making owls cool since 1986

We moved to Arizona to see burrow owls. Where the hell are all the burrow owls?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Bessie Got Back

We saw this unique sign for an adult cabaret on our way through Payson, Arizona. Draw your own conclusions.

Utter implants? Stripper tipping? No, there is no logical amalgamation of cattle and strip clubs.

There is an Arab proverb that says, "Sunshine all the time makes a desert." Apparently the Arab who thought up this axiomatic gem was an observant fellow. Unlike the Middle East, the East Valley happens to be conveniently situated in an area of great geographic diversity. Therefore, when we have had too much of a good thing (the desert, for instance) we can head off to the mountains to spend sometime in a very different environment.

Last weekend Erin and I did just that. On the spur of the moment, we headed north up route 87 and did some camping and hiking in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. After a bit of a fiasco involving finding a campsite and a bit of a fiasco involving forgetting about mosquitos and driving 20+ miles back to Payson to acquire insect repellent, Erin and I were in good shape.

We picked up some insect repellent for the women at the contiguous campsite and were rewarded with smores. It was about 10 to 20 degrees colder in the mountains than in Tempe, so it was a nice break from the heat. The trees consisted primarily of ponderosa pines with some aspen and the occasional oak. The park is part of Tonto National Park, which quite large. The mountains we hiked in were along what is known as the Mongollon Rim, an area northwest of the White Mountains and Southeast of the Grand Canyon. We only camped for one night.

The most memorable part of the camping experience was the coyote alarm clock. Just as the sun was coming up, a coyote that sounded very close to our tent went off, prompting replies from dozens of his comrades throughout the area. It was very loud and occurred three times. It was pleasant to find that these Arizonan coyotes sound much more like dogs than their brethren in the northeast. Back home the coyotes sounded like dying babies. Creepy. We didn't catch sight of any coyotes, but the next day during our hike, evidence of their presence surrounded every puddle along the path.

Elk frequent the same puddles as the coyotes. Other notable animals that live in Apache-Sitgreaves are bears and mountain lions, though I hear mountain lion sightings are exceedingly rare.

We started our day by heading the Mogollon Rim visitor center where a very nice lady from Maine took our picture.
We decided to hike in an area near Willow Springs Lake. It was a nice hike, but, as usual, I had trouble with my feet and needed readjust my shoes frequently. The scars on the backs of my heels from club feet surgery as a baby are unyielding and always end up as blisters. Here I am trying some sort of McGyver technique with bandaids that ultimately failed.
The entire hike was just under 8 miles, a bit ambitious at an elevation of 7700 feet. For the first hour or so we both yawned constantly until we adjusted. The first half of the hike, about up to the lake, was great, but the second bit followed some boring powerlines in a very straight, hot, unshaded path that paralleled the road. By the time we were done, we were beat. After a stop at Del Taco, we headed back to Tempe.

Here are some other pictures we took along the trail.

To the right is Willow Spring Lake.

Sean Flanagan could tell you that this is a swallowtail butterfly (a tiger swallowtail, I think).

This fellow (to the right) is a tree lizard (Urosaurus ornatus). I looked that one up. The little guys below looks like a short horned lizard.
I looked that up too.

So there is our first Arizona hiking trip! It felt great to get out of the city and see trees and mountains. In other news, Erin is currently in Connecticut at training seminar for her new job. I am alone with the cats. We are misbehaving. We are staying up late, eating extra catfood, and playing spin the bottle.

Also, Sarah and Damien are engaged, as are Jaimee and Greg! Congratulations! I just happened to be reading a bridal magazine the other day and I learned that the #1 wedding destination in the United States is (insert sound clip of crowd simultaneously drawing in breath with anticipation)... Tempe, AZ! What a coincidence that it just happens to be where we live, not where you guys live! Yeah...and...uh...they said that there's a huge waiting list to get married on Hayden Butte...

Ah, Hayden Butte, every bride dreams of the day when her father can walk her up a rocky pile of dirt in the scorching sun to start her new life with the man she loves in teh shadow of a telecommunications tower.
Think about, you'll come around...

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Blogger BillyPru said...

i can only see one of your pictures from work, but still a good read.

(for some reason the only pic i can see is the pic of the giant "A" on the hill side.)

p.s. i'm back at work after 2 weeks and it already sucks. erin, i know how you feel.
you better become a nice lawyer.

5:25 AM  

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