At the beginning of February we travelled to Page, Arizona. No visit to Page is complete without a stop to view Horseshoe Bend. The city has put in a new parking lot and the National Park Service has rerouted and improved the trail. Yes, there is a $10 parking fee, but the upgrades are worth it. We had been here a couple of times before, and didn’t miss the old sandy trail over the hill.
Horseshoe Bend is an amazing natural phenomenon, widely photographed and publicized, yet still awe inspiring. The Navajo Sandstone cliffs tower over 1000 feet above the river.
Here is the typical full horseshoe view.
Here’s a different view. It’s amazing to think about how the water could cut through those huge sandstone cliffs that tower over 1000 feet above the river. The Navajo Sandstone was formed 190 million years ago when a large part of the western United States was blanketed in sand dunes.
Doug looks pretty calm that close to the edge.
Page was our staging stop for our hike to “The Wave” in the North Coyote Buttes area. We posted a whole blog about our adventure that day, but here are a few photos to remind you or in case you missed it.
On our drive back to Tucson we decided to take a detour to the Grand Canyon. We’d only made one other visit. There are a few remnants of snow in the foreground of the photo below .
It was really cold that day, (-9C when the photo was taken), but Wendy had the winter gear.
On our loop back we drove the 89A into Sedona. Mostly when we’re driving through this area, we’re pulling the 5th Wheel, and can’t drive the narrow, winding road, so it was only the second time we had driven the road.
We had hoped to go for a short walk on the Bell Parkway, but we couldn’t find a parking spot, so we stopped at the side of the road and grabbed a photo. It reminded us of why we don’t visit the Sedona area anymore. It’s beautiful but too crowded.
On February 8th, we did our annual hike to the highest mountain near our place. It’s only 4,688 feet, but with over a 2000 foot elevation gain. Our favourite starting point is at the Sandero Esperanza trailhead on the Golden Gate road.
The other big peaks in the area, Panther Peak and El Sombrero are in background of the photo below.
The trail joins the Hugh Norris trail at the ridge. There’s a break in the climbing while we traverse.
We had our lunch at the top, along with a dozen others. Here’s the view looking southeast at Tucson from very close to the top.
This photo was taken a few minutes later. The view is of the Avra Valley in the west.
It was a special treat to enjoy the Desert Museum later that week with our friends from Cranbrook.
Raptor Free Flight is a “must see” at the Desert Museum. Doug took these photos of a couple of Harris’s Hawks with his iPhone. The birds get really close.
We have found that watching the raptors in this controlled setting has helped us better identify them in the wild.
There are many different environments close to our place near Tucson. So another day we decided to explore the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, hoping to see different sparrows and longspurs. We saw lots of sparrows and a White-tailed Kite, but no longspurs. But there were some beautiful views.
On February 15th, we hiked along the wash beside the petroglyphs that the Picture Rocks Road and community are named. The petroglyphs are carved into the rock by the early Hohokam people.
The petroglyphs are on the rock bluffs on the right in the photo below. This portion of the trail isn’t in the national park, and you can see tracks of motorized vehicles in the sand. The wash is called Picture Rocks Wash, as you might expect.
Farther along the trail we discovered several pretty pinkish-purple flowers. They had long thin leaves that reminded us of chives. This photo is enlarged; the group of flowers were about the size of a quarter. We think it is Taper-tip Onion, a native plant to Arizona.
The Modern Quilt Guild’s annual big show, QuiltCon was in Phoenix this year in the middle of February. A friend who used to live in Cranbrook joined Wendy. She was spending a few weeks in the area. The men went birding at Gilbert Water Ranch, so the quilters had plenty of time to view the quilts.
Wendy asked her friend to stand beside this quilt, to give it a sense of scale. The quilt was called, “Pride and Joy,” and won first place in the piecing category. At the end of the show it was also awarded the People’s Choice Award. Veruschka Zarate made it as a self-portrait of herself and her two little boys.
Which brings us to quilt-making at the Fifth Wheel. Wendy tries not to run an iron inside when the air-conditioning is on, so this outside pressing station was set up. It works fine unless it’s windy.
Wendy completed this quilt top called “Sparrows” for our new grandbaby. The quilting will probably have to wait until she returns home because her machine here is pretty small.
And now to our flower section. This cutey was taken at the Desert Museum on February 11th. It’s always amazing to us to see flowers blooming so early in the year.
By the third week in February there were many flowers blooming at the Desert Museum. The stately pink flower is a penstemon and the yellow flowers are brittlebush.
The only mammal photo this month is of Collared Peccaries. They are locally known as javelinas. The “collar” on the javelina on the right is more prominent. When we first came here three years ago, we were excited to catch a glimpse of a javelina in the wild. Perhaps the plentiful rain last summer allowed their population to soar, because they have now become “problem animals.” In many places, javelinas are diurnal, but in the suburbs of Tucson they are more nocturnal or crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk).
This photo was taken on one of the rare times that we saw them in the yard in daylight. After this sighting, Doug followed them to see where they got through the fence. So the fence was reinforced again with wire dug into the ground, and rocks blocking weak areas. Checking for tracks in the morning and fixing spots that they have pushed their way through has become one of Doug’s daily routines.
Here are a few sunset photos from our place. The good thing about clouds is they help make the best sunsets. There’s another sunset photo on the banner that you can see if you view the blog on your computer.
The next blog is all about birds.