Welcome to my zone 9 garden. My roots are deeply planted in the sandy soil of sub-tropical central Florida, where the summers are long and hot, but the rest of the year is paradise!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Old West Road Trip - Arizona

In mid-June, 5 of us set out on a 2,500 mile "Old West Road Trip" that spanned 5 states: Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and South Dakota. Our intention was to see as many national parks as possible.

The trip was without a doubt one of the BEST vacations I have ever taken. The scenery - -  absolutely BREATHTAKING and AWESOME. In my next few posts, I will share some of the beautiful scenery and wildflowers that we saw in all 5 states. I hope that you will enjoy photos of this unspoiled and pristine nature that has forever been preserved for us in our national parks.

Sedona, Arizona

Some 10 plus years ago I had visited Sedona and loved it. So, being able to return back there again was a true blessing. It is impossible to take a bad photo in Sedona. The crystal blue sky, bright white clouds, terracotta red rock and green pine trees are a perfect combination of natural elements for creating stunning photographs.

Being from the south, I do not know the names of most of the trees, plants, shrubs and wildflowers in the west. But that did not stop me from enjoying their rugged and soft beauty.

The vistas leave me speechless! The open and rugged beauty is totally divergent from our lush, tropical landscapes in Florida, but they have a distinct beauty that takes your breath away.

The fact that wildflowers - or anything for that matter - can grow in the dry red soil of the desert is beyond me. It's a testament to the Almight Maker and His creative powers.

Most people think the desert is not pretty, but I would strongly disagree with that belief. Even though it is at complete opposites from the climate I live and breathe in, it does not lack for beauty, and I thoroughly enjoyed this unique landscape with all of its scruffy and coarse plants interspersed among the gorgeous red soil.

It's a harsh climate and you've got to be one tough plant to survive and thrive in the crevice of pure stone!

Most of my photos will be of natural landscapes because this is mainly what you see in the national and state parks, but occassionaly we came upon a landscape with annuals and perennials, so I will include the few of those that I have because they are pretty, too.

This little vignette was right outside the The Chapel of the Holy Cross which is a Catholic church sitting high a top a red stone mountain in Sedona. This little sign in the bottom left (which I didn't quite capture) is cute. It says, "Please don't pick us, we're smiling at God."

Grand Canyon

Grand - Magnificent - Majestic - Glorious - Grandiose - Monumental 
Everyone of these synonyms fit this magical and majestic canyon!

To think that any plant would have the audacity and conviction to set root in stone is beyond my comprehension.

But, there are many different varieties that thrive in these conditions.

And, they are beautiful . . . 

rugged . . .

and, artistic!

As we hiked the south rim trail we could see lightning and rain showers in the distance. It was breathtaking to watch! Never was able to catch the vertical bolt of lightning - it was truly amazing!

Lots of Pinion Pines - they produce the pinenuts used for cooking - thriving on the walls of the canyon.

I could post hundreds of photos of the Grand Canyon but I don't want to bore you, so I'm posting this last shot of the canyon from the east rim. A very different view from the south rim.

Navajo Nation 

We headed north into Navajo Nation which is located around Page, Arizona. This area has 2 things that are definitely worth seeing. This photo gives you an idea of how expansive the view is. It's like this everywhere - wide open as far as the eye can see.

The Navajo people are very friendly and many sell jewelry they make from local stones and seeds at roadside stands which you can barely see in the left of this photo. A gorgeous view looking out over the desert. 

The first must-see is Horseshoe Bend. This is a view of the Colorado River flowing around this outcropping of rock. One gorgeous view!

Wildflowers and grasses growing beautifully on hot sand. You'd think it would burn them right up. 

One very dainty but tough little plant.

The second "must see" place is in Antelope Canyon. The Navajo native-Americans will take you on a hike through a slot canyon. A slot canyon is a narrow passageway between two stone hills. We walked through the opening you see below

which can be as wide as shown below or narrower as you walk through it. This is a tour group that was ahead of us. The shapes of these rocks have been formed by flash floods that have rampaged through these two hills for thousands of years. It is the handiwork of Mother Nature at her best!

The two hills are slowly moving towards each other and thousands of years from now this slot canyon will not be accessible.

What makes these photos so gorgeous is the sun shining (see it at the top) through the opening at the top of the slot canyon.

The photos are all different depending on the time of the day and the location of the sun. 

It is a truly remarkable feat of nature!

In the next post, we'll travel to Utah to see Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and the Great Salt Lake.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

It's the Great Pumpkin(s), Charlie Brown!

Not to long ago I posted about the serendipitous pumpkin vine that launched itself all over my tiny backyard. When I recently returned from vacation, I noticed the extra large leaves floating on top of the fence had died, and the fence was no longer holding up the BIG pumpkin.  Fortunately, the BIG GUY hit the ground gracefully without splitting open. 

A few days later I carried it (at least 20 lbs.) and the other 3 over to this bench for a photographic memory. I couldn't let this opportunity slip by as I certainly would not have had this much success had I planned this whole "veggie tale" event out. We had a total of 5 pumpkins - I left the one on the other side of the fence for the two sisters who live behind me. They were excited a few months back when they discovered a pumpkin growing on their side of the fence. I totally believe in "sharing the joy!" 

Now, I seriously want to display these beauties (yes, I'm proud - even though I can't really take any credit for them) in the front yard, but GOOD GRIEF it's the middle of summer!

Do you think if I put them inside my dark and cool closet that they'll last until autumn?  It's only 73 days away.

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