Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ronald McDonald needs to see a dentist!

We recently went downtown (to Chicago) to see "Rent" and had some time between lunch and the matinee to wander around. Outside the Rock 'n Roll McDonalds on Ontario is a bronze statue of, arguably, one of our more famous clowns. He stands under a deeply shaded overhang, and the bright sunshine at his back nearly washed out the background. I chose to replace it with this fun scrap paper from

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How about this weather?

As you can see, I took this photo in several days ago, but here in blogland, we were still visiting Arizona, so I'm late in posting this. Our local paper always gives a brief forecast for the current day, and two days out. I was taken by the swing between snowy Tuesday and sunny Friday.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

And we close the gate on the trip to Arizona

I'm long back in Illinois after my quick visit, but this virtual photo trip is just now ending. As we left the Botanical Gardens, this interesting gate closed behind us, and cast some wonderful shadows that ushered us back to the car.

See you back in Illinois!

Monday, April 27, 2009

People who are surrounded by glass shouldn't throw stones

When we visited Phoenix at Christmas, we were lucky enough to see the Chihuly Glass Exhibit, installed at the Desert Botanical Gardens, at night. However, none of my many photos were eligible for this blog because they were taken in 2008.

On this quick return trip, I not only got to see these gorgeous works of art in the daylight, I photographed them in 2009, so, here you go! Chihuly Glass! These were specially created for the gardens, and many of the pieces mimic the cacti that serve as a backdrop.

I was loving the tight shot of the red in my small viewfinder. In a larger version, however, I can see they need to be dusted. One of the volunteer security staff told us that an average glass set (and there were at least a dozen different areas throughout the garden) took 2-3 volunteers 2-3 hours DAILY to dust and polish. Wow!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

This is quite a house!

We enjoyed the architectural details found in this replica of an Akimel O'odham Roundhouse on the grounds of the Desert Botanical Gardens. The structure itself was typically made from branches of mesquite and cottonwood trees, while the thatched roof and walls were covered with arrow weed or willow saplings. My stepdad volunteered to crawl inside and check out the beams. Glad they held up ok!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

If you kiss him, does he turn into a prince?

I sure didn't test the theory!

In a pond on the grounds of the Desert Botanical Gardens, we spied this frog, hanging out and enjoying the day. The entire time we stared, photographed, and chatted about him, he never blinked! His eyes are ribbeting - er - riveting.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Not yellow, and not a bikini, but polka-dotted nonetheless

These pretty butterflies struck a pose and showed off their flashy polka-dotted wings. The Butterfly Pavillion in the Desert Botanical Gardens was alive with all sorts of gorgeous flowers and butterflies. Mary Lou, if you are reading this, I thought of you while visiting here. You would have LOVED all of the butterflies!! I believe the orange butterfly is a Queen, and the black is an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (dark).

Thursday, April 23, 2009

No X-Ray vision needed

Beside a healthy, growing Saguaro cactus are the skeletal remains of another Saguaro. When tipped over and lying on the ground, I think they resemble driftwood, but standing tall, you can see how they formed a stable structure for this cactus to live many years. Saguaro don't grow their first arm until they are 65-75 years old!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Not all good shots happen at dawn...

Survived the raft trip! On the last day of this short trip to Arizona, we spent a couple of hours in the Desert Botanical Gardens. Many different kinds of wildflowers were in bloom, the Chihuly glass exhibit was set up in the gardens, and the place wasn't too busy. I was lucky enough to find this small patch of young Saguaro cacti, backlit from the mid-morning sunshine.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Did anyone bring the Dramamine?

The road to get to and from the raft launch, and the Salt River itself, are both very curvy! This shot was taken on the way back to Phoenix, from one of the overlooks. The cluster of cars marks where rafters leave their vehicles. Just below and beyond that is the launch beach (with the first set of rapids coming almost immediately), then you paddle and float your way 13 miles to the take out, downstream and around countless curves through this gorgeous canyon.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Secluded, private, and gorgeous

Sounds like a real estate ad (doesn't it, Tammy!) but those words can also describe our route down the Salt River. The river crosses through private land owned by Native Americans. We had to sign a release and pay a permit fee to be allowed to raft through this wonderful canyon. Worth every penny.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Oh no! I've got a leaner!

After our lunch, the guides invited us to use their horseshoe pit while they cleaned up camp. No one took them up on the offer, but I enjoyed the lovely setting. In the background is the Salt River and the canyon, where we came from just before lunch.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

How much is that doggie in the window?

Halfway through our raft trip, we stopped at a place called Second Camp for a delicious steak lunch. The raft guides actually live on this flat, sandy area on the banks of the river. Chico is the canine companion of one of those guides. He hung out on the beach, watching rafts come and go, and hoping someone would sneak him a piece of steak.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Out of the desert, on to the water!

Nothing like a little whitewater rafting to take the heat out of the desert! The day after our hike, a long drive from Phoenix brought us deep into the Superstition mountains, where we paddled through Class II and III whitewater down the Salt River. Not all of Arizona is hot and arid; when the rafts pushed off, it was 43 degrees!

Without excellent communication, you won't make it through the more technical parts of the river. Even getting the raft down to the river requires good communication between the guide and the paddlers.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Are YOU superstitious?

A couple of hours into our hike deep in the Superstition Wilderness, we were heading down a somewhat steep trail. DBF Jon stepped on a loose rock, which rolled under foot, and down he went. I think the ghosts in the wilderness got him!

He struck his hand on a very sharp rock, giving himself quite a deep gash on the thick part of his palm, just below the thumb. We are both experienced hikers with hundreds of miles under our boots, but for some reason, we took off on this hike without any first aid supplies. Best we could do was wash the cut with drinking water, use a small towel bound with duct tape to stop the bleeding, and then I rigged up a duct tape sling to keep the hand elevated as we hiked out. We drove into Mesa and, six stitches and an antibiotic shot in the rump later, wrapped up our too-eventful day! (He's doing fine now. Stitches came out earlier this week).

PS: For you Arizona-geography buffs, you can just see Weaver's Needle peeking up over the bolt in the signpost.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Good thing I don't have to remember any one in particular...

...with all of these look alikes, it's nearly impossible to tell one Saguaro cactus from the other! These grew thick and fast and ushered us along our trail.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

You's my bokeh!

I couldn't decide which of these two photos I liked better, so I'm posting both.


Desert marigolds:

Monday, April 13, 2009

I'm thankful for a long zoom!

I spied this Phainopepla on a very thorny bush. He was rather skittish, but sat still long enough for a photo. After this picture was closely cropped, I could see what he looked like!



Sunday, April 12, 2009

Theme 75: Modified. From dessert to desert

There are huge deserts in Arizona, but of the Sonoran kind, where flowers, cacti, and other flora thrive. If you are lucky enough to visit in the spring, the wildflowers bring color and life to an otherwise dry landscape. Here, some brittlebush light up the hillside.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Every rose has its thorn

(so they say). On our hike in the Arizona mountains, I spied this hardy clump of (I think) desert marigolds, growing in and around prickly pear cactus. Brave little flowers!

You can see that the prickly pear is growing some flowers of its own, as well. Another week or so and these will be sporting some lovely blooms.

Friday, April 10, 2009

At least the thorns are straight!

Anyone up for a hike? On the second day of our trip to Arizona, we left the heat of Phoenix and headed up into the mountains. I liked the bent arms of this teddy bear cholla, framing the Superstition mountains.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Oddly, this doesn't make any noise

Unlike the other clocks in my folks' house, this one, with musical instruments marking the hours of the day, ticks silently all day long.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The music gene skipped a generation . . .

My mother had a beautiful singing voice. I have no musical talent, but my stepdad is very musically inclined. He indulges his passion in the family living room.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Off to Arizona...

Over the last weekend in March, I went to Arizona for family reasons. Hang out with me there for a few days! We'll start off in my parent's house, which is a veritable clock museum...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Thinking spring!

Swapped out my blog header for something lighter and more fresh. Thanks to the designers of free scrap materials: Foxy Designs (Paper) Kris Meyer Designs (sprinkles), KariQ Designs (sunshine, flower flair, frames) and Vicki Parker ( for the cool letter "A" alpha. Balance of fonts are from


I had fun with this black and white theme, because I got to eat the props!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Be at the gate 30 minutes prior to departure

You'd hate to miss your flight because you showed up at the wrong time.

Spring break is long over...time for blog visitors to virtually head back to Illinois and resume the blog from there!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

How do your feet stay dry?

This display of Crocs was at a kiosk at the Denver International Airport.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Here's the church, here's the steeple...

Actually this steeple sits atop an 1800s-era school house on Main Street in Frisco, Colorado, where I spent part of my spring break. The mountain behind it is Buffalo. What a view those school kids had! The school house now serves as a local history museum.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Snow looks different down here

Lying on my stomach on frozen Lake Dillon, trying to capture the ridges from wind-blown snow and the sparkle from the early-morning sun. The world is different from ground-level!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How many triangles can you spot in this photo?

This sailboat-weather vane sits atop a gazebo in the Frisco Historic Park. I liked the sense of concentric triangles in this photo.