Practice Spontaneity

Every once in awhile you find yourself in a truly special place, experiencing a joyous moment that has you giddy with excitement.

Nature’s beauty, whether it’s wildlife or landscape, often does that for me. We certainly have places we frequent, but are always on the lookout for new places to enjoy and photograph.

And when we might find ourselves in such a state of mind and place, we should slow down take it in and savor every minute.

So it was, that we encountered this gorgeous stream, and spontaneously decided to spend the night, even though we had not planned to.

The next morning, watching the sunrise over this stream, we were rewarded by gorgeous light basking along the shimmering water cascading over mossy rocks. Sometimes it pays to be spontaneous, and seize the moment.

October Fall

October always means FALL for us. We look forward to the fall colors and actively debate and explore different areas to enjoy nature’s beauty in full living color.

This year we found a new place to explore, Christopher Creek, and we were thrilled to find fall in it’s full range of greens, yellows, orange, and reds. It was stunning. Thanks for the tip Rosemary.

As if the changing of the leaves wasn’t enough we were thrilled and entertained by the cascading water along the creek with fleeting views of fall’s glory.

I am in awe of nature’s beauty and humbled by her harsh light and deep shadows and the many challenges of capturing her many moods. I guess I need to get out more and practice more. Oh, darn.

See Places with New Eyes

Sun rises over Carnero Lake as witnessed by patch of daisies.

It’s amazing how many times you can go to a place, and how it changes from time to time.

We went back to Carnero Lake hoping to catch osprey fishing, but there were none to be had. Considering the amount of rain we had, we were amazed to see how low the lake actually was. It was barely photogenic. Changing our view looking through the forest toward the lake at sunrise, yielded an entirely new view.

Juvenile robin hangs out in a wooded forest.
Squirrel checks out next pine tree to hunt

All we saw (in terms of animals) was a juvenile robin and a squirrel collecting pinecones for the winter.

It’s just a reminder to turn around 360 degrees to take in your surroundings, and actually SEE what different vantage points can present themselves if you take the time to take it in.

Big Horn Lounging

I do enjoy it when we see animals. We encountered these big horn sheep enjoying a grass field lying in the shade and munching away.

It was almost as if they were talking to one another, laughing and telling stories, while others just relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful afternoon.

Most of the ones in this herd were males, or rams, with only a few female ewes. The boys demonstrated their dominance by locking horns, but seemed more affectionate than fierce.

While I tried to keep my distance, they didn’t seem to mind that I was there and got closer to me than even I was comfortable. I took every advantage of their presence.

Gone to the Birds

Anna’s hummingbird hovers

We’ve seen so few big animals, I’ve had to resort to taking pix of the birds! We’ve driven to the rim and seen very few elk or deer. With all the fires, smoke, and lack of water, maybe they’ve taken up residence someplace else.

Woodpeckers forage for bugs

No matter. We always have all sort of birds to divert my attention.

Western Bluebird and Acorn Woodpecker vie for kernel of food
Western Bluebird, female

Living in Northern AZ we get quite the assortment of forest birds. I’ve never been much of a bird watcher, but I may have to take it up!

Schnebly Hill Vista

We love to explore the back roads and take in the fabulous views we find along the way. We have traveled the Schnebly Hill Road on numerous occasions over the years.

Schnebly Hill road

The 12-mile road cuts between Flagstaff and Sedona. If one didn’t know better, they might think it a short cut. In reality, all the wind and lack of rain has continuously deteriorated the road.

Sunrise at Schnebly Hill Vista

You may know the road – it’s that really rough road the Pink Jeep Tours drives through out of Sedona. The bumpy road from Sedona to Schnebly Vista traverses over rugged rock shelf terrain. It takes around an hour to go just 6 miles, dependent on how much one wants to beat up your lifted truck or Jeep. It is not suited for passenger cars.

Little mouse collecting food

We even caught this industrious little mouse foraging through a cactus. It’s wonderful the things you see if you get out there. You can see more of my mouse pix here … https://kritterspaw.com/2021/06/11/industrious-mouse/

Sedona city lights from Schnebly Hill Vista

We were delighted to have some clouds for some beautiful sunsets and sunrise.

Oregon

We love fresh seafood… and the water. Living in AZ, that means if we want to get our ‘fix’ we have to go East Coast or West Coast. West Coast is closer and a fairly easy drive, so we made the trek to Oregon to get our ‘fix’.

We had a lot of blue sky, windy days, but enjoyed the scenic drive down the coast, stopping along the way. Many of the shops and restaurants are closed (permanently or temporarily), and others only open at 25% capacity. So we mostly enjoyed buying fresh caught seafood from the local fishermen, supporting their trade and enjoying fresh fish while camping out.

The winds made the seas pretty rough and walking on the beach quite blustery, but we did manage to get in some scenic views, wooded walks, and take in some local wildlife.

Maybe next time we’ll do the East Coast, and plan a longer visit, perhaps once things settle down.

Check out more pix here … https://kritterspaw.com/2021/04/21/oregon-coast-2/

Little Horn Sheep

It’s not very often we see big horn sheep. But this past week we went out to take pix of the snow and ran into a herd of big horn sheep, including 7 babies. Woohoo!

I can probably count how many times I have seen big horn sheep on 1 hand. They are one of the less common big animal encounters. We were lucky enough to not only see big horn sheep, but babies… and in snow on top of that. It was like a 3-fer.

It made my day, if not my year! I was very happy to have a positive jolt of goodness in what has been a difficult time for us personally. You take joy where you can get it.

I guess we need to get out more!

We Got Snow

Storm brewing on the horizon over Moqui Draw
Snow coats trees over Moqui Draw

After a long dry monsoon season and cold barren winter our forecast seemed bleak. We were desperate for some precipitation and moisture for our thirsty forest. The weather guys swore we were really in for it… Monday, no Tuesday, wait maybe Thursday, or Friday. Nothing. For sure Saturday. It seemed everyone else started getting it, but we were passed by. Flagstaff was getting pounded we heard. Hmmm. We got maybe 4″, and were waiting for this monster storm.

Snow clings to trees in the forest outside of Flagstaff after January snowstorm.
Elk grazes in Northern AZ

Finally, Monday the storm hit. Over the course of Monday and Tuesday, we finally got some much needed snow. It came and came, yay! We figure we got around 24″ all together. It’s hard to say exactly, as the winds were blowing so hard, drifts were high, and actual measures were difficult to estimate.

Snow collects in depression outside of Flagstaff, AZ
Elk roots around into fresh fallen snow

No matter. We are happy to have it. I guess good things come to those who wait.

Snowy road outside of Mogollon Rim.
Snow coats the trees after a Northern AZ winter storm.
Snow falls over previous burn area.

See my other posts, here… https://kritterspix.com/2021/01/29/a-world-of-friends/ and here… https://kritterspaw.com/2021/01/27/snow-foraging/.

Best of 2020 – Animals

I like to review my year’s photos to consolidate the best of the year.

I posted my Best of 2020 – Landscape photos here… https://kritterspaw.com/2021/01/12/best-of-2020-landscape/. Now it’s time to review my animal pix. It was a good year for animals, as we saw a lot of different types.

Big Horn Sheep

We were lucky enough to see this beautiful herd of big horn sheep as we left Alstrom Point. We saw the herd in the distance, so drove ahead of them, and I walked out behind a rock to see if I could sneak up on them. I’m not sure who was more surprised when we saw each other as I crotched down from behind a ridge – me or them. It was a fantastic moment.

Coyote

Admittedly, I am not a big fan of coyote. They are scavengers and corral & hunt my precious deer and elk. So I’m just as happy not to see any. But I did this year, and got a decent photo that makes the cut.

Kit Fox

We don’t see many fox, so I was thrilled when we saw this pup this year. So cool!

Deer Fawn

All babies are cute, especially the 4 legged animal variety!

Javelina

Speaking of babies… it was super cute to get so see this affectionate family of javelina with new born babe.

Elk baby

And elk baby, or calf.

Elk bull

The next best thing to new animals (at least for us), or baby animals, are those big boys… elk bulls

Deer Buck

and bucks…

The cuter and better expression, the better!

Chipmunk

I got a ton of chipmunk pix this year, they were just too darn cute.

Deer Doe and fawn

And finally, pretty much any animal in the snow. Just wish we had more of it!