Our winter stay in the Sonoran Desert this year began in January and seemed to just fly by. After my birding excursions at Patagonia, we returned to Tucson recently to wrap up a few appointments, hike with friends and socialize before beginning our slow migration north.
While setting up camp we heard the military ‘birds” overhead, giving us a free air show that went on for the entire weekend. I attempted to get good photos of them flying in formation as they flew right over the highly-populated city. We learned that nearby Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and the Arizona Air National Guard were practicing maneuvers, and it looked to us like they were doing a great job! It was fun to watch, but the noise did get a bit old after a while.
I wouldn’t want to be the enemy and see this coming at me!
We got a show of our own, as Betsy received her annual professional wash and power wax:
Something we like to do when friends visit us here is show off our favorite cactus, the awesome saguaro. When Mike and Jeanie came to town we drove over Gates Pass and into Saguaro National Park (west).
We made a stop at Old Tucson Studios, which remains an active filming location for Western-themed movies, television, cable shows and commercials – also dubbed “Hollywood in the Desert.” Here is my post about our first visit in 2016.
On another day when Steve was getting some work done on the car I joined John and Pam on their last hike at Tucson Mountain Park. A nice thing that happened on this particular hike was that they named a crested saguaro after me! (little pleasures 🙂 Are they the coolest or what?
Knowing we won’t be here again for a couple of years, we tucked in two more hikes – one on Star Pass Trail and the other on Ventana Canyon Trail. Following recent rains, the desert had awakened. The saguaros were plump, the ocotillos were budding and the rest of the desert plants perked up ready for spring. Happily, we had the trails mostly to ourselves as we enjoyed the quiet scenery and said goodbye to our thorny friends.
We spent our last evening in Tucson with Gay and Joe of good-times rollin. They prepared delicious beef fajitas, which Joe and Steve cooked while exchanging notes about their cancer journeys. We were so happy to hear that Joe is now cancer free!
About 164 miles north of Tucson is the small town of Black Canyon City, our last stop before exiting the Sonoran Desert. It’s where the Sonoran Desert transitions to the coniferous Arizona mountain forests at higher elevations. This was a revisit for us, as we had discovered a couple of nice hikes here a couple of years ago.
We were excited to meet up with the Wandering Camels once again for a fun hike. Dave and Faye joined us for our swan song hike in the Sonoran Desert. It’s always a hoot hiking with this great couple whom we have trekked with in southern Utah and Banff National Park.
But we were itching to move on, even if it meant missing the desert in bloom and the flowering saguaros. We experienced it last year, enjoying a whole different desert during the spring and summer months.
Just for smiles 🙂
We spent so much time hanging around the saguaros that I imagined personalities for some of them. What do you think?
Next up: So much to do around Cottonwood!