Desert Rain

What I love about the Chicago suburbs is that there are forest preserves along many of the major highways. I love pulling over and taking a walk in the woods. (Not quite as much in the winter months though.)  In these months, I go looking for some green in the desert after the recent rains. In the “Valley of the Sun,” you’ll not find forest preserves, but Sonoran Desert Preserves with easy trail access. And there I found:

Grassy Desert

Green!

We were hiking in the Cave Creek Preserve area, about thirty-five miles due north of a more well-known landmark, Camelback Mountain:

Camelback in the distance

The plant in the foreground is one of my favorite in the desert. I gasped when we came around a bend and faced a field of them! (The photo doesn’t capture just how “surrounded” you feel by these interesting plants reaching skyward.)  Folks try to grow these for domestic landscape use, but they seldom seem to fare well. In the natural world after the big rain, these are looking especially lush.

Must find out what they're called

Like many varieties in the desert, they aren’t as friendly as they look though:

I’ll go back when they bloom. These will turn into what look like orange tags. They’ve got quite the flair against the green:

Quite the dramatic vegetation. Here’s another, imploring “Y!” against the bright blue sky:

Y? Because it rained! Here’s what’s left of the rain… (We’d come four days earlier and this was a running wash…it sure disappears quickly!)

Where waterfall had been!

Just a trickle remains:

Back through the wash on our way out. Most things happen slowly in the desert. Moist things disappear quickly:

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Sorry I’m Out…

Windshield Thinking

I'm Windshield Thinking

…please visit me at windshieldthinking.wordpress.com

See you en route!

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‘Tis the Season…For Hummingbirds!?

The first holiday I ever spent in a warmer climate was: Thanksgiving, 1989 on Captiva Island in Florida.  I said to myself, “hmmm, this isn’t so bad!!

This year, I spent Christmas in Phoenix and we were visited by a winged angelic creature – a hummingbird.

I used to be bummed as kid in Chicago when I got a bike or skateboard and the streets were filled with snow — that, or it’d be so cold, it’d chase the likes of me back indoors in a hurry!!  In Phoenix, when you find out you’ve gotten photography lessons, you can run outside and practice for awhile with your newest lens.

Christmas flight:

wings

wings!

more wings!

green

the "usual" hummingbird photo

again

neck?

feet!

lovely.

satisfied

less than satisfied

It does get chilly here…this is frost on December 24, 2009.  Tee-times delayed by hours and hours!!

Troon Golf

I know, I know…life is rough!

Happy holidays wherever you may be…

(And joking aside, “please be safe”…just finished reading msn.com about weather hazards.)

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Doctor’s Orders? Breakfast and Christmas on the Fly at D.V. Aiport

Christmas at Deer Valley Airport

Survived the doctor’s visit on “Bloody Basin Road” (heehee, scary!) so went for a big breakfast at Deer Valley Airport’s restaurant before finding out that we need to watch cholesterol?

Breakfast!

Love to watch the runways:

Take-Off

Pre-flight done, this guy’s ready to taxi:

Ready to Taxi

We are ready for pie!

PIE!

OK, the doctor will be pleased to know, we skipped the dang pie!  But I just love these display cases!  In case you want to go:

Deer Valley Airport & Restaurant

Deer Valley Airport Restaurant

…and Merry Christmas:

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Desert Winter Sunset, Moon Moves In

December 19, 2009

Hello moon:

I’m learning to take pics and I realized there’s nothing around the moon to give it perspective.  When my husband climbed the ladder to do a measurement, that’s when I saw my “frame”:

So I tried working with it:

Distance to the Moon

Without measuring:

Crossbeams, Moonbeams

What do you think?

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Scottsdale Spectacular on the Lake

McCormick Ranch, off Scottsdale Rd

You can’t miss this great light show on the east side of Scottsdale Road at the entrance to McCormick ranch…the great thing too was..

so many lights

…as I stood outside and got closer to the tree…walking on the grass toward it…what was I hearing…

inside the limbs and lights

…GEESE!!  There were what appeared to be at least a hundred of them floating on the lake in the darkness.  They did make themselves heard though.

Wonder if they were honking, “Merry Christmas?”

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Atwood Cafe in the Hotel Burnham

State Street Entrance

Gleaming floors and vintage Chicago warmth welcome you to the Hotel Burnham via the State Street entrance.  Just to your left in the photo (above) are the open doors that lead you right to the Atwood Cafe where you’ll find:

Cozy Views of State Street

Afternoon sunlight spilling in from Washington Avenue

Afternoon sunlight spilling in from Washington Avenue

Yes, we had to wait 90 minutes (this is how we spent it), but it was worth it!  (Make a reservation if you’d rather not take the scenic route to lunch!)  If you love food and quotes, the menus here will bring delight:

Temptation

However, a bloody mary is only truly tempting if I can add fresh horseradish ~ and there was none available.  (Note to self: pack fresh horseradish.) Kidding.  I’d never admit that I would do that!

On to ordering:

Lemon poached loch duart salmon nicoise

VERY pleased with my salmon nicoise salad.  It was a “big salad” as stated on the menu and the salmon was perfectly prepared.  (Sometimes cooked salmon can get “fishy” on me and I love fish so it’s really off-putting when it goes so far that I don’t like it.)  You’ll note the pickle and onion off to the left side – garnishments of the angus burger across the table that didn’t have a chance of being photographed!  The salt-pepper fries were outstanding, too!

** I had a really tough time choosing: would love to hear if you’ve had the “crispy lobster rangoon” or the “graham cracker fried calamari”…**

We’d have ordered more main course food but it was the day after Thanksgiving and we thought we’d surely be satiated with what we’d ordered.  We were pleased that we underestimated our bellies since that left room for a bit of dessert (ok, we were plenty full but the dessert menu had so many options!)

Mid-way through warm Michigan apple-walnut dumpling

I show you this dish, already slightly devoured – an homage to the aroma, the appearance of this delectable dessert – irresistible.  I lost my head.  The camera-phone slipped to the floor.  It was the “When Harry Met Sally” Meg Ryan diner moment.  Phew.  Ok.  You get the idea.

Peppermint always brings a girl back to her senses, so it was the white peppermint hot chocolate for me:

That IS a giant homemade marshmellow!

In the end, yes, we felt like we could leave the table with an “oink” but we came in just under the advisory of a very well known celebrity:

Pig with sage advice

The quote above is from the dessert menu and is well heeded advice, there are so many desserts here I’d like to try.

Thanks in advance for recommendations ~ OR if you haven’t tried one, which one sounds too good to pass up for next time!?

warm roasted banana-white chocolate bread pudding
banana caramel
$8.00
lemon-buttermilk panna cotta
summer berry compote, fresh mint
$8.00
fresh key lime tart
toasted coconut crust, blackberry coulis
$8.00
summer strawberry shortcake
vanilla-butter pound cake, lemon custard, chantilly cream
$8.00
fried fresh peach pies
cashew brittle, bourbon sauce , vanilla bean gelato
$8.00
brown sugar cheesecake
creamy butterscotch sauce
$8.00
warm tart cherry dumpling
lemon curd gelato, apricot compote
$8.00
vanilla bean crème brûlée
fresh raspberries
$8.00
dark chocolate soufflé cake
rum zabaione, chocolate sauce
$8.00
gelato and sorbet
selections vary daily
$7.00
prairie fruits farm artisan cheese plate
little bloom on the prairie: Champaign, Illinois
krotovina: Champaign, Illinois
roxanne: Champaign, Illinois

FYI: The Atwood Cafe is located at 1 West Washington, Chicago, IL 60602

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