June 24 – Dirty jobs, and swim meets

Tuesday night I took Savannah to a swim meet in Hannibal.  Stacey couldn’t go because she had booked herself to work the EOC.  Savannah had only swum 2 of her 6 events before the meet was called because of lightning.  Even though it’s an indoor pool, I guess they don’t take chances.  At least Savannah got to swim her best event, taking first in breast stroke.  We got a nice lightning show on the way home while it poured down rain.   It rained and thundered all night.  This upset Kane and he was barking in the garage most of the night.  Most, that is, until he accidentally opened the door with his jumping up and down and got in the house.  I woke to him running by my bed.  I put him back in the garage with a chew toy and a benadryl for good measure.  It didn’t work.  He still was barking all night.  I did not sleep well.  We got 5 inches of rain.

Wednesday morning I took the Taurus in and got it registered and plated.  After I got home Savannah and I did car detail work.  She got the interior of the Tracker detailed while I did the Taurus.  I found a hotwheel car in the trunk (a police cruiser).  Probably one of Lowell’s toys.  Stacey actually didn’t have to work the EOC, and we had a normal family night at home.  The river is falling and we’re hopeful the EOC will be dismantled in a couple of days.  We got over 5 inches of rain in 24 hours.  All the smaller local rivers are flooding too.  Surprisingly, this does not make the Mississippi go up here for us, but it affects downstream people.  We are more affected by rain in Iowa.  One consequence of all this flooding is that I have a brand new kayak and nowhere to float it.  The Mississippi is closed to any boat traffic, the smaller streams are now not safe either, and even the local state park, flooded by the Mississippi, is closed.  Arrrggghhh! 

It was another night of thunderstorms and dog barking.  Two benadryls didn’t help.  He knocked over my crate of electrical supplies.  Back to the crate for Kane. 

Thursday morning I tackled the air compressor.  It hasn’t been making more than about 20 psi.  I filled the oil and tightened the belt, but those efforts did not help.  Lowell pulled up as I was wrestling with it.  We figured out that the pump was just not making adequate compression.  It’s so old, I don’t think I can get parts for it.  That’s just great, following last night’s discovery that the carpet cleaner also has self destructed.  I went down to the rental house and fixed the garage door opener.  The front of the track where it attaches to the wall above the door had come loose.  Someone had mounted it with one lag bolt in quarter-inch plywood.  Nice.  I used 4 bolts and got one of them into a stud.  The weather kept holding so I ran out to Ferguson’s pond for a quick round of fishing.  I caught seven bass of modest size.  The last time I was out there, two years ago, I caught a bunch of huge ones.  I guess I wasn’t likely to repeat that experience.

I spooked a red-winged blackbird hen from her nest, which made it easy to find.  I think this is an eastern kingbird.
This Horse Nettle is a new one for me.  It’s a Solanum, which means it’ll get you either high or dead.  This mini-meadow of fine grass was on one bank of the lake.

Friday morning I did the two most unpleasant tasks of the summer: soot and slime were involved.  The first was the scraping and oiling of the inside of the wood furnace.  So nasty that I have to wear a face mask.  This is supposed to prevent rusting and prolong the life of the unit.  Second was to bail out the fish pond.  Not so difficult, but the bottom eight inches was mud and slime.  I found none of the minnows I put in there a month ago.  Fortunately, I found no mosquito larvae either.

After that I felt like doing nothing but sitting indoors and watching movies, which I did.  At the suggestion of a friend, I watched Grizzly Man.  Dang that guy was annoying.  By the end I couldn’t wait for the bear to eat him. 

Savannah’s friend Hannah spent the night and Saturday morning I drove them to Pittsfield for a swim meet.  An hour’s drive for me, an hour of sleep for them.  It was hot as heck, even though I had an umbrella attached to my chair for shade.  Savannah did about as usual, winning breast stroke and a relay, and placing in a few others.  I think it was her first Individual Medley ever.
Diving in.                                                                                                  Butterfly–she hates this one.
Backstroke: not too crazy about this one either.                                    Breast stroke–the favorite.

I set up a photo album on Picasa, which I will attempt to embed here.  There’s a lot more free storage available there than on Photobucket.  Let’s see if it works:

It should show up immediately above.  You must have Flash Player installed.  Unlike the actual photo album, the captions (species IDs, in this case) don’t show up.

 Sunday morning I took the first real bike ride of the year.  I took my usual route.  It was overcast and misting heavily at times.  At least it was cool, but the wind was seemingly always from the wrong direction.  There wasn’t much insect life moving, so I didn’t get many pictures.

Today I had an awesome day out at Lowell’s, but it’s late and I’m too tired to write it.  Check in next week.

June 17 – Flood fighting and dragonfly pictures

More flood news.
Tuesday I was all day in the Emergency Operations Center working the radio again.  One of my major accomplishments was obtaining some big truckloads of straw.  Otherwise, it’s facilitating communication between others and metaphorically putting out fires.  Stacey came in after work to answer phones.  We both left at midnight or so. 

Wednesday morning we woke to some great news.  The levy across the river had broken, flooding the tiny town of Meyer and a lot of farmland.  While that’s a shame, it takes pressure off of our levy.  Other levees have breached both upstream and downstream of our location, which helps us a lot.  The river dropped a foot or so over the morning.  We have made the national news on multiple outlets.  Our state reps have been around a lot, and the Governor visited today, coming in on a helicopter.  I called for medical help for a few volunteers.  We finished all sandbagging operations in the evening and sent almost everyone home.  Only the National Guard remained to patrol the levee and keep the riff-raff off of it. 

Here’s a neat shot of the firefighter gear stored temporarily in a hallway at Culver.  That’s Stacey’s Chaplain helmet in the foreground.  I think Culver’s PR person took this photo.

Thursday morning Al Roker was in Quincy and the mayor was on the Today Show being interviewed by Matt Lauer.  The Daily Show even had a fake interview from Quincy.  I reported to the EOC for radio duty again.  The river had fallen precipitously during the night.  This was good news, except that it raised alarming questions about why it had done so, as there had been no known levee breaks at the time.  The crest prediction had been lowered and delayed.  There wasn’t much to do with the radio or phones so I got some other work done on my computer.  I translated an abstract into Spanish and got my friend Carmen to proof it.  Stacey relieved me at 4.  I went home and took some pictures in the back yard.  Good thing–we had a nice thundershower afterward.  I took a nap, ate some leftover tacos, and played with my kayak accessories.  I installed an anchor trolley, but I don’t think it’s in its final form.

Yet another grey hairstreak.                                        Flies getting acquainted.

This moth looks like a lace doily.

I paid dearly for these photos, as Friday I broke out in chigger bites everywhere that elastic meets skin.  I went to my office for the first time in nearly a month.  I had volunteered to work a RAP, to register new students.  It was a fairly typical event, and I had no problem children.  I went to the pet store for mice and crickets to feed my children who have gone without for quite some time.  On my way out of town I stopped at the park on the bluff that overlooks the river.  It was an impressive sight. 

Flooded riverfront in Quincy, looking toward Quinsippi Island.

While we were in California I dug an old polaroid out of my Dad’s basement.  I think it’s my first pheasant, probably dating from 1978 or ’79.  What interests me more is the rare image of my ’71 Camaro in the background.  I still have that brown down vest you can see peeking out of my collar.  I wish I had the car instead.

Saturday I went out to Lowell’s.  He had had his own flood out there, and the evidence was all around.  It had rained so much that the lake came up several feet.  We fished a couple rounds of the lake.  I had some difficulty figuring out which lure was best, until they started hitting the blue and white spinner.  We loaded my truck with firewood and had lunch in town.  We went around the lake a couple more times, but my lucky spinner broke.  I found a similar one and modified it until it was nearly identical.  Lowell caught several bluegills, some bass and a crappie.  I caught about 17 bass, and we kept a dozen to fillet.  But first we went up to the catfish pond for a last cast.  On about my third cast a big fish hit.  After catching foot-long largemouths all day, this hawg was quite a treat.

It looked about 3.5 lb, but the scale said 2 lb 1 oz.                                   Cottonball clouds made a nice landscape of the lake.

Dragonflies were everywhere on this day, and I took advantage.  Here are just a few highlights.

The Jade Clubtail, a new addition to the virtual collection.                       Spangled skimmer–with a bite out of one wing.

Eastern Pondhawk.                                                              Eastern Amberwing.

Sunday I unloaded the firewood from the truck.  I need just a little more to complete the racks that will get us through next winter.  Unfortunately, the brush dump is currently under water.  A lot of water.  It’s on the wrong side of the levee.  I changed the oil on the Tracker, and recaulked the bathtub. 

Savannah has been lifeguarding a lot.  One of her friends asked what she used to get such a dark tan.  She should have said, “DNA.”  Instead, she said, “I’m half Portuguese.”  She worked really hard filling sand bags, and was a little disappointed when it was over.

Monday I worked the EOC radios again.  Not much was happening so I processed some images and watched a few episodes of “The Tick” live action series on Hulu.com.  At one point a Guardsman radioed in that there was a silver and black snake on the levee.  I said, “Longitudinal or lateral stripes?”  She said, “No stripes, black above, white below.”  I said, “It sounds like the northern water snake, Nerodia sipedon.  They’re not venomous but they bite like mad if you pick them up.”  That’s probably more than she wanted to know.  The highlight, though, was when I was driven along the entire levee in an ATV in the afternoon.  I had never seen many of the
se areas even when the water was down.  The places that were familiar were, well, deep underwater.  I saw some small seeps and boils.  Nothing to worry about.  The river has crested here and is falling slowly, but we won’t be at a safe level until Friday.

The brush dump lies to the left of the sign at center.  The road (Route  lies to its right.  This is the bridge over the ditch on the way to the lockhouse.

They say the current is at ~20 mph, up from its usual 2 mph.                 This black swallowtail was hitting flowers along the levee.

Tuesday Savannah and I went out to Lowell’s.  She drove the Tracker back home, while I took Lowell to Quincy in his Taurus.  He bought a Chrysler Sebring convertible, and I bought his Taurus.   The Tracker will become Savannah’s and the Taurus will be Stacey’s.  Musical cars.   When we got back we readied to go fishing, but it began to rain.  We watched TV a bit and went to town for lunch.  We went fishing on our return.  In one round of the lake Lowell caught 2 bass and a bluegill, while I caught 1 bass.  We got less than half way round again when it began to rain hard again.  We gave up.  When I got back to Canton, I got the Taurus insured and inspected.  Tomorrow, registration.

June 10 – Fighting the flood in Canton

There was a fair backlog of work to do upon our return.  Wednesday I fixed the garage door and replaced the lock/door knob assembly on the front door.  I mowed and trimmed, and pulled weeds in the prairie.  It’s been warm and humid; typical for this time of year.  I found a tick crawling on my arm, and the first chigger bite appeared between my toes already.  It seems I returned just in time for a Mississippi River Flood.  The Head Start in LaGrange, which is associated with Stacey’s office, was soon to be underwater, so we spent the evening moving playground equipment and scooping up the shredded tire playground substrate.  All was stored in higher, dryer places.  Savannah’s friends were here for a sleepover.  They stayed up late and ate a diversity of foods. 

I did get a little bit of time in the prairie with the macro lens.
Red-banded leafhopper.                                                                             Unknown moth

First monarch caterpillar of the year.                                                       Pretty blue damselfly. 

Thursday morning I helped move the appliances out of the Head Start building, and we stored them in my spare garage, where the dune buggy once lived.  I got caught up on my online teaching, then changed the oil in the Lil Egg.

Friday I spent most of the day sandbagging, or as much as my back would stand anyway.  Fortunately, we have an earth levy, not sand, and it held in ’93.  When the river gets this high we have to sandbag it though.  It was cool to see them put up the batter boards on top.  It would have made a hell of a time lapse series of photos.  Plastic sheets and sandbags will follow.

It will be interesting to see if I can get out of bed tomorrow.

Saturday morning I started out throwing sandbags.  I was sore, but not incapacitated.  Stacey was manning the phones at the Emergency Operations Center and serving as logistics officer.  She started sending me on errands, which got me out of throwing bags.  In the afternoon I went home to rest up.  I was supposed to walk the levy that night, but it was called off.  Cities up and down river are all sandbagging.  Here in Canton we are desperate for help.  The flood crest is expected to exceed that of the record 1993 level.  We need to have the majority of the sandbagging done by Sunday night to have a chance of beating it. 

Sunday I filled sandbags from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.  I did every job possible (it’s good to change the muscles you’re using): shoveling, bagging, tying and throwing.  I worked with a lot of different people who came and went during the day.  Savannah even showed up and put in an hour or so.  We were interrupted at one point by a severe thunderstorm warning, and had to run into the building.  It didn’t rain on us, but windblown sand is no fun.  Several large groups came to help out.  I had some fun teasing the teenage boys about the women prisoners.  “They haven’t seen a man in a long time.  And you KNOW they’re naughty.”  Stacey worked the EOC again after church.  She called me off of sandbagging to man phones at the EOC.  I was dirty, smelly and tired.  I took a shower, went up there and learned the ropes.  We knocked off at 11.

Monday I worked the phones until about 4.  Good thing.  My hands were in no shape for sandbagging.  Other muscle groups were mostly quiet.  It was a crazy day at the EOC.  I was mostly working the radio, coordinating communication among our people with portable radios all over town.  One of my major accomplishments was arranging trash pick-up at all our sites.  I also got the lock and dam people to call us with the river stage periodically.  Savannah would say, “You want a cookie?” 
The river is supposed to crest in 2 or 3 days.  At one point, a record high level (exceeding the 1993 level) was predicted.  This has been revised down to just below the record level.  At the time of this writing the river has just fallen a bit and we don’t know why.  It’s a mystery, but a good one.  It will probably help us a lot, as the crest will probably be lower than currently expected.
When I was done I went down to the bag-filling site, where Savannah and her friends were sandbagging.  I helped out for awhile, until I was asked to go to the levy and throw bags.  I jumped at the chance, as I had been wanting to work near the river on a seemingly more interesting job.  It kicked my ass. The pace was intense.  It was like doing 1000 curls with 20 pounds as fast as you can.  OK, maybe 100 curls.  It was neat to see the campground about 8 feet under water, and you could tell the current was very fast out in the middle.  I retired at 8 and went home to recover.  Savannah and Hannah were still going strong filling bags.  The whole parking lot where this happens looks like an ant colony.  It’s fascinating, in a way.

While in the EOC I worked with a student named Suzan Stott.  She had been out taking photos the previous day.  I have not been able to do so, and I was thankful for getting access to her pics.

The railroad crossing down by the park.  There’s a stop sign in front of the right hand RR sign.  You’re looking at a spot where I’ve photographed dragonflies and butterflies, and now would have water over my head.

This is a decent shot of the batterwall on top of the levy.  It raises the effective height of the levy by two feet.  The levy is about 3 miles long and makes a crescent around the town.  There is sheet plastic on the side facing the river, anchored with staples and two layers of sandbags.  What I helped do today was add more bags until they reached up to the top of the boards (OSB framed by 2x4s).  You can see that it is supported by 4×4 posts, T posts and 2×4 braces.

May 31 – California

Saturday, May 31, we got up early.  Deon took Stacey to the airport, while Savannah and I headed west to California.  We passed a pile of spilled onions in an intersection.  It looked kind of like Styrofoam balls had been run over.  We got to Dave and Chris’s in Redlands in the early afternoon, and went to town for Thai food.  Afterward we went to a Bass pro Shops in Rancho Cucamonga and looked around.  Dave Jones is my old buddy from college.  I hadn’t seen him in 20 years, except for a few hours last year when I stopped by while passing through town.  Their boy Zachary is very cute and well behaved.  It must have been strange for Dave to see my daughter, fully grown at 16, for the first time.  They were great hosts, and we had a good time.

Dave keeps a very nice back yard.  Western fence lizard.  California poppy.

A flock of introduced parrots frequents the neighborhood. 

Sunday we all loaded up and went to Newport Beach.  It was much as I remembered it.  It was a bit cool, and the water was only 67 F.  After a lengthy adjustment period, I attempted to boogie board with Dave’s board, but I couldn’t catch up with the waves.  Savannah enjoyed lying in the sun and playing in the waves.  It was her first time swimming in salt water.  We walked the beach looking for shells, dug for sand crabs, ate snacks, and generally enjoyed the typical Southern California experience.  When we’d had enough of that, we rented kayaks and paddled around Newport Harbor, which was fun.  It’s a lot more difficult paddling a double kayak than my own, especially when Savannah is not helping!  We had dinner at the Crab Cooker and headed home, pleasantly tired and slightly sunburnt. 
Savannah’s first day at the beach.                                                          Chris, Zach and Dave.

Kayaking Newport Harbor

On the way back we drove through our alma mater, UC Riverside.  It has changed a lot.  Many new buildings.  Still some things were recognizable.  I thought I might never see it again, and it was neat to be able to show it to Savannah.  That evening we completed the Southern California experience: just after we’d gone to bed, I heard a distant rumble.  It rolled toward me like a wave and shook the house.  A 2.2 earthquake hit, and we were near the epicenter.  There was a small aftershock about 20 minutes later, and another at about 2 a.m. that I felt.  Dave said there were a dozen, but most were presumably below the level of detection for average humans. 

Monday morning we said our goodbyes, Savannah and I left and headed north.  We hit some traffic in Pasadena, but got around it using the carpool lane.  On the Grapevine I spent over $4/gallon for gas for the first time.  It was inevitable, especially on this trip.  Driving up the Central Valley was about as dull as usual, but at least it wasn’t very hot.  We arrived mid-afternoon to see Dad.  We saw Kristen and Jordan next door shortly thereafter.  Jordan sure looks a lot like my brother Mark, his grandfather.  Mike, Cindy and Racin came over for a little while and we visited.  Kristen barbequed chicken for dinner.  In spite of battling constant fires, she did a good job.  
Tuesday I raked up the sticks in the yard, remnants of a recent wind storm, loaded them in Dad’s truck and dumped them in Mike’s new burn pile.  I mowed the lawn too, which seemed easy since it’s about one-tenth the size and density of mine.  Kristen’s basement had flooded recently.  While surveying the damage, I noticed a couple of dead young bunnies, apparently drowned.  As visiting biologist, it seemed an appropriate job for me to remove them.  We went to Marlene’s for awhile and out to lunch.  On the way, we saw a pheasant rooster cross the road.  We ate at Black Bear restaurant, which had excellent hamburgers.  We took a nap when we got home, and I was awakened by a tremendous rocking of the trailer.  For a moment I thought it was Savannah doing it, but quickly realized it could only be my brother Mike.  We were preparing to go ride motorcycles and four wheelers when I showed him a small water leak in Dad’s basement.  We traced it to the water heater.  Hence, the rest of the afternoon was spent replacing the water heater, and repairing a subsequent pipe leak.  We never got to ride, though I took a short trip on the four wheeler after dinner. 

A massive gopher snake crossed the yard while we were working on the water heater.

Wednesday we took Dad over to Matthew’s in the Lil Egg.  From there, we all got in Matthew’s CR-V and he drove us to Monterey.  It was neat to see the California hills on the way.  We went to the aquarium, and, of course, it was awesome.  I especially like the jellies exhibit.  They don’t shortchange the invertebrates there.  We had lunch at a local eatery and walked through a dozen or so shops.  On the drive back, everyone slept except Matthew.  We had dinner at his house.  Carolyn was there, and we got to meet her daughter Vanessa for the first time.  She seemed very nice. 
Black Sea Nettle.                                                                                        Purple-striped Jelly

Sea Nettles                                                                                                 Crystal Jelly

A diver feeds fish in one of the big aquaria.                                             A recovering Red-necked Phalarope, a shorebird.

School of baitfish.                                                                    Colony of sea anemones.

Fanworm                                                                         Savannah runs into Obama
Carolyn’s nice backyard plant collection includes this lily.                         Savannah’s artsy shot of windmills in the hills.

Thursday morning we went over to Marlene’s, swam and hung out while Dad and she went to Costco.  In the afternoon we went the short distance to Mike’s house, where we played Rock Band, sat in the hot tub, and had a BBQ steak dinner.
Unknown weed at the ranch.  I kept looking for black widows to photograph.  This young female was the best I could do.

Crows were abundant at the ranch. 

Friday morning Savannah and I went to Los Vaqueros Watershed regional park and hiked around a bit.  We accidentally hiked a closed trail and got told about that.  We saw a fair bit of wildlife, including a golden eagle and a snake (smooth green, I think), that I’ve never seen before.  We bought fresh cherries from a fruit stand on the way home.  We don’t get those much in Missouri, and they were great.  We went to Pee Wee Muldoon’s for lunch, and Mike and Racin showed up to join us.  We went back to the ranch and Mike got all the motorcycles running.  Mike and Racin rode their own dirt bikes, while I drove Dad’s quad with Savannah riding on the back.  We rode over all the dirt roads and fields in the neighborhood.  It was tons of fun, and we saw a jackrabbit, a relative rarity around here.  Savannah learned to ride my Honda Trail 70 later, and Dad rode his quad for the first time in years.  I rode Mike’s Honda XR 350.  I had never ridden an adult dirt bike before, for some reason.  It was fast and super smooth; very fun.  Melissa put in a surprise appearance that evening.  Savannah and Kristen cooked dinner.

Morning glory in Marlene’s back yard (she’ll like this one).                       Wasp on morning glory (she WON’T like this one).  

A mockingbird catches a bug in Marlene’s lawn and flies off with it.

A tiki carved by my late brother-in-law, James Mann, I think.                   Savannah blasts Racin with a noodle.
Mike gives Savannah a ride in his 1927 Ford.
Bumblebee at the Watershed.                                       I need to look up this snake.  Some kind of racer, I think.

Savannah, Racin, Mike                                                                             Dad puts some miles on his ATV

On my Honda Trail 70, restored by Mike.                                                  Mike and Jordan ride on the quad–very slowly.

Saturday morning we packed up everything.  We drove to Mike’s, then to Marlene’s, and caravanned up to Mark’s in Woodland.  I had never been there before, and it’s quite a tortuous route to get there, though with nice rural scenery.  His house is every bit the mansion I’d been told about.  Mathew and Carolyn were already there.  We barbequed, drank beer, told stories, and generally had a good time.  Everyone left in the evening, except for Savannah and me (and Alex’s parents and their friends who had already been there visiting).  We sat in the hot tub and swam a bit after the wind died down.  I tried out Mark’s fancy mask and snorkel, which was cool.  We spent the night, and it was the first time Mark had a full house. 
A Swainson’s hawk flies over Mark’s house.   A flame skimmer in his back yard.

The siblings, in order: Matthew, Marlene, Mike, Mark and … Joe.  Who do you think is the black sheep? (photo by Savannah)

In the morning Alex made a nice pancake breakfast.  After stuffing ourselves and downing plenty of coffee, Savannah and I packed up and hit the road east.  We stopped in Fallon, Nevada for gas and crossed the rest of the state and most of Utah on Highway 50 before stopping for the night in Salina.  We saw some interesting wildlife along the way: pronghorn antelope (including a big buck), foxes, prairie dogs and hawks.  It was the first time I had see ATVers on Sand Mountain, and it gave me enough perspective to see that it’s HUGE.  We stayed at a Super 8 Motel, from which I wrote this portion of the narrative. 

Monday morning we got the free breakfast and hit the road again—in the wrong direction.  After about 20 minutes I figured out that the sun was in the wrong place.  We turned around and headed east again.  Colorado was beautiful, of course.  I let Savannah drive when we got to the straight, flat, boring part of Kansas.  Oh, yeah.  That’s all of it.  We have found we enjoy the audio books on CD.  We heard The Island, a mystery/romance, Dragonblood, a new dragonriders of Pern book, and Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull.  The only difficulty is that if you fall asleep during a critical plot twist, you lose your way in the story.  We spent the night in Hays, where, incredibly, we watched V for Vendetta, as I had last year at this same point in the trip.

Tuesday morning we got up, showered, ate breakfast and hit the road again.  Savannah fell asleep immediately.  The time change does not favor us in this direction.  The trip was uneventful and we got home at about 4:30, with about 4876 miles added to the Lil Egg.

I’d like to thank everyone who put us up and put up with us.  You know who you are!


May 29 – Arizona, Part 2

Tuesday morning we went to a nearby zoo. It was pretty good, as small zoos go (wildlifeworldzoo.com). They seemed to have a lot of birds (especially turacos) and small primates. The kids really enjoyed it.
Military macaw                                                                   Red-crested Pochard
Agouti                                                                                                     Tiger watching passing children

Monkeys hanging around                                                Monkey almost completely covered in black fur

Savannah feeds giraffe.                                                                               Hayden feeds goat  
Sable, arguably the most beautiful of African ungulates.                           I think they planted these agaves to keep people from jumping out of the skyride.   

King vulture.                                                                   East African crowned crane
Mother and baby monkey.                                                                        Stacey, Kaylee, Hayden, Savannah, Deon 

We had lunch at Chipotle Mexican Grill, where you can build your own (huge) burrito.  I had barbacoa in mine.  You don’t find that just anywhere.  It reminded me of the beef in traditional Portuguese sopas.  Afterward, Stacey and I went to a big outlet mall north of Phoenix.  It was mostly clothing stores.  We hit a Sports Chalet and Barnes & Noble on the way back.

Wednesday, Deon, Savannah and I went on a hike at a nearby natural area, White Tank Mountain Regional Park.  We took a short looping trail up to a “waterfall”.  There was a puddle for a plunge pool, and no water was running at the time.  It’s probably better after a hard rain.  We did see an incredible array of wildlife along the way, and took lots of pictures, of course.  I hadn’t seen a horned lizard or a collared lizard in 20 years, even more for a chuckwalla.  Without my field guides handy, my identifications are tentative.

Horned lizard, Phrynosoma spp.   He’s well camouflaged.  And spiny.
Side-blotched lizard Uta stansburiana                                                      Western whiptail   
Ammophila wasp                                                                                        Grasshopper

Chuckwalla, Sauromalus ater                                Deon & Savannah under the waterfall

Collared lizard Crotaphytus collaris.  They’re pretty, even when not in breeding color. 
Two new butterflies for me: A lycaenid, the Marine Blue.                           Empress Leilia
A petroglyph, of which there were many here, some obvious, others like this one indecipherable.  Savannah , in her natural element

Meanwhile, Stacey was watching the kids and taking them to WalMart.  She had it all under control when we got home.  We all took naps in the afternoon, then had some pool time in the back yard.  Thursday we went to Big Surf water park.  They had lots of slides, a wave pool, and areas for the little kids.  It wasn’t too crowded, so the lines weren’t long.