Diana and I have seen a huge chunk of this continent, but we had never seen a Saguaro cactus (pronounced sa-WAH-row) until this past week. As we drove into the Sonoran Desert on I-10 in Arizona, they began to appear along the roadside. Diana likened them to cartoon characters and my mind immediately went to the Peanuts comics, in which Snoopy’s brother Spike always seemed to be surrounded by them.
We were concerned that we were going to arrive in Tucson too late for any hiking or meetups, as it was getting too hot, the snakes were out, and all of our blogging buddies had headed north. After we set up at Mission View RV Resort, I decided to see what was happening online. I noticed that Steve and Mona Liza from Lowe’s RV Adventures had posted that they were still in town, even though they were supposed to have moved on. Although we had followed their blog for years, we had yet to meet them. Well it turns out that Steve found out he had cancer that required surgery. We contacted Mona Liza and said we would like to meet them, if they were up to it. I explained that I was a 7 year cancer survivor, and was doing well. She replied that Steve was in the hospital recovering from his surgery, but she would love to meet us. We set up a time to meet for dinner the next night.
The next morning, we were up early to try to beat the heat. Our destination was the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. This facility is a combination of zoo, botanical garden, art museum, aquarium, and aviary. It was recommended to us by several people, and we figured it would be a good introduction for us to the unique Sonoran Desert. While we aren’t on board with caging otherwise healthy mammals, we thought the other aspects of the museum were well done and helpful.
The desert blooms were absolutely beautiful.
This spinytail iguana kept watch over the surroundings.
The butterflies were enjoying the spring blooms.
The museum had a great hummingbird aviary. This is a species called Anna’s Hummingbird.
And just to prove this was more than just a zoo, a Western Diamondback rattlesnake slithered across a very busy pathway in front of us!
One thing we learned after getting to the Sonoran desert was that the Saguaro cactus normally bloom in May. Most winter RVers miss this, as they typically move north before the cactus show their flowers. As luck would have it for us, the blooms appeared early this year!
The bees were hard at work pollenating them. Each individual bloom is open less than 24 hours before it closes to begin the process of becoming fruit.
Even the doves enjoyed a soft place to land!
After we finished at the museum, we went to Saguaro National Park West. We picked up our Not-So-Junior Ranger book so we could learn more about the park. Seeing that this park has an east and west unit, we saved the bulk of the exploration for our trip to the east unit the next day. We headed back to Tucson and met up with Mona Liza.
What a fun and energetic person to spend an evening with! We went to dinner with her at a funky little outdoor restaurant called La Cocina.
She cracked up after she caught me trying to take a photo of her listening to the band. We had a great time, and it was good for all of us to get together and talk. Here’s hoping Steve’s recovery will go smoothly and we will all enjoy a meet up in the future.
The next day, we checked out Saguaro National Park East. We took the 8.3 mile Cactus Forest Loop Drive into the foothills of the Rincon Mountains.
Remember the cartoon characters? “These flowers are for you, my dear!”
And check it out…we became Not-So Junior Rangers! Thanks to Gaelyn at Geogypsy for tipping us off to this great program. It makes exploring the parks that much more fun!
Next up, we head to Ajo! Stay tuned for that adventure!
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