Archive for Environment

Clear Skies over the Southwest US

GOES East Map Image

A couple of weeks ago (10/22/2019), I captured this image from the GOES East weather satellite in geosynchronous orbit above the western hemisphere. GOES East showed this area of the southwestern US which I cropped to highlight Arizona which is centered, more or less, in the image. The image showed the area mostly clear of clouds at that time, hence the terrain features are mostly visible.

Late October and early November in our part of Arizona has the in-between hot summer and cooler winter temperatures which are still warm (80-90 degree highs) and we call “Second Spring” because of the flowers we have open this time of year. As I write this post, the early November temperatures are forecast for highs in mid-80s and lows in upper 40s or lower 50s. Soon, however, the temperatures will start to drop and we will be back in flannel and long pants.

Anyhow, back to the satellite image; you can clearly see the Mogollon Rim which is defined by the darker forested area at its southern side that extends from the inside the New Mexico border on the east and arcs toward the north across the northeastern part of the state and ends in northern Yavapai county in north central Arizona. The two darker forested areas continuing north are the Kaibab National Forest. The lighter gap between the southern Kaibab dark area and the northern dark area is where the Grand Canyon is located.

Other interesting features visible in the image can also be seen; over in New Mexico toward the right lower side of the image you can see the White Sands Missile Test area where WW2 Atomic Bombs were tested. On the left side, in California, you can see the Salton Sea. Finally, at the bottom left corner, the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) in Mexico is visible.

I look at the satellite images on a regular basis to help me identify our weather patterns. I use them in addition to radar and other tools to get an insight on our weather. You may click on the image to enlarge.

Looking at the enlarged image, you can identify Roosevelt Lake which is the flying eagle-shaped dark area below the Mogollon Forested area. West of that is Lake Pleasant, an oval-shaped dark spot. Lake Pleasant is just about forty miles east of our place.

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Irrigation Problems - Solved

Back of the RV Drive

What a difference a couple of days make! We were bemoaning the problems we had with a busted irrigation system just a couple of days ago and today the problem is non-existent. Our landscape contractor found the time to come here and fix our woes this week instead of what we thought would be a delay of unknown length. They quickly diagnosed the problems, made the changes and this evening, all is working again.

Of course, the fixes weren’t all as simple as I make them sound in the first paragraph. They actually spent considerable time cleaning up the area behind the RV drive where our “Rosemary Farm” is growing - or maybe overgrowing. In the composite image above, you can see the after cleanup of the back area - I could look in the photo archives to find a before picture, but I’m too lazy this evening. ;)

I forget the exact number of one gallon rosemary shrubs they originally planted back there, but it was over fifty and under a hundred. Each one with a watering tube of its own from the irrigation feed line planted on the hill just above the shrubs. After the cleanup as shown, the crew installed an all new main line and “spaghetti” feeders for each shrub. This time, the feeders are short and they extended the larger diameter feed line for each group of two or three shrubs. We tested it this afternoon and it looks like everybody is getting the water they need in our arid climate.

The first thing they fixed (yesterday) was the leak shown in our previous post about the problem. They also replaced one of two electrically-controlled valves that activate the two main feeder lines according to the program set up in the controller. Both the leak and the valve malfunction contributed to the excessive water usage we have been experiencing.

We are still in the process of doing some other work with the landscapers; there is another area we want to have irrigated where we acquired a nice ocotillo after the fact. There is also some overdue rock and cactus garden maintenance they are willing to do while they are available. We should be in pretty good shape after they’re done with that and won’t need to do any of that for ourselves until after the weather cools down a bit.

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Irrigation Problems

Subterranean Leak

Since May or June, we have noticed an increase in water consumption on the monthly bill from the Town. At first, I thought it was because we had filled the spa for the summer, but then the increased consumption continued. In July, I found that the circuit breaker to the water system had tripped after having some of the shrubs appear to wither. I got that fixed and then the increased consumption resumed.

Yesterday, I finally contacted the landscapers that installed the irrigation system here. Together, the foreman and I discovered that a continuous water flow was occurring in an unknown location around the property. We also discovered a flow (pictured above) that ran during the active time for the irrigation to flow. Both problems, the one we can see and another somewhere stop when we cut off the main irrigation valve.

After discussing the problem with the landscaper and probable solutions, it would seem we’re in for a complete overhaul and replacement of much of the system. Chronically, in the desert, systems that use PVC tubing seem to need replacement at eight-to-ten year intervals, which is exactly how old the system is.

So, for the time being, we’re going to have to water the shrubs and trees manually since the irrigation valve is closed pending fixing things. Our landscaper has a number of other jobs ahead of us and it will be a week to a month before we can get back to normal.

For reference, the leak pictured above (the one we can see) is located between the ocotillo and the courtyard wall in front of the walkway to the courtyard gate. The irrigation lines and all are controlled from near the corner of the garage. Click on either image to enlarge.

Front Walkway

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Relaxing in Colorado City, CO

Weather

Damsel took this photo today while we were taking a walk around the RV park. We have seen this kind of weather for the past couple of days, but it hasn’t cramped our style much unless you consider grilling in the rain a cramp. The linked photo is of me preparing country-style pork ribs on the grill, in the rain.

There is always something to do when traveling in a motorhome, so today, I washed the giant front windshield, dispatching bug carcasses and other road crud. I also hooked up the sewer line which I left until today to do. So there isn’t 100% relaxing, but we still feel relaxed.

We grilled again today, this time it was dry outside and we got the job done in the usual fashion. Today’s food faire was Grilled Filet Mignon Steaks and Damsel fixed a wonderful cucumber, lettuce and cherry tomato salad. We could eat like this all the time.

Steak Dinner

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Camping in Limon, CO

Stormy Skies

We traveled from Laramie, WY to Limon, CO today under mostly fair skies. However, after we arrived and set up camp, the sky to the west of us started to look threatening. Damsel took the photo above as the sun was showing through the stormy looking clouds towards the end of daylight. Luckily, the storms subsided as the evening went on and we are currently not expecting anything serious.

By far, the favorite part of our trip today was the opportunity to visit with DrJim, a long time friend, fellow blogger, Second Amendment enthusiast and Ham Radio buddy in Fort Collins, CO. Jim showed us his house, dog “Pebbles” and his numerous projects. We had a nice, albeit short visit before heading back out. Fort Collins looks like a very nice place to live. Damsel took the photo below just before we departed.

W7GD and KQ0EA

Click on either image to enlarge.

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Open Season on Bark Scorpions

scorpio.jpgI just killed one of these in the garage this evening. They like to come out in monsoon season and infest under your “stuff” piled here and there. I sprayed Ortho all over the garage and at the entrance to the house. That particular brand of insect repellent/eradicator has done the trick here since we arrived in Arizona.

Bark scorpions can regularly be found all year long, but in the summer, especially at monsoon season, they are in abundance. We have seen them in sizes from less than an inch in length to over four inches.

They creep Damsel out a lot and I suppose they “bug” me a bit, too. They are fearsome-looking especially with the claws and the arched stinger tail in the strike pose. They appear to have eight appendages, but the “claws” are actually extended jaw parts for it to shove prey in its mouth. It’s not an arachnid, but an insect designated as Centruroides sculpturatus.

It’s the most poisonous scorpion in Arizona. Read more at the Wikipedia Article.

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Spring Weather Finally Here

Turkey Buzzard Antelope Ground Squirrel

A sure sign that the weather will be getting warmer is the reappearance of Turkey Buzzards (Vultures) after their winter migration to Mexico is over. There have been Buzzards overhead for a few weeks now, but they now seem to be circling more frequently over our little parch. I photographed this one as it swooped over our house this afternoon.

Another more subtle sign of spring is with the squirrel above. If you click to enlarge the photo you will see that her little teats are swollen as in she is nursing her offspring hidden away in some tunnel nearby. She was venturing up to see what could be foraged underneath the bird feeders out back when I spotted her and took the photo.

As for the weather itself, Wickenburg and Arizona in general have been experiencing a cooler, longer winter this year as is most of the country. Our daytime temperatures have finally risen to high 70’s or mid 80’s with warmer temperatures to come soon. Nights are still cool, however with lows in the low 50’s.

We actually look forward to the summertime high desert temperatures. That’s one of the many reasons we moved to Arizona. :)

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