Sunday, May 30, 2010

Kaibab Squirrel

I was telling my mom about this squirrel, whose habitat is confined to the mixed Ponderosa pine forest of the Grand Canyon's north rim and the surrounding Kaibab forest. A couple of them actually ran across my campsite one morning, but I wasn't quick enough to catch them on the camera, so this is a scan of a mom wanted to see them, so I thought I'd post it too...their white tail is very obvious when you see them live.


Getting reorganized after the trip... I did the math. The day I left Max's odometer read 79,206. Just went out and checked it and it now reads 85,768. So with all of my side trips and excursions, Max, Theo and I covered 6,562 miles! Yowser.

This shot of Theo lolling in the grass with the mountains in the background was taken from the Utah Lake State Park. Nice campsite right on the lake with mountains on all sides. Also saw lots of little warblers, a Western Tanager and there were several California Quail flirting in the campground.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dulce Domum

Its good to be home. My mom had fresh crabmeat and a cold Bass ale waiting for me - she'd even tied roses to the gate to welcome me and Theo. Even Max seemed to breathe a sigh of relief as we pulled in the drive - like he was heading to his stable... it was full spring when I left just over a month ago, and now its full summer... Deep lush greens. Still I feel like I left a part of me out west, I'll have to head back out there...what's next, a road trip to the west coast? Time will tell.

I like this shot I took tonight - its almost dreamy with the hydrangeas in bloom and Theo fuzzy to the left as he lolls in the grass... that hound traveled thousands of miles with me (I'll figure up the mileage tomorrow, I'm curious)... let's hear his thoughts...

Theo: "Oh man, I was just getting comfortable splayed out on this big mattress all to myself...ok, well, I have to admit I never thought I'd see my yard again. I had so much ground to cover when I got home - nobody with a decent nose would've known it was mine! They will now though. I got kinda used to Max, but when she headed out there again tonight I stayed well behind. Not getting me back in that van tonight, no sir. I'm comfortable right here...zzzzzzz"

He's out. I'm not far behind. What a great trip! Now I have to get prepped to go to Philadelphia next week for the Rittenhouse Square show - woo hoo!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Last stop

Here I am again...

...I've covered a few miles, young'uns, and here I am back at the first campground where I stopped my first night out from home. I had planned to be home today, but a little hiccup with Max delayed me a bit. Somehow it feels good to be in this cool, rainy spot tonight. I'm at the Camp Creek State Park in West Virginia, this shot was snapped at their falls.

Theo's konked out - has nothing to say after a couple of days of long drives. He'll be happy to get back to his own yard tomorrow...

Today marks a year since Jim died. I still find it hard to believe he's gone. He had such a vibrancy to him, that you just can't believe it.. He's been on my mind today, remembering our travels together and the good times we shared. I'm grateful for the time we had together.

What more can you say? These things are so totally out of our control...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Painting on the rim..

More on the Canyon...

Got some more photos off the other camera... so after starting out at the rim of the canyon, it got hot...first Theo found shade - dug himself a nice little hole to snooze in under a bush... after I finished the watercolor I moved to the same bush to work on a canvas in the shade. The light is intense. Didn't get the canvas finished, but made a good start. Will try to finish it from photos but I know that's not the same. Still if I do it while the trip is still fresh I hope to catch some of that spirit.

Its ironic that the wider the expanse you want to try to paint, the smaller each part has to be to fit... for example, if I wanted to just focus on one rock outcropping, then that could take up the entire canvas... but if I wanted to show the whole view in front of me, that same rock outcropping would have to be a small part...its one reason I like to paint big...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

By the rim...

Finally got painting yesterday. First I did this little watercolor study and then started on a canvas. Of course my shots of the canvas and the set up of my spot by the rim are on the other camera which will take some effort to upload, so they'll come later. For now, I'll share this little watercolor. I like the energy of it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Glorious day

Yesterday was wonderful. Started the day with a hike partway down into the canyon by the Kaibab Trail. Wasn't sure how far I could handle so went about a half hour down and then an hour to climb back out. Spectacular views!

Headed over to Cape Royal in the afternoon. There were lots of little overlooks on the drive there, all with incredible views of another side of the canyon. Then the grand finale of Cape Royal where you can see it in 300 degrees (not quite 360). Think I found a good spot to go back and paint today, where I can probably sneak Theo in with me. He had to stay in Max, poor baby, but he's getting used to it.

This is a shot of Angel's Window, on the way to Cape Royal. There's no way to capture the grandeur in a photo (esp. on a cell phone) but it gives you a hint...

Yesterday would have been the 19th anniversary of my marriage to Jim, so he was on my mind alot, of course. I'm so glad he left me a note (to read in case he died before me) telling me basically to get on with my life, that his only wish was for me to "flourish in the many ways in which I'd dreamed." I'm taking his advice and moving on - enjoying life. He showed me how short it is!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Angel Point


Hiked the 30 minutes out to Angel Point this morning to see the "true" Grand Canyon, not just the offshoot where I'm camped. Ok, everyone's right, you just can't describe it and the photos don't do it justice. I was lucky to get there in a lull, and actually had about 30 minutes to myself out there on the point. It was about 9am so all of the sunrise seekers were done. I'm sure the light is gorgeous at sunset, but then its packed with people, and I really like the solitude... so it was a glorious morning.

When I was there, there was practically no wind, and bright sun. Very quiet, could hear a few flies buzzing... I can see why people make pilgrimages to see this spot. Now the sky has clouded and the wind has picked up. I'm pleased to be cozy in Max looking at the view through the open side door. Amazed that I have excellent phone/mifi reception up here... now the forecast has changed and there will probably be a little snow tomorrow! No accumulation and it will come right back up to the mid-60s on Wednesday, but could be fun to see.

Here's Theo's take:
Well, I'm a little miffed that I can't walk the trails and have to stay in Max alone some, but I'm getting used to it. And today while we were walking along the edge of the campground I was just starting to get hot and pant, and then I discovered this little flat pile of snow. Gave it a sniff, then a bite and then rolled! Oh glorious coolness! Dragged my hot belly across it. Made me want to run like a mad dog - woo hoo!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

On the way in...

Coming in to the Grand Canyon yesterday, this is hwy 67 from the north. As we topped the ridge, this is what the road looked like! Yikes! Luckily it descended just enough so that there is no snow here and climbing to the 60s today. Brilliant blue skies today...

Just starting to absorb the canyon. Its like this site is a small tease for the big view, which I'll see later today.

The park service brochure quoted geologist Clarence E. Dutton after his visit in 1880: "The earth suddenly sinks at our feet to illimitable depths. In an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, the awful scene is before us."

I would adjust that slightly to read "awe-full scene."

Looking forward to experiment with painting it...

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Here's Theo at the edge of the North Rim a few steps from my campsite. We're over-looking a little branch canyon called the Transept, and can see the bigger part of the canyon to our left. We are situated so that the wall facing us will be lit in the morning light, so I'll send a shot tomorrow.

Driving here there was still snow on some of the meadows and I was a little apprehensive that it would be cold, but I trusted my forecast and it was in the mid-60s here today. Will be in the 30s tonight, but back into the 60s and sunny for the rest of the week.

Made it!

Made it to the Grand Canyon! Woo Hoo! More later...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Well, chickened out at heading to higher elevations with the snowy forecast, so stopped just short of Denver at Lake Jackson State Park. Have a nice quiet campsite for the night. Interestingly, my phone barely has a connection, by my new little MiFi is going through fine.

Still chilly (40s) but got a few glimpses of sun today. The forecast for the Grand Canyon is for sun and 70s. Sounds good!

Here's Max under the Cottonwood trees. You can't quite make out the lake in the background... lots of Cedar Waxwings, Great Crested Flycatchers and Kingbirds.

Theo's relaxing. We had a nice run once we got here so we both feel better...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

On the road again!

In Nebraska! Will be camping at the Fort Kearney State Rec Area tonight. Their website is:
Theo's looking forward to getting out of Max for a walk, but he's been a good sport today. Actually got some sleep on the back bed. The forecast is now calling for 6 inches of snow in the Black Hills, so I'm glad I didn't go that way!

Plan to be in Colorado tomorrow, then Bryce Canyon and then to the Grand Canyon on Saturday. Fun to be on the road again...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Spring flowers

The crab apples and lilacs are in bloom - making a lovely bouquet. Heading out tomorrow to continue the road trip to the Grand Canyon. Had planned to go via the Badlands and the Black Hills, but snow (!) is forecast, so heading south as soon as possible. Will probably camp in Nebraska tomorrow. wooo hooo!

Theo's take: I've really enjoyed the pheasants here, but now she's packin' up that @#$%^&* Van and she's going to make me get in it and ride while its moving. Oh dear...but she usually takes me to pretty cool places, so I'll get in (esp. if she gives me a treat to do so).

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Still cold, but sunny

Theo has decided that this place is pretty cool... all sorts of nasty things to eat on our walks along the deserted country roads, and there are often things like pheasants to chase. Not so sure about the wind, but he's getting used to it.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Front Coming Through...

Yikes! The temperature dropped to 45 degrees with a chilly NW wind. Its 83 back home! The wind just roars across the plains... very dramatic country.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Landscape Painting

Here's my first try at painting the landscape here in Big Sky country. This is a 18" x 36" canvas in acrylics. The light angling in at the end of the day is especially nice...and I love the many layers of greens in the alfalfa fields and shades of blue/purples/greys in the sky. The wind blowing through the fields really does look like waves on the water...many similarities to my marsh paintings.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Driving around the back roads in South Dakota, we found some wild asparagus growing along the road. Yum!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dark Sky

The light can be dramatic here when a storm runs through. Here's a shot of Theo running through an alfalfa field as the light was getting low. I find the light really intriguing. Got going on a couple paintings and found when I tried to capture the landscape there were many similarities to trying to capture the mood of the marshes at home. Will post a snapshot of a painting soon, once I get it presentable...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Big Sky Country

After leaving NC in the peak of a spring explosion of color, I've been going backwards in time, with spring going to earlier stages as I headed north. I'm now in the big sky country of South Dakota where spring is just beginning. The cottonwood trees are coming out, lilacs will be in bloom later this week and the little Pacque flowers are blooming low to the ground. The pheasants are busy working to attract mates and robins are building nests.

My mom sent me this quote from the Klinkenburg from the New York Times describing his time in Wyoming - it resonates here:

"It is, to use an old word, a viridescent day. The cottonwoods stopped moaning in the rain overnight. Every creature is suddenly addled with the season. A pair of sandhill cranes stand motionless against the hills. A bald eagle circles higher and higher. A tom turkey works the fence line, making Kabuki moves, his eye on some invisible hen. The deer are trapped in their winter coats, looking disreputable. The air is full of the ticking of red-winged blackbirds, full of the soft spring sun."

Theo's take:
I was out taking my usual sniffing rounds when I picked up a scent I've never smelled before. Holy cow! I pointed and then followed it - head down, tail up. It got more intense... all of a sudden, this colorful bird exploded out of the brush! I've flushed my first pheasant!