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Friday, October 31, 2008

Monte Vista Morn

Research Associate Becca and I got an early start on the east side of Tortugas Mountain this morning, and immediately we found this graffito. Obviously Yvonne and Eddie (probably just Eddie) doesn't care about defacing the desert.

There were many jets plying the desert sky this morning; this one was headed southeast.

This one was headed northwest.

A seemingly well-behaved canine.

This is an agave whose nickname is "shin dagger." Ouch!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Playcritters of COC

Some photographers from Playcritters Magazine were here on the grounds of COC today taking photos for an upcoming issue of Playcritters. Here are some of the candidates for Ms. November. Jacqueline Rabbite.

Finona Finch.

Coquette Tail.

Becca Ning.

And the winner: Becca Ning.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Down Goes Yucca

This is the trunk of a dead yucca that we discovered in an arroyo next to the westside trail near Tortugas Mountain. Its other parts were scattered nearby.
This is the neck of the yucca, with a bit of the crown still attached.

Here's the crown of the yucca, lying about fifteen feet from the trunk.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

First There is a Mountain . . .

Out early on the westside trail around Tortugas Mountain, Research Associate Becca and I enjoyed ourselves in the early morning coolness: 37 degrees just before we started off. The desert was beautiful, as usual.

Mountain vista without people or animals.

Ciao Mickey, Frank e Fabio!

Curved-bill Thrasher in its natural habitat.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Many people mistakenly believe that the desert floor is flat, but it isn't; and one of the most readily apparent things to observe is its many levels. Here's an example of the undulating desert.

Here's another example; you can make out some homes on the ridgeline in the background.

The pickup truck is towing the SUV, which got stuck out on a rugged desert road.

If you're bushwhacking across this type of terrain, you'll soon discover that the floor of the desert isn't flat.

That 45-degree slope to the right quickly becomes a 60-degree angle, making for an extremely difficult ascent.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Funny Fotos

We did an extra-long hike on the sunset side of Tortugas Mountain this morning, and I took a series of what I consider to be humorous photos. Here's one of them, a photographer's shadow with a prickly pear pad where the head is.

This twist in an ocotillo branch is an unusual phenomenon.

There's nothing particularly funny in this vista; it's just beautiful.

The yucca in this photo is only three feet tall; the man and dog are miniatures.

These are not Christmas tree ornaments, but really tiny birds with yellow bellies; they could be Western Flycatchers, but I'm not sure.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sunset Side Outing

Dr. K, Research Associate Becca and I were out on the west side of Tortugas Mountain this morning for some sun and exercise. Didn't stop for many photo ops, but this striking yucca captured our fancy.

My impulse is to call this yucca the Doublemint Gum yucca, or the siamese twin yucca, but neither appellation is accurate. This is a two-headed yucca.

Two intrepid hikers in the Chihuahuan Desert.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Shadow and Light

On the west side of Tortugas Mountain this morning Research Associate Becca and I saw some interesting patterns of light and shadow. Here's an example.

Here's another.

And yet another.

These yuccas, with the Organ Mountains in shadow in the background provide another example of the desert light.

Okay, so I ran out of shadow and light photos, but I offer up this shot of a balloon over the Mesilla Valley instead.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Chilly Hike

It was in the mid-30s when Research Associate Becca and I got on the trail around Tortugas Mountain, Monte Vista side. You can see from this photo how clear it was, but you can't tell how chilly the air felt.

You don't often come across a camel in the desert, but if you read the history of Big Bend National Park you'll discover that camels once played a part in the Southwest.

Halloween in the desert.

This arroyo has been eroding this bank for countless years.

Packrat and Becca in a well-traveled arroyo.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Old MacDonald . . .

On the way back from Tortugas Mountain this morning, Research Associate Becca and I decided to stop outside the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum to take a few photos. Here's the entrance to the museum.
One of the denizens of the farm area looks in our direction.
Hee Haw.
Somebody could miss a meal or two, or is this a mother-to-be?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Long and Winding Road

We got a little bit of a late start this morning, so Research Associate Becca and I went way south of Tortugas Mountain for about an hour hike. Here's the view of the Organ Mountains from there.
This is how far behind Tortugas Mountain we were.
A little telephoto work here to show the road we were walking.
Here's a panoramic shot of the rugged Organs.
Lone yucca, long expanse of desert and Tortugas Mountain.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cloudy, My Thoughts are Scattered and . . .

Stunning vistas greeted Research Associate Becca and me as we made our way around Tortugas Mountain's west flank. Here's an example; see that bird on the tallest boulder?
The sunrise over the crest was momentarily blocked by clouds, providing interesting patterns.
This particular cloud created a stunning view.
Here's somebody totally uninterested in clouds or

purple mountain majesties.

Desert Life

1st 2:  Willow in yucca shadow It was so windy and the air was so bad this morning that Dr. K, Willow and I did only our regular hike. Not s...