Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Trip to Cave Creek

Today we went to Cave Creek, a small artsy tourist town north of Phoenix.   We went to a lot of little shops and art galleries, all of which had beautiful things for sale.   My favorite stop was Roxie's, a boutique gift shop that supports animal rescues.    I think Roxie's might be an international group, but I'm not sure.  

The outside of the shop was bright and colorful.  Inside were purses, jewelry, and animal items of every description.  I found a couple of cute treasures here and supported a great cause, too.

We had lunch at the upscale Tonto Bar & Grill at Rancho Manana.   Their web page has inside pictures, but here are two from the entrance.

Lunch was delicious.  Instead of a traditional sandwich, Kent had two appetizers:  Grilled Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho soup and Tortilla-Crusted Crab Cakes.   I tasted his soup, and it was great.   I'm not usually fond of cold soup, but this was very tasty.    I had Mexican White Shrimp Tacos, which came with white corn tortillas and an avocada cream dip.   The ample quantity of shrimp were excellent--cooked in a lightly spicey ancho chili sauce with peppers and onions.    Excellent!

It was too hot for us to eat outside today, although there were a couple of people doing it.   The patio overlooks the golf course.  I'd like to come back in the fall and try it out.

I also visited Cosmopolitan Bead Shop, which is such a funny name for a village store.  But the beads were beautiful and the variety was awesome.  I bought two unique beads, one of which they made themselves.   I'm just learning to bead so kept my purchases small--to match my current skill level.   But I'm gaining on it so a return trip is a must.

Our last stop was at Frontier Town, a collection of shops that have a little bit of everything.   I supported the goats that I love by buying something at Udder Delight, the goat milk skin care store.  Next I found a great belt and a cool yellow top at Glory Bees.  After that I knew it was time to go home.   Too many tempting treasures in Cave Creek!     

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bearizona -- A Wild, Wild Place

  Yesterday we went to Bearizona, a wildlife park that you drive through.    It's the best wildlife park/zoo I've ever visited.     Bearizona is located outside of Williams, in northern Arizona.   I had seen a brochure about it a few months ago, and I've been wanting to visit ever since.  

   They have bears, mountain goats, buffalo, Dall sheep, and my favorite---wolves!!!   
 They have two kinds, Alaskan Tundra wolves (pictured below) and Artic wolves. 

      In Yellowstone a few years ago we saw Grey wolves, but only at a distance using scopes.   Of course it was great to see them in Lamar Valley, but I really wanted to see them up close.   At Bearizona I was able to do that because the white one, pictured first,  came right up to the car!   He was beautiful.   
     I was so occupied staring at him that I didn't try to take his picture.  He licked the Prius (lucky car), and circled around it to check it out.    We had to move slowly on because he and the other ones were getting a little too interested in the car.    They tell you to move on if the animals start to approach the car, but I just had to watch them up close for a little bit.       


     The bears were great, too.   I've never seen so many, active ones.   In the zoos they usually sit quiet, waiting for food.   But they were playful and energetic here.   It was cool and lightly raining, which may have helped energize them. 
     A few moments after this picture was taken, the one by the tree moved to a different tree and climbed it.  That was amazing to watch.   I knew they could climb, but I had never seen one do it.  Now I wonder how many times a bear might have been up in a tree while we were hiking unaware beneath it. 


They easily blended into the rocks and hid behind trees, too.

      In  Fort Bearizona, the area where small and baby animals are kept, there were suppose to be bear cubs on display.   At first we thought they had been moved.  The enclosure was empty.   Then we looked up and saw that all of them (at least 5) were high in the tall pines.

      We also saw porcupines, raccoons, beavers, Lynx, bobcats, fox, and many, many other animals in the Fort section.   This prickly little guy was enjoying his breakfast.

       Bearizona has only been opened since 2010, and they are still working on it.   I can't wait to go back again.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Flying Saucers

The "Flying Saucer" is one of my favorite cacti.   It's a type of Argentine Giant.   We also have the white flowering variety, which I have blogged about in the past. 

The latin name is Echinopsis, and they are native to South America.   The blooms only last a day, but they are spectacular.    

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Coyotes Along the Walking Trail

While I was walking this morning, I saw three coyotes along one of the walking trails at Sun City Grand.   When I saw the first one, I stopped and he did, too.   He was about 15 feet away.
  He was beautiful!  
He had walked up to the concrete and stopped.   Standing still, I talked quietly to him so I wouldn't scare him.   After a second or two he crossed the sidewalk and began walking in the wash area.  I didn't move except to pivot to watch him.
To my surprise, a second coyote walked up.  He had been following the first one, but I hadn't seen him.  He continued across the path without stopping.  He's the one pictured above.
I stood there wishing I had my camera--then remembered my I Phone has a camera.   By the time I fished it out of my pocket and got it working, they were getting pretty far away.  
What you can't see is that there is a third coyote that entered the wash from the left side.   The three joined up and continued on their way.
I wish the video was better--I need more practice with the camera phone.  
But it was great to see them this morning.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Palo Verde Beetle

File:Derobrachus geminatus.png

     This scary monster was in my courtyard this morning.   Not this particular one, but one exactly like him.   Except mine was bigger.  Much bigger.
       The photo was found in the article about Palo Verde Beetles on Wikipedia.   I am much too smart to stand close to a huge bug just to get its picture. 
       Apparently the beetles love to eat Palo Verde trees.  We have a Palo Verde in our front yard, but I'm convinced my Palo Verde Beetle eats anything that gets in his way.   After all, he was in my courtyard, not under the tree.  
       What happened was this:   I had walked out of the courtyard early this morning to get the newspaper.  When I started back into the courtyard, he was guarding the entrance and wouldn't let me come back in.   Apparently he had been hiding under some leaves near one of the pots, then stepped out into the open.   That meant I had walked right past him on the way out of the courtyard!!!
       He was at least 5 inches long (they can grow even bigger according to Wikipedia) and about two inches across.   He had huge pincher thingies, too.   
       Arizona has its own version of "stand your ground", but I'm no fool.  I ran to the back porch.
       When I told Kent what was lurking outside, he said it was a Palo Verde Beetle.   At that time I only knew it was a huge bug.  One I had never seen before.   He told me that our neighbor said she had seen a Palo Verde Beetle in her yard the other day, and this was probably the same one.   A quick Google search confirmed the ID.   
       I sure hope this beetle moves on to another neighborhood and stays there.   I don't want to see him again.