Saturday, January 19, 2008

Honeybee Canyon hike

I went for a very peaceful hike today in Honeybee Canyon with friends Gregg and Pat. Honeybee Canyon is located northwest of Tucson and runs through a portion of the Rancho Vistoso housing developments. We had all been planning on checking out this area for some time, and today was the day.

Most of the hike is up a sandy shallow canyon that had a trickle of water running down it. The saguaros in this area seem very healthy and are very impressive in height, number of arms, and how they were rooted in what seemed like bare rock. This is a great area to go look at some truly beautiful saguaros!

A desert giant. Should be over 100 years old.

Rock art about halfway up the canyon. What does it mean?

We continued up out of the canyon and hiked cross country up to a small ridge that had really nice views of Honeybee wash, Oro Valley, and the Santa Catalina mountains.

On the drive back through Rancho Vistoso we saw a number of interesting roadside creatures and pulled over to check out a variety of tortoise, lizard, and other decorative "road art". This desert tortoise was about 4-5 feet long. Pretty cool.

All in all a very nice day for a day that started out below freezing and later climbed into the 60s. Still a good time of year to be checking out the lowland desert while its cool and fewer concerns about snakes when going cross country. The mountains surrounding Tucson have snow and the ski area an hour from Tucson is open for business. I'm enjoying the lowlands a lot for now, but I'm also looking forward to warmer weather to head back up into the trails in the pines. Its all good.

[P.S. while hiking cross country we stumbled across the campaign trail... check out separate post. *smile*]

back on the campaign trail...

So I'm hiking off trail northeast of Honeybee Canyon with friends Gregg and Pat today, enjoying the solitude and being away from the Nevada Caucuses election news coverage, and suddenly we run into the saguaro to the right...

Yet another presidential candidate giving a stump speech to anyone who would listen -- You know the pose: arms outstretched, mouth wide open, like-minded supporters carefully planted in the background, at home in an environment full of hot air.

Yes, we had inadvertently stumbled upon the campaign trail...

We didn't stay for the whole event, but long enough to hear:

  • "Green? My opponents are calling me green? My roots are intertwined in the very bedrock of America. No one has a grasp of the country like I do."

  • "Arms reduction? Who said that? Now that's just not funny!"

  • "Seriously, we've got to do something about the coyotes. Installation of fire hydrants is a must."

  • "Show a little spine? I'm showing nothing but spines!"

  • "Yes, I know I've been accused of having a holier than thou attitude. You try dealing with the woodpeckers. Besides, they need a home. I'm proud of my support for the homeless."

  • "What's my taxon? Thanks for asking. My friends call me Carnegia gigantea."

  • "Sure I got myself into a rock, but if I get out of a rock now, I'll lose my support base."

  • "I hold the bush on my far right responsible for that."

  • "Who's that heckler standing over there with all the bad puns?"
Taking the hint, we continued along the campaign trail, carefully watching our step -- this is cattle country after all...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Unique Moving (as in motion) Mechanical Art

On a recent trip to the northeast I had the opportunity to visit the MIT Museum. One of my favorite exhibitions was of several of Arthur Ganson's works of moving art (link to videos below).

This artist makes REALLY CREATIVE machines of art using wire and surplus metal which are then set into motion by either an electric motor or a hand crank. At the museum, most exhibits had a button to press to set the machine into motion. They were really, really cool. I've purchased and passed around his DVD (videos of a few minutes of each of maybe 40 different machine creations in action) and everyone who has seen it so far has been entertained and intrigued (adults, young adults, and kids alike).

His web site has a few of his videos available for Internet viewing. To get an idea of what I'm talking about check out "Machine with Artichoke Petal" at his web site:

If you like what you see, I do recommend his DVD for more.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

To wave or not to wave?

I took a quick 3.5 mile loop hike in Saguaro National Park this afternoon and ran into one of those embarassing Sonoran desert moments...

As I came around a bend in the trail, I looked up to see this saguaro waving at me. At least I think it was waving at me, but I sure didn't recognize it. So, what to do? If I wave back, I'll look foolish if it turns out to be waving at someone behind me... If I turn around to check, I'll look foolish if it turns out we've met before... What to do? ...I took the coward's way out and pulled out my camera, smiled back, snapped a picture, and moved on down the trail.

It felt good to get out on a trail for the first time this year, even for this short hike. I've been recovering from my broken wrist from a few months back and have just been doing treadmill stuff lately. Nice to step back out onto the planet.

Quite a few people out day hiking today. I also ran into two different sets of horseback riders, including the group that was being waved at...

Touch the Wind

Why did I name my blog "touchwind"?

There is a great song by Tish Hinojosa,
"Everything You Wish", which I feel captures the spirit of what we see when we look into other people's eyes, as well as a lot of animal's eyes, back past the defenses.

Part of her song's lyrics are:

There's some things we cannot see,

but we feel and we believe;

Touch the wind and you will know what I mean;

There's a story in your eyes,

there's a dream down deep inside;

Where the moonlight shines on sweet memories";

-- Tish Hinojosa (from "Everything You Wish")

I really think these lyrics capture the spirit of what we all sometimes see when looking into eyes and past the surface. I also think of this song when I'm out hiking and feel the wind or a breeze and feel like I'm not just on, but a part of this living organism we call Earth. Hence "Touch the Wind". was already taken, so that's why mine is just named

Which brings us to my blog's title picture... I took the title picture in the summer of 2007 while visiting friends up on the Oregon Coast. This shot was taken during a solo hike on the Cape Lookout Trail which heads out on a high peninsula looking back toward the southeast. This is a very scenic trail with great views of shoreline and steep drops down to the Pacific. The end of the trail is great spot to watch for passing whales. A great place to reach out and touch the wind...

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The birth of a new blog...

I found the inspiration to finally get around to setting up a blog in a roundabout sort of way...

I've been participating in microloans via for the past year and have found it a very rewarding part of my charitable portfolio. These international microloans are a very positive way to help individuals in other countries by giving a hand up rather than just a handout (both have their place). It is really neat to be able to pick which loan(s) I want to contribute toward, see the money go to that individual, and see it repaid and available for another use.

One of features of is that individuals contributing to a loan can elect to have profiles shown to other loaners and optionally provide a web link to their own website. So sometimes it is interesting to see where other kiva participants are coming from (very cool to see the wide variety of backgrounds, occupations, resident countries, etc).

I ran into one fellow participant's web site blog listing on kiva a while back: . On Amber's blog she says that she is attempting to do something new every day for 365 days -- quite an ambition -- it is interesting to see what she comes up with to try in her posts!

Somehow I found the idea of that inspiring, not that I plan to do something new every day... But it was a good reminder and excellent example of trying to live and experience life rather that just falling into autopilot mode which is sooo easy to do sometimes.

So anyway, that kicked me into gear to try a few new things (I tend to do that anyway) and also get around to setting up and exploring some new concepts to me like keeping a blog (I tend to put off some things on my to do someday list like this).

This also led me to listing a few DVD, book, audio book, music suggestions on the blog via's associate referral program which is another thing I hoped to do someday via part of my personal web site. If you click on one of my suggestions and then choose to add it to your amazon cart and purchase it (no price penalty), then they give me a whopping 4% of the purchase for the recommendation/referral. I always appreciated seeing other people's recommendations on such things and hope you find some of mine helpful as well. Amazon's associate referral program is free and you might consider looking into to help share some of your own recommendations with the rest of us.

I found the setup to be amazingly straightforward to setup and start using.

Enough playing on the computer for now, time to get ready for Ted and Barb's annual Christmas / Holiday party tonight. yes, yes, I know it is January 12th... It is a long story, but the short version is that sometime back, due to a schedule conflict, they moved their big annual December party to January and all of their guests overwhelmingly liked having it in January since nobody had conflicting parties, guests, shopping, travel, or other conflicts... So it stuck, and now their annual Chili and Eggnog Christmas party is always held early in January!