Friday, April 30, 2010

Nighttime Beauty

There is a bloom about this large that is on a thinner cactus called Queen of the Night. I have a very small one in the yard.  I'll take and post daytime pictures of the two...This is also out front and I thought about shooting the bud as it looked like it would open soon.
Here it is shortly after sunset.

Here it is fully open around 9 p.m.
Apparently this is Harrisia jusbertii
It was still open in the morning

This is the Queen of the Night
It is very small right now, but as it grows it doesn't really get much thicker so it will need some support.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

More Cactus & Cactus Flowers

I'll start with this agave stalk since I mentioned that sometimes they get plants and seeds growing on the stalk and here is proof:

The Totem Pole Cactus is an interesting one.
 It is an abberant, or monstrose, form of the Senita and is spineless.  They are rare in the wild but are easily cultivated, so now they are fairly commonplace as landscape plants.  To the right is evidence of how easily cultivated these are.
Here's a close up of the stem and absence of spines.

Quite the opposite is the Teddybear Cholla (aka Jumping Cholla).  It has a pale yellow flower, but in this picture I was focused on the bird skeleton inside. (Click it or any picture to see larger)
I understand that roadrunners will hang snakes and lizards from cacti in order to be able to come back at another time and have another meal - other scavengers won't be so quick to snatch it away. I am not certain, but I would think it makes sense, that roadrunners also eat small birds. 

Here's a nice shot of the flower and a couple of buds.

This is an unusual pink flower from a Santa Rita variety. 
I have some Santa Ritas out front that have yellow flowers with red centers. I would imagine that many cacti have been cross-pollinated over the years to produce a large variety of unique cacti. I also have no doubt the practice continues and we'll see new and unusual varieties for years to come. Look how many different roses have been produced over the years!

Here's a Prickly Pear I planted from a cutting a month or two ago.  Nice reward.

This Cholla flower is a deep pink with a waxy coat on the petals that make it shine in the sunlight.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Plane Overhead

Being directly under the landing path of a plane is kind of cool.  Here's one coming in and flying directly overhead.

Something very interesting happened shortly after it passed over. A kind of whistling sound almost like rushing wind crossed with a a rope or cable whipping (or trailling) through the air came over. No wind, though that might be expected.  And it lasted longer than it took for the plane to pass overhead.  A short time later a breeze came past, but nothing really strong. Another plane went nearly overhead and the sound was there but much less so. Another plane and no sound... 


With temperatures climbing into the upper 90's (F) summer can't be far away. Today was a nice change with a cold front and mid-60's.  It won't take long to get back up, though, and the saguaros are starting to bud out so they'll be blooming soon enough.  Until then, there are still other flowers coming into their glory.

Clarret cup at one of Mom's neighbor's yard.


Yucca (not sure of the species) at Tovrea Castle

and a type of Agave
Here's some agave sprouts on the flower stalk.  Sometimes there are seed pods, sometimes sprouts, sometimes both.

Assorted Prickly Pear:

And Cholla

Friday, April 16, 2010

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is  about a mile deep. One of the best places to see the river is on the eastern side of the park. Usually, it is a small ribbon of blue-green.
Snow/rain from the night before and probably some snowmelt make the river fairly large
and muddy brown.

We were surprised to find it so hazy after a good wind and overnight snow, and I was a bit dissapointed to not see much snow left from the night before.

Didn't look too hazy to the south. Those are the San Fransisco Peaks outside Flagstaff.

And it looked crystal clear the ten miles across to the north rim.
It did start to clear up again shortly before we left for home.
What?! It's only a thousand feet or two down, sure I can stand on one leg!

Deep down in the canyon
it is very colorful

and this is called a temple
It has a name - everything in the canyon has a name attached to it - I just don't know what it is.

Monument Valley (Arizona)

Monument Valley is on the Navajo Reservation and a small part extends into Utah. The two mittens shown below and the large monument to the right are all in Arizona.  Some pictures further down show monuments between the left mitten and the right monument. Those in between, from that angle, are all in Utah. The majority of the monuments/valley as well as the Monument itself is in Arizona. You do go into Utah momentarily before turning and reentering Arizona to get into the park itself.

Early morning is not the best time for photos of the mittens.
So we drove out the dirt road a ways.

This may look like a good sized dune, but it isn't very big.

These aren't too far down the road.

Here's the SOCAL cruiser again
not too much worse for wear. The road was pretty bad (and about 15 miles long) so we turned around here.

Two VERY nice views!

One last shot before heading to the Grand Canyon.

Cortez, CO to Kayenta, AZ

We woke to find it snowing, but warm enough that nothing stayed on the ground. Scott says its the first (and last) time the SOCAL cruiser has seen snow.
Some snow stuck around on higher elevations

Not long into the morning we find 4 Corners closed
 and that saved a few minutes. I hear the actual 4 corners isn't where the monument says, but I don't think that matters a whole lot to most people going there.

Visibility is the best we've seen.
The dust storm followed by a nice wet snow really cleared the air.
And note how little traffic there is!

I started to see little, mini sand dunes all over and figured we must be getting close.
Seems like there is nothing but sandstone in southern Utah and northern Arizona!
Now we must be getting closer.
I mean, these are pretty impressive.
And finally we arrive at Kayenta just south of Monument Valley.
Caught these horses running free on the way back from MV