Goldwater West Friday, Sep 21 2018 

Fall Color

Fall Color

Yesterday we hiked Goldwater West, our second of this year’s “Take a Hike!” trails. We parked near the White Spar Campground for this 3.2-mile loop using several interesting trails. We started on Goldwater Lakes Trail #396. After 0.7 miles we followed the 0.5-mile Hidden Valley Trail #374. At the junction with Banning Creek Trail #81 we noted several new homes since our last visit in 2015 and I took a picture of a tree with yellow fall color. We hiked 1.25 miles on this trail before connecting with Schoolhouse Gulch Trail #67 for the final 0.6 miles to our parked car. We experienced an elevation gain from 5,620 feet to 5,930 feet on these trails shaded by stands of ponderosa pine. We saw one mule deer and only encountered one runner and two women walking four dogs.

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Phoenix Zoo: September 2018 Sunday, Sep 16 2018 

Pelicans

Pelicans

Yesterday’s Phoenix Zoo visit found us reversing our customary direction. The Children’s Trail kept us mostly in shade and mostly by ourselves. Although Labor Day has passed, Phoenix was unusually warm (109 degrees) in the middle of September. New construction is underway on the outskirts of this part of the zoo and it looks like it will open another entry point. We noted preparation for Zoolights already has begun. Mallard ducks were enjoying the pond and a common gallinula walked near us on shore. A male pelican preened the feathers of his resting mate. The saguaro shaped slide caught our attention because it looked like a bird was nesting in a hole at the top. A closer examination revealed a small owl ornament. The rope spider web was not being used and we had free reign touring the African animal sculptures. In terms of live animals, four Visayn warty pigs were sleeping comfortably in the shade. We also reversed our usual direction in the Forest of Ubo. One of the Andean bears was looking around while the other slept. Along the Tropics Trail, two straw-necked ibis searching for food drank water from a flowing stream and occasionally crossed their sword-like proboscis with one another. A special treat on this visit was listening (while seated in air-conditioned comfort) to a docent explain everything one might want to know about the orangutans and their exhibit space.

Wildflower Festival Sunday, Sep 9 2018 

Wildflower Festival

Wildflower Festival

Yesterday we attended the Wildflower Festival at the Community Nature Center. We learned that the City of Prescott purchased this 18-acre site, located adjacent to Granite Mountain Middle School, in 2006 and that it was managed by the Highlands Center for Natural History until their current building was built on Walker Road. Along with other 10 a.m. arrivals we drafted a naturalist docent who had completed a nature walk to lead us. She identified many grasses and wildflowers on a short circuit of trail.  This year’s monsoon resulted in a plethora of growth. After our nature walk, I retraced our steps and recorded the following grasses and forbs: bear grass, birdbill dayflower, blue gramma, common woldfstail, cosmos, fetid goosefoot, fewflower beggarticks, globe mallow, Hopi blanketflower,  Indian paintbrush, plumeweed, prairie clover, sacred datura, sanvitalia, sawtooth sage, scarlet morning-glory, skyrocket, sweet four o’clock, tall morning-glory, western sage, Wright buckwheat, Wright’s deervetch. Many of these wildflowers thrive in our yard.

Before returning home, we stopped at Watter’s Garden Center and walked around their extensive offerings. I especially liked the colors and shapes of Butterfly Blue, Denver Daisy, Peter III Blue asters, Fresh Look Red, and the prayer plants. Interestingly, the prayer plant leaves lay flat by day and lift to the sky in the evening.

2018 Yavapai County Fair Saturday, Sep 8 2018 

Turkey

Turkey

Although we try to visit the Yavapai County Fair every year, this was the first time we visited in the late afternoon and stayed into the evening. We toured the photography exhibit which had fewer entries this year, but still displayed some outstanding pictures. I’m envious of the sharp focus so many attained with their animal photos. Our travels now allow us to identify many landscapes from within the U. S. and more exotic locales. We visited the small stock area and watched an arena showmanship event for turkeys. After asking each of the four contestants several different questions, the judge then took individuals aside for further questioning before making his prize determination. It would have been nice if he had shared his findings with those of us watching. When we walked to the animal tent, we passed Urkel, a black angus, who initially weighed 750 pounds. His exhibitor reported feeding him 385 days for a final weight of 1,280 pounds, a 1.4-pound weight gain per day! The goats were clean. The swine not so much. After foraging in the food court and beer garden, we sat in the grandstand for some of the ranch rodeo events. We watched riders atop bucking horses which was like professional rodeo. The second event, however, had a team of four from one ranch who had to rope, head and feet, two cows and tie them up in less than two minutes. The third event that we watched also involved a ranch team of four who started with two horses in a trailer. When two cows were released into the arena, two cow hands mounted their horses, roped the cows, brought them to the trailer where the two others helped store the cows, and finally the two horses were returned inside the trailer. Each team had only three minutes to accomplish this task. We then toured the carnival where we discovered crowds of people. It was interesting to see the lights on rides such as the Ferris wheel. Our biggest surprise was an opportunity to meet Congressional candidate Dr. David Brill who attracted attention with helpers on stilts dressed as the Statue of Liberty and Uncle Sam. We wished him well in his uphill battle against, in my opinion, one of the country’s worst representatives. We finished our evening listening to Carrie Cunningham perform her own songs and the songs of other country women on the entertainment stage. Too bad more people didn’t opt to hear her. We enjoyed our Yavapai County Fair visit which runs through Sunday.

Goldwater Lakes Trail Sunday, Sep 2 2018 

Upper Goldwater Lake

Upper Goldwater Lake

Yesterday was the kickoff for the 10th Annual “Take a Hike!” promotion sponsored by the Highlands Nature Center for Natural History. For this year’s hikes they selected ten of their most popular hikes plus two new trails. We chose to park on the Senator Highway and hike a mile-and-a-half of the 8.1 mile Goldwater Lakes Trail #396. This trail traverses a landscape of hills and ridges. It is a forested trail shaded by dense stands of ponderosa pine that occasionally gives way to alligator juniper and chaperral-type vegetation. On our return we detoured on the Goldwater Lake Trail and headed to one of the pavilions where the Northern Arizona Blues Alliance “Day of the Living Blues Harp Music Festival” was taking place. It’s hard to believe fall is on its way.

Phoenix Zoo: August 2018 Sunday, Aug 26 2018 

Grey Crowned Crane

Grey Crowned Crane

Yesterday we visited the Phoenix Zoo at 7:30 a.m. for a two-hour walkabout. Although it appeared initially we were not going to see any active animals, that was not the case. Of course, it’s not unusual to see hungry collared peccary. We had not previously seen the hanging buckets that the javelina could activate by pulling on a rope to drop food morsels. A grey crowned crane preened for a photograph while his gerenuk friends stretched their necks trying to reach the lowest hanging branches from trees already stripped of low-lying leaves. In the distance we could see a sulcate tortoise being fed. The male Hamadryas baboon couldn’t be seen but a member of his harem gazed at us from across their moat. Previously we have only seen sleeping African painted dogs. On this visit they splashed one another in the water directly in front of us. A cheetah with open eyes rested under a tree. All the Chilean flamingos posed in their water while mallard ducks looked on. The colorful scarlet macaw sat in its usual tree. While one of the Andean bears slept directly below a viewing window, the other one walked from one end of its relatively spacious exhibit to the other side and back. Two Galapagos tortoises were mating in their new exhibit space. They were moved to provide additional space for the elephants. A rhinoceros iguana eyed guests possibly looking for a handout. Michael, the huge male orangutan, was initially resting on his back below a viewing window. He joined Bess and baby, Jiwa, when an avocado treat was set out. The buff-cheeked gibbons were busy climbing while several pink-backed pelicans floated lazily in the water surrounding the island. Several turtle, a heron, and ibis were in the same area. The baby Komodo dragon is getting bigger all the time and may soon join his compatriot outside. It was interesting to observe the recent changes in the Phoenix Zoo. Lots of animal snapshots.

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