HWY 80 to NEW MEXICO

After leaving Bisbee, our plan was to head east across the bottom of Arizona to the Chiricahua Mountains. This road took us through the small settlement of Apache near where Geronimo surrendered to the Us Army in 1886, ending the Indian wars.

© John Lovett 2018

Crossing into New Mexico, we stopped at a roadhouse in the little town of Rodeo. It was an interesting place with great food and an entertaining passage of local ranchers stopping in for coffee and gossip.

© John Lovett 2018

© John Lovett 2018

© John Lovett 2018

Further down the road a Museum had a great collection of local desert snakes – all safely behind glass. We hadn’t managed to see a rattle snake in all our wandering around, so this was a good opportunity to get a photograph.

© John Lovett 2018

Crossing back into Arizona, we headed up to Portal in the Chiricahua Mountains. The mountains were spectacular with birds and wildlife everywhere.

© John Lovett 2018  © John Lovett 2018 © John Lovett 2018 © John Lovett 2018

 

 

© John Lovett 2018

Hummingbirds were a lot of fun to photograph, being so small and moving so fast. Even at 2000th of a second their wings are blurred.
© John Lovett 2018 © John Lovett 2018 © John Lovett 2018 © John Lovett 2018 © John Lovett 2018

From Portal we climbed the mountains up to around 10,000 feet, passing the huge Morenci copper mine.

© John Lovett 2018

© John Lovett 2018

© John Lovett 2018

© John Lovett 2018

Old Indian cliff dwellings outside Camp Verde

© John Lovett 2018

TANQUE VERDE RANCH

Just outside Tucson, Arizona, is the Sonoran Desert. Tanque Verde Ranch is situated in the desert and joins the Sonoran Desert National Monument. The ranch was our venue for an enjoyable 5 day painting workshop organised by MISA.

Tanque Verde Ranch was a large cattle property in the early days, but now runs around 200 horses for visitors to explore the many desert riding trails.


Old, now abandoned, homestead.


Original Homestead


One of the ranches horse wranglers


Desert riders – heading for the blueberry pancake breakfast overlooking the mountains


Desert Bunny


Wagon from the wild wild west


Cowboy singer at a dinner under the cottonwoods – only sang cowboy songs.

Javelinas.


Wrangler with his horse


Outside the wranglers Quarters.


Horse yards


I love these American cowboy saddles.


Used horseshoes


Black and White, Red and Brown

Big old French Percheron


Wranglers Ropes


Tired and dusty


Desert Bathtub


Across the desert to the mountains

Saguaro Cactus

© John Lovett 2018
Sticks from the dead Saguaro cactus used for building.

© John Lovett 2018
Cactus Flower

© John Lovett 2018
Humming Bird

© John Lovett 2018Desert House Finch

© John Lovett 2018
Gambel’s Quail

© John Lovett 2018
Happy Horses

© John Lovett 2018
Tanque Verde Ranch accomodation

CENTRAL AUSTRALIA WORKSHOP

A couple of weeks before Winter is the perfect time to be in Central Australia. The days are warm and sunny, the nights are still mild and the chance of rain is close to zero.

We flew to Alice Springs via Sydney which took us across the top of the Simpson Desert. It is amazing how big and empty it looks from 11000 meters.© John Lovett 2017

 

We also crossed the Birdsville and Strzelecki tracks that we drove down last year

© John Lovett 2017

 

Flying over the MacDonnall Ranges shows just how ancient and distorted the landscape is in that part of the country.

© John Lovett 2017

When we arrived in Alice Springs we met our Bus driver Natalie and her awesome big Mercedes Bush Bus. She was passionate and enthusiastic, showing us all there was to see around Alice Springs, the Western MacDonnalls and Uluru Katajuta.

© John Lovett 2017

Our first stop was Glen Helen Lodge. We based ourselves there and visited the gorges of the West MacDonnall Ranges. A great spot with fantastic food and a view from our cabin door to die for.

© John Lovett 2017

Late afternoon Glen Helen

© John Lovett 2017

Piano with boots

© John Lovett 2017

I took  a helicopter ride over the Glen Helen Gorge/ Ormiston Pound. These ranges sure are impressive from the air.

© John Lovett 2017

© John Lovett 2017

© John Lovett 2017

 

Ringneck Parrot

© John Lovett 2017

 

Ellery Creek Big hole

© John Lovett 2017 © John Lovett 2017

© John Lovett 2017

© John Lovett 2017

© John Lovett 2017

© John Lovett 2017

 

Painting at Ormiston Gorge

© John Lovett 2017

 

Ochre Pits

© John Lovett 2017

 

Standley Chasm

© John Lovett 2017

 

We were lucky enough to be at Uluru for the annual camel races. The traditional Calcutta is held at the pub the night before race day. Lots of excitement and some hefty prices paid for these racing dromedaries.

© John Lovett 2017

The races were wild and crazy – Camels seem to have limbs all over the place when they run…  © John Lovett 2017

…handsome animals though!

© John Lovett 2017  © John Lovett 2017 © John Lovett 2017

 

The day following the races we spent the morning painting at the camel farm. Some of these animals looked to be suffering severe, post race,  hangovers.

© John Lovett 2017

© John Lovett 2017

© John Lovett 2017

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Sturt’s Desert Pea       © John Lovett 2017

 

Mutitjulu Waterhole

© John Lovett 2017

© John Lovett 2017

 

Walking through Bruce Munro’s Field of Lights installation was disorienting and fantastic

© John Lovett 2017© John Lovett 2017

 

Shallow water in Lake Amadeus.

© John Lovett 2017

 

Herons at Glen Helen  © John Lovett 2017

HIGH COUNTRY

Sometimes things just fall into place. Soon after agreeing to a workshop with the ASOC in Canberra, I received an email inviting me to a Canberra High School reunion – 5 days before the workshop.

Catching up with school friends from 45 years ago was amazing. Appearances had changed but personalities were just as they were way back then.

After the workshop and reunion we headed over the mountains west of Canberra and down to the high country and Kosciuszko National Park

 

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Driving down the New England Highway there are some very prosperous towns and others in slow decline. Back when these towns were established, being a days ride from the next town guaranteed their future. Today they are quickly passed through and forgotten. Here are the remnants of a few of them.

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Coolah Tops is a great National Park with sweeping views across the Liverpool Plains. I have never seen the country so green and cant believe the government would consider allowing a coal mine in, what must be some of the worlds best agricultural land.

snow8678 snow8689 snow8692 snow8702 snow8752 Falls near Sofala

snow8821This guy thought sticking his head under a rock made him invisible.

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We left Canberra and headed out through Brindabella to join the top end of the Long Plain Road. We were told the road was closed in winter due to snow, then re opened each October.

We drove in to find a locked gate leading to the National Park. As we were about to drive back a farmer, whose property the road runs through, turned up. After chatting for a while we were about to head off and drive the long way around when he kindly offered to unlock the gate and let us through.

Twenty kilometres down the track we were stopped by a fallen tree. Not being able to go back through the locked gate and unable to move the tree, our only option was to somehow get over it.

We built long ramps of logs and rocks to give us plenty of clearance. Unfortunately, as we descended the ramp the right hand front wheel sunk into the soft ground, hanging us up on the log. After four hours of jacking, packing and digging, all we managed to do was sink deeper into the soft ground.

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It was getting dark when we gave up digging so we spent an uncomfortable night camped at thirty degrees.

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The ground was too soft for us to lift the heavy truck so, in the morning, we contacted the National Park Office by satellite phone and explained our situation. They were fantastic and had a ranger up there with a chainsaw within a couple of hours.

As it turned out, National Parks were sending a tractor up to clear any fallen trees later that day. If only we had known. We could have saved 4 hours of hard work and camped on level ground! cutlogsnow9082 Coolamine Homestead was built in the late 1800’s when they used to run horses and cattle in the high country.

Today the cattle have all but disappeared but wild brumbies are breeding up.

snow9112 snow9116 snow9132 I spotted this mare laying on the ground way off in the bush above the plains. When I walked up I discovered she had died giving birth. Her head was resting on a log and her eyes were still open, looking out across the plains.

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The Kosciuszko High country is stark and beautiful, and the weather always unpredictable. Overnight temperatures were below freezing and, in spite of the sun, seven or eight degrees was as warm as the days would get – and this was late spring!

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ROCKY MOUNTAINS

Following a great workshop in Calgary, we spent a few days with friends John and Lyla. We did a road trip up to Canmore and through the Rockies to Jasper. The scenery was spectacular and John, being a geologist, gave us a great insight into the landscape we were traveling through. He also arranged for bears, mountain goats and rock hopping mountain sheep to be spread out along our route! What a treat.

255A feast of ribs and chicken at John and Lyla’s.

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251Late nesting Robin – Canmore

241  243 Tiger Lilly

245 Intense Blue/Green lake above Canmore.

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The three small dots on the white line at the bottom left of this glacier are huge 6wd buses.

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Mountain Sheep shedding their winter coats.

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Peyto Lake and matching Jacket.

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266Jasper

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NORTH TO CANADA

After our workshop at Dillman’s we headed off to Toronto to meet up with my brother and his wife for a few days.  We had an apartment in the downtown area and spent our time exploring the district, visiting some fantastic pubs, restaurants and museums.

218We enjoyed the area around Kensington Markets. Lots of interesting shops and cafes.

219 220Photographer suffers near miss from car on wrong side of road as subjects look on with amusement.

221 Naked Tai Chi

254222 223 Car Garden

253Street art with hanging basket

224 Long forgotten balcony

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Calgary Owls

Helmut, from Inglewood B&B in Calgary, took me to see a family of owls he has been watching for the past five years. It was interesting to learn about their habits and history as we explored the bush to find them.

228 232 US161309233Owl Food

WISCONSIN

Another great workshop at Dillmans Bay Resort. A fantastic group of people, beautiful surroundings, lots of painting in a big well lit studio and wining and dining in the surrounding towns. What a lot of fun.

193 Chipmunk eating breakfast

194Riveted Tinny

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201 Loon

205 Baby Blackbirds blown out of their nest

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209Woody Guthrie songs on an Appalachian Dulcimer.

210 211 212 Antonio’s new hat

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