Dear Deer

We love our deer, particularly when they bring their babies by!

Ever wonder the difference between white tail and mule deer. I know, probably not. Living in the mountains, we have had to learn the difference. Living in the valley, we never knew there was a difference. Oh, how our lives have changed – in so many ways.

The white tail deer are smaller than mule deer (affectionately called ‘mulie’s’. Generally speaking, white tails are smaller (between 130 -200 lbs full grown) vs mule deer (up to 250 lbs, and bucks can be as large as 450 lbs).

The easiest distinguishing factor is their tail. The mule deer have a black tip on the end of their tail, vs. the white tail have all tan / fur colored tails, with the inside all white.

They are a beautiful sight to see, particularly when young, innocent and full of life.

Fall has Fallen

With the recent cold blast (we saw it as low as 22F) and the intense winds, we thought we better check out the Fall Colors to see where we were. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that the fall colors were mostly on the ground rather than on the trees.

We’ve barely begun to run our rounds of our favorite haunts for Changing of the Leaves… but as it turns out, we may already be too late. It happens every year. It goes from hot to cold, and there definitely is a chill in the air, particularly with the high winds. It seems Winter is already here.

If you are hoping to catch the change of season…. better hurry out, or it will be the change to Snow that we will be catching next.

Vegas Revisited

While we have been to Vegas in the last couple years, we haven’t stayed on the strip in some time. So with the encouragement of a friend, we took a brief respite and stayed on the Strip.

We aren’t huge gamblers, so we took the occasion to check out the brand new Resorts World casino which just opened up next to Circus Circus.

We walked our feet off wandering up and down the Strip. One of our favorite past times is to check out the art fixtures, which can be found hiding in any one of the casino’s.

One we always make a point to visit is Bellagio’s gardens with their ever changing scenes filled with live flowers. It’s always stunning and never disappoints. This time is was celebrating the rainforest.

For a change, we decided to try a new activity that John found intriguing… a Virtual Reality ‘arcade’. While I’ve heard of Virtual Reality, I had no idea what to expect. Apparently, there are any number of themes: car racing, golf, or shooting zombies. No surprise, but John wanted to shoot zombies. Not exactly my cup of tea, I compromised on the more sci-fi twist, ‘Singularity’ at the MGM Grand, where aliens invade a space station and the rescue team has to combat drones and aliens to save the ship and crew.

I’m not making this up! Now having done it… I can honestly say, I had a blast. It was great fun.

Thanks, Pat, for the wonderful opportunity. We had a great time.

Elusive Bulls

We haven’t seen any animals in some time. I think they are all hiding from the mountain lions, as mountain lion sightings have been on the rise. The storms do bring in animals, though. I love our rains… they are so good for our forests and animals.

We were lucky enough to see 2 bull elk, still in velvet. It was a rare treat and one we relished. They foraged in the grass and lingered around until they wandered off as the thunderstorms rolled in.

They looked like they had been through a rough year as they slowly wandered off. I was happy that they had a brief respite from their harsh environment.

Industrious Mouse

We were at Schnebly Vista, (see my post here… https://kritterspix.com/2021/06/11/schnebly-hill-vista/ ), when we caught this little mouse gathering food.

We watched this little guy for quite a while, nibbling away on an agave, then proceed to carry this stalk probably 5x his size down into a his home.

How often is it you can watch a wild animal going about their daily activity?

While he knew we were there, he was more intent on gathering food, perhaps for his family.

Either way, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to witness him (or her) at work. Very cool.

Animal Sightings

It’s been a good week for animal sightings.

Antelope forages for food outside Chino Valley.

We not only saw antelope grazing in a field, but we also saw turkey running in the snow.

Turkey struts through the snow.

We even saw a herd of little horn sheep. I guess it does pay to get out.

You can see more big horn sheep photos here.. https://kritterspix.com/2021/02/18/little-horn-sheep/

Snow Foraging

Elk forages through the snow with bull elk behind.
Buck prowls through the deep snow.

I never realized the trouble our animals had trudging through thick snow. With the threat of predators, swift winds, and deep snow, animals hunker down during large snow falls.

I can only imagine them running in heavy snow, with unknown ground coverage, rocks, and trees beneath their feet.

It made me happy for what we have, and not have to fend for ourselves or our food. It can be a harsh world out there, so take the time to practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty.

See my other posts, here… https://kritterspix.com/2021/01/29/a-world-of-friends/ and here… https://kritterspix.com/2021/01/27/we-got-snow/.

Best of 2020 – Landscape

It almost seems like an oxymoron using the word ‘Best’ with ‘2020’.

We have had more trips cancelled this year than we went on. We tried to go to Grand Canyon-North Rim on three separate occasions, and had every trip cancelled for one reason or another, including closures due to Covid, and forest fires.

I contend that the pandemic was different things for different people – some worse affected than others. For us, we tried to take our isolation on the road in our camper as much as possible to keep our sanity through this year’s events. So, without further ado.. here are my top picks for 2020, in no particular order:

(1) Mogollon Rim

(2) Mogollon Rim

Both these photos come from a trip to Mogollon Rim along Milk Ranch Road, which we found to be very crowded with campers this year.

(3) Carnero Lake

Despite the fact that we fought serious camera and lens issues throughout the year, we were able to enjoy (and capture) some beautiful sunrises at Canero Lake. I wish my osprey photos had come out as well.

(4) Carnero Lake

(5) Aztec Peak

As many times as we have been to Workman Creek outside of Young, we had never been (or even heard of) Aztec Peak. There is a gate that prevents you from driving up the road past the creek every time we have been there. We attempted to go to the area for photos several times, but were always deterred due to road closures. Persistence paid off and the third time was the charm when we found the gate open, and were able to enjoy the overlook from the peak, the highest point in Sierra Anchas Wilderness.

(6) Alstrom Point

We had put off our trip to Alstrom Point, not due to road closures or fire, but lack of clouds. The forecast called for weather though, so we packed up and headed out to this amazing overlook over Lake Powell. Unfortunately, there were no clouds, but still made for a wonderful outing.

(7) Flagstaff, San Francisco Peaks

Back behind Flagstaff, is an area called Government Prairie. Dirt roads wind around through scrubby brush and open fields. If you keep driving, the pine trees become more prevalent, and this wonderful view of San Francisco Peaks reveals itself.

(8) Sheeps Crossing

Sheeps Crossing was originally built in 1926 to allow sheep herder’s to herd their sheep across the Verde River, reducing the numbers lost in the swift currents. On the National Register of Historic Places, it has been re-built due to years of use.

(9) Fossil Creek

Just outside of Camp Verde along the Verde River is a stunning gushing stream, Fossil Creek. While it is harder to get there now that they closed access via Strawberry, and made it a fee area, it remains a gorgeous, if not sadly overgrown area.

(10) Greens Peak

Outside of Show Low is a popular area called Greens Peak that we frequent every year. It tends to get a lot of weather (snow and rain) that make it flourish with greenery and animals.

(11) Hart Prairie / Kendrick Peak

We had gone to check out Lockett Meadow, a stunning place for aspen color, but there was a line waiting to get into it due to overcrowding. So instead we found a new area we hadn’t yet explored, Hart Prairie, just outside of Flagstaff.

(12) Mogollon Rim, FR 95 bridge

We’ve gotten very little snow this year, so when we heard it was supposed to snow on the rim, we immediately headed out. We enjoyed a beautiful winter wonderland for a short period.

That wraps up my 2020 Best Of. Let’s hope 2021 abounds with happiness, laughter, great views and interesting places, storm clouds, and stormy weather.

Check out my Best of Animals, 2020 here… https://kritterspix.com/2021/01/12/best-of-2020-animals/

Blizzard

Snow falls on road along Mogollon Rim.

Ok. That may be pushing it a bit. But we got 2″ in an hour along the Mogollon Rim. It was a virtual blizzard for a short time.

Which was a big surprise to us considering we just got back from 3 nights camping at Alstrom Point waiting for a single cloud! (See post here.. https://kritterspix.com/2020/12/12/alstrom-point/)

It was quite the winter wonderland, and made for a great way to kick off the holiday season. We loved it!

Fawning About

I adore watching the animals, and when I get to see baby animals it’s all the better.

They have this curious sense of newness and wonder that they wear on their faces.

Mom dotes on them and protects them from harm… and the baby listens and hastens at her insistence.

All the while the baby is tugged by this new world it finds itself in, with all the wonders to discover, and adventures to be had.

At this stage of their lives, with all their innocence, they have no fear of danger. If only mom could always protect them. They must be quickly schooled on the harsh reality of their existence.