Walter and Sara on the road to who knows where
On Thursday August 22nd, we took a drive up into the mountains southeast of Show Low. It had been hot (it’s been especially warm here this year because the monsoon rains have been few and far between) and so we went UP for our weekly adventure. We drove south through Show Low, Pinetop and Lakeside and then headed east following Hwy 260 past McNary.

There were new red flowers in bloom along the way and we pulled over so I could see what they were.

scarlet gilia (Ipomopsisaggregata)

The tall yellow things are mullein and the short red guys are Scarlet Gilia (Ipomopsis aggregata). Here’s a photo of the Scarlet Gilia up close and personal.
scarlet gilia (Ipomopsisaggregata)

And of course since I was out roaming around I took a picture of the forest too.

Forest view

When we reached Hwy 273 we turned south and almost immediately pulled over because of the flowers.

I had spied these lovely Sierra Larkspur (Delphinium-glaucumand) growing an among some SW Spurred Gentian (Halenia rothrockii).  

Sierra Larkspur (Delphinium-glaucumand)

And while I was out I noticed some Yarrow (Achellia millefolium).

 Yarrow (Achellia millefolium)

Some Harebells (Campanula rotundifolia)—something I’ve seen all the way north in Alaska for goodness sakes.

Harebells (Campanula rotundifolia)

We were now up at 9000 feet so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to see things that bloom in July in Washington but still.

There were Whiplash Daisies (Erigeron flagellaris).

Whiplash Daisies (Erigeron flagellaris)

More SW Spurred Gentian

SW Spurred Gentian (Halenia rothrockii).

And New Mexico Checkermallow (Sidalcea neomexicana).

New Mexico Checkermallow (Sidalcea neomexicana)

There was Desert Ragwort (Senecio eremophilus).

Desert Ragwort (Senecio eremophilus)

And Mexican Woolywhite (Hymenopappus mexicanus) all is just a small area next to the road.

Mexican Woolywhite (Hymenopappus mexicanus)

Off to the southwest you could see the ski runs at the Sunrise Park Resort (which was of course closed).

AZ Hwy 260 & 273

And there were rolling hills (10,000 feet) off to the southeast.

AZ Hwy 260 & 273

We drove south to the turn off for Sunrise Lake (on the east side of the highway) and we had to stop because of the flowers.

Hairy Goldenaster (Heterotheca villosa)

These are Hairy Goldenasters (Heterotheca villosa).

Hairy Goldenaster (Heterotheca villosa)

There was Spreading Fleabane (Erigeron divergens) mixed in with it.

Spreading Fleabane (Erigeron divergens)

Here’s the view southward from where we pulled off.

Sunrise Lake turnoff

We followed the road out to Sunrise Lake and there was a Great Blue Heron standing on the shore.

Great Blue Heron at Sunset Lake AZ

Here’s the lake. It’s pretty good sized and continues on off around the corner.

Sunrise Lake AZ

There were little patches of Fendler's Sandwort (Eremogone fendleri) here and there.  

Fendler's Sandwort (Eremogone fendleri)

And more Spreading Fleabane (Erigeron divergens).

Spreading Fleabane (Erigeron divergens)

We continued southward and tried to drive out to the ski resort but the road was closed.

Then we entered an area labeled Lee Valley Recreation Area and off to the west we found the Lee Valley Reservoir. There were a couple fisherman out (one in a kayak and one in a fisherman’s floaty thing) and a motorcyclist sitting on the shore enjoying the view.

Lee Valley Reservoir

There were patches of Vreeland's Erigeron (Erigeron vreelandii) in bloom here.

Vreeland's Erigeron (Erigeron vreelandii)

And really nice big puffy clouds against the blue sky.

Puffy white clouds on blue sky

We continued on and turned off at Crescent Lake. From this angle it doesn’t look like a very big lake but it continues on down quite a ways. There’s a boat ramp here (off to the left of the bottom of the photo) but the lake has retreated away from it so it’s not functional. That speck out in the lake is a fisherman.

Crescent Lake  
The highway continues on to the town of Alpine but we turned around here and headed back north. Along the way I stopped to get a photo of the coneflowers I had seen lining the road. And in the process I discovered they come in many more colors than the yellow that I’d noticed as we drove past.

These are Upright Prairie Coneflowers (Ratibida columnifera) to be precise.

Upright Prairie Coneflowers (Ratibida columnifera)

And they come in maroon.

Upright Prairie Coneflowers (Ratibida columnifera)

And orange along with the yellow.

Upright Prairie Coneflowers (Ratibida columnifera)

We continued on back to Hwy 260 and then went east a short ways to FR 117. This isn’t all that different initially than Hwy 273 but there weren’t many flowers. It’s open range land and I guess the cows eat flowers. We certainly saw quite a few of them on the road.

FR 117 cows on the road

We wound our way along past Green’s Peak which looks like a little hill but is actually over 10,000 feet.

Green's Peak AZ

We came out of another treed area into an open meadow and Walter spied some birds off in the distance. It was a big flock of wild turkeys with 3 hens and a whole bunch of young turkeys.

I got a photo of 2 of the hens.   

Wild Turkeys

And some of the young turkeys.

Wild Turkeys

I think there are 17 turkeys in this photo including a hen or two.

Wild Turkeys

We drove through some nice stands of Ponderosa pines.

And found a nice wide spot in the road to sit and enjoy the quiet for lunch.

There was a patch of Broadleaf Lupine (Lupinus latifolius) that of course I had to get out and photograph.  

Broadleaf Lupine (Lupinus latifolius)

Eventually FR 117 turned into County Road 3123 which joins up to Hwy 60 where we turned back west and home.

Along the way I shot a photo of the territory just south of Hwy 60 to give you and idea of how different it looks once you get down below about 7000 feet.

County Road 3123 Navajo County AZ

Wednesday August 21st, (while I was taking the glass class at the pottery studio) Walter went into town and bought himself a new back-up guitar. He had worn out the little Yamaha traveling guitar he bought last spring (it had a crack in the bridge where the pins for the strings go) and the music store in town had a very nice little Chinese-made but Bend Oregon designed and checked out--Breedlove Guitar so he bought it.

He says having a nice new guitar makes him feel young again.

Walter Cooke new guitar

It has a much nicer sound than the Yamaha and it plays better too. He’s real happy with it—can you tell?

Friday August 23rd the kiln at the pottery studio was unloaded. I told you about all the fun glass projects that came out that day but there were other really remarkable things that were in that load too. We have a very talented crew and one of the ladies is in a class of her own. She spent weeks working on this Raven Shaman. He’s done in over 10 shades of black. I processed it a bit paler than he is in reality so you could see the details. He has blue irises in his eyes.

Lynn's Raven Shaman

She also had made a new cereal bowl for her husband. He’d simply asked for a bowl where his spoon wouldn’t slip into it. And this is what she did.

Lynn's cereal bowl

The outside of the bowl is bright blue and there’s a motorcycle in black on it.

Also in this load was a studio favorite. We watched this little guy grow over a few days and we all fell in love with him. He’s going to be the top piece on a pottery totem pole.  

Shannon's owl

Can see why it’s such a fun place to work? We have so many really talented people doing so many wonderful things. And everyone shares their ideas and inspirations and talent.

Saturday August 24th, was the Juniper Ridge Resort Variety Show. We went partially because our next door neighbor, Steve Spurgin, was performing and partially so I could take photos for the community’s Facebook Page. Here’s Steve playing “Would you Like To Play The Guitar” (which is sung to Swinging on a Star). It’s a great fun song written by the lead guitar player for The Prairie Home Companion.

Steve Spurgin

He’s a professional singer/songwriter who has made his living doing music for over 50 years. He’s kind enough to come and play with us at our Song Circle once a week along with his wife, Vickie who’s learning to play the ukulele.

He also played Pancho and Lefty so well it sounded as if he was an entire band.

Steve Spurgin

It was a fun evening which ended with a silly skit about “If I weren’t a Retiree I’d be...” Here’s a shot of the silliness at it’s height.

JRR Variety Show Retirees Skit

Tuesday August 27th we had another lovely sunset with lots of interesting color off to the southeast.

Sunset JRR

Here’s a close up of the cumulus clouds billowing up on the horizon.

JRR Sunset close up