Posts Tagged ‘Jo’s Monday Walk’

My daughter and I took lots of walks during my visit, often accompanied by wind which finally blew away the clouds of the first several days, revealing the sun, although for this walk you may want a small jacket. You can walk for miles along the path that runs between the beach and multi-million dollar homes…second homes, vacation homes, not primary residences. This one (yes, a single house) has a distinct Italian flair.

The walk continues past more homes, most the same size but in a variety of styles. Behind he beach-side row are another five or six rows up the rather steep hill. Every one has some amount of ocean view. For those prices, you’d expect one!

Waling isn’t the only activity. You can surf, swim, play beach volleyball, or just go fly a kite. There was certainly enough wind on this day.

Besides the flowers in front of the homes, many people have a small section between the walk and the top of the beach where we saw some stunning gardens.

for Jo’s Monday Walk

I promised you more of the Desert Botanical Gardens and I aim to keep that promise. If Jo’s walking today, this is my walk for her. Although the desert is mostly about cacti (the plural of cactus), and cacti have beautiful flowers, if there’s enough water and the temperature is right, you can get other flowers as well. Outback Steakhouse has their Bloomin’ Onion, but the bloomin’ desert is prettier and has way less calories!!

Although flowers can get up close and personal with cacti, I suggest you keep a respectful distance and always watch where you walk. Here you just have to stay on the path, but if you’re elsewhere, keep your eyes open. As it warms up, you always have to watch for rattlesnakes, not here probably but elsewhere. My husband’s seen several on the path along the canal where he rides his bike. I, fortunately, have yet to have that wonderful experience. I can wait.

We weren’t the only ones appreciating the flowers. The netting’s in place as protection from birds and critters of various kinds who might wish to express their appreciation for what they consider edible flowers and plants in a more destructive way.

It was wonderful to see all the color, but just all the green, whatever its source, was a joy as well. To have both was perfect.

For my birthday, we visited the Phoenix Botanical Gardens, a marvelous slice of desert life, past and present. The last time I visited was in 2014 when Dale Chihuly set up a marvelous installation. My sister-in-law and I arrived in the late afternoon, walked all the paths, then revisit after dark when everything was illuminated. It was magical! (And I did blog about it if you want to search.)

This day was just an “ordinary” day if there is such a thing there: a scheduled appointment, masks, and a somewhat limited crowd (although there were more than enough visitors for me.) When you arrive this is the first thing you see, the only leftover from the Chihuly exhibit.

Before setting out, let’s take a look at some of the inhabitants. Pollinators are some of my favorites.

Camouflage is even more of an asset when there are less places to hide.

There weren’t any butterflies around but I look forward to seeing some during our next visit.

I’m always happy to see bees.

Hopefully I’ve whet your appetite to see more of the visit. But for now, happy Monday.

for Jo’s Monday Walk

Spring in the desert isn’t exactly like spring in most other places. There are no swaths of wildflowers, no green grass everywhere. Spring comes early too, already on its way at the end of February/beginning of March, when it can be not much above freezing at night and by late afternoon be almost 80F. There are flowers, but quite often they’re on plants with thorns that will stab you if you aren’t careful. Still, they are flowers. The sunrise has moved from after 7 am during the winter to before 6 am and we’re off to the Preserve to seek out some signs of spring for Jo’s Monday walk (whenever the next one is.) We’ll see a variety of colors and even a hint of two of softness but always be careful because desert can so easily become dessert. 🙂

These flowers are actually quite tiny, but they’re abundant.

And these aren’t large either.

Happy Monday and welcome to March!

for Jo’s Monday Walk

It’s cooled down a bit, making an early morning walk in the Preserve much more enjoyable. Of course, “cool” is a relative term in Arizona. Let’s just say it’s been below 80F at 6 am in the morning. But where there are trees and water, even if the latter is reclaimed, there’s more coolness in the air and people and animals are out and about.

“Diversity” is the “in” term now and the Preserve’s got it as this photo of a great blue heron (GBH to Sylvia) and a great egret, both preening away, getting primped for the photographers, shows. The GBH nickname amuses me because in many of the British police procedurals I read, that stands for “Grievous Bodily Harm.” I imagine the fish in the area might go for that meaning.

Look in the background, there at the bottom of the reeds. Sneaking around behind the larger, flashier birds is a juvenile night heron.

Gamboling about looking for food is a Gambel quail. There are lots of these ground dwellers around but you’ll also see them in trees and bushes. The babies are adorable, but even when small, they can all run like crazy.

For many, birds are the main attraction here, although this guy (?) night beg to differ. I did look up how to figure out what sex a turtle is, but it’s not easy even if you can get up close and handle the turtle, which certainly isn’t happening here! Too bad it’s not a snapping turtle or I could use one of my husband’s favorite turtle lines: “Turtle soup, waiter, and make it snappy!”

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Let’s take a closer look at a few of the cacti found in Saguaro National Park. One of the first places to get out and walk that we encountered was a paved loop giving great views of a variety of cacti, a number of which were in flower or had fruit. There’s quite a bit of room between many of the cacti, but be careful where you step and don’t back up without looking!

Here’s a lovely bunch of prickly pear cactus with fruit. Prickly pear jelly can be found in the Southwest and the fruit can be eaten but you have to be very careful to completely removed the outside so no spines of any size are left. I think I’ll stick with jelly!

When I started this post I didn’t realize that cholla, the type of cactus I’m showcasing next, used to be part of the same genus as prickly pear, despite what this information board says, but have now been separated because of some differences we wouldn’t notice, . However, the board does show how important each part of the desert flora and fauna are.

I also didn’t realize that there are boatload of species of opuntia, not a hundred, but a LOT! If you’re interested in identifying the flowers, this is (un)likely to help and made me laugh:

The flowers are typically large, axillary, solitary, bisexual, and epiperigynous, with a perianth consisting of distinct, spirally arranged tepals and a hypanthium.

If you do know what all those mean, do NOT tell us or I will ban you from the blog and flog you with a wet noodle or possibly o-puntia you across the desert for being a showoff!

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Saturday we took another exploratory drive to Tucson, this time to the Sweetwater Wetlands, a 60-acre water treatment facility, urban wildlife habitat, and outdoor classroom. It’s similar to the Riparian Preserve, although smaller and with different flora. One feature that I quickly learned to appreciate in the desert is that it has trees.

There must have been thousands of dragonflies of all colors and sizes.

One of the most prominent features was the overwhelming number of cattails, most of which were 10′ or more in height. Much of the water area was home to these giants which, as you can imagine, provide perfect privacy for ducks and other creatures.

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We’re taking a break from Wyoming this week (but we will definitely be back there again) to start a series about a walk we took to Saguaro National Park on Saturday. My husband’s been working nonstop since the middle of July and this was the first opportunity he’s had to get out of the area around our house. So we took advantage of it.

When you think of cacti, you’re likely to think of the iconic saguaro (sue-waar’-oh), its arms extending upward, and in southern Arizona near Tuscon, these giants have their own national park. Saguaro National Monument was created in 1933 and there have been several additions since that time and the switch to a national park. We’ll focus just the saguaro today, even though there are a plethora of cactus types here.

The saguaro isn’t just another pretty face! It serves as an apartment for a variety of desert creatures, one reason you see one often pockmarked with openings.

It’s difficult to imagine or convey how many saguaros there are in the park. To say there’s a forest of them isn’t to understate! I found myself laughing and shaking my head quite a few times during the day when I saw how many there were.

If you (carefully) touch a saguaro, you’ll feel a hard surface. The accordion-like skin expands when full and shrinks when conditions are drier. As odd as it seems to us, all those spines provide a sort of shade for the cactus. But a cactus can also die, as seen in the photo below. That’s really a cactus skeleton.

Not every saguaro is in lockstep with the traditional, expected arms-up posture. Some have a much more quirky look.

I plan to come back here in spring when there will be millions of beautiful white flowers, Arizona’s state flowers, atop the arms. Bee, birds, and bats love these flowers while providing pollination. The flowers are only open for a short time but flower sequentially and there are also red fruit. Take a quick look here for more information and photos. It’s well worth your time to learn more about this keystone species. Here’s an unusual tidbit to close off our visit for today:

In 1982, a man was killed after damaging a saguaro. David Grundman was shooting and poking at a saguaro cactus in an effort to make it fall. An arm of the cactus, weighing 500 lb (230 kg), fell onto him, crushing him and his car. The trunk of the cactus then also fell on him. The Austin Lounge Lizards wrote the song “Saguaro” about this death. Wikipedia

That makes this Farmer’s Insurance ad entirely possible. (Note: no endorsement here except for a good commercial.)

https://www.ispot.tv/ad/dOx6/farmers-insurance-hall-of-claims-cactus-calamity

for Jo’s Monday Walk

In Wyoming, much of the walking is done by the horses, which means we can go much farther than if we were walking on our own. On this day we took a series of trails, some of which we’d ridden on in other years. But this year we continued on, the trail and then road taking us closer to the mountains of the high country before curling back around toward home.

Eventually the road, suitable for four-wheel drive vehicles and motorcycles, came to Lamburger Rock. If it’s climbing you’re after, this is a spot for you. We, however, just enjoyed the view. I always take my phone with me in a fanny pack so that I can take photos. No phone reception unless you get quite high.

Willow Creek flows rapidly and I imagine it’s quite cold even mid-summer.

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While in Wyoming, my preferred method of transportation is on the back of a horse. But I do a reasonable amount of walking. Today’s walk was broken up by bits of driving as the various parts some at some distance from the cabin. Mind you, on these roads driving speed isn’t always very different from walking, especially when driving a non-four-wheel drive vehicle!

These butterflies were everywhere this summer. I had a bit of fun with editing in this first shot.

Some distance from our cabin is Park Lake reservoir. One summer during a recent drought, the water level was so low that you could ride or walk well into it. Thankfully this year it was filled with water, a haven for fishermen and people who love water sports. Or you just might want to spend some time admiring the view as my daughters and I did.

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