Throwback Thursday and Desert Shrimp

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December 6, 2018, Prescott-

Thirty-eight years ago, today, I met the woman who would change my life, immeasurably, for the better.  Penny and I met in a crowded and very simple house, in Zuni, NM, on the night of a house blessing (known as Shalako). We shared a chair, taking turns sitting down and nodding off, during the all-night ceremony.

We ended up sharing everything else, for close to thirty years, all but one of those years as husband and wife.  As I’ve said before, she’s still looking out for me, in ways large and small, since her passing in March, 2011.

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Above, we are flanked by my parents, on our wedding day, June 6, 1982.

We shared many of the same tastes in food, among other things.  We both appreciated healthy and unadulterated ingredients. So, I think she would have liked Desert Sweet Shrimp. https://arizonashrimp.com/

I purchased a pound of these gems, over a month ago, and made two great meals out of them.  The first order of business, when preparing shrimp for a fine repast, is to shell the Caridea (the correct name of the creatures which are bred in this series of well-derived ponds, in Gila Bend, AZ).  Shelling can be done in a variety of ways- the easiest of which is to soak the shrimp in beer, for 8-10 hours. This leads to the shell falling off, almost automatically. I chose to shell each one individually, sans bier, so as to get a feel for the relationship between the shell and the flesh.  Deveining follows, no matter what method one uses for removing the shell.  Deveining means removing the receptacle holding the shrimp’s fecal matter, so it’s a VERY important step.  The Caridea are then rinsed, at least twice, before being added to a recipe.  It took me an hour to properly prepare the shrimp for cooking. Below is an image (Courtesy of Arizona Shrimp Company-all rights reserved) of the actual shrimp that I purchased.

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I prepared most of the shrimp in sopa de camarones (“shrimp soup”), using green onions, chili powder, turmeric and sea salt.   It’s been a favourite of mine, since I first ate it in Puerto Penasco, Sonora, nearly forty years ago.  I used the rest in a small scampi dish, using a recipe posted on In Diane’s Kitchen, https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/114793426/posts/27651 , on September 13.

Both were exquisite meals, which gave me sustenance for over a week.    I hope to visit the actual facility, during a few days in the West Valley and Gila Bend, right after New Year’s.  I also hope the company will continue a presence at Prescott Farmers’ Market, next spring and summer.

This is the first of a series of posts honouring the festive, and deeper, aspects of the great December holidays.    NEXT:  Prescott’s Acker Night.

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 5: Scenes of White, Red and Green

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May 31, 2018, Limon, CO- 

A drive from Salina to Green River, Utah entails being mindful of all things road trip-related. First and foremost of these are gas and water, the latter for both the car’s radiator and for its passengers.  Having lived in the arid Southwest for 34 of the last 40 years, I am one of those who does not leave home without plenty of both.

So, after a fine night’s sleep, at Ranch Motel, in downtown Salina, I greeted the motel’s maid (not exactly a morning person) and went down the street to Mom’s Cafe.  The hostess was much more cheerful and served up a scrambled eggs, sausage patty and pancakes platter that would see me through the whole day.

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After my morning repast, I took a couple of views of downtown Salina.

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Prep work for the long day’s drive then took over.  I said farewell to the Ranch Motel folks.  I really would stay there again.  Morning grouchiness aside, they are a nice family. Across the street, Barrett’s Market had ice and a few food items that I needed.  NAPA Auto parts had a couple of items for my project to secure the rear panel that is still taped in place, from last October’s mishap, outside Gila Cliff Dwellings, NM.  Finally, I stopped at Fast Gas, for the most important item, and I was on my way.

There are several scenic view pullouts, between Salina and Green River.  Three of them were my photo stops:  Salt Wash, Devil’s Canyon and Spotted Wolf Canyon.  A fourth, Ghost Rock, is one I am saving for an extended Utah visit, that will occupy October, 2020. More about that, later.

Salt Wash is the largest of the three sites I visited this morning.  Here are a few of the scenes that awaited me.

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The top two scenes show the limestone that sits atop so many layers of sandstone, which forms the nearly endless canyons of our region.  The various layers are visible, in the third photo, above.

Salt Wash had a sizable display of Dineh (Navajo) art and crafts.  I purchased a lovely bowl, as part of my gift for the wedding which is taking me to Philadelphia, in mid-June.  When I got to Devil’s Canyon, a few blankets were laid out, with necklaces and such, all lovely, but I had what I wanted.  Here are a couple of views from this second viewpoint.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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You can see that, with just the passage of a few miles, a slight change in elevation brings a drastic difference in landscape and plant life.

At Spotted Wolf Canyon, the easternmost of the scenic viewpoints, there were no vendors, just a news photographer, out of Salt Lake City, plying his craft.  I worked around him, and got these scenes.

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This is the beginning of the relentless maze of canyons and eroded bottomlands, that make southeastern Utah, and much of nearby northeastern Arizona, such a major desert trekking haven.  I am looking to do justice to Utah’ s great parks and reserves-thus, a plan to spend all of July, 2020, beginning with the Goosenecks of the San Juan River and moving through Arches, Canyonlands and westward, ending at Cedar Breaks.

I made my next stop in Grand Junction, western Colorado’s regional commercial hub, intending to gas up again and get the car washed.  The car wash attendant had to manually restart the system, both for me and for the gentleman who came after me.  I ended up spending nearly two hours in Grand Junction, with not much to show for it, but the car was clean.

As luck would have it, my second cousin, in Denver, was working and I know my sister-in-law, with two jobs, would likely be unavailable when I got there.  So, I stopped in Glenwood Springs and had dinner at 19th Street Diner, a westside spot where another friend works.  She wasn’t there, but I was well-treated.

Along the way from Glenwood to Denver, the Colorado River shows its relative health.

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It will be a fine day, when this level of vitality is again visible, for the length of this great river.  Alas, man must drink.

Wind, furious at times, was my companion from Denver to Limon, Colorado, where I would spend the night.  It was a minor adventure, gassing up in the small town of Watkins, just east of Denver International Airport.  The clerk inside was blase about the wind- “Well, we are in the Plains.”  True enough, and so it would continue, as I moved through Kansas.

 

 

 

 

Saving Bees

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Reblogged from Soul Gifts.

 

soulgifts - Telling Tales

What’s all the buzz about bees?

Bottom line is we need them.  When I did a google search for ‘save the bees’ I got 2,950,000 results in 0.65 seconds.  There is a lot of initiatives out there about what is happening world-wide to help savethem. You can go big – or you can local in your own yard.  Here’s just a few tips on what you can do –

plant  pollen and nectar producing trees, shrubs and flowers that are local and native to your area

be mindful not to use pest control sprays etc that are harmful to bees

buy locally produced honey to support a healthy bee population and ensure you get good, quality honey

buy other bee products

if you spot a bee swarm, do not panic – instead,  call a beekeeper to come and safely remove them and add them to their apiary.  While these swarms…

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Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part L: A Hoosier Menagerie

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July 10, 2017, Goshen, IN-

After leaving, Notre Dame, I realized I needed some sustenance.  Finding a pizzeria, in Elkhart , closed on Monday, I went into Martin’s Supermarket, on the east end of town, and had a small snack.  Good thing, it wasn’t linner, as I was able to contact another friend, Mcbery, and arrange to meet her, hubby and grandchildren, for a tour of their substantial farm, in nearby Goshen. While en route to our meeting point, I met a harbinger of the visit to come:  A Canadian goose crossing zone!

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I went into Elkhart’s public library, and no sooner had I sat down at a computer desk, than Miriam and Lee showed up. Off we went, me trailing carefully behind, through Goshen’s narrow lanes.  The menagerie was not long in greeting us, at this estimable farm.  There are the usual animals resident on farms:  Cattle, horses, sheep, goats, donkeys and dogs. Then, there are chickens and Guinea pigs, enjoying one another’s company.

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The fauna now took a decidedly more exotic turn, with two types of flightless birds greeting us, with squawks.  The emus, and at least one rhea, manage also to share a large pen.  I was glad to see no cassowary in the mix- those birds are especially vicious.

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The most challenging resident, for now, is a three-month-old camel.  Lee seems to be the only person who can keep a lid on her behaviour.  She came up to me, regarded me with interest, then quickly jumped away, on her little excursion of mischief.

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Further down the path, a full-grown camel led a parade of animals towards their evening feeding.  I was glad to take part in this, and the camel seen here accepted a fistful, or two, of clover and grass, from me.

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After meeting all the animals, it was time for the grandkids to go to their home, down the path, and for the three of us to go for our dinner.  So I close, with a photo of this wonderful farm family.SAM_8505.JPG

 

Indiana has been, once again, a delight, and in three diverse ways, last night and today.

NEXT UP:  Three posts about Ohio, starting with Van Wert, and the most interesting things that happened there.

 

 

 

 

Constant Solace

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March 28, 2017, Prescott Valley- This afternoon, whilst shuttling between meetings.   I listened to a discussion, on NPR, about emotional support animals.  It set me to thinking about the matters: Of people who feel invisible and untended; of false equivalency between those who are truly disabled, those who are mildly inconvenienced, and how does one accurately distinguish between the two; of those who are simply gaming the system.

When I was a child, there were Seeing Eye Dogs and police dogs, with specific missions, who were not to be bothered, in the course of their duties.  In the late 1970’s, came Hearing Dogs, which was almost a no-brainer.  After the closing of mental hospitals, and with the onset of more research on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Therapy Dogs and Equestrian Therapy started to become commonplace, especially in the American West.  These animals all still serve a wide variety of people in pain.

In the 1990’s, and continuing through the present time, we have seen a more personalized extension of the therapy animal:  The Emotional Support Animal (ESA).  Dogs, cats, budgerigars, pythons, lizards, ferrets, hamsters, even llamas and burros, have been presented, in one or more social situations and public spaces, as essential companions to humans.

For those making these new demands upon the rest of society, the traditional concept of pets has gone out the window.  I know many who treasure their various pets, sometimes as members of the family.  Most of my pet-owning friends keep their furry friends at home, or make humane arrangements for them, when out of town.  To the people who regard their animals as essential to their own well-being, however, the idea of being away from them, even for a night on the town, becomes nerve-wracking, traumatic, and completely unacceptable.

I can understand a lot of this.  Other than the unconditional love of a significant other, there are few things more appealing than the comfort of one’s favourite animal, especially after a stressful day.  A warm dog or cat is also a comfort for many who live, and sleep, alone.

Enter the Golden Rule.  I am just posing these questions- without judgment:

Are the feelings of one’s fellow diners, and of eatery staffs, being considered, when one brings an ESA into a restaurant or outdoor cafe?

Is it safe, or even comfortable, to bring a stock animal onto a train?  What about the comfort of the animal?

Can the likes of  a dog, cat, gerbil or python really be suitable for riding in the coach of an airplane?  What about the animal’s safety, in the event its human needs to evacuate said aircraft?

What about the management of a conflict between, say, a dog and cat, or two animals in heat?

These are all, to my mind, fair questions.  I will read any reasonable, well- considered responses with a great deal of interest.

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XIX: Two Kinds of Heaven

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March 14, 2017, Superior-  I was invigorated, despite it being an afternoon during the Fast, once the High Trail came into view.  This fairly easy trail first led down into Queen Creek Canyon, and past an old, abandoned Pump House.

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The energetic and happy family ahead of me were already planning to bounce along the bridge that crossed Queen Creek and take on the ridge, which gives High Trail its name.  I was more than glad to follow suit.  As they bounced up and down, in unison, I lingered behind, to take in the fragrance of some Texas Scarlet, and view upwards, at the rhyolite which Queen Creek seems to have thrust upwards.

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Then, it was time to do a bit of jumping of my own.

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Queen Creek was still, on this gorgeous afternoon.

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The views eastward, however, were an extra delight- the rugged edges of a particular heaven.

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I was able to get one more, long-distance view of Picket Post House, before heading back down into the canyon.

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Obsidian accompanies rhyolite, as one heads towards the Australian exhibit.

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After one last look at the rhyolite “castles”, for today, I headed back towards the Arboretum.

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There are two greenhouses, on the western edge of the park.  These house plants that are still delicate, primarily from the “cone” of South America and from southern and eastern Africa.

Mammilaria are the main feature of Green House 1.

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Euphorbia, and aloe, dominate Green House 2.  The first shows plants from Madagascar, which, like the U.S. has a rugged desert Southwest.

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These plants are from the equally rugged southwest of the Arabian Peninsula.

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With that, I exited Boyce Thompson Arboretum.  My return,  in the first days of April, will be in no small part due to  a special soul, working in this little bit of heaven.  SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Nature and friendship are what keep me going, as many in Prescott, and elsewhere, know.

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XVII: The Amazing Fruits of Sand

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESMarch 14, 2017, Superior- No doubt about it, this area has me hooked.  Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park, a combination of Desert Botanical Garden and the Prescott Circle Trail, is the centerpiece of an intensely spiritual region.  Queen Creek, which runs through the park, on the south side, has carved Arizona’s best-kept secret, in its network of canyons.  Picket Post Mountain, to the west, watches over the Arboretum, like a strong big brother.  The people I met, from a gentle wanderer who is exploring all the National Forests west of the Mississippi, to a  vibrant,passionately caring barista, exuded the sort of spirituality that comes from tapping into the extant energy field that is found in places that stay close to their natural origins.

I will present Boyce Thompson Arboretum in three segments:  This first post looks at the various desert plants, from all corners of the world, with an emphasis on the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts, which are closest to the central Arizona highlands, in which the park exists.

The next post will feature Lake Ayer and the terrain around Picket Post House (Boyce Thompson’s residence)  The last  will take in the High Trail and the west end of Queen Creek Canyon.

Here are four scenes of the Sonoran Trail, which offers the flora of Arizona, Sonora (MX) and Baja California.

This is a Fire Barrel Cactus, found in both the Sonoran and lower Mojave Deserts.

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Maguey de Pulque is the source of a medicinal fermented beverage, popular first with the indigenous people of northwest and central Mexico.  It was originally used to relieve intestinal discomfort.

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Palm trees, of various types, are found throughout the deserts of Mexico.  This San Jose Hester Palm is found only in Baja California.

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Here is a testament to the full botanic splendour of the Sonoran Desert, holding its own with the exhibits of Desert Botanical Garden (Phoenix) and Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum(Tucson).  The flowering has not reached its peak, but anticipated rains, next week, may change that.  I may even catch some of the colours, when I am here next, on April 1-2.

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The Curandero Trail, named for the traditional healers of Mexico, focuses on medicinal plants, both of the Sonoran and of the Chihuahuan Deserts.

Desert lavender has a calming effect, similar to that of its cousin, in the temperate climates to the north.  Here it is, in a dry tributary of Queen Creek.

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Snakeweed, seen behind the informational sign, had a wide variety of uses, from treating snakebite to serving as a laxative for horses.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESBoyce Thompson Arboretum has an extensive catalog of course offerings, on the uses of desert plants.  I am likely to make good use of those courses, in the intermediate future.

Finally, here are a few South American and Australian desert scenes.

This is a Toothpick Cactus, from Argentina’s Gran Chaco.

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The Chaco, like the Sonoran Desert, gets quite verdant, with winter rains (July).

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The interior of Australia  is, as is widely known, a place for only the hardiest of man and beast.  This water tower is indicative of what might be found in a swagman’s camp.  Swagmen herded livestock, in oases of the Outback.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Here are  eucalyptus trees, found in the eastern part of the Outback.

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This gum tree does not supply chicle, as its Mesoamerican and African cousins do, but did give swagmen a supply of resin, for their workaday adhesive needs.

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This is, of course, a minute sampling of what is in store for the visitor to Boyce Thompson.  Two greenhouses, just shy of the park exit, offer sensitive African and Arabian desert flora.  These will have their own segments of the park, in the near future, as will Central Asian and Mediterranean plant life.

Next up:  Geology’s Turn to Dazzle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portraits from A Year Gone By

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December 31, 2016, Chula Vista- I am taking the readership on a brief journey back, with one photo from each month, that sums up the month, for me.  So, let’s begin.

January-

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Pharaoh’s Face, with a barrel cactus keeping watch, south of the Agua Fria River, Black Canyon City

 

February-

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Sunset, over Goldwater Lake

March-

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Small pond, Banning Creek, northwest of Goldwater Lake

April-

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Quartz Mountain, north of Copper Basin

May-

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Granite Mountain, Prescott

June-

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Cathedral Gorge, Pioche, NV

July-

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Lake Redwine, Newnan, GA

August-

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Kayla Mueller, who was killed in Syria.  This is not my photo, but symbolizes the month of August, as I took no photos of my own, and the sacrifices of some Americans, in the fight against terrorism became front and center.

September-

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View of Santa Maria Mountains, from Juniper Mesa

October-

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Monarch butterflies, in Agua Fria watershed

November-

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Agua Fria Fort, off Little Pan Trail, Table Mesa region

December-

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White Christmas 2016, Prescott

So went the Year That The Common Man roared and I continued to explore.

 

 

Table Mesa, Part III: Little Pan Let Me In

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November 6, 2016, Black Canyon City-  As I rounded a bend, in the access trail to Little Pan Loop, this afternoon, I became a surprise visitor, to a local resident.

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The juvenile Gila monster was a bit bemused, but after a few minutes, it moved off the trail and watched me from some brush. It was a good reminder that reptiles find the early November weather perfectly satisfying, and I watched for rattlesnakes, as well.  None appeared, though.

After a quick crossing of the South Fork, Agua Fria, I found the southern turnoff to Little Pan Trail, and moved along, passing the Royal Throne, which overlooks the river,

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then across the Agua Fria itself, taking time to wander a bit around the mesquite and saguaro forests that line an island, in the middle of the riverbed.

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Little Pan Wash is not on the main trail, but it makes for an interesting side trip.

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It is one of the areas that was heavily mined, in the early 20th Century.  Little Pan Mine, upstream on the Agua Fria, is still accessible to an intrepid visitor.  I did not seek it out, this time.

About twenty minutes after leaving Little Pan Wash, I came upon the overarching attraction of this trail:  Agua Fria Fort, near the northern end of Little Pan Trail.  A side road takes the visitor to this remarkable fort, built by the Huhugam people, as one of their northernmost places of settlement.

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After examining this durable fort, from three angles, I walked quickly to the point where Little Pan meets Williams Mesa Trail, and the main Black Canyon Trail towards Black Canyon City.  It was there that I headed back, along Little Pan, towards the trailhead.

Thus ended my first visit to this lush, exquisite and challenging area, past which I have driven, so many times.  There remain three sections of the Black Canyon National Recreation Trail for me to explore for the first time.  Next up is a foray from Table Mesa trailhead to Boy Scout Loop.  After that, Boy Scout Loop to New River Road, and New River Road to Lake Pleasant Road, will take me through lower-lying Sonoran Desert terrain, to the edge of Phoenix.  It will represent some 88 miles of hiking, over a two-year period, and will be my longest completed route.

Table Mesa, Part II:The Williams Mesa Trail

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October 30, 2016, New River-  SAM_7410.JPG

I set out a bit earlier today, than last weekend, and the the traffic between Prescott and Table Mesa Road was decidedly sparser, this time.  The above photograph, taken at the South Fork of Agua Fria River, reflects the calmness I found today.

There was plenty of activity, especially in the river beds.  As I came down off the second ridge, to the nearly dry South Fork, a man was teaching his daughter how to negotiate boulders and sand, in the course of off-road exploration.  She thought better of trying to go over a two-foot ledge, and he certainly didn’t push the matter.  It was a successful lesson, and I encountered them again, at the Agua Fria itself, some twenty minutes later. There, the challenge was deep sand, but they again prevailed.

The river and its tributaries are the main features of Williams Mesa Trail, which is the western half of the Little Pan Loop.  I stuck with Williams Mesa Trail, going to and from, as it was  clearly marked, as opposed to the actual north link to the eastern Little Pan Trail, which I will explore from the south link, on my next trip to Table Mesa Road.

Here are several photos of the afternoon’s offerings.

Below is a view of the Agua Fria, from a southern ridge.  Notice how dry it’s been, this past month.

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Before that, though, I thoroughly enjoyed the blissful peace of the pools along the river bed.

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Above, is a view of the unnamed mesa that I viewed from Cottonwood Gulch, on a hike from Black Canyon City, last spring.  It drew me, with a sense that there is a goodly amount of spiritual energy there.  I certainly felt energized, after sitting among some rocks that had broken off from the mesa, and offer themselves as a resting place.

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I spent about twenty minutes here, writing in my BCT journal.  From there, it was back towards the Agua Fria.  The junction with the east Little Pan Trail was not in evidence.

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This marker appears to be turn-around point of some kind, though, and it was fairly easy to get back on the Williams Mesa route, and the Agua Fria.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESLooking closely at the river pool,  one can see the thick algae that results from the water standing too long.

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Cacti are certainly resourceful, as is this one, which look like a tongue sticking out of the rock.

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Look closely above, and note two Monarch butterflies, feeding.

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Here is another take on the late afternoon appearance of South Fork, Agua Fria.

A small family of cattle were enjoying the leavings from a pumpkin smashing party, that had apparently taken place, last night.

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No good morsel is left behind, in the Sonoran Desert.

So ended my 7.6 mile hike along Williams Mesa Trail, on a pleasantly overcast afternoon.