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.


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.


Wherever there is water, there is a tree …

WordPress Photo Challenge: Out of This World

Nothing look more other-worldly to me than the desert. Even when I am there, it all seems unreal to me.

Of strange materials …

From the huge blue dome of the sky, to the rocky ground and the strange trees and cactus, it is another world.

Not far from Phoenix …



Marilyn found them. An entire folder of my pictures from January 2016 in Arizona. Apparently, they were never opened since she downloaded them.

Nice surprise. She fixed them up and here they are. Hope you like them!


A cactus sunset – near the Superstitions


Saguaro along the mountains

I have been going through my folders. My photography folders. There are an awful lot of them and within each folder are even more folders. While searching for missing photographs, I have discovered there are thousands of photographs — good ones — which were never processed. Why not? Because I moved on to the next batch of photos and never went back. Two weeks later, I didn’t remember these photographs existed.

Phoenix Mountains and a saguaro

The good news is that I have some amazing pictures simply waiting for me to get to them. The bad news is that even after I find a great batch of waiting photographs, when I go back to work on them, I probably will have forgotten them.

Shadow of the mountain

The exception to this are vacation photographs because these are always in separate folders by events — so I know where they are. Which is why the first new batches you’ll see will be from Arizona 2016.

Three mountain peaks

I can find them. They are listed in the “A”s. And there are a lot of pictures those folders.

Wide mountains with saguaro



Ironwood in the desert

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.

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017


Share Your World – March 13, 2017

Do you push the elevator button more than once?  Do you really believe it makes the elevator faster?

I know in my heart of hearts that pushing the button once is like pushing it a thousand times. The problem is that half the time, the light behind the button is out. The bulb went. So. I push the button. Nothing happens.

Not the right elevator?

A philosophical issue arises. Did I push the button … or did I not push the button? IF I pushed it, did it work? Is the absence of a bulb mean a failed process? Will pushing it again accomplish something else?

I push it again. Still, no light. By now, the conveyance is conveying. Up or down, we are on our way. Somewhere. Will it be where I want to go? Tune in next week and I promise I’ll let you know!

Do you plan out things usually or do you do them more spontaneous (for example if you are visiting a big city you don’t know?)

I never visit big cities I don’t know without a hotel reservation — and a parking space. Other places — gentler, less busy places — we will go with or without plans, depending on the time of year. If it is full tourist season, we need a reservation. But if it is off-season, we might go and see what comes up. Some of our best trips have been to places we were only planning to be for an afternoon, then decided to stay overnight.

In this part of the world, season matters. The more upstate you go, the more likely you are to need a reservation. For mountains and shore or merely to go leafing. In New England, going out to view leaves with a camera is a huge recreational activity. Bigger than summer vacation. This isn’t about how we feel about it. It’s about living somewhere that millions of people want to visit.

Locally, if you want to do anything involving the beach and it’s summer, you absolutely need a reservation. Even if you have an RV, you will still need a reservation.You are not going to find a lovely little place to stay on Cape Cod in June, July, or August. Probably not in May or September, either. And, to be fair, the Cape is insanely overcrowded in the summer. It’s really lovely in the second half of October. I recommend it.

The moral of the story? If you live in a vacation location, make sure you and your calendar have a relationship. New England has gotten back to being more of a vacation site over past 10 years … as it was 100 years ago. It has come around. Again.

Describe yourself in at least four uplifting words.

Uplifting? Um. I’m not sure about uplifting. Okay. But not very uplifting.

If you ask me for information or directions, you will really get them. I’m not good with quick answers. My husband has learned to say “JUST A QUICK ANSWER ON THIS ONE PLEASE,” which means I should leave the 40-page paper on my desk and give him the single-sentence version. But sometimes, I can’t.

It’s not even sarcasm. I think weird before I think deep. If you ask me something, I’m likely to give you one really strange answer. I have always been like this.

I love animals. All animals. That’s my most uplifting quality. Usually they like me, too. But they like Garry better.

I am a knee-jerk apologist. I apologize to everyone and everything. Tripped over the dog? Get down on the floor and apologize until dog gets annoyed and leaves. Walk into a table leg? Apologize to table and leg.

I am not perfect or even close.  I am, however, a hard tryer.

I believe we are supposed to care about people who need help. Poor people, sick people, hurt people, old people, children. Immigrants. I think we should be kind to those who most need kindness. It doesn’t mean I don’t have a sharp temper for which I will wind up making several million apologies, but that’s not the same thing. A sharp temper is just that. It comes (embarrassing). It goes. STILL embarrassing. Garry has a good solid temper of his own and you should see us when we both get going.

Eventually, we forget what we were fighting about and watch some television. As I said previously, pretending nothing happened is always a great way to end a stupid fight. Especially when you are fighting with someone who, like you, never loses.

If you had a choice which would be your preference salt water beaches, fresh water lakes, ocean cruise, hot tub, ski resort or desert? 

We’ve been on two cruises and we loved them. Why? Because once you get past the hassle of getting aboard — the traffic and hauling your stuff  — you are free. No calls. No mail. Nothing but blue ocean, leaping dolphins, and periodic stops on sandy beaches or other cool place.

After which, you go back to the ship, eat far too much, watch a show, take in a few movies. You can watch the latest films in your own little room or in a theater, too … which for movie buffs is a great thing. I thought a small ship would be better than a big one, but it doesn’t really matter.

The ship is the ship is the ship. They are beautiful, well-kept. The food is amazing. And for however long you are on board, life is just GREAT.

However, we’ve had two glorious vacations in Arizona and many wonderful trips to Cape Cod and other areas along the shore. We’ve been to the top of the mountains in Maine and New Hampshire and to the perfect village in Vermont. We’ve had a great time in Disney World, California, Gettysburg, Cooperstown and New York. We had a wonderful few weeks in Ireland, too.

The only time it really didn’t work out well was when it rained continuously for the entire time. There’s not much you can do up in the mountains of New Hampshire when it’s pouring. Generally, wherever we are, we have a good time. It’s stupid to not have a good time on vacation. If you are away, in a nice place, but not enjoying it? That’s silly.



Only one tree grows naturally in the great Sonoran desert that fills much of Arizona and continues down into Mexico. The dominant site throughout the desert is, of course, the huge Saguaro cacti.



Now that they are protected, they are everywhere, including dominating well-tailored back and front yards of suburban homes in and around Phoenix. You can’t cut them down, so no matter how well you plan your garden, nothing prevents a cactus from decided to take root there.




The ironwood is not a cactus, but a tree. It can live in the hottest, driest possible growing condition. It is the only tree that will survive in that environment without human intervention.


An old, gnarled ironwood tree is a true symbol of the North American west. Resilient doesn’t cover it. This is ultimate survival.

I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016


A Photo a Week Challenge: ONLY One

In this challenge, we are asked to share a picture or several with a single subject. This describes probably 40,000 pictures in my files, so the real problem for me is finding just a couple that are special and singular in every sense of the word.

There’s something lonely about the desert anyhow. Here are three pictures of single subject on a bright January day in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona.


Lone set of wires travel through the desert


One big saguaro cactus framed against the sky and mountains


A lonely ironwood in the dry desert


A Photo a Week Challenge: Horizon

From Nancy Merrill comes a challenge:

In a new post, created for this challenge, share a photo or two of horizons. 

I do mostly landscapes … so … horizons are us. But which shall it be? So hard to choose!

It’s hard to beat the horizons under the big sky of the southwest. There’s just something about the vastness of the spaces and that great dome of sky that goes on forever.

Photo: Marilyn Armstrong

Photo: Marilyn Armstrong — Attean View, Jackman, Maine

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong — Phoenix Mountains, Phoenix, Arizona