Saturday was a day for walking in warmth in the conservatory at Longwood Gardens, a day for capturing photos with my phone.
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Monday, December 30, 2013
Saturday, December 28, 2013
It's always a surprise to see faces on objects. We drove past this wonderful decorated truck on our way to Longwood Gardens. When it popped up again as we were heading home I asked my sister to stop so I could jump out and see if the truck would consent to posing for a photo.
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 4:38 PM
It was a day for a first visit to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. It won't be the last!
The season isn't right for outdoor flowers so much of our time was spent in the conservatory where we were greeted with bright colors. Only some of the colors were from flowers... this shot is of a design in apples, floating in a frame in a pool of shallow water.
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 4:33 PM
Oh, it's very early in the morning...
I'm at Logan Airport waiting for a plane. The bus from the off-site parking lot was almost full - somewhat of a surprise given the time. There were two other people traveling; the rest of the people were dressed for outside ramp work at the airport.
The airport is waking up. Security and airlines are fully staffed and the shops are slowly opening. After a quick stop to grab a cup of coffee and a banana, then I headed to the gate area to sit and wait. I saw something out of the corner of my eye, a little mouse scurrying across the gate area, running under chairs. It's a good thing the woman sitting across from me saw the little creature too - we both thought that we were seeing things!
I was fascinated enough by the JetBlue signs to grab a photo with my phone; they look like they are full of bubbles!
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 5:21 AM
Friday, December 27, 2013
As I got closer to the coast the sky was decorated with a subtle cloud cover, perfect! It was a good day for a walk on the beach, covered in a thin layer of snow above the high tide line, sand below.
I love the ripples in the sand, visible under a coating of snow.
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 6:51 PM
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Funny, I tried to come up with my top 10 images of 2013 but 13 jumped at me - the same number that I selected last year. Of the thirteen, three are flowers and 10 are landscapes. Hmm... if I wanted to stick with a "top 10" I guess I could find another 7 flower shots and have two top 10s.
I'm happy with a "top 13". In date sequence, here are my favorites from 2013.
cherry blossoms along the Charles River esplanade
along Park Loop Road, Acadia National Park
reflections, Popham Beach
turquoise water, along the Bow Valley Parkway, Banff National Park
Vermillion Lakes, Banff National Park
Vermillion Lakes, Banff National Park
late day light and reflections, Bow River, Canmore, AB
shimmering water, morning reflections, Acadia National Park
late bloom in white and light purple
boats on calm waters, Portsmouth NH
reflections, a peaceful scene, Portsmouth NH
rocky coastline and shimmering water, along the New Hampshire coast
Monday, December 23, 2013
I was fascinated to find a sculpture using flowing water in the desert. This series of tea pots is in Tohono Chul Park, on a wall that contains 3 sets of pots pouring water from higher to lower to lower. It was a soothing place to sit, to watch the water flowing, to listen.
Sunday, December 22, 2013
Photos from my wanders in Saguaro National Park and other Tucson-area spots are loaded into galleries, ready for viewing. Start with the top level gallery, Arizona 2013, or click on the photos below to enter a specific gallery.
gardens, museums, trees:
Interested in words? You can find my ramblings in the blog entries tagged Arizona 2013.
I'm finding it a bit hard to believe that several days of warmth hasn't removed last week's snow. The roads are clear for now, at least until the predicted freezing rain arrives - but snow remains.
Snow serves as a nice frame for this fallen leaf.
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 12:57 PM
Saturday, December 21, 2013
It was a day of magic light, of high tide, of reflections. It was a good day for an afternoon wander along the New Hampshire coast.
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 10:27 PM
Friday, December 20, 2013
This week brought cold and snow, easing off with temperatures edging back to 50 today. Even where sidewalks have been shoveled or plowed the walks are still wearing ice and clumps of snow, making walking somewhat treacherous. As a result the place that seems most reasonable to walk is on the edge of the road.
Winter walking, in search of non-slippery surfaces...
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 8:21 PM
Thursday, December 19, 2013
I was fascinated by the differences in the looks of saguaro as young plants to those wearing a large number of years. This one seems a bit worn, holes making me think it may have served as a home for a woodpecker.
According to The Saguaro Cactus fact sheet on The Saguaro National Park web site:
An adult saguaro is generally considered to be about 125 years of age. It may weigh 6 tons or more and be as tall as 50 feet. The average life span of a saguaro is probably 150 - 175 years of age. However, biologists believe that some plants may live over 200 years."
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Southern Arizona was a very nice spot for a quick escape but brrr... we're back to winter here! It was very cold when we landed at Logan Airport early Monday morning but we were very lucky. Denise thought we would need to dig the car out of snow from the weekend storm but there was only a coating of ice on the windshield, no snow. The car's defroster helped to make it a bit easier to scrape, then we headed home.
It snowed yesterday afternoon into the night and then today the sun reappeared. Everything is so white, and still cold. I think it's going to get a bit warmer over the next few days but it won't come close to the temperatures we enjoyed in Tucson. I guess I'll need to wander through the photos of our trip to remind me of warm(ish) temperatures in the winter.
I had to be careful where I bounced in the desert since I didn't want to get cactus spines in my feet. Luckily there was a rock in front of this spiky little cactus so I could pose for a photo. But oops! I didn't manage to get a shot of Denise on this trip. Hmm... I'll try to do better the next time.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
It's hard for me to believe that we spent most of the day at a place that had museum in its name.
The day started with a good B&B breakfast, blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup, plus some granola and yogurt, yum. Denise chatted with John and the other B&B guests for a bit, then we packed up and headed from our temporary home east of Tuscon to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum west of Tucson and across Gates Pass.
When I heard museum I thought it would be inside, but it's not. The brochure for the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum says it is a zoo, aquarium, garden, museum, and gallery, almost all outside. We arrived at about quarter to 10, 15 minutes before the first raptor free flight of the day. Of course that was pretty far from the entrance but Denise really wanted to see the birds so she walked quickly and I rode in the camera bag. The birds call the museum home; that's where they live. They really were flying free, and they sometimes flew low right over our heads. The morning demo started with a pair of ravens, then an owl, then a falcon. The last bird decided it didn't want to play - apparently she saw something that was more interesting than the people waiting to see her. Wow, those birds are really impressive.
Next we walked and walked and walked some more. We saw some animals but some were hiding. Denise took a picture of a bee drinking from a flower, and she tried to catch a coyote inside of his enclosure. And then we found pure magic - a hummingbird aviary. We watched some hummingbirds feeding from the plants outside but it was hard for Denise to catch them with her camera. But oh! the hummingbirds in the aviary even did a little posing. She didn't catch any in flight but I'm hoping she has some of the little birds standing still. One of the docents showed us a hummingbird nest that they kept after the last nesting season. They are really, really tiny! Denise was so fascinated with the hummingbirds that we stopped at the aviary more than once. That was fun!
There was a second raptor free flight in the afternoon; we went to that one too. This time we saw a gray falcon, a barn owl, and some red-tailed hawks. The owl was very cool, and it was making noise too. The docent told us the story of how the owl came to live at the Desert Museum. An owl couple had made a nest and was raising their baby above the entrance to a store. They were protecting their baby by diving at customers, so the nest was moved to another location. Unfortunately at that point the mom and dad owls abandoned the baby so it was "adopted" by the museum. When the owl was flying today it was crying out - we were told that's baby owl behavior when out of the nest, to let the parent owls know where the baby is flying. Apparently this young owl imprinted on the keepers.
The birds are wearing transmitters in case they don't return. They are not restricted at all, but if a bird takes off the keepers try to find it because they are not accustomed to living in the wild.
After we left the museum we headed into the Tucson Mountain section of Saguaro National Park. Denise wanted to do a little more walking in the park, plus she wanted to ask a question that she figured the ranger could answer. As we looked out from the park we could see squares of what looked like water. It almost felt like an optical illusion; after all we are in the desert! It turns out that they are recharge basins, holding water diverted from the Colorado River that then seeps into the aquifer to recharge the water supply. If you're curious, click to the Recharged Water page of the City of Tucson web site.
We started back to Phoenix a lot earlier than we needed to given that our flight isn't until just after midnight. (It was scheduled for 11:42 PM but Denise got a text from the airline saying the new departure time is 12:07 AM.) Denise wanted to drive the back roads to the highway while it was still light out, and we were both getting tired so we knew it was time to stop. Our plans were to find a restaurant before the airport exit but somehow the airport exit jumped out at us. We followed the signs for the rental car return, then went a bit further to find a gas station. After filling up the car Denise asked if there were any non-fast-food restaurants in the area - with the added request that the restaurant be easy to find. We were directed the Mariscos Vuelve a la Vida. What a good find! Denise ordered a pescado (fish) burrito; it was enough for us to share (and still have some left over). She was more than a bit surprised at the price, $6.75 for a nice sized burrito, rice, beans, and a bit of salad. That's pretty amazing, isn't it?
We arrived at the airport way earlier than we needed to be here. Denise figured the airport would have free internet access (it does) and that it would be a good place to sit for a bit. She's not much for wandering in a strange city at night, and I'm happy to be able to write our blog entry before we fly.
a friend of mine, hanging out at the visitor center
Saguaro National Park
photo by Rover
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Today was a day of two parks, walking trails in Saguaro National Park, a visit to Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, and a return to the Cactus Forest Loop Drive in Saguaro National Park to catch a bit of late afternoon light. It was another good day. That shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who knows Denise's wandering habits - following her instincts for wandering spots usually results in good days.
Our morning wander was in the Rincon Mountain section of the national park. The hiking trail we chose for this morning was an easy drive from our B&B (once the defroster melted the frost on the windshield). It was a chilly start but the layers were discarded quite quickly one we started up the Douglas Springs trail. It was flat at first but then the land started tilting up and heading back into a canyon. What a beautiful trail! It's funny, most of the trails we've been wandering this week have been pretty flat. This uphill trail reminded me of how nice it is to see things from higher viewing points.
In the early afternoon we found our way to the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area (within Coronado National Forest). It's possible to take a tram to the high point of one of the hikes and walk back. I don't think Denise even considered that as an option - she chose a hike up to the Sabino Dam after verifying that there was really water behind the dam. Parts of the walk looked very similar to other places we've walked since we've been here but as we neared the water the colors changed. There were trees wearing bright yellow autumn leaves, and when we climbed behind the dam we could see the yellow of the leaves and the blue of the sky reflecting in the water. That was a nice surprise!
After we finished the hike Denise decided to see if there was a Whole Foods Market near the park. Sometimes she doesn't feel like going to a restaurant for dinner, and today was one of those days. There was a Whole Foods not too far away so we followed the directions from her phone to find it. She chose a good assortment of foods for dinner - before we headed back into the park we stopped at our B&B to stash the food in the refrigerator. The GPS on Denise's phone was really helpful!
The sun was dropping lower in the sky but it was still full daylight - the sun sets here a lot later than it does at home. That meant that we had plenty of time to drive the loop road in Saguaro National Park to see if it looked different than when we were wandering there yesterday morning. And yes, the slanted rays of the afternoon light changed the look of the landscape.
I can't believe tomorrow is our last day here. We have the whole day to wander even though we're flying home tomorrow night; our flight doesn't leave until 11:42 PM.
from a flat section of the trail on our morning walk in Saguaro National Park
reflections of autumn leaves in the water above Sabino Dam
in Sabino Canyon Recreation Area
Friday, December 13, 2013
Did you know that when you say "saguaro" there isn't a "G" sound? It sounds like there is a "W". Sometimes I wonder why words have the spellings they do - isn't it odd to include letters that aren't used?
We started today with a good breakfast and good conversation. Then we headed to the visitor center for the eastern section of Saguaro National Park. Denise got a few recommendations for hikes, and we headed out on the Cactus Forest Loop Drive. That's an 8 mile winding one-way road with occasional spots to pull off and a few larger spots to leave cars while the occupants go wandering down a trail. We saw two people running the loop road and quite a few biking it - but we only saw a couple of other people hiking. It's a good thing that Denise likes wandering without extra companions (besides me, that is!).
When Denise was chatting with the people staffing the national park visitor center she learned something very interesting about saguaros. They grow very slowly, and for protection they grow under a "nurse plant". That's a faster growing tree that shelters slower growing plants and helps them to survive. Denise asked what happens when the saguaro is grown into a large size and no longer needs shelter; the person she was talking to said that the nurse plant eventually dies because the saguaro sucks up all of the water. That's pretty interesting, isn't it?
It took a really long time to drive that short 8-mile loop. We started before 9 and it was almost 4 hours later when we finished! The speed limit was pretty slow - even a couple of curves that were marked at 5 MPH! That wasn't the real reason it took that long. We stopped for a short walk, then for a longer hike, then for another walk. And we stopped at pull-outs any time Denise wanted to look a little harder at something. It was bright sunlight, just a wisp or two of clouds over distant mountains. It was very interesting, but I could still hear Denise wishing for a few clouds.
After we finished the loop drive and our hiking we headed to Tohano Chul, a botanical garden in a suburb of Tucson. We're staying on the western edge of Tucson and the garden is to the northeast. It seemed a bit odd to me to drive across town to see more cactus but Denise really wanted to visit there. She was right, it is a pretty cool place. There were many kinds of cactus (with signs, so we could learn something new), and there was some artwork too. Denise really liked a sculpture of a vulture perched up in a tree.
saquaro cactus in the arms of a nurse tree
more on nurse trees in the National Park Service
The Saguaro Cactus information sheet
Thursday, December 12, 2013
It was a good first day, from our drive to the south (following I-10 East!) to a bit of a wander among some very tall cactus, to finding our home for the next few days. It was a day of enjoying desert scenery, of being fascinated by the very tall cactus that decorated the landscape. Did you know that saguaro cactus can grow to between 40 and 60 feet tall?
We jumped off of the highway when Denise saw the first signs for Saguaro National Park, heading for the western section of the park. It was a combination walking and driving day, following the road, pulling off and leaving the car for a bit of a hike and some camera play, repeating. It was sunny and warm with temperatures (according to the thermometer in the car) reaching into the low 70s. Denise was very happy to feel the warmth of the sun.
From the Tucson Mountain section of the park we headed across Gates Pass before dropping down to Tucson. The road changed names after we came down from the pass, wearing the name of Speedway. We followed that busy road until it dropped down to two lanes and became very quiet as it neared the eastern section of Saguaro National Park. Our home for the next few nights, the Desert Trails B&B, is on that quiet section of road.
I saw some color out of the corner of my eye as I was heading to the east (in Tucson). I had passed the bright color before I realized what it was - a painting on the side of the building. I almost kept driving but I thought better of it and turned back. I'm glad I did!
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Denise said she doesn't remember seeing security at Logan Airport as empty as it was tonight. We didn't need to wait in line at all!
That means we have a bit of time to just relax. Our relaxing started with a stop at Pinkberry, a frozen yogurt shop in the terminal. We shared a dish of peppermint frozen yogurt, yummy!
Denise did her usual airport walking but I told her I wanted to sit down for a few minutes so I could update you on our travel status. Just think, the next time I write it will be from Arizona.
Hmm... I wonder if I can convince Denise to try to sleep on the plane. She usually doesn't, but it's going to be really late in our time when we land. A nap might be good. Oh! I remembered to tuck a set of ear buds into Denise's bag so we can watch and listen to the onboard entertainment. Denise said she will probably read, but I might see a movie or a show I want to watch.
I'm really looking forward to wandering in a new place!
I don't know what made me decide I needed a new layer as the season edged colder but that instinct made me very happy as I was packing for my wander in southern Arizona. I have good cold layer layers but there have been times when I've felt like my layers have made me resemble a snowman.
The layer I purchased back in October in anticipation of winter cold is the LLBean women's Ascent Packaway Jacket. It's a good thing I followed up on my purchase instinct quickly; I just checked the Bean web site and these jackets are now sold out! (As of January 15, 2014 there is some availability; if you want your own magic jacket you might want to check the LLBean site.)
The description on the web site pulled me in:
It feels surprisingly light, probably the result of the PrimaLoft One insulation. With just the single layer it seems like it won't be warm, but as soon as I add another layer - even a layer as light as a shell - the warmth is noticeable. I used this jacket for the first time at the end of last month, layered under light fleece. It worked quite well.A layering essential, it's just the right weight for wearing under a shell or alone for extra warmth.
>>> Remarkably light PrimaLoft One insulation is surprisingly warm.
>>> Ultralight ripstop nylon shell is treated to shed water and block wind
>>> A highly compact alternative to fleece; packs into its hand pocket
The thought process of preparing to travel from a cold climate to a relatively warm climate at first had me thinking I needed a heavy winter jacket for a very short part of my trip - from home to the airport, and from the airport to the parking lot to home on my return. I really didn't want to carry a heavy layer just for travel but the weather forecast calls for low temperatures for my early morning arrival back at Logan Airport. I need something with me that will allow me to stand outside waiting for a shuttle bus without shivering uncontrollably. I was planning to travel with a lightweight fleece jacket; I didn't think that jacket had enough room to add this jacket as an underneath layer. I was pleasantly surprised - I can easily add this jacket either under or over the fleece.
It feels like magic...
Monday, December 09, 2013
Sunday, December 08, 2013
I only need to wait a few more days before Denise & I head out on a long weekend wander on the other side of the country. I thought maybe we would go back to Death Valley but Denise thought we should try someplace new. Where? We're going to Arizona. I've been to Arizona before but this time we're going to a new-to-Denise-and-me city and a new-to-us national park.
Our destination is Tucson, and Saguaro National Park. I think it's interesting that the park was named after a cactus! I found this quote on the Saguaro National Park web site:
It turns out that JetBlue has one non-stop a day in each direction between Boston and Phoenix so those are the flights we're on. Denise prefers non-stop flights so we'll be driving between Phoenix and Tucson. There is an interstate between the two cities and they aren't that far apart so driving makes perfect sense to me. Our westbound travel time will be after Denise finishes work one day this week, and then we'll be flying back overnight. Yikes! Denise isn't good at sleeping on planes but I think she'll get at least a couple of hours of sleep on that overnight flight so she'll be awake enough to drive home from the airport.
Oh! I'm so excited!
Saturday, December 07, 2013
Friday, December 06, 2013
The temperature and the calendar appear to be a bit confused this morning. It's 50 degrees outside, not a temperature I would expect as we head into winter. The forecast for tonight calls for a possibility of snow. Hmm...
As we move from autumn into winter here's a wildflower as it moved from summer into fall.
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 6:32 AM