Writing Prompts

Excursion to the Mine

Y’all! I was so tired after yesterday’s excursion I could barely keep awake during bingo, much less blog, but I’m here today to take you on a photo journey of our adventure!

Ya know, this morning a thought occurred to me. I have done more “living life” since we started our new lifestyle back in November (barely five months ago) than I had in the last three years at home. That is what this lifestyle is all about! It makes me a bit sad that Dave doesn’t share my passion for exploration as much as me, but he doesn’t stop me from getting out there. I pray in time he will join me more, maybe once we get to the beach.

Let’s go! At the end of our trip – “us” being Karl Griffen and myself in one ATV, followed by three ATVs behind us, Karl sent me a map of our trek. I’m going to start with that.

We left the front of the resort and trekked to the other side of the mountain range.

Our quest was for geodes around an old mine on the backside of the mountain ridge of Picacho Peak. We passed by the back gates of the ostrich farm, so that’s why there are pictures of the ostrich. They hang out back there and lay their eggs and cool off in the bushes of the dessert. We’ve had so much rain and warm temperatures that they have more shade than usual.

This is a male, he’s darker with a white/cream colored tail.

Along the way, we saw cholló and saguaro everywhere, and I was promised a trip to finally see the crested saguaro on the way back. More on that later. Karl showed me the difference between the teddy bear cholló and the jumping cholló. The other reason for the journey was to see the sea of wildflowers exploding like crazy, which apparently only happens here about every other year, depending on the rainfall.

Mexican poppies
Purple lupines and lavender wildflowers.

The purple lupines resemble our bluebonnets back home in Texas, but the are taller and thinner. I have no idea what the other purple flowers were as I am not the expert in flower identification. Here’s a few closeups of the various wildflowers.

Purple lupine
Not sure what this fire red flowering bush is.
Can you find the baby jackrabbit hiding in these flowers?

We saw some wildlife as well, now that things are starting to warm up (in the daytime) a bit. Jackrabbits and lizards, but no Gila monsters yet. No rattlesnakes either, thank goodness! Birds, butterflies, bees, and ground squirrels are popping up though.

We saw this baby jackrabbit hiding in some yellow wildflowers, presumably waiting for its mama to return. Poor thing, at first we feared him dead, but he was alive although he never moved an inch!

As we slowly made our way to the mine, we stopped to take in the beauty surrounding us, take pics in the wildflowers and just enjoy what the desert has to offer. I simply can’t understand someone who wouldn’t agree how beautiful this place is, and as we rounded the mountain and saw the poppy covered hills, my first thought was “This must be what Heaven looks like!”

Is that not just gorgeous??
It’s just breathtaking in my opinion.

My guide and fellow rock hound, Karl. Everyone was taking pictures of the wildflowers and each other in them.

We drove on, anxious to start the hunt for geodes. Geodes, for those unaware, are rocks with crystals inside of them. I think the miners were looking for copper and other minerals in the mine, but we just wanted the geodes and other pretty rocks.

The mine entrance. Dark and steep.
Kelly posing at the mouth of the cave.

She thought about going in, but we talked her out of it. We were afraid it would be too difficult to get back out because it drops off near the entrance and none of us were willing to fetch her out if anything chased her out of there. It was too rocky and steep to think about trying to run! Karl said big cats and other wildlife have stunk up the inside with their pee. If there were no treasures to hunt for, I wasn’t interested.

I picked up a few specimens and Karl gave me some more that he picked up, but I had a big one I was trying to bang into a smaller piece. I was using it as a tool because I didn’t bring my rock hammer, and I accidentally cut my hand on the jagged edge of the rock. Lesson learned! He patched me up and we went back to looking around. I still have to clean and photo my rocks, but I’ll post them later.

Metamorphic? I think so. Volcanic for sure.

The geodes i found were small or inside larger rocks and some veins in bigger pieces of rock. We found more of the blue rocks too. The crystals are tiny but should polish up nicely. I think I was enjoying the ride and being in nature more than anything. I did come back with a bucket of rocks though. I found a huge rock with crystals in it right next to the tire of our ATV! Unfortunately, I left that on the ATV, along with a piece of dead cactus Karl found and gave me to use for decor.

We left that area and went to another so he could show us where another mine is located, but it was too high to climb that day, and would have been a dicey climb up and down. This is where most of the teddy bear cholla was. We must have seen every type of cholla there is out there, but I’m not going to name them all. I’ve done that in a previous post.

This was an experiment on lighting, but I got it wrong.
“Jumping” cholla in the foreground, teddy bear cholla behind.
The dead husks of these are what Karl gave me a piece of. They are great for decorating with.

We went back by the ostrich on the way to see the crested saguaro.

This is a female.

Here is the crested saguaro, finally!! It’s so cool!

Behind this crested saguaro was a regular one but Karl pointed to the nest of a red-tailed hawk. After they move on, he said, other birds adopt the nest.

That’s a big nest!

I enjoyed myself so much and can’t wait to do another run. I have more pics, but you get the idea. Maybe I’ll post the rest to Facebook and Instagram. On the way home, he pointed out an easy hike up the front side of the ridge off the nature trails. I may tackle that one day before we leave. There’s also another place out of this park in the desert across the highway from us that I want to explore. He gave me a map to find it. Karl has been a blast to get to know and learn from. I’m going to miss him when we leave. I’m going to miss all the friends I’ve made here, so hopefully we come back next year sometime!

I’m going to sort and photo my rocks today, so we will see what we have on the next post. Stay tuned!!

Writing Prompts

A Visit with Karl

Today I woke early and had great aspirations to go to yoga class and get more walking in.

Unfortunately, my knee was swollen and I was sore and went back to sleep. Turns out yoga is only on Mondays and Thursdays anyway. I’m so glad I didn’t rush down! I finally awoke for the third time around 8:20, got up after stretching a bit and had applied some pain balm the first time I woke up around 3:30. I’d had a nightmare about Dad. I woke again around 5:30 and read a little when then fell back asleep.

Since making 10,000 steps wasn’t in the cards today, I decided to go visit Karl (the rock guy) and see what I could learn from him about tumbling rocks. Oh my goodness, what a great visit we had. He is a super nice and so is his wife, Donna. They have the gift of creativity and their house is decorated on the outside with every variety of cactus, hundreds of rocks, and artwork created from things they find in nature. Hummingbirds practically swarm their patio because they installed those tiny feeders everywhere.

A repurposed bathroom cabinet he got from Lowe’s for $25! Slightly damaged in the back which didn’t matter for his purposes.

This cabinet he repurposed for his grilling and smoking supplies and spices. What a resourceful dude!

He sat with me on the patio where the smell of ribs smoking on the smoker was making my mouth water and talked to me for over an our about so many different things! First though, it was all about the rocks. We share the same passion for finding rocks to tumble and he has a professional-sized tumbler and years of experience. We discussed the places we’ve been and where we can go in our search for rocks and cactus. He showed my how the bird holes come out of the dead saguaro 🌵 and are called “boots”. He uses spray lacquer on them and makes decorative pieces for the wall on the side of his house. I should have taken more pictures because his house is fascinating, and all I saw was the patio!!

A small part of Karl’s collection he’s tumbled and some he hasn’t yet.
Saguaro boots Karl gifted me.

They don’t look like much now, but after the varnish and possibly some decorations, they will look awesome. His wife put eyeballs and some mossy stuff in one of hers, it looks so cute! When you enter the patio, it is flanked by saguaro carcasses that have fake birds nesting in the hollows. They are huge and the couple has such an artistic eye. I must go back and take more pictures of all the cool things they’ve made. He also gifted me some more rocks to tumble and told me not to be afraid of doing anything wrong. Just do the steps like the class and instructions say to and be patient.

Rough specimens Karl gave me to tumble.

They have a dog and two cats who have a door that leads to a cage built for them that sits where the steps used to be from the house to the patio. I thought at first it was a bird cage, but no. The cats can go from the house to the outside and be enclosed in their own playground! Ingenious idea! Again, sorrry. No pics. Next time!

He also fashioned a long, skinny cactus garden from the trunk of a hollowed out saguaro. Remember in a previous blog post I spoke about how the ancients used the saguaro like wood to built structures and tools? One can find many uses for this industrial-sized cactus. They have cactus in the beds, and in pots all over the property and inside the pots are some of the rocks he and his mom and wife have collected and tumbled through the years. I could go on and on, but let me finish with the most exciting news. He is going to take a group of us Monday to the other side of our mountain to go see the mine back there. In this area, I can gather all the geodes I want!! I am beyond stoked about it! I didn’t know geodes could be found in this area! Apache tears too, although probably not here. He found his in a place a bit north of here.

I thoroughly enjoyed the visit and can’t wait for our “date” to the old mine. Stay tuned for what we might find on that excursion ☺️