kind of peaked. There is a world of wonder out there, and we're stuck inside with our eyeballs glued to computer screens, typing our little hearts out and staring at facebook. In the best of all possible worlds, this would not be the case. We would be traveling around the Southwest, taking pictures, shooting amateur videos, and writing about our travels. We would be living inside an Airstream trailer and posting regular reports on a blog about Weird and Wonderful Travels On The Cheap. Some day, maybe this will come true. But right now, it's all about the day job and the bills. So we try to take day trips.

Ernie posted a report about our most recent trip to Wickenburg, The Hassayampa River Preserve, and the Vulture Mountains. He summed up the trip pretty well, so I will only add some photos with a bit of commentary.

The visitor's center for Hassayampa River Preserve is a charming, refurbished historic building that was a ranch and stage-coach stop back in the day. Its courtyard was swarming with butterflies and hummingbirds.

The caterpillar-sized thingees in this web were wriggling, ever so slowly.

One of these days I'll create a site called Em's Happy Trails, and this photo will be on it.

The Hassayampa is an underground river – much of the time the water stays underground. But in some places, it bubbles to the surface, and in the preserve it forms a large pond (much loved by frogs, birds, and bugs).

These are raccoon prints.

These are prints from the ring-tailed cat.

Datura has a seriously cool seed pod.

This wonderful spider actually constructed a pot-shaped house for herself, then wove her web outward from the entrance. She let us know that the only sort of visitors she likes are the edible kind.

This is one of the few places in the basin-and-range provence of Arizona where you will find a tree with fungus.

Remember those recent pictures of Mars that proved water activity? This is another example of that sort of -well, sorting. Rivers move rocks and silt, and sort them by size. Fast-running water can move larger stones; silt will be the last thing to settle out as the current slows. A deposit of rocks that are more rounded and are about the same size traveled a long distance from their source. Rocks that have sharper edges and are a variety of sizes are still fairly close to their source.

It took me three tries to get this shot of a vermilion flycatcher – a first for me.

I've always wanted one of these Ocotillo fences.

Look, we found Mecca! That's our truck parked out front.

When we saw this guy from behind, I thought he was homeless.

A Jack '0' Lantern saguaro near Vulture Mountains.

This deposit of volcanic stuff is decaying into Tahiti beach sand.

Ocotillos are indicator plants -- evidence of underground water.  They also like limestone (maybe because limestone tends to have damp, underground caves eaten into it).

This guy lost most of his arms. He's got serious gnarlitude.

These butterflies were imitating flowers.

By the way, you may be happy to know that apparently Doctor and Mrs. Doom have adopted a stretch of Highway 60.  Just look for the sign as you drive along.

It was a fabulous trip, but it made us long for more. So watch this space . . .

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