A Cute Little Video Sure to Make You Smile!

“Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.”
Claude Monet

Breanna and me having lots of fun coloring during her recent visit.

It seems that almost any time that I’m around little friends, we end up coloring. What’s funny is that I’m probably more excited to have someone to color with me, than they with me! Our friend Jimmy just emailed the above photo to me, of his precious daughter Breanna and me coloring during their last visit to our area. Alas, I think that I shall never grow too old to enjoy coloring! And “coloring”, with our watercolors, is what Wes and I have been spending much of our time this past week doing. We enjoyed watching the great movie, “Secretariat”, at our friends, Fred and Barbs house, one evening this past week. We were joined by a few other friends and enjoyed yummy treats while we watched the movie and a nice slide show of photos that Fred took during a recent visit to the Kentucky horse farm area. Another evening was spent watching a couple of great old movies at our neighbor friends, Richard and Melodie’s home. Yet another evening we played canasta at our house with neighbor friends. I won’t tell you who won, but will say that the girls decided it was just a silly, old game that evening!
I’ve been enjoying the pleasure of eating my breakfast outside most mornings, and being quite entertained while doing so! The deck is usually filled with birds and squirrels all trying to eat us out of house and home. The beautiful Gray Fox has returned a couple of times, and Dovecakes and Peedeepeeps certainly let me know when they’re ready for their treats! Little Boomer continues to come daily, and I managed to get some cute video of him and my precious Willow during one of their not so friendly interactions. Willow is the only squirrel that will stand up to Boomer, and they really fuss at each other at times, but mainly Willow just ignores him, turning her backside to him. So I do hope you enjoy this quick little video of them. Be sure you have your volume up, as Boomer’s fussy noises are sure to make you smile!

The opening of our exhibition at the Museum of the Southwest in Midland, TX, was June 10 and runs through August 28, 2011. If you’re in the area, be sure to enjoy seeing our exhibit and this lovely museum.
Fresh off the easel: I finished my miniature painting of a beautiful Yellow Lab playing in the Sea of Cortez. We took the photo during our recent expedition to the area in San Carlos. Wes finished his miniature painting this past week of a double Hibiscus and a House Finch, being beautifully backlit by the sun.

"A Good Swim" by Rachelle, is 2¾ x 4¾ inches.
"Hibiscus and House Sparrow" by Wes, is 3 x 2 inches.

Currently on the easel: I’m working on a miniature painting of an adorable Prairie Dog with its mouth totally crammed full of grass. The lighting on this perfect pose is stunning, giving forth an array of warm pastel colors, creating almost a fairytale appearance. Wes is painting on a miniature of a nice gathering of Gulf Fritillary Butterflies on a grouping of pink Cone Flowers. The photo, from which it is being painted, was taken in our front yard last year.

Until next time ~ Rachelle 🙂

The Sea of Cortez Adventures come to an End.

One of the private dining room areas in the swanky restaurant we ate at Thursday evening.

Knowing it was our last day there in San Carlos, we woke early once again to make the most of every minute left there! We walked around the desert area once again for a bit, and then headed down to the beach to see if the dolphins were by any chance swimming in the surf close by. After eating breakfast, we got on the bus along with the others that were to spend the day on Glenn and Martha’s beautiful boat. After a short, lovely ride, we arrived at the marina. It was another beautiful day, one for the picture books, as we boarded the boat and settled in for the 11 mile ride out to the island, where we were to spend much of the day. The marina is a beautiful setting unto itself, surrounded by the mountains with beautiful homes sitting atop some of them. There were a variety of Seagulls and Pelicans everywhere as we headed out into the beautiful Sea of Cortez. The color of the water was simply amazing with its shades ranging from deep blue to light emerald green and turquoise! The wind was very cool that morning, so Martha graciously shared her special sitting place on the boat, out of the cold wind and blistering sun with me, for which I was very grateful! It was so relaxing, just riding along, listening to the hum of the engines and watching the birds flying about the mountain ranges that became smaller and smaller as we went along. I have always found something very mesmerizing about watching the wake made from a boat as it splashes, changes form and eventually fades away behind you. Fortunately, I had a front row seat for this ever-changing scene from my shared spot with Martha.

A hillside covered with large homes by the marina.

Martha shares her favorite, warm place to ride on the boat with me.

Before we knew it, we had arrived at the location of the island, and beautiful and grand it was!  Three miles long in total, and completely inhabited by numerous bird species and Sea Lions. Before going closer to the island itself, they decided to make a swap with three fishermen in a beautiful, brightly colored little boat, for some bait fish. The bartering implements of choice were several Pesos, and three diet Canada Dry Ginger Ales, which were put into a five gallon bucket and floated across the water to the men in the boat, with a small rope attached to bring it back with the bait fish in it. I found this a very interesting and good trade, especially since I too  greatly enjoy drinking diet Ginger Ales!

The fisherman that we got the bait fish from.

Having this task accomplished, we slowly pulled away from them and went closer to the island. It was teeming with life and the air was filled with the cries of Seagulls, Pelicans, Blue-footed and Brown Boobies along with many other birds, as well as the calls of the numerous resident Sea Lions. The island mountain itself was quite lovely in form, with scattered Cactus growing about and a good portion of it being draped in white, or what I’ve heard also called Mexican snow. It’s actually bird droppings, and thousands of gallons of it, piled thick, creating wonderful and interesting patterns all around paired against the beautiful warm pink, salmon and light orange colors of the rocks, and the amazing emerald green of the sea water below! Bird nests were built everywhere and one could easily tell that this was a serious bird housing development!

A section of the island with the gorgeous green water!
Two of the many resident and beautiful Blue-Footed Boobies.
Some more of the local island inhabitants.

It was the first time that Wes and I had ever seen the beautiful Blue-footed Boobies, as well as the Browns. Their blue feet were stunning in color and really showed up nicely at a distance. By this time we had made several mental notes already of future miniature paintings to be done! Then we started to watch the Sea Lions, and what a show they put on! A few people with much, much thicker blood than me, along with wet suits enjoyed snorkeling with the Sea Lions. It was then that I greatly regretted once again, having such thin, Florida blood! But all was not lost! Glenn and Martha were both so amazing with their preparedness to make sure everyone had a great time, and before long they had the smaller Zodiac boat lifted off of the big boat with a crane on the front, and placed in the water. We all then took turns loading in the Zodiac and enjoying a ride with Glenn, taking us right up to the edge of the island. We carefully and slowly got close enough to be right with the Sea lions and alas it was like snorkeling with them, only we stayed warm!! We got several great reference photos of them, while we enjoyed watching their interesting tactics and graceful maneuvers as they dove into the water and swam about, splashing and jumping. It almost appeared as if they were playing water games of sorts. Whatever it was, they were having a ball, and so were we watching them!

Using the crane to lift and unload the smaller Zodiac boat.
Wes gets really great photos, while I too get photos and some nice video footage.
I can just hear them saying "Ah . . . this warm sun feels so amazing!"

We also saw at very close proximity Sea Urchins attached to the rough surfaces of some of the colorful rocks. The Sally Lightfoot Crab was a real treat, and one of the most beautiful crabs that I have ever seen in my life! We watched in amazement as this good sized crab moved across the surface of the rocks. It was then time to head back to the big boat, as a few of those on board were going to try troll fishing for a bit, while we slowly circled the base of the island. It wasn’t too long after the fishing guide had put a very pretty hot pink lure on the heavy line, when someone hollered “We got a fish!”, and all headed toward the back of the boat. Sometime later a large, beautiful Yellow Tail was pulled aboard.

The stunning Sally Lightfoot Crab!
The wonderful boat that Glenn and Martha graciously took us out on.

Spirits were high as we started the journey back to the marina. I enjoyed riding in the warm, cozy spot once again as we went along, gently swaying back and forth. I watched the beautiful island in the distance grow smaller and smaller until it completely disappeared into the horizon. Just then someone shouted “Dolphins!” and the boat came quickly to a halt as we enjoyed watching them gracefully jump about, seamlessly leaving the water with what appeared to be no effort at all! Wow, what a day we’d had! We returned to the marina where the bus and Jaun, were waiting for us. That evening Wes and I enjoyed eating our little bit of leftovers at the condo, along with Susan, there at the large dining room table. Afterward, I had to walk out and see my beloved ocean and beach one last time, and was rewarded with one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen! I just stood there silently as the numerous bats flew above,  with such gratitude, taking it all in, trying to remember the sights, smells and sounds that would hopefully stay with me for all time!

Wes enjoys the ride, along with a few others, on the way back.
Wes and I enjoying our most amazing day!
A gorgeous sunset in San Carlos!

We woke early the next morning and packed in time to load the bus for the return trip back to reality. The drive back was nice and relaxed. We passed several small homesteads, cemeteries and what seemed to be acres and acres of green houses, as well as Shanty Town near Nogales. Before we knew it, we were at the border crossing once again. However, this time it didn’t go as quickly and we were there for two hours, before getting through. While waiting we saw a semi truck and trailer hit a cement wall and explode into flames stretching high into the air, before it quickly burned and melted completely to the ground. It was at this point that the big black truck filled with Federales dressed in their intimidating black uniforms, pulled right up alongside the bus, and with machine guns in hand, jumped off and ran to the site of the incident. It looked like something straight from a movie indeed!

A lovely cemetery alongside the highway going towards Nogales.

There is one particular sight I remember most, however. It took place on the narrow road that the bus drove down to get through the border crossing. From the edge of the passenger side of the bus to the chain link fence running alongside, was the distance of about3 feet. Lining the fence in these 3 feet, I saw many young Mexican families, and at times a small child by itself trying to sell things. Jewelry, pictures, baskets, purses and popsicles, among other things, were the items available for sale. As we sat there for quite some time at one location, I watched a baby boy, about one and a half years old, sitting there on the bare pavement, barely sheltered with the little bit of shade offered by the old tarp that the mother had pinned to the fence. He sat no further than a foot and a half from the tires of the big bus, contentedly playing with three small plastic toy animals. And as I watched him, my heart went out to him and to his family, as well as the many others, as this is how they probably spend most of their days. This heart-tugging, emotional incident, along with seeing the numerous tiny houses and shacks, looking at Shanty Town from the bus window and hearing the stories of how many live there, not to mention learning that the minimum wage there is a mere six dollars a day, filled me with an overwhelming feeling of just how very blessed, perhaps at times too blessed, we are here in America, as well as many other countries. Way too many of us are so very spoiled, and too many times very wasteful, taking way too much for granted!! I think we could all learn something from what I learned that day . . . that is to live a much simpler life, take nothing for granted and remember to be very thankful for even the littlest things in life!! 🙂

This amazing expedition trip to San Carlos was organized by David J. Wagner, L.L.C. to enable participating artists to produce a body of artwork for display in an upcoming museum exhibition entitled, “The Sea of Cortez”.  I simply cannot express how totally blessed Wes and I both feel having been able to be a part of this most wonderful and enlightening experience!!

Fresh off the easel: While I continue to work on one of my miniature paintings of three Bison along a river in Yellowstone, Wes has finished two miniatures. One is of a beautiful Painted Lady Butterfly on a Blazing Star. The other is of several wonderful Bison that we photographed while in Yellowstone on one our trips there.

I’m also delighted to share with you that Wes recently won the “Best of Show” at the Ridge Art Association Miniature Art Exhibition in Winter Haven, FL as well as the “Best of Show” at the Alabama Miniature Art Exhibition in Mobile, AL.  We’re also excited to announce the start of our new three-year museum tour featuring fifty of our miniature paintings which opened this weekend at the Dunnegan Gallery of Art in Bolivar, MO.

"Painted Lady on Blazing Star" by Wes, measures 3½ x 2½ inches
"The Herd at Rest" by Wes, measures 2¾ x 4¾ inches.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the journey!

until next time ~ Rachelle    🙂

Continuing Adventures From the Sea of Cortez!

The condos with the mountains behind, the desert to one side and the Sea of Cortez on the other.

Wednesday morning found us bright and early and ready to go out and explore! So once again, with meal bars in hand, we headed out to the front desert area to do some bird watching. There was a cool breeze to start, but it began warming up quickly as we walked along. One of the highlight sightings for me was that of a hummingbird enjoying a couple of bloom-laden bushes. While photographing them, Wes walked on ahead down a sandy hill to try and photograph some other birds he had spotted nearby. Suddenly as he was descending, he started yelling “Don’t come this way . . . don’t come this way!” When I reached the bottom, by another route, I could see that his pants legs and shoes were filled with sand spurs! Now we had these in Florida, but they grew on short grass there, while here they were almost waist high! So it took Wes, with me helping, at least 15 minutes to get them all off, which left his fingers slightly stinging.

Ouch . . . watch out for those sand spurs!


Leaving the sand spur filled desert area behind, we walked over to the beach where I could see at a distance the dolphins swimming along the beach in the surf. So I took off running toward them to try and get some nice video. Well, they were swimming in the other direction, so after a good distance, I realized that I wasn’t going to catch up to them, but I did have a nice run. At that instance a couple of beautiful Ravens landed on a sand dune nearby, sporting gorgeous iridescent feathers that shone in the sun! Then we noticed a boat with a couple of local fisherman in it going along the beach to either use their nets or to check traps set. Regardless, it made for a very picturesque setting, with the Pelicans flying overhead and the fishermens’ wet nets glistening in the sun, all backed by the beautiful mountains!

Me running down the beach with the dolphins in the distance.

We walked back along the beautiful beach to the condo, while listening to the gentle breaking of the waves and the calls of the numerous shorebirds flying about. Upon returning, we enjoyed our cup of hot tea and banana, and then headed for the Estero. The tide was out, giving us the opportunity to walk way out on the sun filled beach. Walking along, I began to notice a Sea Hare here and there, and started to try and figure out how I could safely get them back to the water, but then after walking a bit further, I realized they were everywhere, and way too many to “save”. So I reluctantly gave up the urge to rescue them all. When we reached the curve at the end of the beach, we slowly walked our way back into the beginning of the Estero. It was empty of people, but filled with lots and lots of birds, bringing the entire beautiful setting to life!

One of the many unfortunate, beautiful Sea Hares.
A couple of Sea Hares with Wes' hand for scale.

We walked around admiring the wide variety of crab species all about. In places there were literally thousands of crabs piled on top of each other creating mounds, while in other areas along the exposed Mangrove roots, they marched along like soldiers going to battle. I couldn’t help but think of the song, “March of the soldiers” as I watched them, with some stepping forward as if to say “Hey, my claw is bigger than yours, and if you step any closer, I shall tear your big toe off”, of course with a heavy, wonderful Mexican accent. As we rounded each graceful curve leading through the Estero, we were almost always greeted by different birds feeding in the shallow waters or resting in the tops of the surrounding Mangrove trees. Then there were the interesting “sand sculptures” made from the excretions of different mud worms, which added another dimension to the interesting and amazing features of the Estero. We slowly wound ourselves back and forth until we had reached the other end, where we turned back toward the direction of the condos. There the sand became muddy, so we had to walk quickly, taking small steps to keep from being sucked down into the mud. As we went along our shoes, especially Wes’ filled with lots of little shells with crabs in them, making it very difficult and painful to walk. Reaching the firmer edge, we removed our shoes and emptied them of the unwelcome passengers.

The beautiful Estero filled with shore birds.

Me photographing some of the many crabs.
Crabs . . . crabs everywhere!
Excretions from a obviously good sized mud worm.

We returned to the condo in time to grab a quick lunch and then meet up with the others that were to go to Nacapule Canyon that afternoon. We had been told that it was even more beautiful in the afternoon lighting, which after being there, we found to be quite true. We enjoyed walking through the canyon for a couple of hours, taking different routes and discovering different things than the morning before. I really enjoyed standing in nearby bushes and watching the hummingbirds come and feed at a bush covered with small beautiful yellow flowers. I captured a couple of great photos that are sure to become future miniature paintings! We got back to the condo later that afternoon, and had just enough time to walk to a nearby area where we had spotted hummingbirds and bright beautiful Orioles.

A beautiful Phainopepla atop a tree at the entrance of Nacapule Canyon.
A safe place for a bird nest indeed!
A lovely little Rock Wren sits on a rock nearby.
A handsome Side-blotched Lizard suns itself in the Canyon.

The gorgeous Oriole sits atop the blooms of an ornamental tree.

Later that evening, we enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Los Arbolitos. We sat in the top porch dining area in appeared to be a tiki hut style building. It offered an amazing view of the ocean and mountains as the sun slowly set, painting the sky and the mountains behind wonderful shades of pink, salmon, and warm yellow! The group at our table had a wonderful time filled with lots of stories and laughter being shared. The food was delicious and there was a nice, spicy salsa as well as a dip made with what appeared to be chopped cactus and cucumber, different and tasty! We ate this very quickly! We returned home and it was time to rest up for another adventurous day.

L to R; DeVere Burt, Ronnie Williford, Cathy Ferrell and myself.

The next morning we arose early once again and headed out to the Estero to search for new discoveries.  We came back in time to grab lunch and then meet up with the people who were to go snorkeling in a nearby cove.  When we arrived, I had my self pumped and ready to brave the frigid water  . . . well, at least I thought I did.  I borrowed a wet suit vest and attempted it with my all.  Oh my goodness . . .  it was terribly cold and took my breath away, and after a few seconds I came up asking Wes, “Did you get the photo?”.   Wes replied “No, I’m afraid not, the card was full on the camera.  I’LL have to delete a couple and you’ll have to do it again”.  Good grief, this was certainly not what I wanted to hear, but wanting photographic proof that I actually did it, and I braved it one last time.  Yes, it was as freezing cold as the first time, so ending my snorkeling adventure for the day.  The remainder of the time, I spent with Wes a couple of others up on the rocky cliff, warming up in the sun!  There were a couple of small isolated tidal pools teeming with life, like a miniature ocean of sorts!  The small pool of collected water was filled with baby Sea Urchins, Sea Hares and a variety of small Darter fish.  My thin, Florida snorkeling blood could handle that way of observing much better!

Me on the left and Sue Westin on the right, snorkeling.
One of the amazing little tide pools.

We got back to the condos, and I laid in the sun and rested for a bit, still trying to warm up! Then Wes and I enjoyed walking down the beach until it was time to get ready for dinner. We went to a very swanky kind of restaurant for dinner that evening, called Bonifacios. It use to be part of Club Med, before the hurricane came and did so much damage a couple of years ago. They have the restaurant fixed very nice and we all enjoyed going out on the back patio and watching a beautiful sunset before enjoying dinner. The three course meal was fabulous and we were well entertained by a local musician playing guitar as well as a couple of songs later played by Ronnie Williford and Dave Wagner, which were both very impressive! Tummies were again full so we went home to get ready for the last day in San Carlos.

This amazing expedition trip to San Carlos was organized by David J. Wagner, L.L.C. to enable participating artists to produce a body of artwork for display in an upcoming museum exhibition entitled, “The Sea of Cortez”. I will share more info on this wonderful upcoming show at the conclusion of my posts about the adventures of the Cortez trip.

The last the journey is yet to come!
Until next time ~ Rachelle 🙂