Friday, June 28, 2013

Hassayampa River Preserve, Wickenburg, Arizona

usbackroads destination--Hassayampa River Preserve and downtown Wickenburg, Arizona

This travel destination is brought to you courtesy of Ram Truck warranty service.  They called about 11:30 am and said that our battery for the key FOB was in Wickenburg and we needed to pick it up before 2:00pm.

So we ran down to the Dodge dealer to pick up the battery and then decided to drive through downtown Wickenburg.  What a pleasant surprise!  We stopped at the outskirts of Wickenburg for gas and groceries before and said..."yep, looks like new Arizona to us".

Well, downtown Wickenburg is old Arizona.  Susie wanted an ice cream cone so we went looking for an ice cream vendor.  We found one at Chapparal Ice Cream.  As we entered there was a sign reminding you to eat your ice cream before dinner.  They served their own homemade ice cream.  Well worth the stop.  The ice cream is good.

But to make it old Arizona you need more than ice cream.  As we entered there were four guys playing classical tunes with three guitars and a bass fiddle.   Nothing earlier than 1970.  Classics that Bob Wills, Eddie Arnold, and a host of others would be proud to sing.  They even played "Somebody Robbed the Glendale train" for those of us that remember the Greateful Dead and the New Riders of the Purple Sage.  I almost asked them to sing "Sugaree"

We wandered for a bit around town.  If you need western clothes, boots, or hats this is the town for you.  Anyway, don't miss downtown Wickenburg.  We almost did.

At the ice cream shop we picked up a brochure for the Hassaymmpa River Preserve.   Now this sounds like a down south area, but it is in Arizona.  The Nature Conservancy runs the place and since the Nature Conservancy was our neighbor up at Camas Meadows for a few years we decided to stop and look around.

Nice interesting short hikes along the Hassayampa River which is totally dry EXCEPT for this one spot.  The town of Wickenburg even put a NO FISHING FROM BRIDGE sign where the river runs through town.   Cowboy humor.

There is a $5 entrance fee person.  The best time to visit is early in the morning or at sunset.  So time your visits for those times.   There are binoculars you can borrow and the visitor center has a great display of plants and exhibits for its size.

The area at one time was a stage stop.  Stage stops in Arizona were places where people were killed and this one was no exception.   Remember our stop at the Butterfield Stage Coach Stop.

Here is the story and the grave.  Hassayampa River Preserve Grave Site.

Here is the trail that wanders through the preserve.

The trail goes past a nice pond that seems out of place in Arizona.

Though on our trip we tied the preserve and downtown Wickenburg together you do not have to do that.  Both the preserve and downtown Wickenburg are worth a longer time than the four hours we gave to both of them.  However, the next day was a travel day.

Downtown Wickenburg and the Preserve are worth the visit.  Don't be fooled by the new stuff on the edge of town!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ash Springs, Alamo, Nevada

usbackroads destination--Ash Springs, Alamo, Nevada

This is a warm spring a few miles north of Alamo, Nevada right on Highway 93.  It is a BLM recreation site and was unsigned when we were there.  It is, however, directly across the Highway from the Shell Station.  There is a very short road from the highway to the spring.  It your towing it is simpler to park on the Highway shoulder and walk into the springs area.

Click on the picture to enlarge so you can read the "rules".

This is actually the interpretive sign for Crystal Springs which is just a bit farther north of Ash Springs, but located on private property.  It does give you a history of the area.

Here is the private property sign for Crystal Springs and the USGS stream gauging station.

But back to Ash Springs!!   Here is a picture of the upper pool and rock work.

The health and safety sign gives another set of rules.  There is also a sign recommending that people limit their stay to TWO hours.  It is a popular place so chose your visiting time carefully.  We were there on a Saturday morning and it was packed with people.  A magic spot if your the only one here.

Just north of the springs is the Pittman Wildlife area.  It is a great spot to stretch the legs and walk around the small lake.

This is the west where Whiskey is for drinking and water for fighting.  Well, at least this landowner knows that land without water is just worthless.

The cities of Las Vegas and Los Angeles have been buying water rights left and right in the west to ship their urban areas.  Not sure how they missed these 13.5 acre feet of water!!

Ash Springs.  A pretty neat area with the wildlife area and springs is worth a stop and at least a couple of hours on your trip through Highway 93 and central Nevada.

Book Read:  Outlaw: Waylon, Willie, Kris and the Renegades of Nashville by Michael Streissguth.  I am a great fan of traditional country music.  So this book seemed like a natural read.  The book is fine and focused more on the business side than the music.  A slightly boring read, if your into country music.  Otherwise a real boring read.  

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Eastern Washington Fishing Season 2013 Photo's

usbackroads destination--eastern Washington Fishing Lakes 2013

Fishing season started late this year due to our delay in returning from Arizona.  So most March was spent in Arizona, rather than Washington.

The early fishing trips were to the usual suspects in the Columbia Basin.  For more information on why a desert is full of trout fishing on this link: Bureau of Reclamation and unlikely pair of Resource Managers.

As you can see by the pictures the state of Washington's nickname really does need to be changed to the Everbrown State.  Fortunately, the wet springs of the past two years were replaced by a more normal weather pattern.

May brought the most perfect weather with temperatures in the 80's and a lake at 3000 feet full of 19 inch fish.  There is nothing more perfect than sitting in your LaFuma recliner at 8:00 am in the morning with a cup of coffee and watching a mountain lake come to life in the morning.  And for early May those temperatures were very welcome.

Bugaboo is not a great fan of fishing season.  Though he did get to enjoy more fishing trips this year as his behavior is getting better.  He does have a very bad case of separation anxiety.  So he gets to sit in the truck while we fish.  Barking gets him a reminder from the "good citizenship collar", so he has developed a low, fairly quiet mournful wail.

The fishing season ends at a cutthroat lake in the basin.  Yes, I know cutts can't jump.  The scenery is pretty with the cliffs and talus slopes.  The warm weather reminds me that fishing season is pretty much over until mid-September for lakes in eastern Washington.

The fishing trips will now shift to mountain lakes with trees and much smaller fish.  Many of these require a short hike to the lakes.

So the float tube will have to placed on the back along with the rod, vest, waders, and fins.

Bugaboo gets to go along on the hikes.  Usually, he gets to park underneath a shady tree and watch the fishing.

Sometimes he practices his mournful wails while waiting for us to finish fishing.

The pontoon boat is head for storage for the summer.

All that is left are the memories of another spring fishing season in eastern Washington.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Aurora Borealis, Wenatchee, Washington

 usbackroads destination--Aurora Borealis, Wenatchee, Washington

This display started on May 31, 2013 and continued for a few hours on June 1st.

The farther north you go the greater chances of seeing the Aurora Borealis.  The active sun cycle with lots of sunspots also increases the chances of seeing the Aurora.  It is best seen from a dark site, however, when a friend calls at midnight and says hey "go outside and take a look".  You go outside even if it is your driveway.

This is what a typical Aurora looks like minus the colors.  It has to be a dark site with a bright Aurora to see colors.  However, camera's are much more forgiving.  This Aurora is the best since the late 1980's when an Aurora covered more than half the sky in Wenatchee.  At first I thought it was clouds in that case.  Unfortunately, this was before digital camera's.

I just got a new Canon 6D camera.  These were the first pictures taken with the camera so please excuse the quality.  I used a tripod and Canon EOS remote software to take the pictures from my IPAD.  I am looking forward to using the camera for more astrophotography in the future.

Green....your eyes are most sensitive to green light.  So the first color you are likely to perceive in dark situations is green.  The view above is the typical Aurora Borealis view.  Green and bands heading up.

As you moved west the green glow faded a bit, however, it faded much more quickly to the east.  That is Cygnus rising in the east and you can see the faint glow of the Milky Way.

When I first came outside there was one ray that went from the northwest to the southeast crossing the sky at the zenith.

It quickly faded, however, came back to life about a half hour later and these are the set of photographs from the second "apparition".

The steak in the middle of the ray is the midnight Horizon flight to Wenatchee.  They must have had one great viewing platform as they landed at Pangborn Field.

The yellow glow on the horizon is the light pollution from Seattle.  It is well over a hundred miles from Wenatchee as the crow flies and on the other side of the Cascade Range.  However, as you can tell there are a LOT of people in Seattle that are afraid of the dark and keep their outside lights lit at night for no good particularly reason.

Light pollution has been implicated in accelerating hormonal cancers such as breast and prostrate, limiting pollination of agricultural plants,  affecting the migration of birds and large mammal species, inviting vandalism, wasting lots of money, creating road hazards through glare, and of course, robbing people of the view of the universe.  However, many people never outgrow their fear of the dark!!

Overhead the ray danced and curved through the zenith.

As the display started winding down it became more intense along the western horizon.

As with all displays they start to fade.

However, there are always the memories and pictures.

Camera used was a Canon 6d on a tripod.  Exposures were generally around 15 seconds at f5.6 with an ISO of 6500 or so in most cases.  Since this was the first time I used the camera I concentrated on just taking pictures.

As always click on the picture to enlarge!