Saturday, April 10, 2010

Desert + Grand Canyon + Motorcycle!

saguaro cactus, Hwy 87, Phoenix AZ, photo by Robin Atkins
So, how do I manage to write a post about a 10-day trip to Arizona when I took close to 2,000 pictures? I call my friend Christi, who says, "What are the top three experiences of the trip? OK... if I pick my top 7-10 pictures for each of these three things, then maybe, just maybe, I'll have a reasonable post!!!! Thanks, Christi!

#1 ~ Desert

desert scene, Bush Hwy, Phoenix AZ, photo by Robin Atkins
We bushwhacked and hiked in the desert Northeast of Phoenix every chance we got. I fell in love! Yes, I never would have predicted that both Robert and I would develop such a deep passion for the desert. Everything about it, from the tallest saguaro cactus to the wee little wildflowers, is compelling and beautiful. Highway 87, north of Mesa toward Payson, is a desert gold mine!!!!

saguaro cactus, Bush Hwy, near Phoeniz AZ, photo by Robin Atkins
desert scene, wildflowers, near Phoeniz AZ, photo by Robin Atkins
Boulder Mountain, Hwy 87, Phoenix AZ, photo by Robin Atkins
Granite boulders on Boulder Mountain, one-mile stretch along Hwy 87, NE of Phoenix.

prickly pear cactus, Hwy 87, Phoenix AZ, photo by Robin Atkins
Prickly pear cactus! Notice there's one heart-shaped paddle... my fave, of course!

saguaro cactus, Bush Hwy, Phoenix AZ, photo by Robin Atkins
Saguaro and prickly pear cactus silhouetted by the setting sun... Oooooooh!

cholla cactus, Bush Hwy near Phoenix AZ, photo by Robin Atkins
The pretty cholla cactus in the foreground is the devil in disguise! Also called chain or jumping cactus, it's spines are barbed. When they get into your skin, they stay there. The ends break off when you try to pull them out, leaving the barbed points in your thumb to fester. Please, don't ask me how I know this!

Pine Creek loop trail, Hwy 87 NE of Phoenix AZ, photo by Robin Atkins
This is Robert, my husband, tossing a rock on the "victory pile" at the summit of Pine Creek loop trail off Hwy 87, NE of Phoenix.

Pine Creek loop trail, Hwy 87 NE of Phoenix AZ, photo by Robin Atkins

#2 ~ The Grand Canyon

Although we viewed three movies about the Grand Canyon before we went, they hardly prepared us for what we experienced there. We both love taking pictures, and took hundreds of them at the Canyon. In retrospect, I believe that taking pictures ensures that I see many details of the place... that I notice composition, color, form, shadows and highlights. But it's possible I miss the whole, the very essence of the Canyon, while busily noticing the details through my view-finder. And then, as I look at the results, they don't even come a tiny bit close to what it's actually like to be there, seeing the Colorado River a mile down and the sky infinitely high.... However, here are a few that at least serve as decent reminders.

Grand Canyon, south rim, photo by Robin Atkins
Grand Canyon, south rim, photo by Robin Atkins
Grand Canyon, south rim, photo by Robin Atkins
Grand Canyon, south rim, photo by Robin Atkins
Grand Canyon, Colorado River as seen from south rim, photo by Robin Atkins
Can you see the Colorado River (Robert calls it the Color-red-oh River)? Imagine - a whole mile down! That's 18 football fields, end-to-end.

Grand Canyon sunset, south rim, photo by Robin Atkins
Grand Canyon, south rim, photo by Robin Atkins
If and when there's a next time, I want to just sit in one place and meditate for a long while!

Grand Canyon as seen from flight between Phoenix and Seattle, photo by Robin Atkins
We got lucky on the flight home between Phoenix and Seattle. I took this picture of the River and Canyon from my window seat!

#3 ~ Motorcycle

We rented a new, powerful (1800 cc) Goldwing for three days... What a blast!!!! On one of the days we joined Corinne (BJP member) and her husband, Loring, for a day-ride to Jerome and Sedona. I knew Jerome was an old mining-town, turned ghost-town, turned hippy/artist tourist-attraction, but had no idea it was on the very top of a mountain with switchback streets. Who-eeee, what a fun ride to the top! I also knew about the famed, red-rocks of Sedona, but was not prepared for just how red and beautiful the rock formations in the area are.

Robin Atkins, self-portrait while riding shotgun on the Goldwing
I took pictures while riding behind Robert on the Goldwing. I even took one of myself.... see how the wind is blowing my face?

fancy controls on the new Goldwings, Robert is driving it
Robert Demar and our rented Goldwing motorcycle
Robert and our rented Goldwing. We've stopped to photograph the red rock formations near Sedona, AZ!

red rocks as seen from the motorcycle
red rocks near Sedona, AZ, photo by Robin Atkins
Robert, Corinne and Loring in Jerome, AZ
Above are Robert, Corinne and Loring posing in front of an old hotel building in Jerome, AZ.

cliff dwelling, Montezumas Castle, AZ, photo by Robin Atkins
This cliff dwelling is called Montezuma's Castle. It was built and inhabited by the Sinagua people in the 1100s.

sycamore trees, photo by Robin Atkins
I fell in love with sycamore trees... with their long, graceful branches and especially with the mottled, soft celedon, tan and violet colors of their bark!

More pictures on my Facebook page

If you like the above pictures and would like to see a few more wildflowers, cactus, Canyon, etc. pictures, you can go to my Facebook page and check out my photo albums, here. (I hope this link works...)

More fun in Arizona!

We had many other memorable experiences, such as dinner with Corinne and Loring, two spring training baseball games, good SW food, the Little Colorado River Gorge, a fabulous exhibit of Ansel Adams' photographs at the Phoenix Art Museum (the exibit is open to June 1st) and beading with Lisa C for half a day! We are very grateful to our friends, Patricia and Roger, who allowed us to use their vacation home in Fountain Hills as our base. We're also grateful for fabulous weather!

BJP Progress Report

I'm a terrible behinder right now. I've hardly started working on my March piece. Yet, the week ahead looks pretty open right now... I'm crossing my fingers to keep it that way so I can bead, bead, bead.

My six words for April are:


The one I circled as my key word for the month is forgive. Hmmmmm.... wonder what that's about?! Well, one thing for sure... I need to forgive myself for not getting around to any of my favorite blogs for a long time.... It's on the list!


  1. Don't worry about visiting blogs. We have been following your trip on FB. Amazing pictures. One thought kept crossing my Robin didn't have to photo shop color these! Just Amazing.

  2. What a great trip. I love visiting the desert, too, although I'm not sure I'd want to live there. I like rain and green and the spring flowers in Maryland. I had my first trip to the Grand Canyon in 2008 and agree nothing can match the experience of actually being there. Your second picture of it above really reminded me of the sinking-belly feeling of the sharp, deep drops there. My favorite part of the trip was seeing the California condors flying over the canyon in the last hour of my visit. I was afraid I wasn't going to see them. Were you as lucky? Thanks for your reminder of the glories of Arizona.

  3. Amaaaaaazing photos! You're so lucky. I loved Arizona when I was fortunate enought to get a business trip out that way. I stayed the weekend and took a trip to Sedona. The peace and artistic light simply took my breath away. There's a type of spiritual energy in the place that is almost impossible to describe.

  4. Anonymous6:02 AM

    Wonderful photos of scenery, the canyon, robust "mountain man" Robert, and even yourself! I've never been successful at taking one of myself. I've yet to see the Grand Canyon, but I'm sure it would be an inspirational experience in many ways. I can't wait to see what emerges in your beading after this trip!

  5. Fabulous photos and I am off to see more on Face book- perhps you need to forgive yourself????? Youa re kind of hard on yourself about keeping up!!!! So have a week of happy, relaxed flowing beading and know that you are not alone in being behind!!!

  6. How would you have passed up the chance to take that trip, just to stay up to date with your pages? I can't think of one of us who would do that. Just think of the relaxation and inspiration you received. Have to get down there.

  7. oh! i love the desert and the prairie! so far i have made it to AZ, NM, and CO. but not the Grand Canyon yet! it's so beautiful! this was my BJP inspired by NM:

    thanks for sharing all your pictures!

  8. Lovely post and photos, robin...thanks for sharing so much of your trip (almost as good as being there for me!)

  9. Since all of my family now lives in Scottsdale and Anthem, I visit that area a few times a year. It's wonderfully inspirational, and so different from Michigan! Glad you had a wonderful vacation.


  10. I love out west and Az is the best. Nothing beats the red rock and even pictures can't capture the total beauty of the grand canyon! So glad you took some great pics to show us!! and you did good choosing!

  11. I lived in Arizona my whole life until I married and it will always be my home state even though I haven't lived there for many years. I couldn't agree more, the desert is amazing especially during the Spring when the cactus are in bloom and the desert floor is alive with green. I hope the Palo Verde trees were in bloom while you were there. Thanks for sharing these beautiful scenes; you made me homesick a little.

  12. Anonymous11:51 PM

    Oh Robin - thank you so much for posting these great photos! The quality of them is amazing, as cameras were not even bordering on the technology involved with that of today when I visited the Grand Canyon in 1978 - my photos are fading and flat. Here in Australia so many years later, your post bought back many happy memories for me, and am so excited you had a good time.

  13. To Carol ~ Thanks, gentle Carol... I appreciate the admonishment to not worry! To be honest, yes, I did play around in Photoshop with color a bit, trying to get it as I rememberd it looking.

    To Bobbi ~ I couldn't take the heat of summer, but now understand the snowbirds who make a winter home there. Yup, that sinking-belly feeling... I know that feeling now. We only saw condors once and that in the distance... still, very impressive!

    To Anne Marie ~ Yes, we were so lucky! And I totally agree about the spiritual energy there...

    To Barbara ~ Robert loves it that you called him a "mountain man." ;>) I hope you'll get there... it's totally worth the effort!

    To Elizabeth ~ Thanks for your kind support... I really appreciate it!

    To Arline ~ You are sooooo right!

    To Megan ~ Yes, now I understand your piece. I always loved it... now I "get it"... yay!

    To Beadbabe ~ You are so generous to say it's almost as good as being there... You'd love it!

    To Susan ~ So nice that you have a regular reason to go to AZ!

    To Robbie ~ Choosing wasn't easy, because some of the not-as-good photographs hold special memories for me. I'm glad you liked my choices.

    To FRS ~ The blooming cactus and Palo Verde trees will have to come forward on our next visit... but the wildflowers were awesome! Where do you live now? Do you get back to AZ from time to time?

    To Pam ~ I'm delighted that this post and my pictures brought back some memories for you. Like you, the only other time I was there was in 1969 and I didn't even own a camera! Robert and I have printed our pictures using archival papers and inks... hopefully they'll last a loooooooong time!

  14. AMAZING photos!!! Looks like you are really living the dream :-) xx

  15. Cool. My dad was out there last year. He's a big biker too. I hope to get out there at some point in my lifetime, but I don't think its a place I want to go alone. We'll see... Thanks for sharing your photos! They are beautiful!

  16. Great photos Robin. It sounds like you had a great time. Nice words you've chosen for this month you are working on. I must say I feel better for being the most behindest knowing you are behind also!

  17. Robin, thanks for the beautiful pictures! It feels like I was there!

    I have nominated you for the Kreative Blogger Award that was passed on to me by Lisa Criswell. You of all my beady friends deserve it! You can read about it on my blog.

  18. Anonymous4:29 PM

    You're too cool!!! You are my role model for the years to come.... cool and creative. Never stop!

  19. So great to see you out and about. Many blogs get so redundant with people sitting around the computer. Glad to see someone who gets out and lives life in addition to great work!

  20. Stunning pictures, you make me feel like I never saw any pictures of these places before... Ten my favorite is you grinning on the motorbike :o)

  21. I'm so glad that you had such a nice time in my home state. The desert is extra pretty this Spring from all of the extra rain.

  22. Fabulous photo's, I wanna go now to.

    My one "wish dream" is to see the "Grand Canyon".

    Am tickle thrilled for you that you has such a "grand time"....I totally understand taking 2000 photo's, how could you not!!!

    Getting caught up with reading blogs, I would take my time, you have lots of "rest" to catch up on....sit back have a nice cup of tea or your favorite glass of wine!!

  23. What a magical trip. I'm so glad that you and Robert went on an adventure and it turned out so absolutely beautifully. Your post was playful and the photography is stunning...I can almost feel your lifted spirit. It seems like the vacation really did it's work of re-charging your batteries...and the fact that you were able to see and do so many things that you love...and meet some friends along the way...well, it just doesn't get any better than that. I would love to do that with Jim some day when we can...

    I'm heading down the rabbit hole...I'll let you know what I learn...xoxo Susan

  24. I'm a bit tardy responding to your marvelous post, dear Robin. It is such a joy to journey through the desert with you & Robert via your photos and tales of adventure! I, DOUBLE ADORE your self portrait on the motorcycle -- just too, too splendid for words!!

    I am intrigued by that cliff dwelling. Yikes! Can one walk up there? I want to go up there and look around, see the world from that vantage point. And I wonder if it always appeared so austere, even in the 1100s...? How wonderful that you both were able to visit all these incredible places. And wow, those RED rocks - they are certainly not misnamed.

    Well, you may be a *behinder* but not as much of a behinder as moi! Oh I do love good company :>]]]]]

    Looking forward to seeing where your words take you. And your word "forgive"...that is a word that can be as difficult to traverse as the Grand Canyon...a vastly daunting word when one is looking over the precipice, looking into that new region of letting go of the not-forgiving...

    Your walking shoes now have desert dust on them, woooo hoooo! Here's to continued new paths!!

  25. What an amazing photographic journey you have taken us on. Robin, I'm so glad you and Robert had such an inspiriting time in AZ!!!
    And you are such a cool Biker Babe....

  26. Those are my old stomping grounds! I lived in Tucson for ten years before I moved to Europe, and I was out in the desert every chance I got, and always had a camera. (Wide angle--nothing else really can catch it.) Sometimes I miss it so much that it quite literally hurts. I took my husband there for his first visit last May and he was entranced -- he's from Siberia, so the desert was a revelation. If/when you decide to head a bit further north, I can tell you about some unbelievably beautiful places in southern Utah...


Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!