Alaska, Mexico and Beyond…

“One Journey Leads to Another”

Archive for the tag “nature”

Fuzzy Fellow

This hairy looking critter has been hanging out for several days on the trunk of a bougainvillea that is beside our porch in Oaxaca. The best ID I found is that it’s an arctia caja, which is the larva of one type of Tiger Moth.  It is about 3 inches long, and is known in other locations as “wooly bear.” If anyone out there knows differently, please speak up!


I don’t know how long it stays in this stage, but I hope it returns as a colorful moth!

Cee’s Oddball Challenge #48: All Spiffed Up

Mexican grasshopper outfitted in true Mexican style!


Cee’s Photo Challenge: Contrast Colors

Contrasting colors in Oaxaca? Too easy.  Oaxaca is awash with bold color combinations. It could be the birthplace of color contrasts! A one hour walk around El Centro provided more photo ops than I imagined.  I did not have to find them – they found me!


Click on any photo for a slide show

If you just can’t decide what color to use…why not use them all!


Photo taken in San Martín Tilcajete



Throughout the day and even at sunset, the colors that surround us are intensified by the beautiful Oaxaca blue sky.




Oaxaca Bloomers

Seasons drift by subtly in Oaxaca, often defined by the blooming trees and bushes that delight us as the color palette changes throughout the year.


Primavera amarilla, Guayacá, tabebuia chrysantha


Bougainvillea and Primavera amarilla


Flamboyán, Tabachín, Royal Poinciana, Arbol de Fuego, delonix regia


Clavalina, Shaving brush tree, bombax palmeri

I used the following books for identification:
Arboles de México by Luis Lesur 2011 online store:

Tropical Flowering Plants by Kirsten Albrecht Llamas, 2003

Cee’s Oddball Challenge #4 TEAMWORK

Standing on a street corner, chatting about the day’s destinations, a friend and I suddenly spotted a tortilla chip that was moving slowly down the sidewalk. Upon closer inspection we saw a brigade of ants lined up around the chip’s edge, toting it off to their secret hiding place.


And those riding on top…slackers or supervisors?

Hiking Oaxaca: El Carrizal

The angle of the rising sun creates brilliant colors as village life unfolds below our cabañas. El Carrizal is the most pastoral and serene of any mountain village that we have explored so far. The town spreads out in a bowl – it WAS the view, in contrast to other villages that offer views of the vast valleys of Oaxaca.


click on any photo for a slide show and full captions

Delighted by the lovely, peaceful village, hikers began the descent to the valley far below

Delighted by the lovely, peaceful village, hikers began the descent to the valley far below


Cascadas spill over rocky ledges and force their way around boulders, forming streams that meander on down through the valleys, undoubtedly gathering into more cascadas along the way!


A huge variety of plants grow in the Sierras – from this enormous maguey to a tiny cactus. Photographer Impett estimated the quiote (flower stalk) to be 40 feet tall!


Taking advantage of the cold mountain streams, people in many villages have built small trucha (trout) farms and restaurants. This man is catching our dinner – talk about fresh!   Photo by Rick Impett.

Whether hiking, biking, or relaxing with a good book, the friendly people and beautiful vistas of El Carrizal make it a wonderful place to visit!



Photo by Rick Impett




Hiking Oaxaca: Benito Juárez

Perched at 10,000 ft. in the Sierras, overlooking the Tlacolula Valley, the village of Benito Juarez is a wonderful destination for hiking through cool pine forests, mountain biking, horseback riding, birdwatching, or just hanging out and enjoying the fresh mountain air.

Benito Juarez (1 of 2)

Looking down on Benito Juárez from the mirador. Rick Impett

Click on any photo to enlarge it. Photos contributed by other hikers have the photographer’s name in the caption.
A group of 20 hikers and birders, through the organization Hoofing It In Oaxaca, spent a fun weekend participating in a variety of outdoor activities.


What goes up must come down and vice versa – the mirador is a steep hike UP, which creates a huff and puff situation at this altitude, but it’s so easy going back down (though sometimes hard on the knees). Hiking to the cascada was the opposite – DOWN to the bottom of a ravine followed by the steep climb up. Either way we passed through beautiful farmland where friendly local people waved to us from their fields.

Benito Juarez (2 of 2)

Giant maguey plants make perfect fences! – Rick Impett



Hikers are dwarfed by one of the biggest maguey plants I have ever seen! A loaded crab apple tree is growing behind it.

Our group included a family with two kids excited to try the zip line that was built on the mirador.

Some zippers express unbounded joy!

Others just hang out and marvel at the world far below.

Ecotourism facilities are developed as a way to bring income and employment to mountain communities. People in the community take turns volunteering for a year at a time to support their villages. So welcoming and kind, they are really what make these excursions special. These ladies prepared tasty food that showcased local mushrooms, the hot chocolate is exceptional (no powdered mix here!) and of course there is mezcal.
Each cabaña has a fireplace, and in the evening a young man brings wood and a magic stick and builds a cozy fire. In the morning (or whenever you want) he will light a water heater so you can take a hot shower. Most of the villagers do not have these conveniences in their own homes. comment by hiker Bernie Goldray.
After a day of hiking, zipping, and birdwatching, friends gather to relax before strolling up (yes, it was UP) to the comedor for a yummy dinner and a boot of mezcal.

Taking a well deserved siesta after a long day…our driver, guide who entertains us with stories and information, and friend extraordinaire, Nicolas Garcia.

Benito Juárez was one of the highlights of my trip. I will remember the views, the early morning fog rolling up the hills, the goat herder who asked to give me a hug because I was ‘muy fuerte’, watercress cooked on the comal for breakfast, the astonishing view from the mirador, the easy comraderie of our group, how elegant I was (think Audrey Hepburn!) with a hat and shirt wrapped around my head as I tried to sleep in the cold. Comments by Amber Karr.

Cee’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge: Vertical Lines

Vertical lines surround us and add visual excitement to our lives!


Hand woven decorations
Tzintzuntzan, Michoacán, Mexico


After the fire
Sterling, Alaska


Petrified waterfall
Hierve el Agua, Oaxaca, Mexico


Canela (true cinnamon) Corn husks for tamales
Mercado de la Merced, Oaxaca, Mexico

Check here for more interpretations of vertical lines

Weekly Photo Challenge: Beneath Your Feet

As I wander through the shady woods next to our house, my feet sink into spongy green mounds of countless varieties of unfamiliar plants,  some of them otherworldly! A few mosquitoes rise up to greet me, but I’m able to wave them away. I imagine the millions of tiny creatures hidden among the moss-like growth that is their own mini forest.


Berries and mushrooms announce the beginning of the autumn season, though lack of normal August rains has delayed the appearance of mushrooms that seem to pop up right before your eyes!



Treasures abound beneath my feet on the forest floor – I just have to be careful not to step on them!

Travel Theme:Grey




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