Skip to main content


Showing posts with the label flowers

Autumn Pleasures

A person could write forever about how wonderful autumn is. One of its understated virtues is its scratchy, dry texture. This is visually evident in tawny grass seedheads. 

On today's ride I brought my real camera (an Olympus TG-5) to look for sunflowers. They were found. It took a lot of looking but I am pleased I found a camera that has an adjustable aperture just by turning a knob, instead of the usual stepping through a complex menu that is virtually invisible in bright sunlight. I love blurry backgrounds.

Our Eponymous Wildflower

Many people like to look at wildflowers. Over the years one flower in particular has caught my eye.

I see this mostly white flower in high sagebrush or alpine meadows.

With all the rain we have had this year, flowers abound, including this mostly white flower. After doing a little homework, I was delighted to find that it is our eponymous "beautiful grass" flower.

It is popping out all over, in our 8100 foot sagebrush.

The other photos were taken in northern New Mexico. Here is the local product:

I love using large camera apertures to photograph flowers, so that the background is blurry.

So what is the point to this useless prettiness? It actually gave me great satisfaction to learn that the wildflower was named for the local area and, indeed, grows in the local area.

Was this essentially the same satisfaction that ancient pagans got from worshiping their smaller gods, such as hearth gods? Similarly Catholic peasants in the early days loved their smaller saints.

Where the West Hasn't Vanished

Why didn't I read Mark Twain's "Roughing It" a long time ago? It is an enjoyable book, especially for a traveler in the American West.

Of course a modern reader will become envious of Twain. He crossed the West in an Overland Stagecoach when America was mostly empty. Those days are long gone...

...But not completely.  Today I crossed one of the few empty places that still exist in the McMansioned West. How marvelous!

Surprisingly there was a Verizon signal. I pretty much carry in my head a map of Verizon-spewing cell towers. There must be a new one out here. I still can't believe it.

Upon reaching the metropolis of Datil, NM, I made the classic mistake of asking a local where the new cell tower was. A question like that always draws a blank look from my victim. You'd think they would want to know.

Few things benefit an independent lifestyle like curiosity in knowing 'how things work' in the things that your life depends on. Cell towers aren't the only…

Sometimes, Only a Pretty Girl Will Do

Early summer seems to be the time of year to notice butterflies on my mountain bike rides. So often, they seem to tag along, as if they are requesting membership in our bicycle club. It is physically challenging to focus on them as they flutter along, a step or two from the bike, and at the same speed as the bike. Whenever my eyes manage to freeze them in motion, they seem transformed, somehow.

The other day a large yellow butterfly fluttered in from the side, perpendicular to the direction of the bike and my dog. In fact, the butterfly collided with the head of my dog. But she didn't react snappishly, as she would to a normal insect nuisance, such as a fly or a sweat bee. She playfully -- and yet, gently--pushed the butterfly away from her head, and La Mariposa flew off, uninjured.

What is it with dogs and butterflies?

We are having great luck in northern New Mexico, right now, finding high, semi-flat land to dispersed-camp on and mountain bike on. The other day I stopped in the mid…

Traveling Again, Observing Again

I'm glad that southwestern Colorado (Cortez, Mancos, Dolores) seems to be coming up in the world as a mountain biking alternative to you-know-where in southeastern Utah. I will never understand what is so great about fighting loose red sandstone. Southwestern Colorado has some good ponderosa forests with smooth packed dirt trails.

The other day we saw a family at the top of the hill on the trail ahead of us. Did the mom ever have her hands full: a child too young to walk, a little boy-savage about 4, and a labrador retriever, together with all the impedimenta that goes along with them. I snapped my dog on the leash so that the mother wouldn't have one more issue to contend with.

Oddly enough, she seemed to be enjoying the moment of chaos. Her lab was friendly so I unsnapped my dog so that they could play together. I got a kick out of the little boy-savage, with his forest-camo, face-paint made of "Teddy Grahams."

I wish I had more pleasant encounters like this with homo…

A Peek at Picacho

Approaching a small desert peak north of Tucson, I began to understand why it had barely been named -- it's "name" sounds more like a common noun than a proper noun. The atlas had piqued my interest so, just out of curiosity, I came to "Desert Peak."

I was a bit frustrated in wasting the gasoline to get here. It looked as uninteresting as it did on the map. I got parked and we immediately started walking towards this lackluster "peak." It was a shock to see how much the vegetation had changed from the desert floor along the Santa Cruz River, just two hundred feet lower than here. How could plants be so local, so particular about where they grow? We were back in sticker and thorn country, especially the nasty chain cholla.

Many of the place-names out West are rather colorful. Unlike constellations in the sky, mountain peaks sometimes actually look like the animal, saddle, or portions of Mollie's anatomy that they were named for.


Flowers to a Lovely Girl

On my way to a visit in Ouray CO, I drove through Gunnison. It is nice to see a "cycling chick chic" culture developing there, as it has in Salida, Crested Butte, and a few other towns. There are very few examples when I actually like visiting a city. It's nice to finally have a chance.

Although the word 'charming' is easy to overuse, it does seem to be the right word to explain a middle aged (!) woman in a summery dress, pedaling a funky girlie-style bicycle, while wearing flip-flops. A wicker basket in mounted on the handlebar, and she might have a boule of bread sticking out of the basket. How youthful, unburdened, and unhurried she becomes the minute she jumps on that bike!  

It would be nice to know where else this culture has developed besides a couple towns in Colorado -- and Copenhagen, of course.

I dispersed-camped overnight while visiting Ed and Patches. I think they liked the sagebrush hills and dirt road that we chose for our "Rage in the Sage.&quo…

How I Remember this Devastated Land

It is always fun to visit a dispersed camping area that you haven't seen in quite a few years. I went back to the higher country, just uphill of where I've been camping the last few days, because the fire has become less dramatic. In fact, I now see it as a make-work project for government-sector employees and crony-capitalists.

Well, that's how the upper Rio Grande valley still looks at the ingress of the San Juan mountains in southwestern Colorado.

And forest fire or not, there are still many wild roses in bloom. I need a break from the smell of smoke, haze, and destruction.

So life goes on.

Part 2: Truly Appreciating Wildflowers

In fact I laughed when she rolled into camp. All that "mighty" thinking and worrying, and yet I had overlooked the obvious. One way or another a woman should help to intensify the experience of the best wildflower season in years. And that was the mission.

At first 'woman and flower' sounds like an old-fashioned cliche for poets and songwriters. And it is, but only for society in general. It's a good guess that men, who retired early and became full-time travelers, did so because they walked away from women relatively early in life. Therefore for us, the 'woman and flower' connection is not a cliche, but in fact, is radical and naughty. 

The diabolical scheme was simple enough:I would take her along on the walk into the Florida mountains to enjoy the best wildflower season in years, and somehowsomething might happen to take things way beyond the tourist level. 

It's one thing to say that you really want something to succeed. It's quite another thing …

Turning Desert Wildflower Ennui to Advantage

For many people in many places, Spring means rain and flowers. But in the American Southwest a wet winter -- normally the secondary rainy season -- produces wildflowers only at the lower altitudes, that is, the desert floor. Really great shows don't occur every year. Fortunately there was enough rain this winter to produce a good show. 

If you are seeing the wildflower display for the first time, you have no choice but to be wowed. I agree with all the ecstatic praise about spring wildflowers in the desert. But please remember that this blog targets experienced travelers, a group that the tourism industry (and virtually all RV blogs) could not care less about.

It is natural for the magic to wear off once you've seen a couple good springs. Then what? Do you resign yourself to a lukewarm experience? Some people would prefer to deny that this happens, offer you a pep talk full of half-truths, and then attribute their attitude to "positive thinking." But it is more challe…

Arguing My Case on Courthouse Mountain

I hate to admit it but it would be nice to carry a smartphone with a flower, tree, or bird "app" when hiking in the mountains. As an alternative, hike with Bobbie. (Besides, she doesn't require batteries. She is a battery on the trail.) Seriously I'd rather just ask somebody a question than play with some distracting gadget. For instance, the shape of this flower was reminiscent of Indian paintbrush, but the color was wrong. She explained that Indian paintbrush does come in more than one color.

Mark and Bobbie complained about my wisecracks (on my blog) against eye candy, postcards, pretty-poo scenery worship, etc. It surprised me that I'd given offense. Perhaps they underestimate the difference between a part-time RVer (in vacation/tourist mode) and a full-time RVer who must expand his interests in other directions.
At any rate I was making a certain amount of progress mending my fences on the way up Courthouse Mountain, just past Chimney Rock where they shot the …

Premature Mother's Day Oration

Maurice Chevalier was right, in Gigi: Thank heavens for little girls. 
There is a barrier protecting my boondocking site in a national forest near City of Rocks State Park (Silver City, NM): an inconvenient location and 7 miles of a narrow gravel road. Thus I have seen absolutely nobody out here.
Yesterday I was surprised to encounter a small SUV, carrying Dad and a little darlin', maybe 4 years old. They were looking for wild turkeys. We talked about the road and mining shacks for a couple minutes. The cutie pie said she liked my dog, Coffee Girl.
Perhaps Dad is imprinting a love of the outdoors on this little girl. Twenty years from now she might turn out to be a "camping mom", a horsewoman, or maybe even a mountain biker!  Her husband will be fortunate in this regard, at least.
I have no way of knowing whether they found their wild turkeys, but Coffee Girl and I did, the next day. Those things are huge! It was down in a slightly-wet creek right alongside the dirt road. We…

The True Colors of a Flower

Small flowers are popping up everywhere right now in the Sonoran Desert, courtesy of the rain last November and December, presumably. Nothing seemed extreme when I took this photograph, but now I have to wonder whether the camera was malfunctioning, perhaps because I was aiming too close to the sun. No, the camera seems OK. The backlighting is bringing out the yellow in the desert flower that ordinarily is not noticeable.

It's strange that our notion about "color" in nature is usually aimed at reflective colors rather than transmitted colors. We hardly ever think about it. This suggests some idea of wider applicability. But what is it?

Happy With So Little

It's too early in the monsoon season in the Southwest to see flowers. Most of them are cautious and wait until September. These two were a real surprise. Keep in mind that there was a severe drought for nine months prior to this.

It's not good enough to just be pretty when you're in the flower biz. Something more dramatic and interesting is needed. First we must push away the Trivial and the Prittee-Poo, and dwell on the horribleness of the drought. We must be willing to stare into the Abyss. Some people won't do that because that would be "negative thinking." Too bad, because the real beauty isn't in the "positive", banal, and insipid color of flowers; it's in the violent contrast between Suffering and Rain.

It reminded me of RVing in Mexico. Sometimes I would sit out in the plaza and admire the pretty senoritas; schoolgirls actually. It surprised me that they were so attractive. But why? Must a country have material affluence to have pret…

Spikes and Flowers

We don't get many cholla or cactus flowers in the spring, here in the Little Pueblo, so I do appreciate them. But it was the needles that grabbed me.


Flower and Petroglyph?

Is that a petroglyph of a bicycle in the upper left corner? I love close-up photography. There are interesting details that you wouldn't take the time to notice otherwise. Seeing those serrations on the ends of the flower petals surprised me more than driving up the standard scenic viewpoint of the Grand Canyon.

It's Only a Dry Beauty

My visitor and I wandered over to the old fort to check things out.

It was so tinder-dry around that area, and that made for unpleasant walking through dry brush. We avoided most of it since my companion lacked the sort of clothing that would have been natural in that area. (He wears shorts in the Southwest! grin)

It's probably a common thing to go somewhere to see something, and then finding the mind drift off to something quite different.

I wondered how I got sucked into appreciating the beauty of dry texture. Do you select a retirement area because you carry a latent image in your head, and then the land develops the image? 'Beauty' is different than mere prettiness of course. Did other people who live in this area get sucked into the same thing?

May Flowers

Why don't I know the name of these white flowers that show up in May every year? This is the first one for this year. They are probably no big deal to a generic viewer; you have to live somewhere to appreciate certain things; they can't be appreciated just as eye candy.

I don't know why, but I like shadows of stamen and photographing flowers from the backside.