Home in the Desert

A black-tailed jackrabbit sits in the Sonoran Desert in the Brown's Ranch section of McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona

As we make our home in the desert it is painfully clear to me as I hike, suited up with bottles of water and protective sun gear, that I will never be at home in the desert, not like they are, the animals who live here. This black-tailed jackrabbit can leap 5 or 10 feet at a time and reach speeds up to 40 mph, but on this morning it casually sauntered off into its desert home.

Chasing Waterfalls

Bird waste flows down the rock face of Tom's Thumb in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona

I loved the many waterfalls of the Northwest and knew I was leaving them behind when we moved from Oregon to Arizona, but as I stood under Tom’s Thumb I realized I had found a waterfall of sorts. I didn’t need a slow shutter speed to turn the waterfall into a flow of white. I’m not sure what kind of birds are making their home up there but further around the rock formation prairie falcons were nesting, as the rock climbing route was closed while the falcons were nesting. You can see one of the routes on the right side of the picture, it’s the thin grey line ascending the rock face.

A view of Tom's Thumb in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona


An old heating vent in my office in our house in the Irvington neighborhood of Portland, Oregon

We put our house in Portland on the market on Friday and had our first offer Sunday evening, the second Monday morning. Monday evening when I got home from work we accepted the first offer, sounds like a family who is excited about the house, which makes me happy. Time for it to be a home again. This heating vent is in my old office, when we moved in I had the walls painted sky blue so with the white trim and ceilings and the brown hardwood floor, I’d have a representation of the brown earth beneath my feet and clouds and blue sky all around me. We were there sixteen years, I will always have an intense love for that old house, our old home.


A foothill palo verde tree with the moon above it at first light on the Sunrise Trail at McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona

First light falls upon a foothill palo verde tree as the moon hangs above, taken yesterday morning on my first hike of the Sunrise Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Life has been full of a lot of firsts lately and hiking has been no exception. This morning was the first time I hiked in shorts since arriving here, as I’m testing out when I want to wear short sleeves and shorts based on temperature, and unfortunately it was also the first time I slipped on the trails here. Nothing serious, just skinned up one of my shins, but I don’t think in two decades of hiking in the Northwest I ever drew blood (to be fair I rarely lose my footing).

But mostly the firsts have been positive. First time seeing animals, first time seeing plants, first time visiting parks, first time hiking trails. The new Columbia sun hat and new Merrell hiking shoes are both working well, Friday morning I wore the shoes for the first time on a flat hike and by Saturday morning I was confident enough to wear them on this hike of the Sunrise Trail, which is mostly constant elevation change. It was also quite windy so fortunately I had the chinstrap on my hat cinched tight or my new hat would be soaring above the desert even now.