30 photos of the American Southwest we can’t stop looking at


WIND AND WATER have been eroding away the sandstone of the desert southwest for thousands of years, carving deep canyons and leaving buttes that rise above the surrounding desert floor. This desert landscape has been a home to people for thousands of years, from the ancient Puebloan people to Edward Abbey and today’s adventurers who explore this stark, yet beautiful region of the United States. These photos help show the beauty of the desert southwest.

1

Upper Antelope Canyon near Page, Arizona is famous for its beams of light that shine into the canyon for only a matter of minutes at midday.

2

Dust kicked up from the sandy bottom helps the light beams become visible in Upper Antelope Canyon in Arizona.

3

Over thousands of years, water carved through the soft sandstone to create Upper Antelope Canyon and define its abstract formations.

4

Anasazi ruins tucked away along Aztec Butte in the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park, Utah.

5

An evening thunderstorm clears over the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park.

6

Fog fills up the Colorado River Basin between Moab and Canyonlands National Park.

7

An afternoon rain shower leaves puddles for a sunset reflection of Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, Utah.

8

For good reason, Delicate Arch is a popular place to watch the sunset.

9

During the spring, if you wait until about 4 am, the Milky Way is perfectly framed by Delicate Arch.

10

While not an officially-marked trail, the scramble down to False Kiva below the mesa rim is worth the view in Canyonlands National Park.

11

Snow from a spring storm melts at Green River Overlook in Canyonlands National Park.

12

After a day of thunderstorms, the sun pokes through the clouds just before it sets over the Green River in Canyonlands National Park.

13

Horseshoe_Bend[1]

Sunrise over the tightest bend in the Colorado River at Horseshoe Bend in northern Arizona.

14

Sunset over the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park, Utah.

15

Kolob Canyons is the lesser-visited northern section of Zion National Park with vast views and no crowds.

16

Mesa Arch is the only arch in the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park — it provides a window down to the Colorado River from the canyon rim.

17

Moonrise behind Merrick’s Butte and The Mittens in Monument Valley on the Utah/Arizona border.

18

Sunrise between the famous West and East Mittens in Monument Valley.

19

A juniper tree frames West Mitten in Monument Valley.

20

900-year-old fingerprints from the original builders of the Moon House Ruin on Cedar Mesa, Utah

21

The Moon House Ruin holds a number of rooms within the exterior protective wall hidden in McLoyd Canyon on Cedar Mesa, Utah.

22

Until the next flash flood this tumbleweed sits in Rattlesnake Canyon in northern Arizona.

23

Thousands of years of erosion cut through the Navajo Sandstone to create fascinating lines within Rattlesnake Canyon.

24

Snow Canyon State Park in the far southeast corner of Utah is a red rock playground for hikers, rock climbers and mountain bikers.

25

The Left Fork of North Creek cuts through the sandstone creating the short tunnel-like slot canyon called the Subway in Zion National Park.

26

Washerwoman Arch pokes out of the fog as the sun rises above the La Sal Mountains near Moab, Utah.

27

Cottonwoods and sandstone cliffs reflect in North Creek in the early morning light, Zion National Park.

28

A small cascade in North Creek below the Subway in Zion National Park.

29

Small slot canyons branch off from Pine Creek Canyon on the eastside of Zion National Park.


OUR TRAVEL TALKS ARE BACK ON AND WE HAVE BOTH FINALLY AGREED ON A DESTINATION THIS WINTER:))

YES PHEEBS AND I SURE DO ENJOY OUR RURAL COUNTRY ROADS AROUND HERE ALIGHT:))

Without any significantly good rainfalls for a long time now things are drying up. Some of our lush green ferns have already turned brown and died. Several of our ground covers are wilted and shrinking up, various leafy plants are droopy, and green lawn grasses are also turning brown and brittle. No sign of any positive rain in the near future and our days are heating up again. Our pine forest is very dry and a tinderbox.

LOOKS LIKE HURON COUNTIES WHEAT HARVEST IS BEGINNING

I LIKE WHEN FARMERS GET AWAY FROM THEIR RECTANGLE FIELDS AND THROW A FEW CURVES IN

BEEN NOTICING A LOT OF WHEAT FIELDS THIS YEAR

THIS FARMER IS CUTTING GRASS FOR HAY

AND I WOULD SAY THIS FARMER IS A DEDICATED ALLIS-CHALMERS GUY

With a coffee in hand from Bayfield’s Shop Bike Coffee Roasters and a new box of Graham Crackers from Foodland stashed safely away under my drivers seat Pheebs and I were off out into the countryside. Our travels took us down around the small town of Zurich this morning.

LOOKING WEST ACROSS A BEAN FIELD

LOOKING EAST ACROSS ANOTHER BEAN FIELD

WON’T BE LONG AND THESE AREA CORN STALKS WILL BE SIX AND SEVEN FEET TALL

It was a nice sunny Tuesday morning with a refreshing breeze in off the lake. Thought we’d take a chance on another forest walk so headed for the Klopp Tract east of Zurich. With each day getting warmer I wasn’t sure if the Deer Flies and Mosquitoes were back in the air again or not.

THERE ARE ALWAYS A VARIETY OFFLOWERS IN BLOOM AT THIS COMMUNITY REST AREA ALONGSIDE THE ROAD

Parked the Jeep and slipped into the coolness of the forest and noticed the pleasant absence of flying insects right away. Bonus. Well it was not long lived and our presence was soon detected by a waiting armada of Mosquitoes. No Deer flies just mosquitoes. We could have turned and headed back to the Jeep but decided to to do the whole loop trail anyway. So with arms swinging like windmill blades in a Typhoon we forged ahead at a brisk clip. Didn’t take many photos because every time we stopped I got swarmed. But here’s the upside of our trek through the woods. Walking as fast as I did it was the best possible exercise for my aging arthritic legs and I was glad we decided to go all way around the loop trail.

ALWAYS NICE TO FIND A BIT OF SHADE TO PARK IN ON THESE HOT SUNNY DAYS

EVERY TIME I SLOWED DOWN ENOUGH TO SNAP A PHOTO THE MOSQUITOES GOT ME

THE BLUE DOTS ARE DAPPLES OF SKYLIGHT PEEKING DOWN THROUGH THE TALL THICK LEAF CANOPY OVERHEAD

NORMALLY THERE WOULD BE WATER IN THIS SWAMPY AREA BUT NOT THIS YEAR

Heat and humidity were building so with windows down and the A/C keeping us cool we wandered a half dozen more country roads on our long round about way home. Just so nice to be out and about in the freedom of our wide open rural countryside here in southwestern Ontario. So many back road opportunities to go to so many varied places. We are definitely in the right area for the things we like to do.

SPOTTED THIS FAMILY ENJOYING THEIR MORNING ABOUT HALF A MILE EAST OF OUR PARK AT THE WINDMILL LAKE WAKE AND ECO PARK

Well I had a very pleasant uplifting surprise later in the morning today. Kelly her very self brought up the subject of this upcoming winter’s travels and I was so glad to hear we had finally landed on the same page. Oh how nice it was to feel that early twinge of excitement stirring again and that little bit of hitch itch to go right along with it. How nice to get all that indecision behind us finally. Been awhile since I’ve felt that. I have already written numerous times about our same old-same old south-west destinations and although we have not given up on them we have decided to first head for an area we have often talked about, an area we have never been before and where many other RV’ers have travelled and loved it. We realistically understand we may very well be down to our last few remaining RV years. We agreed if we don’t make the effort this Autumn to head for the Great American Northwest we are likely never going to see it. Our aging Motorhome is still in good shape and despite a few medical issues with the occupants we’re not in too bad a shape ourselves, considering. Yes that could turn on a dime but we’re basing our plans on how we feel right now and hope to feel for the foreseeable future. We hope to finally dip our toes and paws into the Pacific Ocean somewhere in Oregon. Now I caution, these 2018-19 travel plans could flip upside down at any time between now and then but if it all holds together we could be looking at a departure date sometime in September to take advantage of the better weather in the northwest States before winter sets in out there. From the northwest we will probably flip around down through the southwest to many of our old favorite spots before pointing the nose for home possibly for the last time. If all goes well and we still have a couple dollars left then next year at this time we may very well plan an Autumn trip out to Canada’s east coast. But wait a minute, I had better not get too far ahead of myself. First things first…….now where’s my dusty old Atlas for the Northwestern United States…………………….

GROANER'S CORNER:(( This joke may be a bit dated but it's cute and here it is anyway……………….

What If Dr. Seuss was a Technical Writer? Here's an easy game to play. Here's an easy thing to say:

If a packet hits a pocket on a socket on a port, and the bus is interrupted as a very last resort, and the address of the memory makes your floppy disk abort, then the socket packet pocket has an error to report!

If your cursor finds a menu item followed by a dash, and the double-clicking icon puts your window in the trash, and your data is corrupted 'cause the index doesn't hash, then your situation's hopeless, and your system's gonna crash!

You can't say this? What a shame sir! We'll find you another game sir.

If the label on the cable on the table at your house, says the network is connected to the button on your mouse, but your packets want to tunnel on another protocol, that's repeatedly rejected by the printer down the hall.

And your screen is all distorted by the side effects of gauss so your icons in the window are as wavy as a souse, then you may as well reboot and go out with a bang, 'cause as sure as I'm a poet, the sucker's gonna hang!

When the copy of your floppy's getting sloppy on the disk, and the microcode instructions cause unnecessary risk, then you have to flash your memory and you'll want to RAM your ROM. Quickly turn off the computer and be sure to tell your Mom!


One of the things that surprised us most about Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley was the size of the surrounding San Jacinto Mountains that rest on the eastern side of the valley.

The rugged mountain range reaches heights over 8,500 feet, which is almost 3 times the height of the world’s tallest building (the Burj Khalifa in Dubai – 2,723 feet).

A popular way to experience the rocky desert mountains is to take a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, proudly labeled as the largest rotating aerial tramway in the world.

Feeling like we should peel ourselves from the poolside loungers for an afternoon adventure, we decided to take Baby B up the mountain tram to check out the desert views.

Fortunately for us, the aerial tramway is located close to the apartment complex that we were staying at in Palm Springs.


American Gardens: Didn’t love the series and the book is worse

It’s a complete miss and it’s sad. Anyone who opens American Gardens—the book that accompanies Monty Don’s BBC TV series by the same name—expecting to be wowed by spectacular photography and glowing prose about Yankee gardening prowess needs to lower his or her expectations. Hard.

Keep in mind that Don is a beloved garden presenter whose Gardener’s World is wonderfully personal and specific and that his other books are, rightly, very highly regarded.

Unfortunately, this book suffers from the same issues that were problems for the series, I outlined some of them here. In brief, the series’ focus on big public beauty spots reveals little to nothing about how Americans really garden. Tangents into desert and meadow habitats educate about landscape and environment, but also miss the boat. What we have here are two entities called American Gardens that don’t and can’t illuminate actual American gardening practice. You have showplaces maintained by casts of hundreds, exquisitely designed Southwest estates, a smattering of community spaces, a couple preserves, and a very few private gardens that are created and maintained by their owners—including our own Dan Hinkley’s Windcliff. (Imagine if there had been ten more such properties.)

From the Lurie spread (It is just as blurry as it looks here)

But what if we say that’s just fine? Why not celebrate the showplaces? Don’t they deserve it? They absolutely do. And that’s why I was so shocked when I opened the book—writer Monty Don and photographer Derry Moore are given equal billing, by the way—to the pages on Chicago’s Lurie Gardens and was met by a full-page photograph of out-of-focus echinacea. Upon turning the page, there are much better views of Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate (the bean) and Frank Gehry’s open air concert hall. Turn the page again: a double-truck spread of more blurry plants backed by a skyline that wouldn’t have been my choice. There is no photograph of Lurie here that even starts to express what Don correctly refers to as “a masterpiece.”

I would say the same about Chanticleer—which just looks dreary—and Longwood, which suffers from soft focus shots and too much emphasis on its fountains. Central Park comes off fairly well, but the plantings at Monticello look pathetic and the pages on the southwestern estates would make you wonder, if you had not seen the series, why they’d been included. It’s important to note that the dull flatness of the book’s imagery is not reflected in the series, I was fascinated when I watched the segments on the western gardens, regardless of their relevance.

If it seems I have overemphasized photography, keep in mind that this is a coffee table book that’s absolutely dependent on photography. Don’s writing is true to the bemused narrative of the series and I could chuckle along with his pokes about mindfulness sessions and golf culture. I could respond to comments like “I know that sense of unity and identity when the place where garden ends and gardener begins becomes blurred.”

The “stranger in a strange land” persona Don maintains in the American series is present throughout the book, if one accepts the concept of the series, this is the right tone to take. That sense of stunning exoticism and spectacle needed to be visually present in the book as well, and it’s not. Colors are muted, plants are (often) barely recognizable, and manmade structures seem to fare much better photographically than the living gardens. That doesn’t work in a garden book.

For those looking for books on American gardens that look as beautiful as the gardens they describe, I have a few recommendations. Dan Hinkley’s Windcliff (photos by Claire Takacs) is an obvious choice. I have also enjoyed The Layered Garden, by David Culp, with photos by Rob Cardillo, Chasing Eden, by Jack Staub and Renny Raynolds (photos by Cardillo), Page Dickey’s Uprooted (less of a picture book), and Spirit of Place, by Bill Noble. If you really want to read about—and look at—American gardens, these—and many other books—will do the job. Beautifully.


Holloway searchers need help

A Kemah businessman has been on the front lines of the search for Natalee, spending over a million dollars of his own money. Over the past four months, he's paid for an underwater search.

The morning we were there, Louis Schafer was signing a wire transfer for $250,000. The money used to operate a sophisticated, deep sea survey boat, named the Persistence.

"I've dedicated a million dollars, I've gone way above that," said Louis Schafer of Underwater Expeditions. "I feel like it's time to ask for help from the American people that want to see this case solved."

The Persistence has been used every day since November to survey the ocean floor near Aruba. It uses remote operated vehicles, called ROVs, to sweep the ocean depths. What they've been able to accomplish is astounding.

"By Friday, we will have surveyed the entire 50-square mile off Aruba," Schafer said. "We have identified at least 60 of the targets. we have about 150 more targets to inspect."

Natalee Holloway traveled to Aruba two years ago to celebrate her high school graduation and disappeared. Natalee was last seen with Joran Van der Sloot who says he does not know what happened to her.

Schafer made a fortune in the deep sea diving business for oil rig removal and installation. He had access to unique technology and a team of experts that could find just about anything.

"So we have completely mapped the ocean floor, we know every object that's there, we know every object that could be a container holding her in the sea," he said.

A relentless search Schafer and his team say will stop, if they don't get more funding.

"And we all feel, I'm speaking from everybody on the team, that she's in one of the targets we have not looked at yet," Tim Trahan of Underwater Expeditions said. "We can't stop. I go to sleep at night thinking we've located it, we just need to get to it."

The search of the rest of those targets will stop this week. For more information on how you can help, click here.


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