Much to Learn

A self-portrait at Balanced Rock at sunrise, taken on the Balanced Rock Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona on October 24, 2020. Original: _CAM5685.cr2

Some people were flabbergasted, knowing how much I loved the rain of the Pacific Northwest, that I was willing to give life in Arizona a try. I knew it would take an attitude adjustment on my part not just to deal with the heat but with the relentless sun. It’s not that I never went hiking on sunny days in Oregon but in those glorious forests the sun was more of an abstract than a reality, so it was mostly a concern up above treeline or out on the coast. The other morning I got up early as there was a specific tree near Balanced Rock I wanted to photograph in the shade and I knew Granite Mountain would block the rising sun for a little while, giving me time to try out different compositions. Though I made a beeline to the area even from a distance I could see Balanced Rock was already bathed in sunlight. I checked and double-checked and triple-checked my watch and was so confused I turned back to the rising sun to understand my mistake and could but laugh as I realized at this time of year the sun peeked through a dip in the southern end of the mountain, lighting this area earlier than on my other visits. The next weekend I returned for this shot when the sun first cleared the mountain, a little paean to how little I understand and how eager I am to learn.

Sunrise Mask

Rick Cameron stands beside a saguaro with arms growing in all directions, with flowers blooming on each arm, beside the Latigo Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in May 2020

I stood at sunrise beside one of my favorite saguaros, here with the top of the sun just tipping over the mountains and starting to bathe the desert in its red light. I don’t often remember to take self-portraits, especially not during such beautiful light that lasts literal seconds, but the composition was so close to what I was taking anyway that I couldn’t resist a quick one as a celebration of being back in this amazing place. Since I’ve had to go into work throughout the pandemic I stayed off the trails at first until the process of transmission was better understood, and now try to avoid the popular trails and wear a mask if it gets crowded (it wasn’t at this early hour, I slipped it on for the picture). This mask is from Tom Bihn, they are easy to slip on and off and quite comfortable to boot (plus they donate one for every one you buy). There’s also a free pattern if you want to make them yourself.

The backpack is from Tom Bihn as well (it’s the Guide’s Pack), it’s been on somewhere around 170 hikes with me in the desert the past couple of years, at this time of year mostly just loaded with a safety kit, medicine, trekking poles, snacks, and gobs and gobs and gobs of Gatorade. In late May this early in the morning there is just enough cool air left in the desert for long sleeves but the time is rapidly approaching when even I switch to short sleeves.

4th of July

My three cats sleep on me as I take a nap on the love seat

It’s been a lovely 4th of July weekend. The weather has been perfect, warming to the 70’s during the day and cooling off into the 50’s at night. There haven’t been many neighborhood fireworks so far so we’ve been able to keep the windows open except during the hottest part of the day. To minimize the stress on the pets we’ll keep the windows closed when it gets noisy tonight and retreat to the bedroom where we have an air conditioner.

Despite having the day off for the 4th I got up at the normal time I get up for work, and by mid-day decided to take a little nap on the love seat in my office. Apparently I wasn’t the only one, as my wife came in and took this picture of me with our three cats all sleeping on me. Boo is the black-and-white cat curled up in the crook of my arm, Trixie is the tortoiseshell beside him, and Sam is the orange tabby in my lap, his favorite spot. Trixie’s beloved pink mouse even made it into the bottom of the frame. Our dog Ellie is not in frame but she was in her bed just below us.


Where’s Boolie 2009

Rick Cameron hides inside a large redwood tree in Prairie Creek Redwood State Park

This year’s version of Where’s Boolie comes courtesy of a large redwood tree in Prairie Creek Redwood State Park. This was my first morning in the park and the tree sits right off the Prairie Creek Trail with a cavity in the middle suitable for housing an entire bigfoot family.

I had to smile when I heard a distant hooting that morning, probably an unfamiliar owl or other bird, but it also reminded me of the supposed bigfoot calls from I show I watched a while back. I hoped with camera in hand to get some nice high-resolution, in focus, non-shaky bigfoot pictures but it was not to be. It would have been the perfect time to prove my theory on the true nature of bigfoot.

It is not a popular theory and has put me on the fringe of the lunatic fringe. I believe that they are not some form of ape running undiscovered in our forests — I mean seriously — but that they are in fact Wookiees.

My critics are quick to point out that Star Wars is fictional. I know it’s fictional — I’m not an idiot. I just don’t understand how it’s relevant. To Kill a Mockingbird is fictional. Are mockingbirds fictional too?

Dark Chocolate

Rick Cameron plays with his dog Ellie in the backyard as she holds a tennis ball in her mouth

Ellie had a vet appointment this morning to get a booster shot. She got a good health report all around (apart from needing to lose a little weight, which we are working on). But late this afternoon I got a call from my wife saying she was heading back to the vet.

During the day, Ellie had somehow gotten a hold of some of my wife’s chocolate calcium chews. This is not the way to weight loss Ellie! Although at least we won’t have to worry about her suffering from osteoporosis. The vet didn’t think any harm was done but had us watch for vomiting and unusual stools just to be safe — any blood and it was off to the emergency vet. Thankfully she’s been fine, a little hyper but she got a lot of exercise this weekend and calmed down nicely by nightfall.

Ellie’s a black lab, at least we thought she was, but I’m thinking now she may be a chocolate lab. Dark chocolate.

Ellie & Smelly

Rick Cameron playing with his dog Ellie in the backyard of his house in Portland, Oregon

The title for today’s post comes from little Sam, who is skating on thin ice I assure you.

He asked me today if I knew which part of Ellie I most smelled like. I said no but to consider his answer carefully and reminded him who plays countless hours of String with him. He deliberated far longer than I thought necessary, eyes darting between me and Ellie, before finally answering “Why the sweetest part of course!”