East Clear Creek

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If you’ve been to Mogollon Rim by way of Forest Road 95, you’ve passed over the bridge at East Clear Creek.

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The road itself is dusty, windy, and beautiful.  It’s kind of like a suspense thriller – and I don’t mean spooky guy at the end.  In fact, for me it’s a plot that thickens.  It starts with boring tall forest to pull you in.  It’s nice enough, but sorta drab.

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Then it sprinkles in some cool craggy oaks, and the occasional fir.  Then.. just as you turn the corner, it grabs you with more breathtaking views.

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It’s a suspense thriller with a happy ending.

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… and sometimes unexpected twists and turns.

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Wildlife Sightings

People ask me, ‘where do you go to get your animal pictures?’

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It’s actually not an easy question to answer, as there is no straight forward answer.

I can tell you that ZERO of my wildlife photos are taken in a wildlife park or zoo.  They are 100% taken in the wild.  As all things wild, they are unpredictable.

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Many wildlife photographers get a lot of their photos through their livelihood, as biologists or working in nature conservatory for AZ Game & Fish or Forest Service preserving an animal’s habitat.  These sorts of jobs help the photographer, often early in their career, to learn the habitat and tendencies of their subject.

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I have not had that advantage.  I have had to learn the hard way on my own.  While, I have stumbled across various animal habitats, like the pair of great horned owls at Whitewater Draw, that’s the exception more than the rule.

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Sometimes it’s easy to go to where you know there will be animals, like Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, where the sandhill cranes flock to every November / December.

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But for me, that’s more the exception than the rule.  Sometimes, I get animal shots in my own yard.

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Often, though, it’s a matter of getting out there.  You have to look, to see.  We make frequent trips to the rim, leaving early morning when it’s still dark out, to get to the rim at first light when the animals are still moving around.

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Besides the rim, we go out on photography trips just in search of that great landscape or animal shot.  Knowing that antelope can be found in the plains, or that there is a herd of big horn sheep that frequents the Greer area, can be helpful.

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Other than that, one just has to get out there.  You don’t find animals sitting on the couch eating bon bon’s, unless you’re watching the National Geographic channel. Ha! : )

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In any case, luck favors the prepared.

Just this week, we were wandering around the woods (as we often find ourselves), actually looking for water where there was none.  We found lots of dry holes instead of Lakes, but we did encounter well over 1000 sheep crossing the road.  That’s not something you see every day – or ever before!

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Sometimes, you just have to be in the right place at the right time.

 

 

 

Circles of Light

We do the oddest projects.

planning_IR_IR.jpg  Initial Layout  

People who know us, know we are always working on something. It’s true.  Some have questioned what we are up to these days.

bending rings_IR.jpg  Cutting strapping material for circles (rings)

(Besides a gazillion other things), we tell them we are working on a chandelier.   “What kind of chandelier?”, they’ll ask.

compass_IR.jpg  Preparing jig to weld rings

cut template_IR.jpg  Cutting jig template on bandsaw

“It’s kinda hard to describe”, we reply

setup_IR.jpg  Ring set up in jig, ready to weld

“What does it look like?”

“A bunch of circles around a tube”, we’ll tell them.

weldring_IR.jpg  Welding one of many rings

After a pause and a quizzical look, they come up with their next question.

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“What’s it made of?”

“Metal … mostly.” We say.

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“How did you come up with it?”

We saw something like it 10 – 15 years ago in a fancy light shop… and were inspired by it’s uniqueness… and thought someday we’ll make something like it. So we wired the house when we built it (a decade ago now) with this chandelier in mind.

mockup_IR.jpg  Mock up of ring assembly

weldrings_IR.jpg  Welding rings together into subassembly

The design has been a complex math problem.  Our ceiling is 14’ high, and we want the chandelier  8 – 9’ off the ground. It should have a decent Length-over-Diameter to have a pleasing aesthetic. So we had to calculate not only the circle diameter, but their circumference as they are splayed out and reduce as it goes away from the center.

weldg_IR.jpg  Welding ring assembly

Should we do a splayed series of 3 circles or 4?  13″, 15″, 17″ diameter or 19″ diameter, (which equates to 30-some inches splayed out), or all of the above… Hmmm?  The bigger the ring diameter, the longer the overall length.  Decisions. Decisions… and lots of layouts and mockups.

grind rings_IR.jpg  Grinding ring assembly

Should we paper mache the exterior of the center tube or sand blast to assure the light bulb doesn’t become overly prevalent.  We’re looking for more of a ‘glow’ afterall.

sprayg_IR.jpg  Spraying spray tack on inner tube

As we work through building this unique project that has been on our project docket for well over a decade, it occurs to me that it isn’t just Circles of Light… but Circles of Life.

Our life, all the many projects, trials and tribulations, friends & family come and gone – on and off.

spraypaper_IR.jpg  Spraying textured art paper to coat tube

papertube_IR.jpg  Applying paper to tube and trimming

Somehow, as it comes to fruition after all this time, so many things have changed in our own life, and it makes us reflect on those things we have accomplished, and those things we have lost.

paintg_IR.jpgPainting interior of chandelier ‘shade’

As it shines down from it’s new home, it casts shadows, points of light, and a soft subtle glow.  It has it’s new beginning, and will shine long after we are gone.

finsished close_IR.jpgThe big reveal

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Late Arrival

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I was just talking about the animals fattening up for the winter..  https://kritterspix.com/category/pix/

I know, it may not seem like winter just yet, particularly for those in Phoenix.  But it was 39F here this morning… so winter is coming.

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Yet, somehow, we got our first little visitor.  Usually the babies show up in June – not September.  This scrawny little fawn, still with her spots, made a brief appearance.

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She’s got a steep learning curve ahead of her, and a lot to learn in a short time.  Not to mention that she needs to put more fat on her little bones!

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Momma, you hear that.  Bring her back for a visit more often.  We’ll do our part.  : )

 

 

Kaibab Lake

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We’ve lived in AZ for a bunch of years now.  Truth be known, I was actually born here – one of the few I think.

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We’ve been to all the big lakes of Phoenix – you know: Saguaro, Canyon Lake, Lake Pleasant, Roosevelt, Apache, and Barlett, and many of the other well known lakes like Havasu, Lake Powell, and Lake Mead.  We’ve even been to some of the more obscure lakes like Ashhurst, Kinnikinick, Woods Canyon, Long Lake, Bear Lake, and Knoll Lake.

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Still, you just don’t think of AZ as having so many lakes.

We went to Blue Ridge Reservoir recently… you can see my post here – https://kritterspix.com/2019/08/20/reflections-of-blue-ridge-reservoir/

We found ourselves thinking – we need to get out to some of those ‘other’ lakes we haven’t been to.

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So we decided to head out to Kaibab Lake.  Neither John, nor I, had ever been.  So we were stoked to go someplace new… and found it to be very close to Flagstaff, just outside of Williams in fact.

We found it to be a beautiful respite, with terrific sunset & sunrise views.

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I think we’re on to something… let’s go do more lakes!

Mushrooming

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Everyone’s got a hobby of one sort or another.  We actually have quite a number – woodworking, stained glass, etc.  For me, the line gets blurred between a hobby and a sport.  A hobby is something that one does for the pleasure and the relaxation of it.  A sport is more of a physical activity, like golf, baseball, or football.  So I’m not sure where ‘mushrooming’ falls – as it is a source of relaxation, fun, and physical exertion (as in – LOTS of walking through the woods).

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They say one person’s trash is another’s treasure.  For those that don’t go mushrooming, it’s hard for them to understand the draw.  As someone who enjoys the ‘sport’, I get a great thrill every time I find one of the prized mushrooms I seek – like porcini and chanterelle.  It’s exciting, exhilarating, and satisfying.

At worst… it’s a lovely walk in the woods.  At best, one comes home with coveted mushrooms to eat and enjoy.  In what other sport can you eat your spoils?

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I still remember the very first time I ever tasted a porcini mushroom.  It was probably 25 years ago in Pisa, Italy.  There was a basket of porcini’s in front on this lovely bistro.  I stopped to ask the attendant what they were…. when they described this king of mushrooms fresh picked from their local forest, we went straight inside and ordered off their menu those dishes they recommended that were porcini forward.  I will never forget the meaty, earthy delicious flavor they imparted.  Like no mushroom I have ever eaten.

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Years later, now living in Northern Arizona, once I heard there were porcini mushrooms growing in our local forests, I just knew I had to get educated on the how, where’s and what to find them for myself.  Now I forage for my own, and enjoy the ‘foraging bug’ and finding my own wild things to put on my table and in my pantry.  The euphoria and joy of finding these beautiful little treasures is unparalleled.  I’m hooked.  Can’t wait to go back.

 

Relaxing in the Woods

We got out to the woods recently if you saw my post here… https://kritterspix.com/2019/07/18/a-walk-in-the-woods/

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But since there are woods all around us up North, we are sharing the load.  A recent trip to Greens Peak outside of Show Low highlighted a much different environment.

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This forest is a bit higher elevation than the Mogollon Rim, and gets more rain.  So it makes a great spot for foraging and mushrooming.

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The woods are dense with trees and moldy rocks.  Lots of shade and shadows, and cooler temps.

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I love that we have the vast diversification of areas to solicit and wander through.  It’s a great way to relax and ‘chill’.

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Can’t wait to go back… we are already planning our next trip.  It is mushroom season afterall. 🙂

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