Saturday, February 23, 2013

Desert Scenery

I was out west on business and got some time to explore the scenery.  The wife and I were in the Tucson, Arizona area.  It was pretty spectacular!

I got up before sunrise to take in the scenery.  The day would get over 70 degF, but it was just around 40 degF before dawn.

Spring will be here in the desert soon.  The fish hook barrel cactus are starting to bloom.

We were staying by the foothills of the Coronado Mountains.  We visited Catalina State Park.  The scenery was incredible, especially for folks like us from the green, forested northeast.

I had been to Arizona before, but had never seen so many saguaro cactus.

The trees were small compared to the spruce, tamaracks, pines and maples on our property.  There were a lot of scraggly mesquite and a few green-barked palo verdes.

Not only were the vistas interesting, but even the smaller scenes were neat.  There were hedgehog cactus . . .

. . . as well as pencil cactus (which were flowering).

It was a dry area.  Off in the distance were silvery threads of water coming of the mountains.  The wash just below us was dry.

We were near the 'Romero Ranch'.  It was an old homestead settled around the mid-1800's.  There were remnants of the foundation about.  This area was also the site of a previous Hohokam village.  There were vestiges of the old rock walls around the area.

I was amazed at the stands of saguaro!

We took a trip to see the Old Tucson Studios.  It is a stage used for western movies and television shows.  John Wayne starred in four films here (Rio Bravo, Rio Lobo, El Dorado, McClintock).  Several TV shows were filmed here, including Little House on the Prairie, and . . .

. . . High Chaparral.

A few day's later a freak snow storm hit the area.  The locals told us it was the first significant storm here in 18 years.

It was beautiful.  The prickly pear cactus were coated.

 The snow brought out stranges clump within the branches of the trees.  What was it?

Desert mistletoe!

The agave were also coated in snow . . .

 . . . as were the cholla cactus.

We were surprised by the amount of wildlife.  We saw rabbits, . . .

. . . gila woodpeckers, . . .

. . . , phainopeplas, . . .

. . . Gambel's quail, . . .

. . . mourning doves, . . .

. . . and a curved-bill thrasher.

We also saw cactus wrens and various sparrows.  The wife might have seen a roadrunner one night at dusk!

This was quite a spectacular area.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Life Goes On

The storms, snow, and winds of the past few days have disappeared.  Today broke sunny and calm.  I had a cup of coffee, and went cross country skiing.  The conditions were perfect.

It seems nature has shrugged of the snowstorm and continued about with its business.  The sun was out, and the sky is clear.

The snow has covered everything, but it is starting to melt in the bright sunlight.

The creek babbles along.  It will slowly rise as the sun melts the snow.

I noticed tracks all about the yard.  There is a cat that roams about.  They always sneak close to the barn and other outbuildings.

There must have been a regular deer 'party' last night.  I followed tracks coming from the north, they went around the barn, and over to the bird feeders.  The deer population must have really increased the last year.  I have never seen so many tracks as we have now.  We have stopped putting food in the feeders as the deer just empty them out.

The deer split into two groups.  One went to the east into the neighbor's property, . . .

. . . while the other group went up Spook Hill.

Things are back to normal around here.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Nearly Done

I did the final sanding of the pike carving.  I made a simple stand to hold the carving.  I think it looks pretty good!

I need to let it warm up in the workshop before I can give the pike a coat of primer.  Given the cold conditions we have had lately, it might be a few weeks before I can start the painting.

I'll post the final photo of the painted carving when I get it completed.  Enjoy . . .

Friday, February 8, 2013

Snow Fall

The recent winter storm has left a snowy blanket all around.  It was still and peaceful this night.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Fin Fun

It is very cold outside.  18 degF, blustery snow and wind from the north. Brrrr!  Still, I needed to go to the workshop and spend some time making / fixing / cutting / drilling / carving / sanding / breaking something.

I continued on the pike carving.  Today, I worked on the pectoral and pelvic fins.

I started by making some templates for the fins.

I used the templates to create two pair of fins.  The fins are cut in 1/4 inch material.  I then cut the fins to expose 1/4 notches.

I drilled 1/4 holes into the body of the carving.  I rounded the notches and beveled the base of each fin.  Voila!

I did some trimming of the other fins and the tail.  Now onto the sanding.  I'll sand the body and tail, then move onto the fins.  Then I glue it together and go to paint.

It's getting there!