Final days in the Sonoran Desert- AZ

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.

Mount Lemmon was dusted with snow when we returned to Tucson at the beginning of March

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!

They even practiced some large explosions on the ground

We got a show of our own, as Betsy received her annual professional wash and power wax:

This team seems to have a lot of supervisors

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).

At Gates Pass overlooking Saguaro National Park
Jeanie and I tested our new “Peak Finder” app by pointing our iPhones at the mountain peaks.  It identified them just like the plaque in front of us!

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.

Old Tucson Studios

Gunfight on the street
This is a fun stop if you’re into old Westerns (Steve is a big Gunsmoke fan)

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?

John urged us up to a nice spot for a lunch break
The Mona Liza Crested Saguaro!

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.

And he says I’m a ham!
A saguaro forest basking in the morning sunshine
View of Tucson from the top of the ridge along Ventana Canyon Trail

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!

Beef fajitas – yum!

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.

A hike with Dave and Faye is always fun!

New River

Dave caught us bidding goodbye to the saguaros

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?

Dave and I created a “human” saguaro




  1. Always a good time connecting with RV friends. Loved your ‘talking’ saguaros. Can’t wait to hear your 2018 travel plans.

  2. Cute cartoons! The desert will miss you. Have fun on your next adventures! I’m going to Yosemite in April for my birthday. To Pinecrest Lake in May with my daughter and grandsons. To Utah, Colorado and Arizona in September. I hope we can meet up some time.

  3. It is difficult to leave the beautiful saguaro and their very unique personalities. Great job with your saguaro comic captions! I like “He makes it look so easy!” Arizona is always a busy stop with so many of us making this stop. Safe travels as you move north. I am sorry we won’t be in Wahweap to see you two. Enjoy your boat trip to the Rainbow Bridge. It is fantastic!

  4. Had to laugh at your comment about the supervisors. We’d planned to get Winnona her wash and wax but it will have to wait until after the windshield repair. Peak finder app is a new one for me. Love your hat in that picture. I’m with Steve, Marshall Dillon and Miss Kitty were favorites of mine too. Well now you really are famous with a Crested named after you. Terrific pictures there especially the one of the ham. So great how you meet up with so many people for hiking and dinners. Your saguaro captions are perfect as is the color of the shots. No wonder you had a crested named after you. What a sweet goodbye picture of you and Steve and of the saguaros to you. I think they’ll miss you.

    • Steve loves Marshall Dillon and we watched Gunsmoke reruns almost everyday:) Wintering in Tucson is the best place to meet up with old friends and new friends, for it is the hub of friendships.

  5. Awesome photos of the planes. Thanks for the Peak Finder info. I have never heard of it. Downloading it now. We could have used this many, many times.
    They named a crested saguaro after you…well, well, well. It is like naming a star in your honor. You go girl.
    HAHAHA….great sense of humor, Steve. I just love all your captions. What a hoot. The human saguaro is hilarious. Glad y’all got so many hikes in. We just love that area! Safe travels.

  6. What a cute idea and clever captions! Saguaros are so fascinating because each one is unique in the number, placement, and shape of the arms – just love them!

  7. Love the Saguaros and Tucson. Hope to return there someday. So many places to visit, and so little time. Thanks for the photos of the ocotillo blooms. I’ve been waiting to see some during our travels only to be disappointed.

  8. Haha, your talking saguaro are so much fun! Your captions are perfect! I especially love the crystal ball gazing cactus.
    It looks like you had a wonderful time hiking and visiting with good friends as you wrapped up your stay in Tucson. As much as you love Tucson, I’m sure you are both ready to move on, heading for new adventures and revisiting some favorite places.
    Wishing you safe journeys and lots of good times ahead! :-))

    • Yes, you are right Laurel, we are itching to roll back on the road! Glad you liked my talking saguaro. After hiking along them I thought I gave them a funny tribute.

  9. Love your Saguaro conversations, can’t pick a favorite. Wow what a celebrity you are to have one named after you. We tried to emulate you yesterday but no one can do Saguaro’s like you do. Great to hike with you both, looking forward to the next one.

  10. Great adventure, Mon! Love the places you’ve been to and the pictures that go with it. Best regards!

  11. Loved your comic saguaros, they reminded me of a book we bought our son many years ago. We still remember some of the captions and laugh often when we ride through those “forests”.
    We agree with Steve, you are a lovable Ham, but perhaps you were egging him on at that Cholla just a little bit? You captured a great shot of the five modern war birds, not an easy picture to get!
    See you down the road.

  12. Love the comic captions! I remember as a child watching cartoons with animated Saguaro…so funny! See you soon!

  13. Looks like you had some wonderful last days hiking with friends. Love your cactus animation MonaLiza! Enjoy your travels!

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