The Constant Apprentice is a place for curious humans to explore craft, visual arts, writing, nature, food, and all things classic, then and now.
{ Curators: Roseann & Jonathan Hanson —> }|{ Craft }|{ Classics }|{ Travel }|{ Food }|{ Nature }|{ Science }|{ Writing }|{Visual Arts}

Dust storm, southern Arizona

We left this morning for Los Angeles, and thanks to my dad for alerting us to a terrible 20-vehicle wreck on I-10 we headed west to Ajo. We drove though viscious wind and thick dust but little traffic. Long day!

-- Posted from my iPhone

Wilderness First Aid

Taking Wilderness First Aid training specifically for overland travel, with Overland Training. Right now, brain injury!

-- Posted from my iPhone

In the clouds

The cloud layer just dropped right down onto us - visibility is now 50 meters.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Happy holidays

We put out our Christmas tree today in the bird-feeding yard -- decorated with fruit and seed balls and topped with a hummingbird feeder.

-- Posted from my iPhone

The color of drought

Although beautiful, the magenta color in the Santa Rita prickly pear cactus right now is much deeper because of drought stress. Rain may be coming tomorrow - we hope!

-- Posted from my iPhone

Sonoran Safari - El Aribabi Conservation Ranch

We just returned from our first ConserVentures Sonoran Safari to El Aribabi Conservation Ranch in northern Sonora, Mexico. Six travelers from Oklahoma, central California, and northern Arizona joined us to explore the backcountry of the Sierra Madrean foothills and learn about jaguar and ocelot conservation on this spectacular ranch owned by the wonderful Robles family.

You can read more about the trip on the ConserVentures website here; and there are more pictures on the ConserVentures Picasa album here. We will be scheduling more adventure safaris to El Aribabi every few months - please join us!

Desert drink

Every morning two groups of quail visit for seed and water - usually the Gambel's come first, right after dawn. After sunrise, the scaled quail fly in from the east, almost always. These are the "scalies" - you can see the lovely pattern on their breasts.

Snack time

One of our Harris ground squirrels has been enjoying the decorative coyote melons I found in a nearby tree and had scattered around the porch perimeter . . . this one cleaned out one of the gourds over the course of an hour, leaving a lovely little mess on the porch!

Snow in the desert

No, not the kind from the sky . . . the desert broom (Baccharis sarothroides) is sending out its fluffy seeds, filling the wash with snowy clouds each time a breeze gives the plants a shake. These are among my favorite native plants - they are colonizers of disturbed areas, and their blooms, in September and October, are incredibly attractive to nectivores - wasps, bees, butterflies - I've counted over 2 dozen species in just a jew minutes' observation at a desert broom in bloom.

Fall cleaning

I finally could stand the dust and cobwebs on my desk / workbench no longer. Had fun going through the many little items I add to the "still life" scenes amidst lapidary and metalsmith tools. An organized but compulsive packrat. Stones from the Skeleton Coast; a nest from Alberta; sprigs of wild African lavender from Kenya; a plaster cast of a mountain lion print from the Baboquivari Mountains; coral from the Caribbean; quartz from Mexico; and topaz from Ethiopia ... All remind me of a trip or experience.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Lion on the move

On our walk this morning found these nice lion tracks on the road to Stevens Mountain. A small female, most likely. We are curious to see if both our incautious little white-tail fawns are still around.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Volunteer weekend in Sonora, MX

We are just now crossing the border at Nogales after a great 3 days working at Rancho Aribabi, as an Overland Society volunteer project. We will post more pictures soon. It was a fun trip - stunning landscape, great people, good cause. What more could we want?

-- Posted from my iPhone

After just a week of getting settled home (well, semi-settled), Jonathan and I are spending a few days at Rancho Aribabi, Sonora, Mexico on a volunteer work trip with Overland Society and Sky Island Alliance. A cold front moved in last night with 40+mph winds and now it's cold - in the 50s, with a biting wind. We hope it clears up and warms up!

Rancho Aribabi is the same location we'll be running exploration trips for ConserVentures later in November and again in 2010. Check them out at

A sight seldom seen in 10 days

The sun . . . home in the Sonoran Desert . . . 4501 miles exactly. What a fantastic trip.

-- Posted from my iPhone


Seems the whole of the West is under this storm. We have been in heavy snow since Nebraska and now we are approaching southern Colorado and hear NM is also snowy.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Sioux country

The original overland travel vehicle, Great Plains style (this private herd resides within the Thunder Basin National Grassland).

And some Great Plains humor:

Yesterday we visited the grave of Red Cloud, a moving experience. We leave Nebraska for home today.

-- Posted from my iPhone

South Dakota archaeology

We visited the site where the skeleton of Dinosauraus flintstonicus was found. Here is a recreation. Wilma and Fred also found nearby.

-- Posted from my iPhone

On the Bozeman Trail

In the shadow of the Bighorns. Blackfoot Brewing courtesy Doug M in Montana. A great trail today but rain and snow forecast so we opted to camp out of the high country.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Yellowstone traffic

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Scenes from Cody, WY

Tom Palmore's cougar at the Whitney Museum of Western Art; Corvette cowboy; jalapeño cheddar elk brats with sautéd red peppers and onions, bacon and baked beans, and oven fries.

-- Posted from my iPhone

View from the window . . .

. . . At Crow's Nest Pass resort, where we are giving a conservation communication workshop. It has been snowing and socked in pretty thick so we have not seen the area, which is a pretty dramatic part of the Rockies. The workshop is going well so far.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Not in the Sonoran Desert, Toto

Crossed the beautiful Missouri River at Cascade, MT, and headed into the backcountry to visit a private ranch and logging camp at the invitation of friend and Overland Journal subscriber Doug M. As you can see we hit an early winter storm. Even the Montanans were griping! Set a new record low for the date -- even the trees had no time for fall colors. We enjoyed Doug's hospitality, including lamb tacos (fresh from the ranch) and chocolate and bourbon to keep us warm. This morning the rear doors on the Jeep are frozen shut.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Cafe Ole'

Found a great new eatery in Flagstaff yesterday. On San Francisco just south of the tracks. Fantastic tamales.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Canada bound

Jonathan and I left this morning for Crowsnest, Alberta, where we are teaching a conservation communications workshop for the Alberta Conservation Alliance. En route through central Arizona we met up with Graham Jackson of Overland Training. Here is Jonathan and Graham in front of the 2 Overland Journal Jeeps, on loan from Chrysler. Graham's "Overland Edition" debuted at Overland Expo.2009. Our version is the magazine's longterm test to showcase an "out of the showroom ready to overland" model. We will return via Wyoming for some backroads exploration.
-- Posted from my iPhone

I love kingbirds

We've seen them land on ravens' backs locally - amazing. The hawk's "expression" seems suitably irate. Courtesy Querencia blog ( via the Denver Post.

Dusk visitor

A beautiful gray fox, which are so russet they are mistaken for non-native red foxes, just came to drink water at dusk, and grab a bite of stale tortilla from the bird feeding yard.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Golden grasses & light

On our walk this morning the golden fall light was really emphasized by all the blooming, fruiting grasses. Trying to capture the glow...these are tangleheads and sprangletops. Great names!

-- Posted from my iPhone