Sunday, March 29, 2009

Fountain Hills

Yesterday we went to Fountain Hills, this city a little ways outside of Phoenix, so named for the giant fountain in the middle of the city. It's a really beautiful place and I read that the fountain shoots 560 feet up into the air. It's quite a sight to see this huge, huge fountain from the distance. And it's also pretty impressive up close.

Skye climbed onto this bird sculpture.
Afterwards, we went to the McDowell mountains to photograph more wildflowers. We got a few, but we were too hot and tired to want to go on a hike so we spent most of the time at this park near the trailhead. Skye loved it!
She is getting to be more and more of a dare devil. Here's her new trick.
There are times when it scares me to death to see her do things like that, but I'm also glad that she has some confidence and likes to do the same kinds of things that Lance and I like!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Our Quest to Capture the Colorful Desert...

produced a few new finds. We went to the McDowell mountains again today to discover a few new flowers in bloom on different cacti.

Some of the cacti (like those above) only have a few open flowers with dozens, perhaps hundreds of buds just waiting to open, waiting for us to photograph them. The quest will continue.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

National Guard Service Completed

6 Years of public service, all during times of peril have been finished. Here are a few words on my experience.

America's newest soldier

Basic training was one of the best experiences of my life because it was so intense and unique. Everyone should do it. However, nothing else in the National Guard will compare to it and that left me a little disppointed.
Some of the better times were parachuting with the 19th Special Forces. I am in the middle here and landing on the next picture.

Unfotunatley, bordom made up the bulk of the activities on drill weekend. Here I am enjoying the great weather outside and looking forward to being finished on my last drill.

Finally, I packed up some gear never to be opened until the fall of civilization.

Now, instead of going to the motor pool, I will go to the pool. Instead of waking up and shaving, I will sleep.
I was very fortunate to not be deployed to Iraq or Afganistan during my enlistment. I did volunteer to go at one point but was rejected because I still had my wisdom teeth. In the end, it was a good thing for me. I received all of the benefits like college tutition and none of the hell of war and deployment. Still, it was amazing that I didn't die of boredom.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!!!

So my birthday really isn't until tomorrow, but since it's on Sunday, we decided to do some celebrating today by going to the Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium in Litchfield Park (northwest of here.) I think I actually liked it better than the Phoenix zoo even though it is one of those small town sort of zoos. We had a great time. Can you see the lion in the background? Skye loves to roar like lions. I couldn't resist a picture of this strange looking stork.
Lance tried to get a picture of a monkey in a palm tree, and then one came down from the tree. Unfortunately, all it wanted to do was scratch its tail.
Once Skye learns how to say something, it becomes of interest to her. She learned how to say giraffe not too long ago so she was pretty excited to see them at the zoo.
Her favorite part of the whole day was feeding the giraffe! She absolutely loved it!
This isn't a very good picture, but it shows just how happy she was.
Once again, she loved the petting zoo. She liked the animals so much that she starting putting her cheek up next to them and even tried to kiss some of them!

She was excited to see the lamas--a word she learned from watching The Emperor's New Groove.
I wasn't sure what I'd think about the aquarium, but it was actually pretty amazing. Skye loved watching the fish, sharks, and turtles. She has become a fan of sea creatures since watching Finding Nemo. It was a great way to celebrate my birthday!

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Desert Shall Bloom as a Rose

Anyone who has ever said that the desert is ugly has obviously NEVER seen the desert in bloom in the spring. It is the most beautiful place here right now. Not only do the city, the desert, and the mountains look amazing, but everywhere you go, it smells amazing too. This post (and probably others to come) is dedicated to sharing with you, the inspirational beauty we are experiencing in the desert right now. These first pictures are of wildflowers in bloom at the botanical gardens here in Phoenix.
Hummingbirds are everywhere!

I know this doesn't have wildflowers in it, but it's such a super sweet picture my mom took, that I just had to share it!
The fruit of the prickly pear. (I've never seen a prickly pear with so much fruit on it before!)
The next pictures are from around our townhome complex. Not only are there flowers or flowering bushes, but many of the trees here flower as well.

These next many pictures are ones we took in the McDowell Mountains, about an hour northereast of where we live.

Everything was so green and beautiful.

As you can see, the desert isn't just some ugly, brown, colorless place. The next four pictures were taken at South Mountain Park, just a few minutes from our house.
Isn't strange to see such beautiful, delicate flowers blooming on something with incredibly poky spines? The two just don't seem to belong together and yet...

Lance took these last pictures showing why we love Ahwatukee (the area of Phoenix we live in) so much.