Saturday, February 23, 2013

Desert Scenery

I was out west on business and got some time to explore the scenery.  The wife and I were in the Tucson, Arizona area.  It was pretty spectacular!

I got up before sunrise to take in the scenery.  The day would get over 70 degF, but it was just around 40 degF before dawn.

Spring will be here in the desert soon.  The fish hook barrel cactus are starting to bloom.

We were staying by the foothills of the Coronado Mountains.  We visited Catalina State Park.  The scenery was incredible, especially for folks like us from the green, forested northeast.

I had been to Arizona before, but had never seen so many saguaro cactus.

The trees were small compared to the spruce, tamaracks, pines and maples on our property.  There were a lot of scraggly mesquite and a few green-barked palo verdes.

Not only were the vistas interesting, but even the smaller scenes were neat.  There were hedgehog cactus . . .

. . . as well as pencil cactus (which were flowering).

It was a dry area.  Off in the distance were silvery threads of water coming of the mountains.  The wash just below us was dry.

We were near the 'Romero Ranch'.  It was an old homestead settled around the mid-1800's.  There were remnants of the foundation about.  This area was also the site of a previous Hohokam village.  There were vestiges of the old rock walls around the area.

I was amazed at the stands of saguaro!

We took a trip to see the Old Tucson Studios.  It is a stage used for western movies and television shows.  John Wayne starred in four films here (Rio Bravo, Rio Lobo, El Dorado, McClintock).  Several TV shows were filmed here, including Little House on the Prairie, and . . .

. . . High Chaparral.

A few day's later a freak snow storm hit the area.  The locals told us it was the first significant storm here in 18 years.

It was beautiful.  The prickly pear cactus were coated.

 The snow brought out stranges clump within the branches of the trees.  What was it?

Desert mistletoe!

The agave were also coated in snow . . .

 . . . as were the cholla cactus.

We were surprised by the amount of wildlife.  We saw rabbits, . . .

. . . gila woodpeckers, . . .

. . . , phainopeplas, . . .

. . . Gambel's quail, . . .

. . . mourning doves, . . .

. . . and a curved-bill thrasher.

We also saw cactus wrens and various sparrows.  The wife might have seen a roadrunner one night at dusk!

This was quite a spectacular area.

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