Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park (day 2)

Even though this is not an overnight camping park, we were allowed to pitch our tents and spend the night. Nice to have State Parks sponsor meetings! The spring and bridge were 'discovered' in the late 1800's and the water was diverted to water the grounds and a bit of farming.
Some remnants of a simpler time

An early morning walk to the side/cliff falls we had seen on the hike the day before.
And just beyond that one is this one:

Above the natural bridge, I noticed a herd of javelina. There must have been 20 of them!
They didn't seem too concerned by my presence until I got close enough for them to spook in groups of 4 or 5.
They can run fairly quickly when they want to.

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park (day 1)

Had a meeting at Tonto Natural Bridge SP. What a beautiful spot. And I believe I would say that even if I wasn't missing the first 100+ (F) day of the year back in Phoenix.
The bridge is a travertine formation, meaning it is growing ever so slightly as minerals in the water are deposited and build up over time.  The water comes from a spring that flows fairly well in spring and early summer.
The river runs when the water runoff is good, and the water is super clear.

Here's a look through the bridge.
Here's looking up at the back side. You can see the travertine here, too.
We took a hike through and up the stream a little way back up to the parking areas.

The trees are amazing. Obviously, the soil has been washed out in a flash flood or two over time, and the roots still find there way to the steam.

Columbine were blooming.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Beautiful Sunset

What a day, I think the high might have been 86 (F) with a light breeze, so it never really felt hot. Then this sunset, wow.
Above looking SSW - Below looking W

Monday, May 17, 2010

Gila Woodpecker

I haven't seen many of these lately, so I was glad to see one in its saguaro nest.
He didn't like me getting closer and flew off.

Yuccas & Agaves

Seems like everything flowers around here sooner or later. Probably why so many people have alergy problems.
At Tovrea Castle they have all kinds of cacti and succulents I've been taking pictures of.
Here is the infamous Red Agave
Actually, there is no such thing. Agaves put everything they've got into producing a flower stalk & flowers. They die afterwards and this one is dying.
Here's another

Yuccas, on the other hand, can flower every year.
A closer look
And closer
and here's one flower

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Saguaro Blooms

The heat is near as the mighty saguaro cactus begins to bloom.

There will be two or three a day for some time. Keeps the bees busy!

And a close up. Most of the flowers are quite high so I try to take extra shots when they are lower.

I even found some saguaro fruit frozen in the back freezer, so I thawed it out and made some saguaro jam. Good stuff. The taste is very mild, almost a cross between strawberry and raspberry, but very much a watered-down version - not near as sweet.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

More Blooms Today

Nice flowers, but I don't care much for the plant.  The one at Mom's house is starting to look very tree-like at the base.  Way to big for that little space.

OK, this one's not a flower, just cool looking.
A Santa Rita variety. Nice long spines along the top of the stems.

This one sure does put out the flowers!
Closer look:
Cleistocactus samaipatanus (Thanks Christer for the ID on this one!)

This was right next to the one above.

Two Little Devils

Sparky, the ASU Sun Devils' mascot, was at the mall today.
Jake didn't get it but figured it out when we talked about it on the way home.