Archive for Arizona

Camping Day One - Holbrook, AZ

Camping Day One

Well, we’re on our way toward the rendezvous with the Great American Eclipse. Tonight finds us camped in Holbrook, AZ, along I-40 in northern Arizona.

We had a pretty good and uneventful (thank God) trip today, with mostly light traffic and minimal delays due to roadwork and no problems with weather. The forecast along our route for the next couple of days looks good too.

The forecast for Casper, WY, where we will be waiting to watch the big event is for some cloudiness, which we hope will change to mostly sunny on eclipse day next Monday morning. We will keep an eye on conditions as our trip progresses.

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Microburst Damage around Town

Broken Branches Uprooted Mesquite Tree

Damsel and I were out to do some shopping today and we saw some of the aftermath of the monsoon storm that hit our town last evening. According to reports, there were many more trees damaged or down in addition to the two shown above. Photos courtesy of Damsel.

The broken branch on the tree above left was adjacent to one of the town’s Historical Markers. Fortunately for the Little Red Schoolhouse, the tree branch fell away from the building. The uprooted mesquite tree above right was along the main road through town where we saw several other damaged and down trees and branches.

Much of the town suffered power loss and a couple of homes were evacuated due to poles or trees falling on them. Damsel and I were fortunate in that God spared us the microbursts that caused the major problems and our power was uninterrupted.

Our back retention walls continue to protect our little house from storms like the one last evening where three inches fell in an hour when the storm cell stalled right overhead. This was similar to, but not as intense as the storm that hit us on July 18 two years ago. This is the second storm this season to cause the little washes to dump flooding along the dirt road directly in front of our house.

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Grand Canyon Traffic Webcam

South Entrance Traffic Webcam

While browsing National Park Webcams, I found that the NPS at Grand Canyon had established a traffic webcam to evaluate arrivals at the park via the South Entrance on Arizona Route 64. Evidently, the NPS is concerned with the increase of traffic and visitation in not only Grand Canyon, but in other parks as well.

This is the blurb explaining the purpose of the experimental webcam:

We are testing a webcam to monitor the flow of vehicles entering the park at the South Entrance Station. Check the date and time in the lower right corner to make sure the image you are seeing is current.

Like other national parks, Grand Canyon has seen a dramatic increase in visitation over the last few years. The South Rim experiences crowded conditions during busy periods throughout the year, including spring break, summer, and holiday times during the fall and winter.

This experimental traffic count makes me wonder if NPS is considering a plan to require reservations to be made prior to entrance to the park. I can tell you from personal experience that the parks where we have recently visited can be overrun with people and vehicles.

At Grand Canyon last September, many of the turnouts for canyon overlooks had no parking spaces left for either autos or RVs. The main Village area was also very congested.

Click on the image to enlarge.

UPDATE: Out of curiosity, I looked at the South Entrance Webcam this morning (Saturday). My advice is to use the East Entrance on AZ 64 via US 89 at peak traffic times.

South Entrance Webcam

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Queen of the Night Cactus Flower

Queen of the Night

We have been waiting for the last bud to open on the Queen of the Night cactus (Peniocereus greggii) across from our driveway. There were two buds, but one came and went already before we noticed. We managed to get this shot last evening after nine PM local time after watching the ISS fly over. Click on the image to enlarge.

There are several p. greggii growing in the wild around the property. We also have one cutting that we have growing in a pot in the courtyard. Only a couple of the cacti are accessible at night which is when the flowers open.

The cutting in the courtyard finally has shown us a new branch and we are hoping that we will be getting flowers on it too. That is not likely this year, but we will be keeping watch on it.

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Lenticular Clouds

Lenticular Clouds

As we were taking our evening stroll Damsel and I were watching the sky since there were still a few isolated thunder cells around us. There were a few raindrops falling from a small cloud overhead and a rainbow was partially visible almost straight up.

In the distance east of us (seen in the image), we observed a few lenticular (altocumulus lenticularis) clouds in the lee of the Bradshaw and Weaver mountain ranges to the north of us. The flow (as observed from our position on the ground and on radar on the computer) was from north to generally south.

We also observed what appeared to be some commercial air traffic being diverted from (my guess based on the direction of travel) Phoenix Sky Harbor to McCarran Las Vegas due to a large cell in the Phoenix Metro area. I feel for the crew and passengers on such flights for (a) the inconvenience of the diversion and (b) the turbulent ride they certainly would encounter under the observed conditions.

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Two Types of Fishhook Cactus Flowers

Mammillaria sheldonii

Mammillaria yaquensis

Both of these cacti have open flowers today. On top, open in the back patio area, is a local native mammillaria sheldonii fishhook cactus we rescued from a construction area down the road a year or two ago. Below, open in the courtyard out front is a mammillaria yaquensis fishhook cactus that was a gift from our friend Crotalus.

Click on either image to enlarge.

Update: Crotalus advises us that the top panel specimen might actually be mammillaria tetrancistra. The one we quoted above typically is found only in Mexico.

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Lantana Shrubs

Lantana

The Wikipedia Page for generic Lantana enumerates about 150 species for the genus of these shrubs. I’m not going to begin to venture a guess as to which one is depicted in the image.

We were at the Community Hospital clinic today to see one of the specialists and this nice flowering bush was along the sidewalk leading into the facility. I took this close-up of a couple of florets on the bush. In this image you can see how the more mature flowers in the cluster turn orange and yellow with age:

Lantana’s aromatic flower clusters (called umbels) are a mix of red, orange, yellow, or blue and white florets. Other colors exist as new varieties are being selected. The flowers typically change color as they mature, resulting in inflorescences that are two- or three-colored.

Click on the image to enlarge.

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