Some of the places I’ve seen during the last three weeks:  (left to right, top to bottom)

San Diego, El Malpais National Monument, The Kirk Douglas Room at El Rancho Motel in Gallup, old Buckhorn Baths Motel near home, Yuma Territorial Prison, San Xavier Mission,  and Bonneville Salt Flats.

I’ve been to other places too, but didn’t really have opportunities to take pictures.  If I hadn’t taken this job, I’d be missing out on a lot of new sights.

I love my job.

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AZ Sacaton Rest Area (1)

Ever since moving to Arizona, the weather’s been hot and dry.  Everyone kept saying, “but it’s a dry heat”.  True, the hot weather here is much more bearable that it was in Kansas City.  Problem is, I start to sweat when I’m outdoors, but it immediately evaporates.  Then I go indoors, still sweating.  In that cool air, nothing evaporates. so I usually soak my clothes like I’ve been standing in a rain storm.  Which brings me to monsoons.

Everyone here speaks longingly about monsoons like they’re talking about a loved one.  Haven’t yet experienced a monsoon at the house, but I’ve watched them forming.  In Kansas City, storms roll in fast, dump on you and roll on out.  Here, they take forever to form.  Like the picture above.  I took this at 2pm driving home from Tucson.  I was at dinner around 7pm, and this is what the sky looked like.

AZ Mesa Monsoon

It still isn’t raining.  It appears like I may experience my first monsoon at home sometime tonight.

Last night I was in Tucson, where I snapped this picture at sunset.

AZ Tucson Monsoon

It finally started storming about 10pm.  If that’s any indication, I might be able to see if my roof leaks around the same time tonight.

AZ Tuba City (5)

So this week, I worked in Monument Valley, Utah for a couple of days, after spending the 4th at home.  That’s one long drive.  Back in my Kansas City-based tech days, a drive longer than four or five hours was almost unheard of.  But now that I’m based in Phoenix, long six or seven hour drives to northern Arizona will be the norm.  That’s all right with me — I love driving.  Especially in this part of the country, as I’ve said before.

Today, driving home, I stopped by Navajo National Monument to see some cliff dwelling ruins I missed last year when on vacation.  Then, I’d taken a side trail and about died from the heat and low blood sugar on the way back.  I didn’t feel much like hiking down another trail that day.  But today was fine.

I’ve recently been thinking about why I like this part of the country and why my pictures usually don’t feature people and how the two might be related.  I think they are a reflections of my life.  The land has people, but not that many.  I take pictures of the bare and empty land.  If there’s a person, it’s usually by accident.  I purposefully crop them out of photos.  People are in my life, but they’re on the edge because I also crop them out.  I’m usually happy by myself.

AZ Tuba City (8)

I say I usually like being alone, but I also like being with old friends.  Today I shared a meal with a friend I hadn’t seen in about 30 years.  It was nice catching up on her life since we spent a sunny afternoon with my ex-wife hiking up Diamond Head Crater, on Oahu.  Arizona is about as different from Hawaii as you can get — I find it interesting how we’ve both ended up here, taking different paths in life.

Linda Sypkens and I -- 19841109

This was my friend and I in 1984.  She’s the sister of my best friend in college.  She and two friends came up to Iowa State from Missouri for this dance.  It was a lot of fun!

Flags

When I was a Kansas City-based field technician, I had to work on holidays if they fell during my work rotations.  I would normally be working tomorrow, but now that I’m a regional technician, I’m expected to stay home instead.  This feels weird.  I keep thinking I need to be somewhere in the morning.  I wonder if I’ll be able to relax enough to sleep in past 6am?

AZ Ajo

The Catholic Church in Ajo, AZ

I spent last week in northern Arizona on the Hopi reservation.  This week I drove around the southern part of the state.  Started the week in Phoenix, then Ajo, then Casa Grande, back to Ajo, then Tucson.  The week provided me with a few surprises, like the mountainous terrain on the Barry Goldwater Air Force Range, that there was even a bombing range out there, the picturesque plaza in Ajo, how green the Sonoran desert was, Kitt Peak National Observatory was just west of Tucson, and Tucson had more western-themed tourist attractions other than Old Tucson.  I took pictures!

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Sign at a rest stop on the Barry Goldwater Air Force Ran

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Trail Dust Town, in Tucson