Category Archives: Travel

Far from the Maddening Crowd


These are not great photos because they were taken directly into the sun but I have tried to capture the crowds that came to look at wildflowers at Lost Dutchman State Park Arizona. I estimated there were about 250 flower lovers.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to see such crowds coming to look at wildflowers.

The people were of all ages. Old Codgers like me to young bright and eager kids. It was spectacular. Wonders never cease.



If you click on the photo and make it bigger I think you will see what the park is usually like. Finally I was far from the Maddening crowd after I lost them. I took a wrong turn.   How can you lose 250 people?


Flower Children going wild at Picacho Peak




This was another strange day during a super bloom. I went to Picacho Peak State Park by myself since Christiane was not feeling well. As soon as I drove into the park I realized there would be trouble. Once again there was a lineup of cars.


This time, as the above sign indicated, it was really slow. I considered driving home until I noticed progress in the line was excruciatingly slow but had no stopped completely. Flower children are determined folks.

I loved a licence plate on a car next to me. The owner was happy to have me photograph it. She said it was a favorite saying of her mother.

The flowers were definitely worth the wait. Word of a super bloom was spreading, but I was told every year at this time this park was filled with lovers of wild flowers.

The wind was not my friend and made wildflower photography very challenging. There was a family with 2 lovely young girls being photographed among the flowers. I think they were meant to be graduation photographs.

“Super bloom” is the term given to an above-average number of blooms of desert wildflowers blooming at the same time. It is a rare occurrence that should be appreciated when it happens.

I read an article about the flower boom at Picacho Peak State Park and the man who was interviewed said it “my Superbowl.”  That’s the way I felt about it too.

Picacho Peak

Picacho Peak

Hawk’s nest in a Saguaro


There was nest of a hawk or eagle in the crotch of this Saguaro butwas empty.  It might be that no bird was occupying it, but also it could be that the crowds were spooking the birds and not able to nest.  I hate to think that eggs in the nest were not being attended to because of the crowds.

This is another shot of the saguaro with an empty nest. Somebody ought to have warned the birds that this would be a super bloom year and hence they would be plagued by flower children.



Is Flower watching more Popular than Golf?



I went to Lost Dutchman State Park today for a wildflower walk with the Park Ranger and I couldn’t believe my eyes! Normally, at such events, which I frequently attend there are about 10 to 12 people at the most, that attend. This year at one such event, when I drove into the park there was a lineup-from the Interpretive Center and Ranger Station all the way to the highway. It must have been about ½ mile long. It was impossible.

Owl Clover


I wondered why there were so many people. First, I was told, it was the start of Spring Break so lots of young people were out and about. That has happened before and there were never such long line-ups. It must be something else. And there was something else.  It was a super bloom. People came from far and wide to see wildflowers.

Can you believe that there were more people coming to watch flowers than golf?  I estimated there were about 250 people signed up for this walk and talk. I was stunned. I’m sure no T-box had half as many people. The poor Park interpreter, a fine young lady, had to stand on top of a picnic table and shout to the crowd to be heard. It was crazy. Are wildflowers guys like me taking over the world? It sure looked that way to me.

She did the best she could. She was an enthusiastic flower girl and gave us some interesting information about wildflowers. The line was so long no one could hear what was being said at the front except those right beside her so he always stopped to let us hear what she was saying. At least she did it to the best of her ability.

Because the line was so long about half-way through the walk I got separated from the group There was a place where many people were going up the trail to the mountain and others turned left. I did not realize it until it was too late, but I followed the wrong group. After that I was on my own.


A Flower Child arrives in Heaven




When I was a young lad going to University, it was the time of hippies and flower children. I always considered myself as on the fringes of this group. The term we liked to refer to ourselves was “freaks.”  But I always liked the expression “flower children.”  It called to mind these crazy kids at the Kent State  University Vietnam War Protest, and other places, who stood in front of the national guard members that were pointing their rifles at them and they smiled at the guards and placed flowers in the barrels of the gun.  How crazy is that?   Much to my surprise I actually became a flower child of sorts many years later when as an adult of sorts I became interested in wildflowers. I remember my mother was amazed. How could this happen?  Well, my answer to her was, “How could it not happen?” What is there not to like about wildflowers?

It was a very windy day, so I gave up on trying to freeze images of flowering blowing in the breeze.

One afternoon this winter in Arizona Christiane and I went for a jaunt on Red Mountain Road and Saguaro Lake and then headed south to complete a loop to Busch Highway and then Usery Pass Road.  We saw many wildflowers along the way. But we were really shocked at Usery Pass Road  where there was a long line of cars parked beside the road. What was happening we wondered? It was the wildflower children going crazy photographing flowers. My sport has been turned over to the rabble! And there was good reason for that. The flowers were outstanding.


There was a traffic jam of sorts in the countryside where we saw these wild flowers. Everyone, it seemed wanted to see these gems. Who can blame them?


More than remarkable


At Usery Pass Road, on the north east edge of Mesa Arizona there were carpets of flowers, particularly California Golden Poppy, also called Mexico Poppy.

One person we met today who lives here said it was the most spectacular bloom of flowers he had seen in 40 years!

It was astonishing what can happen to the desert. The Sonoran desert gets more rain than most deserts so it has the greatest diversity of plant life of any of the North American deserts. But this was unusual.

First, the desert was greener than we had ever seen it before. By desert standards it was lush. Ditches even had water close to our rented house, where we rarely saw water. This year was special.

To call this year in the desert “remarkable” as I had been doing was really to use a word that is too mild. It was sensational. It was heaven for a flower child like me.

Super Bloom



Everyone in Arizona this year, as in many other places in the southern USA, complained a lot about the bad weather. I admit it—I was one of them.  Everyone complained. Some told me it was the worst winter in 40 years.  It was awful. But it was also great!


From the perspective of a wildflower guy—like me—it was fantastic. Conditions were great.  I learned from Ranger B an interpreter at the Maricopa Parks where we often attended his talks, that the ideal conditions for wildflower growth were a wet autumn followed by consistent occasional rain from January to March. This is exactly what happened this past year. He said it happened about once every 11 years. Well it happened this year. Life is good.


I had been hoping to experience one of those years ever since I heard about it.  Ranger B says it was fantastic to see. He was right.


The result of these ideal conditions is called by local “a Super Bloom.”  And that was what we experienced this year. Now I say it was the best weather ever in Arizona.  Though, I admit, I also complained about it. Some of us are never happy and are never satisfied.



What are we waiting for?


Spending 3 months (this year nearly 4 months), living in the USA I get a lot of news and commentary from that country while there. Climate change is of course a hot topic (opun intended) there as it is in Canada.

We can avoid catastrophic climate change if we have the will to do it. Yet many people don’t think this affects them. Many people think this is someone else’s problem. Many think the economy is more important. Many of us don’t realize that most of the solutions to this big problem are “already in our hands.”

Added to that, these unfortunate changes are already affecting us in our homes, food, drinking water, in nature, and even in the economy which we think is so important. We are already paying a hefty price because we have delayed action for so long.  In part that is because some corporations have been spending a lot of money to confuse us and persuade us that the problem is not that bad. We have allowed corporations to do that to us.

For decades, scientists like Katherine Hayhoe, one of the leading scientists on Climate change in the US, have been warning us but we have been ignoring their sage advice and instead listening to business leaders who have been exaggerating the cost of change and minimizing the costs of doing nothing.  That advice from our business leaders has come at an enormous cost. And we are paying it already. And we will have to pay even more.

We already have solutions at hand here today as the impacts of climate change have started to affect us.  As Hayhoe, asked, “what are we waiting for?

 The UN has been warning that we are headed for temperature rises much more than 1.5ºC and to some people that doesn’t sound like it would be so bad.  Hayhoe asks us to think of it like the human body. The temperature of the climate has been as stable as the temperature of the human body throughout the life of civilization. As Hayhoe concluded,

 “If our body is running a fever of one or two degrees Celsius or three or four or five or six degrees Celsius, that is life-threatening. So we have already, thanks to the Paris Agreement, changed — reduced the amount of change that we expect in the policies that have already been adapted by at least a degree. But we still need more, because every bit of warming carries a cost with it.”


It used to be that we could not see the changes in front of us so perhaps that is why we did not act. Now we can see the changes. As Hayhoe said,

“Over the last year, at least one in three Americans were personally affected by the way that climate change is making our extreme weather more severe. We might live somewhere where sea level is rising, where hurricanes are getting stronger, where wildfires burn in greater area, where the summers are now dominated by record-breaking heat waves. Climate change is no longer a future issue. It is right here where we live. It is right now. And the time to fix it is also here now.”

Hayhoe always makes it plain, but we just don’t listen. And our failure to listen and act, in my view, is a symptom of decline.  It is hard to deny the decline of the west.


Humanity is on Thin Ice that is Melting Fast


Our future keeps getting more dire, but we keep doing nothing about it.

In March 2023 while we were relaxing in Arizona complaining about the cool wet winter we were having, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, issued one more report, in a very long series of similar reports, warning us, again, that the climate is getting worse and we are not doing anything about it.

The latest report shows that the world is very likely to miss its publicly declared goal to hold global warming to 1.5ºC or 2.7ºF. Remember that is the upper limit most of the countries of the world agreed we should not allow global temperatures to rise beyond, because the consequences would be catastrophic. If that level is exceeded world scientists have agreed our planet will pass a tipping point we will not be able to reverse. The damage will be that serious. Passing that limit will mean dangerous sea levels will be inevitable, many species will go extinct, and millions of people will suffer serious harm and die, including, of course, the poorest who will by and large suffer the most. But it won’t be just the poorest.

Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General is always bluntly eloquent on the subject. He said, we should think of it this way: “Humanity is on thin ice that is melting fast. In fact, he said,  the rise of temperatures in the last half century, roughly the time in which Christiane and I have been married, has been “the highest experienced by our world in the last 2,000 years!” Added to that, he said, “concentrations of carbon are already at their highest in the last 2,000 years… The climate time bomb is ticking.” The ice we are standing on is melting and the climate bomb is ticking.   These are 2 mixed metaphors but it would be pedantic to worry about that.  And what do we do about it? Do we treat this like the emergency it is?  Not really?  Are we stupid? Yes. Really.

Amna Nawaz the PBS co-host of Newshour invited one of my favorite climate scientists to comment. This was Katherine Hayhoe from Texas Tech University. Besides being a staunch Christian she is one of the most respected scientists on the subject in the US. She began, by saying those dramatic words by the UN Secretary-General were “completely justified.” She did not mince words either.


She reminded us that the window of opportunity the world had in which to change its activities to ensure a better future is rapidly closing, yet our emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise steadily. We are not making progress. We are still falling farther behind. She also reminded us that 1.5 degrees was not a magic turning point or threshold. It is a goal that we have set for ourselves, because we know beyond that limit things will get very bad for the human race.  But as she said, “Every little bit that the planet warms carries additional costs with it. So, how much do we need to do? As much as possible. When? As soon as possible. Why? Because we will all benefit from that action.”

That is actually pretty simple:  Every bit makes a difference and we will all benefit from doing the right thing and the sooner we do it the better off we all will be!

 Hayhoe also pointed out that which we can all see already:

We are already seeing the impacts here today in the way that climate change is loading the weather dice against us.

We know we have always had droughts and floods and hurricanes and heat waves. But, in a warming world, they’re getting stronger and more dangerous. And they’re impacting all of us. But they are particularly affecting those who are vulnerable and marginalized the most.

The warmer the world gets, the more it endangers our food supply, our water supply, the safety of our homes, our own health, our economy and supply chains, the natural environment. Every aspect of life on Earth, including our life on Earth, is at risk the warmer this planet gets.


The UN has also made it clear that we should cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030, which is now less than 7 years away, and we must stop adding any more carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere entirely by 2050.

Who does not think the west is declining? Declining really is too mild a word when you  are heading toward catastrophe.

Why so much rage?


While we were in Arizona this year, before the end of January, there had been 39 mass shootings in the US.  People keep talking about better gun laws (as they should) but really there is a much bigger issue. The bigger issue is why is there so much rage in the country, particularly among young men? The mass shootings are overwhelmingly committed by angry young men. That is a very big question. And there is no simple answer but there are many plausible answers.

The gunman killed 11 people and injured another 9. After the shooting there was a lot of hand wringing and  surprise in the California community.  Their local State Senator said Monterey was “a close-knit community” and “a great place to raise children.”  Really? This is what they call a close-knit community in the US? California has the lowest gunfire mortality in the US probably because it has the strictest gun laws. Yet even in California there is a mass shooting every 8 days! Compared to communities around the world those “strict” gun laws are among the weakest! That’s how Americans like it. They want weak gun laws.

But I am actually more interested in a deeper question: why is there so much rage in America?  We have rage in Canada too but nothing like the US. What is driving young men to such violent fury? It seems to me that this question gets less attention than it should.

Adam Winkler, a professor of law at UCLA said “we can’t stop people from getting angry, but we can make it a little bit harder to get guns when they are in a passionate state.” That is a good idea, but why give up on trying to reduce the rage?  What makes him think that is hopeless? Has anyone actually tried it?

This is the issue the country should be dealing with.  The gun law debate in the US is frankly sterile. Nothing of substance happens. No one, it seems to me, is looking at the issue of that desperate anger. That is the problem Americans need to resolve. Until they do, no one can intelligibly deny that America, the self-proclaimed leader of the free world, is a country in serious decline. In Canada one of our major political parties is determined to follow America. Would that be wise? That rage seems to be coming our way. We should not amplify it.