Archive for March, 2009

The Reason for the Name

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Crystal Hill gives up her treasure!

Tiny quartz crystals in a horsehair basket

Tiny quartz crystals in a horsehair basket

Small crystals sparkle in the light.

Small crystals sparkle in the light.

We didn’t find any large crystals. This area has been well picked over. The US Fish & Wildlife Service has banned use of any tools or digging for collecting, so we can only pick up the leftovers on the surface. It’s very mesmerizing to hike around on the hill, eyes glued to the ground, looking for the sparkle that will yield up a treasure!

A Flutter of Butterflies

Monday, March 30th, 2009
A Painted Lady Butterfly

A Painted Lady Butterfly

We’ve had a weeklong hatch of thousands of Painted Lady Butterflies! Imagine walking or riding along the road and hordes of butterflies flutter around and past you, more like a flurry of orange, black and white. Thank goodness the roads are rough so that we never ride fast enough for them to splatter! Mavrik loves chasing them and their shadows.

Cactus flower eye candy!

Cactus flower eye candy!

Scenes of the Old West

Monday, March 30th, 2009
Twelve Mile Well

Twelve Mile Well

Besides the natural and enhaced water ‘tanks’ scattered around the Refuge, US Fish & Wildlife has drilled several water wells, equipped with working windmills to pump water into the nearby concrete basins for wildlife to utilize. We also utilized the water, scooping out buckets full to water the dog, wash up and resupply our solar shower. This windmill is just shy of 1/2 mile from our campsite.

'Welcoming" Saguaro

'Welcoming' Saguaro

We named this the “Welcoming Saguaro” because of the outstretched arms as well as the fact that it’s located near the entrance to the former campground. This area was definitely an established campground at one time by evidence of roads, curbs, concrete pads (for I expect picnic tables and lantern posts) and a dump station that is thoroughly sealed off. We did an online search for information or pictures of the old campground but all we could find was a Congressional Report from 1974 that proposed converting part of the Kofa Wildlife Refuge into Wilderness Area. Or maybe it just got too expensive for US Fish & Wildlife to maintain!

Nurse Tree

Nurse Tree

This saguaro outgrew it’s nurse tree, but it appears to still be hugged by it!

Bighorn Sheep; Mar. 25 ’09

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

We had a great surprise a few days ago. We had just started on our morning walk and looked up at Crystal Hill to see 3 Bighorn sheep looking down at us! An unusual treat since they are supposed to be elusive and shy.

They watched us for a few minutes then one by one turned and headed down the backside of the hill out of sight.

They watched us for a few minutes then one by one turned and headed down the backside of the hill out of sight.

The view the sheep might have had of us (the tiny dot of white at the lower right).

The view the sheep might have had of us (the tiny dot of white at the lower right).

Crystal Hill

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

Today we start our second week of camping at the base of Crystal Hill in Kofa National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona. Check out the fabulous new feature at the top of the right hand column – a map titled “Where are Robert and Mary Jo now?”, showing exactly where we are! Thanks to our “all things computer” guru, JC Burns, you can click on the map to open the interactive google map which you can navigate around in, zooming in or out, to see our whereabouts!

A view of Crystal Hill from about one mile away. We're camped at the base of the mountain and to the left.

A view of Crystal Hill from about one mile away. We're camped at the base of the mountain and to the left.

Springfest; March 20 ’09

Saturday, March 21st, 2009
Shrimp on the BarBee!

Shrimp on the BarBee!

Well, we were going to grill shrimp to celebrate the first day of Spring, but we were so busy resupplying in town, moving to our new campsite and setting up that we had to settle for the last of our shrimp from El Golfo, Mexico saute’d with veggies and rice. This delicious grilled shrimp snack was photographed by Alastair back in August, 2007 during a waterskiing daytrip to Prineville Reservoir in Oregon.

Last of Winter; March 19 ’09

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

img_0371aaThe last sunset of winter! A beautiful evening for a walk.

img_0366aaAlso, the last night at this campsite. We move tomorrow to explore another area in the Kofa Nat’l. Wildlife Refuge.

Native Palms March 12, ’09

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Kofa is home to a grove of California fan palms, with maybe one or two other groves around the state, the only native palms in Arizona. We rode our motorcycles to Palm Canyon then hiked the 1/2 mile trail to the observation point and saw the palms about 1/2 mile up a steep, narrow side canyon. The habitat, although lush looking now with the spring growth from winter rains, seems very forbidding and rocky. Perhaps the narrowness of the canyon is a bonus, shading the trees from the intense sun for most of the day!

The palms, high up in a side canyon.

The palms, high up in a side canyon.

Looking back at the vista from Palm Canyon, the La Paz valley encompassed in the Yuma Proving Ground Military Reservation.

Looking back at the vista from Palm Canyon, the La Paz valley encompassed in the Yuma Proving Ground Military Reservation.

Sonoran Desert Scene March 11 ’09

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Kofa Nat’l Wildlife Refuge is fully in the Sonoran desert of Arizona, identified mainly by the imposing Saguaro, the ubiquitous cactus of upraised arms in “Roadrunner & Wily Coyote” cartoons and “Arizona Highways” pictures.

img_0316aaThe Saguaro is a fascinating plant. We are here too early in the season to see the flowers which bloom at night, but if you’re interested in more info. click here.


Desert Flowers March 10 ’09

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

The desert is abloom and the camera cannot capture the vibrant hues. One of the more delicate rose-colored flowers I learned is appropriately called the Fairy Duster.

Click on the name above to get a better picture and more info. about this flower.

Click on the name above to get a closeup picture and more info. about this flower.

Brittlebush flower.

Brittlebush flower.

This single brittlebush flower conveys the beautiful gold, sunshiny color. Now imagine huge bushes with thousands of these flowers covering a dry wash!