Saturday, April 17, 2010

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Sunday, April 04, 2010

Sunny Day on Kitt Peak National Observatory

On Saturday my younger daughter and I drove 60 miles west to Kitt Peak National Observatory, located on the Tohono O'odham reservation. Ostensibly I was looking for wildflowers -- 'tis the season and all -- but mostly I wanted to hang out with my excellent little traveling companion and goggle at the big telescopes atop the 7,000-foot mountain (there are 26 telescopes in all). Here are a handful of photos, and all 57 larger photos are over in the main gallery:

Wildflower-dotted picnic area alongside Arizona Highway 86, with Kitt Peak in the distance.

The road up to Kitt Peak, where swaths of Mexican goldpoppies ribboned the ridges.

View of many of the telescopes on Kitt Peak, from the 4-meter Mayall observatory on the left to the (barely visible) McMath-Pierce national solar observatory on the right.

One of the ten worldwide radio-telescope antennas of the Very Large Baseline Array (VLBA) with the 4-meter Mayall telescope in the distance.

My traveling partner.

Dad and daughter in the gallery below the national solar observatory.

View of the telescopes atop Kitt Peak.

View of my younger daughter and the telescopes atop Kitt Peak.

The SARA .9-meter telescope dome.

Peek-a-boo: my younger daughter, a star in her own right.

Hiking the Babad Do'ag Trail

On Friday I skipped work to take my daughters hiking with a group of neighbors up the Babad Do'ag Trail, which starts at the first pullout on Catalina Highway once the road starts climbing the Santa Catalinas. It was a beautiful, wildflower-filled day, and the 4-mile roundtrip trail was just right. Here are a few photos, and check out all 94 larger photos over in the gallery.

Starting out on the Babad Do'ag Trail, the Tohono O'odham name for Frog Mountain, what we call Mt. Lemmon.

Right away we saw a lot of wildflowers, including these bladderpods.

Higher up, we came across wide swaths of Mexican goldpoppies.

And then we saw such beauties as these covena...

And desert chicory.

The view from the top of the trail: looking east/southeast toward the snow-capped Rincon Mountains.

Friend and neighbor Ingrid Anderson put the hike together. Thanks Ingrid!

My younger daughter was my hiking partner as my older daughter leaped ahead with her friends.

Hiking back down the trail in the lush Sonoran desert. Though the rains and so the blooms have been about a month late this year, neither disappointed!

Check out the full gallery here:

Wednesday, March 31, 2010 Issue No. 25 - Virtually There - Now Live

The editors of A Journal of the Built & Natural Environments at are pleased to announce the launch of our 25th issue: Virtually There.

One of our largest and most dynamic issues to date features:


  • Guest Editorial: “Virtually Unconscious: Dreams of Escape” by Renee Lertzman, Miller Postdoctoral Fellow in Humanities and Sustainability, Portland State University
  • Simmons B. Buntin’s The Literal Landscape: “Songbird”
  • Deborah Fries’s Plein Air: “Sharing the Edge of the Sixth Shore: Artists and Scientists Converge at Lake Clifton”
  • David Rothenberg’s Bull Hill: “The BluRay Squirrel and the HighDef Squid”
  • Lauret Savoy’s A Stone’s Throw: “Winter Leaves”


  • Patrick Burns interviews author Padma Viswanathan

UnSprawl Case Study

  • Dockside Green in Victoria, British Columbia
    by Ken Pirie


  • Poetry in text and audio by Sara Talpos, Karen Schubert, Patricia Clark, Erin Coughlin Hollowell, Abe Louise Young, Linda Umans, Arianne Zwartjes, Jamison Crabtree, Sandy Longhorn, Matthew James Babcock, Robin Chapman, Tim Bellows, C. J. Sage, Paul Hostovsky, Lyn Lifshin, Deborah Fries, Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda, Julie L. Moore, Hugh Fox, and Fran Markover


  • “How to Draw a Glass Mountain: Los Angeles and the Architecture of Segregation,” a hypertext photo essay by Aisha Sloan
  • “The Book of Water,” by Joe Wilkins, with audio
  • “The Road to Crownpoint,” essay by Kurt Caswell and illustration by Susan Leigh Tomlinson
  • “The Place and the Photograph,” by Lex Runciman, with Stonehenge Photo Gallery
  • “Four Dispatches from the Interface,” by Charles Goodrich, with Audio


  • “Planning a Post-Carbon World: The City of North Vancouver and the 100 Year Plan,” by Patrick Condon
  • “The Digital Cathedral in the Age of Democratic Sustainability,” by Peter W. Bardaglio
  • “Isn’t it Time to Dig Vertical Farming?” by Chris Bradford
  • “Open Data and Government 2.0,” by Nate Berg
  • “Virtuality: The Splenda of Existence,” by Rachel Shaw


  • “Machete Maneuvers,” by Rachel Furey, with audio
  • “The Glory of Ned Wiley,” by Braden Hepner
  • “Holding Patterns,” by Bette Lynch Husted
  • “Estrella, Extranjero,” by Chavawn Kelley

ARTerrain Gallery

  • Ten art quilts of textile and mixed media by Jan Rickman


  • Jennifer McStotts reviews The Seasons on Henry’s Farm: A Year of Food and Life on a Sustainable Farm, by Terra Brockman
  • Simmons B. Buntin reviews Animal Logic, by Richard Barnes, and Earth Forms, by Stephen Strom
  • Julie Wnuk reviews When the Rains Come: A Naturalist’s Year in the Sonoran Desert, by John Alcock
  • Stephanie Eve Boone reviews Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife, by Francine Prose

Read the entire issue, available in both HTML and PDF formats, online now at

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Whitewater Draw

The Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area lies at the south end of the McNeal Playa, 20 miles north of Douglas, Arizona, and the Mexico border. At the northeastern edge of the grasslands-dominated Chihuahua desert, the area attracts about 30,000 Sandhill cranes -- from separate Rocky Mountain and Mid-Continent populations -- every winter, generally from November through February. This year, however, nearly 50,000 cranes overwintered, and though usually gone by early March, there are still at least 15,000 cranes at the Draw, plus hundreds of other species, from snow geese and ducks to owls and songbirds.

Over New Year's 2008/2009, my family and I traveled to the Bosque del Apache to see cranes (view photo gallery). I was hoping to take my daughters to Whitewater Draw for comparison this weekend, but it rained; so on Tuesday I took the afternoon off and drove down -- about two hours southeast of our home. Though I couldn't get as close to the cranes, there were thousands more here than in central New Mexico last January. And the clouds! Well, here are a few photos from my recent trip, and there are a total of 64 over in the gallery.

Sandhill cranes flying at Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area on a warm early March afternoon.

I'd guess there were at least 15,000 cranes at one point.

Unlike the Bosque del Apache last winter, there were very few snow geese here.

Mostly the scene called for my wide-angle lens -- dramatic clouds and water with strings of mountains all around.

Not a bad way to spend an afternoon skipping out of work, eh?

Warm glow on the mountains east of the Whitewater Draw.

Cranes relocating for the evening, and perhaps beginning their migration back as far north as Alaska and even Siberia.

At first subtle, then fiery, the sunset flared like a crane's scarlet cap, and then some.

View all 64 of the photos, in larger size, at: And hey, let me know what you think!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wildlife and Daughters at the Desert Museum

On January 31 I visited the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum with visitors from out of town. Of course, I seemed to only take photos of wildlife, the grounds, and my daughters. No surprise there. Here are a few of the shots, and a total of 28 can be found in larger format over in my gallery:

My daughters are all smiles beside the organ pipe cactus near the Desert Museum's entrance.

We arrived in time to see the Raptor Free Flight Program, with a family of Harris's hawks. Pretty amazing stuff.

The cats, like this bobcat, were pretty active in Cat Canyon on this mild January day.

A showy Costa's hummingbird in the hummingbird aviary.

Even the desert bighorn sheep wasn't shy, though I'm not sure he actually ever moves.

View of the Desert Museum grounds, with the Tucson Mountains in the distance.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Full Moon Ringtail

On January's full moon -- the closest moon to Earth in two years -- we discovered a ringtail in the tree near the Civano neighborhood center. Fortunately, I had my camera nearby, and was able to spend some time with our neighbor. Check out the gallery for all 19 of the photos; here are a few, smaller photos:

Another wonderful reason why I love living in the Sonoran desert.

View the full gallery at

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Saguaro National Park in Black and White

My younger daughter and I welcomed in the new year with a trip out to Saguaro National Park (West) for some hiking and petroglyph gawking. The park is a study in enticing contrasts, as I hope these black-and-white photos show. Here are 8, and these and 36 more are available in larger format over in my gallery.

My younger daughter at the Red Hills Visitor Center.

Along the Hugh Norris Trail to Amole Peak.

Petroglyphs at Signal Hill.

Perhaps the park's most-known petroglyph, atop Signal Hill.

My young artist admires the ancient rock art.

View along the Signal Hill Trail.

Saguaro with arms and blooming ocotillo.

Backlit prickly pear.

View the full gallery at