GHOSTS OF THE SUPERSTITIONS – GARRY ARMSTRONG

We set out early from Phoenix, heading due east for the Superstition Mountains. We hoped to find the Lost Dutchman’s Mine, see if we could discover the secrets behind the legend.

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I’d seen movies about the legendary mine and the souls lost by their lust for gold.

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It was a good day for our trip. Sunny and mild. The air was fresh, crisp, clean. For a moment, I thought I smelled honeysuckle on the breeze.

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Along the way, the spans of cactus covered desert shadowed by mountains were constant but not deadly companions. They seemed more like nature’s patrol, riding point and drag, to make sure we wouldn’t lose our way. A pilgrim’s awe of God’s country can sometimes lead to disaster.

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We made a stop in Tonto National Park. That’s right, Kemo Sabe. Things have changed. Guess the Great White Father in Washington knows change is blowin’ in the wind.

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No sign of Tonto, the Masked Man, Dan Reed, Silver, Scout, or Victor. Maybe there were off chasing the Cavendish Gang again. Those guys never seem to really die.

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Tonto’s land was beautiful, a fitting legacy to the faithful companion who did most of the work but received little respect or credit. Then, we were back on the trail again, heading higher and higher with majestic mountains all around us.

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Growling bellies were a sign for a stop. Turned out to be part of the vast Lost Dutchman’s Mine country. A town for Pilgrims.

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Midday, and the dudes were everywhere. Shops, stores and remnants of the past loomed all around us. Fool’s gold? I’m sure the ghosts of some miners were smiling at all this stuff.

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We pushed on to another picturesque stop as the road climbed higher and higher, seemingly to the sky.

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A stage-coach way station beckoned. Could have been one of Jim Hardie’s drivers who worked for Wells Fargo. He seemed impatient to get moving. His horses needed water and cooling down but had to wait with all those damn Pilgrims getting in the way again.

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Our attention was diverted by a familiar face. His voice and speech pattern gave him away. Unmistakable. Pure frontier gibberish filled the air. Yes, it was Gabby Johnson!! Late of Rock Ridge, Gabby was plying his trade now at this way station.

Photo by Ben Taylor

Photo by Ben Taylor

Gabby was glad to see us. I think he was happy we didn’t mention anything about how he and Rock Ridge had initially treated their new sheriff. Past is past, we figured.

Photo by Ben Taylor

Photo by Ben Taylor

Marilyn and I took turns on Gabby’s Donkey. Photo op time for Pilgrims who secretly think they’re not really dudes.

Photo by Ben Taylor

Clementiny – Photo by Ben Taylor

Clementiny, Gabby’s younger pal, looked on with bemusement. Probably a dawning awareness of what the future held with more Pilgrims looking for their fifteen minutes of cowboy fame.

Photo by Ben Taylor

Photo by Ben Taylor

We were burning daylight as we pushed up the mountain road. Lunch still rested unsteadily with us. The chow had been good but our guts are not what they used to be.

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We found Superstition Mountain and the land surrounding the Lost Dutchman’s Mine. Nice scenery, certainly evocative of the movies of my youth. Nature provided a clean, pristine, multi-hued vista contrasted with the grainy black and white images of those old movies.

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We sighed in the silent satisfaction you get from seeing those fabled images up close. In my sense memory, scenes from the movies played out in a seamless juxtaposition with all that our eyes now saw and recorded. If you love westerns, it doesn’t get any better than this!!

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Daylight was draining as we rode back down the road, stopping here and there to savor the endless scenes of wonder.

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One last sunset beckoned. We found our spot. Our host and old pal, Ben was off somewhere. I spied him lurking amid the tumbleweed and cactus. He had a strange look on his face. Too familiar and scary. Ben reminded me of Fred C. Dobbs in his last moments of sanity in the Sierra Madre mountains.

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Maybe we had spent too much time around the ghost of the Lost Dutchman.

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Maybe the sun had gotten to us. Maybe it figured to end this way, as sure as the turning of the earth.

GHOSTS | THE DAILY POST

BIG STUFF IN BLACK & WHITE

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Large Subjects

Large is, of course, relative. A sunflower is large compared to the bee gathering its pollen, but a mountain is forever big … unless the other mountains nearby are huge.

We took so many pictures in Arizona, there are still hundreds of them I have yet to process. The first three were taken this past January, but (finally) processed today. Because mountains and deserts and giant cacti … you can’t argue with designating them as “large.” And per Cee’s advice, I’ve been having fun playing with filters.

Three big date palms under a bigger dome of sky against a huge backdrop of mountains & desert

Three big date palms under a bigger dome of sky against a huge backdrop of mountains & desert

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear …

The Superstitions are big, but so are the saguaro ... and that wonderful, big sky ...

The Superstitions are big, but so are the saguaro … and that wonderful, big sky …

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And here, we have a pretty big boat in the driveway of a rather small house.

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Cee's Black & White Photo Challenge Badge

SAVE THE SPARE

Spare. It’s when you need two tries to get all the pins down at the bowling alley. Not as good as a strike, but not bad, either. Respectable.

A spare tire on the road is a must. Even though tires rarely pop these days the way they did back in the golden olden days. Still, stuff happens. Nails, glass and the miscellaneous road rubble are always there to puncture a sidewall or flay a tread.

You can be spare and lean, a mean machine. All muscle and fat-free.

And then … you could be a leftover. The remaining single of what was previously a set.

Where they were purchased.

Where they were purchased.

Which brings me to the lovely green earrings I bought while we were in Arizona. I spotted them and the sales lady and co-owner of the shop said “Oh, yes. And they hang so beautifully,” which shows a deep understanding of earrings.

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I was enchanted and obliged to buy them, especially since I have a wonderful green turquoise pendant with which these dangles would go perfectly, and harmoniously blend. While acquiring them, I realized there were several other small items without which I could not survive.

So I bought a second pair of earrings plus a nicely coördinated choker too. It was off-season for tourism, so discounts were meaningful … and the jewelry looked so good on me.

In my defense, I would like to point out that these were my only purchases for the trip … a level of self-control that was aided by avoiding anyplace that sold jewelry. And I had not let Garry buy me anything for Christmas because I absolutely knew in my heart that something lovely was waiting in Arizona.

A month (two?) ago, I was wearing my lovely green earrings with the coördinated choker. When I went to remove the earrings, instead of a pair of earrings, I was wearing one of each pair I had bought. I dug around in the cache bowl in which I put my jewelry when I remove it at night and found one matching earring — but not the second green one.

I was devastated. How could I possibly lose one of those earrings? We had recently traveled for a weekend, so I checked the suitcases, all my travel jewelry pouches, then emptied out the cache dishes and both earring drawers in my jewelry chest. No green earring. I now had one green dangly earring. A spare.

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I put the single green one back in the bowl and tried to gain some perspective. While it was a very lovely earring, it wasn’t terribly expensive (but it was a “one of a kind”) and losing an earring is not the end of the world. It just feels like the end of the world.

Life went on. Yesterday, I went looking for a pair of earrings in that same little bowl … and the second green earring was there. Garry tried to blame me (“You didn’t look hard enough”) but I was not having it. I emptied that bowl. I tore everything apart,

It’s those thieving pixies. Or maybe mini demons. There’s a fair chance that Bonnie is a demon. She acts like one.

I know for sure — that earring was not there. Until yesterday, when it was.

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I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE | Spare

DAY TWO – THE SEVEN DAY NATURE CHALLENGE

I feel honored to be chosen by Cee Neuner  to participate in the Seven Day Nature Challenge.

I am supposed to post a photo per day for seven days. The subject can be anything from the natural world. Each day I will try to nominate a new participant.  I’ll do the best I can with that, but if you would like to participate … especially if you are a nature photographer … please, contact me. I prefer to not draft people without asking first.

I have thousands of photographs, about 90% landscapes and other natural subjects. Autumn, the Blackstone River, water fowl, Arizona, and sunrises are all favorite subjects. This has encouraged me to go back into my files and process pictures that I’ve never worked with.

THE SUPERSTITION MOUNTAINS

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I took these photographs on one wonderful, long day in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona. It was mid January with the sun high in the sky. The Superstitions (locally called “the Supes”) are impressive and forbidding. Beautiful to look at and a joy to photograph.

This final photograph has the distinction of being unprocessed except for a bit of cropping. It looked exactly like this, except maybe better.

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We took thousands of pictures in Arizona. I haven’t gotten to processing more than a quarter of them. I tried to limit myself to one picture today, but I failed. Sorry!

Cee and I are acquainted with most of the same groups of photo bloggers and pretty much anyone I can think to nominate has already been nominated. If by some quirk of luck, you have been overlooked, PLEASE participate. Consider yourself nominated and chosen! Especially if these are the kind of pictures you usually post, it’s no stretch to just post them as part of the challenge. Come one, come all!

CONVERGENCE: BLACK & WHITE SUNDAY

Black & White Sunday: Convergence

There’s a short story that goes with this picture.

It was January in Arizona. A beautiful day in the desert. We stopped to take some pictures of the distant mountains. I looked overhead and saw the wires stretching from horizon to horizon.

I wanted the convergence of the wires, but to get it, I had to shoot from underneath the wires. It was the only way to get that  perspective. Which meant a long walk.

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I’m not an enthusiastic hiker these days, but I wanted this picture. So, I walked.

I’ve been trying to find a way to satisfactorily process this photograph ever since. I’ve tried many combinations of filters to make the wires stand out against the sky. I like this version the best so far. It’s surprisingly difficult to get the wires to display properly.