This week’s Photo Challenge is Off-Season. Does this play tricks on your brain?
While living on the outskirts of Phoenix I witnessed several extreme dust storms, also known by the Arabic name of haboob! I can’t even say it without an exclamation point in my voice.
They would sweep through the valley between our balcony and the distant mountains giving us a perfect view of these Forces of Nature. Only once did I get a mouthful of grit and have to make a hasty retreat to the apartment.
The view would completely disappear behind the spooky murk.
Moments later as the wind blew through the dust would disappear and the view of distant mountains and our ‘world famous’ fountain rising up to over 500 feet would reappear.
And later, a perfect moonrise over Four Peaks was revealed – two more forces of nature:
This is no longer our ‘corner of the world’ but nature is more genteel in this corner of the world and I wanted to share the noxious dust storm pictures with you.
After a marathon three-and-a-half day journey from Arizona – taxi ride, overnight flight, rental car, hotel, channel tunnel, drive, drive, drive, hotel, drive,drive, drive – to the south of France, our Reward was this:
And of course we got our just desserts:
To see more entries in the photo challenge click here ↓↓↓
As I sort through accumulated treasures of the last eight years ready for the removal men to box up our lives and whisk them away, I tear up now and again. I have petitioned for this move to England and yet . . . . we have been comfortable in our Arizona bubble of the good life.
My days consist of meals out, coffee with friends, swimming, shopping, yoga, reading, writing, blogging, walking amongst the desert flora, book club, watching wildlife from our balcony, writing group and wearing lightweight to barely any clothing all year round. What’s not to like?
Unbearably hot summers are alleviated with air-conditioning or going north. Our neighbor expressed it as eight months of heaven and four months of hell. Even now when it is 105° outside we’re comfortable, until the electricity bill arrives.
Our quest for the last eight years has been to look for the perfect place to live. With family spread around the world, there is no such place for us but all other factors considered we came close to it in southern Arizona. The weather has been kind to us in our ridge top apartment as we’ve watched monsoons and dust storms sweep through the valley from the comfort of our balcony. While the rest of the country endured an insufferably long winter we put the heat on now and again and wore trousers instead of shorts.
All photos taken from our balcony. Please click to enlarge. Go on! You can’t see them properly unless you do, especially the dust storm and the pink rain!
The next few months, year? two years? will consist of uncertainty, insecurity and temporary accommodation tempered by the warmth of family and friends. At least I hope they will be pleased to see us.
I have made a pact with himself, the green card-toting Englishman, who apart from his views on politics and guns could be a native Arizonian. For two or three months each winter – possibly beginning December 26th – we will cross the English channel and head south until we reach sunshine.
Right now I am in my anxiety default position – brain freeze and inertia. I gaze at our apartment with Native American and Mexican decorating touches and my American Southwest photos adorning the walls and don’t want to touch a thing.
Our year’s hiatus from travelling, cocooned in comfortable stationary housing, has turned into two-and-a-half years of spinning our wheels.
Which way now? The UK beckons.
I need a new blog title. What do you suggest?
“Do you want to see something really cool?” Raven Longbow, Indian Guide, had crept up on us making us jump just like an Indian should while we’d been admiring the view of Palm Springs from the Andreas Canyon lookout point at Indian Canyons.
“Many years ago, a young Indian had his heart broken, so he came out to these hills . . . ,” he said, indicating, “Oh! I’m not even pointing in the right direction. Don’t believe what you hear about Indians’ sense of direction and never getting lost.” He turned 180 degrees, as did we, pointed at a far mountain and continued, “. . . and laid down to sleep to wait for his love to come back to him. Do you see his nose? And there is his chin. You can see the curve of his mouth.”
“I’m not with you,” I had to admit. I really wanted to ‘see.’
“There are his hands folded on his chest.”
“Ah! Yes! I can see his knuckles,” I said excitedly with more imagination than clear vision of the peaks in the distance. As I nodded knowingly he smiled, satisfied.
“Of course you have to take all Indian stories with a pinch of salt and a pound of sugar.”
As I admired his spikey, fearsome Mohawk-type hair, with the sides of his head shaved and long pigtail down to his waist I asked, “What tribe are you?”
“Apache. I grew up in Arizona where that means ‘filthy enemy’ in Mexican.” His friendly granddad’s face did not match this description.
“Raven Longbow (as displayed on his badge) is a great name,” I said.
“No. My brothers got the cool names – Grey Wolf and Great Hawk. Raven was okay in Arizona but when we moved to California it was a girl’s name. You try growing up with a girl’s name. Apache names are always macho, never ‘short fat bald man.’ I coped with it until I got put in girl’s PE because of my name. Still, I’m glad my mother wasn’t drunk when she named me. She would have called me Chickenshit.”
Without further explanation Raven continued, “Do you want to see something else?” He was in his stride now. We weren’t sure how much, if anything, to believe but he was entertaining. “Look at that rock.” A plinth of jagged rock jutted out above us. “Does it remind you of anything?” It did. I wasn’t sure what but yes seemed the right answer to perpetuate his commentary. “It’s the Lion King rock. A Hollywood producer visited our canyon and decided to use our rock for that famous scene.”
“Oh, yes. It is, isn’t it?”
Is it? I took the obligatory photograph which came in handy for comparison purposes. Depending on who you ask, that rock is in Chile, Norway, New Zealand, The Serengeti, Appalachia, some woman’s back yard in Austin, Texas or right there just a few miles from Palm Springs.
Before I could cast doubt on his last story he carried on, “Do you see those holes in the rock?” Smooth, perfectly round depressions in the boulders, rock mortars the size of a cereal bowl and others as large as a mixing bowl were used for grinding food and medicine we were told.
“The recipes for medicines are handed down through the female line in our tribe but I used to hang out with my grandmother and she taught me everything she knew so I am the medicine man for our family. We hardly ever go to the doctor.” Now you’re talking, I thought.
“What ingredients do you use?”
Raven gave me the Apache version of an inscrutable look and that ended our conversation.
Either I’d crossed a line or he’d run out of stories.
The best way to see the upper reaches of the stunning Glen Canyon is to be “on the move” on a boat on Lake Powell. The Colorado River was dammed above the Grand Canyon, creating the lake.
What’s that speck in our wake?
Jet skiers having fun jumping our wake!
The only way to see Rainbow Bridge is by boat. The rock arch is static, not fitting this week’s theme, but I’m sure the people – see tiny dots at base of the left side of the arch – are “on the move!”
I’m a bit slow off the mark with this challenge as they are published each Friday and it’s Wednesday already. My brain is a bit sluggish. I seem to have been struck with some strange virus that most affects me from the neck up – headache, earache, nose-ache! and eye-ache! It’s like a cold that hasn’t come out except for the occasional volcanic sneeze that makes himself jump and utter obscenities.
Gazing at old photos seems all I’m capable of at the moment.
For details of the challenge, push the blue button!
For a bit of light relief from my airport security issues (for you and for me) I have joined in a Travel Theme: Close Up with Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack by way of Hey Jude of Travel Words. All are welcome to join in. Visit Ailsa’s site to see how it’s done.
My close ups hail from Florida, California and Arizona.
I’m always drawn to pelicans. Hold that pose Mr P.
Flowers draw my eye and my shutter finger. This orchid in Florida is one of hundreds of flower photos or as himself would say, “More bloody flowers!”
The Portuguese Man O’War is a jewel on the beach but don’t touch!
Smile please! You’re on “Carol’s Camera!”
Who can identify this? it was on a recent post.
Thanks for stopping by.
We’ll be back to the regularly scheduled program tomorrow.
“You said we need gas. Turn here!”
“Do you think the pumps are still working?” Standard Oil was broken up under the antitrust laws in 1911 some of which eventually became Exxon, Mobil and Chevron. As you can see we were in Cow Springs which is on Route 160 in Arizona on the way to Monument Valley not to be confused with Wild Cow Springs Recreation Area in western Arizona not to be confused with mad cows. Speaking of which himself may have brought them to mind when I entreated him to “Turn here!”:
It seemed a reputable tourist destination from the look of the sign. Don’t you think so? Though I am the designated navigator himself picks and chooses when to listen to me. He didn’t turn so I cannot confirm if they were real dinosaur tracks.
The good news is that we made it to Monument Valley despite my misdirection:
In 1859 the Pony Express linked the east coast of the United to the West, a 1900 mile run from St. Joseph Missouri – the end of the telegraph line – to Sacramento California. The riders were often lightweight teenage boys, most notably Buffalo Bill.
Today “neither rain, sleet, nor dark of night can stop the Hashknife Pony Express. Each January for the last 54 years, the old west is brought to life as an elite group of riders thunder through Arizona.”
When they cantered up The Avenue of the Fountains an unexpected lump came up in my throat. Although growing up on the east coast, many iconic images of the west are woven into the fabric of my childhood: the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Yosemite, Yellowstone, saguaro cactuses, California redwoods, giant sequoias, pioneers, wagon trains, cowboys. And the Pony Express.
America and Americans suffer a poor image abroad thanks to moronic celebrities, stupid movies, unfunny sitcoms, intrusive media, grasping politicians and greedy corporations but there are many more reasons to be proud of my country and my fellow Americans and The Hashknife Pony Express exemplifies this.
They epitomize the grit and determination of our forebears. Much of the landscape of the West is unforgiving – expansive deserts, dense forests, vast mountain ranges and worse places, like Death Valley where the temperature once reached 134º F and badlands, rocky terrains remarkable to see but treacherous to navigate. I have admired the beauty of these places from the comfort of a climate controlled vehicle and am constantly astounded at the resolve of my countrymen who came west – on foot, in wagons and on horseback.
The Hashknife Pony Express finishes their 200 mile mail run today in Scottsdale AZ.