Sue Vincent and I have been talking about pictures you take that are so different that no one even believes they are real. So here are my scarlet mountains which are reflections of the red sunset in the west. The mountains are east of Phoenix.

When I first saw them, I didn’t even believe they could be so red. I’d never seen a sunset so red it reflected a whole range of mountains. So these are the pictures. No filters. No special processing. Just the reflection of a scarlet sunset on the mountains nearby.



Ironwood in the desert

Phoenix sunset – Photo: Garry Armstrong

For a woman raised in New York and living in Massachusetts, the desert is another world. The colors of the sky. The mountains jutting into the sky and giant cacti growing across the landscape. We have spent two vacations in Arizona and each has been glorious.


Photo: Garry Armstrong – Another sunset



Once I got to editing, cacti and other pointy things just went mad in my pointy brain! So here are some more square yet pointy, spiky, jagged pictures … and keep them away from your eyes! You could put your eye out with one of those pointy things!

I don’t even know what these are. Maybe the edges of young ironwood tree?

Cactus! Let’s not always see the same hands!

Those are some amazing barbs, too. You get close to these and they hop right on to your pants legs. These are jumpers!

Not only spiky squares. Jagged, barbed, bristly, serrated, prickly, spiny, and pointy things and that’s certainly one of them.

RUGGEDLY SILENT – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Tuesday – RUGGED and FOWC with Fandango — Silent

Rugged and silent, the Superstitions loom over the bleak desert near Phoenix, Arizona

Following them … and not by much of a distance, either … were a mixed bag of posse wannabes. A few professional lawmen, a clutch of bounty hunters, and anyone else that had a gun and a horse and could be drug up by the sheriff and the railroad people.

A cactus sunset near the Superstitions

The horses were exhausted and it wouldn’t be long before they collapsed unless they were allowed to stop, rest, drink, eat. For that matter, it wouldn’t be much longer before they, themselves, collapsed.

Whose idea was this, anyway? They could have hit a bank or a Wells Fargo shipment. Hell, they could have hit half a dozen stagecoaches without setting off this kind of frenzy. It was those railroad guys. They really didn’t like bandits. Which they were. Damn.

Don’t you hate it when that happens?

It was getting dark, now. The sun was setting over the mountains. Where could they go? Ahead were the Superstitions … and there was nothing up there but jagged rocks. Where was water? Some grass for the horses and a place to lay themselves down and breathe.

In the distance, they could hear the hoofbeats of oncoming horses. They looked into the fading sun and they knew.

It was over. For good, this time.



I loved traveling — especially alone so that I didn’t have to worry about other people’s plans and schedules. Those were days when I was an early riser with a lot of energy, so I wanted to get up in the morning and be out and about.

After Garry and I got married and we worked out a few kinks in our traveling, we became great travelers. We had a good time together — everywhere we went.

I don’t think we had a really bad vacation. We had one when it rained — heavily — every day . I suppose that was as bad as it got. There was one where the accommodations were nasty, but the weather was great. I think I’d rather have crappy accommodations than bad weather. After all, how much time do you really spend in your hotel room? If the weather is good, you’re only there to sleep.

These days, though, the idea of travel makes me tired in advance. It isn’t just bad backs and the arthritis or that we don’t want to spend a day on our feet.

It’s the airlines that want to charge you for a bag of peanuts and have made the seating so tight that even short people like us are crowded. It’s the noisy airports where all we hear is white noise, static, echo, and mumbling. There are no comfortable seats and a bottle of coke can cost seven or eight dollars.

There’s no fun in flying. The security makes it so slow. The weird restrictions make it impossible to know if you can take your shampoo and hair gel or they will be seized as potential explosives. The elderly are their favorite targets for setting up extra fees for everything.

Nothing to eat while you’re flying, though I notice there’s plenty of booze aboard. No assistance during the flight. I’m too old to heave my bag into the overhead bin and I’m not putting my valuable — or my computer and cameras into cargo.

And then, there’s driving. Rutted roads, miles of traffic jams or just plain heavy traffic. Road construction. Detours. Those days when we could drive all day are gone. Three or four hours into a trip, we’re ready for a nap and a soft chair.

Not far from Phoenix …

There are places I’d love to see, cities I’ve yet to explore … but I’m afraid they will have to wait for the next round of life.

Our best traveling days  were in our forties and fifties when we were still energetic, but didn’t have a little kid to plan around. When it was just the two of us. No agenda, no plans. Just going where we felt like going whenever we were in the mood.

But if won a vast quantity of money on, say, the lottery and we could do it all first class? I might just change my mind!


Story by Garry Armstrong
Pictures by Garry & Marilyn Armstrong

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More than a week in Arizona and we couldn’t lose them. We couldn’t see them. The big country that protected us shielded them, too. It was the posse from Hell!


We kept to the high country, hoping the cactus, tumbleweed and narrow trails would distance us.

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Scorpion Gulch was the way to the mountains and beyond. We saw a few pilgrims here and there taking in the view. They ignored us. Good for them.


This was the same trail used by Waco Johnny Dean, Long Tom and Dutch Henry Brown in the relentless chase for that Winchester ’73.

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The same trail used by Sheriff Pearly B. Sweet and the posse from Welcome and Carefree who pursued Bob Hightower, Pete and the Abilene Kid, the three Godfathers.

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There was no losing our posse from Hell.

Rawhide, we figured, might be a good place to lose those guys … whoever they were.

Rawhide — a place where dudes are welcome. We wouldn’t be noticed as the pilgrims sashayed up and down Main Street. Maybe the posse from Hell might have paper on a few of these strangers.

Rawhide also was a good place to grab some grub. Maybe even some shut-eye. But no time for real fun if you get my drift. Those pilgrims kept giving us shifty looks.



Back on the trail, I thought we saw an old saddle pal. He rode with us in the old days. He was a good old boy. Turned out he was dead and just a statue, probably done in by the railroad men who dogged us for too many years. Close up, our old pal still looked good. They don’t make men like him any more.

We had to move on. No sense chasing memories. We wanted to head back to the high country and the safety of those mountains. But time was running out. We knew the end was near.

Just as well. We were running low on luck and bullets.

The posse from hell finally cornered us at Wild Horse Pass. They stayed with their long guns as we faced them down. It was a long day’s siege into night.


We would not go quietly. We could see the fear in their eyes as we held our position. Clearly, we  had them on experience, as we stared across the pass and other confrontations which have blurred over the years.

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In the distance, we heard the strains of “Shall We Gather At The River” sung mournfully by the good folks at The Light of The Desert Lutheran Church. Was this a boot hill elegy?

Print the legend.