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Tag Archives: cactus

Being a desert area with little rain, what grows there? Turns out, lots of stuff. We were not there at the peak of the flower bloom (we missed the cactus flowers for sure) but we still saw lots of color. The reds really stand out. Red paintbrush and a red milkvetch. Most of the other plants were new to me. The purple and white low growing flowers sometimes carpeted an area of granite gravel. It was a harsh place for pretty things. We didn’t see a lot of pollinator type insects. Most of the bugs we saw were tiny no-see-ums that came out in clouds around dusk and were quite annoying.

The magnificent saguaro is an amazing plant. They stand straight without any branches or arms until they are 70 or 80 years old! The provide food for people and wildlife. Birds create cavities in them for nesting and roosting. Even after they die, they stand for a long time, continuing to provide wildlife habitat. And there are many more kinds of cacti in and around the park. The big succulents bloom in the summer while wildflowers bloom much earlier in the year. This is a place to return to time and time again.

SW trip part 4


Jennifer and Judy have made lots of friends while touring in the SW and two of these friends invited all of us to join them for a boat tour of Canyon Lake. This lake is a reservoir on the Salt River. There are four reservoirs on the Salt River and the water is used in the Phoenix area for drinking and irrigation. At the last diversion dam, the Salt River is dry.

Canyon Lake is stunningly beautiful with high rock walls and narrow side canyons that can be explored by boat. It looks like a fun place to go kayaking. They said sometimes they see big horn sheep but we missed them. The foliage is a mix of grasses and cacti and some leafy plants too. Being February, it was a little early for wildflowers despite temperatures in the mid-80’s that day. We all used ample sun screen and wore long sleeves to protect our winter white skin!

SW trip part 2


On my first full day in the SW we visited the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. This is an amazing place to learn about the plants and animals that inhabit the Sonoran Desert and it was high on my list of must-see destinations on this trip. We were there about five hours and could have easily spent two days exploring all the nooks and crannies of the place. There are exhibits of animals of various habitats – including aquatic animals, plants and how they cope with the desert climate, raptor flights, and so on. They had just started a raptor flight when we arrived so we saw a number of trained hawks and owls. I was surprised by the number of hummingbird species. They had their own aviary. I wish there’d been a docent there to help me identify all of them. I’ve tried to guess and I think I got the males right but the females, I just don’t know.

If you’re ever in the Tucson area, it’s well worth the time to see the Desert Museum.

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