Good Geode Hunting

The theme of this week’s hike was geode hunting.  Following directions down an unmaintained forest road we found ourselves just north of  the Mexican Border at an abandoned corral.  2017-09-02_13-15-43_0002017-09-02_13-11-37_000The summer rains have filled the canyon with life.2017-09-02_13-21-20_000.jpegCaterpillars and butterflies everywhere.  2017-09-02_13-55-46_000


2017-09-02_13-32-24_000There is a slight breeze gently whispers through the valley.  We have our picnic in quiet reverence.

Time to find what we came for. The hike up the canyon is beautiful and we are looking for a 90 degree turn north where a geode collecting area is located. The suspense hunting for treasure is exciting.  2017-09-02_13-25-20_000I turned & jumped when I saw this Chupacabra…2017-09-02_13-40-49_000 It’s just G holding up a COW PELVIS. Gross.  Of course he wants to take it home. “You could make something from it!” No no no. Nope. No….Sigh.

The canyon is beautiful.

So far the hike is the treasure. 2017-09-02_13-27-54_000We aren’t sure what we are looking for.  About 100 yards past the 90 degree turn in the canyon north, rocks  peppered with small geodes are everywhere.2017-09-02_13-48-47_000

There are big holes in the cliff walls where large geodes were removed.  It’s so hard to get them out. Someone had better tools than we are using.

It takes a really, really long time to chip out with a pick. Now we have a few little geodes to cut & polish…2017-09-02_13-29-19_000…and beautiful memories.2017-09-03_15-38-11_238


A very photogenic calf. 




Nogales Sonora Mexico Has My Heart

As long as I can remember I loved trips to Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. We lived a mere 70 miles north of the Mexican border and the ever-changing City of Nogales.  We had traveled through on our way to  Guaymas many times when I was a child but only stopped long enough to obtain a visa and move on.  It seemed as soon as we crossed the border, life immediately changed.5457530386_195d144b37_z (2)

We often crossed at night so I had to strain to see the city as dimly lit buildings flashed past the open truck window.  Delicious smoke from open fire grills and outdoor stoves made me want to stop and stay with the families.   Later my older sister would be allowed to take a high school trip with her friends and returned with colorful stories and fancy souvenirs.

e40118b9-c3ca-4c1b-a63c-71c6cd2ac294It would be years until I would be old enough for my parents to let me go on my own. Nogales offered just what I needed as a teen in the 70’s. Leather shops, blankets hanging in the sidewalks, colorful wood carvings and ceramics everywhere. Now mixed with the delicious smell of Mexican food and firewood was leather, wood and hot blankets in the sun.

Since then we have made several friends, visited houses on the cliffs, stayed too long, not long enough…Nogales.  I love the smells of this city.  We found a Cantina on a back road with chicken cooking on a grill outside and the smell was AMAZing!  There were many locals waiting in line for their order.   img_7486A friendly man saw me taking pictures and came out to tell us that yesterday the streets were flooded with 5 or 6 meters of rain. He showed us the pictures of the arches across the street barely above the waterline.  I didn’t get his pictures but below is the picture of the approaching storm. We are all  hoping it would not flood like yesterday.  Shops were ready with sandbags and everyone was optimistic.  img_7490It seems Nogales has grown up right along with me. Medical tourism is now a large source of income. Pharmacies and dental offices line the streets where blankets once hung over sidewalks.  Medication may cost less than half here.  My favorite dentist is here.  We like to wander before and after appointments.  Of course one MUST stop at La Roca to eat.

A view of La Roca from the bridge.
La Roca Entrance to the courtyard.

38dd285c-2b07-4c4e-af28-8809742fe74fThe plaza is cool and inviting.  6c69007c-93d2-4aab-8263-e7fd0089eee5Bright Colors and art adorn the sidewalks.77260f39-1ba3-4a04-bdaf-98714bf68cb4Walking back over the bridge we are above the lines of cars crossing the border from Mexico into the USA.2f29a39b-c9cf-49bf-9bfd-fee19d8b2685There are still some  tourist shops.  These young men played dominoes to pass the time during the slow summer season.  The  intense one on the right is winning.  img_7498Curios still line the streets as traffic leaves Mexico to enter the US.1224fedd-a706-43eb-84e0-80b29868354aOld meets new.  edbbbc13-bc6c-4d50-b1ae-cab02932d616

05fd4559-4044-45ff-ade2-f6c0a6c5ec7eThere is a feeling when I cross the border through the turnstyle, walking on slick tile, then the bricks, past the chatter of the taxi drivers,  toward the main street of  Obregon.  Although the city changes with the needs of the tourists, the people and the city we love stays the same.  Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.

Hey! There’s A Bobcat In The Yard! 

In the Southern Arizona heat the little ones find shade and water near the house 

We love watching the rabbits and quail every evening 
Sometimes someone stops by and scares our little friends away.

 Scary Falcon. 
Tonight we came home, looked out the window to check on our little friends and saw this guy. 

This cat just watching the backyard perhaps looking for our little friends or enjoying the soft grass. 

We said hey, he says hey back. 

Pretty soon it’s time to move on. 

Such a beautiful animal! 

Row Of The Mighty

Traveling east on I 10 from Tucson there is a MIGHTY unusual sight.  Miles and miles of train engines coupled together.  They have been there for months.


Did I say miles?  YES it’s miles.  They stand like regal soldiers and like faces, no two seem to be the same. Some carry scars and scrapes & some polished to pampered perfection.


We have seen this sight several times over months and each time I wonder at the magnitude of the meandering yellow line.

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I asked a railroad man why these giants of metal and deisel have been exiled to the dry AZ desert.  It seems sad that the once proud  engines have been retired as they are no longer needed.  Knowing this felt lonely as I wander along the tracks listening to the wind creak between them like metal whispers.

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Pondering this idea and feeling  watched, I touch them one by one and imagine their journey. It seems like I have been walking a long time to find the end and beginning.Soon I come to a bridge that I can cross under.    I cautiously approached the underpass and find this graffiti which confirms everything.


Suddenly a swarm of wasps from the largest nest I have ever seen attacks.    Wasps make excellent train engine guards.


I couldn’t help the opportunity to lie on the tracks in front of a train just this one time as I say goodbye.



The North Rim Made Me Cry

As many times as I have been to the South Rim, hiked down in to and  rafted through the Grand Canyon, I had never been to the North Rim.  I’m so glad we took the time. It is truly hard to explain the experience of such a wonder. We started by just relaxing and mapping out our hiking day at the Grand Canyon Lodge viewing patio. Plan on spending some down time here! 
Someone pointed out a peregrine falcon soaring over head. At one time there were only 70 in existence.  This male peregrine is banded with a metal leg band 7/X black over green.  The band code identified him as breeding 4 miles from his natal territory on Elkins Marsh on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Photo by Barton Paxton.Now thanks to the efforts of the National Park Service conservation there are over 400.



A tourist bus exploding with nylon tracksuits &oversized  visors  poured out just as we started down the trail  This interesting lady had just the hat for the occasion!

 (Go Dog Go quote “Do you like my hat?”) 
I recommend taking a lunch and eat at one of the high tables on the  observation deck. We did and enjoyed the view and the fresh air.  The lines for the one restaurant can be very long and lots of people were eyeballing my hoagie and pasta salad. We decided to head out to  Cape Royal. On the way we witnessed the devastation of a forest fire from years ago. Young Aspen trees have taken over where Ponderosa Pine trees once stood.  Soon the burned areas of the North Rim will be covered with lush Aspen trees. I was so Excited to see Window Rock!  I have always wondered where it was.  Walking on top of it is interesting. There is a 3′ wide by 4′ long rock to walk over to the point.  Both sides are straight down for a very long way. We noticed many people waiting on more solid ground for their friends.  No matter how their friends coaxed they wouldn’t venture out. Having never heard of Cape Royal I thought it was probably rocks that looked like a castle. I was soooo wrong. Cape Royal made me cry.  We walked along the twisted juniper path bundled in jackets because we were near 9000 feet elevation and there is still snow on the ground.  The people coming toward us on the path were silent.  Most smiled and nodded.  Thinking perhaps it was trail etiquette we stayed quiet too.  About a half mile later we turned a corner to a 270-degree view like I cannot describe.I couldn’t move.  Just as I gasped a cold breeze pushed extra air into my lungs.  My eyes filled with tears while my mind tried to accept this view.  No picture can capture that moment.  I tried.


We stayed for quite a while.  I wish I could stay forever.

On our way down we wanted to shout to the people coming up the path -“just wait! It’s so beautiful! You’re gonna CRY!” Instead we were silent, smiled knowingly and nodded.

The Fork In The Road

Often my favorite places are forks in the road.  Stopping at Cameron Trading Post Est. 1916 is one of those. We hook up at the RV sites and begin our adventure.


Exploring the area we are delighted to find such an interesting art gallery full of color.

We quickly unhook from the RV and head to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.


Even though we have visited these same sights often, we always come away with a different experience.


We met Louise Y. Nez, a weaver.  Her hands lifted the different colors of thread through her loom with ease. Mesmerizing.


Not surprisingly she has made hundreds of rugs as she began weaving at twelve. Three of her daughters & one son continue the tradition.


Her work is exhibited in museums all over the world.  Unfortunately, some of her work is labeled unknown.


On to climbing the tower for the view inside and out.


My husband, who as you know does not do well in crowds & whose “whisper” can be heard for miles, commented on the following wall art:

WHISPERS “Look it’s FART MAN” …..echoes through the tower…a 6th grade boy thinks he’s HILARIOUS!
A visit to the Tusayan museum provides history of the inhabitants of the area and  a walk around some ruins and kivas.

EBC4B801-91E1-4240-86B3-35B2AECD389074390359-6FD6-439E-BD41-D662206FF147BA3D6BDC-3FFC-4F3E-8D05-8EA4BCB6FEABBack to Cameron for an afternoon stroll through the gardens.


A lovely way to end a day.













So Much Better In Leather

I finally finished cross referencing  90 sites from a field guide to minerals and fossils to the Arizona Gazetteer!



My celebration consisted of me finding and cleaning up  an old leather briefcase to hold the field guide and maps so that they may be accessed quickly.  Plus it looks very Indiana Jones.   Many times we decide to go at a moment’s notice so I have assembled kits. Like some kind of crazy hiking hoarder. We always have  a panning/mining backpack ready to go (just in case).

Gold Pan, pick, huge screwdriver (for poking between rocks), spade, foldable shovel, magnet (for pulling out heavy metals), eyedropper (for sucking up tiny gold) magnifying glass and not pictured are the collection jars for the gold.  All fit in a regular Jansen backpack.  

We also keep a hiking kit ready in a brown plaid backpack.

Boots, gloves, walking sticks, compass, hats, knife.  Not pictured but always with us are plyers for cactus removal, sunscreen and a first aid kit. 
Picnic kit is a fully stocked picnic basket and a thick blaket

By far the most important thing of all  is water. Even in the winter we take at least a gallon a person.   I made these holders crocheted out of plastic bags.  They hang from our backpacks and we refill the bottles so no plastic waste.


Arizona weather can go from blazing hot to freezing cold so we always dress in light layers and carry along jackets.  Kits are packed and ready for the next adventure!