Thursday, May 16, 2019

Arizona, By the Numbers

Six and half days in Arizona.
Matt loved the view through that gap in the red rocks.  This was the sunniest afternoon of the trip and we basked like lizards on Bell Rock in Sedona.
Three afternoon pool parties.
Six different mini-golf courses at four different venues.
We played a round at Glow Putt on our trip in October, but thought it was cool enough to warrant a return visit this time.  I got a hole-in-one on the hardest hole.  Matt won every single round all week long though.
58 positively identified bird species.
Matt glassing for shorebirds on one of the ponds at The Water Ranch riparian preserve.  Two Snowy Egrets are on the opposite bank.
17 to 20 new bird species added to the life list*.
This is a Rosy-Faced Lovebird (also known as a Peach-Faced Lovebird).  They're native to Africa and are common pet birds.  There is a wild breeding population in Phoenix--the only place in the USA they've thrived after being released or escaping captivity.  I thought it was a fake parrot at first.  Even though they're non-native we were still pretty starstruck by such a bright and beautiful bird.
One bottle of Cassis lambic.
I love lambic and had never tried the cassis (black currant) version before.  We drank it from plastic cups out in the badlands, tucked under a rock ledge watching a desert rainstorm.
Six bomb vegan restaurants.
Biscuits and mushroom gravy with scrambled tofu and roasted red potatoes from The Coronado.
More petrified wood than I could have possibly imagined in one place.
Check out those petrified knot holes!!  And the bark!  Some looked striking like freshly downed logs rather than stone ones.
A hundred hummingbirds, give or take**.
There is the silhouette of a hummingbird drinking nectar from a saguaro bloom at center top of this photo.
One new national park^.
The size and variety of petrified wood was unexpectedly phenomenal.  Some looked darn near tie-dyed they were so colorful.  Some were a hundred feet long!
Four new national monuments^^.
Montezuma's Well with ruins on the far side.  There is an ancient irrigation canal system that is still functional from the outflow of the Well.  It was pretty mind blowing.  No fish, but some endemic species of leech!  The rattlesnakes are tagged so they can be relocated if they start interacting too much with humans!  How crazy is that?!?!  Chipped!  Like my cats!!
Three petroglyph sites.
Matt and I agreed this rock was our favorite.  Though that was a hard decision as we saw so many incredible groups to choose from.   We did one off-trail hike around a butte where there were dozens of different panels scattered here and there.  It was a fun treasure hunt spotting them among the rocks.  Deer, foot prints, hand prints,  lizards, birds, snakes, spirals, and other geometrics.
Four AirBnBs ranging from a popup camper to a shiny modern Mother-in-Law's house.
This AirBnB was just about perfect for us--swimming pool and close,walkable proximity to three vegan restaurants. 
One incredibly rad oasis of a city park.
The Riparian Preserve at the Water Ranch in Glibert, Arizona didn't disappoint in proliferation of birds, mammals, and fabulous fauna.  The Palo Verde was just one of the abundantly flowering plants.  When we were driving back into Phoenix after Petrified Forest it was boggling how many of them we could see across the valley.  It was like a sea of yellow.
A hundred thousand swarming bees***.
Two kokopellis.
I've had a thing for kokopelli since I was a kid, even before I learned all about the myths and symbology behind it.  Seeing carvings in real life is such a swell treat for me as an adult.  I'd only see one before, at Dinosaur National Monument.
Six days where it rained at least once.
It never rained all day and it never rained very hard so it didn't cramp our style much.  Plus, the rain made the desert come to life in flowers, like this carpet of wee white blooms growing around all the petrified wood.
More desert flowers in bloom than I ever dreamed of seeing in my life****.
Seriously.  The flowers were Off.The.Hook.
One afternoon climbing around the brilliantly red rocks of Sedona.
As soon as I saw Bell Rock I wanted to climb it.  Matt was really angling more to walk around it, but he 's a good sport and was glad we went up, up, up in the end.   ...And then we walked around the base, too, for good measure.
13+ beer options we cannot get in Montana.
Two calendric petroglphys.
This spiral interacts with the sun on the summer solstice in a different, but similar was as the link above from the Puerco Pueblo site.  The rising sun cuts the spiral almost exactly in half for several minutes.  These timekeeping petroglyphs are abundant in the park with almost 20 recorded thus far.  This level of ancient intimacy and knowledge with the season and stars is humbling and impressive to me.
Four different flavors of Soynami*****.
"Betterfinger" and "Dough-Boy"
One sprained ankle.
We thought the Arizona sycamore was a really nifty looking tree.  This has nothing to do with my sprained ankle, but there weren't any pictures of that...and it is a pretty nifty tree so...  The bark is smooth and has a fascinating speckled pattern.
20+ mural and mosaic street art.
Walls abound in urban desert design--in large part for privacy and sound barrier purposes.  The neighborhood around one of our accommodations was well worked with street art which we thought was a pretty fab idea.  The walls are canvases just waiting to be decorated.
Five different ancient puebloan and cliff dwelling sites, each with multiple ruins.
We learned a lot and were able to observe the subtle differences in dwelling styles in different locations and from different time periods.  We saw one pueblo made from petrified wood.  We were able to experience first hand the skill in regards to selecting a site sheltered from the blasting sun and able to catch the first morning light.  This particular ruin is located at Montezuma's Well.
Zero concerts^^^.
There are so many colors in petrified wood.  I had no idea they could be lime or mustard yellow or sparkling pink.
One glorious, amazing, incredible, dazzling, extraordinary, breathtaking, better than expected, superbly spectacular early birthday vacation.
------------------Footnotes----------------------------
*Only 17 were new to me as I'd seen a Verdin and Boat-Tailed Grackle in Mexico and a Gambel's Quail on a previous trip to Arizona.  Matt missed both sightings though and so they were still new to him.
**And I am not exaggerating.  So many flowers.  So many "bumblebirds."  It was incredible.
***This is an estimate, of course, but a reasonable one.  We were actually evacuated from the cliff dwelling and the whole site was temporarily closed.  The buzzing was impressively loud.
****Including the saguaros, much to our delight!
*****A vegan soft-serve concoction similar to Dairy Queen's Blizzard.
^Petrified Forest National Park
^^Montezuma's Castle, Montezuma's Well, Walnut Canyon National Monument, Tonto National Monument
^^^ We originally planned this trip around a Rolling Stones concert which was then postponed until August because Mick needed heart surgery.  Fortunately, the rescheduled date jives with our schedules and we can still go!

Friday, May 3, 2019

April Into May

April is always National Poetry Month.  To honor that designation this year, on a whim, I entered a piece I'd written for NaPoWriMo 2017 in a contest through our public library.  I won second place in the adult category. 
First place got to read their poem at a Poetry Night at the library, which would have been extra cool, but...I'm surprised and tickled to have come in second.  I love writing.  That probably goes without saying.
May once again snuck up on me somehow.  Since I am so obsessed with celebrating my own birthday  (and May is my birthday month) I can't believe this happened.  Again. 
As such, I didn't get a Me Made May pledge in on time though I might still join in late.  If not, that would be two years in a row that I let time get away from me.  I added a note to the end of the planner to better prompt me for next year.  It is right alongside the note that reads "make Pysanky eggs with Sharon for Easter."
I've actually been wearing a lot of store-bought clothes lately, too, which is interesting to realize.  Comfy, stretchy knit things mostly.  This just hearkens back to my assessment in 2015 that I need to sew more of these type of garments, something I've failed yet to accomplish.  My dad bought me an overlocker/serger last year though so no time like the present, I guess. 
All our April showers certainly have helped bring out the May flowers--tulips, daffodils, grape hyacinths, bluebells, johhny-jump-ups all are showing their pretty faces.  There are six teeny-tiny charcoal grey bunnies that have made me start each day with a laugh this week.  As I pedal past on my way to work they all shoot for the cover of a culvert, clamoring over each other to get inside.  They're so little and lovely, barely bigger than a potato.  
All photos from adventures in the greater Yellowstone National Park area.
Speaking of vegetables and spring, we ate our first harvest of spinach today.  I think we're going to enjoy that season-extending greenhouse a great deal.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

My Darlin' Companion

I spent the weekend in the country with some of my girlfriends.  I passed several hours one quiet, cold night laid out in my sleeping bag under a rich dome of stars.  I had a live recording of Johnny Cash and friends from a 1971 European tour playing softly on the grass beside me.  Owls hooted.  Shooting stars went traveling.  It was just me and the night and it was so lovely.

The recording contained a version of the song Darlin' Companion sung in duet between Johnny Cash and his wife, June Carter.  I'd never heard of this song before and man(!), did it just fill me up.  It got me thinking about Matt and our life together and my heart was just full to bursting with love.  I can't really begin understanding how I got so blessed to have found my darlin' companion.  Matt is such a well balanced partner for me.  We dovetail so nicely.
I wished he was there star-gazing with me.  I fell in love with him all over again.  Fairly apt since it was a bachelorette party, I suppose.  The next morning I was the first to rise.  Darlin' Companion immediately started playing in a loop through my mind.  The moment my eyes opened I had a vision of a piece of art I wanted to make for Matt and immediately set to it.

Matt had never heard the song before either.  I put it on the stereo--both Johnny's version and the Lovin' Spoonful's--and we danced around the livingroom.  He took my little artwork to work to accompany a photo of me on his desk.
Sigh.  So blessed.  I'd tell the mountains and the canyons.