Shine On, From The Mountains

Arizona mountain sunrise, Yavapai County

And so the perfect month — October — comes to a close. On the calendar, anyway. It’s merely a mark in time. Meanwhile, we live day to day, savoring the glory of life.

Which is why I drove out of town this morning to once again search for photos that might express my joy and wonder at living here in the high, wide open spaces of Yavapai County in the Central Arizona Highlands.

This photo represents a sliver of what I found.

Photo location: Lonesome Valley, north of Prescott, Arizona.

Goodbye, October

Lonesome Valley sunrise colors, Arizona

October 30, only one day left in the month after this. In the perfect month. But the perfect month has almost run out of time.

A cold front had come through, with some clouds to possibly make sunrise colors. I launched myself out at dawn, wanting to roam a bit into the heart of Lonesome Valley.

In the beautiful high country and wide open spaces of the Central Arizona Highlands you can’t lose be being out in nature. Just go out, soak in the view, the fresh air, the friendly waves of people driving the other way on the country roads.

Anyway, I chose to drive east from Chino Valley on Perkinsville Road, because the views are wide open right away. High country grasslands, ranches, a chance to see one of the antelope herds, too.

The clouds above the Lonesome Valley Buttes lit up with the reds of the yet-unseen sun. Land shapes, sky shapes, color. The freezing dawn was warming up with sunrise, and the sun would soon warm the landscape with golden sunlight, too.

Goodbye, October. You’re the perfect month to me. The good news is that the second best month follows. November, when I get to savor the remnants lingering from your glowing light of autumn leaves.

Photo location: Lonesome Valley, Yavapai County, Arizona.


Moonrise over Woodchute Mountain, Arizona

The rise of the Harvest Moon. It had reached 100% illumination just past 4 AM, so it was already slightly on the wane this evening.

Not that one could tell. At least I couldn’t. Didn’t want to. I stood at the east fence, camera on tripod in the sweet September dusk. The Earth’s shadow, with its lovely color gradations, was fading to all dark blue.

Then the orb appeared. Over Woodchute Mountain, beaming brightly. I stood and stood, watching.

Shades Of Rain

Rain Clouds, Little Chino Valley, Arizona

The Southwestern “monsoon” rains came weeks ago, awakening the high desert land between the mountains.

Then they disappeared. What happened? Was the rainy season over already, as happened a few years ago, much to my dismay?

But then this week, moisture returned to the skies. Clouds, billowing, every changing. Come back to Earth, you moisture ones. This is where you want to be.

In this photo, the rain curtains tease to the north. In the distance, the blue shapes of Bill Williams Mountain, and the Mogollon Rim, which is the very southern edge of the vast, high Colorado Plateau, just sit there. They’ve seen it all.

I want to feel the rain drops hit me again. Like a mountain. Like a desert.

A Touch Of Rainbow

Thunderhead clouds, Woodchute Mountain, Rainbow

I walked out into the early evening light. Glorious summer day, the moisture of blessed rains teasing through the afternoon.

To the east loomed Woodchute Mountain, dark blue on the horizon. A white billowing thunderhead cloud above. And, underneath, a bit of rainbow. Somehow the evening sun had found a slit in the western clouds and lit up the rain.

Just a bit of it.

Mountain, sky. Summer. Rainbow. Heading home to shower up from another hot summer day and relax in the cool blessed night.

Fall will arrive soon. Meanwhile, such grandness in the highlands heat.

Muddy Mirror, Sullivan Lake

Sullivan Lake, Paulden, Yavapai County, ArizonaAfter the big monsoon thunderstorm up north, Chino Wash was awash with muddy water. The only kind of water dry country drainages seem to know. It’s either there, or not. And not for long.

The little dam that forms Sullivan Lake at Paulden, Arizona was built by the Works Progress Administration in 1938, 75 years ago. It wasn’t thrown together at any old location. It’s the head of the Verde River, where the drainage has cut a small, vertical gorge through the malpais basalt rimrock. Plenty of basalt boulders to use in the construction, as well.

A few days after the big rain, the water was barely flowing over a portion of the right side of the dam. The rapidly greening Arizona Highlands grassland was vibrant in the evening sunlight. The water was still muddy, but reflected the blue sky quite nicely.

Photo Location: Paulden, Yavapai County, Arizona.

Last Sunset Of July, Wide View

Arizona Sunset

The wide view of yesterday’s sunset photo, shifting one’s attention from the blazing yellows and oranges just above the sun outward to the pinks and purples of the upper clouds, and the blue sky canvas.

Photo location: Chino Valley, north of Prescott, Yavapai County, Arizona.

High Desert Reading Room

Lonesome Valley view from the cab of my pickup truck.
A perfect May afternoon in the Central Arizona Highlands of Yavapai County: not just the trademark Arizona blue sky, but also featuring perfect cumulus clouds for an added, slowly changing treat.
I pulled over at one my my favorite spots at the north end of Lonesome Valley. Time to kick back, drink some water, eat a snack, watch the afternoon go peacefully by. Savor and savor some more until the sunset hour arrived.

I was reading Ellsworth Kolb’s Through the Grand Canyon From Wyoming to Mexico, the first person account of he and his brother Emery’s famous river expedition that captured the first motion pictures of running the wild river, way back in 1911-12. Being professional photographers, their equipment was their life, especially on that hazardous trip.

Meanwhile, here I was about a hundred years later, with my jewel of a digital camera to photograph with on a lazy spring Saturday, about 80 miles south of Grand Canyon. I was in such a perfect spot that I actually took some of my photos from the cab of my pickup truck, while reading the book. Not exactly an expedition. Just incredibly satisfying.

Then I got the idea of shooting a panoramic image from inside the truck, using it as the frame to the scenery I was reveling in. Even a clip of video. To document my mobile reading room.

The Kolb brothers would have appreciated it, I’m sure. Get the shot, no matter how hard, or how easy.