Roda’s “Critter Connection” Challenge, Day 6

This is the last desert critter that I have to post. I admit it has been easy to spot these guys in the hot, bright environment. We have been back in Redmond for two days and I have not seen quite as much wildlife. It is cooler and darker here, I hope I will be able to catch a glimpse of something in the garden!

desert

Our very first night in our new home in Tucson was rather eventful. The home was vacated by the previous owners about one month before we could get there to take possession. We didn’t consider this to be a problem until we realized that there was also 4 weeks of no pest control and the house was devoid of furniture or movement which usually deters pests. Additionally, we had no beds so we would be sleeping on the floor while we waited for those to arrive. I was taking a shower that evening when I heard my husband shout out “we have a scorpion in the bedroom!” I hopped out fast and saw the little moving critter by the baseboard a few feet from where we were planning on sleeping. My hubby jumped into action and whacked it with his flip flop, killing it instantly! All we had to gather it up with was a paper plate.

scorpion 1

This turned out to be one of three that my husband had to “take care of”, but after that we did not see anymore in the house. Just the tarantulas!

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Rhoda’s “Critter Connection” Challenge, Day 5

Every morning we check the pool for dead animals that have fallen in overnight. It is sad but it is not that uncommon for desert critters to accidentally fall in and drown while trying to grab a drink. What is interesting about the grasshoppers is that they tend to float on top of the water with no real plan to get themselves out later. They are also huge!

So, my hubby goes along the side and rescues as many as he can by flicking them onto the patio. This guy immediately tried to fly away and managed to hit the wall and then tried to walk away.

Now that we have left for a month, I wonder how the rest will get out!

Roda’s “Critter Connection” Challenge, Day 4

grass bug 2

The other day we were walking by our gate which leads into the backyard and there appeared to be some grass stuck to the iron work.

grass bug 4

When we brushed it off, it landed on the ground and, to our surprise, began to crawl away! We realized it was a type of stick bug, brilliantly camouflaged for the desert grasses that are everywhere near our property.  A little research lead us to the Walking Stick species most commonly found in the desert.

grass bug 1

I actually think he is pretty cute!

Roda’s “Critter Connection” Challenge, Day 3

snake

So a funny thing happened on my last short training run. I only had 4 miles on the schedule and I was still trying to get acclimated to running in the heat and the elevation of Tucson, so I went down to my favorite running path at the Rillito River trail. There is no actual river, it is a dry lake bed, but that’s not the point of this story.

It was fairly early because I wanted to avoid the higher temps later in the day. I started out westbound with the sun to my back and, as I was going along the paved trail, I noticed several runner/walkers on the adjacent dirt trail. I started to consider moving over to the trail myself to try out something new. The only reason that I decided not to run on the loose, dry sand was that I was concerned that the surface would be too soft and would stress out my already sore calves. So I plodded along to the 2 mile mark and turned around for the home stretch. I was now pointed directly into the east rising sun. I had my sunglasses on but still could only see a few precious feet in front of me. I was on my last half mile, running on the right hand side of the path when “something big” caught in my left peripheral vision. I had run right past the business end of this beautiful rattlesnake! He was not as far over the center line when I blew past him, but I had to stop and fiddle with my camera to get a shot of him as he continued to advanced across the path. This snake did not care about my presence, or that of the rest of the folks that gathered to watch him cross the road. It never coiled or warned us with his rattle. He was totally unconcerned about the humans and knew he had the right of way. To my credit, I did mange to pause my running app (because every runner knows that keeping your stats intact is far more important than protecting your life) and got a couple shots, at distance, of this impressive 4 footer!

I now have a better reason to not run on the dirt trail by the side of the running path!

Roda’s “Critter Connection” Challenge, Day 2

another spider

I realize this makes two consecutive days that I have highlighted a spider and that was not my original intent. But when I went to get the mail from the box, which is at the end of our very long, very steep driveway, I ran across this guy. He managed to get the prime spot along the driveway that gets the most insect traffic. It is a really windy day here and this shot was hard to frame, but I think you can appreciate the large abdomen with its interesting markings. I have no idea what species this is but I will be watching to see if he gets this prime spot again! Location, location, location!

 

Roda’s “Critter Connection” Challenge

The amazing and efferveiscent Roda has issued a challenge! Check out her inspiring blog and this post: https://growingself.blog/2017/09/19/critter-connection-challenge/   if you want to play along at home!

I was not sure that I was following the spirit of the challenge as it is to capture critters through photography, while they are interacting with nature. But I checked with Roda first to approve my photo for the day, and she said to go for it! This black, male Arizona Desert Tarantula decided to pop through an impossibly small drainage hole near our pool. This was just the second night in our new home here in Tucson and we had no idea that these even existed! I am by no means a squeamish girly, girl but I will confess to hopping on top of the nearest bench when this started toward me!

spider 2

I guess you could say this arachnid was interacting with nature, if you count my husband as the organic life form since he was the one to use the broom handle to coax this little beast back into the hole.

spider 1

We quickly jumped on the computer, once our heart rates slowed down, and found out that these are really quite docile and not prone to attacking unless aggressively provoked. It was true that this guy just turned around and lumbered back down the hole with very little persuasion. We figured we had dodged that bullet until the next morning!

My hubby told me that he had a “surprise” in the other room and I should look under the cup in the middle of the floor. Fearing a scorpion (that post is tomorrow!) I did not take the bait. This is what he had trapped early in the morning.

spider three

This little lady, we know it is female due to the color, decided to get into the house! She was smaller but, UGH! Not what I wanted to see first thing in the morning! She calmly walked into the waste basket and was released outside to continue (hopefully) feasting on the scorpions! This was not the only “interesting” and potentially harmful creature we have encountered in the desert, but those pictures will have to wait for the next Critter Connection installment!

Have a wonderful and tarantula free day everyone!

And the Winner is…..

Tucson, Arizona!

night view

This is the view from our new backyard!

If you have been following me from the beginning, then you know that I have been searching for the answer to the question “what’s next?” The reason I began this blog was to work through this extremely tough question of transition, as we move from full time parenting into our empty nest phase.  This has been a tumultuous year, to say the least. We have been roaming around, renting houses in a variety of states and environments looking for what feels right. We have spent time in Idaho, Eastern Washington, Oregon, Kansas, Nevada and Arizona. In each place we checked out the running paths, yoga studios, golf courses and climbing gyms. We wanted a place that was not too far from our extended family, all of which are in the Seattle area, and provided the activities that we have been enjoying the past few years. There was one more big requirement: SUN!

We love Seattle, especially in the late spring, summer and early fall when the weather is fabulous and the running and climbing are to be enjoyed outside.

But then, somewhere around mid October, it gets dark and the clouds open up and begin to pour and it does not stop until May! No, I am not exaggerating!

In late February we went to Scottsdale to explore the area. Now, we have been to Sedona and Phoenix before, but this time was different. I wrote a post about some of our time there, a few others as well. But when it came time to leave, it hit me. I knew, somehow, that I could be happy in Arizona. I told my husband and we talked about nothing else the entire drive back to Seattle. By the time we got home, we were making plans to look, really look, at the potential of buying  a second home in AZ.

tucson

We got pre approved, found a realtor and went to Tucson for the first time ever. We liked the views, the mountains, and the potential for all our outdoor activities that we have become  accustomed. We arrived in June, when it was 115°F, not exactly the best time for driving around and house hunting! Our first stop was the local indoor climbing gym. Rocks and Ropes which turned out to be perfect for us. The routes are tougher and longer than our home gym, which will keep us challenged while we are in Tucson.

tucson climb

We also made our way up Mt. Lemmon, which is great for hiking, climbing and has a ski resort in the winter.

AZ_MtLemmon04

climbing

Can’t wait to be these guys!

Near the end of our trip we managed to get in a short run (it was 80°F at 8am) at a bike/run path that runs the entirety of the downtown area.

tucson run

This path runs along a dry river bed which is full during the monsoon season

We fell in love with the place. Did I mention the views?

tucson mountains

This is one of the five mountain ranges around us

stars from lemmon

Tucson is one of the premier star gazing areas in the country. There are city ordinances governing the lighting in downtown to preserve the star quality. This is another view from Mt. Lemmon

Our home was the third property we viewed on the first day of house hunting. We both knew, as soon as we set foot inside the door, that this was the place for us. It will take several months or so to know for sure if this snowbird lifestyle is right for us. In the meantime I am excited about moving in (we close in August) setting up the house and making it a home! I waited to post about the new place to make sure it would go through (you know, inspections and paperwork). I am sure there will be more posts and pictures to come once we take possession of the house.

Since today is our 27th Wedding Anniversary I decided that this would be the perfect time to talk about our new phase and life direction. Thank you for reading this far and sharing this special moment with me!