Monday, October 16, 2017

Deja Vu, And Then Some!

My friend Donna had a hair appointment in Tucson this last weekend and suggested a road adventure, and another buddy Bernie was impressed with my photos from the weekend before on the Baboquivari 4WD trip. What could I do but suggest another trip to the most sacred site of the Tohono O'odham? Neither had been to the area, so by noon we were again winding down the Sasabe Road! As on the previous trip, my new riders were impressed with the view of Kitt Peak from 12 miles away. At left, Bernie shoots the observatory - the flat peak seen on the horizon.

We didn't waste a lot of time on the drive down - turned off the paved road just beyond milepost 16 and followed the road back NW towards the impressive profile of Baboquivari. With our little later start, we found a nice spot for our lunch with a view of both the peak and vistas to the east as well. The 5-frame mosaic here from our lunch spot with the 300mm lens well-captures the peak and surrounding area. Unfortunately, with the 1600 pixel-wide limit of pictures much of the impact of these panoramas is lost. At right what I've done is crop out the peak area of the panorama, keeping it at full resolution to give an idea of how powerful the full resolution panorama is! The crop at right is the same image, just cropped, not downsized from the panorama...

The previous trip I had seen a lot of huge grasshoppers, though didn't stalk one down on that trip. This time one came walking by at our lunch, so was able to molest it and take it's photo. It is a colorful fellow, flightless, though with underdeveloped wings seen here with black spots. It didn't take long to identify it on the Google as a Plains Lubber Grasshopper, Brachystola magma. Interestingly, in that link, they find that the Plains Lubber has a 2-year life cycle. I really love the subtle but strong earth-tone colors!

A little later we did some hiking when we hit the locked gate mentioned in last week's post. We turned a corner and I discovered the Praying Mantis shown at right at eye level on a plant. It was quite patient while I twisted the plant to bring it into the sunlight to get one or two good shots...

About 1km above the locked gate, we saw a ranch house that looked a lot better-kept than I remember hiking past back in the 80s! It appeared to have newer double-pane windows and a metal roof, even as the road leading up to it seemed long-unused. I ventured a little past the "private property" sign, but only to get the photo at left. Following the trail around the house and the corral, I took the mosaic at right. It looks like an idyllic place to spend some time! Back 30 years ago when last here hiking the peak, we parked much nearer the ranch house, but was pretty run down. In my reading, about that time it was known as Riggs Ranch. I'm not sure who operates in the area now. On our trip last weekend, we saw a big truck going in, but didn't stop to talk. Did not see any cattle either trip, though saw some white-tail deer (about a half dozen, including fawns) this trip.

We pointed the Jeep downhill about 4pm, making good time back to pavement without incident. Returning north on the Sasabe Road (the way we went out) we were rewarded with more nice views of Kitt Peak. Shown at left is an odd-looking view when 99% of the time you only see the profile from Ajo Way on the way to the Observatory from Tucson. Here, looking from the SSE, the 4-meter telescope appears between the solar and 2.1 meter scopes! This was taken with the 500mm lens...

Thankfully, one of us was thinking and we used Donna's phone to take a selfie of the three of us, shown at right. It was another beautiful, if not warm (temps still in 90s) Fall day that will remain memorable!

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