Blooming in Sedona

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Cactus outside our rental house.

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We had honeysuckle bushes at our rental house. I haven’t smelled honeysuckle bushes since we left Atlanta 11 years ago. Do they not grow in Florida? I just realized I hadn’t seen any where we live now. I miss that smell.

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Flowering cactus.

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More cactus.

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The golf course at Seven Canyons was full of these flowers. They lined most of the fairways.

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Prickly pear.

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Agave plant. I would love to have these in my backyard. I’ve never seen one in Florida though.

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More cactus.

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Flowers on the golf course.

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Agave plant up close.

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I found this on the golf course. It’s probably a weed but I thought it was cool.

So many great plants considering we hardly saw any grass. The golf course where we stayed had beautiful plants all around. One morning Beth and I rode the golf carts with the guys and watched them play golf. It was a beautiful relaxing morning. Although at every stop I would jump out of the cart and run around and take pictures.  We saw a lot of agave plants on our jeep tour through the red rocks of Sedona. More on that later.

A view of Sedona – Skywatch Friday

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On the way to our rental house in Sedona.

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The view from the Chapel of the Holy Cross.

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You can just barely see the moon coming up on the right of the two fingers.

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The Chapel of the Holy Cross. It was build right into the side of the rock.

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The view of Sedona taken from the airport.

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The road back down from the airport. Taken in the car. Sedona has a small private airport but you can drive up to it and walk around outside.

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One night we drove down to Cottonwood which was about 30 minutes south of Sedona for dinner. We could see the smoke coming from the big wildfires in Prescott nearby.

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The view from the golf course at Seven Canyons Resort.

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A panorama taken with my Iphone while sitting on the golf cart waiting for hubby to tee off. The view from every hole was amazing. I’m not a golfer but it was perfect morning to ride along in the cart.

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Another hole at the golf course. One of the few places we saw water. Sedona was having a drought and the short rainy season didn’t start until July. Every creek was dried up.

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Last shot of the day.

“God created the Grand Canyon but lives in Sedona”. I had read that somewhere there. Coming from flat Florida, the rock formations were amazing.  They were everywhere. And looked different from every angle. The big things to do in Sedona are hiking, camping, golfing or spa stuff. We didn’t do a lot of long hikes since we were still tired from hiking in the Grand Canyon. I did get a little tired of being dusty all the time.  Since there was a drought, dirt swirled around everywhere we went. The only grass I saw was on the golf course. It’s weird seeing all dirt in people’s yards. Although, hubby said it’s really no different from always being sweaty all of the time in Florida. Which is what we did as soon as we stepped out of the airport back home. Unloading the luggage at 11pm and I was already sweaty.

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Animals in Arizona

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My first western kingbird.

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Two juvenile kingbirds. The parent was close by in the next tree.

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A zone tailed hawk being chased by a cooper’s hawk. Thanks to Jeremy at AZ Bird Brains for the id. The zone tailed is a first for me.

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On the hike back up the Grand Canyon, we stopped to rest in a shade spot. I heard a noise behind me and the above juvenile robin was watching us.

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White breasted nuthatches were all over the Grand Canyon park. They were pretty skittish though. I couldn’t get close with my 105mm lens.

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I had my wide-angle lens with me when we went to the Sedona airport to take pictures of the rock formations and I happened to notice these two flies having a party. They let me get pretty close.

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Another critter on the trail back up the Grand Canyon. We were resting (which we did often) and this squirrel stopped in the shade, laid down and covered himself in dust. I guess that’s his way of cooling off. The dirt in the shade was probably cooler. There were big signs everywhere about not feeding the squirrels and how they will bite you and give you diseases. Lots of nasty pictures on the signs in case you can’t read English. We still saw people feeding them. What does it take?

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Bunnies were everywhere. This one was near the airport.

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I only saw a few lizards. They were much bigger than the ones running around my yard.

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Another bunny running around the golf course.

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The view near our house. There is a small deer in the bottom right corner.

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Right in front of our house. We came back from dinner one night and they were there. We only saw deer at dusk or dark. They must come out on the golf course when they know it will be empty.

Animals were everywhere in Arizona. I was going to concentrate on landscape pictures and only brought my smaller lenses with me but I kept getting tempted to take pictures of them even though they were usually too far away for me to get a good shot. The first morning we woke up at our rental house in Sedona, we had breakfast out on the back patio and birds were everywhere. We had a house finch nest up in the roof with the parents darting in and out. We had 3 empty hummingbird nests in the bushes along the house. We saw several hummingbirds but I could never get a shot with a 105mm lens. I saw my first steller’s jay and spotted towhee but the pictures are so bad I didn’t want to post them. The highlight was the western kingbird. The golf course was full of them. I will absolutely bring my longer lens on my next visit.

Hiking the Grand Canyon

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Our 2nd day in Arizona we got up early and headed out to do more sight-seeing at the Grand Canyon. We decided to hike down the 3 mile trail. That’s 1 and a half down and 1 and a half back up. It’s barely half way down in this canyon.

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This was the view as we started down. We brought plenty of water and snacks (apples, nuts and granola bars).

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A little farther down it started to feel like we were getting into the canyon. The scary thing was as we were quickly walking down, people were on their way back up and they looked rough. Everyone looked exhausted and hot. I was thinking “That’s going to be us soon.”

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A little ways down, you can see Jerry across the canyon in the blue tshirt. He was taking pictures of us taking pictures of him.

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After an hour, you can see the trail we have still have to wind down. Someone at the beginning of the trail had told me to take lots of pictures going down because you won’t feel like it going back up. Boy, were they right.

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Still going down.

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Hubby, Beth and Jerry where ahead of me  most of the time since I kept stopping to take pictures. Here they are down the trail.

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Some parts were really narrow. No railing. I can’t even image riding a donkey down this trail. We didn’t see any on trail the day we were there.

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Under one of the rock formations.

Hubby and I made it almost all the way down. We turned around right before the end and started heading back up. By then my knees were so wobbly and shaky. Going up was hard. It was a steep incline on the bottom half of the trail. We’d stop every 10 minutes and rest and drink water. As people passed us on the way down they would give us that “Am I going to look like that coming back up?” look. We did the same thing going down. There was a constant stream of people going up and down.  After resting a while when we got back up to the top I wasn’t as tired as I thought I would be. We walked around the area, looking around the hotel and shops at the top of the rim. Later in the day we got back in the car and headed for Sedona.

Sunset at the Grand Canyon – Skywatch Friday

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Our first day at the Grand Canyon and we had to stay for sunset. Right before dark we made our way down to the last look out point at the south rim, Hermit’s Point. The sun going down on the canyon was beautiful even though it created a lot of shadows.

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This time of the year the sun goes down far to the left so it was not as perfect as I had wanted.

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I struggled to get the canyon visible in the sunset shot. You can just barely see the Colorado river to the right. It’s weird how perfectly flat the top of the grand canyon looks. It’s like someone took a ruler and cut it off flat on the top. (Yes, I do know who that someone is.)

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Everyone getting that last shot. That’s Beth in the white sweater on the left, focusing to get the perfect shot.

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Almost down.

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A teeny bit more to go.

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Only a sliver left. Once it was dark, we hopped back on the shuttle bus back to the parking lot. I climbed in the back seat of our rental car and was going to try to take a nap on the way back to Flagstaff. The road was bumpy so I barely dozed. I had been on two planes early that morning to get there so I was tired but used up every second of daylight at the canyon. About a half an hour back to Flagstaff I felt the car come to a stop. It was after 9:30 at this point. I opened my eyes and looked up and saw a large elk with beautiful antlers slowly walking across the two lane road. He stopped for a second and looked at the car. No one else was on the road.  We all sat there silently for a few seconds as he walked across and then he darted into the woods on the other side. I broke the silence by saying “Did I just dream that?” It was quite a moment. Hubby was like “Where’s your camera? Why didn’t you take a picture?” It was already packed up for the night and the elk was gone so fast. It was kind of nice to just enjoy the moment on our first night in Arizona.

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My first glimpse of the Grand Canyon – Skywatch Friday

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We flew into Flagstaff and after dumping our stuff at the hotel, we headed for the Grand Canyon. This was our view along the way.

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Lots of small farms in the middle of nowhere. Although, we were only a half hour outside of Flagstaff so it’s not that remote. The scenery on the drive over was beautiful. Lots of forest, mountains and tumbleweeds.

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Peaking over the edge, this was my first glimpse.

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It was breathtaking!

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Scraggly dead trees were everywhere. They looked like trees you would see in a haunted movie.

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We walked for a while. Looking over the rim at each point.

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Of course, late in the afternoon, the sun was coming in hard. There were shadows everywhere and the colors across the canyon looked washed out.

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The view back to Flagstaff. We passed a big wind farm.

I’m going to be at risk of boring you with my tons of vacation pictures. Hubby and I took a week off and went to Arizona with some friends near the end of June. It was our first trip to Arizona. Really, my first real vacation out west, excluding many work trips to Las Vegas. We spent two days at the Grand Canyon and two days in Sedona. I took about a billion pictures. Both with my Nikon and my Iphone. I wanted to travel light so I did not take my longer lenses. I only took my 18-105mm and my wide angle lens. This was going to be a landscape only trip, no animals. But I couldn’t resist taking tons of pictures of the birds we saw. All with my 105mm lens. I’ll be posting tons more about our week later but wanted to kick it off on July 4th. Nothing says “Happy 4th of July” like the Grand Canyon.

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