12 May 2011

Tuscon AZ Trip

As promised, a longer than anticipated review of our trip to Arizona.

We arrived in Phoenix late on our first evening and stayed there our first night.  Next morning we officially began our visit to Arizona and the Tuscon area.  We were staying in the Oro Valley area on the outskirts of Tuscon in a lovely house we had rented for our visit, which was very near to our friends’ home.  How convenient was that?! Smile

This was our view as we sat out in our fenced in yard with a small pool:


Most of the homes have snake fences as there can be a real issue with rattlesnakes.  ICK!!  Our friend, who we were visiting, assured us that this was a very secure snake fence and we would have no issues with them! Smile

Our first day there was spent settling in and getting groceries and acquainting ourselves with the area. 

The next morning we went off to visit an old Indian mission, The San Xavier Mission.  There is no outside picture as it was raining when we were there, but if you click this link you can see it.  I am not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t that or this:

Much more ornate and detailed than I would have ever have imagined!  I lit a candle for my mother there.  That is something I try to do every time we visit an historic church or cathedral.  There have been many lit over the past 10 years.

Then there were the cacti.  The saguaro cactus to be precise as there were all kinds of cacti around. The saguaro (/səˈwɑroʊ/) is a large, tree-sized cactus species. It is native to the Sonoran Desert in the U.S. state of Arizona, the Mexican state of Sonora, a small part of Baja California and an extremely small area of California, U.S. The saguaro blossom is the State Wildflower of Arizona. The first time I saw the saguaro cactus, I thought to myself how attractive they were.  By the end of our visit there, I was naming them and making up little stories about each group as if they were living in villages and all had there own place in the hierarchy!  So the following pictures will be of cacti:


Saguaros have a relatively long life span. They take up to 75 years to develop a side arm. Some specimens may live for more than 150 years. These cacti can grow anywhere from 15 to 50 feet. They grow slowly from seed, and not at all from cuttings. Whenever it rains, saguaros soak up the rainwater. The cactus will visibly expand, holding in the rainwater. It conserves the water and slowly consumes it.


You should note the holes in the cactus above and below.  Native birds such as Gila woodpeckers, purple martins, house finches, and gilded flickers live inside holes in saguaros. Flickers excavate larger holes higher on the stem.[ The nest cavity is deep, the parents and young entirely hidden from view. The Gila woodpeckers create new nest holes each season rather than reuse the old ones, leaving convenient nest holes for other birds and animals.


Here is my friend and guide during our visit to Tuscon just to give you a perspective on exactly how big these saguaros grow.  The one without arms would be less than 70 years old and the one behind her would be much older. This was the day the men went golfing and we went to the Arizona/Sonoma Desert Museum, which was amazing.


A mountain lion sunning himself.


This is inside the Aviary, and I am not sure what bird is in my picture. I seem to think it might be a hummingbird.


Another day John and I drove to Nogales, a town on the US/Mexico border.  This picture very much reminds me of the Berlin wall.  I understand why they need it, but I find it very disturbing at the same time.


Nogales, Arizona on this side, Nogales, Mexico on the other.


On our way home we stopped into Tubac, an artists’ community filled with wonderful galleries and shops. John managed to get me a birthday present and I also bought a lovely turquoise and lapis bracelet as my Arizona souvenir.

As you can tell, we had a wonderful trip to Arizona made even perfect by our hosts and guides.  They had so much planned for us to do that we really got a great Arizona desert experience. 

And we ate a lot of Mexican food, which we love!

1 comment:

Heddy said...

sounds like a great trip ... I'd love to go to Arizona and see cacti :)


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