Whirlwind Tour

Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock

Courthouse ButteCourthouse Butte

Bell RockBell Rock

Eagle RockEagle Rock

Snoopy RockSnoopy Rock

Snoopy was our “target” on the day trip we took to Sedona, Jerome, and Prescott last week with Tony’s sister and her husband (Terri and Jim), visiting from Illinois. We found him pretty quickly and went on to see other sights.

From Airport

From Airport 2

Look at all the houses all over Sedona now! Every time we go, there are more and more houses 😦 littering the lovely landscape.

This was not a birding trip and I didn’t bring my long lens but I was still excited when Jim noticed a flash of blue. It was a beautiful Mountain Scrub Jay, a lifer!

Western Scrub Jay

Jay with Bee

I think he/she has babies tucked away in this little cave. See the bee? I think it became a meal a second later.

W Scrub Jay 3

Not everyone gets to see the elusive Sedona Red Rock bird:

Sedona Bird_edited-1

Then we were on to Jerome. Jerome is a former copper mining town turned ghost town turned artist/biker town turned tourist town. I used to find it very quaint; this time it just seemed more junky to me. Maybe it was just me. The drive up and down is still beautiful, though, complete with many switchbacks.

Building Facade Crop

Connor Hotel

Jerome Gated

Gated Bldg 2

Weiner Dog

Wildfires

There are three wildfires burning now, the view from Jerome of one of them. That is why the sky is hazy in the Sedona photos…

On to Prescott:

Common Raven PrescottCommon Raven

I’ve never been this close to a raven, I guess, because I was shocked it was so huge! It also had a friend in a nearby tree in Prescott’s square. They were very bold; snacks must be bountiful when the tourists are around.

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Mystic Trail

As is always the case when I’m in Sedona, I can’t whittle my photos down to a manageable size for the blog. Some of them are taken a mere few feet apart but every view when you are in Sedona is amazing and majestic, and it’s just impossible to narrow them down too much. I selected only 21 but that seems like too much to make you look through so I’ve inserted them in a slideshow at the end of this post, if you want to take a look, and just highlighted a few of them individually. Again, they look much better enlarged.

Bell Rock

We drove through Sedona on our way back from Munds Park a few days ago, to avoid as much of the traffic as possible on I-17. It didn’t work that well, we should have detoured a little longer, but at least we got to experience the beauty of Sedona once again.

Cathedral Rock

We were on the Mystic Trail, named, no doubt, for all the vortices in the area.

Even though I’ve lived in Arizona for 38 years and have been to Sedona countless times, I am always awed when I see it again. The other thing that I know about Sedona but conveniently always sort of forget is that it’s basically as hot as Phoenix in the summer. You can’t really go to Sedona to cool off even though it’s higher in elevation~the temperature difference is about 5 degrees, at best, and when it’s 115 in Phoenix, 110 doesn’t feel that much better. So my frequent dream of a simple multi-million dollar summer home there will probably never come to pass.

Courthouse Butte
Chapel of the Holy Cross in the distance
Storm’s a brewin’

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See my shots of Sedona last summer here and here.

Bye, Sedona, hope to see you again very soon…(shot through the windshield)

Tlaquepaque

We’re heading into the time of year in Arizona where I will be experiencing something like what many of you felt in the cold of winter…a lack of desire to get out and take photos. It sometimes is just too hot to want to grab the camera and brave the elements.

So…even though I did take some photos today, I have been looking through my “archives” of the past year and trying to find suitable blogging material to help get me through the rough times ahead. These were taken last summer in Sedona at the same time as the ones in these posts (1, 2). Yes, they have murals, too! This mural is at beautiful (and generally pricey) Tlaquepaque. I like all the different elements of Sedona represented in the big mountain lion below (click to enlarge).

These little guys, dreaming of salmon, are also at Tlaquepaque.

This is what we were at Tlaquepaque for…

Oak Creek Brewery, a microbrewery and restaurant with a lot of really good beers. This was the view from our table.

Wish I could transport myself there right now because it’s fairly miserable here today…and it’s just the beginning. Tomorrow’s forecast is 109.

3 Years and Counting

Amidst Valentine’s Day and Arizona Centennial Day, another minor exciting (to me) event occurred…the third anniversary of my blog, my blogiversary! The actual date was February 13th. My last post, The Valentine State, was also my 350th post. So…to keep my tradition going, I am having a little giveaway as I did for my first and second blogiversaries to let you know I appreciate you.

Above is the official first day of issue stamp celebrating Arizona’s centennial, the newest Forever stamp. That’s Arizona’s State Bird, the cactus wren, perched there. This commemorative piece can be yours! And, since that doesn’t seem like much of a giveaway, I’ll also enclose a little surprise, something else Arizona-y. And…I’ll enclose a print of one of my recent photos, either this one or this one, whichever looks better printed. Maybe not the most thrilling giveaway but, hey, it’s free!

Everyone in the continental U.S. is eligible by leaving a comment. As in the past (year one and year two), one of my cats will choose the winner. It’s really Abbey’s turn but the boy cats always horn in when she’s trying to do something constructive. The winner will be chosen on February 26th so get those comments in and tell all your friends!

See what my darling husband, Tony, gave me for Valentine’s Day? This was our first year married, although our 18th Valentine’s Day together. We had a long courtship.

Here is Paul McCartney’s original song, My Valentine, which you may have seen him perform on the Grammys last week.

“Um, where’s my valentine?” asks Google. “Shouldn’t that say, For My Google?”

Incidentally, the Arizona Forever stamp is available for purchase everywhere in the U.S. now. You should get some 🙂

The stamp was done by Arizona artist, Ed Mell, and depicts Cathedral Rock in Sedona. Here’s another view of Cathedral Rock from last summer.

Thank you for reading my blog!

Photo Year in Review

Hope your shiny new year is off to a great start! I wasn’t planning to do a 2011 year review but it seems like a good idea to take stock now and then and look back but, mostly, it’s an excuse to use photos I already have since I’m running low right now. So, in no chronological order, here are some of the highlights of my blogging year (some coincide a little with my personal year).

In April, after 17 years together, Tony and I got married.

We had a little wedding but a big party.

I made the invitations for the party.

We went on a staycation at the Hermosa Inn in Paradise Valley.

I did some “imaginary vacation” photos around town in the heat of summer when I couldn’t think of anything to photograph. The first place, El Maya, was torn down a couple of weeks after I photographed it. Oh, and I learned how to do rounded corners and played with textures a lot more in 2011.

A few weeks later I did another local imaginary vacation in the sweltering heat.

We did a day trip to Sedona, I took a lot of photos, and got 2 blog posts out of them. It’s really hard to take bad photos in Sedona. One of those posts was Freshly Pressed on WordPress!

2011 was the year that I FINALLY got some good butterfly shots! Some Giant Swallowtails:

Some Skippers:

And a Variegated Fritillary:

As if that weren’t enough, 2011 gave me some good hummingbird shots, on two different occasions, something I had also never gotten before.

I continued shooting murals in downtown Phoenix, something I’ve done for 2.5 years now.

I got all enthused about another downtown Phoenix project, the Valley of the Sunflowers, and will post some new shots in a few days.

I took a lot of photos of our 3 indoor cats as well as our numerous outdoor cats. Sadly, 3 of our outdoor cats died in 2011, including WB, our faithful friend for many years (as well as Snowy and Isabella).

My hibiscus plant was the subject of a few posts. It almost croaked last winter through a few frosts even though it was covered. It recovered and thrived through the spring and early summer. Again it got very sickly looking during the intense summer heat, and now it is once again thriving…

I learned how to do animated gifs, providing myself hours of fun!

I got hooked on my old 50mm f/1.8 lens from my old Nikon film camera and have to shoot manually when I use it on my DSLR which is fun. I like the looks of the photos with it, too.

We grew a giant basil plant from seed and it provided a lot of seasoning for us until quite recently when it died. We’ll be doing that again as soon as it gets warmer. They flourish in heat and sun, which we have plenty of here.

I took a zillion rose photos, some got texture added to them, some didn’t.

We took another train ride on the Verde Canyon Railroad with Tony’s sister and her husband when they were out visiting in November. The railroad asked for permission to use a couple of my photos, this one in particular, and in return sent us two first-class passes for another trip (and a photo credit, of course). Someone else has asked for permission to use another photo from that same train ride and it will also result in a photo credit and some goods that I may mention at a later date.

Some photos I liked, just because.

And a lot of my photos were just taken around my yard and neighborhood.

So that about sums it up for 2011 on this blog. Thank you to all of you who read it and I really enjoy reading yours, too, and seeing your photos of your lives. Photoblogging is one of my favorite pastimes as I’m sure it is for most of you, too. I hope we all have a fun, productive, creative 2012 blogging experience.