Random Vacation Photo: Weeds

Prickly Pear and Sinagua ruins at Montezuma’s Well

Barrel Cactus at Tuzigoot

My ex-step aunt moved to the Seattle area for a few years. One day, the neighbor found her busily digging up ferns in the vacant lot near their houses. “What are you doing?” he asked.

“I’m going to line the driveway with ferns.”

“But- but those are weeds.”

My aunt burst out laughing. “In Arizona, those are worth a lot of money. Let me show you something.” She led him over to his bay window and pointed to the shelves full of lovingly-cultivated cacti, which he’d spent a small fortune on. “Where I come from, those are weeds.”

All a matter of perspective, innit?

Random Vacation Photo: Trauma Queen

I am, at long last, finally getting the billions of vacation photos sorted through. Better late than never, right? And now I get to spring some of the outtakes upon you, in no particular order.

Here’s my little Trauma Queen, holding on to Mom for dear life at Slide Rock:


You can’t see it in the picture, but she has her front legs clamped as tightly around my neck as she can manage. The combination of kids, dogs and great outdoors were just too much for her.

If only we’d gotten a shot of her poor little face when the following exchange took place:

TWO SMALL GIRLS (spot cat): Look, Mommy! A kitty!

CAT: Ohshitohshitohshit...

TWO SMALL GIRLS: Can we pet the kitty?

CAT: No! No, you cannot pet the kitty!

EVIL CAT OWNER (grabbing cat’s head to prevent maiming): Sure, you girls can pet the kitty.

CAT: Must run aaaawwwwaaaayyyy!!!!!!!! Oh, gods, it’s too late! Goodbye, cruel world!

Her expression must have been utterly priceless. All I could see was one enormous eye looking for the nearest escape route. I swear she was trying to climb through my chest at one point. She was too shit-scared to even attempt a bite.

And to think this shivering bundle of misery is the same little hell spawn who regularly tries to kill all who cross her threshold…

I Need Another Vacation

You day people don’t know how lucky you’ve got it. I’ve still not convinced my body we need to shift back to a night schedule after 17 days of days. For instance, I took my tired self to bed for a nap night before last, and slept in my clothes for 11 hours. Last night, I thought, “I can’t possibly sleep that much again. I’ll just take a wee little nap like the good old days.” When I woke, it was 4:30 in the ay-em. Another night all gone. Argh.

In other words, it’s gonna be a while before things are back to normal. But that’s how you know it was a frickin’ awesome vacation, right?

Now I need another so my poor circadian rhythm can readjust to the idea that we are nocturnal in this household, and so that I can finish up the 101 projects created by two weeks in me old home state. I came back with a rock collection needing housed, pictures needing sorted, art needing framed and hung, memorabilia needing scrapbooked, a metric ton of books needing read (XXOO, Bookmans!), and a cat needing cuddled. Apparently, helping me drive wasn’t enough attention for her:

I’ve also got to readjust to all the green growing stuff up here. Arizona’s got green, but not like this. Driving to work this morning, I felt intimidated by green. The trees and bushes are positively exuberant, and they’re crowding the road. I felt like the class nerd surrounded by a solid wall of menacing school bullies. Everywhere I look, there’s another something green and leafy waiting to pounce. When I found a patch of dry-ish dirt today, I nearly screamed with joy. It’s rather pathetic.

I wonder if our leave of absence policy covers getting reacquainted with foilage?

Vacation Update: Headed Home

This vacation has been roughly 90 bajillion times more chaos than I expected. I haven’t touched a computer in days. I even forgot to call my best friend, which is pretty pathetic considering how many years we’ve been holding a Saturday conversation. It’s kinda hard to remember to call your best friend on Saturday when you don’t know what day it is, though…

You know it’s a good vacation when you don’t know the day of the week, and don’t even bother to look it up.

But all good things must end. I’ll be home tonight, and as long as some bugger hasn’t made off with the household electronics in my absence, I’ll be back to regular posting within the day, albeit at a probably reduced capacity for a bit. I’ve got a megaton of blog reading to catch up on. Not to mention the well over a thousand photos to sort through. But we’ll have posts. The Smack-o-Matic’s coming down off the wall and getting applied to some seriously stupid backsides.

The cantina’s reopening for business, my darlings. Come thirsty.

Oh, and one last thing:

(Aren’t the signs in Tombstone awesome?)

Vacation Update: ZOMG

Yes, my darlings, I’m still alive. Between friends, family, favorite places, and fighting with electronics, I haven’t had time to post. You have my deepest apologies.

We’ll be catching up soon. Believe me when I say I have plenty to show you. But in the meantime, here’s a taste of what’s to come:


Believe it or not, that pale white thing shining in the sky over Wupatki isn’t the moon. The skies were so overcast you could barely see the sun.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get a spectacular sunset, but we got enough of one to make the Lomaki ruins look pretty awesome:


I’ve got Sunset Crater, the Citadel, Tombstone, Montezuma’s Castle, Montezuma’s Well, Tuzigoot, Kartchner Caverns, and gods know what else to show you, because I’ve lost track of the places we’ve seen. Tomorrow’s Meteor Crater and Lowell Observatory by day. If we time this shit right, there might even be a continental collision zone. Between that and all the political dumbfuckery I’ve missed, I won’t be hurting for blog topics for a good long while.

Now if I could only find time to blog…

I love you and I miss you all. I’ll be back to regular posting soon.

Catblogging: Vacation Edition

Alas, my darlings, I’m exhausted, so no proper vacation blogging tonight, either. The good news is, I can finally hook my machine in through my parents’ internet, which means I have easy access to my photos. U can haz kittehs.

When we stopped at Slide Rock, it was a bit too hot to leave Misha in the car. This meant she got to go see the great outdoors and meet people, two activities she utterly despises. She made friends with the nearest tree when we hit the orchard:


I wish I’d been able to get to the camera when the two little girls came up and started petting her as we were leaving, but I was too busy holding her head and back feet to keep her from maiming them. Talk about a cat thinking she’s suffering the ultimate indignity.

We’re in Scottsdale now, and she’s none too pleased with sharing a house with three other cats. She’s been sulking in the guest bedroom. She refuses to meet her little brother Spook, even though he’s utterly adorable. He’s grown considerably. You may remember the last time you saw him:

Well, he’s bigger and darker, but no less curious. Here, he’s sampling the peacock rock I got at Gold King Mine:


I think I’ve mentioned before how catastrophically cute he is. Some things never change.

Vacation Report: Big Hole in the Ground

Well, my darlings, here they are at last: ye olde Grand Canyon photos. The big hole in the ground’s pretty spectacular when you haven’t seen it in person for over 15 years. This geologically-inclined native ran around like a kid in a candy store all day.

Alas, I’m no good at recognizing formations, so you’ll have to suffer without the intimate details. I’m sure the vistas will alleviate some of the pain.

There are places where you can get right up to the rim, no fences between you and the scenery, and realize the scope of this thing:


If you have no fear of heights and a healthy respect for long ways down, you can nudge right up to the edge and look nearly a mile straight down:


The key is to a) be standing on solid rock, b) ensure that rock doesn’t have any ominous fractures, and b) make sure there’s a ledge a few feet below you just in case your calculations were wrong. As long as you don’t lean too far forward, you can pick up some pretty spectacular shots in near-perfect safety.

Or you can go for the totally safe bet and just sit on the limestone mini-cliff at Mather Point:

When it’s cloudy, the light changes quickly. The Canyon shows a different face with every passing cloud shadow:



There are temples all over the place: Vishnu, Isis, even Cheops Pyramid. If you ask me which one the temple at the left is, I’d just stare at you blankly. But it’s easy to see why explorers felt moved to call them temples:


Especially when the light hits them:



Those patches of sun and shadow absolutely delight me – they give you quite the show with all the different rock types.

Down below, if you look reeeaaallllyyy closely, you can catch a glimpse of the Colorado River. It’s got itself buried deep in that hole in the middle there:

I’m calling this formation the Bactrian Camel, because that’s what it looks like to me:

Here’s a good shot showing relative rocks. That white stuff in the foreground is Kaibab limestone. The red stuff on top of the next formation over is Coconino sandstone. And then you go down into the bones of the earth. Some of the rock at the very bottom of the canyon is billions of years old:

The whole character of the canyon changes with just a few steps, which is why I have nearly three hundred pictures snapped when we only saw a tiny fraction of the whole:

Mother Nature did some pretty intense carving work on this place. You can get a sense for how complicated it all is when you find these little nooks looking down into the main Canyon:

Whelp, I’m late for the train. Must dash:

All right, so that’s not my train – we’re actually having breakfast at the Railroad Cafe. But if you get a chance to come here, do try to take one of the train rides to the Canyon. But do what I’m doing: make sure you can afford the dome car.

Today, it’s Sedona, Jerome and Prescott – I’ll have a photo report for you later. Adios!

Vacation Report: Home Sweet Home

And by home, I mean Flagstaff, o’ course. Look, I love Washington state, I adore Seattle, but Flagstaff is where I grew up. It’s my city. And I’m thrilled to be back here for a nice, long visit.

Today was mostly an intensive travel day to get here, so there’s a lot of shots from the car. Here’s the Colorado River, just over the Arizona border from Needles:


An awesome road cut near Kingman, where you can see the sedimentary layers piled up like a tiramisu:


The San Francisco Peaks filling our windshield on I40 just outside of Williams:


Ant lion’s trap in the soil under a Ponderosa pine. Ants fall into that little cone-shaped hole, can’t climb out because the dirt slides down the steep walls, and BAM – ant lion emerges from the bottom of the hole and the poor little ant is lunch:


One of the main telescopes at Lowell Observatory, where we saw the moon as I’ve never seen it before:


This is me getting an eyeful of moon mountains, craters and maria. Lemme tell ya, you can see it all you like in books, but there is nothing like putting your eye to a telescope and seeing it live:


Flagstaff city lights from Mars hill, taken from the observatory:


And a huge hunk of the meteor that blasted Meteor Crater:

It’s good to be home.

Vacation Report: The Kitteh Stays Home While We Have an Adventure

We spent the morning at Monterey Aquarium while the cat played queen of her domain at the hotel. Eventually, if it turned out reasonably well, I’ll have video of some actual otters for you. In the meantime, I’ve got fishies:


And a crab:


The little guy staring directly at the camera came rushing over and posed when he saw me photographing his buddy:


Sand dollars!


Look closely – there are seahorses in this photo:

These guys aren’t quite as well-disguised:

The other otters were playing too hard for my camera to photograph without flash. But here’s a sleeping one for you:


A posing penguin:


And, finally, the gratuitous photo of the ocean snapped from a moving car:

Plenty more to come.