Saguaro Serendipity

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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28 thoughts on “ Saguaro Serendipity”

    1. We were with friends at Organ Pipe (next post), so we are saving the NSJR for our next visit there. (We are in CA now) We will remember to say hi to Cynthia next time! Diana did get her badge at White Sands also. What a fun program, Gaelyn!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. So glad you got to see the desert museum (wonderful memories with my mom and sons there) and both sides of the park. Looks like you guys were just what ML needed – it’s wonderful you were able to meet up. Beautiful blooms, thanks for sharing that rare treat!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi JIm and Diana, Great blog.  We were in Tucson a few years ago and went to the same museum.  I’m glad a rattlesnake did not slither by us.  I would have been out of there! We are looking forward to our trip west in a couple of weeks!   Nancy

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a beautiful place. I have always imagined the Saguaros as soldiers at attention. Thanks for showing us their soft side. That Not so Junior Ranger Program sounds like fun. I will be on the lookout for it this Summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tucson is an amazing small city. It is at the top of our someday settle areas. There is so much hiking near by. We’ve been there for a least a month each winter for the last four years and still find new hikes. How special that you arrived for the blooming saguaro!!! One day we will wait them out. Thanks for sharing photos of the blooming beauties:)

    We really enjoyed the little town of Ajo. If you are still there, don’t miss taking the walking tour of town and visiting the little mine museum that is on the ridge over the mine. The gentleman that volunteers there worked the mine his whole life. He is wonderful.

    Organ Pipe NM has some great hikes. We did three different hikes while in the area. Make sure you check our blog for ideas. There are many crested saguaro between Ajo and Organ Pipe and Why and Organ Pipe right along the road. So keep a watch. Have a great time!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We feel the same way about Tucson….great town! We are past Ajo…I’m behind in my blogging! But we DID keep a crested Saguaro watch…and didn’t see them. Uggggh! We did see a crested Organ Pipe though. Love the sound of the wind through them. 😃

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Meeting you and Dianne was the best distraction at a perfect time. Both of you lifted my spirit up and were just the right friends to be with during that emotional time. Be sure to swing by Tucson again so you can meet Steve.

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  6. A couple of years ago we visited Tuscon in the spring and like you were in awe of the blooms and the amazing cacti. Wonderful that you were able to meet and provide support to fellow travelers. Definitely sending good wishes for Steve’s recovery.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Glad to see you finally made it over that way. We too loved the Desert Museum but have never been there late enough to see blooms. We tried to meet up with the Lowes a few times but so far it just has not worked out.

    Liked by 1 person

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