Thursday, November 24, 2016

Tucson: Saguaro National Park

About 5 miles down the road from the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum is Saguaro National Park-West.  After checking out the visitor's center and getting a map of the park, we toured their loop road which traverses one of the most scenic sections.  The Scenic Bajada Loop Drive is one of the more popular ways to explore the Tuscan Mountain District's foothills.  This unusual drive gave us just the taste we wanted for a desert experience.  Here's a photo journey of the National Park's Cactus Garden and a drive into the Saguaro National Park's Cactus Forest.

The National Park's Visitor Center was designed to blend in with the tan, harsh landscape.
The short trail that wound through their on-site cactus garden was interesting and informative.
There is no accurate way to determine the age of a Saguaro Cactus without knowing when it started to grow.  The plant's growth rate is determined by rainfall, temperatures and even soil conditions.  It is estimated it takes about 75 years to grow an arm and many live to be about 100-150 years old.

Leaving the visitor center, we find the Bajada Loop Drive, the highlight drive of this Western Park. We pulled into one of several picnic areas on the loop and cautiously walked around to explore the area.  I stayed put but Ronnie walked around a bit.  He used a stick to tap the ground, rocky crevasses and plants as he walked.
This little Cactus Wren was the only animal we saw at that picnic area.

Continuing on the dirt loop road, the desert landscape appears dry, quiet and filled with Saguaro Cactus raising their arms up in the air.  Saguaro Cactus grow to about 15-30 feet tall though some can grow to as high as 50 feet.

The temperatures were very pleasant this day, maybe the mid 70's.  Trying to be prepared, we had 2 large bottles of water and snacks with us in the Jeep.
A few of the individual cactus may live to be over 200 years old and can be over 50 feet high.
This 5 mile loop drive didn't take us but about an hour or so to explore, while we stopped a few times to enjoy the views and take in this amazingly beautiful landscape. I loved it!

 We saw this tee shirt in the National Park's gift shop and thought it gave an insightful description of a Saguaro Cactus' Philosophy, one we could relate. 

 "Advice from a Saguaro: 
Stand Tall,  Reach For The Sky,  Be Patient Through The Dry Spells, Conserve Your Resources, Think Long Term,  Wait For Your Time To Bloom and  Stay Sharp."

We've eased on down the road to Weatherford, Texas.  We'll be here for another day or so to enjoy Thanksgiving and the Ft Worth area. We will move to North Carolina for the month of December where our focus will be family visits and annual exams.  We plan to spend January, February and March in our usual wintering place, Davenport, Florida.

More Later.

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