Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Back Home

... for our first lunch at home: grilled eggplant, red bell pepper, fresh herbs and tomatoes.

How the herbs grew while we were gone!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Four Fathers Celebration

A photo of our "four fathers" celebration. The fathers are: Brian, Jack, Jay, and Len. Also a few moms & kids.
Update: the original of this family photo from 1982. Same location, some different family members, some the same.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

On the Road Again: Albuquerque

Aliens at a rest stop between Flagstaff & Albuquerque. 
A long convoy of tanks was also stopped at the Rest Stop. 

Lunch in Albuquerque, at a place we've enjoyed before, the Church Street Cafe. The decor is very beautiful. Then we did a few more gallery visits. Tomorrow: a long drive. The next day: another long drive.

Montezuma Well National Monument

Montezuma Well, a natural water formation in the Arizona Desert.

Today we visited several beautiful sites where various bird life might be found. I had never heard of Montezuma Well, which is a small lake with very deep sides that is always filled with water. The source of the water is very deep underground, and the water flows out via a crack in the rocks far down below the surrounding rock cliffs. The geology, history, and beauty of the site are all impressive.

People of the Sinagua culture built dwelling places in the cliffs beside the water, and used the water for agriculture in the lower fields nearby. We walked around the area, as well as visiting several other mountain and forest sites in the area.

Montezuma Well is quite mis-named as the Aztec emperor of that name was years later and had nothing to do with the people who lived there and used the water. Several very ancient irrigation ditches can still be seen in the National Monument surrounding the very beautiful water source.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Along Oak Creek

Oak Creek is a beautiful stream near Flagstaff, where we are staying. Today we birded at several sites along the creek, and ate lunch in Sedona, where the creek flows into the Verde River. We especially enjoyed a walk along an irrigation channel beside the creek, where we walked on private land near the home of a friend of our guide. Irrigation channels were built along the creek over 100 years ago when the area was developed for agriculture. We saw several farms with cows and horses in fenced enclosures as we walked and searched for the many types of birds that live in this beautiful habitat.

A young Great Horned Owl near Oak Creek.

Monday, June 12, 2017

California Condors and More

The high point of our incredibly long and eventful day today was seeing this California Condor. These birds became extinct
in the wild, and are being reintroduced from a captive breeding program. There are only a few hundred of them alive now.
The male condor was outside the small cliffside cave where the pair are raising a chick. The female was nearby. 
We spent several hours at the Grand Canyon -- obviously another high point of our day and of our entire trip west.

We had dinner at the Cameron Trading Post on the Navajo Reservation.
Another high point of the day was trying a Navajo Taco on fry bread.
The trading post is  decorated with magnificent Navajo rugs and other artifacts.
We left our hotel at 6 AM and returned at 8:30 PM. Our guide drove us 360 miles, from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon and onward to the Navajo Bridge where a pair of condors are nesting. The beauty of the scenery on the reservation, the many views of the Grand Canyon, and the many other birds we saw also made for a remarkable day -- though very long.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Flagstaff Birding Tour

A Bullock's Oriole.
Today was the beginning of our guided bird trip to the Flagstaff area. After a long day visiting quite a few beautiful areas and seeing many birds, especially many new ones, we were invited to our guide's home for dinner. From his back deck, we saw the beautiful oriole in the photo above.

We loved walking among pines and aspens, searching for birds.

We also spent quite a bit of time in this burned-out pine forest...
An unusual species, the three-toed woodpecker, lives in and near the burned out forest, eating the beetles that
live on the dead wood. After a long and frustrating search, we finally saw the bird in this photo.
We saw a total of seven species of woodpecker today,
including this Williamson's Sapsucker.
Aspen trees have eyes!
Also at our guide's home: a pinyon jay.

Our guide and his wife, who cooked us a marvelous dinner including a pie.

If you ever want to take a great bird tour, here is a link to tours organized by Field Guides Birdwatching Tours and guided by John Coons, our guide:

Friday, June 09, 2017

Birds, beasts, flowers, and streams

 The Santa Fe River, far upstream, near the Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary in Santa Fe.
During our Santa Fe visit this week, we took a morning walk there.

A hummingbird at the Davey Audubon Center.
Flowering cactus, Davey Audubon Center.
A western bluebird, which we saw in downtown Santa Fe, near the Santa Fe River.

The Galisteo River (or Creek) runs behind the small town of Galisteo, NM.
We took a beautiful walk there.
A friendly dog ran, jumped, and waded in the stream, accompanying
us on our walk.
We called the dog Dolly because she looked like the dog we used to have.
The Galisteo church stands quite near the stream where we walked.
Galisteo is about half an hour from Santa Fe.
After three days of varied activities, we left Santa Fe this morning, and drove to Flagstaff. We will be spending a few days of intensive, guided birdwatching here. On the way, we stopped briefly for a picnic at the visitor center of the Petrified Forest.

A bunny near the picnic area at the Painted Desert.
Two finches in a yucca plant at the Painted Desert.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Lunch and More Museums in Santa Fe

After another morning of birding along a beautiful creek in a town called Gallisteo, we came back to Santa Fe and had lunch in a small Mexican deli called the Palacio Cafe. Len had a Cuban Reuben Panini -- made and served by Spanish-speaking cook and waitresses -- that is, 4-way fusion food.

Inside the Palacio Cafe: paintings that recall the work
of Frida Kalho, unibrow included.
My lunch: New Mexican enchiladas.
We then proceeded to New Mexico Museum of Art and then to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum.

The courtyard of the New Mexico Museum of Art, where we saw a collection of drawings
on loan from the British Museum, including works by Michaelangelo, Leonardo,
Rembrandt, and many more works from the 15th century to the present.
The Georgia O'Keffe Museum.
The O'Keeffe Museum has a remarkable collection of paintings and other works that she produced throughout her life. It also presents many photos of her and her surroundings -- even photos and sketches of her in early childhood by her mother and sisters, who were also painters. 

In her earliest years as an artist, O'Keeffe was influenced by a famous art-instruction book by Arthur Dow, and by Alon Bement, her teacher at University of Virginia where she studied. The work above depicts the UVA campus, in the style she was then learning.

Not long after her time at UVA, she began to develop her own style of abstraction. She lived in a number of places, including New York City, where she began to be recognized as an innovator and creative artist. Visiting the museum reviews the details of her personal and creative life, especially the many years she spent either part of the year or full time in New Mexico.

"Pedernal, "1941-1942. Among the vast number of O'Keeffe paintings I have seen, her depictions of this mountain near
Ghost Ranch near Santa Fe are always my favorites. A few years ago, I drove up to that area from here, and
was amazed to learn that her paintings aren't abstractions, but that the Pedernal mountain truly looks like this.
O'Keeffe was a gardner and a cook. This New Mexico photo, by
Tony Vaccaro, shows her preparing salad for lunch. (1960)
In this photo, she's picking Angelica for the salad.
One of the galleries.