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This year my wife Bobby and I visited our friends Christine and Bob at their beautiful home in Phoenix, AZ.  We timed the trip for late spring to avoid the punishing heat of summer and were happy we did.  The mornings were very pleasant but by eleven A.M, copious amounts of shade and a cactus cooler were the order of the day!

Luck was on our side during the visit.  Chris informed us the local botanical garden was hosting a butterfly exhibit.  Of course we couldn't pass up the opportunity to see a vast array of species and their colorful adornment!  We were in!

We also enjoyed the vast display of color from all the local flowers.  Here is a brief sampling.

If you enjoy nature's small creatures, we highly recommend "catching" the butterfly exhibit at the Phoenix Botanical gardens.   Check the web site for the schedule and any other exhibits that may strike your fancy.  Don't forget to visit as early in the morning as you can for better creature comfort (mainly yours).  Enjoy!

As anyone who has explored culinary delights of the desert southwest will tell you, New Mexico has its own special style of authentic cooking.  The texture and flavor are so unique, it's difficult to explain how it tastes to someone who has never experienced it.

When I moved to New Mexico in the early nineteen-eighties, I was immediately drawn to the robust flavor chile added to simple things like eggs or a cheeseburger!  After years of living there and eating food prepared by friends and neighbors, I took for granted all the taste bud as well as aromatic stimulation chile provides.  I miss it!

dsc_0944But all is not lost.  Several stores here in the Carson City - Reno, Nevada area do carry "certified" Hatch chile processed by Bueno Foods of Albuquerque, New Mexico.  The spicy flavor of the "Hot" green chile is great!  Try is on eggs or as a topper for your next cheeseburger.  If you need more help, there are dozens of chile cookbooks on-line, each with their own twist on flavor and presentation.

Here is my wife's version of "huevos rancheros" with sides of potatoes and refried beans.  Bon Appetit!

 

This year will be the 30th anniversary of Hot August Nights graciously hosted by the communities of Reno, Virginia City, and Sparks, Nevada.  Shortly, the streets will welcome vintage automobiles dating all the way back to the beginning of the 20th century.  Classic cars, trucks, and motorcycles will once again cruise, rumble, and thunder down those forgotten byways of our past, and remind us of simpler days when a car was a car.

Today's vehicles are a technological marriage of dependable mechanical parts and computerized ignition, lighting, and voice activated commands.  These vehicles are by far safer, faster, and more fuel efficient than their predecessors.  Progress!

For those of us old enough to remember the 1940's, 1950's, and 1960's cars defined who we were and allowed us to be proud to own a piece of "Detroit Iron".  I'm not sure if I would get the same feeling if I owned a Prius.

Classic cars woo us to appreciate them for their style and beauty, like a fine wine.  Luckily for you and I, we get to turn back the hands of time once a year when Hot August Nights rolls around.  This year's events should be as enjoyable as we have all come to expect.  So please come join us and celebrate the 30th anniversary of Hot August Nights, and maybe, just maybe, this year will be your luckiest time in the "Biggest Little City" we know.

Well, spring has sprung.  The cherry blossoms are in full bloom and the national mall looks like something out of a fairy tale.  A short distance away at the national arboretum, a pair of bald eagles are now busy raising two newly hatched fledglings

With the help of today's technology, we can get a glimpse of what it must be like to raise a pair of our national icons.  Go to DC Eagles to look at live footage of what is going on with the new arrivals.  Also, there is a chat room for anyone who would like to ask questions.  Enjoy!

If you travel extensively, you probably have at least one favorite spot in the world that satisfies your tropical appetite.  Leaving the cold climate (even if it is only for a week or two) and traveling where the equatorial breezes take your breath away serves to rejuvenate our inner core, at least it works that way for me.

This year we returned to our most favorite spot in the South Pacific.  An island which attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world.  A piece of real estate that is shared by thousands of migrant mammals from Alaska (and if you're thinking Hawaii, you're right on the money).  Maui to be exact.

We first came to Maui over 17 years ago and immediately fell in love with the climate, culture, and its tropical beauty.  This year was like visiting an old friend.  We were greeted by the gentle trade winds as we stepped of our plane, and further lured us onto our hotel balcony as we caught a gorgeous early sunset over the turquoise waters of the pacific ocean.

 

More later as we add to our adventure.

 

Winter weather can be a challenge for many of our wild feathered friends.  Snow and welcomed rainfall began to visit here on the east side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in November leaving many of the wild food sources difficult for birds to access.

More than ten years ago, my wife and I began to assist our local populations of quail, finches, sparrows, and even a wayward woodpecker or two, by installing several feeders and suet holders.  Since out backyard is secluded from our local traffic and most of the noise that comes with city living, it provides a haven for any bird seeking refuge from the elements.

FlickerHere is my favorite.  This guy usually arrives at daybreak and vigorously attacks the suet basket.  His pecking throws pieces of the suet cake everywhere which lends nicely to the enjoyment of others feeding close-by.  It really is interesting to watch all the different species.  Many are regulars, some seem to only visit occasionally.  No matter what time of day or weather condition there is always a population change taking place.  That's one of the things that makes backyard feeders interesting.