Thursday

Daytrip - Bellagio's Botanical Garden and Conservatory

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Each year I try to make a pilgrimage to the Bellagio to view the exhibits in the Conservatory. This year I attended their summer exhibit with my friend Blake Smith. The summer exhibit features its first Italian-inspired display titled "Tour of Italy". Follow this link for pictures and description ... Bellagio's Conservatory & Botanical Garden.

Tuesday

Daytrip - Bonanza Trail Hike

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On 07/03/2017 I made my tenth visit to Cold Creek. Today, Jim Herring, her daughter Christina, Bob Croke, Harvey Smith and I decided to head to Cold Creek Nevada to hike the Bonanza Peak trail. Once we reached the town of Cold Creek, we spent a little time looking around for some wild horses that normally populate this area. After a few pictures we then headed up the 2.2 mile dirt road above the town (Camp Bonanza Cold Creek Road) that leads to the trailhead. We made it in Jim's SUV without any trouble. Click here for description and pictures of today's hike ... Bonanza Trail Hike - Notes for 07/03/2017.html.

Monday

Index for Category - Waterfowl & Fish

Category Description

Unusual Pictures: This category was created to display pictures that fit under the phenomenon of Pareidolia (pair-i-DOH-lee-ə); a psychological phenomenon in which the mind responds to a stimulus, usually a visual image, by perceiving a familiar pattern where none exists (e.g., in random data). Common examples are perceived images of animals, faces, or objects in cloud formations, the Man in the Moon, the Moon rabbit, etc. Over the course of the last 4-5 years of hiking, I have come across dozens of natural tree and rock formations that suggest (to me) familiar patterns.

Saturday

Antelope Canyon - Page Arizona

(Fig. 01)
(Fig. 02)
Location: Only a short jaunt from Lake Powell, Antelope Canyon is located east of Page, Arizona in Coconino County and is a part of Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park. Take Highway 98 East. There will be one stoplight (Coppermine Road). Stay on 98 for 2 Miles and you will See Lower Antelope Canyon to your Left, Just west of the Navajo Generating Station. Take a left. Refer to (Fig. 02) above.

Description: Because Antelope Canyon is located on land owned by the Navajo nation, the road to the canyon is gated. Since 1997, the Navajo have allowed access to the canyon only on authorized guided tours, both to protect the canyon from overuse and vandalism and to ensure the safety of visitors. Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon carved out by the same waters that flowed into the Colorado River and carved the Grand Canyon. The canyon walls have been carved into what looks like fluid rock. Water from above Antelope Canyon travels through cracks and caverns in the sandstone until it builds up significant speed near Antelope Canyon. As the flood water rushes and spirals through the present formations, the water continually sands and reshapes the walls into sandstone masterpieces. This water eventually makes its way to Lake Powell and ultimately the Colorado River. Unaccompanied visitors to the Antelope Canyon are prohibited due to potential flash floods. In 1997, 11 tourists were killed by a flash flood. The danger comes from the water accumulating far from the canyon itself. It could rain 10 miles from Antelope Canyon and create a flash flood. See Note (1) below.

Antelope Canyon is the most famous slot canyon in the southwest. More people visit and photograph Antelope Canyon than any other formation of its kind. In short, Antelope Canyon is a canyon that consists of two distinct areas: the upper antelope canyon, also known as Tse' bighanilini, and the lower antelope canyon, commonly referred to as Hasdestwazi. According to Native American history, large herds of antelope once roamed Antelope Canyon, providing the canyon with its name. The canyon is regarded as a spiritual place where Native Americans can connect and seek insight from Mother Nature. Antelope Canyon formed due as a result of erosion caused by flash flooding during the monsoon season. Over time, rainwater rushed across the canyon, picked up speed and washed the ground away.

Trip Notes: The pictures in this post are from a road trip that my wife Connie, Marc Resnic and I took back in took back in October of 2009. To get the most out of our visit, we split up; Connie and Marc toured the 'upper' canyon and I toured the more difficult 'lower canyon. While the Navajo call this canyon "the place where water runs through rocks," most tourists come to know the upper section as the Crack, and the lower as the Corkscrew. The pictures shown here from the upper canyon were taken by Marc.  I took so many photographs here, each beautiful and unique in its own way, that it was really hard to select just a few for posting here. Some provide beautiful color, some unique geometric-like shapes, some smoothed textures like you have never seen before.

The Upper Antelope Canyon is called Tsé bighánílíní, 'the place where water runs through rocks' by the Navajo. Upper Antelope is at about 4,000 feet elevation and the canyon walls rise 120 feet above the streambed. It is the most frequently visited by tourists for two reasons. First, its entrance and entire length are at ground level, requiring no climbing. Second, beams or shafts of direct sunlight radiating down from openings at the top of the canyon are much more common in the upper canyon vs the lower canyon (Fig. 03). These beams occur most often in the summer months, as they require the sun to be high in the sky. (con't below)
                                  
(Fig. 03)
(Fig. 04)
As you approach the upper Antelope Canyon, there is no obvious clue as to its location. Sometimes called “Corkscrew” Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon measures a quarter mile long and 130 feet deep. It is reached by traveling a 3.5-mile-long dry (most of the time) sandy wash. The trail seems to end at the base of a red sandstone plateau about 20 yards high - the entrance is a narrow curved slit in the cliffs only a few feet wide. From the entrance, it’s an easy stroll through the upper chamber, which is fairly level. Once inside, the temperature drops as much as 20 degrees as the visitor enters one of the most beautiful of all natural formations.

The sunlight filtering down the curved sandstone walls makes magical, constantly changing patterns and shadows in many subtle shades of color (Fig. 04). Some sections of the canyon are wide and bright, while others are narrower and more cave-like, with no light reaching the sandy floor. After only 150 yards or so, the canyon becomes suddenly much shallower near the top of the plateau. It may take only 3 or 4 minutes to walk straight through, but the canyon is well worth the arduous trek or expensive journey required to get there (Fig. 05). (Con't below)
                                     
(Fig. 05)
The Lower Antelope Canyon is called Hazdistazí, or 'spiral rock arches' by the Navajo, is a few miles away from the upper canyon. The lower canyon is nearly 1,400 feet long. The canyon is filled with majestic and narrow passages (Fig. 06) with just enough space for persons to walk single file on the sandy floor, punctuated with occasional shafts of sunlight to shine down from above (Figs. 07 thru 09). The maze of abstract shapes carved from sandstone by twirling winds and water are mind boggling. As you descend further and deeper, making an elevation change of more than 240 feet down, the gentle lighting and textures of the canyon’s sandstone walls create amazing photo opportunities. The sculpted sandstone walls appear frozen in a series of graceful waves, which somehow give the illusion of motion. Even though you have more photo opportunities for capturing beams of light in the upper canyon, the lower canyon definitely provides more interesting twists, turns and shapes. With frequent stops for photo opportunities, the hike from one end of the canyon to the other can take more than three hours. (Con't below)
                                              
(Fig. 06)





(Fig. 07)
(Fig. 08)
(Fig. 09)

Pulled TaffyAs you decend down through the canyon there are even some metal steps to aid in walking (Fig. 10). Many of the water carved walls look like 'pulled taffy' (Figs. 11 & 12). When I was a kid back in the 60’s, I worked in Junkin’s Candy & Ice Cream shop at Hampton Beach, N.H. Their main claim to fame was making pure salt water taffies right in front of the customers. The water and wind honed sandstone  ledges look almost exactly like the salt water taffy we used to make back then.


Depending upon the lighting from above you are constantly presented with a variety of ever changing colors (Figs. 13 thru 15). Sometimes you can even recognize objects or faces in the carved sandstone. This is called pareidolia. Check out this page (and then use your browser back button to return here. Examples of Pareidolia (con't below)
                                               
(Fig. 10)
(Fig. 11)
(Fig. 12)
(Fig. 13)
(Fig. 14)
(Fig. 15)
Prior to the installation of metal stairways, visiting the canyon required climbing along pre-installed ladders in certain areas. Even following the installation of steel stairways, it is a more difficult hike than Upper Antelope. It is longer, narrower in spots, and even footing is not available in all areas (Fig. 18). At the end of the journey, we actually had to walk three sets of steel stairs (Figs. 16 & 19) up more than 125 feet to get back to the surface. The picture below was taken at the top of the canyon’s exit, looking down at where the water would run out of the canyon during the rainy season. Once outside, you have a lengthy, steady uphill climb to get back to the staging area (Fig. 20).
                                 
(Fig. 16)
(Fig. 17)
(Fig. 18)
(Fig. 19)

(Fig. 20)



Using the picture on the left (Fig. 21) that I took at Antelope Canyon, I created a composition titled "LavaMan". Click the following link to view the result and a description of how it was created ... Lava Man - Guarder of the Canyon






(1) Note - Antelope Canyon Floods: Rains during monsoon season can quickly flood the canyon even though rain does not have to fall on or near the Antelope Canyon slots. Flash floods to can whip through from rain falling dozens of miles away upstream of the canyons. Water can funnel into them with little prior notice. On August 12, 1997, eleven tourists, including seven from France, one from the United Kingdom, one from Sweden and two from the United States, were killed in Lower Antelope Canyon by a flash flood. Very little rain fell at the site that day, but an earlier thunderstorm had dumped a large amount of water into the canyon basin, 7 miles upstream. The lone survivor of the flood was tour guide Francisco "Pancho" Quintana, who had prior swift-water training. At the time, the ladder system consisted of amateur-built wood ladders that were swept away by the flash flood. Today, steel ladder systems have been bolted in place, and deployable cargo nets are installed at the top of the canyon. At the fee booth, a NOAA Weather Radio from the National Weather Service and an alarm horn are stationed. Despite improved warning and safety systems, the risks of injuries from flash floods still exist. On July 30, 2010, several tourists were stranded on a ledge when two flash floods occurred at Upper Antelope Canyon. Some of them were rescued and some had to wait for the flood waters to recede. There were reports that a woman and her nine-year-old son were injured as they were washed away downstream, but no fatalities were reported.



Morning Walk at the Clark County Wetlands Preserve

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This page last updated on 08/07/2017
(Fig. 01)

An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day. 

Henry David Thoreau

General Description The Clark County Wetlands Park is the largest park in the Clark County, Nevada park system. Only a few miles from our house, the park is located on the east side of the Las Vegas valley and runs from the various water treatment plants near the natural beginning of the Las Vegas Wash to where the wash flows under Lake Las Vegas and later into Lake Mead. The park includes 2,900 acres of water, trails, and trees along the Las Vegas Wash.  The 210 acre Nature Preserve (Fig. 02 below) is a map showing the preserves two miles of concrete and graveled secondary walking trails. 
                                             
(Fig. 02)
Our Morning Walk:  On 08/05, Blake Smith and I got up bright and early and around around 5:30 am we headed over to the Clark County Wetlands Preserve. The 'red' circle  bottom center of (Fig. 02) at the north end of the parking lot is where we started. Even though it was partially overcast after a night of rain, I captured the picture in (Fig. 01 above) as the sun was rising shortly after our start. Even though we have both been to this preserve several times before, I forgot to bring my map and we ended up getting 'lost' among the maze of paths and trails. Even though Our original goal was to hike to the Weir Bridge and falls in the upper right corner of the map, we ended up weaving around the mostly dirt trails in the western side of the preserve, and never made it to the bridge.

Along the way we circled three different ponds (Fig. 03). As is usual here, we must have spotted more than a dozen rabbits (Fig. 04) along side the trails. One of the small ponds had a little waterfall at one end (Fig. 05). We could hear occasional birds, but couldn't get any shots. Near one pond we spotted a Dusky Moorhen tending her young chick (Fig. 06). Clickhere to read about this waterfowl ... Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa). On the side of the largest pond, there was a small bench that provided us with a good spot to rest and drink some water. It was amazing how much we were sweating. Even though the temperature was only in the upper 70's, due to the previous nights' rain the humidity was more than 40%, high for Las Vegas. The picture in (Fig. 08) was taken from in front of the bench. Figure 08 is the third pond we found. Even though I didn't take many pictures on this visit, we both enjoyed the walk and the conversation. We both agreed that we wanted to to it again soon. After walking more than 2.2 miles, we drove to the Cracked Egg on Green Valley Pkwy for breakfast on our way home.
                                             
(Fig. 03)

(Fig. 04)
(Fig. 05)
(Fig. 06)
(Fig. 07)
(Fig. 08)
(Fig. 09)


I challenge you to walk where you have not yet walked before - there is a whole world right outside your window. You feel the silence as if it were a great fresh wind blowing away the clouds of life. The silence is tremulous. You can walk yourself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness, imagined or real. You’d be a fool to miss it.

Click here for pictures and info from previous visits ...
Clark County Wetlands Park & Nature Preserve.

2017 Collages

The collages below can be found at ... J:\(12) Fotofusion\2017 Exported Collages


Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa)

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This page last updated on 10/02/2017
(Fig. 01)


Picture Notes:  On 08/05 I captured this picture of a Dusky Moorhen tendering her young chick (Fig. 01) on a morning walk at the Las Vegas Clark County Wetlands Preserve. This location is only a few miles from my house on the east side of the Las Vegas valley and runs from the various water treatment plants near the natural beginning of the Las Vegas Wash to where the wash flows under Lake Las Vegas and later into Lake Mead. The park includes 2,900 acres of water, trails, and trees along the Las Vegas Wash. The actual 210 acre Nature Preserve has three to four ponds surrounded by two miles of concrete and graveled secondary walking trails.
                                   
Description: The Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa) is a member of the rail family (Rallidae). The word gallinule is sometimes used for any member of the rail family but is usually these days reserved for birds that look like moorhens (such as coots, native hens and swamphens).  Like many of its other relatives the dusky moorhen has a short, dagger-like beak, long toes, a face shield and a highly animated tail. Gallinules are fascinating to watch because of their rather engaging behaviour. They live in close-knit families or pairs, and enjoy the company of others of their own kind, unless they threaten their families or food; then they get nasty.

Dusky moorhens are blackish in appearance: their wings with a brownish tinge and their breasts with a greyish tinge. They have a yellow-tipped red beak with a small shield above the beak, protecting the face. This shield is more probably used for communication, mate attraction and acts as a cue for feeding young than any real protection. Its eyes are dark (black-looking). The legs are multicolored: red above the greyish knee and greenish grey below, except when breeding, in which case the lower legs are bright red (as can be seen in the parent birds in the photo). It has long webless toes for manipulating and clambering amongst cumbungi, reeds and other water plants. Younger birds have a dull greyish or reddish bill and are browner (or less black) than the adults. Chicks are black and fluffy and have a red head and beak at first, but lose the red head feathers in a few days.The chicks can swim soon after hatching and follow their devoted parents around until fully fledged.

Their habitat requirements are reeds, rushes, cumbungi or other thick vegetation lining rivers or ponds, which don’t have to be particularly large. They are vegetarians, mainly eating water plants, but will also graze on land near water. Moorhens tolerate the presence of other birds and can be quite gregarious. Dusky moorhens are the third most common wetland bird after grey teal and Eurasian coots.

Wupatki National Monument

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This page last updated on 08/20/2017
(Fig. 01)
(Fig. 02)


Driving Directions: From Flagstaff take US-89 north for 12 miles (Fig. 02). Turn right at the sign for Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National Monuments. The Wupatki Visitor Center is 21 miles from this junction (Fig. 01). The drive time from Flagstaff to the Wupatki Visitor Center is 45–60 minutes. Wupatki National Monument is located along a 34-mile scenic loop road through open meadows, beautiful ponderosa pine trees, Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, juniper grasslands with views of the Painted Desert, and the open red rock landscape of the Wupatki Basin. Drive time along the loop road is about one hour. 

HistoryHuman history here spans at least 10,000 years. But only for a time, in the 1100s, was the landscape this densely populated. Wupatki National Monument preserves dozens of ancestral Puebloan villages. The many settlement sites scattered throughout the monument were built by the Ancient Pueblo People, more specifically the Cohonina, Kayenta Anasazi, and Sinagua. Of more than 800 identified ruins spread around many miles of desert within Wupatki National Monument, the five largest, Wupatki, Wukoki, Lomaki, Citadel and Nalakihu, emerged from bedrock. Wupatki was first inhabited around 500 AD. Wupatki, which means "Tall House" in the Hopi language, is a multistory Sinagua pueblo dwelling comprising over 100 rooms and a community room and ball court, making it the largest building for nearly 50 miles. Nearby secondary structures have also been uncovered, including two kiva-like structures. The eruption of nearby Sunset Crater Volcano a century earlier probably played a part in its population. A major population influx began soon after the eruption of Sunset Crater in the 11th century (between 1040 and 1100), which blanketed the area with volcanic ash; this improved agricultural productivity and the soil's ability to retain water. South of this area, the families that lost their homes to ash and lava had to move. They discovered that the cinders blanketing lands to the north could hold moisture needed for crops. A major population influx began soon after the eruption of Sunset Crater in the 11th century (between 1040 and 1100). Based on a careful survey of archaeological sites conducted in the 1980s, an estimated 2000 immigrants moved into the area during the century following the eruption.  By 1182, approximately 85 to 100 people lived at Wupatki Pueblo. Agriculture was based mainly on maize and squash raised from the arid land without irrigation. In the Wupatki site, the residents harvested rainwater due to the rarity of springs. As the new agricultural community spread, small scattered homes were replaced by a few large pueblos, each surrounded by many smaller pueblos and pithouses. Trade networks expanded, bringing exotic items like turquoise, shell jewelry, copper bells, and parrots. Wupatki flourished as a meeting place of different cultures, but by 1225, the site was permanently abandoned.


(Fig. 03)


08/10/2008 Trip Notes:  Today we visited the Wupatki National Monument north of Flagstaff, Arizona. We approached the Monument via its southern entrance along the road from Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, 35 miles from Flagstaff (Fig. 03). The 15 mile road that runs through Wupatki National Monument passes close to the five main pueblos (Wupatki, Wukoki, Lomaki, Citadel and Nalakihu), plus various viewpoints, picnic areas, and one trail, to the volcanic summit of Doney Mountain. Even though we didn't visit all of these locations, we did spend several hours visiting many of the major remaining structures. 

The largest structure on monument territory is the Wupatki Pueblo ruin (Fig. 04), built around a natural rock outcropping. With over 100 rooms, this ruin is believed to be the area's tallest and largest structure for its time period. Wupatki was first inhabited around 500 AD. Wupatki, which means "Tall House" in the Hopi language, is a multistory Sinagua pueblo dwelling comprising over 100 rooms making it the largest building for nearly 50 miles. The ruins are reached by a short, paved, self-guided trail starting at the visitor center, which takes about half an hour to walk at a leisurely pace. The dwelling's walls were constructed from thin, flat blocks of the local Moenkopi sandstone giving the pueblos their distinct red color. Held together with mortar, many of the walls still stand. Each settlement was constructed as a single building, sometimes with scores of rooms. Nearby secondary structures have also been uncovered, including two kiva-like structures. Apart from the main building, there is a circular community room beneath the main settlement (Fig. 05), a masonry ballpark - a recreational feature usually only found much further south, and a natural blowhole. For its time and place, there was no other pueblo like Wupatki. Less than 800 years ago, it was the tallest, largest, and perhaps the richest and most influential pueblo around. It was home to 85-100 people, and several thousand more lived within a day’s walk. And it was built in one of the lowest, warmest, and driest places on the Colorado Plateau. By 1182, approximately 85 to 100 people lived at Wupatki Pueblo but by 1225, the site was permanently abandoned. Though it is no longer physically occupied, Hopi believe the people who lived and died here remain as spiritual guardians. Stories of Wupatki are passed on among Hopi, Navajo, Zuni, and perhaps other tribes. Members of the Hopi Bear, Katsina, Lizard, Rattlesnake, Sand, Snow, and Water Clans return periodically to enrich their personal understanding of their clan history. (con't below)
                                    
(Fig. 04)
(Fig. 05)

Trip Notes Continued:  Just south of the park headquarters a side road branches eastwards to the Wukoki ruins, perhaps the most distinctive in the park as the house is built on an isolated block of sandstone, visible for several miles across the flat surroundings (Fig. 07). There is a short trail that leads to quite tall structure, centered on a square, three story tower (Fig. 08) with a series of intricately-constructed rooms at one side. At this ruin you were allow to hike up into it and take pictures of the surrounding desert looking through some of its doors and window (Figs. 09. 10, & 11).  The bricks have a deep red color, and the building merges seamlessly with the underlying Moenkopi rock. A short trail loops around the ruin and climbs to a vantage point on top. Past the Wukoki turn-off, the side road becomes unpaved and bumpy, crossing treeless, desert land for 5.5 miles without encountering anything of great interest until the monument boundary at the Little Colorado River (Fig. 12). (con't below)


(Fig. 06)
                                         
(Fig. 07)
(Fig. 08)
(Fig. 09)
(Fig. 10)
(Fig. 11)

(Fig. 12)

08/10/2008 Trip Notes:  From here we drove to the western portion of the monument (Fig. 13) admiring the colorful scenery along the way. Next we visited the Lomaki Pueblo 
(Fig. 14). Like all five of the accessible ruins in Wupatki National Monument, the impressive remains of Lomaki Pueblo are reached by a short trail, starting towards the north end of the park road. The dwelling is built right on the edge of a shallow, vertical-walled canyon, which was probably formed by faulting or other volcanic activity, and has a good view of the snow-capped San Francisco Peaks to the west. Several smaller ruins may be visited along the same trail, further along the rim of the box canyon. All buildings sit on flat, thin-layered strata of the local Moenkopi sandstone, deep red-brown in color, and eroding at the edges so that the canyon floor is littered with fallen boulders; the broken rocks complement the crumbling masonry walls of the pueblo. In contrast to the rich red rocks, the soil around the canyon is mostly black volcanic ash. At some locations, such as the Citadel, it is unreconstructed so there isn't much to see, just a large pile of fallen stones enclosed by a low wall. Many other stones from the building are scattered over the slopes below, mixed with black blocks of lava. From the hilltop several other ruins can be seen, at the edges of some of the adjacent mesas, though none can be visited since off trail hiking is not permitted. This entire area is extremely fascinating and I wish we had more time to spend here. It would definitely worth making another visit in the future.
                                   
(Fig. 13)
(Fig. 14)

The slideshow below will then cycle through 16 pictures taken at this location. Placing the cursor over the picture will bring up "arrows" will "pause" the show and allow you to move either to the Previous picture or the Next picture. Clicking the Next arrow and moving off the picture will resume the slideshow.

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