IMG_8018The Peach-faced Lovebirds are back. They visit our yard every winter, arriving in group of thirty or so, and taking up accommodation in the desert willow trees behind the house.

Despite their bright coloration, we hear them before we see them.  They hide in the dense foliage of the trees, and announce their presence with their short shrill chirps.

Peach-faced LovebirdsLovebirds are not native to this area, they are from a small arid area in Africa, and have long been imported as pets. The common theory for their proliferation in the wild in the Sonoran Desert is a release (unintentional or otherwise) from a local aviary in Phoenix, AZ.

They quickly acclimated and are not dependent on handouts from people to survive in the wild. They are less shy than many of the other birds, allowing me to approach for photographic opportunities.

Peach-faced LovebirdsThey have increased their territory to New Mexico, according to some reports, but their main population seems concentrated in the Valley.  They are a nice addition to the generally earthtone birds that we see locally. They concentrate around populated residential areas.

IMG_8014Generally the introduction of an exotic species intoa new environment causes irreparable damage to the local ecosystem.  Fortunately, this does not seem to be the case with the Lovebirds. They are not encroaching on the habitat of local species, and are integrating rather nicely. This is good, since they have no natural predators in this area.

It was estimated a few years ago thatthere were hundreds in the Phoenix area, but our little enclave of thirty or so indicates to me that the population has been underestimated.

While other parrots have been released from aviaries, intentionally or otherwise, none have survived and reproduced in the wild locally. Lovebirds seem particularly acclimated to the dry desert conditions here that mimic their natural habitat.

Kirk McBride website updates

website Kirk McBrideKirk McBride made some major updates to his website this week.

We updated his 2015 workshop schedule, and he added dozens of new paintings to his galleries.

Hackberry Spring, an unexpected detour

Hackberry Spring hikeToday, Liz and I hiked the Hackberry Spring trail. We had intended to hike only to Hackberry Spring and back, a short hike. We missed the turn off for the trail, and instead headed all the way to Garden Valley. Our five-mile hike turned into more than eight miles.

The hike to Hackberry Spring begins just north of the horse trailer parking on First Water. he path becomes rocky very quick, heading into a pass between two mountains. The trail follows a wash; and there was a lot of water in the spring as we wound our way along the trail.

The trail criss-crosses the wash, and with the lush vegetation was a bit convoluted at times. This trail is rockier than most, although still considered easy. Read more

Ringed-Neck Turtle Doves

Ring-Necked Turtle DovesWe have a variety of winged wildlife frequenting our yard. Most are desert birds, with plumage of varying shades of gray and tan. Even our hummingbirds are a Sienna brown.

The larger doves seem to control the territory, and dictate what other birds they will tolerate in their kingdom when they are around. Read more

Black Mesa loop

Black Mesa hikeToday Liz and I hiked the Black Mesa loop. This is a 9-mile hike with a 900 foot gain in elevation, considered a moderate hike.

It took us 5 1/2 hours to complete – we took two 15-minute rest stops along the way.

The day was wonderfully overcast, lending to some great photo ops and a pleasant afternoon. We never got too warm.

Read more

It’s a New Year

Field and Stream TrailerIt is now 2015, and I have to get used to writing a new date. Maybe by June I will stop writing 2014 on the paperwork I sign 15 times a night at work…

This week I finally earned a week’s vacation time – and I have three days of personal time – I took one sick day this past year, and used the rest of the 40 hours during the holidays so that we could have four-day weekends.

It is almost 80 degrees today – as the Midwest and the Northeast are getting hammered with a cold front. We had our snow last week – and two days of frost – our winter is over!

I continue with demolition of the inside of the trailer – half of the interior walls have been ripped out, exposing the skeleton. It appears that a run to the landfill will be in order later this week.


To the Big House

Liz and I took a day trip to the Casa Grande ruins this morning.

Entrance to the Casa

The ruins date to circa 1350 C.E., and were constructed by the Hohokam, the earliest known inhabitants of this region of Arizona. Evidence of the Hohokam dates back to 350 C.E., when they created a massive network of canals for irrigation. The Hohokam might have roamed the desert as early as 2000 B.C.

These canals are the basis of our modern canal system, and modern man has done little to improve on them. The Hohokam were an agrarian society, occupying villages year round, cultivating and growing cotton, corn and tobacco among other crops. Read more

Happy New Year

IMG_7828Snow on the Superstitions

The last time the Superstitions had a cap of snow was two years ago; Liz and my first winter here.

Prior to that snow, it was 35 years since the last snow. Read more

Demolition Continues

lot of work to do Down to the bones…
Every day I rip out more of the paneling, pealing off layers of skin to reveal the ugly skeletal underbelly.

I knew there would be some issues towards the rear of the trailer, but I was not really expecting what I found.

Bothrotting wood?  NO wood! corners were rotted for about a third of the length – the left rear bottom frame is totally gone. There is basically nothing holding the back together except for caulk and a few sheet metal screws. It was a tad bit worse than I was expecting, although certainly not an insurmountable obstacle.

rotting frameI now have a good reason to acquire a band saw – time to check out Craig’s List!

Happy New Year!
Well, it is finally New Years Eve. I completed another three-day marathon at work, extra long shifts at night so that we could have a four-day vacation.

We are celebrating at home; Mike, and Tami and Kim are coming over. Liz is cooking the turkey, the Twilight Zone marathon is on TV, and it is unseasonably rainy and cold outside. They are even predicting snow in the area – I moved out of NJ to get away from the cold!


Under my skin

tearing out the wallsThe first step in restoration of our Field and Stream trailer is triage. Ascertain the extent of damage, first aid to prevent further damage.

The pack rat was rather rudely evicted. About three cubic yards of hoarded debris has been removed.

I had to remove the “kitchen” – the cabinets and counter hosting the sink, ice cooler and oven. I didn’t think that the oven and cooler looked vintage – well, not 1953 vintage. The exterior paint job is definitely not period color or pattern.

As I began carefully dismantling the counter, I saw that there were quite a few non-original modifications to the inside structure. I found newspaper used as padding or insulation dating to 1975, which pretty much dates the previous restoration attempt.

I had this laughable plan to dismantle the inside walls intact, so that they could be used as templates for the lauan that will be used to replace all of the interior walls and ceiling. Hah! At least I will have a lot of kindling for the fire pit!

I ripped out most of the left interior wall, and the ceiling around the skylight, hoping to see the extent of the water damage that was apparent from the warped and moldy paneling. I am pleased to see that the damage to the skeleton is not extensive, and that repairs and replacement of the “bones” should be fairly straightforward.  Of course, I have not ripped out the floor and had a good view of the bottom of the frame.

Anyway, the more I research, the less formidable this project seems; I am not aiming for a historic restoration but rather to have a sturdy and serviceable trailer on a budget.  While the outside will look retro, the inside will be comfortable.